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Instructions for completing an Applied Research and Development (ARD) grant application

Table of contents

About the program

Read the program description before completing your application.

Who completes the application?

Applicant: The applicant must hold a remunerated position at an eligible Canadian college. Like all grants under the College and Community Innovation (CCI) program, ARD grants are awarded to the institution, rather than to an individual. As such, the applicant must create and complete the application in Convergence and is responsible for administering the grant on behalf of the institution. The applicant must complete the My information section, by completing CV details and uploading the CCI Contributions document.

Co-applicants (optional): Co-applicants are members of the research team that play a key role in the intellectual direction of the research and related activities. Co-applicants must have a remunerated position at, or be affiliated with, an eligible Canadian college or university. They are typically faculty affiliated with the college or another post-secondary institution. The applicant invites at least one co-applicant per institution to join the application via Convergence. Those invited will receive an email asking them to accept the invitation. Upon accepting they will be re-directed to Convergence to log in (or create an account), to determine their eligibility and complete their My information section. Co-applicants must provide a Contributions document or the equivalent for universities.

Participants (optional): Participants are typically professional/technical or other staff affiliated with the applying college or other participating post-secondary institutions that contribute to the research activities. The applicant invites participants to join the application via Convergence. Those invited will receive an email asking them to accept the invitation. Upon accepting they will be re-directed to Convergence to log in (or create an account), to determine their eligibility and complete their My information section. Participants are not required to provide a Contributions document.

Collaborators (optional): Collaborators are members of the research team (e.g., partner staff, university faculty) who bring their own resources to the collaboration and do not have access to the grant funds. These collaborators are expected to contribute to the overall intellectual direction of the research project.

Contributors (optional): Contributors are individuals designated by the applying college that have access to edit the application, and who typically help the applicant complete the application. The applicant invites contributors to join the application via Convergence. Contributors receive an email asking them to accept the invitation. Upon accepting they will be re-directed to Convergence to log in (or create an account). Contributors do not complete CV details and their information is not captured in the application.

Partners may be Canadian organizations from the public, private and/or not-for-profit sectors. The applicant invites an authorized contact for each partner organization via Convergence to complete the organization profile, the Contributions section and the Supporting documents section (letter of support). Key individuals from partner organizations who will contribute to the overall intellectual direction of the research project can be part of the research team as collaborators and must bring their organization's resources to the project. Consult the Instructions for partner organizations on how to complete the partner modules in Convergence for more information.

Who approves and submits the application?

The research grants officer (RGO) is the designated institutional liaison officer. This role is called Research Administrator in Convergence. They approve and submit the grant application on behalf of the college.

Whom should I contact for help?

Collection and use of personal information

The information you provide in your application is collected under the authority of the This link will take you to another Web site Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Act and stored in a series of NSERC data banks described in This link will take you to another Web site Information about programs and information holdings. Details on the use and disclosure of this information are described on the Use and disclosure of personal information provided to NSERC page, in the NSERC program literature and below. The information is used in accordance with the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act.

Application deadline

Applications can be submitted at any time.

You will not be able to access and change your application once it has been submitted. NSERC will not accept material or updates separately before or after the deadline date.

Create your application

As the applicant, you must complete and submit your application using the This link will take you to another Web site Convergence Portal. Convergence is only supported on the latest versions of Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Apple Safari and Mozilla Firefox.

Follow the instructions provided in the Convergence Portal to complete your application.

You must complete all sections of the full application and submit it via your institution's research grants officer. Co-applicants and participants must each complete their own profile and My information section in Convergence before you can submit the application. They will be able to see all sections of the application, but will not be able to edit the application. The authorized contacts from the partner organizations must also complete the required partner sections.

You must verify the page lengths and formatting of any attachments to the application. If an application contains any attachments that do not comply with the page length or formatting standard, the application may be withdrawn.

Steps

  • Sign in to the This link will take you to another Web site Convergence Portal. If you already have an account, use your existing account.
  • Select Funding Opportunities.
  • Select Applied Research and Development and Create Application.
  • Complete steps 1 to 5 and agree to the Terms and conditions of applying.

