University Research Services

University Research Services
University Research Services

2018 NSERC Strategic Project Grant Competition

New December 1, 2017: NSERC has updated the Strategic Program webpages now. There are a few minor changes to the LOI process: the 3 page proposal is free form now instead of a template, the LOI now requires a 183A form from supporting organizations instead of just a letter of intent, and LOIs have to be forwarded to NSERC by the research services offices this year. NSERC also added a section on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and has published a new guide (PDF, 190 KB) for applicants on that topic: 

Since last year, NSERC Strategic Project Grants require a letter of intent that is due February 1 of each year at NSERC.

Important Dates

November 21, 2017

Presentation by NSERC Program Officer Michèle Takoff at 10:30 am in Kingston Hall 200. 

January 22, 2018 

Queen's (Internal) Deadline for NSERC Strategic Project Letters of Intent. Letters of commitment from industry partners received, proposal draft and budget forwarded to kelly (for applicants from FEAS) or (for all other faculties). Please send us drafts of your letter of intent as early as possible - the earlier we receive the letters of intent, the more feedback we can provide.

February 1, 2018

Letters of Intent for NSERC Strategic Project grants due at NSERC

April 1, 2018

NSERC (External) Deadline for NSERC Strategic Networks (not Strategic Projects) must be received by NSERC on a USB stick by courier by 4 p.m. on April 1.


 Internal deadline for Strategic Project Full applications.

June 7, 2018

Full applications due for those NSERC Strategic Project applicants who were invited to submit a full proposal by NSERC on April 1.

September 30, 2018

 NSERC will announce the grants.


LOI Requirements 2018

For 2018, a Strategic Project LOI will require:

  • Form 189 SPG-P Letter of intent form including list of suggested reviewers
  • 3 page free form proposal as attachment (no longer using the template form from last year)
  • 1 page of References
  • F100 for the principal applicant
  • F183A and support letter for at least one eligible supporting organization ( company or government agency with a policy mandate that could be informed by the proposed research)
  • For letters of intent that are joint applications with colleagues in France or Taiwan, a cover letter is required that includes the name and institution of the collaborating principal investigator. 

Form 189, 100 and 183A can be created on the NSERC Online Services site:
Researchers who haven't used this site before will need to create an account first - the accounts for this NSERC site are different from the accounts for the NSERC Portal.

NSERC instructions for the LOI form 189

NSERC  Webinars

Webinars took place on November 29 and December 12, 2017.
Slides from the webinar

LOI Review Process URS

LOI reviews requested before January 22 by emailing or a draft of the letter of intent will receive a non-technical review for NSERC instructions, guidelines, evaluation criteria, general grant craftsmanship, completeness, and internal consistency. Applicants are also encouraged to ask colleagues for a technical review of their proposals. All applications will be checked for completeness and for compliance with Queen's regulations before submission to NSERC.

Submission Process

Note that for 2018, the letter of intent has to be forwarded to NSERC by the research services office. This means that the PI cannot just hit Submit before 8pm on February 1, all applicants have to coordinate their submission to NSERC with research services (Vera and Kelly) to make sure their letter of intent will get forwarded in time.

Strategic Projects: proposals are prepared on the NSERC Online Services site (using F100 forms). When the PI hits "Submit to RGO", the proposal will be reviewed by Queen's URS. Once the letter of intent conforms to Queen's and NSERC regulations, it will be forwarded to NSERC.

Minimum requirements for forwarding the proposal to NSERC by URS:

  • For the application stage only: TRAQ DSS approved by department and faculty. For the letter of intent, no DSS is required.
  • If supporting companies or government organizations are contributing cash, then the Queen's policy for indirect costs applies (25%)
  • Proposals involving researchers at other universities also require approval of the proposal by an authorized representative of the research office of that university. Please e-mail to for an explanation of the process for that.

Information & Resources

Strategic Project Grants in a nutshell:

Funds Available: No minimum or maximum specified. The national average grant size in 2017 was 187K/year, and the largest was 284K/y.  Grant duration is 1-3 years, but almost all are 3 years long. All 2017 awards:

Success Rates: Last year,  a new LOI stage was introduced.
LOI stage: national success rate 39%, for Queen's: 6/15= 40%. Full Application stage: national success rate 40%, Queen's 4/6= 66.7%.
Overall: nationally 80 awards were made out of 525 LOIs= 15.2%, and for Queen's, 4 grants were made out of 15 LOIs submitted= 26.7%.

Relevant Research Areas: Advanced Manufacturing, Environment and Agriculture, Information and Communications Technologies, Natural Resources and Energy. Specific topics of interest within those areas.  Note that "Natural Resources and Energy" also contains several environmental topics.

Program objective: To increase research and training in targeted areas that could strongly enhance Canada’s economy, society and/or environment within the next 10 years.

Partner requirements: At least one eligible supporting organization: the organization must be a Canadian-based  company or a government organization with a policy mandate related to the proposal topic. The supporting organization must be actively involved in all stages of the project; therefore, in-kind contributions are required, but cash is not. NSERC encourages applicants to also incorporate international collaborations into their proposals.Other types of organizations can be involved, but you need to


  • For the PI, general NSERC eligibility criteria for faculty apply. Co-applicant adjunct faculty cannot have their primary employment at a supporting organization (see NSERC FAQ). Some co-applicants can be from non-NSERC fields. See detailed information on NSERC's webpages about the Strategic program provide details on their eligibility criteria.
  • The project must support the goal of Strategic Partnership Grants and fall within one of the target areas (see above, under Relevant Research Areas).
  • Priority will be given to applications that address the research topics identified in each target area. Projects that make a compelling case for research within the Context section of a target area description, but are outside the research topics, will be considered “exceptional”. They may be funded subject to the availability of funds. No more than 20 percent of the budget will be allocated to “exceptional opportunities." Please talk to Vera or Kelly if you consider an "exceptional opportunity" application so that we can make sure you correctly understood what kind of research they will or won't consider in that category.
  • At least one academic researcher and at least one supporting organization must collaborate in the project.
  • The supporting organization must be actively involved in all stages of the project; therefore, in-kind contributions are required, but cash is not.
  • Applications targeting incremental improvements to existing technologies will not be considered.

NSERC Strategic Network Grants

For the 2018 competition the preliminary applications must address one or more of the Strategic Partnership Grants target areas. These include; Advanced Manufacturing, Environment and Agriculture, Information and Communication Technologies or Natural Resources and Energy.

The network must have a strategy for international collaboration. This may involve establishing or enhancing Canada’s leadership role, leveraging international partners’ expertise and/or facilitating dialogue for international collaboration in areas of mutually beneficial interest to further network goals.

  • Stream A for entirely new networks, not previously funded by anyone: $500K-$1.125m/y, for 5 years.
  • Stream B for networks previously funded by federal or provincial sources:industry/gov partner cash will be matched 3:1, for grants of $500K-$1.125m/y, for 5 years.

Applicants interested in applying for a Strategic Network Grant should contact early on so that URS can provide development support.

NSERC's 2018 Strategic Grant Webinar Slides

Webinar slide deck 2018

Last year's slide decks:

Slides from the Dec 16 webinar about the new LOI phase of the NSERC Strategic grants
NSERC slides for the 2017 Strategic Full Application competition

Queen's Best Practices Documents -- some still need to be updated for 2018

The Queen's-specific resources below reside on QShare and can be accessed with your Queen's NetID and password:

Queen's Info Session Slides

Slides from the Strategic Project Info Session 2017 (same as webinar slides) Presentation by Michele Takoff (NSERC)
Slides from the Strategic Project Info Session 2016

URS presentation

​Slides of a Reviewer's perspective presentation (older, but lots of good advice)

Reviewer's perspective presentation slides

NSERC Strategic Project Info-Session Slides 2015

Lucia Martinez (NSERC) Presentation slides

Slides from the URS Strategic Project Workshop 2014

Neil Hoult (Applicant Perspective) Presentation slides

Ian Moore (Applicant Perspective) Presentation slides

Slides from the URS Strategic Project Workshop 2013

Nancy Churchman (URS) PowerPoint Presentation

Mike Cunningham (Applicant Perspective) PowerPoint Presentation

Slides from the URS Strategic Project Workshop 2012

Saeed Gazor (Applicant Perspective) presentation (pdf)

NSERC Resources

​NSERC Instructions


  • Queen's URS:  Vera Kettnaker,, 613-533-6000 x77314 and Kelly Cathcart,, 613-453-3447
  • NSERC generic contact for Strategic Programs:, 613-995-1111
  • NSERC Strategic Program Officers for 2018: Environment/Agriculture: Michele Takoff; ICT: Annie-France Bernier; Manufacturing: Karen Payette; Nat Res/Energy: Lucia Martinez. Contact information for these program officers can be looked up in the NSERC staff directory. If contacting Annie-France Bernier before the end of 2017, please cc on your email.