NSERC Alliance Grants - Option 2


Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)


Alliance (Option 2)

For More Information

NSERC Alliance Grants Webpage

Revised Guidelines on assessment of contributions to research, training, and mentoring

U of G Guide for Completing the National Security Guidelines for Research Partnerships’ Risk Assessment Form - NSERC Alliance

NSERC Alliance Grants - National Security Guidelines for Research Partnerships

Safeguarding your Research Portal

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Resource Document for Researchers

Alliance Grants: Equity, diversity and inclusion in training plans

NSERC guide on integrating equity, diversity and inclusion considerations in research

NSERC Alliance - Frequently Asked Questions

NSERC Alliance Grant Application Checklist

Option 2 Overview Pamphlet

NSERC Alliance Grants Workshop - Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) and Option 2 2021


Alliance Option 2 Cost Sharing Ratio:
As of February 18, 2022, Alliance Option 2 has been simplified to one single cost sharing ratio of 100% from NSERC for proposals involving partners from any sector (private, public or not-for-profit). This means that the requirement for partner organizations to commit 10% of the project’s cash budget, when partners from the private sector are involved, has been removed. This would not preclude additional cash investments being made by partners from any sector to increase the scope of the project where applicable.

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. 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


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.

Even though NSERC may cover 100% of the project’s cost, your project must involve at least one partner organization whose cash contributions would be recognized, had there been any (see Alliance grants: Role of partner organizations and Partner Organization Self-Assessment Tool to determine eligibility to participate).

You must include all of the project direct costs funded by sources other than NSERC in the budget table. All costs must be explained in the proposal and will be considered in the merit assessment of your proposal.

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).

Cash contributions by partner organizations toward expenses other than the project’s direct costs (e.g., cash contribution toward an institutional research chair held by the applicant) may be described in the proposal to provide broader context about the depth of the partnership. Such contributions are not taken into account in the cost-sharing calculations with NSERC and must not be included in the total project cost.

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


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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