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Collaborative Research and Training Experience Program

NSERC has updated the Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) program with these key requirements:

  • Proposals must now address the mentoring of trainees within the context of the training program
  • Equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) should be considered in the rationale of the team composition and in the designated roles within the team
Overview
Duration Up to six years
Value Up to $150,000 in the first year and up to $300,000 for up to five subsequent years, for a maximum of $1.65M over 6 years.
Application deadline May 1 (letter of intent)
September 22 (application, if invited to apply)
Application procedures Letter of intent
  • Form 100 (Personal Data Form) for the applicant
  • Form 187 – Letter of intent to apply for a Collaborative Research and Training Experience Program
Application (if invited to apply)
  • Form 100 (Personal Data Form) for the applicant
  • Form 100 or Canadian Common CV (CCV) for up to 10 co-applicants
  • Form 102 – Application for a Collaborative Research and Training Experience program grant
To create or access an application, select On-line system login. To view forms and instructions, select PDF forms and instructions.
How to apply See below
For more information Consult the contact list

Important information

Objectives

The Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) program supports the training and mentoring of teams of highly qualified students and postdoctoral fellows from Canada and abroad through the development of innovative training programs that

  • encourage collaborative and integrative approaches, and address significant scientific challenges associated with Canada’s research priorities
  • facilitate the transition of new researchers from trainees to productive employees in the Canadian workforce

These innovative programs must foster the acquisition and development of important professional skills among students and postdoctoral fellows that complement their qualifications and technical skills, and improve their job readiness for careers in industry, government, non-governmental organizations and/or academia.

In addition, these programs should encourage the following as appropriate:

  • student mobility, nationally or internationally, between individual universities and between universities and other sectors
  • interdisciplinary research within the natural sciences and engineering (NSE), or at the interface between the NSE and health or between the NSE and the social sciences and humanities—however, the main focus of the training must still lie within the NSE
  • increased collaboration between industry and academia
  • for the industrial stream, an additional objective is to support improved job readiness within the industrial sector by exposing participants to the specific challenges of this sector and training people with the skills identified by industry

Description

The CREATE program is designed to improve the training and mentoring environment for the Canadian researchers of tomorrow by improving training in areas such as professional skills, communication and collaboration, as well as by providing mentoring and experience relevant to both academic and non-academic research environments. Initiatives do not necessarily have to involve development of new professional skills training courses but can take advantage of existing training (offered at the university, provincially or by other organizations such as Mitacs). The CREATE program promotes and furthers the development of new researchers within the NSE disciplines, or at the interdisciplinary frontier between the NSE and the areas covered under the umbrella of the two other federal granting agencies—the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)—if, by combining the strengths of the various disciplines, a greater impact is achieved for the trainees. Where appropriate, proposed initiatives could also encourage interaction with the users of research and future employers of the trainees, or contribute to providing additional opportunities for students to participate in exchanges at the national or international level. The training initiative should be focused on providing a value-added experience to the university training environment to better prepare research trainees for their future careers in industry, government or academia.

Successful applicants will consist of a group of accomplished researchers who will work collaboratively to offer a defined research training program to a group of trainees. This environment will provide trainees with experience relevant to both academic and non-academic careers. The research training experience should focus on providing an enriched training and mentoring experience for graduate (master’s and doctoral) students. Undergraduate students can be supported and integrated into the training program as potential future graduate students, but a proposal that is focused solely on support of undergraduate students will not be considered. Postdoctoral fellows may also be supported, as it is recognized that they often play an integral part in the training and mentoring of graduate and undergraduate students. If postdoctoral fellows are included, the application must clearly elaborate on their contributions to the training program and the enhanced benefits this group can realize by being involved. Successful applications will be those best able to demonstrate the benefits of their proposed research training experience to their targeted trainees.

Supported training programs will be recognized nationally for

  • their innovative nature to create a rich research training and mentoring environment
  • the excellence of the researchers, and their success in training and mentoring highly qualified personnel (HQP) for future employment in all sectors including industry, government and academia
  • their capacity to raise the standard for best practices in research training, mentoring and development of professional skills of new researchers
  • encouraging student mobility, as appropriate, between different Canadian universities, between the universities and potential workplaces or among participating Canadian and international institutions, thus promoting international awareness

In addition, industry-supported training programs will be recognized for their capacity to support improved job readiness within the industrial sector by exposing participants to the specific challenges of the private sector, and to support training in skills that have been identified as needed for a career in industry, such as leadership, business management, entrepreneurship and marketing.

