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Instructions for completing and submitting a letter of intent to apply for a Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) grant


General information

About the program

Read the following documents before completing your letter of intent (LOI):

Presentation standards

You are responsible for submitting a completed LOI that conforms to the presentation standards established by NSERC. Incomplete LOIs and LOIs that do not meet the presentation standards may be rejected or may be at a disadvantage in comparison with those that have respected the guidelines. Where page limits are stated, pages in excess of the number permitted will be removed. Information that is not required, based on the LOI instructions, will also be removed.

For more information, read the NSERC online presentation and attachment standards.

Application deadlines

Your LOI must be received at your institution’s research grants office by its internal deadline date; contact your research grants office for the deadline.

Your LOI must be received at NSERC before 8:00 p.m. (ET) on the deadline date.

Help with program information

  • Contact the staff responsible for the program to which you are applying

Help with the NSERC online system

  • Check the FAQ for information on how to use the online system
  • Review the instructions available in the LOI
  • Contact the Online Services Helpdesk by email at or by telephone at 1-855-275-2861; provide your email address and telephone number in your message

Collection and use of personal information

The information you provide in your LOI is collected under the authority of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Act and stored in a series of NSERC data banks described in This link will take you to another Web site Information about programs and information holdings. Details on the use and disclosure of this information are described in Use and disclosure of personal information provided to NSERC, in the NSERC program literature and below. The information is used in accordance with the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act.

Collection of self-identification data

The program collects self-identification data from all applicants and co-applicants to monitor levels of diversity, its policies and processes for potential systemic barriers. The questionnaire covers age, gender, Indigenous identity and/or identity as a member of a visible minority group and/or as a person with a disability. Completion of the questionnaire is mandatory and required prior to peer review, but each question includes the option “prefer not to answer.” Self-identification data is collected separately and will not be seen or used by NSERC peer reviewers.

Completing form 187

Applicants must complete and submit the LOI using NSERC’s online system. Applicants with a successful Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) International Research Training Group (IRTG) pre-proposal can proceed directly to submitting a full application to NSERC without the need for a full LOI. However, DFG IRTG applicants must submit an LOI with a title that references the DFG program and a form 187, excluding the following sections: Outline of the training program, Excellence of the proposed team of researchers and Letter from the VP of research. A form 100 must also be completed and submitted.

Note: Before submitting form 187, you must receive confirmation from your university that your LOI has been selected as part of the university’s CREATE quota. Note that applications with DFG are not included in the quota.

If you submit an LOI not selected by the university, it will be rejected.

Form profile

Some of this information was transferred from the new application screen. You may update the fields as needed.

Area(s) of research

Research subject codes

Consult the NSERC code tables. All applicants are required to select a “primary” area application code.


Provide a maximum of ten keywords that describe this proposal.


List a minimum of one and maximum of ten co-applicants’ names; personal identification numbers, if known; the time (in hours per month) each will devote to the proposed research/activity (mandatory); and institution/department. At least 70% of the co-applicants must be from the natural sciences and engineering (NSE) fields, but researchers at the interdisciplinary frontier between NSE and the areas covered under the umbrella of the two other federal granting agencies—the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)—may be incorporated into proposals.

Teams should strive for a diverse group of co-applicants, including balanced gender representation.

By submitting this form, the applicant certifies that the individuals listed as co-applicants have been informed of the precise uses and disclosures of their personal information by NSERC (see Use and disclosure of personal information provided to NSERC) and have authorized the release of the information by the applicant.

Note: Applicants and co-applicants must be the same in the LOI and the application. If changes are required, please contact NSERC.


If applying to the industrial stream of the CREATE program, the industrial collaborator(s) must be identified. The definition of an industrial collaborator can be found in the CREATE program description. For the regular stream, a list of collaborators is not required at the LOI stage but can be included if they are already known. If applicable, list each collaborator’s name, NSERC personal identification number, if known, the time (in hours per month) each will devote to the proposed training program and their organization/department. Describe their role on the Excellence of the proposed team of researchers page. The collaborator list should include key participants in your proposed CREATE training initiative and may include, as appropriate, other academics who are not listed as co-applicants but have a supportive role to play; research scientists from other research institutions who will actively participate in the training; and/or representatives from other stakeholders, including government or industry, who are potential employers of the CREATE trained graduates.

Listed collaborators must have confirmed their willingness to participate. By submitting this form, the applicant certifies that the individuals listed as collaborators have been informed of the precise uses and disclosures of their personal information by NSERC (see Use and disclosure of personal information provided to NSERC) and have authorized the release of the information by the applicant.


  1. Collaborators do not have access to the grant funds and are expected to contribute their own resources (cash or in-kind) to the CREATE training program.
  2. Due to conflict of interest considerations, CREATE trainees cannot conduct internships at companies owned wholly or in part by the applicant or a co-applicant. It is permissible for a CREATE trainee to conduct an internship at a company owned wholly or in part by a collaborator.

