University Research Services

University Research Services
University Research Services
Update: Newly Revised NSERC Framework for Research Partnerships Program:


 NSERC Framework for Research Partnerships Program

NSERC shared the latest version of the new Research Partnerships Program Framework for the consolidation of six existing partnership programs into one simplified program:

Queen’s University is preparing an institutional response, and would like to hear from you regarding these changes. Please fill out the form for feedback by mid-day on Monday December 17th, 2018: Queen’s feedback form

NSERC will be accepting comments from individuals at until January 2, 2019.

NSERC has published transition plans for the Connect, Strategic, and IRC programs (see below), but not yet for Engage and CRDs.

As a brief summary, the proposed new NSERC Research Partnerships Program will have:

  • Broadened partner eligibility: municipalities, Canadian provincial and federal government departments (with the exception of funding agencies and with the exception of government-funded or controlled organizations that fund or perform research), Indigenous communities, crown corporations, registered charities that carry out or apply research in NSE, museums and libraries, community groups and Indigenous groups will be eligible. Currently eligible partners will continue to be eligible (Canadian companies, multinationals with Canadian manufacturing or R&D, foreign companies if combined with Canadian partners).
  • No deadlines
  • Grant sizes range from $20,000/y to $1M/y, for up to 5 years. NSERC will make it easier to scale up or extend smaller projects.
  • NSERC will no longer pay research chair salaries, but will allow chair applications for which the partner organizations or the universities pay for the chair salary.
  • NSERC contributions will fall into a 3 tier system:
  1. For organizations with > 500 employees: cash match 1:1;
  2. For small and medium companies, value-chain partners, or multi-sectoral partnerships: cash match by NSERC 2:1;
  3. Higher NSERC matching of up to $200K/y will be limited to 2 applications per partner and 2 per applicant (1 as PI and 1 as co-applicant): 10% cash match required by the partners for projects with any private sector partners, or no match required from the partners for projects with only non-profit and public partners.
  • NSERC will issue more joint calls with other funding agencies, with varying parameters published for each call.
  • Faster decisions for low-risk applications


Existing programs (Connect, Engage and Engage Plus, Strategic Projects and Networks, Industrial Research Chairs, and Collaborative Research and Development grants) will change. A summary of the changes under the new framework in terms of existing programs is as follows:

  1. Connect Grant: will cease to exist.
    Transition plan: Applications for the current program will be accepted until January 18, 2019 and all events/travel must take place before March 31, 2019. See details here.
  2. Engage and Engage Plus Grants: Under the new framework, public and non-profit organizations can apply up to 2 times per year without cash contributions. Companies will have to contribute 10% cash, but a minimum contribution of $2,500 for a $22,500 grant from NSERC, for example, should be manageable for most companies. The requested amounts can be up to $200,000 per year now, and 1-5 years long. Apart from the limits on the number of applications (2 per organization and 1 as PI per researcher each year), all the existing restrictions of the current Engage program will be eliminated, including the current restrictions on IP ownership.
    Transition plan: NSERC has not published information about the transition for Engage applications yet.
  3. Strategic Grants: The third tier grants will essentially replace the current SPGs. Grant sizes will be similar (up to $200K/y in the future, compared to an average of $180K/y for current SPGs), there will be no deadlines, no restriction of the research areas anymore, and the duration of each grant will can now be up to 5 years. However, supporting organizations will be limited to 2 applications per year. Researchers will be limited to 1 application per year as PI and 1 application as co-applicant.
    Transition plan: No new calls will be issued for Strategic project and network grants, but they will continue in the form of the new program.
  4. Collaborative Research and Development Grants: Under the new framework, matching ratios will now depend on the size of the supporting organization (1:1 for large organizations, 2:1 for the others), but independent of size, companies will now have 2 applications per year with a 9:1 matching ratio. Government agencies and non-profit organizations will now be eligible as partners with certain exceptions, and will be allowed 2 applications per year without any required cash contributions (up to $200K/y for up to 5 years), in addition to the 1:1 or 2:1 matching grants that depend on the type and size of the supporting organizations.
    Transition plan: NSERC has not published information about the transition for CRD applications yet.
  5. Industrial Research Chairs: The IRC program will also merge into the new partnership program. Research chairs supported by large companies will have the same matching ratio under that program, but those supported by SMEs and certain other types of partners would receive double the current match (2:1 instead of 1:1). Chair salaries would not be paid by NSERC anymore, but could be paid by partners or the university.
    Transition plan: During the transition, NSERC will allow new and renewal applications for certain types of IRCs. A timeline for the transition has been published on the IRC page


URS contacts:

Hakan Karatas,, 613-929-2064 (Faculty of Arts and Science)

Vera Kettnaker,, x77314 (applicants from all faculties)

Alexandra Pedersen,, 613-453-3447, (Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science)