Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Common menu bar links

Collaborative Research and Training Experience Program

Overview
Duration Up to six years
Application Deadline May 1 (Letter of Intent)
September 22 (Application if invited to apply)
Application Procedures Letter of Intent
  • Form 187 – Letter of Intent to apply for a Collaborative Research and Training Experience Program
Application (if invited to apply)
  • Form 100 – Personal Data Form
  • Form 102 – Application for a Collaborative Research and Training Experience Program Grant
To create or access an application, select On-line System Login. To view forms and instructions, select PDF Forms and Instructions.
How to Apply See below
For More Information Consult the Contact List

Important Information

Objectives

The Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) Program supports the training of teams of highly qualified students and postdoctoral fellows from Canada and abroad through the development of innovative training programs that:

  • encourage collaborative and integrative approaches, and address significant scientific challenges associated with Canada’s research priorities; and
  • facilitate the transition of new researchers from trainees to productive employees in the Canadian workforce.

These innovative programs must include the acquisition and development of important professional skills among students and postdoctoral fellows that complement their qualifications and technical skills.

In addition, these programs should encourage the following as appropriate:

  • student mobility, nationally or internationally, between individual universities and between universities and other sectors;
  • interdisciplinary research within the natural sciences and engineering (NSE), or at the interface between the NSE and health, or the social sciences and humanities. However, the main focus of the training must still lie within the NSE;
  • increased collaboration between industry and academia; and
  • for the industrial stream, an additional objective is to support improved job-readiness within the industrial sector by exposing participants to the specific challenges of this sector and training people with the skills identified by industry.

Description

The CREATE Program is designed to improve the mentoring and training environment for the Canadian researchers of tomorrow by improving areas such as professional skills, communication and collaboration, as well as providing experience relevant to both academic and non-academic research environments. The program promotes and furthers the development of new researchers within the natural sciences and engineering (NSE) disciplines, or at the interdisciplinary frontier between NSE and the areas covered under the umbrella of the two other federal granting agencies; the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) if, by combining the strengths of the various disciplines, a greater impact is achieved for the trainees. Where appropriate, proposed initiatives could also encourage interaction with the users of research and future employers of the trainees, or contribute to providing additional opportunities for students to participate in exchanges at the national or international level. The training initiative should be focused on providing a value-added experience to the university training environment to better prepare research trainees for their future careers in industry, government or academia.

To build on Canada’s research strengths and priorities, and to enhance our success, at least 60 percent of the CREATE funding will be directed toward the following NSERC priority areas:

  • Environmental science and technologies;
  • Natural resources and energy;
  • Manufacturing; and
  • Information and communications technologies.

Successful applicants will consist of a group of accomplished researchers who will work collaboratively to offer a defined research training program to a group of trainees. This environment will provide trainees with experience relevant to both academic and non-academic careers. The research training experience should focus on providing an enriched training experience for graduate (master’s and doctoral) students. Undergraduate students can be supported and integrated into the training program as potential future graduate students, but a proposal that is focused solely on support of undergraduate students will not be considered. Postdoctoral fellows may also be supported, as it is recognized that they often play an integral part in the training of graduate and undergraduate students. If postdoctoral fellows are included, their contributions to the training program and the enhanced benefits this group can realize by being involved must be clearly elaborated. Successful applications will be those best able to demonstrate the benefits of their proposed research training experience to their targeted trainees.

Supported training programs will be recognized nationally for:

  • their innovative nature to create a rich research training environment;
  • the excellence of the researchers, and their success in training highly skilled and educated personnel for future employment in all sectors including industry, government and academia;
  • their capacity to raise the standard for best practices in research training and development of professional skills of new researchers; and
  • encouraging student mobility, as appropriate, either between different Canadian universities, or between the universities and potential workplaces or among participating Canadian and international institutions, thus promoting international awareness.

In addition, industry-supported training programs will be recognized for their capacity to support improved job-readiness within the industrial sector by exposing participants to the specific challenges of the private sector, and to support training in skills that have been identified as needed for a career in industry, such as leadership, business management, entrepreneurship and marketing.

