Frequently asked questions
On this page
- Where can I get information on how to prepare my application?
- What is the page limit for the proposal section? Does it include the text that is already in the application template?
- Do the font type and size prescribed in the NSERC online presentation and attachment standards apply to text inside tables and figures?
- Is it mandatory for my application to include a student and/or postdoctoral training component?
- Is the salary of research professionals an eligible expense?
- Do I need to include the Common CV in my application? Is a form 100A also required?
- Do I need to hold an NSERC Discovery Grant to apply for an Alliance grant?
- Can an Alliance grant be used to establish a research chair?
- Can the title of an Alliance application bear the name of an institutional research chair?
- Are in-kind contributions mandatory and are they taken into account in cost-sharing calculations or in the application’s evaluation?
- How is the cost-sharing ratio determined in the case of an Alliance project undertaken in partnership with an industrial association or producer group?
- Can I leverage funds from an endowment to which a partner organization recognized for cost-sharing contributes as a means of supporting my project?
Communicating NSERC’s decisions
Are Alliance grants open to college applicants?
No. Only Canadian university researchers who are eligible to receive NSERC funds can apply for an Alliance grant. However, college faculty members can participate as co-applicants in Alliance grant applications provided they meet NSERC’s eligibility criteria.
College-based applicants can continue to apply to the existing suite of college grants under the College and Community Innovation program.
Who owns the rights to intellectual property (IP) from research activities supported by an Alliance grant?
NSERC does not claim any ownership of IP or stipulate who must own any IP resulting from the research partnership. However, the ownership and protection of IP generated by research supported through an Alliance grant must follow the principles described in NSERC’s policy on intellectual property. For any Alliance grant, NSERC recommends that you and your institution follow the best practice of signing a research agreement with the partner organization(s).
How does NSERC determine the size of a partner organization?
A partner organization’s size is based on the number of its global employees, including its subsidiaries’ or parent organization’s staff. NSERC considers a subsidiary to be an organization whose parent is a majority shareholder (50% or more, up to wholly owned).
NSERC considers the entire organization as the collaborating partner, even if the organization participates through one of its divisions, regional offices or other types of organizational entities. This applies to organizations in the public, private or not-for-profit sectors.
Where can I get information on how to prepare my application?
The Alliance web page provides information on how to apply through NSERC’s online system. Before starting to prepare your application, you are strongly encouraged to carefully read all sections of the program description and the instructions for completing an application. You should also consult the following documents, which are available in the Alliance resources web page: Alliance grant application checklist, Equity, diversity and inclusion in your training plan and Preparing an Alliance application (presentation with notes).
If you have questions regarding the program or the application process, you may also contact NSERC’s Alliance staff.
What is the page limit for the proposal section? Does it include the text that is already in the application template?
The application length depends on the size of the request to NSERC. The application instructions include a table presenting the suggested section lengths for your proposal and the overall page limit. The text in the proposal template counts toward the overall page limit.
Do the font type and size prescribed in the NSERC online presentation and attachment standards apply to text inside tables and figures?
No. The font type and size requirements do not apply to text inside tables and figures. Still, for text inside tables and figures, you must use a font type and a font size that are clearly legible. NSERC reserves the right not to accept your application if it does not meet this requirement. Note that figures and tables count toward the specified page limits.
Is it mandatory for my application to include a student and/or postdoctoral training component?
Yes. Your application must include a training component principally intended for undergraduate, graduate and/or postdoctoral trainees. Trainees cannot consist exclusively of research professionals. As part of the application’s merit assessment, reviewers will evaluate the project’s opportunities for enriched learning experiences for undergraduate, graduate or postdoctoral trainees to develop research and professional skills.
Is the salary of research professionals an eligible expense?
Yes. The salary of research professionals contributing to the project is an eligible expense. You must justify the need for research professionals and clearly detail their roles and responsibilities in your proposal.
Do I need to include the Common CV in my application? Is a form 100A also required?
You and your co-applicant(s) must each complete a personal data form with CCV attachment (form 100A). This form provides information that complements that in the CCV, such as a discussion of up to five most significant contributions to research over the last six years. It is the same supplemental information collected for NSERC Discovery Grant applications.
Do I need to hold an NSERC Discovery Grant to apply for an Alliance grant?
No. You do not need to have a Discovery Grant to apply for an Alliance grant. However, you must hold a university faculty position that meets NSERC’s eligibility criteria.
Can an Alliance grant be used to establish a research chair?
No. Alliance grants cannot be used for the salary support of a research chair. Any contribution from partner organizations toward the chairholder’s salary will not be considered by NSERC in its cost-sharing calculation. Alliance grants can, however, support research activities that are part of an established institutional research chair.
Note that an institutional research chair cannot include “NSERC” in its name, even if the chair research activities are supported through Alliance and/or other NSERC grants. Similarly, it cannot include “Industrial Research Chair” or “IRC” in its name, since these are associated with NSERC’s long-standing Industrial Research Chairs (IRC) program, which has been discontinued.
Can the title of an Alliance application bear the name of an institutional research chair?
No. Any Alliance application title must specifically describe the subject of the proposed research activities.
Are in-kind contributions mandatory and are they taken into account in cost-sharing calculations or in the application’s evaluation?
All partner organizations, except those whose primary mission is to fund R&D, must be actively involved in the project and making in-kind contributions. Partners’ in-kind contributions are important for the success of the project. They must be well described in your proposal, and they are considered as part of its merit assessment. NSERC will not include the dollar value of in-kind contributions in its cost-sharing calculations.
How is the cost-sharing ratio determined in the case of an Alliance project undertaken in partnership with an industrial association or producer group?
The cost-sharing ratio with NSERC is determined according to one of the following possible scenarios:
- The association/group has relevant expertise to collaborate in the project and the capacity to directly (on its own) implement the project results. In this case, the cost-sharing ratio is determined by the size of the association/group. The size of individual member organizations is not taken into account.
- The association/group does not have relevant expertise to collaborate in the project or the capacity to directly implement the project results. One or more of its member organizations have such expertise and capacity, and they participate in the application as formal partners alongside the association/group. In this case, the cost-sharing ratio is determined by the type and global size of the participating member organization(s).
- The association/group does not have relevant expertise to participate in the project or the capacity to directly implement the project results. One or more of its member organizations have such expertise and capacity, but they are not formal partners on the application alongside the association/group. The proposal identifies them and discusses their roles in the project and their planned exploitation of the research results. In this case, the cost-sharing ratio is determined by the type and global size of the identified member organization(s).
Can I leverage funds from an endowment to which a partner organization recognized for cost-sharing contributes as a means of supporting my project?
Yes, but the contribution recognized for cost-sharing will be limited to the amount originating from the partner organization that is directly allocated to the cost of the project over its duration. The partner organization must be actively involved in the project, have staff with the necessary expertise to contribute to the project and have a plan and the resources to exploit the project’s anticipated outcomes. You must include a cover letter describing the source of funds. The letter must be prepared by an authorized representative of the university and submitted on their behalf.
What is the success rate?
As the program is new, it is difficult to predict what percentage of applications will typically be funded. NSERC will make funding decisions regularly, drawing from the program’s budget throughout the fiscal year, to help ensure that funds are available for the most meritorious proposals, regardless of when they are received.
Communicating NSERC’s decisions
How will NSERC communicate its decision about my Alliance application?
NSERC will communicate its decision and share all documents related to the assessment of your application (e.g., message to applicant, external reviewer reports, etc.) using your applicant library on the secure Alliance grants extranet. This is a new portal that is available only to the applicant. NSERC will provide you with a link to your applicant library and login instructions. If you have submitted an Alliance application and do not have access to your applicant library yet, you will receive information on how to access it once the merit assessment stage is complete. If your Alliance application is funded, NSERC’s post-award decisions will also be communicated using your applicant library.
NSERC will no longer communicate its decisions by mail or email. The onus is on you to share NSERC’s decisions with your partner organization(s) and any co-applicants.
Can I request an extension in time for my Alliance grant?
If you cannot complete your planned research activities within the specified term of your grant, you must notify NSERC. You may then be allowed an additional one-year period to complete your project using existing funds.
Can I request additional funds to scale up my project?
You may request additional funds from NSERC to scale up the project, as long as these funds are matched by additional cash contributions from the partner organization(s) according to the relevant cost-sharing ratio. The project can be scaled up within its originally specified term or over additional years up to a maximum project duration of five years. If you are planning to scale up your project beyond five years, you will have to submit a new proposal.