Government of Canada invests $900 million to transform university research

Canada’s Science Minister announces significant funding for landmark initiatives through the Canada First Research Excellence Fund

September 6, 2016—Waterloo, Ontario—Tri-agency Institutional Programs Secretariat

The Government of Canada values the critical role the nation’s postsecondary institutions play in attracting world-class researchers, catalyzing discoveries that improve our health and environment and contributing to an innovative economy that leads to more opportunities for the middle class and those working hard to join it.

To underscore this commitment, the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science, was at the University of Waterloo’s Institute for Quantum Computing today to announce a landmark investment of $900 million to 13 postsecondary institutions through the Canada First Research Excellence Fund. The Fund strategically invests in areas where Canada’s postsecondary institutions can become global leaders in their respective areas of key research strengths.

For example, the University of Waterloo will receive $76,277,000 for Transformative Quantum Technologies, an initiative that will bring together theoretical and experimental physics, computer science, and engineering to advance the development of relevant quantum technologies. The devices developed by the university and its partners will have applications in such areas as medicine, navigation, sensing and the development of new materials.

The 12 other initiatives funded today each focus on developing areas of similar competitive advantage. They include sustainably developing our oceans; developing next-generation medical technologies; increasing the capacity, sustainability and safety of our food production systems; and improving human brain health.

Each of the initiatives was selected for funding following an open competitive process among Canadian postsecondary institutions. The competition was judged by a panel of Canadian and international scientific experts.

Information about each of the 13 funded initiatives is available at


“The Canada First Research Excellence Fund will equip Canada to respond to some of the most pressing issues it will face in the future: brain health, sustainable food and water supplies, environmental concerns, future energy supplies. The research supported through this Fund will make the country stronger.”

—The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science

“Today’s investment by the Government of Canada enables our leading postsecondary research institutions to capitalize on areas in which they excel. Indeed, it promises to make them world leaders in these areas, and strengthen Canada’s position as the destination of choice for innovation and cutting-edge research.”

—Ted Hewitt, President, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and Chair, Canada First Research Excellence Fund Steering Committee

“Today’s investment in quantum information science is a watershed moment for this frontier discipline. Quantum devices and computing will propel us through an era of transformation, revolutionizing technology as we know it. In recognizing Waterloo’s role as a global leader in both theoretical and experimental quantum research with this funding, CFREF also secures Canada’s place at the leading edge of quantum research, with Waterloo and the Quantum Valley as its vanguard.”

—Feridun Hamdullahpur, President and Vice-Chancellor, University of Waterloo

“Quantum mechanics enable devices that are otherwise impossible in the classical world. These revolutionary devices will transform the way we interact with and learn about the world. The Transformative Quantum Technologies initiative at the University of Waterloo aims to develop new quantum technologies and to connect quantum devices to applications spanning the fields of medicine, health, navigation, environment, materials and others.”

—David Cory, Canada Excellence Research Chair, Professor of Chemistry, Institute for Quantum Computing, University of Waterloo


  • This is the second Canada First Research Excellence Fund competition. In July 2015, five initiatives received funding worth $350 million in total.
  • A total of $900 million is being awarded to 13 projects, with the largest single award being $93,732,000 to Dalhousie University, for its Safe and Sustainable Development of the Ocean Frontier initiative.
  • The Fund is administered by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, on behalf of the three federal granting agencies, which include the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Additional Links

About the Canada First Research Excellence Fund
Inaugural Competition 2 Results
Inaugural Competition 1 Results
University of Waterloo—Transformative Quantum Technologies
Frequently Asked Questions


Véronique Perron
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Science
Tel.: 343-291-2600

Michael Adams
Communications Advisor
Canada Excellence Research Chairs Program
Tel.: 613-944-1758
Cell: 613-219-7523

Tobi Day-Hamilton
Associate Director, Communications and Strategic Initiatives
Institute for Quantum Computing
University of Waterloo
Tel.: 519-888-4422