If you have previously completed an eligibility profile in the Convergence Portal, some fields may be pre-populated. You will be asked to review each page and will have the opportunity to update any information you have previously provided.

Completing your entire profile in Convergence is not required. There is no need to complete the Funding or Interruptions and personal circumstances sections as these sections are not captured in the application and CV details, nor are they used in the assessment of applications.

Self-identification information

Applicants, co-applicants and participants must complete the self-identification form. However, you may select Prefer not to answer for any or all questions. NSERC appreciates your participation, which supports the granting agencies in monitoring the equity of their programs and strengthening equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in the research enterprise.

The self-identification information is collected as part of your user profile when you register in the This link will take you to another Web site Convergence Portal. It is not part of your application and external reviewers and/or evaluation committee members do not have access to it and will not receive any information from it.

Complete your application

Select View application to access the application.

My information section

You and any co-applicants must complete the My information section of the application, including CV documents, CV affiliation and employment, and CV education. Once these sections are completed, select Finalize to submit your information.

CV documents (PDF attachment): As the applicant or as a co-applicant, you must attach only the Contributions document (or university equivalent). This free-form text document is limited to five pages, which should be used to list relevant experience and contributions to applied research and innovation in natural sciences, health and social sciences, including contributions to training. Ensure your name appears outside the set margins of the page, at the top right corner of each page.

CV affiliation and employment: If you are completing your My information section for the first time in the Convergence Portal, add past and current affiliations by selecting Add New Affiliation. If you previously completed your profile, you may add previously completed affiliations information in the portal by selecting Associate Affiliation.

CV education: If you are completing your My information section for the first time in the Convergence Portal, add past and current education, if applicable, by selecting Add New Education. If you previously completed your profile, you may add previously completed education information in Convergence by selecting Associate Education.

Shared information section

Application details

Provide the application title and language of application. The main body of your application should be written in either English or French, rather than in a mix of both official languages.

Supplements

If you are applying for any concurrent joint initiatives related to the ARD application, indicate these here. If applicable, select the relevant joint funding initiative(s) in the Actions column.

By submitting an application to a joint funding opportunity, you consent to the sharing (among any co-funding organizations) of information contained in the application, including personal information or information in any way related to the grant, which may include progress reports required as a condition of award. You must also confirm that you have obtained the consent of any individuals whose personal information is contained in such documents to share this information in the same manner.

You may be required to submit additional information. See the Additional information for joint initiatives section of this document for additional guidance pertaining to each joint initiative.

Invitations

Click on Invite Participant to invite co-applicants, contributors, participants and/or partner organizations to complete their sections in the application. Collaborators are not invited; they are listed in the Collaborators section.

Participants

The Participants section in Convergence lists all grant co-applicants, contributors, participants and/or partner organization who have accepted your invitation and signed up in the Convergence Portal. If an individual has not accepted your invitation, follow up with them to confirm they have received it. If an invited co-applicant has a status of Pending Eligibility, they have accepted your invitation, but have not yet completed their profile (steps 1 to 5 and agreeing to the terms and conditions of applying) to access the application.

If an invited co-applicant has a status of Information not finalized, verify that they have completed the My information section (CV documents, CV affiliation and employment, and CV education) by selecting View Information.

If an invited partner has a status of Information not finalized, verify that they have completed the My information section by selecting View Information.

Once a participant has completed their respective sections, you must finalize the record by selecting Finalize information from the Actions menu, which changes the status to Complete.

Collaborators

If you have collaborators, add their information to this section and, optionally, attach their CV (up to two pages) in the Supporting documents section, under CV collaborators.

Socioeconomic objectives

Provide any This link will take you to another Web site socioeconomic objectives relevant to the application. Socioeconomic objectives were previously referred to as "areas of application."

Fields of research

List at least one primary This link will take you to another Web site field of research that best describes this specific application. You may list a maximum of three fields of research.

Keywords

List a minimum of five keywords that best describe this specific application. You may list a maximum of ten keywords.

