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Applied Research and Development (ARD) grants Instructions for completing an application

Table of contents

About the grants

Read the grants description before completing your application.

Who completes the application?

Applied Research and Development (ARD) grants are institutional grants; the institution is identified as the grant recipient. Therefore, the applicant prepares the application and is responsible for administering the grant on behalf of the institution.

The applicant must hold a remunerated position at an eligible Canadian college and is responsible for creating and completing the application in the Convergence Portal. The applicant must complete the My information section by entering CV details and uploading the CCI CV contributions document.

Co-applicants are members of the research team that play a key role in the intellectual direction of the research and related activities. Co-applicants must have a remunerated position at, or be affiliated with, an eligible Canadian college or university. They are typically faculty affiliated with the college or another participating post-secondary institution. The applicant invites the co-applicant(s) to access the application via Convergence, and those invited will receive an email asking them to accept the invitation. Upon accepting, the co-applicant(s) will be re-directed to Convergence to log in (or create an account), to determine their eligibility and complete their My information section. Co-applicant(s) must provide a CV contributions document (or the equivalent for university researchers).

Participants (optional) are typically professional/technical or other staff affiliated with the applying college or other participating post-secondary institutions that contribute to the research activities. The applicant invites participants to access the application via Convergence, and those invited will receive an email asking them to accept the invitation. Upon accepting, participants will be re-directed to Convergence to log in (or create an account), to determine their eligibility and complete their My information section. Participants are not required to provide a CV contributions document.

Contributors (optional) are individuals designated by the applying college that have access to edit the application, and who typically help the applicant complete the application, but do not participate in the research activities. The information of contributors is therefore not captured in the application. The applicant invites contributor(s) to access the application via Convergence, and those invited will receive an email asking them to accept the invitation. Upon accepting, contributors will be re-directed to Convergence to log in (or create an account).

Partners may be Canadian organizations from the public, private and/or not-for-profit sectors. The applicant invites an authorized contact for each partner organization via Convergence to complete the Partner contact information, Partner organization information, Partner contributions and Supporting documents sections of the application. Key individuals from partner organizations who will contribute to the overall intellectual direction of the research project can be part of the research team as collaborators and must bring their organization's resources to the project. Consult the Instructions for partner organizations on how to complete the partner modules in Convergence for more information.

The College and Community Innovation program partnership guidelines provide more information on the roles and responsibilities of partner organizations.

Collaborators (optional) are members of the research team (e.g., individual[s] typically from partner organization[s]) who will contribute to the overall intellectual direction of the research project and/or play a key role in the conduct of the research and related activities. Collaborators do not have access to the grant funds and do not play a role in the financial aspects of the grant. Collaborators must bring their organization’s resources to the project.
The authorized contact from each partner organization may upload CVs or biographical sketches (maximum two pages each) of key staff who will collaborate on the project.

Who approves and submits the application?

The research grants officer (RGO) is the designated institutional liaison officer. This role is called Research Administrator in Convergence, and they approve and submit the grant application on behalf of the college.

Whom should I contact for help?

Collection and use of personal information

The information you provide in your application is collected under the authority of the This link will take you to another Web site Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Act and stored in a series of NSERC data banks described in This link will take you to another Web site Information about programs and information holdings. Details on the use and disclosure of this information are described on the Use and disclosure of personal information provided to NSERC page, in the NSERC program literature and below. The information is used in accordance with the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act.

Application deadline

Applications can be submitted at any time.

You will not be able to edit your application once it has been submitted.

Create your application

As the applicant, you must complete and submit your application using the This link will take you to another Web site Convergence Portal. Convergence is only supported on the latest versions of Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Apple Safari and Mozilla Firefox.

Follow the instructions provided in Convergence to complete your application. Details on the information needed to complete an application are outlined below.

You must complete all sections of the full application and submit it via your institution's research grants officer. Co-applicants and participants must each complete their own My information sections in Convergence before you can submit the application. They will be able to see all sections of the application but will not be able to edit the application. The authorized contact from each partner organization must also complete the required partner sections.

