National Science Foundation Global Centres
Canadian university researchers in the social sciences, humanities, natural sciences and engineering fields working with collaborators from the US, and optionally the UK and/or Australia, or other countries as well, on use-inspired research that addresses global climate change and clean energy challenges
Track 1 – Implementation:
Up to CAN$750,000/year
Track 2 – Design:
Up to CAN$100K/year
Track 1 – Implementation:
4 to 5 years
Track 2 – Design:
1 to 2 years
Please consult the Global Centres Program Solicitation on the National Science Foundation's website for complete details on this initiative.
Global Centres 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 US National Science Foundation (NSF), Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to encourage and support international collaborative research on climate change and clean energy.
Climate change is a global threat that impacts the natural and human world through changes in regional weather patterns, which accelerate species extinctions, alter the structure and function of ecosystems, and affect societal, biological, physical and geological processes in urban and rural areas around the globe. Developing solutions to this requires multidisciplinary collaboration and international cooperation in science, technology and policy. By approaching climate change and clean energy research through international and interdisciplinary collaborations, the intent is to explore the complexity of the problem and find synergistic responses to issues such as greenhouse gas emissions, atmospheric and oceanic circulation drivers, impacts of natural and built environments, human behavior, and policy constraints.
Canada's Climate Science 2050: Advancing Science and Knowledge on Climate Change (CS2050) is a national synthesis that was undertaken to better identify and understand climate change science and knowledge gaps, and to guide the collaborative and interdisciplinary scientific efforts needed to inform climate action. For example, CS2050 has identified net-zero pathway science as a critical research priority. The vision for NSF Global Centres is well-aligned with CS2050.
This initiative supports researchers from the Canada and the US, and optionally Australia, the UK, and/or other countries as well, in forming collaborative research partnerships to address themes related to climate change and/or clean energy. Global Centres proposals should be focused on cutting-edge, interdisciplinary and use-inspired research on climate change and/or clean energy with international collaborations that foster breakthroughs in knowledge. 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, national and global scale.
These international hubs are expected to be driven by a bold vision for high-impact, use-inspired basic 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.
While climate change science has traditionally focused on the natural sciences, this initiative recognizes the need to include the social and behavioural sciences and humanities, as these, alongside the natural sciences and engineering fields, provide important contributions in informing the transformation needed by society.
The Global Centres initiative includes two tracks:
- Track 1 – Implementation: Implementation grants support the establishment of a Global Centre and are expected to be four to five years in duration.
- Track 2 – Design: Design grants will support coordination and preliminary research efforts aiming to foster future Global Centre proposals.
More information about the difference between these two tracks is available on the NSF website. Canadian research teams may participate in either Track 1 – Implementation or Track 2 – Design funding proposals. Funding for Canadian researchers applying to Track 2 – Design is subject to the availability of funds.
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 application to NSERC that includes a summary of the proposal, budget information for all Canadian participants on the team, and a Personal data form with CCV attachment (form 100A) all Canadian participants. 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, UK and Australia may receive funding from their respective funding agencies. NSERC funding will be provided as an Alliance grant and SSHRC funding will be provided as a Partnership-type grant.
This collaborative opportunity is fully described on the NSF website, which includes complete guidelines for the preparation, submission and review of proposals submitted to NSF.
- Create physical or virtual international research centres that advance innovative, interdisciplinary, use-inspired research and education on climate change and/or clean energy 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.
- Engage multiple partners and stakeholders through practices such as Team Science, Engaged Scholarship and Knowledge-to-Action frameworks to empower them to solve urgent societal challenges at a regional scale.
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 in a 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 researcher from the US who meets the NSF eligibility requirements; the US researcher will be the PI on the proposal. Each Canadian team should submit only one application for their participation in a 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 or SSHRC, and you must meet the relevant eligibility requirements at the time of your application.
You may participate as an applicant on only one Global Centre proposal, regardless of the track, 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 sector) 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
At all times, Canadian researchers are encouraged to exercise appropriate levels of due diligence 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.
No further information is required at the time of application. If your proposal includes substantial content in the natural sciences and engineering fields and includes one or more partner organization from the private sector, you and your postsecondary institution will be contacted at a later date by NSERC and asked to complete the National Security Guidelines for Research Partnerships’ Risk Assessment Form. Instructions for completing the form will be provided at that time.