Alliance Grants

Funding your research project

You and your co-applicants may receive funds from multiple sources to cover the costs of your research project.

These sources of funds could include:

  • Alliance grant funding from NSERC to cover the direct costs of the research, in proportion to the amount provided by the partner organizations recognized for cost sharing (see Cost-sharing);
  • cash contributions from your partner organizations that are paid to your university for the direct costs of your research project (not including overhead);
  • cash provided by the university or by external sources such as other funding agencies.

The funds from NSERC and from the partner organization must be paid to eligible universities and cannot be used to buy equipment, products, or services from any partner organization.


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 who are recognized for cost-sharing. You can include cash contributions from them that were spent, up to 3 months before the application is submitted, to start the project. However, NSERC funds can only be applied to expenses incurred after an award is approved.

It does not include cash contributions from:

  • the partner organizations that are not recognized for cost-sharing
  • the university
  • other funders

The following table shows what percentage of your research project’s funding can be covered by an Alliance grant, according to the size and type of partner organization(s) involved.

Table of Cost-sharing options

Option 1

Applications per year: no limits

Grant size: $20,000 to $1 million per year

Duration: 1 to 5 years

Size of partner organization Type of partnership NSERC Contribution to Project Costs

Large organizations, including private, public and not-for-profit organizations

(500 or more employees globally)

As a sole partner organization or in partnership exclusively with other large organizations within the same sector (private, public or not-for-profit)

(1:1 leverage)

As a partner with small and medium-sized enterprises such as in a value- or supply-chain relationship, or with other sectors (private, public or not-for-profit)

(2:1 leverage)

Small and medium-sized private, public or not-for-profit organizations

(fewer than 500 employees globally)

As a sole partner organization or in partnership with other sectors (private, public or not-for-profit)

(2:1 leverage)

Option 2

Applications within a 12-month period:

  • Two for non-academic partners
  • Two for applicants (one as the principal investigator, one as co-applicant)

Grant size: $20,000 to $200,000 per year

Duration: 1 to 5 years

Size of partner organization Type of partnership NSERC Contribution to Project Costs

All partner sizes

Partnership must include one organization that is recognized for NSERC cost-sharing

Exclusively not-for-profit and public partner organizations


Any private-sector partner organization; this option requires a 10% cash contribution from the combined partner organizations


To calculate the amount of NSERC funding to request:

  • Determine the total project cost.
  • Subtract any costs that are being paid from other sources (the partner organizations that are not recognized for cost-sharing, the university or other funders).
  • Multiply this total by the appropriate cost-sharing percentage in the Table above.

In other words, you may apply the appropriate leverage ratio shown in the Table above to the amount of funding received from those partner organizations that are recognized for cost-sharing to determine the maximum amount of funding you can request from NSERC.

In-kind contributions are important for the success of the project and are considered as part of the proposal evaluation (see Evaluation Criteria). However, they are not considered when determining NSERC’s contribution to the project costs.

Costs funded by other sources than NSERC funds, or funds not considered in cost-sharing calculations, can be listed in the budget table. These additional funds must also be described in the proposal and will be considered in the assessment of a proposal’s overall merit, according to:

  • how much value they add to the project
  • how appropriate they are for the size of the project
  • how appropriate they are for the partner organization’s role and the desired outcomes of the project

Filling out the project budget table

You may include in your project budget table:

  • NSERC-eligible expenses, including:
    • Direct costs of research.
    • Salary support for research trainees (undergraduates, graduates and postdoctoral fellows) to perform research and related training.
    • Salary support for technicians and technical personnel.
    • Materials and supplies.
    • Activities that support collaborations and knowledge mobilization related to the project.
    • Activities to develop and grow the research collaborations with the partner organizations.

Refer to the guidelines on the use of grant funds in the Tri-Agency Financial Administration Guide.

You may also include the costs of equipment, provided that the equipment is:

  • essential to achieving the objectives of the research project;
  • is incremental to the equipment already available at the university or at the partner organization’s location.

If your total expected equipment cost (including operation and maintenance) exceeds $400,000 over your project’s duration, then you should apply for an alternate source of funding such as the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s (CFI’s) John R. Evans Leaders Fund. NSERC and CFI have developed a joint application and review procedure for these cases. You may contact NSERC or CFI for more details.

For multi-party projects (multiple universities and/or partner organizations), you may also include project management costs, up to a maximum of 10% of the total direct research costs (see Guidelines for Research Partnerships Programs project management expenses).

What's Next?
Applying for an Alliance grant
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