Empowering thousands of Canadian researchers and students to push the boundaries of knowledge and innovation

News Release

More than $42M in funding for scientists and engineers at the University of British Columbia means more opportunities for discovery, skills training and job creation.

September 8, 2017 – Vancouver, British Columbia – Government of Canada

When Canada’s scientists and engineers have the opportunity to succeed, they’re able to make the discoveries that lead to ground-breaking innovations, sustainable economic growth and a stronger middle class. The hard work of these researchers also helps new generations of students master the advanced skills they need for the jobs of tomorrow.

That is why the Minister of National Defence, Harjit Sajjan, on behalf of the Minister of Science, Kirsty Duncan, announced today more than $42 million to support fundamental research at the University of British Columbia through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s (NSERC) 2017 competition for the Discovery Grants program, scholarships and fellowships. The announcement, at the university, was part of the overall $515 million announced by Minister Duncan earlier today that will go to support the work of more than 4000 researchers at 71 institutions across Canada. This is NSERC’s largest annual investment, and assists researchers by offering financial support though scholarships, fellowships, research supplements, and equipment grants.

The funds will support scientists, engineers and graduate students working in a variety of disciplines such as astronomy, chemistry, biology, mathematics, medicine and physics. Those who receive NSERC’s support through the Discovery program will be empowered to make new breakthroughs while providing the next generation of students the skills they need for their future careers.

This funding reflects the Government of Canada’s commitment to strengthen science by supporting the very people – our country’s remarkable scientists and engineers – who are working to build a better tomorrow.


“The Government of Canada is committed to investing in fundamental research and engineering that will improve and enrich our country’s knowledge economy. We believe in encouraging scientists’ cutting-edge ideas that will lead Canada to greater social and economic growth. I am particularly proud of the support offered to postgraduate students and postdoctoral fellows, who, thanks to today’s investment, will be exposed to advanced training experiences that will prepare them for the jobs and opportunities of tomorrow.”

- The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science

“Today we take the time to recognize the power of tomorrow’s scientists, doctors, researchers, and innovators, who will help guide Canada to a brighter future. Our government takes pride in supporting to programs that help scientists, students and fellows to follow their research dreams and make promising discoveries.”

- The Honourable Harjit Sajjan, Minister of National Defence

“At the core of every research project, every laboratory and every discovery, there are people. NSERC empowers these people to build an innovative, prosperous and inclusive society. NSERC Discovery Grants, scholarships and fellowships provide thousands of top researchers, students and fellows with the foundation they need to concretize their research ambitions and explore the unknown.”

- Dr. B. Mario Pinto, President, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada

“Whether investigating climate change, human health, new materials or innovative wireless systems, our researchers will be able to remain at the forefront of an impressive range of scientific and technological fields thanks to NSERC’s investment. Today’s awards are a testament to UBC’s commitment to scientific excellence and will accelerate discovery and real-world applications.”

- Gail Murphy, Vice President, Research and Innovation, University of British Columbia

“Fish are important not only to our economy, but also to the cultural and social fabric of Canada. Due to climate change and human-caused changes to their natural habitats, however, it’s important for us to understand how fish respond to changes in their environment. This generous funding allows us to ask questions that push forward scientific frontiers, and to develop the scientific knowledge to make evidence-based decisions on how to best manage and preserve fish stocks.”

-  Dr.Patricia Schulte, Professor, Department of Zoology, University of British Columbia

Quick Facts

  • An investment of $515 million will be made in NSERC Discovery Grants, graduate and postgraduate scholarships and postdoctoral fellowships.

  • $368 million in support will go to NSERC’s flagship Discovery Grants Program to foster research excellence in the full range of science and engineering disciplines, from biology and chemistry to advanced materials engineering and astrophysics. These grants, which are subject to rigorous quality assurance, support ongoing research programs with long-term goals and build the foundation for innovation.

  • An investment of close to $86 million in Scholarship and Fellowships will launch a new generation of scientists and engineers who are at the early stages of their research careers, with support at levels of study from graduate to postdoctoral.

  • Researchers will share an additional $36 million in Research Tools and Instruments Grants to purchase new research equipment needed for world-leading discovery, innovation and training.

  • NSERC is also providing $15 million for resources to selected researchers to accelerate progress and maximize the impact of their promising research proposals through the Discovery Accelerator Supplements Program. At small universities, 54 researchers will receive Discovery Development Grants, totaling $1,080,000, to support their research.

Associated Links


Follow Minister Duncan
Twitter: @ScienceMin
Instagram: sciencemin

Follow NSERC on social media:
Twitter: @nserc_crsng
Facebook: /nserccanada


NSERC invests over $1 billion each year in natural sciences and engineering research in Canada. Our investments deliver discoveries – valuable world-firsts in knowledge claimed by a brain trust of over 11,000 professors. Our investments enable partnerships and collaborations that connect industry with discoveries and the people behind them. Researcher-industry partnerships established by NSERC help inform R&D, solve scale-up challenges, and reduce the risks of developing high-potential technology.

NSERC also provides scholarships and hands-on training experience for more than 30,000 post-secondary students and post-doctoral fellows. These young researchers will be the next generation of science and engineering leaders in Canada.

Ann Marie Paquet
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Science
Tel.: 613-404-2733

Michael Bhardwaj
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of Science
Tel.: 343-291-3966

Lucy Lai
Media Relations Officer
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
Tel.: 613-996-2341

Media Relations
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
Tel.: 343-291-1777

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