Note: NSERC and Mitacs have formalized their existing relationship. Applicants are encouraged to take advantage of Mitacs programs that support internships in industry as well as other opportunities to increase the number of trainees.

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.

CREATE initiatives are expected to increase the inclusion and advancement of under-represented and disadvantaged groups in the NSE 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. EDI considerations should be developed into the rationale of the composition of the group of trainees and in their supervisors, role models and mentors. See the Letter of intent to apply for a Collaborative Research and Training Experience grant – Form 187 for specific requirements. For more information on equitable, diverse and inclusive research and training environments, refer to NSERC’s Guide for applicants: Considering equity, diversity and inclusion in your application.

Special opportunities

The CREATE program offers three different streams: regular, industrial and international collaboration. The additional requirements pertaining to the industrial and international streams are below.

For the industrial stream

The objective of this stream is to place additional qualified candidates within Canadian companies. With the focus on developing skills that will be useful for the transition to the workplace, the CREATE program is a great asset to industry—which requires not only technical skills but professional skills.

It is expected that linkages between industry and academia will be enhanced. Also Canada’s People Advantage, as envisaged in the federal science and technology strategy, will be improved by increasing the supply of HQP who are “employer-ready” and can generate immediate results after graduation, improving job readiness as an immediate benefit to the industrial employer.

Up to 50% of the CREATE grants will be dedicated to the industrial stream.

Eligible industrial collaborators

  • In general, an industrial collaborator is defined as a Canadian-based business that provides products or services and that derives the majority of its revenues from the sale of these products and services and not from government aid. Such partners must be willing and able to exploit the research results for the economic benefit of Canada.
  • Multinationals may be eligible if they have commercial activities that take place in Canada, such as research and development or manufacturing related to the proposed research, and if the funded activity will result in significant economic benefit to Canada.

In order to be considered industrial, a proposal must include the following:

  Program committee (PC) Internships Confirmation from industrial collaborators
Phase 1: Letter of intent Confirm willingness to participate in the PC. If no confirmed name, indicate the position of the person.  The intent of the industrial collaborator to host internships must be indicated. One e-mail or one letter must be included.
Phase 2: Application Provide one or more confirmed and named industrial member(s) on the PC. Confirm that all the CREATE trainees will hold at least one (industrial) internship; and internships within the collaborating industry(ies) for three to four months for M.Sc. and seven to eight months for PhD. Arrangements should be in place at the time of application and should be guaranteed if the proposal is funded. Maximum of three letter(s) confirming a commitment to both conditions must be included.

Notes:

  1. The same company can host internships and also have a representative on the PC, as long as the representative does not directly benefit from the internships. Applicants are encouraged to consider Mitacs programs to assist in meeting the internship requirements.
  2. Due to conflict of interest considerations, trainee internships at companies owned wholly or in part by the applicant or by a co-applicant are prohibited. Trainees are permitted to conduct internships at companies owned wholly or in part by a collaborator.

For the international collaboration

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

An agreement between NSERC and the German Research Foundation, the This link will take you to another Web site Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), has been concluded to establish a formal mechanism for supporting a bilateral training program that involves an exchange of students between Germany and Canada.

To be considered for this opportunity, Canadian candidates should follow these steps:

  • Canadian researchers should first establish a collaboration with German researchers.
  • Since the DFG International Research Training Groups (IRTG) process requires more time than the NSERC application process, the German researchers must start by submitting a pre-proposal to the DFG.
  • Applicants with a successful DFG IRTG pre-proposal can proceed directly to submitting a full application to NSERC without the need for a full letter of intent (LOI). Applicants must provide the basic information in their LOI (a title for the initiative that includes a reference to the DFG) as it is used to generate a Form 102.
  • Proposals will be evaluated through the agencies’ (NSERC and DFG) respective peer review processes. The CREATE application should stand alone and contain all the necessary details about the Canadian side of the collaboration.
  • CREATE grant applications involving a collaboration with researchers applying to the DFG IRTG program compete with the applications of the other applicants invited to submit a CREATE grant application in the same competition.
  • DFG IRTG/NSERC CREATE proposals will be funded only if both are successful in their individual competitions. 
  • If funded, the duration of the CREATE grant can be extended to match the partner DFG IRTG grant, which is nine years, but the total NSERC CREATE grant value remains $1.65 million.

