NSERC program information in relation to COVID-19 (updated September 14, 2020)
News release Professors Students
September 14, 2020
NSERC continues to make adjustments to its operations as we monitor the evolution and impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). We will continue to support our grants, scholarships and awards recipients, as well applicants, peer reviewers and employees. The situation continues to evolve rapidly, and we will make further adjustments as needed.
The granting agencies recognize that the COVID-19 pandemic may affect your work, your ability to conduct and review research, and your ability to prepare and submit publications or grant and scholarship applications. We understand that some research could be jeopardized or slowed down; the preparation of research and financial reports may be delayed; and meetings, events, and travel plans may also be affected. The Agencies will continue to support the research community as we adapt to these challenges.
Over the coming days and weeks, we will provide program-by-program specific information as we continue to monitor and evaluate adjustments to program application deadlines and the reporting of due dates, as needed. These will be communicated through the NSERC website with regular updates. We will continue to make adjustments and put in place additional measures as necessary.
The information below will be updated on a regular basis. If you have any questions, please refer to NSERC’s Contact Us page.
All programs: Research reports due to NSERC have all been granted an extension of four weeks (to be revised as appropriate).
Impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on research: NEW guidelines for NSERC’s community updated: September 14, 2020
NSERC recognizes that the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting researchers’ and students’ capacity to conduct their regular research and training activities. NSERC has published guidelines on the consideration of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on research and training activities. These guidelines provide direction on how to describe these impacts in an application and information on how they will be considered in the review of contributions to research and training and/or research and training plans. If you have any questions, please reach out to the appropriate program contact with questions relating to the specific funding opportunity to which you are applying.
Transcripts for the fall 2020 scholarships and fellowships competitions updated: September 2, 2020
Canada’s three granting agencies—the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC)—acknowledge that the widespread disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic may hinder the ability of some institutions to provide applicants with official and up-to-date transcripts in advance of the deadline date, particularly at institutions which do not currently provide official electronic versions of these documents. Therefore, for the fall 2020 scholarships and fellowships competitions, the agencies will accept unofficial transcripts if official transcripts cannot be obtained.
Applicants should contact their faculty of graduate studies to determine whether an official transcript can be provided. Submission of an application will continue to serve as a formal attestation that the applicant has provided true, complete, and accurate information in the application and its related documents.
Research Data Management Policyupdated: August 19, 2020
CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC have postponed launching the Tri-Agency Research Data Management Policy until further notice, due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Once launched, the agencies will continue to collaborate with the research community to phase in the policy requirements.
The current pandemic has illustrated the critical role that research data management plays in building a research system that reflects the FAIR principles – that data are findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable. Many researchers, research institutions, stakeholder organizations and other groups have worked diligently during the COVID-19 pandemic to support research data management. This includes data management planning, institutional support for research data management, and data deposit and access. The agencies encourage the community to continue these efforts to further research data management in Canada and abroad.
New information on increased support for students, trainees and research support personnel funded through NSERC research grants updated: July 31, 2020
Following the updates regarding additional funding to support trainees (students and postdoctoral fellows) and research support, we have added new frequently asked questions (FAQ) in an effort to help guide you in advance of the August 13 deadline. Please refer to the FAQ and previous updates, and if you have any additional questions contact email@example.com.