You are responsible for submitting a complete application that conforms to NSERC’s Online presentation and attachment standards. You must verify the page lengths and formatting of any attachments uploaded to the application. Incomplete applications and applications that do not meet the presentation standards may be rejected or be at a disadvantage in comparison with those that are complete and respect the presentation standards. Where page limits are stated, pages in excess of the number permitted will be removed. If a submitted application contains one or more attachments that do not comply with the page length or formatting standards, the application may be withdrawn.

Steps

  • Sign in to the This link will take you to another Web site Convergence Portal. If you already have an account, use your existing account.
  • Select Funding Opportunities.
  • Select Applied Research and Development and Create Application.
  • Complete steps 1 to 5 detailed below and agree to the terms and conditions of applying.

Enrolment

The applicant, co-applicant(s) and participant(s) will be required to complete enrolment steps when creating (applicant) or accepting an invitation to participate in (co-applicant[s] and participant[s]) an application.

If you have previously completed the enrolment steps in Convergence, some fields may be pre-populated (already filled out).

Note: It is not necessary to complete your entire profile in the Convergence Portal. More specifically, the Education, Funding, and Interruptions and personal circumstances sections do not need to be completed as they are not captured in the application nor used in the assessment of applications.

You must complete the following steps; at this point, you can update any information that may have been previously provided.

Step 1 – Participant eligibility: Confirm the eligibility of your position.
Step 2 – Affiliations: List all of your current affiliations and identify your primary affiliation. Applicant: Select the organization that will administer the grant.
Step 3 – Equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI): Completion of the self-identification form is mandatory however, you may select “Prefer not to answer” for any or all questions; see the self-identification information section below for more information. 
Step 4 – Fields of research: List your fields of research and indicate at least one as a primary area of research. These do not need to be directly related to the application.
Step 5 – Keywords: Provide a minimum of five keywords that best describe, overall, your areas of research. They do not need to be directly related to a specific application and will not be used for evaluation purposes.
Terms and conditions: Accept the terms and conditions to access the full application.

Self-identification information

The applicant, co-applicant(s) and participant(s) must complete the self-identification form to apply for NSERC funding however, you may select “Prefer not to answer” for any or all questions. NSERC appreciates your participation, which supports the granting agencies in monitoring the equity of their programs and in strengthening equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in the research enterprise.

Self-identification information is collected as part of your profile when you enrol in the This link will take you to another Web site Convergence Portal. It is not part of your application and is not accessible to, or shared with, external reviewers and/or selection committee members.

Complete your application

Select View application from the Applications tab to access the application.

My information

The applicant, co-applicant(s) and participant(s) must complete the My information section of the application.

After completing the enrolment steps, you will be re-directed to the home screen. In the Applications tab, select the application you created (applicant) or that you have been invited to contribute to (co-applicant[s] and participant[s]) from the Actions menu. Once the application is open, complete the My information section, including the CV education, CV affiliation and employment, and CV documents (applicant and co-applicant[s] only) sub-sections.

Once these sub-sections are completed, the applicant must finalize the information, as described in the instructions below. Once finalized, the information cannot be edited.

CV education

You must provide at least one academic experience.

If you are completing your My information section for the first time in the Convergence Portal, add past and current education, if applicable, by selecting Add New Education. If you previously completed your profile, you may add previously completed education information in Convergence by selecting Associate Education.

CV affiliation and employment

You must provide at least one employment experience that is an academic, research, professional or industrial position you have held.

If you are completing your My information section for the first time in the Convergence Portal, add past and current affiliations by selecting Add New Affiliation. If you previously completed your profile, you may add previously completed affiliations information in the portal by selecting Add Existing Affiliation.

CV documents (PDF attachments) 

You (applicant and co-applicant[s] only) must attach the CV contributions document (or university equivalent) to this sub-section. This free-form text document is limited to five pages, which should be used to list relevant experience and contributions to applied research and innovation in natural sciences, health and social sciences, including contributions to training. Ensure your name appears outside the set margins of the page, at the top right corner of each page.

Shared information section

The applicant and contributor(s) must complete the Shared information section of the application.

Application details

Provide the application title and language of application. The main body of your application should be written in either English or French, rather than in a mix of both official languages.

