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Partnership Grants—Stage 1

February 2021 Competition

Value Stage 1: up to $20,000
Stage 2 (by invitation only): up to $2.5 million
Duration 4 to 7 years
Application deadlineFootnote * February 10, 2021 (8 p.m. eastern)
Results announced June 2021
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Partnership Grants are expected to respond to the objectives of the Insight and/or the Connection program. Proposals exclusively for partnered research training initiatives are expected to respond, instead, to the objectives of the Talent program.

These grants provide support for new and existing formal partnerships over four to seven years to advance research, research training and/or knowledge mobilization in the social sciences and humanities. This is done through mutual co-operation and sharing of intellectual leadership, as well as through resources as shown by cash and/or in-kind contributions.

Partnership Grants are intended for large teams of postsecondary institutions and/or organizations of various types that work in formal collaboration.

The quality of training, mentoring and employability plans for students and emerging scholars will be evaluated as an important part of the proposed initiative. SSHRC’s Guidelines for Effective Research Training explain how students and emerging scholars can meaningfully participate in proposed initiatives.

The intellectual leadership and governance for a new or existing formal partnership can come from the research community and/or from partner organizations from the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. However, only an institution that meets the eligibility requirements can administer the grant funding. For more information, see Eligibility.

For tools and resources to assist in the planning and implementation of your partnership, see SSHRC’s Partnerships Tool-Kit.

Types of partnerships

There are two categories of partnerships that can request support:

  • existing partnerships to foster new research and/or research-related partnership activities that are distinct from the partnership’s previous/ongoing partnership activities; and
  • new partnerships to foster new research and/or research-related partnership activities that are undertaken by partnerships in their initial stages.

Following is a list of possible formal partnership approaches. Applicants are in no way limited to these approaches, and are welcome to combine some of the features described.

  • Disciplinary and interdisciplinary research partnerships: Interinstitutional research initiatives designed to make a significant contribution to advancing knowledge and understanding in the social sciences and/or humanities. While SSHRC welcomes proposals for interdisciplinary research partnerships involving natural sciences, engineering and/or health partner organizations, proposed partnerships of this nature must follow SSHRC’s subject matter eligibility guidelines.
  • Cross-sector co-creation of knowledge and understanding: Partnerships that use ongoing collaboration and mutual learning to foster innovative research, training and the co-creation of new knowledge on critical issues of intellectual, social, economic and cultural significance.
  • Networks for research and/or related activities: Networks designed to advance the innovative co-creation of knowledge, as well as training and mobilization of research, on critical issues of intellectual, social, economic and cultural significance.
  • Partnered knowledge mobilization: Partnerships designed to synthesize, apply and mobilize new and existing social sciences and humanities research knowledge in accessible ways to build institutional capacity and to increase the national and international impact and stature of Canadian research.
  • Partnered chairs: Partnerships to nominate research chairs designed to advance research and/or related activities in a specific area in the social sciences and/or humanities. Chair partner organizations pool financial resources and suggest an amount of funds required from SSHRC. Proposals must demonstrate that a formal agreement exists between the partner organizations to maintain the chair position for a minimum of four years. Proposals must include the name of the suggested chairholder. For more information, see SSHRC’s Guidelines for Partnered Chairs.
  • Partnered research centres: Partnerships to create or support a research centre designed to advance research and/or related activities in a specific area in the social sciences and/or humanities. Partner organizations pool financial resources and suggest an amount of funds required from SSHRC. Proposals must demonstrate that a formal agreement exists between the partner organizations to maintain the centre for a minimum of four years.
  • Partnered research training initiatives: Partnerships designed to support the creation of innovative approaches that enrich research training experiences for students and postdoctoral researchers while enabling their transition to academic or non-academic workplace settings. For more information, see SSHRC’s Guidelines for Partnered Research Training Initiatives. These guidelines apply only to proposals that focus primarily on research training, and therefore must respond to the objectives of the Talent program.

SSHRC welcomes applications involving Indigenous research, as well as those involving research-creation.

Joint initiatives

SSHRC collaborates with organizations from across the not-for-profit, private and public sectors to support and promote training, research and connection activities in the social sciences and humanities. SSHRC’s joint initiatives are designed to reflect its strategic objectives and mandate, inform decision-makers, and, in certain cases, address specific needs of its partners.