Supporting Gender Representation and Advancement

CREATE initiatives are encouraged to promote approaches that increase the representation and advancement of women in the natural sciences and engineering, as one means to foster excellence in research and training. Teams should strive for a balanced gender representation in the group of trainees and in their supervisors, role models and mentors.

Opportunities

Industrial Stream only

The program’s objectives is in line with one of NSERC’s Strategy for Partnerships and Innovation goals to connect people and skills, more specifically to place additional qualified candidates within Canadian companies. With the focus on developing skills that will be useful for the transition to the workplace, the CREATE Program is a great asset to industry—which requires not only technical skills, but professional skills.

It is expected that linkages between industry and academia will be enhanced, and that Canada’s People Advantage will be improved by increasing the supply of highly qualified personnel (HQP) who are “employer-ready” and can generate immediate results after graduation, improving job readiness as an immediate benefit to the industrial employer.

Up to 50 percent of the CREATE grants will be dedicated to the industrial stream.

Industrial Collaborators

  • In general, an industrial collaborator is defined as a Canadian-based business providing products or services, and that derives the majority of its revenues from the sale of these products and services and not from government aid. Such partners must be willing and able to exploit the research results for the economic benefit of Canada.
  • Multinationals may be eligible if they have commercial activities that take place in Canada, such as research and development or manufacturing related to the proposed research, and if the funded activity will result in significant economic benefit to Canada.

In order to be considered industrial, a proposal must include the following:

  Program Committee (PC) Internships Confirmation from Industrial Collaborators
Phase 1: Letter of Intent Confirmation of willingness to participate in the PC. If no confirmed name, indicate the position of the person.  The intent of the industrial collaborator to host internships must be indicated. One e-mail or one letter must be included.
Phase 2: Application One or more confirmed and named industrial member(s) on the PC.
  • Confirmation that all the CREATE trainees will hold at least one (industrial) internship; and
  • Internships within the collaborating industry(ies) for at least 20 percent of the duration of the training. Agreements will have to be in place at the time of application and should be guaranteed if the proposal is funded.
Maximum of three letter(s) confirming a commitment to both conditions must be included.

Note: The same company can host internships and also have a representative on the PC, as long as the representative does not directly benefit from the internships.

International Collaborations only

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

An agreement between NSERC and the German Research Foundation, the This link will take you to another Web site Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), has been established to ascertain a formal mechanism for supporting a bilateral training program that involves an exchange of students between Germany and Canada.

In order to be considered for this opportunity, Canadian candidates should follow these steps:

  • First establish a collaboration with German researchers.
  • Since the DFG process is longer, the German researchers must start by submitting a pre-proposal to the DFG.
  • A submission in the fall to the DFG is merely recommended to ensure that the result is available before NSERC’s call for the Letters of Intent (LOI) in May. Please refer to the DFG Web site for more details.
  • If accepted at the DFG, the Canadian researchers submit the German pre-proposal to NSERC. NSERC will accept the DFG pre-proposal as a CREATE LOI, with the addition of a description of the training program to be carried out in Canada (including professional skills to be acquired; two free-form pages and Form 187). NSERC’s LOI deadline is May 1.
  • Proposals will be evaluated through the agencies’ (NSERC and DFG) respective peer review processes.
  • Both proposals must be accepted in order to move forward to the application phase.
  • If both are successful, the German researchers are invited to submit an application to the DFG, and the Canadian researchers are invited to submit an application (Form 102) to NSERC by September 22.
  • DFG makes their decision on a full proposal in November. NSERC makes its decision in January (the candidates are informed in March).

Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo

NSERC has established an agreement with the Research Foundation for the State of São Paulo, la Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (FAPESP), in Brazil to allow researchers in the state of São Paulo to access funding from FAPESP to collaborate with existing or potential Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) Program recipients in Canada.

