Memo to Potential Applicants – Notification of Intent to Apply for a Discovery Grant in the 2025 Competition

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It is time to start preparing your Discovery Grant application. A notification of intent to apply (NOI) must be submitted by the deadline date of August 1, 2024, 8:00 p.m. (ET).

The NOI is mandatory when applying for a Discovery Grant. Applicants who do not submit an NOI cannot submit a full application. The information contained in the NOI allows NSERC to start some aspects of the review process, including the preliminary assignment to an evaluation group, the selection of external reviewers and the verification of the eligibility of the subject matter.

Before submitting an NOI

If you currently hold a Discovery Grant, you are encouraged to verify the balance of your account. If the available funds are sufficient to cover anticipated expenditures through the next fiscal year, you can request a deferral of instalment or take advantage of the automatic one-year extension to use the accumulated funds prior to submitting a new request for funding. Note that postponing an application does not adversely affect the review of your next application but, rather, demonstrates good fiscal management of the funds and allows you to reorganize your activities and postpone the submission of a new application by one year. It also provides the opportunity for the agency to fund other researchers with more urgent needs.

If you currently hold a Discovery Grant and have taken maternity, parental, medical or family medical leave during the grant period, you may request an extension of the term of the current grant and, in certain cases, additional funds for a period of up to two years. Learn more on the Family and medical leave web page.

To lessen the impact of COVID-19 and to support all of our researchers and highly qualified personnel, all eligible* active Discovery Grants will be given the opportunity to receive a one-time one-year extension with funds at their current funding level. More specifically, NSERC will contact eligible grantees once they have entered the last year of their grant (in June) with information on how to accept this one-time funded extension. This one-time one-year extension with funds will be available for the following programs: Discovery Grants, Discovery Grants – Subatomic Physics (Individual, Project and Major Resources Support), Discovery Grants – Northern Research Supplements and Discovery Development Grants.

For more information on the Discovery Grants one-year extension with funds due to COVID-19, refer to the frequently asked questions.

Note: Eligible active grants are those that received a payment or had a planned payment in the 2020–21 fiscal year (April 1, 2020–March 31, 2021) when the Discovery Grants one-year extension with funds due to COVID-19 initiative was launched.

Grant recipients who are eligible to begin their early career researcher’s extension with funds will be offered and asked to accept that one-time funded extension before being offered the Discovery Grants one-time one-year extension with funds due to COVID-19 the following year.

Application process for Discovery Grants

You must submit your NOI and the NSERC version of the Canadian Common CV (CCV) using the research portal. Refer to the instructions on how to complete the NOI and CCV. We encourage you to start completing your CCV early, as it can be time-consuming to populate the fields the first time. For more information on the Discovery Grants program, send an email to

Policy on Sensitive Technology Research and Affiliations of Concern (STRAC)

On January 16, 2024, the Government of Canada published its Policy on Sensitive Technology Research and Affiliations of Concern (STRAC). Accordingly, grant applications that involve conducting research that aims to advance a sensitive technology research area will not be funded if any of the researchers involved in activities supported by the grant are affiliated with, or in receipt of funding or in-kind support from, a university, research institute or laboratory connected to military, national defence or state security entities that could pose a risk to Canada’s national security. Please read the Tri-agency Guidance on the STRAC Policy to understand how this policy may impact your grant application.

Equity, diversity and inclusion

NSERC is acting on the evidence that achieving a more equitable, diverse and inclusive Canadian research enterprise is essential to creating the excellent, innovative and impactful research necessary to advance knowledge and understanding, and to respond to local, national and global challenges. This principle informs the commitments described in the Tri-Agency Statement on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI).

Applicants should refer to the NSERC guide on integrating equity, diversity and inclusion considerations in research and to Discovery Grants instructions on how to integrate EDI considerations into their application.

Applicant category – early career researcher

Early career researchers (ECR) are applicants who have held their first independent academic position within the last five years. The five-year window for being considered an ECR is adjusted to take into account instances where a researcher has had an eligible delay in research. All eligible leaves (for example, maternity and parental leave, personal illness, chronic illness, or disability associated with reduced research activity, leave taken by applicants for family-related illness, bereavement), as well as delays related to COVID-19, are credited as twice the amount of time taken. For example, a researcher submitting an NOI in August 2024, and who took a seven-month parental leave within the past five years must have been hired on or after May 2018 in order to be considered an ECR. Professional leaves (for example, training, sabbatical, administrative) will not be credited.

DND/NSERC Discovery Grant Supplements

The DND/NSERC Discovery Grant Supplements were launched in the 2017 competition year. The joint initiative between the Department of National Defence (DND) and NSERC aims to support unclassified university-based research dedicated to the development of non-weapon-specific technologies with dual-use applications in defence and security target areas (which were revised in March 2024). To apply for this supplement, you must indicate your interest in the Discovery Grant application. Refer to the instructions for details.

Northern Research Supplement

To apply for a Northern Research Supplement (NRS), you must indicate your interest and include the required attachments as part of the Discovery Grant application on the research portal. Refer to the program description for details.

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