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Memo to potential applicants
Notification of intent to apply for a Subatomic Physics Discovery grant - 2021 competition

If you intend to submit an application to the 2021 Subatomic Physics grants competition, you must submit a subatomic physics notification of intent to apply (SAP NOI) to NSERC by the deadline of August 4, 2020, at 8:00 p.m. (ET) for Subatomic Physics Discovery (SAP-DG), Major Resources Support (SAP-MRS) and Category 2 or 3 Research Tools and Instruments (SAP-RTI 2/3) grant applications. NSERC will not accept an NOI after the deadline date. (Please note that an NOI is not required for Category 1 RTI (SAP-RTI) grant applications, and the deadline to submit a full application is October 26).

The SAP NOI is mandatory. Researchers who do not submit a SAP NOI cannot submit a full application later in the fall. The information contained in the SAP NOI allows NSERC to start some aspects of the review process, including confirmation of assignment to the subatomic physics evaluation section, selection of appropriate external reviewers and determination of the most appropriate review mechanism for applications requesting major financial support.

Before submitting a SAP NOI

You are encouraged to verify the balance of your current SAP-DG account. If the available funds are sufficient to cover anticipated expenditures through the next fiscal year, you can request a deferral of installment 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 renewal/reapplication date by one year. It also provides the opportunity for the agency to fund other researchers with more urgent needs.

If you currently hold an individual SAP-DG 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.

To lessen the impact due to COVID-19 and to support all of our researchers and highly qualified personnel, all active Discovery Grants can elect to receive a one-year extension with funds at their current funding level. This includes new grants from the recent 2020 competition.

This one year extension will be granted 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.

Please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions and visit the NSERC program information in relation to COVID‑19 webpage, which are updated regularly.

Application process

You must submit your SAP NOI and This link will take you to another Web site Canadian Common CV (CCV) using the Research Portal. Refer to the instructionson how to complete a SAP 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.

Should you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact the subatomic physics inbox to request a phone call with NSERC staff.

Literature for subatomic physics programs

Literature specific to all subatomic physics programs (Discovery, MRS, and RTI of all categories) is available on our website. Program descriptions are available in the Grants programs Overview section of NSERC’s Program guide for professors. Instructions about application procedures are available in the instructions section of the research portal. We encourage you to read the description of the program to which you intend to apply and the application instructions.

Equity, diversity and inclusion

Equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) strengthen the scientific and engineering communities and the quality, social relevance and impact of research.

Applicants should refer to Guide for Applicants: Considering equity, diversity and inclusion in your application 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 an independent academic position for five years or less. 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, paternity, medical, bereavement) will now be credited as twice the amount of time taken, and the window will be adjusted accordingly. For example, a researcher submitting an NOI in August 2020 and who took a seven-month parental leave within the past five years must have been hired on or after May 2014 in order to be considered an ECR. Professional leaves (for example, training, sabbatical, administrative) will not be credited.

DND/NSERC Discovery Grant supplement

The DND/NSERC Discovery Grant supplement was launched in the 2017 competition. The joint initiative between the Department of National Defence (DND) and NSERC aims to support unclassified university-based discovery research dedicated to the development of non-weapon specific technologies with dual-use applications in defence and security target areas. Those researchers submitting individual SAP-DG applications will again be eligible for this supplement. To apply for a supplement you must indicate your interest in the application. Refer to the instructions for details.

Attestation on confidential research contributions

Applicants to the SAP-DG SAP-MRS programs may now include attachments reporting on the nature and significance of any confidential technical and internal reports (if applicable). This attachment is meant for letters from industry or end-users attesting to the importance of any confidential reports that cannot be listed in the application.

Research Tools and Instruments grants

Changes have been made to the Research Tools and Instruments grants program review process. Please note that the review process for the SAP-RTI program remains the same.

For more information on subatomic physics programs please send an email to