NSERC Discovery Grant - Notice of Intent (NOI) for 2021 Competition


Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada.



For More Information

For additional information, please visit:

NSERC Discovery Grants Program


Canadian Common CV (CCV) (Required at NOI Stage)

Memo to Potential Applicants - Discovery NOI 2021


The Discovery Grants Program supports ongoing programs of research with long-term goals rather than a single short-term project or collection of projects. These grants recognize the creativity and innovation that are at the heart of all research advances. Discovery Grants are considered “grants in aid” of research, as they provide long term operating funds and can facilitate access to funding from other programs, but are not meant to support the full costs of a research program.

Recipients of Discovery Grants are not restricted to the specific activities described in their applications, and may pursue new research interests, provided they are within NSERC’s mandate. This provides researchers with the flexibility to pursue promising research avenues as they emerge and the opportunity to address higher-risk (higher reward) topics. Researchers can use their grants to participate in collaborative efforts. 

The Discovery Grants Program assists in:

  • promoting and maintaining a diversified base of high-quality research capability in the natural sciences and engineering in Canadian universities;
  • fostering research excellence; and
  • providing a stimulating environment for research training.

Applicants are encouraged to increase the inclusion and advancement of women and other under-represented groups in the natural sciences and engineering, as one means to enhance excellence in research and training. Applicants should refer to the Discovery Grants application instructions and the Guide for Applicants: Considering equity, diversity and inclusion in your application.


  • Only applicants and co-applicants are eligible to apply for and hold NSERC funds.
  • Eligibility for applying for/holding an NSERC grant:
    • Hold (or have a firm offer) for an academic appointment at an eligible Canadian university at the time of application. This can be a tenured, tenure-track or lifetime professor emeritus position; or a paid or unpaid term or contract position of no less than three years. The position must be finalized no later than six (6) weeks following the competition deadline of November 1, 2020.
    • The position must require the individual to engage in research that is not under the direction of another individual; and
    • The position must authorize the individual to supervise or co-supervise the research of students registered in an undergraduate or graduate degree program, or postdoctoral fellows (e.g. thesis supervision and not supervision of regular course or laboratory assignments).
  • While there are no specific sections dedicated to naming or describing specific collaborations, it is at the applicant’s discretion if they would like to disclose such information.
  • Applicants are categorized as either Early Career Researchers or Established Researchers. Refer to the Discovery Grants - Applicant Categories for more information.
  • Researchers can apply for and hold only one Discovery Grant at a time. Researchers who hold a Discovery Grant cannot reapply for another Discovery Grant until the last year of their current award. If you currently hold a team grant and wish to apply individually, consult NSERC.
  • NSERC does not consider requests for supplements to existing Discovery Grants, except for E. W. R. Steacie Memorial Fellows and Discovery Grant Northern Research Supplements holders. Recipients may, however, apply for all other types of NSERC grants.

Please review the following parameters as well as NSERC’s Eligibility Criteria for FacultyUG NSERC Eligibility Criteria for Faculty and the Addendum to Guidelines for Eligibility to determine your specific eligibility. 

Applicants cannot submit the same proposal to both NSERC and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) or the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) (see Selecting the Appropriate Federal Granting Agency and Relationship Between NSERC Proposals and Other Sources of Funds.) NSERC encourages researchers to obtain funds from other sources, but does not allow duplication of funding for the same research.  

Subject Matter
Applicants to the Discovery Grants Program must apply with a program of research that is eligible under NSERC’s mandate, which is to promote and assist research in the natural sciences and engineering, other than health. The intended objectives of the research program must be, primarily, to advance knowledge in the natural sciences or in engineering. If NSERC determines that the subject matter is outside of its mandate at any time during the review cycle, the application will be rejected. Refer to  Selecting the Appropriate Federal Granting Agency, the Peer Review Manual, and NSERC Discovery Grants Process for Decisions on Mandate Eligibility for further information on the eligibility of subject matter.

If you are uncertain about subject matter eligibility or overlap, please contact NSERC directly.

Indirect Costs


Project Duration

Grants are normally awarded for five years.  Although a shorter duration can be requested, 

Special Notes

Please refer to the Office of Research COVID 19 web-page for directives related to research activities at the University of Guelph.

If you are considering a grant extension for a current NSERC Discovery Grant and want to learn more about potential impacts on the 2021 competition, please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions and visit the NSERC program information in relation to COVID‑19 webpage, which are updated regularly.


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

External Deadline

Notification of Intent to Apply (NOI): Researchers submit directly to NSERC via the Research Portal. Researchers do not need to send a copy to the Office of Research Services.

Note: The system will be closed after this time

How to Apply

Researchers who intend to apply for a Discovery Grant in the 2021 competition must submit a mandatory Notification of Intent to Apply (NOI) by the deadline date. Applicants who do not submit an NOI by the deadline cannot submit a full application later in Fall 2020

Complete Instructions on How to Apply: Completing a Notification of Intent to Apply (NOI) for NSERC Discovery

  • Researchers applying for a Discovery Grant must submit a NOI using the Research Portal  and the NSERC CCV. Completing the CCV the first time can be time-consuming, so applicants should start completing their CCV early and allow ample time to complete this task in order to meet the NOI deadline date. Researchers submit directly to NSERC via the Research Portal. 

Tips for applicants currently holding a Discovery Grant:

  • Grantees are encouraged to verify the balance of their current Discovery Grant (DG) account before applying. If the available funds are sufficient to cover anticipated expenditures through the next fiscal year, they can choose to request a deferral of the installment or take advantage of the one-year extension to use the accumulated funds prior to submitting a new request for funding.
  • Refer to the Administration Matters and the Annual Funding of Grants sections of the Tri-Agency Financial Administration Guide for more information.
  • Postponing an application does not adversely affect the review of the next application, but rather demonstrates good fiscal management of the funds and allows the grantee to re-organize his/her activities and postpose the application date by one year. It also provides the opportunity for NSERC to fund other researchers with more urgent needs.
  • If you do not intend to apply this year, please let NSERC know by sending an email, before August 4, 2020 to coord@nserc-crsng.gc.ca, with your name, department and institution name.
For Questions, please contact

Please email questions to NSERC Research Grants Office


Office of Research

Vanessa Knox, Awards and Agreements Officer
Office of Research Services
519-824-4120 x53429

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