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CREATE program – frequently asked questions

Industrial stream and international collaboration

1. Are these initiatives funded separately from the rest of the CREATE program?
No, these initiatives are funded within the existing budget envelope. Up to 50% of the grants allocated per year can be in the industrial stream.

Industrial stream

2. Is the industrial involvement only with the Canadian industry? Can there be an international industrial collaboration?
There must be a clear benefit to Canada and the Canadian economy. Multinationals may be eligible if they have commercial activities that take place in Canada, such as research and development or manufacturing related to the proposed research, and if the funded activity will result in significant economic benefit to Canada. Multinationals can be considered on a case-by-case basis.

3. Should there be a formal commitment from the industry at letter of intent phase?
At the letter of intent (LOI) phase, a commitment is required to qualify for consideration under the industrial stream. The support letter can come from an industry consortium, but it is preferable that one or two companies confirm their support. A formal commitment from individual companies will be required at the application phase.

4. What intellectual property policy should be followed?
The intellectual property (IP) polices of both NSERC and the university should be followed.

5. What additional information is required from the applicant at the letter of intent phase?
If applicants do not have a confirmed name of the industrial representative on the program committee, they should indicate the position level of this person. The intent of an identified organization to host internships should also be indicated at this phase.

6. What is the minimum length of time required for internships in industry, and how long should the trainees participate?
Trainees must spend a minimum of 20% of their time at the industrial collaborator premises (e.g., three to four months at the M.Sc. level and seven to eight months at the PhD level over the duration of their involvement in the CREATE initiative). However, the completion of the degree should not be delayed (for M.Sc. trainees, two years; for PhD trainees, four or five years).

Note: All the CREATE trainees must hold at least one industrial internship.

7. Are postdoctoral fellows required to complete an internship in industry, and for how long?
The industrial internship is not mandatory for postdoctoral fellows; however, it is encouraged. The recommended duration is a minimum of 20% of their fellowship (e.g., four months).

8. How much should industry contribute (cash or in-kind)?
There is no minimum financial contribution required. In-kind contributions are acceptable.

9. What is the incentive for industry to collaborate in a CREATE initiative?
Trainees can become future employees of the collaborating company. The company is assured that the students are trained with the professional skills they require. Students could address research issues of importance to the company during the term.

10. Can a hospital or a Crown corporation be considered an industrial collaborator?
No, an industrial collaborator must be a Canadian small, medium or large enterprise

11. How different is management training from a management program?
One of the objectives of the CREATE program is to facilitate the acquisition of skills required by industry. Skills acquired through an MBA program may not necessarily fulfill these needs.

12. Can the same company host internships and also have a representative on the program committee?
Yes, as long as the representative does not directly benefit from the internships. The internship provides value-added training for the intern and is not just technical support for the company.

13. Can trainees in an industrial stream initiative conduct internships at locations other than companies?
Yes, but the time spent in these internships does not count as part of the industrial stream internship time requirements.

14. Are incubators or facilities located on campus eligible internship locations for the industrial stream?
This is decided case by case. Generally, the preference is for industrial internships to be located off campus. Please contact the CREATE team to discuss the specifics of the proposed internship location.

International collaborations

15. Does a Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, the German research foundation) partner need to have an industrial collaborator in Germany or will the Canadian partner(s) suffice?
An industrial collaborator is not mandatory for a proposed collaboration with the DFG.

16. For a CREATE-IRTG initiative, is some of the funding coming from the DFG and some from NSERC?
Both organizations (NSERC and DFG) will provide support/funding for their respective grantees and trainees.

17. For a CREATE-IRTG (Canada-Germany) initiative, which expenses would be covered by the Canadian group?
NSERC and the DFG will provide support to the research training group in their own countries. For example, expenses such as travel and dissemination costs of the Canadian trainees would not be shared with the German partner. These groups will support researchers and highly qualified people in their own country, as well as cover the costs of accommodating trainees who visit the partner country. Each research training group also takes responsibility for providing stipends to its trainees for the duration of their stay at the partner institution.

Program objectives

18. How important is it to describe professional skills training within the application?
Professional skills training that complements the trainees’ qualifications and technical skills are required and must be described in the proposal.

19. Can CREATE initiatives be renewed?
No, renewal of a CREATE initiative is not possible. If a previous CREATE grant holder applies for a new CREATE initiative, the proposed initiative must differ significantly from the previous one. This has to be clearly explained in the new LOI. Initiatives are expected to be self-sustaining after the six years of the grant.