Learn more about joint initiatives.

For a complete list of available joint initiatives, consult SSHRC’s funding search tool.

Future Challenge Areas

SSHRC invites all applicants to review Imagining Canada’s Future’s 16 future global challenges and to consider addressing one or more of these areas in their research proposal. This is not an evaluation criterion for merit review and does not offer additional or dedicated research funds for this funding opportunity.

Value and duration

Partnership Grants undergo a two-stage adjudication process. Only applicants successful in Stage 1 will be invited to apply in Stage 2.

Stage 1: Applications successful in Stage 1 are valued at up to $20,000. These funds help applicants successful in Stage 1 to prepare for the Stage 2 application, that is, to:

  • further refine the question(s) to be addressed;
  • establish partnership arrangements, a governance structure and/or an approach/methodology; and
  • consolidate their collaborative activities.

Stage 2 (by invitation only): Partnership Grants in Stage 2 are valued at up to $500,000 per year over four to seven years, up to a total of $2,500,000.

Salary research allowance

Applicants, co-directors and co-applicants from eligible not-for-profit organizations can request a salary research allowance to release them from duties to their organization.


Subject matter

Most SSHRC funding is awarded through open competitions. Proposals can involve any disciplines, thematic areas, approaches or subject areas eligible for SSHRC funding. See Subject Matter Eligibility for more information.

Projects whose primary objective is curriculum development are not eligible for funding under this funding opportunity.


Applications must be submitted by an eligible Canadian institution. The project director must be affiliated with the host institution (the applicant), and prepares the application on behalf of the host institution and the formal partnership. The term “institution” from here on in this description refers to both postsecondary institutions and not‑for‑profit organizations.

Project directors who have received a SSHRC grant of any type but have failed to submit an achievement report by the deadline specified in their Notice of Award are not eligible to apply for another SSHRC grant until they have submitted the report.

Postdoctoral researchers are eligible to be project directors if they have formally established an affiliation with the host institution within five months of the grant start date, and maintain such an affiliation for the duration of the grant period.

Students enrolled in a program of study are not eligible to apply as project directors. However, a PhD candidate is eligible to apply if they:

  • will have met all requirements for the PhD before the grant is awarded, including all course work and successful defence of their dissertation; and
  • establish a formal affiliation with the host institution within five months of the grant start date, and maintain such an affiliation for the duration of the grant period.

Federal scientists who are affiliated with a Canadian postsecondary institution must demonstrate that their proposed research or research-related activity is not related to either the mandate of their employer or the normal duties for which they receive payment from that employer.

If the research proposal falls within the mandate of the federal government and the research is performed in government facilities, funding can be allocated only for the direct support of students (salaries or stipends and travel costs).


Grant funds can only be administered by an eligible Canadian institution. Institutions proposing to administer a grant awarded under this funding opportunity must hold or obtain institutional eligibility. See SSHRC’s list of eligible institutions.

All not-for-profit organizations that require institutional eligibility must contact SSHRC at least five business days prior to the application deadline to be added to the application form and begin the eligibility process.

Indigenous not-for-profit organizations wanting to administer multiple Partnership Development Grants, Partnership Grants and/or Connection Grants going forward are encouraged to begin the institutional eligibility application process at least two months prior to the relevant funding opportunity’s application deadline.

Institutions may must contact Corporate Strategy and Performance to begin the institutional eligibility application process, or if they have questions about institutional eligibility.

Note: Not-for-profit organization applicants must have at least one Canadian postsecondary institution partner organization to be eligible for this funding opportunity.

Co-directors and co-applicants

An individual is eligible to be a co-director or co-applicant if they are formally affiliated with any of the following:

  • Canadian: Eligible postsecondary institution; not-for-profit organization; philanthropic foundation; think tank; or municipal, territorial or provincial government.
  • International: Postsecondary institution.

Postdoctoral researchers who are affiliated with a postsecondary institution are eligible to be co-directors or co-applicants.

PhD candidates are eligible to be co-directors or co-applicants under the same conditions as those described for an applicant.


