Alliance grants

Review of your application

When NSERC receives an Alliance application, it first undertakes an administrative assessment to ensure the application is complete and complies with all requirements. Once the administrative assessment is satisfactorily completed, NSERC proceeds with the merit assessment of the application, using a variety of tools and taking into account the average annual amount of funding requested.

Merit assessment mechanisms

Approximate thresholds
Small project Medium project Large project

Annual request of at least $20,000 up to an average annual request of $30,000 for 1 to 5 years

Average annual request of more than $30,000 up to $300,000 for 1 to 5 years

Average annual request of more than $300,000 up to a maximum annual request of $1,000,000 for 1 to 5 years

Merit assessment mechanism (cost-sharing option 1)
Small project Medium project Large project

NSERC file managers

Evaluation supported by existing NSERC peer review (the applicant and each co-applicant must hold an active peer-reviewed grant from NSERC as primary applicant at the time of application)

External reviewers

If there is no existing NSERC peer review for the applicant or one of the co-applicants, external reviewers with expertise directly related to the proposal will be used

External reviewers

With expertise directly related to the proposal

Provide review based on the evaluation criteria

Ad hoc committee of external reviewers

With expertise directly related to the proposal

Provide review based on the evaluation criteria

NSERC reserves the right to select the most appropriate review process, regardless of the amount of funding requested.

Assessment mechanism (cost-sharing option 2)

For projects under cost-sharing option 2, the assessment includes two steps.

First, your full application will be submitted to a multidisciplinary and multisectoral selection committee that will assess whether it justifies a higher NSERC contribution (see Projects supported through a higher NSERC contribution).

If your application is selected in the first step, it proceeds to the second step for the assessment of its overall merit. As in option 1, external reviewers with expertise directly related to the proposal will provide reviews based on the Alliance evaluation criteria.

Merit evaluation criteria

The merit of your application is evaluated using the following four equally weighted criteria. The proposal must address all of the criteria and sub-criteria to be considered for funding.

Relevance and outcomes

  • significance of the intended outcomes and of the economic, social and/or environmental benefits for Canada
  • originality of the research to address the topic and the potential for generating new scientific knowledge
  • extent to which the strategy to apply the research results is likely to achieve the intended outcomes


  • appropriateness of the partnership to achieve the intended outcomes; leveraging of different types of partner organizations and the integration of their unique perspectives and knowledge in the project, as appropriate
  • clarity of each partner organization’s role in the collaboration with respect to defining the challenge, co-designing and implementing the research, and using the results to achieve the desired outcomes
  • appropriateness of the level of cash and in-kind contributions from each partner organization

Quality of the proposal

  • clarity of the objectives and deliverables; appropriateness of the scope and size of planned activities to achieve the expected outcomes; justification for the planned expenditures
  • appropriateness of the identified indicators and methods for monitoring progress during the project and for assessing outcomes afterwards
  • appropriateness of academic researchers’ expertise, and that found within the partner organizations, both for carrying out the planned research activities and in mentoring trainees


  • opportunities for enriched training experiences for research trainees (undergraduates, graduates, postdoctoral fellows) to develop relevant research skills as well as professional skills such as leadership, communication, collaboration and entrepreneurship
  • consideration of equity, diversity and inclusion in the training plan (for guidance, consult the Equity, diversity and inclusion in your training plan web page)

NSERC uses established merit indicators to rate each evaluation sub-criterion/criterion.

Risk assessment

In the case where your proposal involves one or more partner organizations from the private sector, including when they participate alongside other partner organizations from the public and/or not-for-profit sectors, NSERC will review the National Security Guidelines for Research Partnerships’ risk assessment form that you provided with your application (including the risk mitigation plan, when applicable). When additional expertise is required, NSERC will seek advice from Canada’s national security departments and agencies, and/or from academic experts.

Funding decision

NSERC’s funding decision will take into consideration the merit evaluation as well as the assessment of potential risks for Canada’s national security, when applicable.

NSERC will use the merit indicator ratings assigned to applications to select proposals for funding on a competitive basis. Decisions stemming from the national security risk assessment will be based on the risks identified and the mitigation measures proposed.

Expected assessment time
Small project Medium project Large project

5 to 9 weeks if evaluation is supported by existing NSERC peer review

9 to 18 weeks if no existing NSERC peer review

9 to 18 weeks

14 to 24 weeks

NSERC is committed to achieving these service standards for 80% of applications, recognizing that some proposals may require additional time.

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Starting your funded project
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Application deadline
No deadline

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