National Science Foundation Global Centres Call for Proposals: Bioeconomy


The Government of Canada, through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), led by the US National Science Foundation (NSF)


Global Centres

For More Information

National Science Foundation Global Centres Call for Proposals: Bioeconomy

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Resources

Research Security Resources


NSERC and SSHRC will offer joint information sessions on the NSF Global Centres initiative:

Date Time Session
Tuesday, April 16, 2024 11:30am to 12:30pm

English session

Join meeting here

Wednesday, April 17, 2024 11:30am to 12:30pm

French session

Join meeting here

Please consult the Global Centres Program Solicitation on the National Science Foundation’s website for complete details on this initiative and guidelines for the preparation, submission and review of proposals submitted to the National Science Foundation.


This initiative supports researchers from Canada and the US, and optionally from Finland, Japan, Republic of Korea and/or the UK, in forming collaborative research partnerships to address themes related to the bioeconomy (see Research Topics).

NSF Global Centres grants will support the creation of international hubs of research excellence that advance knowledge, empower communities, and generate discovery and innovative solutions at a regional and/or global scale. These international hubs are expected to be driven by a bold vision for high-impact, use-inspired basic research, as well as a strategy to integrate diverse perspectives from different disciplines, international partners and other stakeholders into the research over the course of the project. The topic for the 2024 competition is addressing global challenges through the bioeconomy. 

NSERC and SSHRC would welcome the involvement of Indigenous Peoples, their uniquely valuable connection to Canada’s ecology, and their incorporation of traditional Indigenous knowledge in research. For research proposals that involve Indigenous Peoples or groups, you are encouraged to consult the Tri-agency Indigenous Research guidelines.


  • Create physical or virtual international research centres that advance innovative, interdisciplinary, use-inspired research and education on the bioeconomy to address societal challenges through international collaboration and multi-stakeholder engagement.
  • Promote international collaboration to obtain advantages of scope, scale, flexibility, expertise, facilities and/or access to specific geographic locations to enable advances that could not occur otherwise.
  • Expand opportunities for students and early career researchers to gain education and training in world-class research while enhancing diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility. Where possible, provide opportunities for workforce training in bioeconomy that does not require advanced degrees but the training of a competitive workforce.
  • Integrate stakeholders and community members into the planning of the research so that centres reflect a co-designed and co-developed work plan that results in the co-generation of results likely to be taken up by relevant groups to solve urgent societal challenges at a regional or global scale to support the communities that they serve.

Research Topics

  • Topic 1: Leveraging Biodiversity Across the Tree of Life to Power the Bioeconomy
  • Topic 2: Biofoundries, also called the Design-Build-Test-Learn process
  • Crosscutting Theme A: Public engagement and co-generation of research activities to strengthen the global science and technology enterprise
  • Crosscutting Theme B: Workforce Development and Education

Please refer to the NSF website (sections D1a to D1d) for the full description of topics accepted by the NSF and other partner funding agencies. All proposals must integrate the two crosscutting themes into the proposed work.


Team Eligibility

As an applicant to this initiative, you must collaborate with at least one researcher from the US who meets the NSF eligibility requirements; the US researcher will be the PI on the proposal and is responsible for submitting the complete NSF application package to NSF.

Each team with Canadian involvement must also identify a Canadian researcher as the applicant who is eligible to receive funding from NSERC or SSHRC. To be an applicant or co-applicant on a Global Centre proposal, you must be working in a research area supported by NSERC or SSHRC, and you must meet the relevant eligibility requirements at the time of your application. Specifically, Canadian university researchers — whether they come from the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences or engineering fields — wishing to participate in a Global Centre proposal may apply for funding from NSERC to support their participation. Each Canadian team should submit only one application for their participation in a Global Centre proposal.

The current competition includes the US National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the Research Council of Finland (RCF), Innovation Funding Agency Business Finland (BF), the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST), the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF), the Ministry of Science and Information and Communication Technology of the Republic of Korea (MSIT), and the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) as partner funding agencies. As such, you may also collaborate with researchers from Finland, Japan, Republic of Korea and/or the UK. These researchers must meet the eligibility requirements of their respective funding organizations to receive funding; they cannot receive funding from NSERC or SSHRC.

