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Summary of changes

2020-21 Program guide for professors

NSERC has revised the Program guide for professors.

This summary is meant only to help you focus on the main changes. Read the program descriptions that are relevant to you, and the appropriate instructions, to review all the changes.

Programs (in alphabetical order)
Discovery Development Grants (DDG)
Revised: June 25, 2019

Following the success of the DDG pilot program from 2014 to 2019, this initiative is transitioning to an ongoing program with minor changes:
  • Award amount has been increased from $10K to $15K per year for two years for a total of $30K, following the 2018 federal budget.
  • Researchers will be allowed to hold two DDG awards over the duration of their career (instead of only one award).
Discovery Institutes Support (DIS) grants
Created: June 15, 2020


As a result of the recommendations from the Discovery evaluation, NSERC is pleased to announce the launch of the DIS funding opportunity. DIS grants provide ongoing support to research institutes in Canada and replace the previous Collaborative and Thematic Resources Support in Mathematics and Statistics (CTRMS) and Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics (CITA) programs. DIS grants enable the development of research activities and foster training and collaboration within and among Canadian theoretical research institutes. For the 2021 bridge funding opportunity, applications will be accepted only from onboarding institutes. This is limited to existing NSERC-funded co-applicant institutes currently awarded funding through CTRMS.

For the 2022 competition, applications will be accepted only from renewing institutes. This includes existing NSERC funded applicant and co-applicant institutes currently awarded funding through the CTRMS and CITA programs.
Call for joint Canada–United Kingdom (UK) projects on quantum technologies
Created: March 16, 2020


Innovate UK and NSERC are partnering to launch a call for research proposals on quantum technologies. The call builds on complementary interests and research expertise in this area in the UK and Canada. This call will allow for collaboration between leading-edge scientists and potential innovative users, from industry and/or government sectors, to accelerate the development of quantum technologies.
Discovery Grants (DG) program
Revised: July 24, 2020


For the Contribution to the training of highly qualified personal (HQP) criterion: The text box character count increased from 6,000 to 9,000 for the HQP training plan, and from 3,000 to 6,000 for the Past contributions to training of HQP.

Additional requirement for HQP training plan: As part of the Training philosophy element, applicants are expected to describe the specific actions they commit to implementing in order to promote equity, diversity and inclusion in the research and training environment.

Applicants should refer to the full application instructions and the peer review manual for details on how to integrate EDI considerations into their application.

Support for early career researchers (ECR): The ECR eligibility window previously increased from 3 years to 5 years to harmonize with the other agencies. 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 (e.g., maternity, paternity, medical, bereavement) will now be credited as twice the amount of time taken and the window will be adjusted accordingly.

Applicants who select ECR as their applicant category must include a list of all positions, found in their CCV, that meet NSERC’s requirements for an independent academic position.

NSERC continues to devote additional funds to support ECRs through increases to Discovery Grants and the new Discovery Launch supplement.

ECRs have the option of extending their DG by one year with funds before re-applying as ERs for the first time.

Leaves of absence: Applicants who have reported an eligible leave of absence in their CCV are entitled to list contributions to research and to training beyond the last six years, for a period equivalent to the duration of the leave and taken from the most recent active research period prior to the last six years. Applicants should refer to the full application instructions and the peer review manual for details on how to integrate these contributions into their application (i.e., Past contributions to the training of HQP, Most significant contributions to research and Samples of research contributions) and in the new leaves of absence attachment.
Northern Research Supplements (NRS) program
Revised: July 30, 2019


The application process is now part of the Discovery Grants application within the research portal—no longer separate through the online system. The selection criteria have been updated, and weighting will now be applied to each criterion. The weighted scoring method is expected to provide applicants with more detailed feedback on their proposals. See the program description for more details.

NSERC is acting on the evidence that equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) strengthen the scientific and engineering community and the quality, social relevance and impact of research. Applicants are encouraged to increase the inclusion and advancement of under-represented and disadvantaged groups in the natural sciences and engineering as one way to enhance excellence in research and training.

In this regard, EDI considerations have been strengthened throughout the program’s literature. Applicants should refer to the program description and application instructions on how to integrate EDI considerations into their application.
Plastics science for a cleaner future
Created: June 1, 2020

Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) are partnering to support research that will increase scientific knowledge to achieve Canada’s zero plastic waste targets outlined in the This link will take you to another Web site Canada-wide strategy on zero plastic waste and the This link will take you to another Web site Ocean Plastics Charter. This call will fund projects in specific research areas that will generate new knowledge to support policy and decision-making related to plastic pollution and increase research capacity and collaboration to help close the gaps in our understanding of plastic pollution and its impacts.
Research Tools and Instruments (RTI) grants program
Revised: July 22, 2020


NSERC is acting on the evidence that equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI)  strengthen the scientific and engineering community and the quality, social relevance and impact of research. Applicants are encouraged to increase the inclusion and advancement of under-represented and disadvantaged groups in the natural sciences and engineering as one way to enhance excellence in research and training.

In this regard, EDI considerations have been strengthened throughout the program’s literature. Applicants should refer to the program description and application instructions on how to integrate EDI considerations into their application.

The confirmation of financial contributions (CFC) attachment was removed from the RTI application.
Subatomic Physics (SAP): Individual and Project / Major Resources Support / RTI (category 1) / RTI (categories 2 or 3)
Revised: July 30, 2019 


NSERC is acting on the evidence that equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) strengthen the scientific and engineering community and the quality, social relevance and impact of research. Applicants are encouraged to increase the inclusion and advancement of under-represented and disadvantaged groups in the natural sciences and engineering as one way to enhance excellence in research and training.

In this regard, EDI considerations have been strengthened throughout the program’s literature. Applicants should refer to the program description and application instructions on how to integrate EDI considerations into their application.
Ship Time (ST) program
Revised: July 11, 2019 


The selection criteria have been updated, and weighting will now be applied to each criterion. The weighted scoring method is expected to provide applicants with more detailed feedback on their proposals. See the program description and instructions for more details.

NSERC is acting on the evidence that equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) strengthen the scientific and engineering community and the quality, social relevance and impact of research. Applicants are encouraged to increase the inclusion and advancement of under-represented and disadvantaged groups in the natural sciences and engineering as one way to enhance excellence in research and training.

In this regard, EDI considerations have been strengthened throughout the program’s literature this year. Applicants should refer to the program description and application instructions on how to integrate EDI considerations into their application.
Policies and guidelines
NSERC’s Guidelines on impact assessment
Revised: May 13, 2020

NSERC’s guidelines on impact assessment (formally NSERC’s Guidelines on Environmental Review and Assessment) have been updated to reflect the new This link will take you to another Web site Impact Assessment Act (IAA) that repealed the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 and came into force August 28, 2019. The Impact Assessment Form (Appendix A) (formally, Environmental Information Form) has also been updated.