On January 16, 2024, the Government of Canada published its Policy on Sensitive Technology Research and Affiliations of Concern. This new policy does not apply to the current competition of this funding opportunity; the policy will apply to the following competition cycle. According to the policy, grant applications that involve conducting research that aims to advance a sensitive technology research area will not be funded if any of the researchers involved in activities supported by the grant are currently affiliated with, or in receipt of funding or in-kind support from, a named research organization. Please read the Tri-agency guidance on the STRAC Policy to understand how this policy may impact your future grant applications.

Collaborative Research and Training Experience program

The CREATE program was recently re-evaluated to simplify the application process. The program’s renewal made important changes to the application processes and program characteristics for the 2025 competition and subsequent competition years as follows:

  1. The letter of intent (LOI) stage is now non-competitive, meaning that the LOIs are not adjudicated by the selection committee and will proceed directly to the application stage.
  2. LOI submissions are still required, but the information to be provided has been reduced.
  3. The Industrial stream has been eliminated. Industrial participation in CREATE initiatives is encouraged, but the extent and nature of industrial participation is determined by the applicants and their industrial partners.
  4. Mobility experiences are now mandatory for all M.Sc. and Ph.D. trainees, with a minimum duration of one month for M.Sc. and two months for Ph.D. trainees.
  5. The LOI quota remains the same at six for large universities, four for medium-sized universities, and two for small universities. Please refer to the Grants and Scholarships Administrative Portal (GSAP) secure site to obtain your university’s size classification.
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 six years
Application deadline
How to apply

To create or access an application, log in to the online system. For more information, go to the PDF forms and instructions page

For more information Contact CREATE@nserc-crsng.gc.ca

On this page

Important information


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 the social sciences and humanities—however, the main focus of the training must still lie within the NSE
  • Increased collaboration between academic and non-academic sectors


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 the 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. At least 60% of the trainees must be graduate 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 the 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.

At all times, Canadian researchers are encouraged to exercise appropriate levels of due diligence when managing their research and establishing and/or continuing partnerships with national, international and multinational organizations. Resources to do so are provided by the Government of Canada on the Safeguarding Your Research portal, including the National Security Guidelines for Research Partnerships. NSERC reserves the right to request additional information, as needed, before making a final funding decision.

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 (EDI)

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) and is aligned with the objectives of the Tri-agency EDI Action Plan. CREATE initiatives are expected to increase the inclusion and advancement of under-represented groups in the NSE as one way to enhance excellence in research and training. Where applicable, considerations of EDI in the research process should be addressed in the proposal. Please refer to the NSERC guide on integrating equity, diversity and inclusion considerations in research for guidance. EDI considerations should be developed into the rationale of the composition of the group of trainees and their supervisors, role models and mentors. See the Instructions for completing and submitting a letter of intent or application to apply for a CREATE grant for specific requirements.

Regular and International streams

The CREATE program offers two streams: regular and international. Both streams have technical and professional skills activities but differ in their respective mandatory trainee mobility requirements.

Regular stream mobility

All M.Sc. and Ph.D. trainees are required to conduct a mobility experience (internship, exchanges, etc.) of a minimum of one month and two months, respectively. These can occur in industry, government, non-governmental organizations and/or academia in or outside of Canada. Mobility experiences are encouraged for undergraduate or postdoctoral fellowship trainees but are not mandatory.

International stream mobility

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

An agreement between NSERC and the German research foundation, the 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. In the international stream, all CREATE graduate trainees must complete an exchange of at least one month for an M.Sc. and two months for a Ph.D. trainee at a collaborating laboratory in Germany.

To apply to the international stream, 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, German researchers must start by submitting a pre-proposal to the DFG
  • Applicants with a successful DFG IRTG pre-proposal can submit a CREATE LOI followed by a full application
  • International stream proposals are excluded from the institutional quota
  • 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 regular stream applications
  • DFG IRTG/NSERC CREATE proposals will only be funded 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

Notes on industrial collaborator participation applicable to both streams

  1. Industrial participation in initiatives is encouraged. The degree of industrial participation in initiatives can vary substantially according to discipline and program objectives and should be explained and justified by the applicants.
  2. Generally, an industrial collaborator is defined as a Canadian or international business that provides products or services and derives the majority of its revenues from the sale of these products and services, not from government aid.
  3. The same company can host internships and have a representative on the Program Committee, 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.
  4. 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.
  5. In order to expose trainees to new environments and to promote networking opportunities, internships at university incubators, on-campus industrial parks or companies started by a trainee are not permitted.


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 full-time 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 for faculty. The 1-year COVID-19 extension to CREATE grants is added to the grant duration and affects the eligibility of applicants or co-applicants for new applications to the CREATE program. Contact the CREATE team if you are unsure about the eligibility of applicants, co-applicants or institutions.

