NSERC Discovery Horizons - 2024 Call for Proposals


Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)


Discovery Horizons

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:

  1. Answer NSE research questions that are best addressed through interdisciplinary approaches
  2. 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 
  3. Provide leading-edge NSE training for highly qualified personnel (HQP) in interdisciplinary research environments.


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.
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. For an adjunct professor, the same eligibility requirements apply as the Discovery Grants Program.
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. Additionally, individuals participating in a Discovery Horizons grant as an applicant or co-applicant cannot hold both a Discovery Grant and Discovery Horizons grant.

Funding Availability

Discovery Horizons grants are expected to be valued from $50K–$100K per year and will be commensurate to the size of the research team. NSERC will 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

Indirect Costs


Project Duration

Up to five years

Special Notes

Equity, diversity and inclusion

NSERC is acting on 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 underrepresented 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, among similarly ranked LOIs and applications.

Policy on Sensitive Technology and Affiliations of Concern

In 2024, the Government of Canada published its Policy on Sensitive Technology Research and Affiliations of Concern. This funding opportunity is in scope of this new policy, wherein grant applications that involve conducting research that aims to advance a sensitive technology research area will not be funded if any of the researchers involved in activities supported by the grant are currently affiliated with, or in receipt of funding or in-kind support from, a named research organization.


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

Internal Deadline
Applicants are encouraged to connect with their College for review of the LOI prior to submission to RSO. Please provide the completed LOI form along with a signed OR-5 form to research.services@uoguelph.ca. The OR-5 can list $0, which can be updated with the budget by RSO, if the LOI moves forward to full application stage.
Please 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. 
External Deadline
Once RSO has reviewed LOI and received institutional approval via a signed OR-5, applicant may submit LOI using the Convergence Portal.
Note: Please notify RSO if you are invited to the full application stage. Based on previous years, applicants are notified by NSERC in August.
Internal Deadline

Please submit full application to research.services@uoguelph.ca.

External Deadline

Applicant to submit full application using the Convergence Portal.

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 14)

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 (by August) to submit a full application.

  1. 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)

  2. Demonstrate that the interdisciplinary approach is essential to achieving the project goals. (1,000 characters max).

  3. Describe how the interdisciplinary approach enriches HQP training. (1,000 characters max)

  4. 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)

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.

For Questions, please contact

For more information, please contact horizons@nserc-crsng.gc.ca.

Office of Research

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

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