Research involving Indigenous peoples and communities

Applicants whose research involve Indigenous peoples or communities must 

  • consult and take into consideration the concepts, principles and protocols in the CCI guide for research involving Indigenous peoples and communities
  • answer “Yes” to the question “Does the proposed research respectfully involve Indigenous peoples or communities?” on the application (note: this information is used for internal purposes to help in the development of policies and guidelines, and to ensure appropriate review when applicable)  

Supplements or joint initiatives

Complete this section only if you are applying for any concurrent joint initiatives related to the ARD application. If applicable, select the relevant joint funding initiative(s) in the Actions column.

By submitting an application to a joint funding opportunity, you consent to the sharing (among any co-funding organizations) of information contained in the application, including personal information or information in any way related to the grant, which may include progress reports required as a condition of award. You must also confirm that you have obtained the consent of any individuals whose personal information is contained in such documents to share this information in the same manner.

You may be required to submit additional information. See the Additional information for joint initiatives section of these instructions for additional guidance pertaining to each joint initiative.

Invitations

Click on Invite Participant to invite co-applicants, contributors, participants and/or partner organizations to complete their sections in the application. Collaborators are not invited; they are listed in the Collaborators section.

Note: Only the applicant can invite others to participate in the application.

Participants

This section lists all co-applicants, contributors, participants and partner organization who have accepted your invitation and accessed the Convergence Portal. If an individual has not accepted your invitation, follow up with them to confirm they have received it.
If an invited co-applicant or participant has a status of Pending Eligibility, they have accepted your invitation, but have not yet completed their enrolment (steps 1 to 5 and agreeing to the terms and conditions of applying) to access the application.

If an invited co-applicant or participant has a status of Information not finalized, verify that they have completed the My information section (i.e., CV education, CV affiliation and employment, and CV documents) by selecting View Information.

If an invited partner has a status of Information not finalized, verify that they have completed the My information section (i.e., Partner contact information, Partner organization information, Partner contributions and Supporting documents) by selecting View Information.

Once all participants (applicant, co-applicant[s], participant[s], and partner[s]) have completed their respective sections, the applicant must finalize each record by selecting Finalize information from the Actions menu, which changes the status to Complete.

Note: Only the applicant can finalize information entered by co-applicant[s], participant[s] and/or partner[s].

Partner organizations

Refer your partners to the Instructions for partner organizations on how to complete the partner module in Convergence and the Partner module instruction video (note: the partner module has been updated since this video was created; although the instructions remain valid, there may be some small differences).

Collaborators

If applicable, list the members of the research team not affiliated with the college who bring their own resources to the project. These collaborators are expected to contribute to the overall intellectual direction of the research project. Their CVs or biographical sketches (optional, up to two pages each) may be attached as a single PDF file in the Supporting documents section under CV collaborators. For collaborators from partner organizations, the CVs or biographical sketches may be attached by the authorized contact from the partner organization when completing their portion of the application.

Socioeconomic objectives

Provide any socioeconomic objectives relevant to the application.

Note: Socioeconomic objectives were previously referred to as "areas of application."

Fields of research

List at least one primary field of research that best describes this specific application. You may list up to five fields of research in total.

Keywords

List at least five keywords that best describe this specific application. You may list up to ten keywords total.

Summary of proposal

The summary is intended to explain the proposal in language that the public can understand. Using simple terms, briefly describe the nature of the research and activities, the overall goal and the objectives of the proposal. Indicate why the project is important, and how the anticipated outcomes will help partner organizations seize new opportunities by applying innovative research and technologies in the natural sciences, health or social sciences fields, or by developing them into useful new products and services. This plain-language summary will be available to the public if your proposal is funded.

The maximum character count is 2,500.

Proposed budget

Before completing this section, consult the Tri-agency guide on financial administration and the Specific rules for the use of grant funds for information about the eligibility of expenditures and the regulations governing the use of grant funds.

The ARD grants estimator tool calculates the maximum grant amount that may be requested from NSERC based on the partner contribution amount or the minimum contribution amount needed for a specified grant size. Additionally, the ARD budget template can be used to prepare the proposed budget prior to entering the information in Convergence.

Use the Budget justification sub-section under Supporting documents (details below) to explain and justify each budget item.

