About Collaborative Research Groups

What is a CRG?

A (CRG) is a group of researchers with overlapping scientific interests and a common desire to collaborate. PIMS awards successful CRG applicants up to $240,000 CAD in research funding spread over three years to facilitate postdoctoral appointments, event organization, and scientific exchanges. This permits a CRG to gather a significant portion of the world's experts in its research topic for a period of intense collaboration.

The potential impact of the group is amplified by the resources and organizational structure of PIMS. For example, a CRG can expect to receive priority for:

  • Focused Research Periods
  • Distinguished chairs and long term visitors
  • Participation in international programs

Historically, groups have seen the impact of the intensity persist well beyond the funding period, usually a result of an increased profile for the mathematical theme in Western Canada and Cascadia. Young faculty are mentored, and supported with infrastructure to build a network and advance their research program.


Responsibilities of CRG Leaders

  • Use of funds in accordance with NSERC and PIMS guidelines.
  • Each event requires an online post-report. This form is filled one month after the event and is comprised of scientific abstracts, demographic information, complete speaker and participant list, and final budget.
  • The leadership team submits an annual report each December 1 summarizing the main impact of the CRG to date (Scientific Advances, Publications, Trainee placement) and updated plans for the following year.
  • A member presents the highlights of the CRG at an annual (virtual) CRG Leader Meeting.


How to Apply

CRGs are selected by a highly competitive, two stage process. Each stage is adjudicated by the PIMS Scientific Review Panel (SRP) which meets annually every fall. The call for proposals is announced early in the summer with deadlines for submissions listed on the call for proposals page. Interested researchers are strongly encouraged to contact PIMS staff to ensure that their application makes optimal use of resources in the PIMS Network.


Stage 1: Letter of Intent (LOI)

Applicants prepare a Letter of Intent (LOI) which explains the scientific rationale of the collaboration, illustrates the potential impact, and highlights centerpiece events. It should address why the theme is timely, and the importance of PIMS funding to this project.

The LOI should be a 5 page document.  It must address all of the criteria listed in the Submission Procedure in the instructions for Preparing and Submitting a Proposal. It must also including the following additional information:


Participants/CRG Leaders Provide short biographies for each of the lead investigators from PIMS member universities. Please also identify participating collaborators from other universities, industry and government government (include name, position & affiliation for each).
Scientific Objectives A two page summary (including key references) of the mathematical background and key scientific objectives of the collaboration.
Potential Impact Highlight the potential scientific advances your CRG might bring. Identify goals for the training of highly qualified personal (HPQ) (e.g. postdocs), and describe the potential for creating a lasting research network.
Proposed Activities CRGs typically include a number of primary/showcase events. Include details for these events and provide an approximate budget allocations in your itemized budget. Please also describe connections with other PIMS initiatives where relevant.


The LOI should be formatted to fit on letter sized paper (8.5” x 11”), with approx. 1 inch margins, using Times New Roman font 12. The LOI is submitted to the Scientific Review Panel in the online system by the deadline listed on the call for proposals page.

LOIs are judged on the criteria listed on the call for proposals page and on their potential scientific merit and impact in the areas listed in the table above.


Stage 2: Full Proposal

Applicants are advised in December of the status of their LOI. Successful LOI proposals are invited to submit a full application in the SRP competition for the following year. The SRP and PIMS directorship will offer feedback which should be incorporated into the full application. In the interim, applicants will be eligible to apply for a $5000 CRG development grant to organize an event or PI-summit.

A Full Proposal expands the information contained in the LOI to 10 - 12 pages. This includes all of the sections requested on the funding opportunities page, and all of the information requested at the LOI stage. Additionally, it must contain a precise calendar of events, a detailed budget, and a 1 paragraph executive summary. Applicants are encouraged to work with PIMS staff to explore potential event schedules and budgets.

CRG applications will be judged on the criteria given on the call for proposals page, with special consideration of their

  • Innovation and Originality
  • Potential for Impact
  • Feasibility

The Full Proposal is submitted to the Scientific Review Panel in the online system by the deadline listed on the call for proposals page.


Creating a Successful CRG

The following resources may be useful to help develop a successful CRG proposal.


Sample Activities

  • International conferences
  • Focused Research Periods
  • Distinguished chairs and long term visitors
  • International collaborations
  • PIMS postdoctoral fellowships
  • Postdoctoral and Graduate training programs
  • Graduate student exchanges
  • Multi-site graduate courses 
  • Intensive graduate courses / summer schools
  • Pacific Northwest mini-conference series
  • Workshops at host universities
  • Industrial Training Camps
  • International collaborations


Other Programs to Leverage

  • MITACS Internships
  • The Banff International Research Station (BIRS)
  • CNRS IRL (Invited researchers, student funding)


Demonstrating Impact

There are many ways to demonstrate impact. A CRG proposal has potential for impact if it

  • Creates new research opportunities and enhances training
  • Generates new scientific programs driven by its member scientists
  • Elicits proposals for Focused Periods during the summers, mini-programs, BIRS events, and distinguished scholars as part of the application process
  • Fosters local interest, grass-roots and long-term activities
  • Facilitates multi-site interactions and collaborations, including advanced graduate courses, bridging geography
  • Provides researchers with the means to play a leadership role on the national and international level.
  • Attracts additional support for research 
  • Facilitates cutting academic and scientific cross-pollination by granting teaching and administrative releases to the scientists involved.
  • Creates a context wherein researchers can collectively profit from the opportunities created by PIMS, the Banff station and the MITACS network.
  • Fosters a vigorous student exchange program through the Western Dean's Protocol, which allows Graduate students at any Western Canadian university to take courses for credit at any Canadian PIMS university.
  • Strengthens research by centralizing isolated and smaller collaborations together for long-range planning.
  • Facilitates Canada-US collaborations
  • Takes a forward approach in ensuring a diverse pool of participants

Equity, diversity and inclusion are essential to academic excellence in the mathematical sciences, and we strongly encourage CRG applicants to consider how they will address EDI in all aspects of their proposal.