NSERC Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) Program

Updated Information

Updated information in the Description and Eligibility sections in bold. (March 15, 2017)

Updated information in the Deadlines and How to apply sections in bold. (March 16, 2107)

"University of Guelph Internal Letter of Intent (LOI) – NSERC CREATE Program 2017" added in the For More Information section (March 17, 2017)




Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) Program

For More Information

University of Guelph Internal Letter of Intent - NSERC CREATE 2017


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.

Note that changes announced by NSERC on February 22, 2017 to the program, namely 1) university quota being the same across all institutions regardless of size; and 2) researcher eligibility criteria that limited a researcher's involvement on more than one CREATE grant at a time; will not apply to the upcoming CREATE competition. The Eligibility section below has been updated accordingly.

A complete description is available from the Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) Program.


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. 

  • 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.

  • 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.

Maximum Project Value

Up to $150,000 in the first year and up to $300,000 for up to five subsequent years, for a maximum of $1.65M over 6 years. Collaborators may contribute additional funds. The application must provide a detailed justification of all expenses.

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.

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

Project Duration

Up to six years

Special Notes

  • NSERC and Mitacs have formalized their existing relationship. Applicants are encouraged to take advantage of Mitacs programs that support internships in industry as well as other opportunities to increase the number of trainees.
  • CREATE initiatives are encouraged to promote approaches that increase the representation and advancement of women in the natural sciences and engineering, as one means to foster excellence in research and training. Teams should strive for a balanced gender representation in the group of trainees and in their supervisors, role models and mentors.
  • Special Opportunities exist for (1) Industrial Stream and (2) International Collaborations (German Research Foundation) - please see website for more information.


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

Internal Deadline

The Office of Research Services invites interested faculty to submit an OR-5 Form, University of Guelph Internal Letter of Intent (LOI), and Form 100 for the applicant to resserv@uoguelph.ca by March 24, 2017. Please retrieve the University of Guelph Internal Letter of Intent (LOI) form from the For More Information section above. Note: NSERC's LOI form is not yet available on the NSERC Online System.

Internal LOIs will be reviewed and adjudicated by Research Services Sub-Committee (RSSC). Institutional letters of support will be provided for those LOIs selected to be forwarded to NSERC. It is anticipated that RSSC will adjudicate Internal LOIs in early April 2017; applicants will be notified of the adjudication results shortly thereafter.

Applicants MUST meet with their Assistant/Associate Dean Research to discuss college-level support and then meet with the Associate Vice-President Research Services (Dr. John Livernois) to discuss institutional support prior to the submission of their full NSERC CREATE LOI. NSERC will provide access to the NSERC CREATE LOI form before April 1, 2017.

External Deadline

Applicants must submit their final, complete LOI using NSERC’s online system by May 1, 2017. The Office of Research Services is not responsible for final submission to NSERC.

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.

Successful applicants will be notified of the request to submit a full application in Summer 2017 with the submission deadline of September 22.

How to Apply

Applying to the CREATE Program involves a two phase application process: Phase 1: Letter of Intent and Phase 2: 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.

Please review the "Deadlines" section above for instructions on UG's Internal LOI requirements.

Phase 1: 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.

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 internal deadline is for the University to review Letters of Intent and to select those they will put forward to NSERC. The Vice-President Research or equivalent, must write a letter that clearly confirms 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 2: Application

If invited to apply, you must then submit the following documents to NSERC through the research grant office by the deadline date:

  • 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.

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.

For Questions, please contact


Office of Research

Katie Meyer Beck, Director, Research Support Services
Research Services Office
519-824-4120 x54059

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