Summary of proposal

The summary is intended to explain the proposal in language that the public can understand. Using simple terms, briefly describe the nature of the research and activities, the overall goal and the objectives of the proposal. Indicate why the project is important, and how the anticipated outcomes will help partner organizations seize new opportunities by applying innovative research and technologies in the natural sciences, health or social sciences fields or developing them into useful new products and services. This plain-language summary will be available to the public if your proposal is funded.

The maximum character count is 2,500.

Proposed budget

Before completing this section, please consult the Tri-agency guide on financial administration and the Specific rules for the use of grant funds to learn which spending is eligible for grant coverage and the rules for the use of grant funds. Use the Budget justification section (details below) to explain and justify each budget item.

It is important to note that there will be one budget regardless of the number of co-applicants invited to the project. The applicant will have the responsibility to justify the items and to transfer the funds to the co-applicant(s) based on that justification once they receive NSERC funds (if the project is awarded).

Note: Overhead and administration costs equivalent to 20 percent of the annual grant amount are automatically calculated.

In the Budget section of the Convergence Portal, enter the planned expenditures in each category for each year of the project. The sum of partner cash contributions is presented at the top of the Budget section and must be manually added to the bottom of the budget table. Similarly, add any additional cash contributions from participating institutions or funders on the appropriate lines. The entire cash budget including all cash contributions should be presented.

Additional details must be provided in the Supporting documents section.

Certification, licenses and permits

Complete the questionnaire in the Certification requirements module. Depending on the answers you provide in the questionnaire, you may be asked to submit an Impact assessment form in the Supporting documents section. For more information on certification requirements, please consult Requirements for certain types of research.

Suggested reviewers

Suggest the names of reviewers who would have the necessary expertise to evaluate your proposal. This list should include experts from the both the academic and non-academic community, such as the government sector and the industrial sector. This list should also take into consideration equity, diversity and inclusion; for example, the list should include women.

Give the name, address, telephone number, email address and the area(s) of expertise of potential external reviewers.

External reviewers should be able to review the proposal in the language in which it is written.

Suggested external reviewers should not be in a conflict of interest. Refer to the This link will take you to another Web site Conflict of interest and confidentiality policy of the federal research funding organizations for more information.

Reviewer exclusions (optional)

You may request that certain reviewers be excluded from reviewing your application. Note that this request may be accessible to these reviewers under Canada's laws providing access to information and protecting privacy. If you wish to exclude an institution or organization, contact colleges@nserc-crsng.gc.ca.

Supporting documents

Prepare the documents

Prepare your attachments following the requirements below.

  • Any acronyms and abbreviations must be explained.
  • Pages must be 8 ½ inches × 11 inches (216 mm × 279 mm).
  • Text must be single-spaced, with no more than six lines of type per inch.
  • All text must be in black, using the 11 pt Arial font; condensed fonts will not be accepted.
  • Margins must be set at a minimum of ¾ inch (1.87 cm).
  • In multi-page attachments, pages must be numbered sequentially.
  • For non-CV attachments, your name must appear outside the set margins of the page, at the top right corner of every page.
  • The name of the document must appear at the top (e.g., Proposal, Budget justification).

Convert the documents to PDF

All attachments must be converted to portable document format (PDF) before they can be attached to the application. The conversion process varies with the operating system and word processing or spreadsheet software you are using. If you have questions about converting your documents to PDF, contact your institution's technical support staff.

If you do not have a PDF conversion program, you may download a free version of This link will take you to another Web site PrimoPDF. Macintosh users have a PDF conversion option in the Macintosh system Print function.

The following supporting documents must be attached to the application. The File column in the Supporting documents section indicates which documents are required.

Research proposal

Proposals requesting up to $40,000 per year should be three to five pages, and those requesting over $40,000 per year should be five to 12 pages. These page limits include references.

Your proposal will be evaluated according to the criteria below. Using the headings, describe the proposed research in enough detail to allow reviewers to make an informed assessment. Write the proposal in clear, plain language. Avoid jargon, acronyms and highly technical terms. The proposal must address all of the criteria and sub-criteria to be considered for funding.

