Research Western

NSERC Strategic Partnership Grants

NSERC’s Strategic Partnership Grants are intended to increase research and training in targeted areas that could strongly enhance Canada’s economy, society, and/or environment within the next 10 years. Research and training under these grants must be conducted through a partnership between academic researchers and industry or government organizations.

Program Objectives

It is expected that these grants will:

Strategic Partnership Grants for Projects (SPG-P)

Strategic Partnership Grants for Projects (SPG-P) fund early stage project research in targeted areas. The objectives and scope of the project must be well-defined; the duration may be from one to three years. At least one academic researcher and at least one eligible supporting organization must collaborate in the project.

The SPG-P competition will now be conducted in two stages. First, a mandatory letter of intent must be submitted to NSERC by February 1, 2017. NSERC will invite applicants to submit a full application based on the strength of their LOI on April 1, 2017.  Full applications must be submitted to NSERC by June 7, 2017.

Application Timeline & Important Dates

January 2017 Work with partner organization(s) to develop a strong letter of support. (See details on LOI support letters below.)
By January 25, 2017 Provide draft LOI and support letters to Research Development for review and feedback.
February 1, 2017 Deadline for submitting LOI to NSERC
April 1, 2017 Invitation to submit full application
April 2017 Work with partner organization(s) to further develop letter of support and determine cash/in-kind support to be provided to the project.
By May 24, 2017 Provide draft of full application to Research Development for review and feedback
June 7, 2017 Deadline for submitting full application to NSERC

Stage 1: Letter of Intent (Deadline: February 1, 2017)

In the first stage, applicants submit a mandatory letter of intent directly to NSERC through the On-line System. The letter of intent includes: a 3-page description of the proposal; a completed Form 100 for the applicant only; and a letter of support from each supporting organization describing the organization’s operations in Canada, the support for and agreement with the submitted LOI, the potential benefit to the supporting organization, and an indication of the potential interactions between the organization’s personnel and the research team. Full instructions for the LOI can be found on NSERC’s website.

Letters from supporting organizations do not have to specify cash or in-kind contributions to the project at this stage, but should clearly indicate the potential benefit of the proposed collaboration.

Stage 2: Full Application (By invitation only; deadline: June 7, 2017)

The full SPG-P application will remain unchanged from previous competitions. Full instructions for the application can be found on NSERC’s website.

Strategic Partnership Grants for Networks (SPG-N)

Strategic Partnership Grants for Networks (SPG-N) fund large-scale, multidisciplinary research projects in targeted research areas that require a network approach and that involve collaboration between at least five academic researchers and strong commitment and active involvement of Canadian-based partner organizations from relevant sectors; the duration is five years. NSERC’s deadline for submitting a preliminary application for an SPG-N is April 1, 2017; submission of full applications is by invitation only.

Applications for an SPG-N are extensive to prepare; applicants considering submitting a preliminary SPG-N proposal are strongly encouraged to contact Research Development in January or early February 2017 for assistance with proposal development.


An NSERC SPG must include at least one eligible supporting organization. An eligible supporting organization:

Organizations without Canadian R&D or manufacturing operations will not be considered. For government organizations, how the research will strengthen public policy beyond a research collaboration must be clearly demonstrated in the letter of support.

Other participants who do not meet the above criteria may be included in the proposal, but do not qualify as eligible supporting organizations. For more information on partner eligibility, consult NSERC’s Guidelines for Organizations Participating in Research Partnerships.

The supporting organization must be actively involved in all stages of the project; therefore, in-kind contributions are required, but cash is not.
Target Areas

NSERC’s target areas for 2016-2020 are:

All projects must support the goal of the SPG program and fall within one of the target areas. Each target area includes several Research Topics. Priority will be given to applications that address the research topics identified in each target area.

Projects that make a compelling case for research within the Context section of a target area description, but are outside the research topics, will be considered “exceptional” and may be funded subject to the availability of funds. No more than 20% of the budget will be allocated to “exceptional opportunities.”

Documents and Resources


For more information, or questions relating to the SPG program, please contact Antoinette Martin (ext. 84620) or Carolyn Paterson (ext. 82262).