` NSERC Call for joint Canada-Germany projects on hydrogen technologies
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Call for joint Canada-Germany projects on hydrogen technologies

Overview
Duration 1 year
Application deadline April 30, 2021– full application deadline
Application forms
  • Form 100A – personal data form
  • Form 101 – application for a grant
To view the instructions, select Instructions for completing an application – form 101. To create or access an application, select Online System Login.
For more information

Consult the contact list

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) is partnering with the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, BMBF) to fund collaborative research projects on hydrogen and fuel cell technologies. 

This competition aims to fund ten preliminary (one-year) projects. The proposals to NSERC should not exceed CAN$50,000. All project expenditures are subject to the principles and directives governing the appropriate use of grant funds as outlined in the Tri-agency guide on financial administration. You must follow the Tri-agency open access policy, and you are also encouraged to make any publication data resulting from funded projects open access.

Context

Hydrogen is a versatile fuel that can be produced from many sources and act as an energy carrier. When used with hydrogen from renewable sources, hydrogen fuel cells offer a zero-emissions option that can be scaled for numerous applications including motive power for vehicles; space and water heating in communities; space and process heat for industry; and power for remote, backup, and critical applications. In addition, hydrogen power-to-gas (P2G) applications enable greater use of renewable power from intermittent sources, such as wind and solar.

In December of 2020, Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) released its This link will take you to another Web site Hydrogen Strategy for Canada – Seizing the Opportunities for Hydrogen, which lays out an ambitious framework for actions that will cement hydrogen as a tool to achieve the goal of net-zero emissions by 2050 and position Canada as a global, industrial leader of clean renewable fuels. Canada was an early leader in the hydrogen and fuel cell sector, and is recognized worldwide as a region rich with technical expertise and leading products and services. While some hydrogen and fuel cell technologies are at a level of commercial readiness, support for R&D is still needed to further reduce costs, develop solutions for less mature applications and discover new breakthrough technologies to benefit the sector.

Canada and Germany enjoy longstanding cooperation in science and technology, and the basis for the proposed initiative stems from the German‑Canadian Intergovernmental Agreement on Scientific and Technological Cooperation that was signed in Bonn on April 16, 1971.

Program objectives

The current initiative is designed to fund preliminary (one-year) projects between Canadian academic researchers and their counterparts in German academia and/or federal research institutes. It is expected that these projects will

  • provide training opportunities for Canadian students and postdoctoral fellows
  • provide opportunities for networking and interchanges between Canadian researchers and their counterparts in Germany
  • lay the groundwork for longer term collaborations that will help advance the development and deployment of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies 

Research objectives

The proposed research project between Canadian and German researchers can be in any area that will help advance the development and deployment of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies.  Potential topic areas are listed below.

  • Catalyst materials
  • Electrode and membrane materials
  • Modelling
  • Manufacturing processes
  • Power-to-X (P2X)
  • Hydrogen production, storage and transport
  • Integration of green hydrogen into energy systems
  • Cost reductions
  • Reduction of refuelling times
  • Codes and standards

Applicants

If you are a Canadian university researcher who is eligible to receive NSERC funds, you can apply on your own or as a team with co-applicants who are also eligible academic researchers. Given the limited funding, applicants will be allowed to participate in only one grant application, either as the principal investigator or co-applicant. All grant applicants must hold (as primary grant applicant) an active peer-reviewed grant from NSERC at the time of application.

Application submission and review

All documents should follow NSERC’s online presentation and attachment standards. You must submit your application by the deadline. NSERC will screen all applications to ensure they are complete and adhere to the program requirements and objectives. If your application does not meet all program requirements, it will be rejected.

All applications will be reviewed by NSERC file managers to expedite the decision. This evaluation is supported by existing peer review; all grant applicants must hold (as primary grant applicant) an active peer-reviewed grant from NSERC at the time of application.

A complete application includes:

  • Proposal: application for a grant (form 101)
  • Personal data form with CCV attachment (form 100A), completed by the applicant
  • Personal data form with CCV attachment (form 100A), completed by each co-applicant

Collaboration outside the natural sciences and engineering

You are encouraged to collaborate with experts in fields other than the natural sciences and engineering, where appropriate, since implementing policy or applying the research results can depend on socioeconomic considerations as well as scientific understanding. Academic researchers outside the natural sciences and engineering may participate in proposals as co-applicants if they meet NSERC’s eligibility requirements for the type, duration and nature of the appointment. Research costs for these collaborations may account for up to 30% of the project costs and must be identified in the project budget. All project expenditures are subject to the principles and directives governing the appropriate use of grant funds as outlined in the Tri-agency guide on financial administration.

Equity, diversity and inclusion

NSERC is committed to excellence in research and research training for the benefit of Canadians. Achieving a more equitable, diverse and inclusive Canadian research enterprise is also essential to creating the excellent, innovative and impactful research necessary to seize opportunities and respond to global challenges.

You are asked to consider sex, gender and diversity in the project’s research design and to consider how to promote and support a variety of forms of mentoring to ensure trainees’ equitable participation and growth. Furthermore, for large projects, you must strive for equity, diversity and inclusion when developing your group of co-applicants, partners and trainees. See the Guide for applicants: Considering equity, diversity and inclusion in your application.

Evaluation criteria

Each agency will evaluate proposals independently using its own review process and evaluation criteria. The Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF) and NSERC will then compare their respective evaluations to determine which projects will be funded.

If you submit a proposal under this call, you agree that information contained in your proposal may be shared between the agencies. Applicants in Germany and principal investigators in Canada are responsible for ensuring that all co-applicants and collaborators are aware of the rules concerning the disclosure of information contained in the proposal.

Applications to NSERC will be evaluated based on the following criteria. NSERC will use merit indicators similar to those used in the Alliance program to rate each criterion, which are all given equal weight in the evaluation.

Background and expected outcomes

  • Significance of the intended outcomes and of the economic, social and/or environmental impact for Canada and Germany

Collaboration with Germany

  • Appropriateness of the collaboration to achieve the intended outcomes; leveraging of different types of organizations and the integration of their unique perspectives and knowledge in the project, as appropriate
  • Clarity of each collaborating organization’s role in defining the research challenge, co-designing and implementing the research, and using results to meet Canadian and German priorities
  • Opportunities for networking and the potential for longer term partnerships with the German collaborators

Quality of the proposal

  • Clarity of the objectives and deliverables; appropriateness of the scope and size of planned activities to achieve the expected outcomes; justification for the planned expenditures
  • Appropriateness of academic researchers’ expertise, and that found within the collaborating organizations, both for carrying out the planned research activities and in mentoring trainees

Training

  • Opportunities for enriched training experiences for research trainees (undergraduates, graduates, postdoctoral fellows) to develop relevant research skills as well as professional skills such as leadership, communication, collaboration and entrepreneurship
  • Consideration of equity, diversity and inclusion in the training plan (for guidance, consult the Equity, diversity and inclusion in the training plan document)

Reporting

A brief final report will be required once the project is completed.