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Industrial R&D Fellowships

Information About the IRDF Program Wind Down

In Economic Action Plan 2014, the Government of Canada indicated that Le lien suivant vous amène à un autre site Web Mitacs will become the single delivery agent of federal support for postdoctoral industrial R&D fellowships. As a result, NSERC will wind down the Industrial R&D Fellowships Program, with resources being redeployed to other priorities within NSERC.

Applications for this program will no longer be accepted. Existing funding commitments will be honoured.

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Value $30,000 per year for two years plus a minimum contribution of $15,000 per year from the host company
Application Deadline The program is now closed.
How to Apply See below
Application Forms
  • Form 183C – Nomination for an Industrial R&D Fellowship
  • Form 200 – Application for an Industrial Postgraduate Scholarship, an Industrial R&D Fellowship or a Visiting Fellowship in Canadian Government Laboratories
  • Terms and Conditions of Applying Form (form-fillable) to be completed by the nominee
  • Terms and Conditions of Applying Form (form-fillable) to be completed by the authorized organization representative
To create or access an application, select On-line System Login. To view forms and instructions, select PDF Forms and Instructions.

To complete the Terms and Conditions of Applying Form, select the link above.
For More Information Consult the Contact List

Who should read this section?

Although this section is intended for potential applicants, it also provides important information for potential host companies that want to nominate postdoctoral fellows for Industrial R&D Fellowships (IRDFs).

What kind of support does the IRDF provide?

The IRDF provides financial support to enable promising recent doctoral graduates to engage in research and development in the private sector. The objectives of this fellowship are as follows:

  • to encourage excellent recent Ph. D. graduates in science and engineering to seek careers in the Canadian private sector;
  • to make the Canadian private sector more aware of the capabilities of Canadian universities and university research;
  • to facilitate the transfer of expertise and technology; and
  • to provide an opportunity for Ph. D. holders seeking university careers to gain research and development experience in the private sector.

By minimizing the cost for companies to hire a talented Ph. D. graduate for a two-year period, these fellowships promote the development of industrial research capacity (especially in small- and medium-sized companies). Furthermore, the IRDF allows companies to consider a fellow for potential long-term employment with reduced risk.

While employed at a company, a fellow is expected to have a meaningful industrial R&D experience. A fellow may:

  • be engaged in up to two specific industrial research projects;
  • spend up to 50 per cent of his or her time on technology transfer activities (to enable the evaluation and ultimately the acquisition of external technologies not currently used by the company); and
  • be temporarily assigned to special projects or other activities, as long as they not take up more than 20 per cent of the fellow’s time.

Who is eligible for a fellowship?

IRDFs are intended for recent doctoral graduates seeking employment in the Canadian private sector for the first time. To be nominated for a fellowship, a candidate must:

  • be a Canadian citizen, permanent resident of Canada, or foreign Ph. D. graduate from a Canadian postsecondary institution who has obtained a This link will take you to another Web site post-graduation work permit, at the time of his or her nomination;
  • hold a doctoral degree in a discipline of science or engineering that NSERC supports, or expect to have completed all the requirements for such a degree, including his or her thesis defense, by the proposed date of appointment;
  • have completed a doctoral degree within the last five years;
  • not have been employed for more than six months in an R&D position in the Canadian private sector after receipt of his or her doctoral degree; and
  • not have received an offer of employment from the nominating company except an offer of this fellowship, conditional upon NSERC approval, or short-term employment of up to six months while awaiting a decision on the fellowship (see Notes below).


  • Awards to IRDF candidates who completed their doctoral degree after more than five years, but after no more than seven years, prior to the nomination will be made only in exceptional circumstances and must be justified by the nominating company. If a candidate has withdrawn from the work force and active research for at least one year after receipt of his or her doctoral degree for maternity/paternity leave or to raise a child, NSERC will extend this period to nine years.
  • IRDF candidates may accept a short-term employment contract of up to six months with the nominating company while awaiting a decision from NSERC on the fellowship application. This contract must state that subsequent employment is conditional on receiving an IRDF. However, if the application is not recommended for an award, the candidate may not be eligible to apply again once he or she has accumulated more than six months of industrial experience. It is therefore recommended that candidates accept a temporary contract only if necessary and that the period of the contract be kept as short as possible.
  • IRDF candidates must take up their fellowship within three months of the offer, and they must not have worked for more than six months in a temporary position with the same company when they take up the award.

