National Science Foundation Global Centres

Call for proposals: Bioeconomy


Canadian university researchers in the social sciences, humanities, natural sciences and engineering fields working with university collaborators from the US, and optionally Finland, Japan, Republic of Korea and/or the UK, on use-inspired research addressing global challenges through the bioeconomy

How much?

Up to CAN$500,000 per year

How long?

4 to 5 years


Please consult the Global Centres Program Solicitation on the National Science Foundation’s website for complete details on this initiative and guidelines for the preparation, submission and review of proposals submitted to the National Science Foundation.

Global Centres aim to encourage and support international, interdisciplinary collaborative research centres that will develop use-inspired research to address global challenges. The topic for the 2024 competition is addressing global challenges through the bioeconomy.

This is a joint initiative between the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), the National Science Foundation of the United States of America (NSF), the National Endowment for the Humanities of the United States of America (NEH), the Research Council Finland (RCF), the Innovation Funding Agency Business Finland (BF), the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST), the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF), the Ministry of Science and Information and Communication Technology of the Republic of Korea (MSIT), and the United Kingdom Research and Innovation (UKRI) Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

The world is facing some serious challenges, from climate change to food sustainability, water insecurity and mitigating infectious diseases, and advancements in biotechnology can provide the means to address some of these challenges. The Global Centres initiative provides an opportunity for international, interdisciplinary teams to use knowledge and research on the bioeconomy to address a global challenge facing humanity. The bioeconomy is expected to play a pivotal role in the pursuit of a net-zero economy. Research investments in this area can help accelerate scientific discovery and enable the harnessing, engineering and rational modulation of biological systems to create goods and services that contribute to the agriculture, health, security, manufacturing, energy and environmental sectors of the global economy. Bioeconomy is built on the foundation of biotechnology and biomanufacturing, and in addition to biological science and engineering, includes research in other fields, such as the social and behavioural sciences, humanities, ethics, geosciences and chemistry, which help determine what biotechnologies are needed.

Canada is a global leader in many aspects of the bioeconomy, including the access to and use of biomass for advanced bioproducts and innovative solutions, forestry and agriculture, food and cultural sovereignty, sustainable resource management and a skilled workforce. Canada also represents 6.5% of the world’s theoretical bioenergy potential. Shifting toward a bioeconomy will leverage these unique advantages, including the cross-sectoral and cross-disciplinary nature of the bioeconomy, support the growth of related research and industry within the country and help Canada meet its greenhouse gas emission reduction targets under the Paris Agreement. Research in the natural sciences, engineering, social and behavioural sciences and humanities fields, in collaboration with international expertise, will help Canada exploit these resources and grow these advantages.

NSERC and SSHRC would welcome the involvement of Indigenous Peoples, their uniquely valuable connection to Canada’s ecology, and their incorporation of traditional Indigenous knowledge in research.

Global Centres proposals should be focused on cutting-edge, interdisciplinary and use-inspired research on the bioeconomy with international collaborations that foster breakthroughs in knowledge. This initiative supports researchers from Canada and the US, and optionally from Finland, Japan, Republic of Korea and/or the UK, in forming collaborative research partnerships to address themes related to the bioeconomy (see Research topics). NSF Global Centres grants will support the creation of international hubs of research excellence that advance knowledge, empower communities, and generate discovery and innovative solutions at a regional and/or global scale.

These international hubs are expected to be driven by a bold vision for high-impact, use-inspired research, as well as a strategy to integrate diverse perspectives from different disciplines, international partners and other stakeholders into the research over the course of the project.

Through a lead agency model, the US Principal Investigator (PI) will submit a single collaborative proposal on behalf of the research team, which will undergo a review process by NSF, the lead agency. In parallel, the participating Canadian researchers on the team must submit one simplified application to NSERC. Please refer to the Apply section for more details.

Eligible Canadian researchers may receive funding from NSERC or SSHRC, while international researchers from the US, Finland, Japan, Republic of Korea, and/or the UK may receive funding from their respective national funding agencies. This initiative recognizes the need to bring together the social and behavioural sciences and humanities (SSH), alongside the natural sciences and engineering (NSE) fields, to make important contributions to the bioeconomy and its impact on society. As such, it is strongly encouraged that proposals include both an NSE and an SSH component. For this initiative, there are no restrictions regarding the balance of project costs between the NSE and the SSH fields. The Canadian budget is expected to reflect interdisciplinarity between NSE and SSH research-related expenses NSERC funding will be provided as an Alliance grant and SSHRC funding will be provided as a Partnership-type grant. NSERC and SSHRC will decide on the allocation of funds from each agency to successful Canadian research teams.


  • Create physical or virtual international research centres that advance innovative, interdisciplinary, use-inspired research and education on the bioeconomy to address societal challenges through international collaboration and multi-stakeholder engagement.
  • Promote international collaboration to obtain advantages of scope, scale, flexibility, expertise, facilities and/or access to specific geographic locations to enable advances that could not occur otherwise.
  • Expand opportunities for students and early career researchers to gain education and training in world-class research while enhancing diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility. Where possible, provide opportunities for workforce training in bioeconomy that does not require advanced degrees but the training of a competitive workforce.
  • Integrate stakeholders and community members into the planning of the research so that centres reflect a co-designed and co-developed work plan that results in the co-generation of results likely to be taken up by relevant groups to solve urgent societal challenges at a regional or global scale to support the communities that they serve.

Who can apply?

A team of Canadian researchers with at least one academic applicant in Canada who is eligible to receive funding from NSERC or SSHRC. Specifically, Canadian university researchers—whether they come from the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences or engineering fields—wishing to participate as collaborators in an NSF Global Centre proposal may apply for funding from NSERC to support their participation. As an applicant to this initiative, you must collaborate with at least one US-based researcher who meets the NSF eligibility requirements; the US researcher will be the PI on the NSF Global Centre proposal.

To be an applicant or co-applicant on a Global Centre proposal, you must be working in a research area supported by NSERC and/or SSHRC, and you must meet the NSERC eligibility requirements at the time of your application.

Each Canadian team should submit only one application to NSERC for their participation in a Global Centre proposal. You may participate as an applicant on only one Global Centre proposal, but you may be a co-applicant or collaborator on multiple proposals. Researchers from colleges who meet NSERC’s eligibility requirements may participate as co-applicants.

Other researchers and organizations (e.g., from the public, private and/or not-for-profit sectors) can participate as collaborators. Refer to the Tri-agency guide on financial administration for more information on the eligibility of expenses you may incur in support of such collaborations.

Safeguarding your research

Canadian researchers are encouraged to exercise appropriate levels of due diligence at all times when managing their research and establishing and/or continuing partnerships with national, international, and multinational partners. Resources to do so are provided by the Government of Canada on the Safeguarding Your Research portal.

As NSERC’s funding will be provided via an NSERC Alliance grant, Canada’s National Security Guidelines for Research Partnerships apply to NSERC-funded applications that involve one or more partner organizations from the private sector, including when they participate alongside other partner organizations from the public and/or not-for-profit sectors. These guidelines provide a framework through which researchers, research institutions and Canada’s granting agencies can undertake consistent, risk-targeted due diligence to identify and mitigate potential national security risks linked to research partnerships.

For such partnerships, you and your post-secondary institution are required to complete a risk assessment form for your research project and submit it as an integral part of your application.

What's next?
International collaborator(s)
Apply now


Application deadline
June 11, 2024, 8:00 p.m. EST

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