NSERC Discovery Grants Program

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; and
  • Providing a stimulating environment for research training.

The Discovery Grants (DG) 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. Researchers can apply for, and hold, only one DG at a time. DGs are awarded to individual researchers, normally for five years.

Applicants are expected to increase the inclusion and advancement of under-represented groups in the natural sciences and engineering as one means to enhance excellence in research and training. Applicants should refer to Discovery Grants application instructions and the Guide for Applicants: Considering equity, diversity and inclusion in your application (listed under Resources, below).

Before applying, applicants should review NSERC's Eligibility Criteria for Faculty.

Important Notes

  • Researchers cannot hold both a Discovery Grant and a Discovery Horizons grant simultaneously as an applicant or co-applicant. 
  • Early Career Researcher (ECR) category: ECRs are applicants who have held their first independent academic position within the last five years. The five-year window for being considered an ECR is adjusted to take into account instances where a researcher has had an eligible delay in research. All eligible leaves of absence (e.g. maternity, parental, personal illness, leave taken by applicants for family-related illness, bereavement), as well as delays related to COVID-19 are credited at twice the amount of time taken. For example, a researcher submitting an NOI in August 2024, and who took a seven-month parental leave within the past five years must have been hired on or after May 2018 in order to be considered an ECR. Professional leaves (e.g. training, sabbatical, administrative) will not be credited.
  • The Discovery Accelerator Supplement program has been suspended until further notice. Ongoing awards continue to be honoured.
  • Equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in evaluation criteria:
    1. Excellence of the researcher: Describe past contributions to the promotion of EDI in the research enterprise – if you contributed in this way. 
    2. Merit of the proposal: You are required to describe consideration of sex, gender and diversity in the research design – where applicable to the field of research.
    3. Contributions to the training of HQP: You are required to describe barriers to equity and inclusion in your training environment, and EDI considerations in your future approaches to recruitment, training and mentoring. Describe barriers and specific actions implemented in support of EDI in your past training environment – if you contributed in this way.

Notification of Intent (NOI) to Apply (mandatory)

All researchers who intend to apply for a Discovery Grant in the 2024 competition must submit an NOI by Thursday, August 1, 2024. NSERC will only accept a completed NOI through its Research Portal. A Common CV is mandatory for both the NOI and full application stages, and it can – and should – be updated for the full application.

When you submit your NOI in the Portal, it goes straight to NSERC, unlike the full application, which is first routed to Western Research for administrative review and final submission to NSERC.

Application Process & Deadlines

(Check with your department/faculty for additional deadlines)

  • NOI (Notification of Intent): Thursday August 1, 2024 by/before 8 p.m. Your NOI will go straight to NSERC.
  • ROLA Proposal type: When you initiate your DG ROLA Proposal, you'll be asked to choose between "New Application" and "Renewal" as the submission type. If you have an active DG grant now, choose "Renewal". If you don't have an active DG, choose "New Application". If you're unsure, contact researchoffice@uwo.ca or your assigned Grants Officer.
  • Application-Internal: Friday October 18, 2024 by/before 10 a.m. Research Services deadline for submission of a ROLA proposal and submission of a complete draft application & CCV in the Research Portal. N.B. Applications are administratively reviewed in the order they're received in the Research Portal. They can be returned, as necessary, to applicants for further editing.
  • Application-NSERC: Friday, November 1, 2024 by/before 10 a.m. Deadline for submission of final application in the Research Portal. Your application will be routed to Western Research for final submission.

Additional Resources

Please Note: A researcher may not submit identical applications to more than one of the three federal granting agencies (CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC) at the same time, or submit to an agency an application already funded by one of the other agencies.


For more information, or questions relating to the Discovery Grants Program, please contact your Faculty Research Office, or the Western Research Grants Management and Services team at researchoffice@uwo.ca.