NSERC Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) 2023




Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) Program


The NSERC Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) Program supports the training of teams of highly qualified students and postdoctoral fellows from Canada and abroad through the development of innovative training programs that:

  • Encourage collaborative and integrative approaches and address significant scientific challenges associated with Canada’s research priorities; and
  • Facilitate the transition of new researchers from trainees to productive employees in the Canadian workforce.

These innovative programs must include the acquisition and development of important professional skills among students and postdoctoral fellows that complement their qualifications and technical skills.

In addition, these programs should encourage the following as appropriate:

  • Student mobility, nationally or internationally, between individual universities and between universities and other sectors;
  • Interdisciplinary research within the natural sciences and engineering (NSE), or at the interface between the NSE and health, or the social sciences and humanities. However, the main focus of the training must still lie within the NSE;
  • Increased collaboration between industry and academia; and
  • For the industrial stream, an additional objective is to support improved job-readiness within the industrial sector by exposing participants to the specific challenges of this sector and training people with the skills identified by industry.

To build on Canada’s research strengths and priorities and to enhance our success, at least 60 percent of the CREATE funding will be directed to the following priority areas:

  • Environmental science and technologies;
  • Natural resources and energy;
  • Manufacturing; and
  • Information and communication technologies.

Successful applicants will consist of a group of accomplished researchers who will work collaboratively to offer a defined research training program to a group of trainees. This environment will provide trainees with experience relevant to both academic and non-academic careers. The research training experience should focus on providing an enriched training experience for graduate (master’s and doctoral) students.


CREATE grants are tenable only at NSERC eligible Canadian universities, and the applicant must hold an eligible position at that university. Researchers at non-eligible organizations may participate as collaborators. Ensure that you consider the eligibility requirements for applicants, co-applicants and collaborators described on NSERC’s Web site under Eligibility Criteria.

Note to multi-university applicants: All universities who will be involved in the application must have at least one co-applicant listed in the proposal. This ensures access to CREATE funds for all students/fellows involved at that university. The funds will be administered by the co-applicant on behalf of all the students/fellows whether they are under the co-applicant’s direct supervision or not.

The following conditions apply to all applications:

  • In the case of multi-organization collaborations (academic, industrial, government or not-for-profit sectors), the applicant must be from an NSERC-supported field at an NSERC-eligible university. One person must be designated to administer the grant. This person is the “applicant” and is responsible for completing and submitting the Letter of Intent (LOI) and the application (if invited) on behalf of the group. The applicant’s university will be the lead university.
  • At least 70% of the group must be from NSE fields, but co-applicants at the interdisciplinary frontier between NSE and the areas covered under the umbrella of SSHRC and CIHR may be incorporated into proposals. Applicants submitting proposals at the interdisciplinary frontiers of the granting agencies may be required to justify why NSERC is in fact the most appropriate funding agency for their training proposals.
  • The focus should be on new training initiatives. Existing initiatives must justify the incremental value that will accrue from the CREATE Program.
  • A yearly quota has been established for each university, and only those researchers selected at their university can submit LOIs. In addition, a researcher may only be the applicant on one CREATE initiative annually. There is a limit on participation in multiple active CREATE projects. NSERC limits the participation of an individual researcher in a maximum of two CREATE initiatives—as either an applicant or co-applicant. 
  • Each training program will have a Program Committee responsible for overseeing the progress of the program and its future directions. The applicant may not be the Chair of the Program Committee.
  • The Program Committee Chair must approve each progress report.
  • Additional requirements:
    • Researchers who currently hold or participate in an active CREATE Grant must clearly describe their distinct contribution to and justification for their participation in the proposed training program;
    • Researchers who are applying in a research area already supported by other active CREATE Grants, must clearly describe how this application differs from those already funded;
    • Previous CREATE grantees and co-grantees must clearly describe how this application differs from those already funded.

Descriptions required above should appear in either the “Excellence of proposed team of researchers” or the “Merit of the Proposed Training Program”, as applicable. Please refer to Form 187 instructions for details. The onus is on the applicant to provide sufficient information to enable the selection committee to evaluate the relationship with other CREATE initiatives.

Maximum Project Value

Funding of up to $150,000 in the first year and up to $300,000 annually for up to five subsequent years will be provided by NSERC for up to $1.65 million dollars over six years. It is expected that funds will be spent on an annual basis. Also, CREATE initiatives are expected to be self-sustaining by the end of six years. Note that there is no automatic extension for the use of funds and renewal of funding beyond six years is not possible.

Collaborators may contribute additional funds. The application must provide a detailed justification of all expenses.

Eligible Expenses:

  • At least 80% of the CREATE grant must be used for trainees’ stipends.
    • Up to 30 % of this portion can be distributed to trainees who are not enrolled in the NSE.
  • Up to 20 % of the CREATE funds may be used for the following expenses:
    • Training program structure
    • Travel
    • Dissemination of training materials and research results
    • Services and miscellaneous expenses

Indirect Costs



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

Internal Deadline

Expression of Interest:

Applicants must meet with their Associate Dean Research (ADR) and College Research Manager (CRM) to confirm College-level support and then submit the internal Expression of Interest (EOI) form to resserv@uoguelph.ca, copying Carolyn Osborn, cosborn@uoguelph.ca. The EOI form is in the "Attachments" section below.