If interested, Canadian CREATE Program recipients are expected to use their existing CREATE funding to support the Canadian side of the collaboration. Canadian researchers who are planning to apply to the CREATE Program are invited to include this potential opportunity in their proposals.

For more information, please refer to the detailed instructions.

FAPESP funding is conditional on the success of the CREATE proposal.

Eligibility

Eligibility conditions for applicants, co-applicants and institutions apply. CREATE grants are tenable only at NSERC eligible Canadian universities, and the applicant must hold an eligible position at that university. Researchers at non-eligible organizations may participate as collaborators. Ensure that you consider the eligibility requirements for applicants, co-applicants and collaborators described on NSERC’s Web site under Eligibility Criteria.

Note to multi-university applicants: All universities who will be involved in the application must have at least one co-applicant listed in the proposal. This ensures access to CREATE funds for all students/fellows involved at that university. The funds will be administered by the co-applicant on behalf of all the students/fellows whether they are under the co-applicant’s direct supervision or not.

The following conditions apply to all applications:

  • In the case of multi-organization collaborations (academic, industrial, government or not-for-profit sectors), the applicant must be from an NSERC-supported field at an NSERC-eligible university. One person must be designated to administer the grant. This person is the “applicant” and is responsible for completing and submitting the Letter of Intent (LOI) and the application (if invited) on behalf of the group. The applicant’s university will be the lead university.
  • At least 70 percent of the group must be from NSE fields, but co-applicants at the interdisciplinary frontier between NSE and the areas covered under the umbrella of SSHRC and CIHR may be incorporated into proposals. Applicants submitting proposals at the interdisciplinary frontiers of the granting agencies may be required to justify why NSERC is in fact the most appropriate funding agency for their training proposals.
  • The focus should be on new training initiatives. Existing initiatives must justify the incremental value that will accrue from the CREATE Program.
  • A yearly quota has been established for each university, and only those researchers selected at their university can submit LOIs. In addition, a researcher may only be the applicant on one CREATE initiative annually. There is a limit on participation in multiple active CREATE projects. NSERC limits the participation of an individual researcher in a maximum of two CREATE initiatives—as either an applicant or co-applicant. 
  • If applicable, the role of current holders of, or participants in, an on-going CREATE grant relative to their role in the proposed CREATE initiative must be well explained on the “Excellence of proposed team of researchers” page of both the LOI and application. The onus is on the applicant to provide sufficient information to enable the selection committee to evaluate the relationship with other CREATE initiatives and other sources of support.
  • Each training program will have a Program Committee responsible for overseeing the progress of the program and its future directions. The applicant may not be the Chair of the Program Committee.
  • The Program Committee Chair must approve each progress report.

Award Information

Funding of up to $150,000 in the first year, and up to $300,000 annually in subsequent years, will be provided by NSERC for a maximum period of six years. Collaborators may contribute additional funds. The application must provide a detailed justification of all expenses.

The following sections of the Tri-Agency Financial Administration Guide apply to the CREATE Program:

  • Responsibilities and Accountability;
  • Annual Funding of Grants;
  • Use of Grants Funds (only Preamble and General Principles sections);
  • Reporting; and
  • Administrative Matters.

The allowable expenses are limited to:

Stipends

  • At least 80 percent of the CREATE grant must be used for trainees’ stipends. Up to 30 percent of this portion can be distributed to trainees who are not enrolled in the NSE.

    The three federal granting agencies—CIHR, NSERC, and SSHRC—have harmonized policies on support paid to students and postdoctoral fellows from research grants and as such, there is no minimum or maximum stipend levels paid from grants.
  • Researchers are not restricted from using some of their grant money to provide supplements to scholarship holders. Universities are encouraged to ensure that students and postdoctoral fellows are appropriately compensated, commensurate with the important contributions that they make to the research environment of the university. Students holding NSERC Postgraduate Scholarships, Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarships or other federal granting agency graduate scholarships should be encouraged to participate in the training program, even though they might not receive a stipend from CREATE during tenure of their other scholarships.
  • Direct scholarship support for graduate studies through NSERC is limited to a lifetime maximum of four years full-time equivalent for each individual. NSERC will include any graduate-level support offered by SSHRC and CIHR, and taken up, in the calculation of available support.
  • CREATE stipends to postdoctoral fellows are normally limited to two years of support. Three years of support is acceptable, when justified, to attract exceptional foreign candidates. The three-year appointment must be offered up front and reported to NSERC with a written justification within one month of an offer being accepted.
  • International students and fellows may be offered stipends. Persons paid from NSERC grants are not considered NSERC employees.