You may participate as an applicant on only one Global Centre proposal, but you may be a co-applicant or collaborator on multiple proposals. Researchers from colleges who meet NSERC’s eligibility requirements may participate as co-applicants.

To increase the impact of Canadian research in the global research community, you may incorporate other international collaborators into your NSERC proposal. However, these researchers must secure their own sources of funding to cover the cost of their research activities. You may interact with foreign colleagues in a variety of ways to enhance collaboration and increase your project's impact.

Other researchers and organizations (e.g., from the public, private and/or not-for-profit sector) can participate as collaborators. Refer to the Tri-agency guide on financial administration for more information on the eligibility of expenses you may incur in support of such collaborations.

Expense Eligibility

Canadian researchers can only include NSERC- and SSHRC-eligible direct costs of research in your project budget. Examples of this include:

  • salary support for research trainees (undergraduate and/or graduate students and postdoctoral fellows) to perform research and related training
  • salary support for technicians and research professional personnel
  • materials and supplies
  • activities that support collaborations and knowledge mobilization related to the Global Centre
  • activities to develop and grow the research collaborations with the international partner(s)

You can also include the costs of equipment, provided that the equipment is:

  • essential to achieving the objectives of the research project
  • incremental to the equipment already available at your institution or your Canadian or international partner(s)

Your total expected equipment cost (including operation and maintenance) cannot exceed $400,000 over the duration of the project.

There should be no duplication of funding requests for the same items on budgets submitted to NSERC and SSHRC and budgets submitted to other funding agency partners. 

There are no restrictions regarding the balance of project costs between NSE and SSH fields; however, you must distinguish between the costs related to the two areas in the budget justification. Research costs for collaborations outside the natural sciences and engineering and the social and behavioural sciences and humanities (i.e., health) fields can represent up to 30% of the project costs and must be specifically identified in the project budget justification.

Funding Availability

NSERC’s total budget allocation for this call is expected to be CAN$7.5 million over five years, while SSHRC’s total budget allocation is expected to be CAN$2.5 million over five years.

Eligible Canadian researchers may receive funding from NSERC or SSHRC while international researchers from the US, Finland, Japan, Republic of Korea, and the UK may receive funding from their respective funding agencies. NSERC funding will be provided as an Alliance grant and SSHRC funding will be provided as a Partnership-type grant.

Maximum Project Value

Up to CAN $500,000 per year for 4 to 5 years

Indirect Costs

0% on NSERC/SSHRC requested funds

Project Duration

4 to 5 years

Special Notes

Safeguarding your research

At all times, Canadian researchers are encouraged to exercise appropriate levels of due diligence when managing their research and establishing and/or continuing partnerships with national, international and multinational partners. Resources to do so are provided by the Government of Canada on the Safeguarding Your Research portal.

As NSERC’s funding will be provided via an NSERC Alliance grant, Canada’s National Security Guidelines for Research Partnerships apply to NSERC-funded applications that involve 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. These guidelines provide a framework through which researchers, research institutions and Canada’s granting agencies can undertake consistent, risk-targeted due diligence to identify and mitigate potential national security risks linked to research partnerships.

For such partnerships, you and your post-secondary institution are required to complete a risk assessment form for your research project and submit it as an integral part of your application.

Equity, diversity and inclusion

NSERC and SSHRC are acting on the evidence that achieving a more equitable, diverse and inclusive Canadian research enterprise is essential to creating the excellent, innovative and impactful research necessary to advance knowledge and understanding, and to respond to local, national and global challenges. This principle informs the commitments described in the Tri-agency statement on equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) and is aligned with the objectives of the Tri-agency EDI action plan.

Excellent research considers EDI both in the research environment (forming a research team, student training) and in the research process. For Alliance grants, EDI considerations are currently evaluated in the training, mentorship and professional development opportunities for students and trainees. The aim is to remove barriers to the recruitment and promote the full participation of individuals from underrepresented groups, including women, Indigenous Peoples (First Nations, Inuit, and Métis), persons with disabilities, members of visible minority/racialized groups and members of 2SLGBTQI+ communities. Applicants are encouraged to increase the inclusion and advancement of underrepresented groups as one way to enhance excellence in research and training. For additional guidance, applicants should refer to Alliance grants: Equity, diversity and inclusion in your training plan and the NSERC guide on integrating equity, diversity and inclusion considerations in research.