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 the LOI and the application on behalf of the group
    • The applicant’s university will be the lead university
  • Only trainees supervised by collaborators at one of the grantee institutions are eligible for CREATE stipends and expenses
  • The applicant must be from an NSE field. At least 70% of the group of co-applicants must be from an NSE field, 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
    • Consult the CREATE FAQ for more information about determining the NSE status of a researcher. Contact the CREATE team if you require assistance in determining the NSE status of a researcher
  • The focus should be on new training initiatives; existing initiatives must justify the incremental value that will accrue from the CREATE program
  • The annual quota is six for large universities, four for medium-sized universities, and two for small universities, and only those researchers selected at their university can submit LOIs
    • Please refer to the GSAP secure site to verify your university’s size classification
    • 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 to guide the strategic direction of the training program in an advisory capacity; the chair of the program committee cannot be the CREATE lead applicant nor any co-applicant, direct collaborator (e.g., financial stakeholder, internship host, trainee supervisor, research collaborator or joint author), the program coordinator or a trainee
  • 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 Sections 2.6 and 3.1 of the application. Please refer to form 102 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 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 over six years. It is expected that funds will be spent on an annual basis. The grantee will be able to choose either an April or a September start. 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 beyond the first year of the six-year grant period is subject to the availability of funds. Continuation of CREATE funding for years three to six is dependent on the satisfactory performance of the initiative, which is assessed by NSERC through 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 (the deliverables document should be used as a guide);
  • all of the training and mentoring program elements outlined in the application are being delivered;
  • trainees are developing professional and technical skills, participating in mobility experiences, receiving mentorship, and benefiting from a value-added experience;
  • all trainees are fully participating in the program;
  • 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 cancellation or suspension of subsequent instalments, or in termination of the grant.

Specific rules for the use of grant funds

Eligible expenses

The allowable expenses include the following:


  • At least 70% 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. Under those policies, there are 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 long delays to their graduation

  • Students may receive a CREATE stipend and other Tri-agency funding, except for the Mitacs Elevate Fellowship. Students who hold a Mitacs Elevate Fellowship 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
  • Persons paid from NSERC grants are not considered NSERC employees

The 70% stipend and 30% non-stipend expenses breakdown is over the course of the grant.

Up to 30% of the CREATE funds may be used for the following expenses (sections below combined):

Training program structure

  • Funds toward the 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
  • Costs associated with developing course content (this applies to non-academic collaborators only)
  • 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


  • 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 and accommodation expenses of the applicant, co-applicant and program coordinator to attend CREATE program events
  • 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 for the applicant, once a year for program coordination purposes

Air travel must be claimed at the lowest rate available and may not exceed full economy fare; 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
  • 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 (in-person and virtual) costs, non-alcoholic refreshments or meals/food vouchers 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 and accommodation expenses of collaborators or program committee members
  • Relocation costs
  • College and high school students’ salaries

Refer to the Tri-agency guide on financial administration for more information.

Application procedures

Applying to the CREATE program involves a two-phase application process—Phase 1: Letter of intent, and Phase 2: Application.

Phase 1: Letter of intent

To apply for a CREATE program grant, researchers must first propose their project to their university for consideration. The university selects the LOIs to be submitted, respecting their quota allotment.

The applicant submits the LOI 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 of research*

*An earlier deadline may be established by the university to review proposals and to select those it will put forward to NSERC. The vice-president of 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. It should not describe the university’s support and commitment for this new initiative. This will be done at the application stage.

Phase 2: Application

The applicant then submits the following documents to NSERC through the research grant office by the deadline date:

  • Form 102, including all free form sections
  • Form 100 for the applicant
  • Form 100, CCV, or regular CV for up to ten co-applicants*
  • One letter of support from the lead university
  • A maximum of three support letters from collaborators

*Co-applicants who submit a CCV or regular CV will not be able to see the application on the online system.

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 applications. Members are selected according to NSERC’s Guidelines governing membership of selection committees. The LOI phase is administrative only, and the training program is not assessed by the selection committee.

At the full application stage, 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%)

  • Extent to which the program will provide high value-added opportunities for the trainees to develop professional and technical skills
  • Extent to which the program will provide high value-added opportunities for the trainees to receive mentorship, participate in academic exchanges, either within Canada or abroad, and conduct internships
  • Description of the potential employers and a qualitative assessment of the job prospects for trainees; extent to which the research training program will facilitate the transition of the trainees to the Canadian workforce and promote interaction with non-academic sectors, such as private companies, industry associations, not-for-profit organizations, government departments, etc.
  • Extent to which the program uses novel and interesting approaches to provide trainees with training and mentorship that go above and beyond the traditional graduate school experience
  • Focus and clarity of the objectives of the research training program and how they relate to current developments, with reference to the literature
  • As appropriate to the proposal’s subject matter, 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

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

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 the co-applicants hold in an ongoing CREATE grant relative to their role in the proposed CREATE initiative, if applicable

Program management and long-term sustainability (25%)

  • Plan for ensuring that the program elements 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
  • Recruitment and training activities focused on graduate-level trainees
  • 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

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