20. How does NSERC distinguish between new and existing training opportunities?
Over the years, many training programs have been created to foster collaborative team research across disciplines and integrate training, knowledge translation and professional skills such as communication, teamwork, project management and leadership. The CREATE program focuses on initiatives that raise the standards for best practices in the mentoring and training of new researchers. They should bring qualitative added value compared to existing training opportunities or what is already achieved by funding trainees from individual or project grants, or by individual awards given directly to trainees

21. Are proposals that include more than one university preferred over single university applications?
No, CREATE awards will be decided only on the excellence and merits of the proposal and the expected outcomes targeted to a specific group of students.

22. Is there a requirement for the main applicant to be a more senior, experienced researcher?
No, the program is open to all researchers. The excellence of the team will be assessed by a number of factors, including its contributions to the training of highly qualified personnel, as well as the complementarity of expertise and experience of the team. All applicants, co-applicants and collaborators must explain their respective roles and responsibilities within the training program and its management. In this way, teams that compensate for limited research experience of some researchers by emphasizing the strengths of other team members will maximize the chances of success. Equity, diversity and inclusion considerations should also be reflected in the rationale of the team composition and in the designated roles within the team.

Universities should take into consideration that it will be up to their institutions to select the applications to be put forward, and they should determine which better meet the selection criteria, including the excellence of the researchers.


23. Do researchers need to have an NSERC grant to be eligible to apply?
No, researchers do not need to hold an NSERC grant, but the applicant must be from an NSERC-supported field at an NSERC-eligible university, and the majority (at least 70%) of the team’s co-applicants must be from the natural sciences and engineering (NSE) fields. Researchers at the interdisciplinary frontier between NSE and the areas covered under the umbrella of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) may be incorporated into proposals. NSERC eligibility criteria for applicants, co-applicants and institutions apply.

24. Are researchers from other research institutions eligible to be CREATE applicants or co-applicants?
No, the CREATE program funds training programs and, therefore, requires that the applicants and co-applicants come from an NSERC-eligible Canadian university. Participation of researchers from other research institutions as collaborators is encouraged.

25. Are trainees not supervised by an applicant or co-applicant eligible for the CREATE program?
CREATE funds are accessible to trainees not supervised by an applicant or a co-applicant. Trainees supervised by collaborators at a university represented by the grantees are eligible.

26. The CREATE program description mentions that the applicant may not be the chair of the program committee. Could a co-applicant, student trainee or direct collaborator be the chair of the program committee?
No, the purpose of the program committee is to oversee the progress of the proposed CREATE initiative and advise on its future direction; and good governance principles require that the chair of the committee not be the applicant, a co-applicant, a student trainee, the program coordinator or a direct collaborator (e.g., financial stakeholder, internship host, trainee supervisor, research collaborator or joint author) listed in the application.

27. Can colleges participate in the CREATE program?
Yes, colleges may participate as collaborators, but college students are not eligible to receive CREATE stipends.

28. Can the CREATE program be used to fund students who are medical residents?
No, medical residents are not eligible to participate in the CREATE program.

29. Can an applicant or co-applicant be involved in an existing CREATE grant at the time of application?
A researcher can be involved in a maximum of two initiatives at any given time and a maximum of one as an applicant. So if a researcher is already involved as a co-applicant on a grant, they can be on only one LOI either as an applicant or co-applicant. If the researcher is not involved in a grant, they can be a part of two LOIs, but only as an applicant on one. If the researcher is currently on two grants, then they cannot be a part of a new LOI until after the expiration year of the grant. As an example, if the applicant or co-applicant’s first grant end date is in 2022, then they could not be a part of an LOI until May 2023 (i.e., for the 2024 competition year). Please note that the 1-year COVID-19 extension to CREATE grants is added to the grant duration and affects the eligibility of applicants or co-applicants for new applications to the CREATE program.

30. Is it permissible for trainees to conduct internships at their own start-ups or companies owned wholly or in part by the principal investigator or by a co-principal investigator?
No, it is not permissible due to conflict-of-interest considerations. It is permissible for trainees to conduct internships at companies owned wholly or in part by a collaborator.

31. Can the composition of the applicant team change in between the LOI and application stages?
If the proposed change involves the principal investigator (applicant), a member of the co-applicant team must be named as the new principal investigator, and the identity of the new principal investigator must be communicated to NSERC. If the proposed change involves a co-applicant that withdraws their participation, then an eligible replacement can be found and communicated to NSERC for approval. If the selected individual is from an institution that was not part of the original group of applicant institutions, then the applicant team must inform the research grant officer of the university that will be joining the proposed initiative. Note that to ensure consistency between the LOI and application stages, it is not possible to add co-applicants to the team in between these two stages.