This additional funding applies to the following NSERC programs:
- Advancing Climate Change Science in Canada
- Alliance grants
- Belmont Forum
- Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics
- Chairs for Women in Science and Engineering (project component)
- Chairs in Design and Engineering (research component)
- Collaborative and Thematic Resources Support in Mathematics and Statistics program
- Collaborative Health Research Projects
- Collaborative Research and Training Experience program
- Collaborative Research and Development grants (including DND/NSERC Research Partnership grants)
- Discovery Frontiers
- Discovery Grants program
- Discovery Grants – Subatomic Physics (individual, project and major resources)
- Discovery Grants – Discovery Development Grants
- Engage and Engage Plus grants
- Idea to Innovation grants
- Industrial Research Chairs (research project)
- Strategic Partnerships Grants – Projects and Networks
- Whale Science for Tomorrow
College and Community Innovation program
- Applied Research and Development grants (level 2 and 3)
- College & Community Social Innovation Fund grants
- Engage and Engage Plus grants for colleges
- Industrial Research Chairs for colleges
- Innovation Enhancement grants (all durations)
- Innovation Links grants
- Technology Access Centres grants
Networks of Centres of Excellence
- Networks of Centres of Excellence
- Business-led Networks of Centres of Excellence
Extension of Tri-agency scholarships and fellowships (CGS M, CGS D, agency-specific doctoral awards, PDF, Vanier CGS and Banting PDF) updated: June 10, 2020
Canada’s three granting agencies—the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)—have provided further information on the direct support being offered for scholarship or fellowship holders. For eligible students and postdoctoral researchers whose research scholarship or fellowship ends between March and August 2020, support will be extended for an additional four (4) months and fully funded. This represents an investment of up to $40 million to help these students and postdoctoral researchers complete their research projects and training.
Please read the full update for all details, eligibility and conditions.
COVID-19 exceptions to Tri-agency post-award regulations for trainees updated: June 9, 2020
Training award recipients (master's, doctoral, and postdoctoral) may defer the start date of their award, or request an unpaid interruption of up to four-months for reasons related to the COVID-19 situation. For master’s and doctoral award holders, this can be adjusted to align with the next available start date (May 1, 2020; September 1, 2020; or January 1, 2021).
The agencies will continue to support training award holders who, given the challenges posed by the COVID-19 situation, can only devote part-time hours to their research. They may continue to hold their awards and will be paid at the full amount. The amount will not be prorated, and the end date of the award will remain unchanged.
For the period where travel is significantly limited due to the COVID pandemic, training award recipients may choose to hold their award remotely while pursuing their research training, so long as the following conditions are met:
- Students must be registered at the host institution during the period when travel restrictions/institution closures are in place. Postdoctoral fellows must be actively engaged in research.
- This arrangement must have the support from the supervisor.
NSERC investments in COVID-19 researchupdated: May 26, 2020
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, NSERC is leveraging the expertise of researchers in natural science and engineering and their partners across Canada to address this unprecedented crisis.
Please visit the NSERC investments in COVID-19 research webpage to see a breakdown of the investments made through the NSERC Alliance COVID-19 and Tri-agency Applied Research Rapid Response to COVID-19 grants.
Funding ongoing and incremental costs of research activities during the COVID-19 pandemic updated: April 21, 2020
Given the ever-evolving circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC recognize that grant recipients and/or research team members may continue to incur ongoing research costs, as well as incremental costs that would not normally be incurred (for example, compensation and travel) related to agency-funded research activities. The agencies would like to remain as flexible as possible to support grant recipients during this time and acknowledge that some of these costs may be eligible to be paid from agency grant funds. The agencies will therefore defer to administering institutions to determine if incremental costs are consistent with the principles and directives set out in the Tri-Agency Guide on Financial Administration (and if they are, then those expenses will still be eligible to be paid from grant funds).;
The agencies also understand that not all planned research activities are possible as research institutions are closed requiring that the majority of people work remotely, if they are able to work at all. The agencies consider that continuing to pay any members of the research team, eligible to be paid from an agency grant, is an eligible expense in the context of COVID-19 (and that these individuals should continue to be paid).
Financial reporting updated: March 30, 2020
The deadline for submitting financial reporting (Forms 300 and 301) for the 2019-20 (April 1, 2019, to March 31, 2020) Annual Reconciliation of Active Awards has been postponed until September 30, 2020.
Extension of period to use of grant funds updated: March 24, 2020
NSERC and SSHRC recognize that agency-funded research activities may be delayed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Academic institutions can immediately approve extensions requests up to 12 months for Agency grants with an end date between February 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021 inclusively. This provision applies to all grants, regardless of whether they have received a previous time extension of any length for any reason (including, where applicable, automatic extensions). The intent of this provision is to allow grantees to continue spending grant funds, and institutions to delay the processing of residual grant funds (per the NSERC/SSHRC Guidelines for the General Research Fund). Institutions are to keep complete and accurate records on the grants being extended. The mechanism for institutions to notify the Agencies of the details of these extensions will be determined and communicated in the near future.