What is the duration of the fellowship?

The IRDF provides support for two years. Support for the second year will be subject to:

  • the program's eligibility criteria and objectives continuing to be met;
  • a report acceptable to NSERC that the host company submits at the end of the first year; and
  • the availability of funds.

Where can a fellowship be held?

A fellowship may be held within the Canadian-based research facilities of any Canadian private-sector company eligible to host an IRDF. For further information, see the Guidelines for Organizations Participating in NSERC Industrial Training Programs. An IRDF may not be held outside of Canada.

Host companies must have completed an Application (new or renewal) for Eligibility of Organizations to Participate in NSERC's Industrial R&D Fellowships Program, Industrial Postgraduate Scholarships Program and Experience Awards (Form 183B) within the past three years. A separate Form 183B must be completed for each individual subsidiary, branch, division or location of the company wanting to host a fellow.

What is the salary for an IRDF?

The salary for a fellow will be at least $45,000 per year. The average annual salary offered to successful applicants last year was approximately $58,000.

NSERC's contribution towards the fellow's salary is $30,000 per year for two years. The company must supplement NSERC's contribution by at least $15,000 per year. The nominating company must also provide the fellow with employment benefits comparable to those of other employees in the company.

The nominating company is responsible for the administration of the fellowship. NSERC will forward its contribution to the company.

If, for any reason, the tenure of the fellowship is less than 24 months, NSERC will prorate its contribution to the amount of time the fellow spent with the company. If additional organizations contribute towards the fellow’s salary, these contributions must be paid through the nominating host company.

Note: It is up to the candidate to negotiate his or her salary and employment benefits with the company.

Nomination and appointment procedures

Potential candidates wanting to be nominated for an IRDF must first contact a company that is willing to support their nomination. The candidate and the company must negotiate the details of the research project(s) and position. The company will submit the nomination to NSERC.

The nomination must include the original of each of the following:

  • Form 200 (Application for an Industrial Postgraduate Scholarship, Industrial R&D Fellowship or Visiting Fellowship in Canadian Government Laboratories), to be completed by the candidate;
  • Contributions and statements (attachment);
  • Proof of completion of Ph. D. (if completed at time of nomination);
  • Proof of Canadian citizenship, permanent residency or post-graduation work permit;
  • Report on the Applicant of Form 200, two reports to be completed by persons very familiar with the candidate’s previous work (e.g., Ph. D. and postdoctoral supervisors). Reports should not be provided by individuals who have a financial interest in the company;
  • Nomination for an Industrial R&D Fellowship (Form 183C). The research proposal is normally completed by the nominating company and co-signed by the candidate. If the candidate participates in writing the proposal, a statement should be added explaining the nature of the candidate’s contribution (this may be included within the Detailed Project Proposal);
  • The company's official letter/contract offering employment to, and co-signed by, the candidate;
  • Letter from the collaborating company(s) outlining the nature of its/their participation and contributions, if applicable;
  • Terms and Conditions of Applying Form to be completed by the nominee; and
  • Terms and Conditions of Applying Form to be completed by the authorized organization representative.

Multiple nominations

If more than one company is nominating the same candidate, the candidate must submit separate applications and supporting documents to each company.

NSERC IRDF support is limited to one two-year award per nominee.

There is no limit to the number of nominations that an individual company may make. However, the total number of awards that NSERC will make, as well as the number of awards held in a given company, may be limited each year. NSERC does not reserve a quota of positions for specific research disciplines.

Review procedures and selection criteria

Two members of the NSERC IRDF College of Reviewers, composed of federal government employees from departments and agencies with an interest in research and development, and academic researchers who have experience with industrial research collaborations (through NSERC’s Partnerships Programs), will review each nomination. Members may also confer with other colleagues with expertise in areas addressed by specific applications. If the nominating company does not wish certain individuals or groups to see the proposal, it should clearly identify them in a covering letter.

The members separately assess the merit of the candidate and the merit of the research proposal. To be successful, both the applicant and the research proposal must be meritorious.

