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Small Modular Reactors Research Grant Initiative – National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC-CNSC)

Research Admin Offices:


Funding Type:


Opportunity Type:

  • Grant


Individual proposals should not exceed $120,000 per year over their initial one-to-three-year duration. A second funding call is expected in 2025 to extend existing projects and/or fund new projects for a two- or three-year duration. NSERC will administer the funding calls in conjunction with the CNSC. Funds will be administered according to NSERC’s use of grant funds guidelines, outlined in the Tri-agency financial administration guide.


  • Faculty of Engineering
  • Natural Sciences and Engineering



Internal Deadline:

December 6, 2022

Sponsor Deadline:

December 13, 2022

Additional Dates:

  • ROADS - Notice of Intent- ASAP -
  • ROADS - Draft Application - November 22, 2022
  • ROADS - Final Application - December 6, 2022
  • SPONSOR - Final Application (submitted by ROADS) - December 13, 2022


Small modular reactors (SMRs) offer a promising pathway to support Canada’s low carbon energy transition and are expected to be less complex, easier to operate and more cost effective than current nuclear technology. For example, a 300-megawatt SMR could supply enough clean power for an estimated 300,000 homes. With approximately 76,000 Canadians employed across its supply chain, Canada’s nuclear industry is well positioned to leverage its more than 60 years of science and technology innovation to become a leader in the development and deployment of SMR technology.

The Government of Canada has determined that support to develop this technology can position Canada as a clean energy leader; support the decarbonization of provincial electricity grids; facilitate the transition away from diesel power in remote communities; and help decarbonize heavy emitting industries. It is important that SMRs are deployed in a safe and secure manner and that regulatory decisions are based on solid science.


The NSERC-Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) Small Modular Reactors Research Grant Initiative is intended to support activities that will:

  • increase the scientific information available to support regulatory decision-making and oversight

  • increase capacity to regulate SMRs

  • enhance the capabilities of Canadian universities to undertake research related to SMRs

  • increase training and help produce a new generation of nuclear scientists, engineers and policy makers

Additional Program Information:

Research proposals must address one or more of the following specific research challenges and knowledge gaps:

Chemistry and Materials

  1. Consequences of high temperature on reactor components

  2. Chemistry control for various materials and fuel types

Environmental and Radiological Protection

  1. Source term characterization

  2. Geotechnical and effect of the environment on SMR design and operation

  3. Emergency planning

Human and Organizational Factors

  1. Interface design – Opportunity costs and benefits of analogue, digital and mixed displays suites for use in control and monitoring of complex environments

  2. Impact of digital control rooms on situational awareness and the use of decision-aiding systems

  3. Impact of digital control rooms on operator workload and vigilance

Safeguards and Security

  1. Cyber security

  2. Effects of SMR deployment in unconventional locations on conventional safeguards inspection and verification methods

  3. Security of SMRs

Novel Fuel Compositions

   12. Safeguards, nuclear material accountancy and non-proliferation impacts from the introduction of new fuel and associated fuel manufacturing techniques


Equity, diversity and inclusion:

NSERC is acting on the evidence that achieving a more equitable, diverse and inclusive Canadian research enterprise is essential to creating the excellent, innovative and impactful research necessary to advance knowledge and understanding, and to respond to local, national and global challenges. This principle informs the commitments described in the Tri-agency statement on equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI).

You are encouraged to consider sex, gender and diversity in the project’s research design. Diversity and gender equity should also be considered when developing the research team and considering how to promote and support a variety of forms of mentoring to ensure students’ and postdoctoral fellows’ equitable participation and growth. Refer to the Guide for applicants: Considering equity, diversity and inclusion in your application for more information.

For additional information, please visit the program website.


Christina Pellegrini, ROADS