NSERC Alliance Grants - Option 2


Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)


Alliance (Option 2)

For More Information

NSERC Alliance Grants Webpage

NSERC Alliance Grants - National Security Guidelines for Research Partnerships

Safeguarding your Research Portal

NSERC Alliance - Frequently Asked Questions

NSERC Alliance Grant Application Checklist

Option 2 Overview Pamphlet


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. Applicants including Private Sector partners on their Alliance application are now required to complete the National Security Guidelines for Research Partnerships' Risk Assessment form. 

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

Projects supported under cost-sharing option 2 grants will also

  • address a societal challenge that will result in new natural sciences and engineering knowledge and societal impact
  • bring together academic, partner organization and societal perspectives and skill sets throughout the collaboration
  • demonstrate how all interested individuals will learn about and use the products, services or policies that stem from this research

For Option 2 specifically, please note the considerations below:​

Size of partner organization Type of partnership

NSERC Contribution to Project Costs

All partner sizes

Partnership must include one organization that is recognized for NSERC cost-sharing


Exclusively not-for-profit and public partner organizations 100%

Any private-sector partner organization; this option requires a 10% cash contribution from the combined partner organizations



If you are a Canadian university researcher who is eligible to receive NSERC funds, you can apply on your own or as a team with co-applicants who are also eligible academic researchers.

You must have 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) but you may include other partner organizations who play an important role in your research project whether or not their cash contributions are recognized for cost sharing.

Alliance grants support projects of varying scale and complexity, from short-term smaller projects involving one researcher to long-term projects involving researchers across several universities, and from one-on-one collaborations with one partner organization directly involved in the research to projects involving many partner organizations across multiple sectors. Partner Organizations are encouraged to complete the Partner Organization Self-Assessment Tool to determine eligibility to participate.

In-kind contributions are important for the success of the project even though they are not taken into account in the cost-sharing calculations with NSERC. All partner organizations participating in the project must play an active role in it and make in-kind contributions through such involvement. In-kind contributions are considered in the merit assessment of your proposal (see Evaluation criteria).

Maximum Project Value

Over $30,000 to $300,000 per year request from NSERC

Limit of one application per 12-month period as an applicant or co-applicant. There is no longer a limit on how many Option 2 applications a partner organization can be part of. 

Indirect Costs

0% on industry partner funds that are directly leveraged for the NSERC grant and are declared at the time of application submission

Project Duration

1 to 5 years

Special Notes

The Alliance proposal template includes an additional section for Option 2  in which applicants can provide up to three additional pages to describe:

  • The issue the project aims to address and explain the societal impact the project results will have. 
  • The current barriers impeding a solution and the proposed novel strategy for addressing the issue. 
  • How the project is designed to take into account the needs of end-users and implementers.
  • How the project outcomes will reach beyond the partner organizations to impact society. 

Applicants will also be required to provide justification as to why a higher level of investment of public funds is required for this project.

Projects supported under option 2 grants will:

  • Address a societal challenge resulting in new NSE knowledge and societal impact
  • Bring together academic, partner organization, and societal perspectives and skill sets
  • Demonstrate how all interested individuals will learn about and use the products, services or policies that stem from the research


  • Administrative review
  • PIVP selection committee determines if the project fits within option 2 characteristics
  • If the outcome of the PIVP is positive, the application proceeds to the next step, otherwise it is considered not funded
  • External peer review evaluation

The selection committee will meet on a quarterly basis, starting in the spring. If selected, applications will then proceed to the second step for review of overall merit, similar to Option 1.

For information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic impact on applications to this program, please visit the NSERC website.

Please note that research activities carried out in the context of COVID-19 need to adhere to the University of Guelph COVID-19 research principles, policies, guidelines and processes as they may be updated from time to time and communicated on the Office of Research web-page.


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

Internal Deadline

Option 2 applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

OR-5 and full application must be submitted to the Office of Research Services (research.services@uoguelph.ca) a minimum of two (2) weeks prior to the intended submission date to NSERC. Please be sure to "submit" in NSERC's online system.

External Deadline

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

How to Apply

Details for Alliance submissions are included below. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

  • Follow the instructions for completing an Alliance grant application  and complete the proposal template and the supporting documents. Please ensure you review the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in the Training Plan document and incorporate these principles into the proposal. 
  • For application including Private Sector partners, please complete the National Security Guidelines for Research Partnerships' Risk Assessment form, and upload under 'Other Documents'. For more information on completing this form, please see: NSERC Alliance Grants - National Security Guidelines for Research Partnerships
  • Ask the representative at each of your partner organizations to complete a Partner Organization Form, which includes the Partner Organization Profile (one-pager).
  • Applicants must invite their partner organization representative to complete the information online. When completing the Application for a Grant (Form 101), the applicant will provide an email address for the partner organization representative. An invitation with a personalized URL will then be sent to that email address. Once completed by the partner organization representative, the form will be automatically linked to the application. This change will enable:
    • The confirmation of contributions to the project and agreement with the proposal by the partner organization representative;
    • Questions that are tailored to the organization’s sector;
    • The collection of information about the organization directly from the partner organization representative;
  • Submit your completed application and supporting documents, including the personal data form with CCV attachment for the applicant and all co-applicants, through NSERC’s online system
  • The Office of Research Services will review your submission, provide feedback, and work with you to finalize the application for submission to NSERC.

Please see NSERC's full list of Resources, which includes Presentations on preparing an Alliance Application (slidedeck, notes and video). 

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:
Gregor Lawson, Industry Liaison Manager

NSERC Alliance Contact Information:

Office of Research

Amy Bossaer, Senior Grants and Contracts Specialist
Office of Research Services
519-824-4120 x58613

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