Inaugural competitions in 2015 and 2016


In December 2014, the Government of Canada launched the first two competitions of the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (the Fund).

Inaugural competition 1
Inaugural competition 2
Subsequent competitions


Inaugural Competition 1—CLOSED

To respond to the needs of those eligible Canadian postsecondary institutions that already have detailed plans in place that meet the ambitious objectives of the Fund, and that have requested an accelerated application and adjudication process, the first of the inaugural competitions will be held according to a fast timeline, as follows:

Notice of intent deadline: February 2, 2015

Notices of intent are used for administrative purposes only, allowing the program’s administration to anticipate the volume of applications and the disciplines covered.

Application deadline: March 2, 2015

Funding to be awarded: Up to $350 million

Selection criteria and adjudication process: The Fund’s selection criteria, review process and other program details are the same for both inaugural competitions, and are available under Application process.

Results announced: July 2015

Payment of grant funds to successful institutions would begin during the 2015-16 fiscal year, following the Treasury Board’s approval of funding.

Inaugural Competition 2

For the two inaugural competitions, applicants who were unsuccessful in Competition 1 can submit a proposal addressing the same thematic area in Competition 2 or submit a proposal in a different thematic area. Applicants who were successful in Competition 1 can apply to Competition 2 to advance a different thematic area but their proposal must demonstrate that they have the capacity and the resources to successfully carry through a second ambitious institutional initiative of the scale and scope that is expected of a Fund grant.

The inaugural Competition 2 will be held according to the following timeline:

Letter of intent deadline: November 9, 2015

Letter of intent results announced: January 2016 (a list of institutions invited to submit a full proposal will be posted on the Fund website)

Full proposal deadline: March 29, 2016

Funding to be awarded: Up to $900 million

Eligibility and selection criteria: Eligibility for the Fund and its selection criteria are the same for both inaugural competitions and are available under Application process.

Adjudication process: Competition 2 will have a two-stage review process, starting with an adjudicated letter of intent (LOI) stage. This will minimize the burden on institutions with respect to preparing full proposals, and the burden on peer reviewers and adjudication committees. The eligibility and selection criteria remain the same as they were in inaugural Competition 1. Adjudication will involve peer review. The LOI will outline all of the information required to assess the institution’s existing scientific capacity (part of criterion 1) and the alignment of the proposed research thematic area with the federal science, technology and innovation priority research areas (part of criterion 2). The selection will focus on whether applicants meet the threshold and standard for consideration under the Fund, i.e., do LOIs appropriately respond to the Fund’s intended goals and ambition, based on these two key elements of the selection criteria? Additional information on the full proposal stage and the adjudication process is available under Application process.

Results announced: Summer 2016

Payment of grant funds to successful institutions would begin during fiscal year 2016-17, following the Treasury Board’s approval and parliamentary appropriation of the funds. September 1, 2016, is the earliest start date that can be presented in applications for proposed initiatives. Consequently, expenses incurred as of September 1, 2016, will be eligible under the grant.

Subsequent competitions

The third Fund competition is expected to be launched in 2021-22. All eligible Canadian postsecondary institutions, including those successful in either of the two inaugural competitions, will be entitled to apply.