Eligibility

Eligibility conditions for applicants, co-applicants and institutions apply. CREATE grants are tenable only at NSERC-eligible Canadian universities, and the applicant must hold an eligible position at that university. Researchers at non-eligible organizations may participate as collaborators. Ensure that you consider the eligibility requirements for applicants, co-applicants and collaborators described on NSERC’s website under Eligibility criteria.

Note to multi-university applicants: All universities that will be involved in the application must have at least one co-applicant listed in the proposal. This ensures access to CREATE funds for all students/fellows involved at that university. The funds will be administered by the co-applicant on behalf of all the students/fellows whether they are under the co-applicant’s direct supervision or not.

The following conditions apply to all applications:

  • In the case of multi-organization collaborations (academic, industrial, government or not-for-profit sectors), the applicant must be from an NSERC-supported field at an NSERC-eligible university. One person must be designated to administer the grant; this person is the “applicant” and is responsible for completing and submitting the LOI and the application (if invited) on behalf of the group. The applicant’s university will be the lead university.
  • At least 70% of the group must be from NSE fields, but co-applicants at the interdisciplinary frontier between NSE and the areas covered under the umbrella of SSHRC and CIHR may be incorporated into proposals. Applicants submitting proposals at the interdisciplinary frontiers of the granting agencies may be required to justify why NSERC is in fact the most appropriate funding agency for their training proposals.
  • The focus should be on new training initiatives; existing initiatives must justify the incremental value that will accrue from the CREATE program.
  • A yearly quota has been established for each university, and only those researchers selected at their university can submit LOIs. In addition, a researcher may only be the applicant on one CREATE initiative annually—there is a limit on participation in multiple CREATE initiatives: NSERC limits the participation of an individual researcher in a maximum of two CREATE initiatives as either an applicant or co-applicant (active or applied for).
  • Each training program will have a program committee responsible for overseeing the progress of the program and its future directions; the applicant may not be the chair of the program committee.
  • The program committee chair must approve each progress report.
  • Additional requirements are as follows:
    • Researchers who currently hold or participate in an active CREATE grant must clearly describe their distinct contribution to and justification for their participation in the proposed training program;
    • Researchers who are applying in a research area already supported by other active CREATE grants must clearly describe how this application differs from those already funded;
    • Previous CREATE grantees and co-grantees must clearly describe how this application differs from those already funded.

Descriptions required above should appear in either the Excellence of proposed team of researchers or the Merit of the proposed training program, as applicable. Please refer to Form 187 instructions for details. The onus is on the applicant to provide sufficient information to enable the selection committee to evaluate the relationship with other CREATE initiatives. Currently funded CREATE grantees can be found in the CREATE – competition results.

Award information

Funding of $150,000 in the first year ( $50,000) and $300,000 ( $50,000) annually for up to five subsequent years will be provided by NSERC for up to $1.65 million dollars over six years. It is expected that funds will be spent on an annual basis. Also, CREATE initiatives are expected to be self-sustaining by the end of six years. Note that there is no automatic extension for the use of funds, and renewal of funding beyond six years is not possible.

Collaborators may contribute additional funds. The application must provide a detailed justification of all expenses.

All project expenditures are subject to the principles and directives governing the appropriate use of grant funds as outlined in the Tri-Agency Guide on Financial Administration.

Progress reports and performance evaluations

Continuation of CREATE funding for years four to six of the six-year grant period is dependent on satisfactory performance of the initiative, which is assessed by NSERC through regular and comprehensive progress reports that are required from CREATE grantees.

Progress reports should clearly and concisely demonstrate that

  • the objectives outlined in the application are being met
  • all of the training and mentoring program elements outlined in the application are being delivered
  • all trainees are developing professional skills and receiving mentoring and a value-added experience
  • HQP targets outlined in the application are being met
  • funds are being well managed

Failure to demonstrate these criteria in reports may lead to reduction, early phase-out or termination of the grant. Failure to submit the reports will result in termination of the grant or cancellation or suspension of subsequent installments.

Specific rules for the use of grant funds

Eligible expenses

The allowable expenses include the following:

Stipends

  • At least 80% of the CREATE grant must be used for trainees’ stipends.
  • Up to 30% of this portion can be distributed to trainees who are not enrolled in the NSE.

