NSERC Research Tools and Instruments Grants

Research Tools and Instruments (RTI) grants foster and enhance the discovery, innovation and training capability of university researchers in the natural sciences and engineering (NSE) by supporting the purchase of research equipment.

  • RTI grants provide up to $150,000 in support for research tools and instruments with a net cost between $7,001 and $250,000. 
  • NSERC will only accept the following requests:
    • For tools and instruments that form a comprehensive system intended to support NSERC-funded research in the NSE. A comprehensive system is one in which each tool or instrument forms part of an integrated system of operation to support the research program(s). Requests that bundle unrelated tools and instruments together will not be accepted.
    • For the purchase of new, used or refurbished equipment, for the repair, upgrade or rental of equipent, or for the fabrication of equipment that is not readily available off the shelf. 
    • For equipment that is purchased or rented after the application deadline.

Note: Equipment and items that are part of laboratory infrastructure or intended to render other equipment compliant with health and safety standards are ineligible for RTI support.

There have been several changes to the RTI program and selection criteria in recent years:

  • As of competition year 2021, there are updated instructions for the Budget Justification attachment and Confirmation of Financial Contributions section
  • As of competition year 2020, the RTI selection criteria includes several new sub-criteria regarding Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.
  • As of competition year 2019 the RTI selection critieria changed from five to three assessment criteria. 
  • As of competition year 2018:
    • 1) Institutional quotas have been eliminated, therefore UBC researchers are no longer required to submit an RTI pre-selection application; and
    • 2) The RTI competition is open to all eligible Canadian university researchers. However, researchers are permitted by NSERC to participate in only one RTI application per competition, either as an applicant or a co-applicant, but not both. There is no restriction on participation as an "other user".

Please address the current assessment criteria and see SPARC's resources for assistance. 

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NSERC RTI Quick Facts
  • Permissible requested amount: up to $150,000 towards the purchase of equipment with a net cost between $7,001 and $250,000.
  • For equipment with a net cost above $150,000 additional funding or contributions must be secured at the time of application.  
  • Applicants must hold active NSERC research grant, or presently be applying for an NSERC grant to be eligible as an applicant or co-applicant
  • Proposal can include items that form a comprehensive system intended to support a single or multiple research programs
  • Bundling of unrelated equipment, or of duplicate tools/instruments intended for different uses, is not permitted
  • Researchers are permitted by NSERC to particpate in only one RTI application per competition, either as an applicant or a co-applicants, but not both. There is no limit to participation as an "Other user".
  • UBC submission procedures and deadlines for the NSERC RTI Grants competition can be found on the relevant ORS webpage: Vancouver | Okanagan


SPARC Services and Resources
  • RTI Selection Committee Panel: Thursday August 6, 2020. 1-2PM. Register here.  
  • Sample Grant Library: Examples of successful RTI applications from previous competitions. Please note that some sample grants address outdated assessment criteria. 
  • RTI Playbook (Updated July 2020 following CY2021 competition launch): A resource to guide UBC applicants through the development of a competitive RTI application. 
  • Summary of CY2021 Competition Changes: A one-page document summarizing competition changes from the CY2020 RTI competition to the CY2021 RTI competition.

SPARC Contacts

Mika Johnson, NSE Research Development Officer 
mika.johnson@ubc.ca; 604-822-8136

Alexander Unterberger, NSE Manager of Research Development
alexander.unterberger@ubc.ca; 604.822.5386

Tim Salcudean, Sciences & Engineering Research Advisor, VP Research & Innovation
tims@ece.ubc.ca; 604-822-3243