Other exceptional expenditures updated: March 17, 2020
In addition to the reimbursement of non-refundable travel and meeting costs as previously described, NSERC recognizes that in some cases other costs may be incurred in relation to ongoing financial commitments, such as the remuneration of individuals paid out of agency grants. For example, individuals receiving a salary or stipend from grant funds may be recommended or required to self-isolate, and/or may be unable to work or telework for reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic. NSERC confirms that if the costs are not covered by other sources of funds within the institution, and provided these expenses would otherwise have been eligible to be paid out of the grant, these can be paid from existing grant funds.
Travel and travel cancellations updated: March 17, 2020
NSERC confirms that in addition to the costs described in the earlier Tri-agency statement regarding cancelled travel plans of researchers and members of their teams, other non-refundable expenses may be incurred as a result of cancelled travel and/or meetings related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Provided the expenses would have been eligible had the travel/meeting taken place as planned, these non-refundable costs can be reimbursed out of existing grant funds.
Update: 2021 Discovery Grants competition updated: July 28, 2020
In light of the uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic, NSERC is taking action to ensure effective and timely delivery of the 2021 Discovery Grants competition by adjusting the in-person meeting component of the review to take place by videoconference.
NSERC is committed to maintaining a peer review process of the highest quality, including fairness and consistency between evaluating committees and across competition years.
In the coming weeks, guidance will be available on how to describe the impacts of COVID-19 within grant applications.
Science Literacy Week updated: July 23, 2020
Science Literacy Week is moving ahead, from September 21 to 27, 2020. We encourage our partners to think of new and innovative ways to celebrate science culture and biodiversity, while respecting local and Government of Canada recommendations with regards to COVID-19. For questions, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Undergraduate Student Research Award (USRA) updated: July 14, 2020
Clarification to our earlier announcement regarding the suspension of the application deadline for the Undergraduate Student Research Award (USRA): NSERC will continue to accept applications past May 1, 2020, without penalty; however, no changes to the List of Recommended Applicants can be made once submitted.
Canada Graduate Scholarships - Michael Smith Foreign Study Supplements updated: June 17, 2020
For reasons related to COVID-19, recipients of the Canada Graduate Scholarships - Michael Smith Foreign Study Supplements (CGS-MSFSS) can defer their travel abroad beyond the one-year deadline from receiving the notice of award, provided they still hold an active CGS. If they no longer hold an active CGS, they can defer their travel abroad, provided they are still registered at the same Canadian institution.
PromoScience updated: May 12, 2020
Given the COVID-19 situation, NSERC is allowing some flexibility in programming so that grantees can adapt to virtual delivery. As much as possible, NSERC expects that the program that was originally proposed and evaluated by the selection committee should be delivered. Grantees may adjust their delivery method without seeking NSERC approval as long as the target audience and program content remain similar. Likewise, the budget may be adjusted to accommodate expenses for virtual delivery without seeking NSERC approval as long as new expenditures are eligible according to the Grants Guide. Questions about eligible expenses or significant changes to the target audience or program content should be summarized in an email and sent to email@example.com for review and approval.
New rules for grant extensions, reporting and eligibility for the current (2020) competition have already been communicated with recipients and applicable research grant officers (RGOs). For those applying to the 2020 competition and holding a grant with an end date of December 31, 2020, the deadline to request an extension is July 31, 2020. All other grantees may request the extension before the end date of their grant. Deferral requests should be made by December 1 of each year to ensure adequate processing time.
The 2020 PromoScience competition will take place as planned.
College and Community Innovation program updated: May 5, 2020
The new dates for the 18th Innovation Enhancement competition have now been posted. Please be sure to consult the revised literature for updates on program criteria. Should you have any specific questions or concerns about your existing Innovation Enhancement grant due to COVID-19 please contact Kelly Mezzetta-Calderin, Manager at NSERC.
Canada Graduate Scholarships - Doctoral (CGS D) updated: May 4, 2020
The 2020 CGS D competition will be launched July 29, 2020. No changes to 2020 application deadlines at this time (October 17 for direct applicants and November 21 for university applicants).
Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships updated: May 4, 2020
The launch of 2020 competition is postponed until June 1, 2020. The application deadline is set for October 1, 2020.
NSERC Alliance COVID-19 grants updated: April 21, 2020
NSERC is providing up to $15 million in total support to stimulate collaborations between academic researchers at Canadian universities and the public and not-for-profit sectors, and industry to address pandemic-related research and technical challenges. Support for up to $50,000 for one-year projects is being made available immediately. Please visit the NSERC Alliance COVID-19 grants webpage for more information.
If your Alliance COVID-19 application is funded, an NSERC-Mitacs partnership is making available additional resources to augment research collaborations. Qualifying partner organizations can add Mitacs-funded internships to an Alliance COVID-19 project at a reduced cost to the organization. To access this opportunity, please contact Noha Gerges, Director of Business Development, at Mitacs (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Tri-agency college grants: Applied Research Rapid Response to COVID-19 updated: April 21, 2020
Through the College and Community Innovation program, this funding opportunity will leverage the expertise and infrastructure in Canada’s colleges and polytechnics to rapidly mobilize support and expertise related to the COVID-19 outbreak. Support for up to $75,000 for one-year projects is being made available on expedited timelines. Please visit the Applied Research Rapid Response to COVID-19 webpage for more information.
If your College COVID-19 application is funded, an NSERC-Mitacs partnership is making available additional resources to augment research collaborations. Qualifying partner organizations can add Mitacs-funded internships to a College COVID-19 project at a reduced cost to the organization. To access this opportunity, please contact Noha Gerges, Director of Business Development, at Mitacs (email@example.com).
Discovery Grants one-year extension with funds updated: April 9, 2020
To lessen the impact due to COVID-19 and to support all of our researchers and highly qualified personnel, all active Discovery Grants can elect to receive a one-year extension with funds at their current funding level. This includes grants from the recent 2020 competition. Grantees due to apply in competition 2021 can elect not to apply for funding this summer/fall during these tumultuous times.
This one year extension will be granted for the following programs: Discovery Grants, Discovery Grants – Subatomic Physics (Individual, Project and Major Resources), Discovery Grants – Northern Research Supplements and Discovery Development Grants. NSERC will contact grantees and universities with details on how to confirm their grant extensions.
In light of these extensions, the 2021 Discovery Grants competition will be for new applicants (those not currently holding a Discovery Grant) and those who choose not to accept the extension. As we develop the necessary mechanisms to support this initiative, additional details will be communicated.
In the meantime, please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions and continue to visit this webpage, which is updated regularly. You may also continue to contact NSERC Research Grants at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Canada Graduate Scholarships – Masters (CGS M) updated: March 31, 2020
The opening of the Research Portal for students to accept or decline awards has been delayed until April 15, 2020. Applicants requiring an extension to the 21 day window to accept or decline their award should contact the relevant agency.
CGS M allocations by institution extended to next competition cycle. No change to December 1, 2020 application deadline at this time.
Call for joint Canada-UK projects on quantum technologies (QT) updated: March 25, 2020
The expression of interest deadline has been extended to June 8, 2020. The two funding agencies will respond jointly to expressions of interest by June 12, 2020.
Alliance grants (option 1) updated: March 17, 2020
NSERC continues to accept applications. Applicants can expect delays in processing times, depending on the capacity of peer reviewers and of NSERC personnel.
Applications for which external reviews were received by March 12, 2020, should receive answers from NSERC in April.
Alliance grants (option 2) updated: March 17, 2020
The first meeting of the review panel is postponed until June 2020.
College Engage and Applied Research and Development (ARD) grants updated: March 17, 2020
NSERC will continue to receive applications, but processing times will be partly dependent on the availability of external reviewers, notably for ARDs.
Idea to Innovation (I2I) grants updated: March 17, 2020
The March 30, 2020 I2I application deadline has been postponed to June 17, 2020.
The evaluation of I2I applications submitted in January 2020 will not be affected by these changes.
Synergy Awards updated: March 17, 2020
The application deadline has been moved to June 1, 2020.