The Canada Excellence Research Chairs Program offers eligible Canadian degree-granting institutions the opportunity to establish highly funded research chairs in research areas that are of strategic importance to Canada.
The objectives of the program are to:
- strengthen Canada’s ability to attract the world’s top researchers in order to be at the leading edge of breakthroughs in priority research areas expected to generate social and economic benefits for Canadians;
- help Canada build a critical mass of expertise in priority areas identified by the government;
- create a competitive environment to help Canadian institutions attract a cadre of world-leading researchers in their pursuit of excellence in their research; and
- contribute to the branding of Canada as a location of choice for world-leading research, science and technology development along with other federal programs with similar objectives.
The program is committed to equity and diversity, and to promoting access for all qualified candidates. Equity and diversity will be given strong consideration and emphasis in Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the competition, consistent with the government’s expectations for a more gender-balanced and diverse set of CERC awardees.
The Canada Excellence Research Chairs are identified through a highly competitive two-stage process:
Phase 1: Each eligible institution is allowed to submit a limited number of applications. To register for Phase 1, institutions must submit a registration form by February 1, 2017, informing the Tri-agency Institutional Programs Secretariat of the number of Phase 1 applications they will submit. For each planned application, institutions must also provide the following information:
- the thematic research area (including secondary themes, as appropriate);
- the priority research area with which the Chair will primarily align;
- a list of keywords; and
- an initial list of potential suggested reviewers using the Suggested Reviewers form.
In Phase 1, institutions compete for the opportunity to establish Chairs by submitting documentation that addresses the selection criteria described below. Only shortlisted applications are invited to Phase 2 of the competition.
Phase 2: Institutions that submitted successful Phase 1 applications are invited to nominate world-class researchers for the available Chair positions. Nominations must demonstrate excellence in the selection criteria, which focus on the world-class excellence of the nominee, the fit with the Phase 1 proposal and the expected outcomes of his/her proposed research.
All CERC recruitment and nomination processes at institutions must be transparent, open and equitable. In particular, these processes must include open advertising, with a statement of commitment to equity and diversity in the nomination process. Institutions are required to demonstrate exemplary recruitment and selection processes to ensure an inclusive and comprehensive candidate search and equitable selection process. The recruitment and outreach strategy of the nominating institution will be assessed in both phases of the competition at all levels of the review process.
Phase 1 applications must be uploaded to the CERC application portal by 9 p.m. (eastern), May 17, 2017.
The Phase 1 application consists of the following mandatory parts:
- Phase 1 Application Form
- CERC Proposal
- Planned CERC Recruitment Strategy
- Institutional Strategic Research Plan Summary
- Phase 1 Application Administrative Form
- Suggested Reviewers form (in addition to those provided with Registration Form)
For detailed instructions on the above, please refer to the Application Instructions.
Registration: February 1, 2017
Phase 1 Application: May 17, 2017
Phase 1 Results announced: November 2017
Phase 2 Nomination: to be posted at a later date
Canada Excellence Research Chairs awards are tenable for seven years and are not renewable. Chairs must be taken up on a full-time basis.
For each Chair awarded at the end of Phase 2 of the competition, the institution receives from the CERC program an amount up to $10 million over seven years, and must ensure 100 per cent in matching funds over the same period (excluding tri-agency and the Canada Foundation for Innovation funds). Institutions may request less than $10 million over the seven years.
Eligible matching funds
Matching funds must be new sources of support, either cash or in-kind, that are related to the Chair and do not represent the current state at the institution. The only exception to this is support received from the three federal granting agencies and the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), which cannot be counted as matching funds. Support received from other Canadian government sources is eligible towards the matching funds requirement.
Matching funds are eligible to be counted as of when the institution receives notification of its CERC Phase 1 application result. This takes into consideration that the institution may wish to further build its strengths and capacity in the research area related to the CERC during the nomination phase, prior to the CERC being awarded. Matching funds counted prior to the CERC being awarded (after receipt of the Phase 1 application result) are expected to provide benefit(s) during the term of the CERC award.
It is important to ensure not only that the matching requirement is met, but that the budget is appropriate for the research proposed. While a budget will be submitted again with the Phase 2 nomination, it is expected that matching and leveraged funding at this stage be firm commitments. Institutions will be asked to provide a rationale for any deviations between their Phase 1 and Phase 2 budgets. These will be examined throughout the review process and post award.
There is no limit placed on the amount of matching funds that can be used to support indirect costs of research.
As part of the Phase 2 review process, institutions may submit, at the same time as their CERC program nomination, a request for infrastructure support from the CFI. The CFI is an independent corporation established by the Government of Canada to strengthen national research capability through investments in research infrastructure in Canadian universities, colleges, hospitals and eligible not-for-profit organizations.
This request is a distinct funding request separate from the budget for the Chair. Through its John R. Evans Leaders Fund, the CFI will contribute 40 per cent of the total cost of the infrastructure project, and the institution and its partners are responsible for securing the remaining funding.
Institutions must submit the application for these infrastructure support requests directly to the CFI. Institutions must also inform their CFI liaison when they submit a nomination containing a CFI component. The CFI will send the applications to the Secretariat so that it can submit them for external review. The Secretariat will then send the external reviews of the applications to the CFI for assessment.
The CFI’s board of directors is responsible for the funding decisions related to the requests for infrastructure support for successful Chair nominations, including foreign nominations. Following its review process, the CFI will communicate the decisions directly to the institutions.
Eligibility of institutions
Canadian degree-granting institutions are eligible to participate in the CERC program only if they have received, annually, an average of $100,000 or more from the three federal granting agencies: the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).
To be considered degree-granting, an institution must meet both of the following criteria:
- It must be authorized by a provincial or territorial government to grant its own university degrees. A postsecondary educational institution affiliated or federated with another degree-granting institution will be accorded its own independent eligibility if it receives its operating budget directly from the provincial government (ministry of education or higher education or equivalent) and has its own board of directors.
- It must have conferred degrees during the two calendar years prior to submitting applications to the CERC program, or have students enrolled who will receive degrees during the calendar year of application or within the three succeeding years. The institution must provide evidence of its authority to confer degrees and evidence that degrees were, or are expected to be, granted within the required time period.
Eligibility of nominees
Nominees must be full professors or associate professors who are expected to be promoted to the full professor level within one or two years of the nomination. Alternatively, if they come from outside the academic sector, nominees must possess the necessary qualifications to be appointed at these levels.
The program imposes no restrictions on nominees with regard to nationality or country of residence. Employment and Social Development Canada and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada have established procedures to allow non-Canadian chairholders to work in Canada. Members of the Chair’s team may also be eligible for an expedited work permit. For further information on the process, institutions should contact their local Temporary Foreign Worker Unit. The government of Quebec has established other procedures for foreign researchers taking up a Chair in this province.
Researchers who hold a tenured or tenure-track position at a Canadian institution are eligible to be nominated; however, they may not be nominated by the institution at which they hold the tenured or tenure-track position as of the Phase 2 deadline. They may take up a position at the nominating institution once the nomination is submitted.
If an institution nominates a researcher who is currently at a Canadian institution, the institution must demonstrate the net benefit to the country in moving the researcher from one Canadian institution to another.