Any individual who makes a significant contribution to the project is eligible to be a collaborator. Collaborators do not need to be affiliated with an eligible Canadian postsecondary institution.

Individuals from the private sector or federal government can participate only as collaborators.

Partner organizations

Partner organizations can be Canadian or international institutions or organizations (public, private, not-for-profit) of any type.

Multiple applications and holding multiple awards

See SSHRC’s regulations on multiple applications and holding multiple awards for more information.


Grant holders will be expected to report on the use of grant funds, on funded activities undertaken during the grant period, and on outcomes. Successful applicants will be informed of reporting requirements upon receiving their Notice of Award.

Application process

Applicants must complete the application form in accordance with accompanying instructions. Applications must be submitted electronically by an authorized research grants officer, or equivalent, from the host institution, or by a representative of the not-for-profit organization that has financial signing authority and is not participating in the project.

Only those applicants who are successful in Stage 1 will be invited to apply in Stage 2.

Applicants needing help while preparing their application should communicate with SSHRC well in advance of the application deadline.


Applications must demonstrate the following:

Quality and commitment of formal partnerships

If invited to submit a Stage 2 application, applicants should include relevant documentation to allow informed evaluation of the quality and level of commitment of the proposed formal partnerships.

Applicants must include evidence of formal partnership in their application. Evidence can include, but is not limited to:

  • governance frameworks
  • agreements (intellectual property, conflict resolution, etc.)
  • strategic plans
  • other relevant documentation

Institutional and partner organization contributions

Stage 1:

Applicants in Stage 1 are expected to include a proposed plan to secure, over and above the budget requested from SSHRC, a minimum of 35% in additional cash and/or in-kind contributions from sources other than SSHRC during the life of the grant (four to seven years). For example, if $1 million is requested from SSHRC, a minimum of $350,000 in additional contributions must be secured from partner organizations. This would result in an actual total project budget of $1,350,000. SSHRC recognizes that the project can grow beyond that amount as additional partner organizations become involved over the life of the grant.

Stage 2:

Applicants invited to submit a Stage 2 application must demonstrate that they have already begun to confirm the 35% minimum additional cash and/or in-kind contributions, and must indicate how they will secure the remaining resources during the life of the grant. The host institution must submit reports documenting both their partner organizations’ engagement and their progress in meeting the requirements for partner organization contributions. By the mid-term evaluation (halfway through the grant period), the 35% minimum additional cash and/or in-kind contribution must be confirmed for the remainder of the grant period. If this amount is not secured by that time, SSHRC will withhold the remaining grant payments until it receives confirmation that the minimum additional contributions have been secured.

For more information, see SSHRC’s Guidelines for Cash and In-Kind Contributions.

Evaluation and adjudication

Applications are adjudicated, and available funds awarded, through a merit review process. SSHRC bases funding decisions on the recommendations of the adjudication committee and on the funds available. Committee discussions are guided by the principle of minimum essential funding.

A multidisciplinary committee adjudicates applications for both Stage 1 and Stage 2. Committee members have relevant expertise from the academic community, as well as research expertise from the public, private and/or not-for-profit sectors.

Steps specific to each stage are as follows.

Stage 1:

  • Applications successful in Stage 1 are awarded a grant of up to $20,000 to help them prepare a Stage 2 application.

Stage 2:

  • Expert review panels assess the strengths and weaknesses of each proposal using the evaluation criteria. The assessment of each proposal will be tailored to its nature and complexity. SSHRC will seek, but cannot guarantee, three to six experts to review and comment on each proposal. Wherever possible, panels of experts will review small groups of similar or related proposals. Written external reviews can be used where an expert review is not possible or where supplementary insights are needed.
  • The multidisciplinary adjudication committee reviews the applications and reports from expert reviews, and, based on an assessment of relative merit, provides SSHRC with funding recommendations. The review process can involve an interview. The adjudication committee will be asked to ensure that the applications recommended for funding provide for a rich portfolio of investments of various sizes in the Insight, Connection and Talent programs, and across diverse fields and approaches to partnered research and related activities.

