NSERC Alliance Grants

Program Overview

Alliance grants encourage university researchers to collaborate with partner organizations, which can be from the private, public or not-for-profit sectors. These grants support research projects led by strong, complementary, collaborative teams that will generate new knowledge and accelerate the application of research results to create benefits for Canada.

Research supported by Alliance grants will:

  • generate new knowledge and/or technology to address complex challenges;
  • create economic, social and/or environmental benefits;
  • contribute to Canada’s long-term competitiveness;
  • support public policy;
  • train new researchers in areas that are important to Canada and to the partner organizations;
  • draw on diverse perspectives and skill sets to accelerate the translation and application of research results.
Value: $20,000 to $1 million CAD per year, for one to five years. NSERC is now accepting applications that are requesting $150,000 or more annually, in Option 1.

Program Transition

Alliance grants will consolidate Engage grants, Industrial Research Chairs grants, Connect grants, Strategic Partnership grants for Networks and Projects, Experience awards, and Collaborative Research and Development grants.

Applications to the Collaborative Research and Development grants, as well as to the Engage and Engage Plus grants will be accepted until May 31, 2019.

Visit NSERC's Program Transitions page for more details.


See Who can apply? for additional details:

  • Canadian university researchers who are eligible to receive NSERC funds can apply on their own or as a team with co-applicants who are also eligible academic researchers.
  • Requires at least one partner organization (in the private, public or not-for-profit sector) whose cash contributions will be recognized for cost-sharing (see Alliance grants: Role of partner organizations).
  • Projects of varying scale and complexity will be supported.

Internal Process

The ISA is working on developing some resources and internal support for this new program.

Those interested in applying for this opportunity should contact their faculty Research Facilitator.


NSERC Application & Review Process

Application Process

Alliance will be launched in a phased approach. As of May 21stOption 1 will be open for applications requesting $150,000 or more annually from NSERC.

To apply, fill out the proposal template and the supporting documents, following the instructions for NSERC’s online system. Submit your completed application, including your Common CV, and the Common CV of any co-applicants, through NSERC’s online system.

Change in Partner Organization Information Functionality

Beginning in September (exact date TBA), NSERC will update its system to allow applicants to invite partner organizations to complete their information directly. Applications submitted before this date will continue to use the Partner Organization Form in PDF format.

Review Process

Small project
$20K-30K for 1-5 years
Medium project
$30K-$300K for 1-5 years
Large project
$300K-$1M for 1-5 years
Review mechanism

NSERC file managers

Evaluation supported by existing NSERC peer review, or external reviewers if not available


External reviewers with expertise directly related to the proposal

Provide review based on all evaluation criteria

Ad hoc committee of external reviewers with expertise directly related to the proposal

Provide review based on all evaluation

Expected decision time
4 weeks 8 to 12 weeks 12 to 16 weeks
NSERC assigns merit indicators to determine priority for funding for small, medium and large projects.

Evaluation Criteria

See NSERC's Merit Indicators document for full details.

Relevance and outcomes

  • Significance of the intended outcomes and of the economic, social and/or environmental benefits for Canada.
  • Need for original 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 diversity and gender equity in the training plan.

Cost Sharing

NSERC’s grant is calculated on the basis of cost-sharing with the partner organizations. The portion of the cost of your project that can be cost-shared with NSERC includes only the cash contributions from partner organizations who are recognized for cost-sharing. You can include cash contributions from them that were spent, up to 3 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.

It does not include cash contributions from:

  • the partner organizations that are not recognized for cost-sharing
  • the university
  • other funders

See NSERC's Table of Cost-sharing options which shows what percentage of your research project’s funding can be covered by an Alliance grant, according to the size and type of partner organization(s) involved.

Helpful Resources




isa@sfu.ca, 778-782-3229