Quality of the proposal

  • Originality and innovation; applies knowledge in an innovative manner or creates new knowledge
  • Feasibility, clarity and soundness of the research objectives and methodology
  • Appropriate college and partner organization support to ensure the feasibility of the project, including financial support, equipment and/or access to facilities
  • Clarity of the overall budget and the justification of individual budget items

Partnerships and impact

  • Evidence that the project will lead to improved and/or transformative products, processes, policies, procedures or service delivery that benefit the partner organization
  • Appropriateness of the timelines to achieve the intended outcomes and impact
  • The partner organization(s)' capacity to successfully implement and/or exploit the research results within a reasonable timeframe
  • Appropriateness of the partner organization(s)' contributions and involvement in the project, consistent with the project's risks and rewards and the size of the funding request
  • Benefits for Canada, including economic, social, environmental and/or health benefits

Applied research competence

  • How the expertise of the college research team and the partner organization(s) aligns with the applied research proposal
  • Demonstration that the research team has conducted a comparable-scale research project with partner organizations in the past
  • Identification of at least one concrete practice to ensure that EDI is intentionally and proactively considered in recruiting, selecting, and/or integrating personnel into the research team

Training

  • How the training plan uses novel and interesting approaches for students and other trainees to increase their job readiness by developing relevant research and professional skills
  • How the training and mentorship plan promotes enriched experiences and interactions for the trainees outside the college sector, such as in private companies, industry associations, not-for-profit organizations, government departments and universities
  • Identification of at least one concrete practice that will promote the participation of a diverse group of students and other trainees, including those from underrepresented groups, as well as promote an equitable, inclusive and accessible training environment

References

Use this section to provide a list of the most relevant literature references. Do not refer readers to websites for additional information on the proposal. Do not introduce hyperlinks in the list of references.

Budget justification

In a maximum of three pages, provide a detailed explanation and justification for the all cash expenses including contributions from partners, institutions or other funders. Each budget line identified in the budget table should be addressed. Provide sufficient information to allow reviewers to assess whether the resources requested are appropriate and to allow reviewers to easily understand the items requested. The description of the funds requested should be clearly linked to the items and numbers entered on the budget table. These pages should contain only information relevant to the budget.

Salaries and benefits

Give the names (if known) and categories of employment and proposed salaries (with explicit indication of the non-discretionary benefits) of research team members and students. Briefly describe the responsibilities for each position and indicate the amount of time they will spend on the project over its lifespan.

Operating and equipment costs

Provide a breakdown of the items requested and details of models, manufacturers, prices and applicable taxes. Justify the need for each item requested. Fees for the use of equipment or a facility should be described (e.g., hours and rate).

Equipment, operating costs, supplies and consulting fees may not exceed 20 percent of the total project costs.

Research and technology transfer support services

Provide details on and explain major items for research and technology transfer support services. Eligible expenses are limited to costs attributable to specific activities.

Knowledge dissemination and networking

Provide details on travel, training workshops and other major items for knowledge dissemination and networking. Expenditures should be limited to costs attributable to specific activities.

Overhead and administration costs

Provide general information on the overhead and administration costs attributable to the grant.

CV - collaborators

Colleges may attach a biographical sketch for collaborators whose expertise is essential in meeting the research objectives of the proposal. In a maximum of two pages for each collaborator, provide the individual's name, affiliation, education/training, employment/affiliations and up to five significant contributions related to the project. Alternatively, a two-page CV may be provided for each collaborator.

All collaborator biographical sketches or CVs, as applicable, must be saved as a single PDF document and uploaded to the Supporting documents section.

Impact assessment (appendix A)

If applicable, download a copy of appendix A and, once completed, uploaded it to the Supporting documents section of your application. For more information, consult NSERC's Guidelines on impact assessment.

Other documents

If applicable, upload any other required PDF document here (e.g., letter of support from other funding sources providing cash to the project, Partner organization supplemental information questionnaire). Pages must be letter size (8 ½" x 11").

