Alliance Grants

Review of your application

To review your application for an Alliance grant, NSERC follows an approach based on financial risk and uses a variety of assessment tools.

Review mechanisms and assessment tools

Approximate thresholds
Small project Medium project Large project

Average annual request of $20,000 or more, up to $30,000 for 1 to 5 years

Average annual request of more than $30,000 up to $300,000 for 1 to 5 years

Average annual request of more than $300,000 and up to $1,000,000 for 1 to 5 years

Review mechanism (Cost-sharing Option 1)
Small project Medium project Large project

NSERC file managers

Evaluation supported by existing peer review (both applicants and co-applicants must hold an active peer-reviewed grant from NSERC as primary applicant at the time of application)

If no existing NSERC peer review evidence is available then external reviewers will be used

External reviewers

With expertise directly related to the proposal

Provide review based on all evaluation criteria

Ad hoc committee of external reviewers

With expertise directly related to the proposal

Provide review based on all evaluation criteria

NSERC reserves the right to select the most appropriate review process, regardless of the amount of funding requested.

Expected assessment time
Small project Medium project Large project

4 weeks

8 to 12 weeks

12 to 16 weeks

NSERC is committed to achieving these service standards for 80% of applications, recognizing that some proposals may require additional time.

Review mechanism (Cost-sharing Option 2)

For projects under cost-sharing Option 2, review includes two steps.

First, your full application will be submitted to a multidisciplinary and multisectoral selection committee that will assess whether it justifies a higher NSERC contribution. The review is the same whether the type of partnership leads to either a 90% or 100% NSERC contribution to the project costs.

If your application is selected in the first step, it proceeds to the second step for review of overall merit. As in Option 1, external reviewers with expertise directly related to the proposal provide review based on the Alliance evaluation criteria. The expected assessment time is 8 to 12 weeks.

If your application is not selected in the first step or in the second step, it continues to count toward the number of applications by the applicant and by the partner organization within any given 12 month period.

Funding decisions

NSERC assigns merit indicators to determine priority for funding for all projects

Evaluation criteria

Your application is evaluated using the following four equally weighted criteria. The proposal must address all of the criteria and subcriteria to be considered for funding.

Relevance and outcomes

  • Significance of the intended outcomes and of the economic, social and/or environmental benefits for Canada.
  • Need for original 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.


  • 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 cash and 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 afterwards.
  • 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.

Your application will be assessed using these evaluation criteria, and priority for funding will be determined according to established merit indicators. NSERC will select proposals for funding on a competitive basis.

Communicating the decision

You will be informed by NSERC as to whether you will be awarded a grant to support your research project, or not.

What's Next?
Starting your funded project
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Application deadline
No deadline

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