Outline of training program

Maximum of two pages


  • Previous CREATE grantees and co-grantees must clearly describe how this application differs from those previously funded.
  • Researchers who are applying in a research area already supported by other active CREATE grants must clearly describe how this application differs from those already funded.
  • A maximum of one additional page is permitted to explain either of these two situations—failure to submit this information will result in the rejection of the LOI.

State the objectives of the proposed research training program, and summarize the approach, originality and novelty, as well as the expected significance of the proposed program. Briefly indicate the type of research that the trainees will be involved in during the program. Your proposal must describe how the proposed approach, including the role of mentoring, would better prepare students and/or postdoctoral fellows for their future careers in industry, government or, to a lesser extent, academia. In addition, the proposal should indicate how these stakeholders, as future employers, will be involved in guiding the training program. A description of the potential employers and a qualitative assessment of the job prospects for the trainees should be included. A description of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on your proposed training program should be included. Please refer to the NSERC guidelines relating to COVID-19 for guidance.

Include information on the approximate number of students and postdoctoral fellows whom you are planning to train and mentor on an annual basis in a table similar to the example below. Briefly indicate how the training and mentoring of each group will be handled. Provide an explanation if a particular category of students will not be receiving funding or be included in the program (e.g., if no M.Sc. students will be supported, explain why).

Note: LOIs that focus on support only at the undergraduate level will not be accepted. If the training proposal focuses primarily on only one group of trainees, it must be justified.

  No. in
year 1
No. in
year 2
No. in
year 3
No. in
year 4
No. in
year 5
No. in
year 6

* Provide an estimate of the total number of students who are expected to graduate, by category.

In addition, if applicable, indicate in the first sentence of the outline of the training program that you are applying to the industrial stream of the CREATE program.

Excellence of proposed team of researchers

Maximum of three pages

Provide information on the core team involved. Explain the rationale for the team composition and how it has the necessary expertise for the successful execution of the training program. Indicate if the members of the team will work together (i.e., collaborative research) and how they will do so. The applicant, co-applicants and collaborators’ roles and responsibilities within the training program and its management must be explained. Equity, diversity and inclusion considerations should be reflected in the rationale of the team composition and in the designated roles within the team. For more information, refer to  Section 2 of the NSERC guide on integrating equity, diversity and inclusion considerations in research. Moreover, the applicants should describe how they have implemented and/or will implement policies and practices to support equity, diversity and inclusion within the team (e.g., recruitment of team members, management of the team, mentorship).

Provide information on the team’s past contributions to the training and mentoring of highly qualified personnel (HQP). Consult NSERC’s Guidelines on the assessment of contributions to research, training and mentoring for guidance. Describe specific actions implemented to support equity and inclusion in recruitment practices, mentorship approaches and initiatives aimed at ensuring an inclusive research and training environment and trainee growth.

If applicable, researchers who currently hold or participate in an active CREATE grant must clearly describe their distinct contribution to and justification for their participation in the proposed training program. The onus is on the applicant to provide sufficient information to enable the selection committee to evaluate the relationship of researchers with other CREATE initiatives. Researchers can participate in a maximum of two CREATE training programs at the same time—as either an applicant or a co-applicant.

Letter from vice-president of research

A letter from your university’s vice-president of research or his/her representative must be submitted with the LOI. The letter must clearly confirm that your proposal has been selected as part of your university’s CREATE quota for this competition year, and it must describe your university’s support and commitment for this new initiative. This support can be described as being conditional on the funding of the proposal. The letter must be written on letterhead, signed and sent in portable document format (PDF).

This support can be addressed either in a single letter for all the proposals from that university or in separate letters for each LOI submitted, if the support is more relevant to one of the specific CREATE proposals.

Letter from industry (for industrial stream only)

If applying to the industrial stream, you must submit one letter or email from the industrial collaborator, confirming their commitment to:

  • host internships for three to four months for M.Sc. and seven to eight months for PhD
  • have a representative on the program committee

This commitment letter or email is mandatory.

If two industrial partners are required to satisfy these two conditions, combine both letters and/or emails in a single PDF file for uploading purposes. Note that, at the LOI stage, a support letter from a consortium of companies is acceptable.  

External reviewer suggestions

Suggest the name and address (mail and email) of six to eight individuals who could provide an independent assessment of your full application, should you be invited to apply.

You are encouraged to suggest a diverse cross-section of potential reviewers with appropriate expertise (Canadian and international, established and early-career, women and other under-represented groups, from academic and non-academic institutions).

Requirements for choosing external reviewers:

Note: You must not contact suggested external reviewers in advance.

These individuals could be approached by NSERC to conduct an impartial review of the application. NSERC will make the final selection of external reviewers and will be seeking reports on full applications only (not LOIs). Selected external reviewers are required to sign the This link will take you to another Web site Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality Agreement for Review Committee Members, External Reviewers, and Observers before they can access the application material.

Submitting your LOI

Before submitting the LOI, ensure that all the required information is complete and validated.

Once it has been submitted, your form will no longer be available for revision.

Checklist for submitting the LOI

Form 187: Letter of intent for a Collaborative Research and Training Experience program grant
Letter from the vice-president of research at the applicant’s university
For industrial stream only: single letter (or email) from industrial collaborator(s)
Applicant’s form 100