    The three federal granting agencies—CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC—have harmonized policies on support paid to students and postdoctoral fellows from research grants; and under those policies, there is no minimum or maximum stipend levels paid from grants. Universities are encouraged to ensure that students and postdoctoral fellows are appropriately compensated, commensurate with the important contributions they make to the research environment of the university. Note that it is expected that trainees will be able to complete the training program proposed without delays to their graduation.
  • Researchers are not restricted from using some of their grant money to provide supplements to scholarship holders. Students holding NSERC Postgraduate Scholarships, Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarships or other federal granting agency graduate scholarships such as Mitacs (except Mitacs-Elevate) should be encouraged to participate in the training program whether or not they receive a stipend from CREATE.
  • Students holding Mitacs-Elevate fellowships can participate in CREATE initiatives but cannot concurrently receive a stipend from a CREATE grant.
  • CREATE stipends to postdoctoral fellows are normally limited to two years of support. Three years of support is acceptable, when justified, to attract exceptional foreign candidates; the three-year appointment must be offered up front and reported to NSERC with a written justification within one month of an offer being accepted.
  • Persons paid from NSERC grants are not considered NSERC employees.

Note: The 80:20 ratio is over the course of the grant.

Up to 20% of the CREATE funds may be used for the following expenses (sections below combined):

Training program structure

  • funds toward the development and the coordination of the training program structure, format and content; e.g., costs for the purchase of books or periodicals, specialized office supplies, computing equipment and information services not formally provided by the university to its academic and research staff, costs involved in providing personnel with training or development in novel techniques required for the training program, etc.
  • salary of a program coordinator for the duration of the grant
  • advertising and trainee recruitment costs, including travel costs to bring potential candidates in for interviews
  • costs associated with short-term training related to professional skill development for trainees

Travel

  • funds for the travel of trainees between locations, if the program involves institutions located in different cities
  • travel and accommodation expenses of trainees for exchanges among universities or between universities and other sectors located in different cities, nationally or internationally
  • travel and accommodation expenses of trainees to attend conferences or workshops
  • travel costs for guest speakers
  • travel cancellation insurance
  • travel health insurance for trainees who do not receive any such benefits from their university or other sources
  • safety-related expenses (for trainees) for fieldwork, such as protective gear, immunizations, etc.
  • entry visa fee (for trainees) when required for the purpose of research
  • for DFG CREATE grant holders, travel to Germany once a year for program coordination purposes  

Note: Air travel must be claimed at the lowest rate available and may not exceed full economy fare; and land travel costs may not exceed the equivalent of economy airfare.

Dissemination of training materials and research results

  • funds for the development and dissemination of training materials
  • costs of developing web-based information, including website maintenance fees, for the first two years of the grant
  • costs associated with the dissemination of findings (i.e., through traditional venues, as well as videos, etc.)
  • publication of articles (co-)authored by CREATE trainees

Services and miscellaneous expenses

  • networking costs (non-alcoholic refreshments or meals) for networking purposes in the context of formal courtesy between the trainees and guest researchers

Ineligible expenses

Items that are not eligible include (but are not limited to)

  • any salaries other than for the program coordinator
  • research materials and supplies, fieldwork
  • travel expenses of the team members (the applicant, co-applicant, collaborators, program coordinator or program committee members)
  • relocation costs
  • college and high school students’ salaries

Application procedures

Applying to the CREATE program involves a two-phase application process—phase 1: Letter of intent, and phase 2: Application. The CREATE program is highly selective, with pre-screening based on the LOI. Only applicants successful at the LOI stage will be invited to submit an application.

Phase 1: Letter of intent

To apply for a CREATE program grant, researchers must first submit Form 187 to their university for consideration. Refer to Form 187 instructions for complete information or contact your university research grants office.

The entire LOI application process is performed using NSERC’s online system.

A complete LOI includes the following:

  • Form 187
  • Form 100 for the applicant
  • a letter from the applicant’s university vice-president research*
  • for the industrial stream only, one letter or email from the collaborating industry(ies) to the applicant, confirming its (their) willingness to participate in the program committee and to host internships for trainees

*An earlier deadline may be established by the university to review letters of intent and to select those it will put forward to NSERC. The vice-president research, or equivalent, must write a letter that clearly confirms that the applicant’s proposal is one of the proposals endorsed by the university as part of its quota of submissions, and it should describe the university’s support and commitment for this new initiative.