It is important to note that there should be only one budget, regardless of the number of institutions participating in the project. The applicant is responsible for justifying the proposed expenditures and allocation to each institution. Once the grant is awarded, the administering organization will be able to transfer the funds to the other co-funded institutions (see the Transfer of funds section of the Tri-agency guide on financial administration for additional guidance).

In the Budget section of the Convergence Portal, enter the planned expenditures in each category for each year of the project. The sum of partner cash contributions is presented at the bottom of the Budget section and must be manually added to the budget table. Similarly, add any additional cash contributions from participating institutions or funders on the appropriate budget lines. The entire cash budget (i.e., total project cost) including all cash contributions should be presented.

Note: Overhead and administration costs equivalent to 20% of the annual grant amount are automatically calculated.

Certification, licenses and permits

Answer the questions in the Certification requirements section ensuring that your responses are relevant to this research project. Depending on the answers you provide in this section, you may be asked to submit an Impact assessment form in the Supporting documents section. For more information on certification requirements, consult the Requirements for certain types of research web page.

Suggested reviewers

Suggest the names of reviewers who would have the necessary expertise to evaluate your proposal. This list should include experts from the both the academic and non-academic community, including some from the private, public and/or not-for-profit sectors. This list should also take into consideration equity, diversity and inclusion; for example, the list should include women.

Give the name, address, telephone number, email address and the area(s) of expertise of potential external reviewers.

External reviewers should be able to review the proposal in the language in which it is written.

Suggested external reviewers should not be in a conflict of interest. Refer to the Conflict of interest and confidentiality policy of the federal research funding organizations for more information.

Reviewer exclusions (optional)

You may request that certain reviewers be excluded from reviewing your application. Note that this request may be accessible to these reviewers under Canada's laws providing access to information and protecting privacy. If you wish to exclude an institution or organization, contact colleges@nserc-crsng.gc.ca.

Supporting documents

Prepare your attachments following the details below.

Important notes:

  • Any acronyms and abbreviations must be explained.
  • Pages must be 8 ½ inches × 11 inches (216 mm × 279 mm).
  • Text must be single-spaced, with no more than six lines of type per inch.
  • All text must be in black, using the 11 pt Arial font; condensed fonts will not be accepted.
  • Margins must be set at a minimum of ¾ inch (1.87 cm).
  • In multi-page attachments, pages must be numbered sequentially.
  • For non-CV attachments, your name must appear outside the set margins of the page, at the top right corner of every page.
  • The name of the document must appear at the top (e.g., Proposal, Budget justification).

Convert the documents to PDF

All attachments must be converted to portable document format (PDF) before they can be attached to the application. The conversion process varies with the operating system and word processing or spreadsheet software you are using. If you have questions about converting your documents to PDF, contact your institution's technical support staff.

If you do not have a PDF conversion program, you may download a free version of PrimoPDF. Macintosh users have a PDF conversion option in the Macintosh system print function.

The following supporting documents must be attached to the application. The File column in the Supporting documents section of Convergence indicates which documents are required.

Impact assessment (appendix A)

If applicable, download a copy of the Impact assessment form (appendix A), complete it and upload it to the Supporting documents section of your application. For more information, consult NSERC's Guidelines on impact assessment.

Research proposal

Proposals requesting up to $40,000 per year (average) should be 3 to 5 pages, and those requesting over $40,000 per year (average) should be 5 to 12 pages. These page limits include references.

Your proposal will be evaluated according to the evaluation criteria below. Using the headings, describe the proposed research in enough detail to allow reviewers to make an informed assessment. Write the proposal in clear, plain language. Avoid jargon, acronyms and highly technical terms. Where relevant, include project milestones or a work plan. The proposal must address all of the criteria and sub-criteria to be considered for funding.

Quality of the proposal

  • Originality and innovation; applies knowledge in an innovative manner or creates new knowledge
  • Feasibility, clarity and soundness of the research objectives and methodology
  • Appropriate college and partner organization support, including financial support, equipment and/or access to facilities, to ensure the feasibility of the project
  • Clarity of the overall budget and the justification of individual budget items

Partnerships and impact

  • Evidence that the project will lead to improved and/or transformative products, processes, policies, procedures or service delivery that benefit the partner organization(s)
  • Appropriateness of the timelines to achieve the intended outcomes and impact
  • Capacity of the partner organization(s) to successfully implement and/or exploit the research results within a reasonable timeframe
  • Appropriateness of the partner organization(s)’ contributions and involvement in the project, consistent with the project's risks and rewards and the size of the funding request
  • Benefits for Canada, including economic, social, environmental and/or health benefits

Applied research competence

  • Alignment of the college research team’s and the partner organizations’ expertise with the applied research proposal (for multi-institution applications, synergy between the teams from the participating institutions should be described.)
  • Demonstration that the research team has conducted a comparable-scale research project with partner organizations in the past
  • Identification of at least one concrete practice to ensure that equity, diversity and inclusion is intentionally and proactively considered in recruiting, selecting and/or integrating personnel into the research team

Training

  • Use of novel and interesting approaches in the training plan to increase the job readiness of students and other trainees by developing relevant research and professional skills
  • Promotion of enriched experiences and interactions for the trainees outside the college sector, such as in private companies, industry associations, not-for-profit organizations, government departments and universities
  • Identification of at least one concrete practice that will promote the participation of a diverse group of students and other trainees, including those from underrepresented groups, as well as promote an equitable, inclusive and accessible training environment

References

Use this section to provide a list of the most relevant literature references. Do not refer readers to websites for additional information on the proposal. Do not introduce hyperlinks in the list of references.

Budget justification

In a maximum of three pages, provide a detailed explanation and justification for each budget item identified in the budget table. Provide sufficient information for reviewers to assess whether the resources requested are appropriate and to easily understand the items requested, including contributions from partners, institutions or other funders. There should be a clear link between the description of the funds requested and the items and numbers entered on the budget table. These pages should only contain information pertinent to the budget.

Salaries and benefits

Give the names (if known), categories of employment and proposed salaries (with explicit indication of the non-discretionary benefits) of research team members and students. Briefly describe the responsibilities for each position and indicate the amount of time they will spend on the project over its lifespan.

Operating and equipment costs

Provide details on the required equipment, materials and/or supplies, such as a breakdown of the items requested including details of models, manufacturers, prices and applicable taxes. Justify the need for each item requested. Fees for the use of equipment or a facility (e.g., hours and rate) should be described.

Consulting, professional and technical services must also be included in the operating and equipment budget section.

Equipment, operating costs, supplies, consulting fees, and professional and technical services may not exceed 20% of the total project costs.

Research and technology transfer support services

Provide details on and explain major items for research and technology transfer support services. Eligible expenses are limited to costs attributable to specific activities for the project.

Knowledge dissemination and networking

Provide details on travel, training workshops and other major items related to knowledge dissemination and networking. Eligible expenses are limited to costs attributable to specific activities for the project.

Travel

All travel and travel-related subsistence expenditures (meals and accommodation) must be claimed in accordance with the administering institution’s relevant policies and processes. Such expenditures, including reasonable out-of-pocket expenses, can be claimed for the grant recipient and other individuals who contribute to the funded research/activities. For claimants other than the grant recipient, the affiliation with the funded research/activities must be specified. The cost of alcoholic beverages cannot be reimbursed from agency grant funds.

Overhead and administration costs

Overhead and administration costs equivalent to 20% of the annual grant amount are automatically calculated in the budget table.

Provide general information on the overhead and administration costs attributable to the grant.

CV – collaborators

Note: Collaborators from partner organizations should be identified by the authorized contact at the partner organization, and their CVs should be included in the partner module of the application. See the Instructions for partner organizations on how to complete the partner modules in Convergence for details.

You may attach a biographical sketch or CV for collaborators whose expertise is essential in meeting the research objectives of the proposal. In a maximum of two pages for each collaborator, provide the individual’s name, employment/affiliations, relevant education/training, research funding received and up to five significant contributions related to the project. Alternatively, a two-page CV may be provided for each collaborator.

All collaborator biographical sketches or CVs included in this section must be saved as a single PDF document and uploaded to the Supporting documents section.

Other documents

If applicable, upload any other required PDF documents here (e.g., letter of support from other funding sources providing cash to the project). Pages must be letter size (8 ½” x 11”).

All additional documents must be saved as a single PDF document and uploaded to the Supporting documents section.

Submit your application

Review the application to ensure that it is complete.

From the Finalize and Submit section, follow the prompts to submit your application.
After you accept the terms and conditions, the status of your submission will change to Received by Administrator. If you want to make any changes at this point, you may request that your research grants officer return the application to you.

Once your research grants officer has approved and submitted your application, the application status will change to Received by AgencyNo changes can be made after that point.

Submitting the application as the research grants officer

When you, as the research grants officer, receive an application submitted by an applicant at your institution, you will be asked to approve the application and submit it. By submitting it, you are confirming that

  • the participants meet the eligibility requirements
  • the proposed research project meets the eligibility requirements

By submitting the application, you, on behalf of your institution, are also certifying that the applicant

  • is affiliated with the institution
  • has the necessary time and resources to carry out the activities
  • will contact NSERC (colleges@nserc-crsng.gc.ca) if there are any changes during the tenure of the grant, including changes to the composition of the partnership and the addition of new co-applicants or collaborators

Additional information for joint initiatives

Mitacs Accelerate internships

This joint funding opportunity allows applicants to leverage cash contributions from partners for funding from both NSERC and Mitacs.

To take advantage of this opportunity, applicants must complete an ARD grants application and request additional support through Mitacs Accelerate internships as a component of training. As in all Mitacs internships, a cash contribution from an eligible partner is required. Mitacs internships cannot be the only mechanism for training in the application; trainees should also be supported by NSERC funds.

Applicants who wish to include Mitacs Accelerate internships in their ARD grants application should contact their local Mitacs business development representatives to obtain the Mitacs supplemental application form and budget spreadsheet. Applicants must submit these documents with their ARD proposal in the Other documents section of the Convergence Portal.

NSERC-Mitacs ARD applications require the following additional information:

  1. Proposal: Describe the role of the Mitacs interns in the research project and explain the quality of the research-based training experiences provided to the interns. Describe how the partner organization is committed to providing supervision and mentorship for the interns. Explain how the number of Mitacs interns and the number of internship units are appropriate to the scope of the project.
  2. Budget justification: Provide the breakdown of funds requested from both NSERC and Mitacs in support of trainees, including Mitacs interns.
  3. Training: NSERC-Mitacs ARD applications require the following information when outlining the training of highly qualified personnel:
    • A description of the role of the Mitacs interns in the research project and an explanation of the quality of the research-based training experiences provided to the interns
    • A description of how the internship partnership organization is committed to providing supervision and mentorship to the interns
    • An explanation of how the number of Mitacs interns and the number of internship units are appropriate to the scope of the project

Funding decisions will be communicated jointly to the applicants.

OCI Voucher for Innovation and Productivity (VIP)

If you are requesting OCI's Voucher for Innovation and Productivity (VIP), the industry partner must first connect with their business development and commercialization manager to start the OCI application process before submitting the NSERC ARD grants application.

Consult the OCI VIP program guide for full details on company eligibility.

You must be an Ontario-based college eligible to hold tri-agency funds (see the List of eligible institutions).

The opportunity will undergo an initial vetting and due diligence assessment by OCI to ensure that opportunities fulfill all eligibility criteria and are suitable before you can submit the application to NSERC by following the instructions presented in this guide.

Alberta Innovates' Campus Alberta Small Business Engagement (CASBE) program

If you are requesting Alberta Innovates’ CASBE funding, the applicant must first connect with the CASBE program manager to discuss the proposed project and the Alberta Innovates application process. Once an application for CASBE funding is submitted, Alberta Innovates will undertake an initial vetting and due diligence assessment of the application to ensure all eligibility criteria are fulfilled. If conditionally approved for funding by Alberta Innovates, the applicant can then proceed with applying for an NSERC ARD grant through the This link will take you to another Web site Convergence Portal.

When completing the NSERC ARD grants application, the applicant must

  • tick the box indicating that the proposed project is in partnership with Alberta Innovates’ CASBE program on the Supplements or joint opportunities section of the application.
  • include CASBE as a partner organization in the application—this will generate an email invitation to the authorized contact at Alberta Innovates requesting them to confirm funding commitments towards the proposed project; the authorized contact at Alberta Innovates will complete and upload required information to the Convergence Portal