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Research Tools and Instruments grants program

New: Beginning next 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 will be 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
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 must be free of conditions, restrictions or limitations (e.g., 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)
    • 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).

Applicants are encouraged to increase the inclusion and advancement of under-represented groups in the natural sciences and engineering as one way to enhance excellence in research and training. Where applicable, consideration of sex, gender and diversity in the research design should be addressed in the proposal. Equity, diversity and inclusion considerations should be developed into the rationale of the composition of research teams and trainees.

For more information, refer to the Guide for applicants: Considering equity, diversity and inclusion in your application.

Use of 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 grants administration 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 criteria for faculty
  • hold at least one of the following NSERC research grants (either as an applicant or co-applicant): *
    • Discovery Grant
    • Discovery Development grant
    • Alliance grant
    • Strategic Partnership grant
    • Collaborative Research and Development grant
    • Industrial Research Chairs grant
    • Canada Research Chairs
    • Canada Excellence Research Chairs
    • Canada 150 Research Chairs

*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.

Teams should strive for a diverse group of co-applicants and major users, including balanced gender representation. Equity, diversity and inclusion 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 Guide for applicants: Considering equity, diversity and inclusion in your application (questions 1 to 4).

If applicable, applicants must include two (2) 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 research programs, 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 equity, diversity and inclusion in the rationale of the team composition (applicant, co-applicant(s) and major users)
  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 equity, diversity and inclusion in the training of HQP

Important: trainee demographic data is not requested, nor required to assess impacts related to equity, diversity and inclusion in the research 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.

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