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Government of Canada releases National Security Guidelines for Research Partnerships

NSERC Alliance grant applications involving private sector partners must apply the new guidelines as of July 12, 2021

Program news Professors Students Alliance

July 12, 2021

On July 12, 2021, the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry; the Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness; and the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health issued a news release to introduce the National Security Guidelines for Research Partnerships.

Fostering Canada’s open and collaborative academic research environment, including international collaborations, partnerships, and networks, is essential for Canada in its ability to fully contribute to and benefit from world-leading research, as well as its potential social and economic impacts. While the vast majority of research partnerships have transparent intentions that provide mutual benefits to all research partners, some activities by foreign governments, militaries and other actors—such as foreign interference and espionage—pose risks to Canada’s national security and the integrity of its research ecosystem.

To address these risks, researchers, research institutions, federal granting agencies, and the Government of Canada have a shared responsibility to identify and mitigate any potential national security risks related to research partnerships.

The National Security Guidelines for Research Partnerships were developed in consultation with the Government of Canada-Universities Working Group, as requested in the Government of Canada Research Security Policy Statement, to ensure that the Canadian research ecosystem remains secure, open, and collaborative to protect and advance Canada’s research innovations. They will enable integrating national security considerations into the development, evaluation, and funding of research partnerships with partners from the private sector.

Research should always be practiced with integrity and transparency, in full respect of privacy, security, ethical considerations, and with appropriate intellectual property protections. Accordingly, the federal granting agencies are committed to continual improvement of their policies and procedures, including appropriate national security considerations.

What does this mean for your Alliance grant application?

As of July 12, 2021, applicants (and their institutions) are required to complete the National Security Guidelines for Research Partnerships’ risk assessment form for all Alliance grant applications involving one or more partner organizations from the private sector. For such partnerships, applicants must submit the completed risk assessment form as an integral part of the NSERC Alliance application.

NSERC is currently updating all relevant instructions and resources on the Alliance website and in the online system. Applicants will be able to submit their Alliance applications starting July 23, 2021.

Note that all applications currently being prepared in NSERC’s online system, but not yet submitted, will need to include the completed risk assessment form if their application includes a private sector partner before submitting. 

Information webinars and other resources

NSERC is committed to providing our research community with the most up to date information and best practices designed to reduce research security risks. We acknowledge that this new requirement will generate many questions, and we will reach out to institutions and researchers to provide answers, and to offer webinars to familiarize the community with these new guidelines. More information about these sessions will be available shortly.

We also encourage you to consult the Safeguarding your Research portal, which provides additional tools for the academic community to assess risks and to take actions to mitigate security risks associated with their research and their research partnerships.

Contact us

If you have any questions or comments about Alliance grants please contact You may also sign up for our mailing list on the Alliance webpage for regular updates on the program.

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