The Associate Vice-President Research Services (AVPRS) will ultimately communicate the decision to all EOI applicants if they are approved to use the university's quota by March 20, 2023. Only those who are approved to use the university's quota can proceed with the submission of their Letter of Intent (LOI) to the Office of Research Services. 

Internal Deadline

Letter of Intent (LOI):

The Office of Research Services invites researchers who have consulted with their ADR and received approval from the AVPR to proceed with the submission of an LOI and signed OR-5 Form to resserv@uoguelph.ca.

Applicants will be responsible for drafting the letter from the university Vice-President Research (or designate), with support from the College, as applicable. The Office of Research Services can provide advance review of the draft letters and will obtain signature(s) on the letter. 

Applicants must submit their final, complete LOI using NSERC’s online system when the LOI form becomes available (March 2023).

A complete LOI includes the following:

  • Form 187;
  • Form 100 for the applicant;
  • Letter from the applicant’s university Vice-President Research; and
  • For the industrial stream only, one letter or e-mail from the collaborating industry(ies) to the applicant, confirming its (their) willingness to participate in the program committee and to host internships for trainees.

Applicants must download a complete copy of the LOI to circulate to Office of Research Services along with their OR-5 form for review PRIOR to pressing "Submit" to NSERC. If an LOI is formally submitted through the online system, it cannot be returned to the applicant for further modifications/revisions.

The Office of Research Services will not provide or facilitate peer reviews. Applicants are encouraged to connect with their College Research Manager to learn more about the resources and services available, including peer/discipline-specific/interdisciplinary reviews. 

External Deadline

Letter of Intent (NSERC form):

LOIs must be submitted by applicants to NSERC on the online system. 
Successful applicants will be notified of the request to submit a full application in June 2023 with the submission deadline of September 22
Internal Deadline

Full Application: 

Applicants invited to submit a full application, as notified by NSERC in June 2023, must submit their full application package to the Office of Research (resserv@uoguelph.ca) and "Submit" online. 

Time is allowed within this process for review and revision of full proposals.  The Office of Research Services will discuss and plan the review process with applicants and their respective Colleges following invitations to submit a full application.

External Deadline

Full Application:

The full application will be submitted to NSERC by the Office of Research Services on the online NSERC system.

How to Apply

Applying to the CREATE Program involves a three phase application process: 

Phase 1: Confirm College support and submit internal EOI form (Attachment section below) signed by ADR. AVPR will confirm university quota and approval to move to next phase.

Phase 2: Letter of Intent; and 

Phase 3: Application. The CREATE Program is highly selective, with pre-screening based on the LOI. Only applicants successful at the Letter of Intent stage will be invited to submit an application.

Phase 1: College/Institutional approval: University quota

Please review the "Deadlines" section above for instructions on U of G's internal requirements to obtain approval for use of the university's CREATE quota.

Phase 2: Letter of Intent

To apply for a CREATE Program grant, researchers must first submit Form 187 to their university for consideration. Refer to Form 187 instructions for complete information or contact your university research grants office.

The entire LOI application process is performed using NSERC’s On-line System. Applicants must wait to "Submit" their LOI until the research grants office has reviewed and approved the submission. Applicants will be responsible for submitting the approved LOI to NSERC directly online.

A complete LOI includes the following:

  • Form 187;
  • Form 100 for the applicant;
  • a letter from the applicant’s university Vice-President Research (phase 1 note); and
  • for the industrial stream only, one letter or e-mail from the collaborating industry(ies) to the applicant, confirming its (their) willingness to participate in the program committee and to host internships for trainees.

The letter from the Vice-President Research or equivalent, must clearly confirm that the applicant’s proposal is one of the proposals endorsed by the university as part of their quota of submissions, and should describe the university’s support and commitment for this new initiative.

Phase 3: Application

If invited to apply, you must then submit the following documents to NSERC through the research grant office by the deadlines indicated above. The research grant office will submit the full application to NSERC directly, on behalf of the applicant. 

  • Form 102;
  • Form 100 for the applicant
  • Form 100 or CCV for up to 10 co-applicants;
  • one letter of support from the lead university; and
  • for both the regular and industrial stream, a maximum of three letters from collaborators will be accepted. For the industrial stream only, at least one of these letters must be from an industrial collaborator confirming its willingness to participate in the program committee and to host internships for trainees.
  • In addition, indicate in the first sentence of the description of the training program that you are applying to the industrial stream of the CREATE Program.
  • *NEW* - list of deliverables

Refer to Forms 100, CCV and 102 instructions for complete information or contact your university research grants office. 

The entire application process is performed using NSERC’s On-line System.

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


Office of Research

Carolyn Osborn, Director, Grants & Contracts
Research Services Office
519-824-4120 x52935

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