NSERC-SSHRC Sustainable agriculture research initiative

Supporting research to initiate or accelerate the development of solutions that will be required for a sustainable, resilient and profitable agriculture sector in a net-zero economy

Review of your application

When NSERC and SSHRC receive an application, they first undertake an administrative assessment to ensure the application is complete and complies with all requirements. Once the administrative assessment is satisfactorily completed, NSERC and SSHRC will proceed with the merit assessment of the application.

Preparatory funding applications will be evaluated for eligibility and fit internally at NSERC and SSHRC using the following criteria:

  • Fit to the initiative
  • Justification of need for funds
  • Eligibility of requested budget items
  • Partner engagement, participation and contributions (if applicable)

All full proposals undergo peer review. In collaboration with AAFC, NSERC and SSHRC will establish a multidisciplinary evaluation committee, with national and international members from academic and non-academic organizations (such as private, public, or not-for-profit sector organizations), which will review the applications. The peer review committee will assess proposals according to the merit review criteria detailed below. The peer review committee may be informed in its assessment by external expert reports. NSERC and SSHRC funding decisions will be informed by the committee's recommendations. NSERC and SSHRC reserve the right to select the most appropriate review process.

Merit evaluation criteria

The merit of your application is evaluated using the following four equally weighted criteria. Your proposal must address all the listed points (criteria and sub-criteria) to be considered for funding. For this initiative, alignment with the objectives and/or research topics will be assessed as part of the relevance and outcomes criteria.

Relevance and outcomes

  • Significance of the intended outcomes and of the economic, social and/or environmental benefits for Canada
  • Originality of the research to address the topic and the potential for generating new scientific knowledge
  • Extent to which the strategy to apply the research results is likely to achieve the intended outcomes
  • Alignment with the objectives and/or research topics of the initiative


  • Appropriateness of the partnership to achieve the intended outcomes, leveraging of different types of partner organizations and the integration of their unique perspectives and knowledge in the project, as appropriate
  • Clarity of each partner organization's role in the collaboration with respect to defining the challenge, co-designing and implementing the research, and using the results to achieve the desired outcomes
  • Appropriateness of the level of in-kind contributions from each partner organization

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 the identified indicators and methods for monitoring progress during the project and for assessing outcomes after the project
  • Appropriateness of academic researchers' expertise, and that found within the partner organizations, both for carrying out the planned research activities and in mentoring trainees


  • 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 your training plan page)

NSERC uses established merit indicators to rate each evaluation sub-criterion/criterion.

NSERC and SSHRC will review full proposals to determine whether they fall primarily under NSERC's or SSHRC's research areas. NSERC will provide funding for research projects primarily in the natural sciences and engineering fields, while SSHRC will support research primarily in the social sciences and humanities fields.

In supporting research partnerships that endeavour to obtain the greatest possible benefits to Canada and for Canadians, NSERC and SSHRC reserve the right to:

  • determine the eligibility of proposals and request additional information from Canadian applicants, as may be required for the review of their application
  • interpret the regulations and policies governing the national funding opportunities
  • apply conditions to individual grants, as appropriate
  • terminate, suspend, reduce the amount or duration, or change the terms and conditions of an award with due notice, in order to comply with Government of Canada laws, regulations, policies and directives, which are subject to change from time to time

Funding decision

NSERC and SSHRC will decide on the allocation of funds from each agency based on the primary focus of application. Their funding decisions will consider the merit evaluation of applications to select proposals for funding on a competitive basis.

NSERC's funding decisions may also consider the assessment of potential risks for Canada's national security, in addition to the results of the merit evaluation. If you are asked to submit a Risk Assessment Form following the National Security Guidelines for Research Partnerships, NSERC will conduct an administrative risk validation and, if additional expertise is required, advice will be sought from Canada's national security departments and agencies. Funding decisions that consider the results of a national security risk assessment are informed by both the risks identified and the mitigation measures proposed.

Results of the evaluation are expected to be available in March 2024 with award start dates of April 1, 2024. The start date is not negotiable.

What's next?
Apply now


Application deadlines
Preparatory funding: May 8, 2023, by 8:00 pm (ET)
Full project funding: November 8, 2023, by 8:00 pm (ET)

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