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;
  • providing a stimulating environment for research training.

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 typically five years in duration and 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.


Eligible to apply for and hold funds:

  • Applicant: Principal investigator on an application (i.e., university faculty). For applications to the College and Community Innovation (CCI) Program, the applicant is a designated institutional administrator.
  • Co-applicant: Member of a research group applying for a team grant (i.e., university faculty or college faculty).

Eligible to participate in a research team:

  • Collaborator: A research scientist or engineer from any sector, e.g., government scientist, academic researcher, company staff member, can be  formally associated with a research team that is applying for a team grant, but will not have access to grant funds. A collaborator must be qualified to undertake research independently and will be expected to contribute to the overall intellectual direction of the research project, or program of research, and bring his/her own resources to the collaboration.
  • Participant: Faculty or professional/technical staff involved with the CCI Program. A participant must be qualified to undertake research independently and will be expected to contribute to the overall intellectual direction of the research project, or program of research. A participant will not have access to grant funds.

Note: To participate in a grant or grant application in any of the roles described above:

  • you must not be currently ineligible to hold and/or apply for funding, as an applicant or co-applicant; or to participate on a grant application or grant as a collaborator, partner or in any other capacity, from NSERC, SSHRC, CIHR or any other research funding organization worldwide, for reasons of breach of responsible conduct of research policies, such as ethics, integrity or financial management policies; and

you must have accounts in good standing with NSERC, including having paid or returned all money owing to NSERC. The determination of whether or not an account is in good standing shall be at the sole and absolute discretion of NSERC.

How to Apply?

To apply for a Discovery Grant, applicants must first submit a notification of intent (NOI) to apply by the deadline date. The NOI is a mandatory step in the application process. It allows NSERC to start the review process (e.g., preliminary assignment to an evaluation group (EG), selection of appropriate external reviewers and verification of the eligibility of the subject matter). Applicants must then complete and submit the application by the deadline date.

Applicants are required to complete and submit the NSERC version of the  Canadian Common CV (CCV) at both the NOI and full application stages for this program. The CCV can be updated following the submission with the NOI, prior to submission with the full application.

Funding Amount


Contact Information

General Inquiries 1-855-275-2861

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