Note: The 80/20 percent ratio is over the course of the grant.

Up to 20 percent of the CREATE funds may be used for the following expenses (sections below combined):

Training program structure

  • Funds towards the development and the coordination of the training program structure, format and content, i.e., costs for the purchase of books or periodicals, specialized office supplies, computing equipment and information services not formally provided by the university to its academic and research staff, costs involved in providing personnel with training or development in novel techniques required for the training program, etc.
  • The salary of a program coordinator in the first two years of the grant. Universities or other collaborators are expected to assume any such costs after this initial period and must clearly explain how they will do so in the budget justification of the application.
  • Advertising and trainee recruitment costs, including travel costs to bring potential candidates in for interviews.
  • Costs associated with short-term training related to professional skill development for trainees.

Travel

  • If the program involves institutions located in different cities, funds for the travel of trainees between locations.
  • Travel and accommodation expenses of trainees for exchanges nationally among universities located in different cities, between universities and other sectors, or internationally.
  • Air travel must be claimed at the lowest rate available and may not exceed full economy fare.
  • Cost of land travel, up to the equivalent of economy airfare.
  • Travel cancellation insurance.
  • Travel health insurance for trainees who do not receive any such benefits from their university or other sources.
  • Safety-related expenses (for trainees) for fieldwork, such as protective gear, immunizations, etc.
  • Entry visa fee (for trainees) when required for the purpose of research.

Dissemination of training materials and research results

  • Funds for the development and dissemination of training materials.
  • Costs of developing Web-based information, including Web site maintenance fees.
  • Costs associated with the dissemination of findings (i.e., through traditional venues, as well as videos, CD-ROMs, etc.).
  • Costs of holding a workshop or seminar, the activities of which relate directly to the funded research (including non-alcoholic refreshments or meal costs).

Services and miscellaneous expenses

  • Networking costs (non-alcoholic refreshments or meals) for networking purposes in the context of formal courtesy between the grantee and guest researchers, and research-related activities in the context of assemblies that facilitate and contribute to the achievement of the research objectives (e.g., grantee meeting with collaborators and stakeholders).

Items other than those indicated above are not eligible (e.g., other salaries, materials and supplies, field work, other travel, publication costs, relocation costs). These are the responsibility of researchers through their research grants.

Application Procedures

Applying to the CREATE Program involves a two phase application process: Phase 1: Letter of Intent and Phase 2: Application. The CREATE Program is highly selective, with pre-screening based on the LOI. Only applicants successful at the Letter of Intent stage will be invited to submit an application.

Phase 1: Letter of Intent

To apply for a CREATE Program grant, researchers must first submit Form 187 to their university for consideration. Refer to Form 187 instructions for complete information or contact your university research grants office.

The entire LOI application process is performed using NSERC’s On-line System.

A complete LOI includes the following:

  • Form 187;
  • Form 100 for the applicant;
  • a letter from the applicant’s university Vice-President Research*; and
  • for the industrial stream only, one letter or e-mail from the collaborating industry(ies) to the applicant, confirming its (their) willingness to participate in the program committee and to host internships for trainees.

*An earlier deadline may be established by the university to review Letters of Intent and to select those they will put forward to NSERC. The Vice-President Research or equivalent, must write a letter that clearly confirms that the applicant’s proposal is one of the proposals endorsed by the university as part of their quota of submissions, and should describe the university’s support and commitment for this new initiative.

