Raison d'être, mandate and role: who we are and
what we do

Raison d’être

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) is a key player in building a culture of scientific discovery and innovation in Canada and in making this country a leader in discovery and innovation. To advance the prosperity and quality of life of all Canadians, NSERC acts as a convener of discovery and innovation partners with a goal of maximizing the value of public investments in science and engineering research.

In today’s highly competitive global economy, NSERC plays a central role in supporting Canada’s innovation ecosystem. NSERC supports research that benefits all Canadians. By connecting this innovative research to industry through its partnership initiatives, NSERC also makes it easier for the private sector to collaborate with academia and access the wealth of resources Canada’s first-rate academic system has to offer.

Canada’s future discoverers and innovators can realize their full potential with the support of NSERC’s scholarships and fellowships programs, along with funding provided through discovery and partnership awards.

NSERC is also actively working to enhance the profile of Canadian research through national and international promotional activities and by connecting with industry.

Mandate and role

NSERC’s vision is to help make Canada a country of discoverers and innovators for the benefit of all Canadians. It invests in People, Discovery and Innovation through partnerships and programs that support post-secondary research in the natural sciences and engineering.

NSERC is a departmental corporation of the Government of Canada created in 1978. It is funded directly by Parliament and reports to it through the Minister of Science. NSERC’s Council is composed of a President and up to 18 other distinguished members selected from the private and public sectors. NSERC’s President is the Chief Executive Officer. The elected Vice-President is the Chair of the Council and of its Executive Committee. NSERC’s Council is advised on policy matters by various standing committees. Funding decisions are made by the President, or designate, on the basis of recommendations made by peer review committees.

The functions of NSERC, based on the authority and responsibility assigned to it under the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Act (1976-1977, c.24), are to:

  • promote and assist research in the natural sciences and engineering, other than the health sciences; and
  • advise the Minister in respect of such matters relating to such research as the Minister may refer to the Council for its consideration.

NSERC supports more than 11,000 of the most creative and productive Canadian university professors, over 30,000 highly qualified postgraduate students and fellows, and partners with about 3,600 Canadian firms to transfer knowledge that creates economic wealth.

For more general information about the department, see the “Supplementary information” section of this report. For more information on the department’s organizational mandate letter commitments, see the This link will take you to another Web site Minister’s mandate letteri on the Prime Minister of Canada’s website.

i. The Minister’s mandate letter, This link will take you to another Web site  http://pm.gc.ca/eng/mandate-letters

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