32. How does NSERC determine whether an applicant is an NSE versus a non-NSE researcher for the CREATE program?  How does NSERC classify NSE versus non-NSE trainees?
The principal investigator on a CREATE proposal must be an NSE researcher. The co-applicant team must be made up of at least 70% NSE researchers. Generally, an NSE researcher is a researcher that conducts the majority of their work in areas supported by NSERC, as evidenced by their publication record. Please contact NSERC to discuss situations where there may be uncertainty surrounding a researcher’s primary field of research. The This link will take you to another Web site Selecting the Appropriate Federal Granting Agency web page may be consulted to distinguish between NSE and non-NSE work.

For trainees, the designation of non-NSE versus NSE is usually based on the faculty or department the trainee is assigned to. However, in instances where the trainee is in a non-NSE faculty, but has an NSE background, an NSE research theme and an NSE supervisor, NSERC would classify them an NSE trainee for the purpose of the CREATE program.


33. If a certain CREATE proposal incorporates a high degree of collaboration abroad, then the travel costs may exceed the 20% allocated for other expenses. Is the 80% for students’ stipends and the 20% for other expenses a firm ratio?
Yes, at least 80% of the CREATE grant must be used for trainees’ stipends, however NSERC does not specify how students may use a CREATE stipend and does not establish limits for stipend amounts. These are a part of university policy. Travel or other expenses may be supplemented from other sources such as an NSERC Discovery grant or other NSERC grant, as well as non-NSERC funding sources. 

34. Collaborators may contribute additional funds. Will NSERC restrict how these additional funds can be spent, or could they be spent at the collaborator’s discretion?
NSERC does allow flexibility in the way collaborator contributions are allocated but expects the expenditures to support the goals of the CREATE program. This should be well explained in the proposal.

On the other hand, CREATE funding must be spent according to the information provided in the CREATE program description and in the relevant sections of the Tri-agency guide on financial administration.

Program content

35. Is it possible to combine research training with courses given by other partner institutions within the applicant team?
Yes, it is possible to combine resources in this way, which may encourage student mobility between institutions.

36. Would the inclusion of a technology transfer/commercialization type of internship be an eligible training activity?
Yes, technology transfer/commercialization training is an eligible training activity.


37. Can students holding a scholarship from NSERC, Mitacs, SSHRC or CIHR participate in the CREATE program? Can they receive a CREATE stipend?
Yes, students holding a scholarship from any one of these granting agencies should be encouraged to participate in a CREATE training program (except Mitacs-Elevate). It is permitted to supplement their scholarship with a CREATE stipend during the tenure of their other scholarships in accordance with the university’s guidelines.

38. Can students receiving awards from provincial funding agencies receive stipends from CREATE?
Yes, NSERC allows students to receive simultaneously awards from provincial funding agencies and a CREATE stipend; however, students should verify whether the provincial funding agency’s award conditions allow this combination.

39. Can international students be supported by CREATE grants?
Yes, international students and fellows may be offered stipends while visiting or enrolled at a Canadian university. The CREATE program allows for international travel expenses, so a proposal could also include an opportunity for foreign students to visit Canadian labs as part of the training program.

40. What is the maximum period of support for visiting international exchange students or fellows?
International exchange students, not enrolled at a Canadian university for their degree, or visiting fellows may be supported for a maximum of 125 days (per year, per person).

41. Are CREATE trainees eligible for family or medical leaves?
Yes, CREATE stipend holders are eligible for NSERC family and medical leaves. See NSERC’s policy on family and medical leaves for more details. 

Eligible expenses

42. Are venue rental costs eligible expenses?
Yes, economical and efficient venue and catering costs are allowed, if being used for the delivery of a CREATE training activity (e.g., summer school, workshops, etc.) where individuals from out of town are participating.

43. Are honoraria or gifts for invited speakers paid from CREATE funds permitted?
The salary, honorarium or gifts for invited speakers or subject matter experts should be covered by other sources, such as the university.

In recognition of the cultures and traditions of First Nations, Métis and Inuit, Elders and other Knowledge Keepers who also fulfill another role (i.e., an independent researcher) are eligible to receive honoraria and/or gifts in a ceremonial or other context. Their travel expenses are also considered eligible expenses.