Submit your application

Review the application to ensure that it is complete.

From the Finalize and Submit section, follow the prompts to submit your application. After you accept the terms and conditions, the status of your submission will change to Received by Administrator. If you want to make any changes at this point, you may request that your research grants officer return the application to you.

Once your research grants officer has approved and submitted your application, the application status will change to Received by Agency. No changes can be made after that point.

Submitting the application as the research grants officer

When you (as the research grants officer) receive an application submitted by an applicant at your institution, you will be asked to approve the application and submit it. By submitting it, you are confirming that:

  • the participants meet the eligibility requirements
  • the proposed research project meets the eligibility requirements

By submitting the application, you, on behalf of your institution, are also certifying that the applicant:

  • is affiliated with the institution
  • has the necessary time and resources to carry out the activity
  • will contact NSERC (email colleges@nserc-crsng.gc.ca) if there are any changes during the tenure of the grant, including changes in the composition of the partnership, such as the addition of new co-applicants, collaborators

Additional information for joint initiatives

By submitting an application to a joint funding opportunity, you consent to the sharing (among any co-funding organizations) of information contained in the application, including personal information or information in any way related to the grant, which may include progress reports required as a condition of award. You must also confirm that you have obtained the consent of any individuals whose personal information is contained in such documents to share this information in the same manner.

Mitacs Accelerate internships

This joint funding opportunity allows applicants to leverage cash contributions from partners for funding from both NSERC and Mitacs.

To take advantage of this opportunity, applicants must complete an ARD application and request additional support through Mitacs Accelerate internships as a component of training. As in all Mitacs internships, a cash contribution from an eligible partner is required. Mitacs internships cannot be the only mechanism for training in the application; trainees should also be supported by NSERC funds.

Applicants who wish to include Mitacs Accelerate internships in their ARD application should contact their local This link will take you to another Web site Mitacs business development representatives to obtain the Mitacs supplemental application form and budget spreadsheet. Applicants must submit these documents with their ARD proposal in the other document section of the Convergence Portal.

NSERC-Mitacs ARD applications require the following additional information:

  1. Proposal: Describe the role of the Mitacs interns in the research project and explain the quality of the research-based training experiences provided to the interns. Describe how the partner organization is committed to providing supervision and mentorship for the interns. Explain how the number of Mitacs interns and the number of internship units are appropriate to the scope of the project.
  2. Budget justification: Applicants must provide the breakdown of funds requested from both NSERC and Mitacs in support of trainees, including Mitacs interns.
  3. Training: NSERC-Mitacs ARD applications require the following information when outlining the training of highly qualified personnel:
    • A description of the role of the Mitacs interns in the research project and an explanation of the quality of the research-based training experiences provided to the interns
    • A description of how the internship partnership organization is committed to providing supervision and mentorship to the interns
    • An explanation of how the number of Mitacs interns and the number of internship units are appropriate to the scope of the project

Applications will be peer reviewed, and funding decisions will be communicated jointly to the applicants.

OCI VIP

If you are requesting OCI's This link will take you to another Web site Voucher for Innovation and Productivity (VIP), the industry partner must first connect with their This link will take you to another Web site business development and commercialization manager to start the OCI application process before submitting the NSERC ARD application. Consult the This link will take you to another Web site OCI VIP program guide for full details on company eligibility.

You must be an Ontario-based college eligible to hold tri-agency funds (see the List of eligible institutions).

The opportunity will undergo an initial vetting and due diligence assessment by OCI to ensure that opportunities fulfill all eligibility criteria and are suitable before you can submit the application to NSERC by following the instructions presented in this guide.

Alberta Innovates' Campus Alberta Small Business Engagement (CASBE) program

You may be eligible for this joint opportunity once your ARD application is approved for funding. Connect with the This link will take you to another Web site CASBE program manager once you receive the term and conditions of a successful ARD application.

As this opportunity requires ARD funding to be secured first, there is no additional information to include in the application. However, you may describe your intent to apply in the proposal, as applicable.