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NSERC Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE)

Research Admin Offices:


Funding Type:



The total funding for successful applicants is $1.65 million over 6 years. Applicants may request a minimum of $100K to a max of $200K in Year 1 and a min of $250K to a max of $350K in years 2 to 6 as long as the total over six years remains at $1.65M.


  • Natural Sciences and Engineering



Internal Deadline:

April 13, 2020

Sponsor Deadline:

June 1, 2020

Additional Dates:

  • Notify ROADS of intent to apply - February 3, 2020
  • LOI due to ROADS - April 13, 2020
  • Sponsor Deadline - June 1, 2020



Due to the COVID-19 pandemic,  NSERC has extended the deadline for the CREATE Letter of Intent. Accordingly, McMaster’s internal deadline has been extended to April 13, 2020. NSERC has limited the number of LOIs that may be submitted by McMaster to six.  LOIs submitted by April 13, 2020 will undergo an internal review process, using NSERC’s selection criteria as outlined below. Only those selected by McMaster’s internal selection committee will be forwarded to NSERC by June 1, 2020.



The CREATE Program supports the training of teams of highly qualified students and postdoctoral fellows from Canada and abroad through the development of innovative training programs that:

  • encourage collaborative and integrative approaches, and address significant scientific challenges associated with Canada’s research priorities, and
  • facilitate the transition of new researchers from trainees to productive employees in the Canadian workforce.


These innovative programs must include the acquisition and development of important professional skills among students and postdoctoral fellows that complement their qualifications and technical skills.


In addition, training programs should encourage the following as appropriate:

  • student mobility nationally or internationally between individual universities and between universities and other sectors
  • interdisciplinary research within the natural sciences and engineering (NSE), or at the interface between the NSE and health, or the social sciences and humanities (the main focus of the training must still lie within the NSE)
  • increased collaboration between industry and academia
  • for the industrial stream, an additional objective is to support improved job-readiness within the industrial sector by exposing participants to the specific challenges of this sector and training people with the skills identified by industry.


The training initiative should be focused on providing a value-added experience to the university training environment to better prepare research trainees for their future careers in industry, government or academia.


Supported training programs will be recognized nationally for:

  • their innovative nature to create a rich research training environment;
  • the excellence of the researchers, and their success in training highly skilled and educated personnel for future employment in all sectors including industry, government and academia;
  • their capacity to raise the standard for best practices in research training and development of professional skills of new researchers;
  • encouraging student mobility, as appropriate, either between different Canadian universities, or between the universities and potential workplaces or among participating Canadian and international institutions, thus promoting international awareness


Equity, diversity and inclusion

NSERC is acting on the evidence that equity, diversity and inclusion strengthen the scientific and engineering communities 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.”


CREATE initiatives are expected 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 the group of trainees and in their supervisors, role models and mentors.



The CREATE Program offers three opportunities within its current budget envelope:


Regular Stream

May involve any collaborations: academic/government/industry/NGO, Canadian/international.


Industrial Stream

The objectives of this stream are to place additional qualified candidates within Canadian companies. With the focus on developing skills that will be useful for the transition to the workplace, the CREATE program is a great asset to industry—which requires not only technical skills, but professional skills.


It is expected that linkages between industry and academia will be enhanced, and that Canada’s People Advantage will be improved by increasing the supply of highly qualified personnel (HQP) who are “employer-ready” and can generate immediate results after graduation, improving job readiness as an immediate benefit to the industrial employer.


Up to 50 percent of the CREATE grants will be dedicated to the industrial stream.


Industrial Collaborators

  • In general, an industrial collaborator is defined as a Canadian-based business providing products or services, and that derives the majority of its revenues from the sale of these products and services and not from government aid. Such partners must be willing and able to exploit the research results for the economic benefit of Canada;
  • Multinationals may be eligible if they have commercial activities that take place in Canada, such as research and development or manufacturing related to the proposed research, and if the funded activity will result in significant economic benefit to Canada


International Collaboration

The German Research Foundation

An agreement between NSERC and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, the German Research Foundation) has been established. The intent of the agreement is to establish a formal mechanism for supporting a bilateral training program that involves an exchange of students between Germany and Canada. A CREATE proposal can be submitted in parallel with a proposal submitted by German collaborators to the DFG for an International Research Training Group (IRTG) grant.


In order to be considered for this opportunity, Canadian candidates should first establish a collaboration with German researchers.  The German researchers must start by submitting a pre-proposal to the DFG. A submission in November to the DFG is recommended to ensure that the result is available before NSERC’s Letters of Intent deadline May 1st. Applicants with a successful DFG IRTG pre-proposal can proceed directly to submitting a full application to NSERC without the need for a full LOI.


Please contact Nathan Coschi at ROADS, if you are interested in this stream.

Additional Program Information:


Information Webinar: February 6, 2020


NSERC’s Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) program awards grants of up to $1.65M over 6 years for the development of innovative training programs designed to enhance collaboration and facilitate the transition of trainees to productive employees in the Canadian workforce.