Phase 2: Application

If invited to apply, you must then submit the following documents to NSERC through the research grant office by the deadline date:

  • Form 102
  • Form 100 for the applicant
  • Form 100 or CCV for up to 10 co-applicants
  • one letter of support from the lead university
  • for both the regular and industrial stream, a maximum of three letters from collaborators will be accepted. For the industrial stream only, at least one of these letters must be from an industrial collaborator confirming its willingness to participate in the program committee and to host internships for trainees.
  • In addition, indicate in the first sentence of the description of the training program that you are applying to the industrial stream of the CREATE program.

Refer to forms 100, CCV and 102 instructions for complete information or contact your university research grants office.

The entire application process is performed using NSERC’s online system.

Review procedures and selection criteria

An NSERC CREATE multidisciplinary selection committee, composed of distinguished Canadian and foreign members from academia and the private sector, will review the letters of intent and the invited applications. Members are selected according to NSERC’s Guidelines governing membership of selection committees.

Letter of intent

At the LOI stage, the training program will be assessed in relation to the

  • merit of the proposed training program (60%);
  • excellence of the team of researchers (40%).

Refer to the selection criteria described below for details.

Application

The training program's excellence in the application will be assessed in relation to its

  • innovative, collaborative and integrative character
  • capacity to better prepare trainees for the workforce
  • potential to support teams of outstanding students and postdoctoral fellows

In arriving at an overall rating for the application, the committee will take into consideration the factors listed below.

Merit of the proposed training program (50%)

Applicable to all applications:

  • extent to which the program will provide opportunities for the trainees to develop professional skills and receive mentoring
  • extent to which the research training program will facilitate the transition of the trainees to the Canadian workforce and will promote interaction of the trainees with non-academic sectors, such as private companies, industry associations, not-for-profit organizations, government departments, etc., as appropriate
  • description of the potential employers and a qualitative assessment of the job prospects for trainees
  • extent to which the program uses novel and interesting approaches to graduate student training and mentoring in an integrated manner to provide an enriched experience for all participants
  • added value that trainees will receive through their participation
  • focus and clarity of objectives of the research training program, in both short and long term
  • how the research area proposed relates to the current scientific or technical developments in the field, with references to the current literature

Applicable to the industrial stream:

  • extent to which the program will be useful in developing professional skills that will benefit the industrial employer by improving job readiness immediately after graduation
  • extent to which the program will increase the supply of HQP for the industrial sector
  • extent to which the program will improve linkages between industry and academia

Note: A financial contribution from industry is not a requirement but would be viewed as an asset.

As appropriate to specific applications:

  • how the mobility of students and fellows between academic institutions and organizations either within Canada or abroad will augment their research training experience
  • the degree to which the training program, while focused mainly in the NSE, also fosters research studies at the interface between NSE and health or social sciences and humanities

Excellence of the team of researchers (25%)

  • quality and impact of team members’ past contributions on their respective areas of research
  • complementarity of the expertise of the members of the group to deliver on the collaborative research (including evidence of how they will work collaboratively) and training goals proposed
  • consideration of EDI in the rationale of the team composition and in the designated roles within the team
  • quality and extent of past contributions to the training and mentoring of HQP, as well as considerations of equity and inclusion in trainee recruitment and the research and training environment
  • description of the role of co-applicants currently holding or participating in an on-going CREATE grant relative to their role in the proposed CREATE initiative, if applicable.

Note: See the Policy and guidelines on the assessment of contributions to research and training.

Program management and long-term sustainability (25%)

  • plan for ensuring that the program will be self-sustaining beyond the period of the grant
  • appropriateness of the proposed management structure, including the composition, role and responsibilities of the program committee, and considerations of EDI in the rationale of the proposed management structure
  • reliability of the project management plans for the implementation of the training program and for the evaluation of the program's performance against stated objectives
  • planned approach to promoting participation from a diverse group of trainees, taking into account equity and inclusion in recruitment practices, mentorship approaches, and initiatives aimed at ensuring an inclusive research and training environment;
  • appropriateness of the various levels of trainees involved (undergraduate to postdoctoral level)
  • evidence of the university’s commitment to facilitate and further the plans and goals of the CREATE program, during and beyond the term of the grant
  • provision of adequate facilities for carrying out the research