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A planned outage affecting this website and several other NSERC and SSHRC (including TIPS) websites and granting portals will take place from Friday, June 28, 2024, at 4 p.m., until Tuesday, July 2, 2024, at 8 a.m. (ET). For more details, visit NSERC or SSHRC/TIPS dedicated webpages.

Research Tools and Instruments grants program

As of last competition year (i.e., competition 2023, with a deadline of October 2022) Research Tools and Instruments (RTI) grants applicants and co-applicants who were successful in the previous year’s RTI competition are ineligible to apply for one year. Eligibility will be reinstated the following competition year. This change is being implemented to increase access to the RTI program to the largest number of eligible researchers. This decision, as well as the changes to the selection criteria for this year, are informed by the recent evaluation of the Discovery research program and the results of the gender-based analysis plus (GBA+) of the RTI program.

Overview
Duration 1 year
Value Up to $150,000
Application deadline

October 25, 2023

Important: Your application must be received at your institution’s research grants office by its internal deadline date; contact your research grants office for that deadline.

How to apply

See the Instructions for completing an application for more details on the application process.

For more information Consult the contact list.

Objectives

Research Tools and Instruments (RTI) grants foster and enhance the discovery, innovation and training capability of university researchers in the natural sciences and engineering by supporting the purchase of research equipment.

Description

The RTI grants program provides the primary avenue for university researchers in the natural sciences and engineering to obtain up to $150,000 in support for research tools and instruments with a net cost between $7,001 and $250,000. Net cost is defined as the purchase cost of the equipment after any discount from the vendor and before taxes, customs and importation fees, transportation and shipping charges, and assembly and installation costs. The vendor discount  cannot be offered in exchange for services from users benefiting the vendor company. The research community is also encouraged to explore other avenues for funding research tools and instruments, including NSERC’s other programs that allow the purchase of equipment as eligible expenses.

NSERC will only accept the following requests:

  • for tools and instruments that form a comprehensive system intended to support NSERC-funded research in the natural sciences and engineering:
    • a comprehensive system is one in which each tool or instrument forms part of an integrated system of operation to support the research program(s)
    • requests that bundle unrelated tools and instruments together will not be accepted
  • for the purchase of new, used or refurbished equipment, for the repair, upgrade or rental of equipment or for the fabrication of equipment that is not readily available off the shelf
  • for equipment that is purchased or rented after the application deadline

Note: Equipment and items that are part of laboratory infrastructure or intended to render other equipment compliant with health and safety standards are ineligible for RTI support.

For more information on eligible expenses under the RTI program, see the instructions on how to complete an RTI 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).

Considering equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in the research process promotes research excellence by making research outcomes more ethically sound, rigorous, reproducible, and useful. It is important to consider EDI through each stage of the research process including, but not limited to, the research questions, design, methodology, analysis, interpretation and dissemination of results, and integrate these considerations where relevant. Consult Equity, diversity and inclusion considerations at each stage of the research process for more information.

Use of grant funds

RTI grants must be used only for the specific type of equipment for which the grant was awarded through the peer review process. Grantees who wish to purchase equipment different from that specified in the application must obtain written permission from NSERC’s use of grant funds prior to its purchase. Grantees may, however, buy a model different from that requested in the application without prior NSERC approval (e.g., newer or upgraded model).

Eligibility to apply for and hold funds

To be eligible to apply for and to hold RTI funds, applicants and co-applicants must each

  • meet NSERC’s eligibility requirements for faculty to apply for or hold grant funds
  • hold at least one of the following NSERC research grants (either as an applicant or co-applicant): *
    • Alliance grant
    • Canada Excellence Research Chairs (NSERC)
    • Canada 150 Research Chairs (NSERC)
    • Canada Research Chairs (NSERC)
    • Collaborative Research and Development grant
    • Discovery Development grant
    • Discovery Grant
    • Discovery Horizons grant
    • Industrial Research Chairs grant
    • Strategic Partnership grant

*Applicants and co-applicants may apply for any of the above grants while concurrently applying to the RTI program. However, if any applicant or co-applicant does not hold one of the above grants by the RTI award start date, or is not successful in obtaining one of these grants while concurrently applying to the RTI program, the applicant and/or co-applicant will be deemed ineligible and removed from the application.  

Application procedures

Researchers can submit one RTI application per competition, either as an applicant or a co‑applicant but not both.

To apply, applicants must submit an application for RTI grants through the research portal by the deadline date. Each applicant and co-applicant must also complete a Canadian Common CV (CCV) and link it to the application.

Applicants should strive for a diverse research team. EDI considerations should be reflected in the rationale of the team composition and, where applicable, in the designated roles within the team. For more information, refer to the EDI considerations for research teams.

If applicable, applicants must include two recent quotations for any individual item(s) over $25,000 net or for any system(s) to be purchased from a single supplier and costing more than $25,000 net. If the required number of quotations cannot reasonably be submitted, applicants must provide a clear justification in the Budget justification section.

Attachments that do not adhere to the guidelines should not be included and may be removed.

Review procedures and selection criteria

Applications for RTI grants submitted to NSERC are reviewed by experts on a competitive basis. Experts on NSERC RTI selection committees follow the guidelines in the Research Tools and Instruments peer review manual.

Applications to the RTI program are assessed on the basis of the three following weighted selection criteria. The onus is on the applicant to thoroughly address each criterion in the application and to provide detailed information.

  1. Need, urgency and suitability (40%):1
    • demonstration that the equipment is essential for the research and that there are no other more cost-effective ways of obtaining the results
    • availability of similar equipment/facilities/services in the vicinity
    • impact of a delay in acquisition of equipment on the research and the pace of research progress
    • need to upgrade or replace obsolete or failed equipment
    • degree of utilization of the equipment by the applicant(s) and other users
  2. Feasibility and impact (40%):
    • quality and significance of the research program(s), including potential for major advances and impact in the discipline as a result of the equipment
    • feasibility of the plan to use the equipment
    • extent to which the applicant has relevant experience or has presented a training plan to demonstrate how they will gain the ability to fully use the equipment
    • consideration of EDI in the rationale of the team composition2
  3. Training of highly qualified personnel (HQP) (20%):
    • quality and extent of training
    • opportunity for hands-on training
    • potential to provide marketable skills for students trained on the equipment
    • consideration of EDI in the training of HQP

Demographic data is not requested or required to assess any impacts resulting from the consideration of EDI in the research team and training environment.

1If you anticipate use by or benefit to other sectors, describe the support secured from these sources or demonstrate the efforts made to obtain such support.

2 Equitable access, time sharing and accessibility of the equipment for co-applicants and other users should also be discussed. For more information on the definition of a research team, refer to equity, diversity and inclusion considerations for research teams.

Resources