The members evaluate applicants based on the following criteria (their relative weighting is in parentheses):

  • Research ability or potential (70 per cent)
    • quality of contributions to research and development;
    • relevance of work experience and academic training to field of proposed research;
    • scholarships and awards held;
    • duration of previous studies;
    • ability to think critically;
    • ability to apply skills and knowledge;
    • judgment;
    • originality;
    • initiative and autonomy;
    • enthusiasm for research; and
    • determination and ability to complete projects within an appropriate period of time.
  • Communication, interpersonal and leadership abilities (30 per cent)
    • The ability or potential to communicate scientific concepts clearly and logically in written and oral formats. For example, this could include:
      • quality of the application’s presentation;
      • participation in preparing publications; and
      • awards for oral presentations or papers.
    • Professional and relevant extracurricular interactions and collaborations. For example, this could include:
      • mentoring;
      • teaching;
      • supervisory experience;
      • project management;
      • chairing committees;
      • organizing conferences and meetings; and
      • elected positions held.

The reviewers evaluate the research proposal based on the following criteria:

Proposed research and development activities. This includes:

  • the research and development environment/opportunity for an industrial R&D experience;
    • development opportunity for nominee's research abilities, through the involvement in a challenging industrial R&D project, appropriate supervision and mentoring, technical support, availability of equipment, participation at conferences, etc.;
  • the scientific and technical merit of the proposed R&D activities;
    • the scientific and technical merit, based on the clarity and focus of the objectives; novelty, technical complexity, technical risk and feasibility; and
    • appropriateness of the work plan, milestones and decision points;
  • the significance and feasibility of the proposed R&D activities;
    • the feasibility of successfully completing the project based on the proposed methodology and resources (expertise, personnel resources, equipment, budget, task schedule) identified in the proposal; and
    • the significance of the project to the company's short- and long-term objectives and capabilities, potential for commercialization and socio-economic benefits to Canada;
  • incrementality;
    • the need for NSERC support in order to hire the candidate or to carry out the project, the impact on the long-term research capability within the company, as well as the expected economic benefits and increased staffing required by the company as a result of the successful completion of the project if the award were to be approved, will be considered; and
  • the company's overall commitment, including its financial commitment, to the fellow and the project;
    • the reviewers would consider the salary, employment benefits and other project costs, as well as the provision for the nominee's growth as a researcher and future opportunities for the nominee; and
    • the likelihood that the nominee will be integrated into the regular staff of the company once the term of the award has expired.

The match between the applicant’s background and the proposed research project will also be evaluated.

When the research proposal indicates that the candidate will spend significant portions of his or her time on technology transfer activities, the IRDF proposal will also be evaluated on the company’s potential to acquire new or unique technology, and the candidate’s potential to develop expertise and skills.

  • Such technology transfer activities should enable the evaluation and ultimately the acquisition of external technologies not currently used by the company.
  • These technologies may come from Canadian or foreign sources (public or private).
  • The nominating company is expected to further exploit these technologies for new products, processes, materials, or services for its own benefit.
  • The proposal must demonstrate clearly the expected benefits to the nominating company of acquiring such technologies and detail its impact on the Canadian economy either through increasing competitiveness, reducing costs or creating jobs.

If the nominating company has participated previously in the IRDF, the College of Reviewers will also consider the experience gained by the fellows during tenure of their awards and past success in integrating previous fellows into the regular staff of the company upon the conclusion of the fellowship.

Resubmitting a nomination

If NSERC rejects a nomination for a fellowship on the basis of the candidate’s merit and past record, it is strongly recommended that the candidate wait for one year before reapplying, either with the same company or a different one. A candidate may reapply only once, provided the candidate continues to meet the eligibility criteria.

If NSERC rejects the nomination for a fellowship due to an inadequate project or project description submitted by the company, the nomination may be resubmitted by the same company within one year, as long as the project or project description is revised. Only one resubmission from the same company will be permitted. However, a candidate may be nominated by a different company within the following two years as a pre-approved candidate, provided that the candidate continues to meet all eligibility criteria. If the candidate is nominated after that two-year period, his or her qualifications will have to be re-evaluated.

Notification of decision

NSERC will inform applicants of the results usually within eight weeks of receiving the complete application.

Intellectual Property Policy

NSERC's Intellectual Property Policy does not apply to IRDFs.

Conditions of the award

Refer to the IRDF Award Holder’s Guide for regulations about holding the award (e.g., the start date, deferment, holidays and leave).