Alliance Grants

Frequently Asked Questions

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Application process



Award and post-award:

Previous partnership grants


When can I submit an application?

For applications under Cost-sharing Option 1, as of December 2, 2019, you can submit an application at any level of funding more than $30,000 annually from NSERC. Applications requesting $20,000 or more (up to and including $30,000) annually from NSERC will be accepted beginning on December 11, 2019.

For applications under Cost-sharing Option 2, you will be able to submit an application in early 2020. Visit the Alliance Latest News page for more details in January 2020, when application procedures are finalized.

Are Alliance grants open to college applicants?

No, Alliance grants are open to university-based researchers only. However, college faculty members can participate as co-applicants in Alliance grant applications, provided they meet the eligibility criteria.

College-based applicants can continue to apply to the existing suite of college grants under the College and Community Innovation Program.

Who owns the rights to intellectual property (IP) from research activities supported by an Alliance grant?

NSERC does not claim any ownership of IP or stipulate who must own any IP resulting from the research partnership. However, the ownership and protection of IP generated by research supported through an Alliance grant must follow the principles described in NSERC’s Policy on Intellectual Property. For any Alliance grant, NSERC recommends that you and your institution follow the best practice of signing a research agreement with the partner organization(s).


Can cash contributions from government departments and foreign companies be recognized in cost-sharing calculations?

Government departments: NSERC will recognize cash contributions from departments of Canadian federal or provincial/territorial governments. These departments must either have a mandate to create or modify policy that is relevant to the proposed project and the capacity to use the research results, or have the capacity to exploit the research results directly for economic gain. Cash contributions can be made through any funding mechanism, including grants and contributions, as long as the departmental staff play an active role in the project’s research activities.

Foreign companies: NSERC will recognize cash contributions from foreign companies as long as:

  • The company participates with at least one Canadian partner organization (private, public or not-for-profit sector) that is recognized in NSERC’s cost sharing calculation and meets all of NSERC’s partner organization requirements
  • The company demonstrates that it has the research capability and financial means to collaborate in the project
  • The proposal clearly outlines the benefits to Canada and Canadians of including a foreign company in the research project

How does NSERC determine the size of the partner organization?

NSERC considers the entire organization as the collaborating partner, even if the organization participates through one of its divisions, regional offices or other types of organizational entities. This applies to organizations in the public, private or not-for-profit sectors. The partner organization’s size is based on the global number of its employees.

Application process

Where can I get information on how to prepare my application?

The Alliance web page provides information on how to apply through NSERC’s Online System. There is no application deadline. If you have questions regarding the program or the application process, you may contact the Alliance staff . Before starting to prepare your application, you are strongly encouraged to carefully read all sections of the program description and the instructions for completing an application.

What is the page limit for the proposal section? Does it include the text that is already in the application template?

The application length depends on the size of the request to NSERC. The application instructions include a table showing the suggested section lengths for your proposal and the overall page limit. The text in the proposal template counts towards the overall page limit.

Whom must my application include as trainees?

Your application must include a training component principally intended for undergraduate, graduate or postdoctoral trainees. That is, trainees cannot consist exclusively of research professionals. Reviewers will assess the project’s opportunities for enriched learning experiences for undergraduate, graduate or postdoctoral trainees to develop research and professional skills.

Is the salary of research professionals an eligible expense?

Yes. The salary of research professionals contributing to the project is an eligible expense. You must justify the need for research professionals and clearly detail their roles and responsibilities in your proposal.

Do I need to include the Common CV in my application? Is a Form 100 also required?

You and your co-applicants must complete a Personal Data Form with CCV Attachment (Form 100A). This form provides additional information, such as the record of student training. It is the same supplemental information collected for NSERC Discovery Grant applications.

Do I need to hold an NSERC Discovery grant to apply for an Alliance grant?

No, you do not need to have a Discovery grant to apply for an Alliance grant. However, you must hold a faculty position that meets the eligibility criteria at a recognized Canadian university.

How many applications can I submit?

Under Cost-sharing Option 1, there is no limit on the number of applications in a given year.


How do I determine the amount I can request from NSERC?

NSERC’s grant is calculated on the basis of cost-sharing with the partner organizations. The portion of the cost of your project that can be cost-shared with NSERC includes only the cash contributions from partner organizations that are recognized for cost-sharing.

Can I start spending the cash contributions from the partner organizations before submitting the application?

NSERC will recognize eligible cash contributions from partner organizations that were spent up to 3 months before the application is submitted. However, NSERC funds can be applied only to expenses incurred after an award is approved.

Do in-kind contributions count in cost-sharing or project evaluation?

NSERC will not consider the dollar value of in-kind contributions when determining NSERC’s cash contribution to the project. However, partners’ in-kind contributions are important for the success of the project and must be well described in the proposal. Reviewers will evaluate the importance of the in-kind contributions to the project.


How will NSERC evaluate my application? How quickly will my application be assessed?

Alliance grants are evaluated using four equally weighted criteria. To be considered for funding, an application must meet each criterion, and the priority for funding will be determined according to relative scores. NSERC reviews the applications on the basis of their financial risk, given the requested amount. It uses a variety of assessment tools to do this, including merit indicators.

Assessment time for your application will vary from four to 16 weeks, depending on the size of the request to NSERC and the review mechanism used.

What will the success rate be?

As the program is new, it is difficult to predict what percentage of applications will be funded. NSERC will make funding decisions regularly, drawing from the program’s budget throughout the fiscal year, to help ensure that funds are available for the best proposals, regardless of when they are received.

Award and post-award

Can an Alliance grant be extended?

If your project is less than five years in length, it can be scaled up or extended to a maximum of five years. If you are planning to extend your project beyond the five-year period, you will have to submit a new proposal.

Previous partnership grants

Will my current NSERC partnership grants be affected by the launch of the Alliance grant program?

No. Commitments made to your ongoing awards under previous NSERC research partnerships programs (Collaborative Research and Development grants, Industrial Research Chairs, Strategic Projects and Networks and Engage/Engage Plus grants) will be honoured until their completion, under the original terms and conditions.

Can an Alliance grant be used to establish a research chair?

No. Alliance grants cannot be used for the salary support of a research chair. Any contribution from partner organizations towards the chairholder’s salary will not be considered by NSERC in its cost-sharing calculation. Alliance grants can, however, support research activities that are part of an established institutional research chair.

Can the title of an Alliance application bear the name of an institutional research chair?

No. Any Alliance application title must specifically describe the subject of the proposed research activities.

Can an institutional research chair include “NSERC,” “Industrial Research Chair” or the acronym “IRC” in its name?

No. An institutional research chair can no longer include “NSERC” in its name, even if the chair research activities are supported through Alliance and/or other NSERC grants. Similarly, an institutional research chair can no longer include “Industrial Research Chair” or “IRC” in its name, since these are associated with NSERC’s long-standing Industrial Research Chairs (IRC) program, which has been terminated.

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