Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC)
Research Tools and Instruments (RTI)
For More Information
- Research Tools and Instruments (RTI) Program Information
- Instructions for Completing an Application
- Frequently Asked Questions
Research Tools and Instruments (RTI) grants foster and enhance the discovery, innovation and training capability of university researchers in the natural sciences and engineering by supporting the purchase of research equipment.
The RTI grants program provides the primary avenue for university researchers in the natural sciences and engineering to obtain up to $150,000 in support for research tools and instruments with a net cost between $7,001 and $250,000. Net cost is defined as the purchase cost of the equipment after any discount from the vendor and before taxes, customs and importation fees, transportation and shipping charges, and assembly and installation costs. The vendor discount must be free of conditions, restrictions or limitations (e.g., cannot be offered in exchange for services from users benefiting the vendor company). The research community is also encouraged to explore other avenues for funding research tools and instruments, including NSERC’s other programs that allow the purchase of equipment as eligible expenses.
In addition to NSERC’s Eligibility Criteria for faculty, applicants and co-applicants must:
- Hold a minimum three-year appointment (fulltime, contract or adjunct) in an academic position with a firm offer in writing at the time of application; and
- Hold or have applied for (submitted) at least one of the following NSERC research grants*:
- Discovery Grant
- Discovery Development Grant
- Alliance grant
- Strategic Partnerships Grant
- Collaborative Research and Development grant
- Industrial Research Chairs grant
- Canada Research Chairs
- Canada Excellence Research Chairs
- Canada 150 Research Chairs
*Applicants and co-applicants may apply for any of the above grants while concurrently applying to the RTI program. However, if any applicant or co-applicant does not hold one of the above grants by the RTI award start date, or is not successful in obtaining one of these grants while concurrently applying to the RTI program, the applicant and/or co-applicant will be deemed ineligible and removed from the application.
All eligible Canadian university researchers will be able to participate on one application per competition, either as an applicant or a co‑applicant, but not both.
Maximum Project Value
$150,000 in support for research tools and instruments with a net cost between $7,001 and $250,000 (excluding taxes, customs and importation fees, transportation and shipping charges, and assembly and installation costs). Net cost represents the cost of the equipment after any discount from the vendor. Vendor discount must be free of conditions, restrictions, or limitations (e.g., cannot be offered in exchange for services from users benefiting the vendor company).
NSERC will only accept requests:
- For tools and instruments that form a comprehensive system intended to support NSERC funded research in the natural sciences and engineering. A comprehensive system is one in which each tool or instrument forms part of an integrated system of operation to support the research program(s). Requests that bundle unrelated tools and instruments together will not be accepted.
- For the purchase of new, used or refurbished equipment, the repair, upgrade or rental of equipment, or for the fabrication of equipment that is not readily available off the shelf.
- For equipment that is purchased or rented after the application deadline.
Note: Equipment and items that are part of laboratory infrastructure or intended to render other equipment compliant with health and safety standards are ineligible for RTI support.
For more information on eligible expenses under the RTI program, see the instructions on how to complete an RTI application.
RTI awards must be used only for the specific type of equipment for which the grant was awarded through the peer review process. Grantees who wish to purchase equipment different from that specified in the application must obtain written permission from NSERC Finance prior to its purchase. Grantees may, however, buy a model different from that requested in the application without prior NSERC approval (e.g. newer or upgraded model).
Equity, diversity and inclusion
NSERC is acting on the evidence that equity, diversity and inclusion strengthen the scientific and engineering community and the quality, social relevance and impact of research. Increasing diversity and gender equity in the research enterprise are key priorities in our current strategic plan, NSERC 2020, and are highlighted in the strategic goal, “Build a diversified and competitive research base.”
Applicants are encouraged to increase the inclusion and advancement of under-represented and disadvantaged groups in the natural sciences and engineering as one way 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 of the composition of research teams and trainees.
For more information, applicants should refer to the Guide for applicants: Considering equity, diversity and inclusion in your application.
NSERC RTI Webinar Sessions
Due to COVID-19, NSERC is replacing live webinars with pre-recorded videos followed by live Q&A sessions. For more information, please visit the NSERC webinars web-page.
Webinar sessions on how to complete an RTI application:
To join the webinar on the date and time specified, please use the link and enter your name and email address. Note, the password is pre-filled.
- Beginning next year (i.e., competition 2023, with a deadline of October 2022) Research Tools and Instruments (RTI) grants applicants and co-applicants who were successful in the previous year’s RTI competition will be ineligible to apply for one year. Eligibility will be reinstated the following competition year. This change is being implemented to increase access to the RTI program to the largest number of eligible researchers. This decision, as well as the changes to the selection criteria for this year, are informed by the recent evaluation of the Discovery research program and the results of the gender-based analysis plus (GBA+) of the RTI program.
- The Budget Justification page limit has been increased from 2 pages to 3 pages.
- The three main Selection Criteria has been refocused which includes the removal of the excellence of the researcher criteria. Please review the RTI Peer Review Manual, 2021-22 for more details.
If College-level review is required, your College will communicate its earlier internal deadlines.
Applicants should submit NOI package (see attached template) to email@example.com with the following information:
These NOI packages will be shared with the Colleges to determine eligibility and subject matter overlap. All eligible applicants will be notified of approval to move to full application as quickly as possible.
Full Application Deadline
Applicant submits a signed OR-5 to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Researcher also clicks “submit” in the Research Portal so the final Full Application appears on the Office of Research server.
Final application will be submitted to NSERC online by the Office of Research Services.
How to Apply
Researchers can submit one RTI application per competition, either as an applicant or a co‑applicant, but not as both.
Step 1: Internal NOI
To apply, all interested applicants must complete the NOI process through the Office of Research based on the requirements outlined in the "Deadlines" section above.
Step 2: Full Application
Applicants moving to a Full Application must complete and submit an Application for Research Tools and Instruments through the Research Portal. Each applicant and co-applicant must also complete a Canadian Common CV (CCV) and link it to the Application. The application and linked CCV(s) must be submitted to the Office of Research by the internal deadline date.
Applicants should include the following in their application:
- Proposal – limit of four pages.
- Budget Justification – limit of three pages.
- Quotations - You must provide two recent quotations for any individual item(s) over $25,000 net or for any system(s) to be purchased from a single supplier and costing over $25,000 net. If the required number of quotations cannot reasonably be submitted, you must provide a clear justification in the Budget Justification section. The application will be rejected if the quotations or the justification are not submitted with the application.
Letters or other attachments that do not adhere to the above guidelines should not be included and may be removed.
Teams should strive for a diverse group of co-applicants and major users, including balanced gender representation. Equity, diversity and inclusion considerations should be reflected in the rationale of the team composition and, where applicable, in the designated roles within the team. For more information, refer to the Guide for applicants: Considering equity, diversity and inclusion in your application (questions 1 to 4).
Information For Co-applicants
If you need to meet a deadline set by the lead institution for this opportunity, please ensure that you provide the Office of Research with at least five days in advance of the lead institution’s deadline to review the application, or your proposed component of the project. Please be in touch with the Office of Research (contact information below) ahead of the deadline if it looks like it will be difficult for you to submit all the required documentation on time (i.e. budget, proposal, OR-5 Form).
|RTI Internal NOI Form||35.53 KB|
|Guide for Applicants - Considering EDI in Your Application||190.22 KB|
|RTI - Peer Review Manual||742.46 KB|