If College-level review is required, your College will communicate its earlier internal deadlines.

Internal Deadline

OR-5 and full application must be submitted to the Research Services Office ( a minimum of two (2) weeks prior to the intended submission date to NSERC. Please be sure to "submit" in NSERC's online system, following the instructions to create an application under 'How to Apply.'

External Deadline

The Research Services Office will submit the full application on behalf of the applicant to NSERC through their online system. 

How to Apply

Through a lead agency model, the US Principal Investigator (PI) will submit a single collaborative proposal on behalf of the research team, which will undergo a review process by NSF, the lead agency. The US Principal Investigator (PI) for your partnership is responsible for submitting the complete application package (including the research proposal) to NSF, following their instructions.

As the Canadian applicant, you must submit a simplified application package to NSERC on behalf of the Canadian members of the team at the same time that the US PI submits the full application to NSF. Please refer to the Apply section for more details.

Every member of the Canadian research team who is participating in the Global Centres grant application (the applicant and all co-applicants) must create an account in the NSERC online system if they do not already have one. The applicant and all co-applicants must create and submit a Personal data form with CCV attachment (form 100A) with the application. Researchers working in the social sciences or humanities fields should use research subject code 8000 when indicating their expertise. For more information, please refer to the instructions for completing a personal data form with CCV attachment (form 100A) or the NSERC Frequently asked questions page.

As the applicant, you are responsible for providing the following documents and information to NSERC via the online system by the application deadline:

  • A completed form 101 (application for a grant), containing a summary of your proposed research and keywords – list your NSF PI as a collaborator on form 101;
  • Using the provided template, the Canadian simplified proposal includes:
    • the title of the proposal submitted to NSF;
    • the name of the US PI;
    • if applicable, the names and affiliations of collaborators and/or partners on the Canadian team from the private sector;
    • a discussion on the relevance and expected outcomes, the benefit to Canada and the roles and responsibilities of the Canadian team in the Global Centre, the Canadian training plan, and on the concrete innovative measures supporting equity, diversity and inclusion in the training plan;
  • If applicable, the Impact assessment form (appendix A) must be completed and uploaded to the Impact assessment section of your application;
  • A Risk Assessment Form must be completed as part of the Partnerships module in the application, if applicable;
  • A budget (in Canadian dollars) and accompanying justification for the funds you are requesting from NSERC or SSHRC (budgets must identify expenses as NSERC or SSHRC); and
  • A completed and up-to-date personal data form with CCV attachment (form 100A) for yourself and all Canadian co-applicants. Applicants and co-applicants from SSH fields may submit the SSHRC format CCV if desired; college faculty may submit a CCI format CV; all other co-applicants must submit the CCV in NSERC format.

Instructions for submitting the above-mentioned documents and information to NSERC on behalf of the Canadian research team:

  • Log in to NSERC's online system and select 'Create a new form 101'
  • Select 'Research partnerships programs', then 'Alliance grants'
  • For the 'Proposal type' field, select 'Letter of Intent'
  • For the 'Type of call' field, select 'NSF-Global Centres - Implementation' from the drop-down menu

By submitting an application, you, your co-applicants and partners (when applicable) agree to the Terms and conditions of applying for applicants and the Terms and conditions of applying for partner organizations.

Information For Co-applicants

If you need to meet a deadline set by the lead institution for this opportunity, please ensure that you provide the Office of Research with at least five days in advance of the lead institution’s deadline to review the application, or your proposed component of the project. Please be in touch with the Office of Research (contact information below) ahead of the deadline if it looks like it will be difficult for you to submit all the required documentation on time (i.e. budget, proposal, OR-5 Form).

For Questions, please contact

Please contact the Research Innovation Office for initial discussions:

Kaleigh Rajna, Industry Liaison Officer

Program contact:

Office of Research

Rachel Lee, Senior Grants and Contracts Specialist
Research Services Office

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