NSERC Discovery Grants - 2024 Competition (Full Application)


Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC)


Discovery Grants

For More Information


The Discovery Grants (DG) 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 and adhere to the principles and directives governing the appropriate use of funds as outlined in the Tri-agency guide on financial administration. 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. 

Applicants are expected to increase the inclusion and advancement of under-represented and disadvantaged 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.

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.

For full details on the program, please visit the NSERC Discovery Grants program web-page.


Applicant eligibility

  • 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.
    • 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.

Subject matter eligibility and funding from other sources

Applicants to the Discovery Grants program must present 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 objectives of the research program must be to advance knowledge in the natural sciences or in engineering. The application will be rejected if NSERC determines, at any time during the review cycle, that the subject matter is outside of its mandate. Refer to Selecting the appropriate federal granting agency, the Addendum to the guidelines for the eligibility of applications related to health, the Peer review manual and NSERC Discovery Grants process for decisions on mandate eligibility for further information on the eligibility of subject matter.

Applicants to the Discovery Grants program must present a program of research that is conceptually distinct from research supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) or the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).

NSERC encourages researchers to obtain funds from other sources to support the full costs of the research program presented in their Discovery Grant application, as long as the funding source is not CIHR or SSHRC and the funds cover different expenses from the ones proposed in the Discovery Grant application.

Indirect Costs


Project Duration

Discovery Grants are typically for five years.

Please note: researchers can apply for and hold only one DG at a time. Researchers who hold a DG cannot reapply for another DG until the last year of their current award.

Special Notes

NSERC live webinars and pre-recorded videos

NSERC is replacing live webinars with pre-recorded videos followed by live Q&A sessions. This series is meant to assist the research community on how to complete an application using the Research Portal and the NSERC Canadian Common CV (CCV). Pre-registration is not required to attend the live Q&A sessions. Please note, NSERC staff may not have time to respond to all individual questions during the session. Any additional questions should be directed to their support team at resgrant@nserc-crsng.gc.ca.

For complete details on the live Q&A sessions and to access the pre-recorded videos, please visit the NSERC webinars webpage.

COVID-19 considerations

NSERC has published guidelines on the consideration of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on research and training activities. These guidelines provide direction on how to describe these impacts in an application and information on how they will be considered in the review of contributions to research and training and research and training plans.

Research involving Indigenous Peoples and communities

NSERC defines Indigenous research as research in any field or discipline related to the natural sciences and engineering that is conducted by, grounded in, or meaningfully engaged with First Nations, Inuit, Métis or other Indigenous Nations, communities, societies or individuals, and their wisdom, cultures, experiences or knowledge systems, as expressed in their dynamic forms, past and present. For additional guidance on NSERC’s expectations, read the CCI guide for research involving Indigenous Peoples and communities.

Please note: In the first paragraph of your proposal summary, indicate (if applicable) if your research involves Indigenous communities, societies or individuals, and therefore qualifies as Indigenous research according to NSERC's definition.


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

Internal Deadline

Applicant submits a signed OR-5 to research.services@uoguelph.ca and submits the application in the Research Portal so it appears on the Research Services Office (RSO) server.

Please consult with your College Research Manager and/or Associate Dean of Research regarding any College-specific internal deadlines.

External Deadline

Final application will be submitted to NSERC by RSO staff.

How to Apply

Applicants must have successfully submitted a Notice of Intent (NOI) in order to be eligible to submit a Full Application. This is a mandatory step in the application process.

The full application including List of References, Budget Justification and Samples of Research Contributions (maximum of 4 reprints or preprints and/or manuscripts, excerpts from your thesis, technical reports, etc.) along with a Canadian Common CV, are to be submitted electronically to RSO via the NSERC Research Portal.  Upon approval, RSO submits the final version on behalf of the University using the Research Portal.

For Questions, please contact

For program and eligibility inquiries, please contact NSERC at resgrant@nserc-crsng.gc.ca.

If you require technical assistance with the Research Portal, please contact NSERC technical support by email at webapp@nserc-crsng.gc.ca.

Office of Research

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

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