Phase 2: Application

If invited to apply, you must then submit the following documents to NSERC through the research grant office by the deadline date:

  • Form 102;
  • Form 100 for the applicant and up to ten co-applicants;
  • one letter of support from the lead university; and
  • for both the regular and industrial stream, a maximum of three letters from collaborators will be accepted. For the industrial stream only, at least one of these letters must be from an industrial collaborator confirming its willingness to participate in the program committee and to host internships for trainees. In addition, indicate in the first sentence of the description of the training program that you are applying to the industrial stream of the CREATE Program.

Refer to Forms 100 and 102 instructions for complete information or contact your university research grants office.

The entire application process is performed using NSERC’s On-line System.

Review Procedures and Selection Criteria

An NSERC CREATE multidisciplinary selection committee, composed of distinguished Canadian and foreign members from academia and the private sector, will review the Letters of Intent and the invited applications.

Letter of Intent

At the LOI stage the training program will be assessed in relation to:

  • merit of the proposed training program (40 percent); and
  • excellence of the team of researchers (60 percent).

Refer to the selection criteria described below for details.

Application

The training program's excellence in the application will be assessed in relation to its:

  • innovative, collaborative and integrative character;
  • capacity to better prepare trainees for the workforce; and
  • potential to support teams of outstanding students and postdoctoral fellows.

In arriving at an overall rating for the application, the committee will take into consideration the factors listed below.

Merit of the proposed training program (50 percent)

Applicable to all applications:

  • the extent to which the program is associated with a research area of high priority to Canada and will provide a higher quality of training;
  • how the research area proposed relates to the current scientific or technical developments in the field, with references to the current literature;
  • the extent to which the research training program will facilitate the transition of the trainees to the Canadian workforce and will promote interaction of the trainees with non-academic sectors, such as private companies, industry associations, not-for-profit organizations, government departments, etc., as appropriate;
  • the description of the potential employers and a qualitative assessment of the job prospects for trainees;
  • the extent to which the program will provide opportunities for the trainees to develop professional skills;
  • the extent to which the program uses novel and interesting approaches to graduate student training in an integrated manner to provide an enriched experience for all participants;
  • the research training program’s focus and clarity of objectives, both short- and long-term; and
  • the added value that trainees will receive through their participation.

Applicable to the industrial stream:

  • the extent to which the program will be useful in developing professional skills that will benefit the industrial employer by improving job readiness immediately after graduation;
  • the extent to which the program will increase the supply of highly qualified personnel (HQP) for the industrial sector; and
  • the extent to which the program will improve linkages between industry and academia.

Note: A financial contribution from industry is not a requirement but would be viewed as an asset.

As appropriate to specific applications:

  • how the mobility of students and fellows between academic institutions and organizations either within Canada or abroad will augment their research training experience; and
  • the degree to which the training program, while focused mainly in the NSE, also fosters research studies at the interface between the NSE and the health or social sciences and humanities.

Excellence of the team of researchers (25 percent)

See the Policy and Guidelines on the Assessment of Contributions to Research and Training.

  • the quality and impact of team members’ past contributions on their respective areas of research;
  • the complementarity of the expertise of the members of the group to deliver on the collaborative research (including evidence of how they will work collaboratively) and training goals proposed;
  • the quality and extent of past contributions to the training of highly qualified personnel; and
  • if applicable, the role of co-applicants currently holding or participating in an on-going CREATE grant relative to their role in the proposed CREATE initiative.

Program management and long-term sustainability (25 percent)

  • the appropriateness of the proposed management structure, including the composition, the role and the responsibilities of the Program Committee;
  • the reliability of the project management plans for the implementation of the training program and for the evaluation of the program's performance against stated objectives;
  • the recruitment strategy for attracting a high quality and diverse group of trainees and the selection process that will be used, as well as the appropriateness of the various level of trainees involved (undergraduate to postdoctoral level);
  • the evidence of the university’s commitment to facilitate and further the plans and goals of the CREATE Program, during and beyond the term of the grant; and
  • the provision of adequate facilities for carrying out the research.
People Discovery Innovation