In preparation for the next CREATE competition, NSERC will hold an information session via Cisco Webex webinar to provide an overview of the CREATE program and application process. The dates of the sessions are as follows:


English session:  February 6th  2020, 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. (ET)

French session:   February 7th  2020, 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. (ET)


Registration is not necessary – anyone can connect using the link provided below.


Valerie Bloom’s Personal Room


Join by phone

1-844-426-4405 Canada Toll Free

+1-613-714-9906 Canada Toll (in Ottawa area)

Access code: 641 359 231


Please verify that Webex works on your computer prior to February 6th. Note: Valerie Bloom is the program assistant for the CREATE program. Please contact Valerie ( if you experience difficulties with the Webex system.


The webinar will be recorded. Following the presentation, a link to that recording will be emailed so that those who are unable to attend may watch the recorded webinar later at their convenience.


Please send any questions regarding the CREATE program and/or the application process to Nathan Coschi ( who will relay the questions to NSERC in advance so that they may be addressed in the presentation.


  • A researcher may only be the applicant on one CREATE initiative annually. There is a limit on participation in multiple CREATE initiatives. NSERC limits the participation of an individual researcher in a maximum of two CREATE initiatives as either an applicant or co-applicant (active or applied for).
  • CREATE grants are tenable only at NSERC-eligible Canadian universities, and the applicant must hold an eligible position at that university.
  • Researchers at non-eligible organizations may participate as collaborators.
  • All universities who will be involved in the application must have at least one co-applicant listed in the proposal.
  • In the case of multi-organization collaborations (academic, industrial, government or not-for-profit sectors), the applicant must be from an NSERC-supported field at an NSERC-eligible university.
  • At least 70 percent of the group must be from NSE fields, but co-applicants at the interdisciplinary frontier between NSE and the areas covered under the umbrella of SSHRC and CIHR may be incorporated into proposals. Applicants submitting proposals at the interdisciplinary frontiers of the granting agencies may be required to justify why NSERC is in fact the most appropriate funding agency for their training proposals.
  • The focus should be on new training initiatives. Existing initiatives must justify the incremental value that will accrue from the CREATE Program.


For the industrial stream:

  • Each training program will need to have one or more confirmed and named industrial members(s) on their program committee;
  • The training program will have to include internships within the collaborating industry(ies) for at least 20 percent of the duration of their training. Agreements on these internships will have to be in place at the time of application; and

·         A document from the industrial participant, confirming both of the above conditions, will have to be submitted at both the LOI and application phases

Application/Nomination Process:

Since institutional commitments may be involved, Faculty endorsement is required for all applications on which McMaster researchers are identified as applicants or co-applicants.


If you plan to submit an LOI, please notify your Department Chair, Associate Dean Research for your Faculty, as well as ROADS (Nathan Coschi, at or extension 21581) by February 3, 2020. ROADS will then organize a kick-off meeting with each team to review the program requirements and guidance document.


The LOI is due to the Research Office for Administration, Development and Support (ROADS) by March 18, 2020Please note that NSERC has limited the number of LOIs that may be submitted by McMaster to six.  LOIs submitted by March 18, 2020 will undergo an internal review process, using NSERC’s selection criteria as outlined below. Only those selected by McMaster’s internal selection committee will be forwarded to NSERC by May 1, 2020.


Only LOIs selected by NSERC’s CREATE multidisciplinary committee will be invited to submit a full application for September 22, 2020.


Selection Criteria:


NSERC will evaluate LOIs on the excellence of the merit of the proposed training program (60 percent) and the team of researchers (40 percent).


The merit of the proposed training program will be evaluated on:


  • the extent to which the program will provide opportunities for the trainees to develop professional skills;
  • the extent to which the research training program will facilitate the transition of the trainees to the Canadian workforce and will promote interaction of the trainees with non-academic sectors, such as private companies, industry associations, not-for-profit organizations, government departments, etc., as appropriate;
  • the description of the potential employers and a qualitative assessment of the job prospects for trainees;
  • the extent to which the program uses novel and interesting approaches to graduate student training in an integrated manner to provide an enriched experience for all participants;
  • the added value that trainees will receive through their participation;
  • the research training program’s focus and clarity of objectives, both short- and long-term;
  • how the research area proposed relates to the current scientific or technical developments in the field, with references to the current literature.


The excellence of the team of researchers will be evaluated on the:


  • Quality and impact of team members’ past contributions on their respective areas of research;
  • Complementarity of the expertise of the members of the group to deliver on the collaborative research and training goals proposed;
  • Quality and extent of past contributions to the training of highly qualified personnel





NSERC will be holding a webinar for the CREATE LOI in early February. ROADS will provide information on the webinar when it is announced.



Additional information regarding the CREATE Program can be found on the NSERC website at




For support, please contact Nathan Coschi, Senior Advisor, ROADS.