NSERC Program Information Update In Relation to COVID-19 (March 17, 2020)

Please note the following update from NSERC. Several deadlines have been changed and there is new information on grant extensions, travel and other exceptional expenditures below.

NSERC continues to make adjustments to its operations as we monitor the evolution and impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). We will continue to support our grants, scholarships and awards recipients, as well applicants, peer reviewers and employees. The situation continues to evolve rapidly, and we will make further adjustments as needed.

The granting agencies recognize that the COVID-19 pandemic may affect your work, your ability to conduct and review research, and your ability to prepare and submit publications or grant and scholarship applications. We understand that some research could be jeopardized or slowed down; the preparation of research and financial reports may be delayed; and meetings, events, and travel plans may also be affected. The Agencies will continue to support the research community as we adapt to these challenges.

Over the coming days and weeks, we will provide program-by-program specific information as we continue to monitor and evaluate adjustments to program application deadlines and the reporting of due dates, as needed. These will be communicated through the NSERC website with regular updates. We will continue to make adjustments and put in place additional measures as necessary. 

The information below will be updated on a regular basis. If you have any questions, please refer to NSERC’s Contact Us page.

Program-specific Details

Collaborative Research and Development grants
All grant applications: Results will be communicated shortly, only minor delays are expected.

Alliance grants (option 1)
NSERC continues to accept applications. Applicants can expect delays in processing times, depending on the capacity of peer reviewers and of NSERC personnel.

Applications for which external reviews were received by March 12, 2020, should receive answers from NSERC in April.

Alliance grants (option 2)
The first meeting of the review panel is postponed until June 2020.

Synergy Awards
The application deadline has been moved to June 1, 2020.

Idea to Innovation (I2I) grants
The March 30, 2020 I2I application deadline has been postponed to June 22, 2020.
The evaluation of I2I applications submitted in January 2020 will not be affected by these changes.

College Engage and Applied Research and Development (ARD) grants
NSERC will continue to receive applications, but processing times will be partly
dependent on the availability of external reviewers, notably for ARDs.

The Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering 
The Brockhouse Canada Prize for Interdisciplinary Research
The John C. Polanyi Award

The deadline for these programs has been extended to May 1, 2020.

Canada Graduate Scholarships – Masters
The timelines for opening the Research Portal (CGS-M) for students to accept or decline awards will be delayed. New timelines will be communicated as soon as possible.

All programs:  Research reports due to NSERC have all been granted an extension of four weeks (to be revised as appropriate).

General Program Information

Grant extensions

NSERC and SSHRC recognize that agency-funded research activities may be delayed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. NSERC and SSHRC will approve, on request, extensions to spend existing grant funds of up to 12 months for grants ending on or before March 31, 2021. This provision applies to all grants, regardless of whether they have received a previous time extension of any length for any reason (including, where applicable, automatic extensions). Administering institutions can now proceed with the necessary changes to give grant recipients reasonable flexibility, especially for grants ending in the very near future. The intent of this provision is to allow grantees to continue spending grant funds, and institutions to delay the processing of residual grant funds (per the NSERC/SSHRC Guidelines for the General Research Fund). The mechanism for institutions to notify the Agencies of the details of these extensions will be determined and communicated in the near future, after which the Agencies will process them as resources permit. In addition, grantees and institutions are reminded that recipients have three months to pay commitments made prior to the grant end date.

Travel and travel cancellations

NSERC confirms that in addition to the costs described in the earlier Tri-agency statement regarding cancelled travel plans of researchers and members of their teams, other non-refundable expenses may be incurred as a result of cancelled travel and/or meetings related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Provided the expenses would have been eligible had the travel/meeting taken place as planned, these non-refundable costs can be reimbursed out of existing grant funds.

Other exceptional expenditures

In addition to the reimbursement of non-refundable travel and meeting costs as previously described, NSERC recognizes that in some cases other costs may be incurred in relation to ongoing financial commitments, such as the remuneration of individuals paid out of agency grants. For example, individuals receiving a salary or stipend from grant funds may be recommended or required to self-isolate, and/or may be unable to work or telework for reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic. NSERC confirms that if the costs are not covered by other sources of funds within the institution, and provided these expenses would otherwise have been eligible to be paid out of the grant, these can be paid from existing grant funds.