SSHRC’s Guidelines for the Merit Review of Indigenous Research are relevant for researchers (applicants and project directors) and students preparing SSHRC applications related to Indigenous research. SSHRC provides these guidelines to merit reviewers to help build understanding of Indigenous research and research-related activities, and to assist committee members in interpreting SSHRC’s specific evaluation criteria in the context of Indigenous research. SSHRC relies on a community of merit reviewers with experience and expertise in Indigenous research to judge the extent to which the guidelines can be applied to a particular research proposal. The guidelines can also be of use to external assessors, postsecondary institutions and partner organizations that support Indigenous research.

Evaluation criteria and scoring

The following criteria and scoring scheme are used to evaluate the applications:

  1. Challenge—The aim and importance of the endeavour (40%):
    • originality, significance and expected contribution to knowledge;
    • appropriateness of the literature review;
    • appropriateness of the theoretical approach or framework;
    • appropriateness of the methods/approach (including the co-creation of knowledge);
    • quality of training and mentoring to be provided to students, emerging scholars and other highly qualified personnel, and opportunities for them to contribute;
    • potential for the project results to have influence and impact within and/or beyond the social sciences and humanities research community; and
    • identification of progress indicators.
  2. Feasibility—The plan to achieve excellence (30%):
    • appropriateness of the proposed timeline and probability that the objectives will be met;
    • quality and genuineness of the formal partnership and associated management and governance arrangements and leadership, including involvement of partner organizations and others in the design and conduct of the research and/or related activities;
    • expertise of the team and appropriateness of partner organizations in relation to the proposed project;
    • indications of other planned resources, including leveraging of cash and in-kind support from the host institution and/or from partner organizations; and
    • quality and appropriateness of the knowledge mobilization plans, including effective dissemination, exchange and engagement with stakeholders within and/or beyond the research community, where applicable.
  3. Capability—The expertise to succeed (30%):
    • quality, quantity and significance of past experience and published and/or creative outputs of the project director and any co-directors or co-applicants, relative to their role in the partnership, and to the stage of their career;
    • evidence of other knowledge mobilization activities (e.g., films, performances, commissioned reports, knowledge syntheses, experience in collaboration / other interactions with stakeholders, contributions to public debate and the media) and of impacts on professional practice, social services and policies, etc.;
    • quality and quantity of past contributions to the training and mentoring of students, postdoctoral researchers and other highly qualified personnel; and
    • past experience in formal partnerships.

Scoring table

Adjudication committee members assign a score for each of the three criteria above, based on the following scoring table. The appropriate weighting is then applied to arrive at a final score. Applications must receive a score of 3.0 or higher for each of the three criteria to be recommended for funding.

Score Descriptor
5-6 Very good to excellent
4-4.9 Good to very good
3-3.9 Satisfactory to good
Below 3 Unsatisfactory

Communication of results

Research offices will be informed of their applicants’ competition results via SSHRC’s secure site. Applicants from not-for-profit organizations will receive their competition results by email. All applicants will be provided, in addition to SSHRC’s notice of decision, any external assessments received, and a summary of the adjudication committee’s evaluation of their proposal, where applicable.

Regulations, policies and related information

SSHRC reserves the right to determine the eligibility of applications, based on the information included. SSHRC also reserves the right to interpret the regulations and policies governing its funding opportunities.

All applicants and grant holders must comply with the Regulations Governing Grant Applications and with the regulations set out in the Tri-Agency Guide on Financial Administration.

Grant holders must also comply with the Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications. See the Open Access overview for more information. SSHRC also encourages researchers to manage, in accordance with both community standards and best practices (including SSHRC’s Research Data Archiving Policy), data arising from their research.

Specific rules for the use of grant funds

  • Project co-ordinator/manager positions are an eligible expense, with three restrictions:
    • an individual cannot be a participant on the grant;
    • an individual cannot be paid for administrative services that the institution normally provides; and
    • an individual cannot be paid to conduct research activities.
  • Consultation fees are eligible for expert and/or professional and technical services that contribute directly to the proposed research as long as the service is not being provided by a team member or other persons whose status would make them eligible to apply for a SSHRC grant.

Guidelines and related support material

All applicants for SSHRC funding should consult the following guidelines while preparing their applications:

Contact information

For more information, contact:

Tel.: 613-943-1007

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