Funding your research project
You and your co-applicants may receive funds from multiple sources to cover the costs of your research project.
These sources of funds could include
- Alliance grant funding from NSERC to cover the direct costs of the research, in proportion to the amount provided by the partner organizations recognized for cost-sharing (see Cost-sharing)
- cash contributions from your partner organizations for the direct costs of your research project (not including overhead)
- cash provided by the university or by external sources such as other funding agencies
The funds from NSERC and from the partner organization must be paid to eligible universities and cannot be used to buy equipment, products or services from any partner organization, or to cover any part of the travel and travel-related subsistence expenditures for partner organization personnel.
NSERC’s grant is calculated on the basis of cost-sharing options with partner organizations (see tables below). The amount you can request from NSERC depends on the type and global size of the partner organizations that are recognized for cost-sharing, in agreement with the selected option.
The portion of the cost of your project that can be cost-shared with NSERC includes only cash contributions from partner organizations that are recognized for cost-sharing (see Cash contributions from partner organizations). You can include cash contributions that were spent, up to three months before the application is submitted, to start the project. However, NSERC funds can only be applied to expenses incurred after an award is approved.
The calculation of the amount you can request from NSERC does not include cash contributions from
- partner organizations that are not recognized for cost-sharing
- the university
- other funders
The following tables shows what percentage of your research project’s funding can be covered by an Alliance grant, according to the type and global size of partner organizations involved.
Tables of cost-sharing options
For any type of partnership, the cost-sharing ratio is only determined by partner organizations recognized for cost-sharing.
If your partnership includes only large organizations (i.e., with 500 or more employees globally) within the same sector, NSERC will contribute up to 50% (1:1 leverage) of the project’s direct costs. If your partnership includes small and medium-sized organizations, and/or organizations of any size from more than one sector (i.e., private, public or not-for-profit), NSERC will contribute up to 66.7% (2:1 leverage) of the project’s direct costs.
|Size of partner organization||Type of partnership||NSERC contribution to project costs|
All partner sizes
Exclusively not-for-profit and public partner organizations
Any private-sector partner organization; this option requires a 10% cash contribution from the combined partner organizations that are recognized for cost-sharing
Even though NSERC may cover 100% of the project’s cost, your project must involve at least one partner organization whose cash contributions would be recognized, had there been any.
To calculate the maximum amount of NSERC funding you may request
- determine the total project cost
- subtract any cash contributions from partner organizations not recognized for cost-sharing, such as the university or other funders; the result must equate to the total cash contributions from partner organizations recognized for cost-sharing plus the NSERC request
- multiply this result by the appropriate cost-sharing percentage in the tables above
You must include all of the project direct costs funded by sources other than NSERC in the budget table. All costs must be explained in the proposal and will be considered in the merit assessment of your proposal.
In-kind contributions are important for the success of the project even though they are not taken into account in the cost-sharing calculations with NSERC. All partner organizations participating in the project must play an active role in it and make in-kind contributions through such involvement. In-kind contributions are considered in the merit assessment of your proposal (see Evaluation criteria).
Cash contributions by partner organizations toward expenses other than the project’s direct costs (e.g., cash contribution toward an institutional research chair held by the applicant) may be described in the proposal to provide broader context about the depth of the partnership. Such contributions are not taken into account in the cost-sharing calculations with NSERC and must not be included in the total project cost.
You can only include NSERC-eligible direct costs of research in your project budget, such as
- salary support for research trainees (undergraduates, graduates and postdoctoral fellows) to perform research and related training
- salary support for technicians and research professional personnel
- materials and supplies
- activities that support collaborations and knowledge mobilization related to the project
- activities to develop and grow the research collaborations with the partner organizations
Refer to the guidelines on the use of grant funds in the Tri-agency guide on financial administration.
You can also include the costs of equipment, provided that the equipment is
- essential to achieving the objectives of the research project
- incremental to the equipment already available at the university or at the partner organization’s location
If your total expected equipment cost (including operation and maintenance) exceeds $400,000 over your project’s duration, then you should apply for an alternate source of funding such as the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s (CFI’s) John R. Evans Leaders Fund. NSERC and CFI have developed a joint application and review procedure for these cases. You may contact NSERC or CFI for more details.
For projects involving multiple partner organizations and/or universities, you may also include project management costs, up to 10% of the total direct research costs (see Guidelines for research partnerships programs project management expenses).