Information for Researchers, No. 67 | September 14, 2022

NSERC-DFG Lead Agency Activity on Sustainable Processes & Chemistry (NSERC-DFG Sustain)

Canada and Germany enjoy a longstanding cooperation in science and technology. Recognising the importance of international collaboration in promoting scientific discoveries, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on research cooperation. The MoU provides an overarching framework to enhance opportunities for collaborative activities between Canadian and German research communities and sets out the principles for developing jointly-supported activities.

To facilitate the support of collaborative work between Canadian researchers and their German counterparts under this MoU, NSERC and the Divisions of Physics and Chemistry (PC) and Engineering Sciences (ING 1) at the DFG are pleased to announce a call for proposals focused on Sustainable Processes and Chemistry. The proposed Canadian-German collaborative research projects must focus on basic and fundamental research and are expected to generate new knowledge and address one or more research challenges related to environmental sustainability. Typical, but not exclusive, examples include

  • Sustainable polymerizations
  • Novel types of catalysts or catalytic reactions
  • Separation and purification technologies
  • Sustainable chemistry and engineering
  • Tools for life-cycle assessment

Applicants are encouraged to incorporate multi- and interdisciplinary approaches in their research and to look at systems and processes as a whole rather than as one component of a system or process. Collaborative research proposals will be accepted by DFG subject areas 321–327, 403 and 404 (see link below).

This call for proposals on Sustainable Processes and Chemistry includes a two-stage application process:

Step 1: Canadian researchers submit a modified Alliance International Collaboration grant application to NSERC by the application deadline. (Submission to the DFG is not needed.) The eligibility of the Canadian researchers will be reviewed internally by NSERC. NSERC shares the applications with the DFG in order to enable them to verify the eligibility of the German applicants. Please note that applicants to be funded by the DFG must fulfil the eligibility requirements of DFG Research Grants; see the corresponding guidelines of the Research Grants Programme (DFG form 50.01). This includes the “Duty to Cooperate” within Germany for members of non-university institutions with permanent positions.

NSERC will convene a selection panel to assist with the assessment of applications. The selection panel will assess the applications according to the merit evaluation criteria and merit indicators (see link below). Consideration of equity, diversity and inclusion in the research and training environment will be used by NSERC as a screening criterion, and only those applications that meet this criterion will be retained for assessment by the selection panel. The most highly rated applications will be invited to continue in the process.

Step 2: If invited to continue, Canadian and German research teams will then submit a single collaborative research proposal (submitted by the German principal investigator to the DFG) that will undergo a scientific review process led by the DFG (submission to NSERC is not needed). Only proposals from applicants that have been invited to submit will be accepted by the DFG. Together with the invitation to submit a full proposal, detailed instructions will be given to the respective applicants. The proposals need to be prepared within the overall framework of the individual grant application (DFG form 54.01). Please make sure to use the latest DFG templates for the Proposal Preparation Instructions and CV when submitting the proposal. It is important to note that there are no separate funds available for this call; proposals must succeed on the strengths of their intellectual merit in competition with all other proposals in the respective funding schemes.

The usual review criteria for proposals submitted to the DFG apply (DFG form 10.206).

Additionally, in their proposals the applicants should:

  • Describe the value added of the collaboration for each country, including the contributions and roles of both national teams and the approach to conducting the joint research project.
  • Describe how the collaboration is important in realizing the project’s intended outcomes.

Funding is only possible if the decision-making bodies of both organizations agree to funding. Successful Canadian participants will receive funding from NSERC via an Alliance International Collaboration grant to support their involvement in the joint project, while eligible German participants will be supported by the DFG.

Submission Deadlines

The modified Alliance International Collaboration grant applications must be submitted to NSERC by 7 December 2022 (8:00 pm EST/2:00 pm CEST).

For more detailed information on this solicitation, including specific instructions for applicants in Canada, please refer to the NSERC website (see link below).

All full research proposals must be submitted to DFG by 6 June 2023, 5:00 pm local time. (For first-time users of the DFG’s online submission system “elan”, pre-registration must be completed by 23 May 2023.)

Notification of results

Applicants will be informed in writing of the results of the review and, where applicable, of the subsequent administrative steps according to the respective national regulations. The selection of projects will be completed by November 2023.

Please note the DFG’s data protection notice on research funding (see link below). If necessary, please also forward this information to those individuals whose data will be processed by the DFG due to their involvement in your project.

Further Information

Information on submitting proposals to the NSERC:

Alliance International Merit Evaluation Indicators:

DFG’s subject classification:

DFG’s data protection notice on research funding:

Contact persons at the DFG:



Contact at NSERC: