Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)
For More Information
For full program details, please visit the NSERC Discovery Horizons web-page.
Discovery Horizons grants support investigator-initiated individual and team projects that broadly integrate or transcend disciplines to advance knowledge in the natural sciences and engineering (NSE). Full applications submitted to this NSERC program will be reviewed by a tri-agency interdisciplinary peer review committee.
In partnership with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), NSERC is piloting this interdisciplinary peer review mechanism. The shared peer review committee will assess all full applications submitted to NSERC’s Discovery Horizons program, as well as relevant applications submitted to SSHRC’s Insight Grants and CIHR’s Project Grants programs.
In the context of this funding opportunity, the term “interdisciplinary” should be understood to fully encompass all research that connects, crosses or falls in between the traditional disciplines of the three agencies, including transdisciplinary, multidisciplinary, convergence research and other approaches at the interface.
The Discovery Horizons program provides NSERC’s entry-point to the tri-agency interdisciplinary peer-review mechanism. It supports Discovery research projects that would significantly benefit from being assessed by a tri-agency interdisciplinary peer review committee, and aims to:
- Answer NSE research questions that are best addressed through interdisciplinary approaches;
- Advance NSE disciplines through cross fertilization and new ways of thinking about research questions; ideas and frameworks; approaches and methods; platforms, tools and infrastructure; people, partners and trainees; and
- Provide leading-edge NSE training for highly qualified personnel (HQP) in interdisciplinary research environments.
Applicants and co-applicants
Both individuals and teams may apply to the Discovery Horizons program. The applicant and any co-applicants must all be eligible to hold NSERC funding. One person must be designated to administer the grant; this person is the “applicant” and is responsible for completing and submitting the full application on behalf of the team. NSERC’s eligibility criteria for faculty can provide more information on the role of applicants and co-applicants. While the research team is expected to have significant expertise in NSE research, not all members need to engage in research in the NSE. College faculty members who meet the relevant eligibility criteria can participate in Discovery horizons as co-applicants.
There are no requirements with respect to team size or composition. However, individuals are only allowed to hold or apply for one Discovery Horizons grant as either an applicant or co-applicant.
Note that the applicant may add or remove invitations to co-applicants and collaborators at both phases of the application process (LOI and full application).
Collaborators contribute to the execution of research activities but do not have access to grant funds.
Any individual whose contributions to the project will be supervised by a member of the research team and/or by another collaborator cannot be considered a collaborator.
Applicants and co-applicants to the Discovery Horizons program are categorized as either early career researchers or established researchers. Refer to the Discovery Grants applicant categories page for more information. Applicant categorization is the responsibility of NSERC staff and is done based on the information provided in the application.
Subject matter eligibility
An eligible proposal must meet both of the following criteria:
- Its primary objective must be to advance knowledge in the NSE
- It must integrate or transcend disciplines in ways that would significantly benefit from peer review by a tri-agency interdisciplinary committee
The tri-agency interdisciplinary peer review committee will assess projects submitted to all three federal granting agencies. Applications should be submitted to the agency that is responsible for the dominant research discipline(s) or area(s). Refer to Selecting the appropriate federal granting agency, and the Addendum to the guidelines for the eligibility of applications related to health for further information.
Research involving Indigenous Peoples and communities is particularly welcome in Discovery Horizons. Such research can be in any field or discipline, but it must be conducted by, grounded in or engaged with First Nations, Inuit, Métis and/or urban Indigenous communities, societies and/or individuals. The research must incorporate their wisdom, cultures, experiences and/or knowledge systems, as expressed in their dynamic forms, past and present. Furthermore, NSERC expects, when applicable, that research will involve the respectful and meaningful engagement of Indigenous peoples in research activities.
Discovery Horizons grants are expected to be valued from $50K–$100K per year and will be commensurate to the size of the research team. For this pilot year, NSERC is expecting to award approximately 10–20 grants.
Maximum Project Value
The maximum yearly value for a project is based on the team composition, as follows:
- Single applicant - $50k
- Applicant and one co-applicant - $75k
- Applicant and two or more co-applicants - $100k
Up to five years.
Equity, diversity and inclusion
NSERC is acting on the evidence that achieving a more equitable, diverse and inclusive Canadian research enterprise is essential to creating the excellent, innovative and impactful research necessary to advance knowledge and understanding, and to respond to local, national and global challenges. This principle informs the commitments described in the Tri-agency statement on equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI).
Applicants are expected to increase the inclusion and advancement of under-represented groups in the NSE, as one means to enhance excellence in research and training. Where applicable, consideration of sex, gender and diversity in the research design should be addressed in the proposal. Equity, diversity and inclusion considerations should be developed into the rationale for the composition of research teams, including trainees. For more information, applicants should refer to the application instructions and the Guide for applicants: Considering equity, diversity and inclusion in your application.
All applicants to any tri-agency program are asked to voluntarily provide self-identification information to aid efforts to strengthen equity, diversity and inclusion in Canada’s research sector. Discovery Horizons applicants and co-applicants will also be asked to provide consent for NSERC to potentially use their self-identification information to improve equity and diversity in funding decisions. Priority may be given to letters of intent and/or applications from those who self-identify as members of underrepresented groups, amongst similarly ranked LOIs and applications.
If College-level review is required, your College will communicate its earlier internal deadlines.
Applicants are encouraged to connect with their College for review of the LOI prior to submission to ORS. Please provide the completed LOI form along with a signed OR-5 form to email@example.com. The OR-5 can list $0, which can be updated with the budget by ORS, if the LOI moves forward to full application stage.
Note: Please do not "accept" the Terms and Conditions to finalize your LOI at this stage. Clicking accept will submit your LOI directly to NSERC.
How to Apply
The Discovery Horizons application process has two stages: the letter of intent (LOI) stage and the full application stage.
Letter of intent (Deadline: June 16, 2022)
The LOI is mandatory and includes a brief summary (2,500 characters max) and responses to the four points below. Reviewers will assess program fit, to identify a limited number of LOI applicants who will be invited (no later than August 16) to submit a full application.
Explain how your project would benefit from being assessed by a tri-agency interdisciplinary peer review committee, as opposed to a joint review by NSERC's Discovery Grants evaluation groups (1,000 characters max)
Demonstrate that the interdisciplinary approach is essential to achieving the project goals (1,000 characters max)
Describe how the interdisciplinary approach enriches HQP training (1,000 characters max)
Demonstrate that the interdisciplinary elements are integrated and inseparable (i.e., not sub-projects that could be reviewed on their own merit) (1,000 characters max)
Please see the instructions for completing a letter of intent for more details.
Full application (Deadline: October 18, 2022)
Selected applicants will be invited to submit a full proposal and will receive further guidance on application requirements with that invitation. Full applications will need to address the selection criteria listed below in a ten-page (max) research proposal.
Please see the full application instructions for more details.
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