Inaugural Competition 2 Results

A total of 51 institutions submitted a letter of intent (LOI) to the Fund in Inaugural Competition 2. Of these, 30 were invited to submit a full proposal. Ultimately, 29 proposals were submitted, representing a total Fund request of $2.38 billion.

The proposals underwent a multilevel peer review process that included an evaluation of scientific merit and strategic relevance by external experts, and merit assessment by expert review panels, based on three selection criteria. Each proposal was assigned to one of four review panels composed of leading Canadian and international experts.

Subsequently, proposals underwent a strategic review by the selection board, which is composed of distinguished Canadian and international leaders. The board focused on each proposal’s strategic relevance to Canada, and the quality of the institution’s implementation plan.

Following a first round of selection, the Fund’s steering committee approved the selection of 15 institutions that were invited to the final selection round. This involved face-to-face interviews with the selection board and a due diligence review of budget requests by a third-party firm.

The Fund’s steering committee approved the final selection of the following 13 Inaugural Competition 2 applications:

Dalhousie University

Award amount: $93,732,000

Title: Safe and Sustainable Development of the Ocean Frontier

Canada’s reliance on ocean resources is escalating during a period when the ocean is changing rapidly. World-leading experts from Dalhousie University, the Memorial University of Newfoundland and the University of Prince Edward Island have developed a research program to address this challenge with an integrated set of research modules focused on: atmosphere-ocean interactions, shifting ecosystems, sustainable fisheries, sustainable aquaculture, marine safety, and ocean data capture and integrated information technology tools.


Laurentian University

Award amount: $49,269,000

Title: Metal Earth

Metal Earth will transform our understanding of metal endowment during Earth’s evolution; make Canada a world leader and innovator, through the open-source delivery of new knowledge, new quantitative exploration guidelines and new technology; and contribute to the expansion of Canada’s mineral wealth through new discoveries.


McGill University

Award amount: $84,000,000

Title: Healthy Brains for Healthy Lives

The central vision of the Healthy Brains for Healthy Lives initiative is to create a global centre for excellence, establish a hub for neuroinformatics and big data analysis, and accelerate translational discoveries that will improve brain health in Canada and around the world. The core of this effort will be the creation of a novel, advanced analytic platform for brain research—NeuroHub—which will lead to the development of new models to elucidate normal brain development, enhance classification of neurological and mental disorders, and better understand clinical outcomes for individuals.


Polytechnique Montréal

Award amount: $35,625,000

Title: The Montreal TransMedTech (MT2) Institute: An open-innovation ecosystem for the development of next generation medical technologies

The Montreal TransMedTech Institute initiative seeks to shape the future of diagnosis/prognosis, intervention, and medical technologies for complex diseases across all age groups. The objective is to accelerate the availability of new medical technologies or interventions, and their potential adoption by end-users.


Queen's University

Award amount: $63,744,000

Title: The Arthur B. McDonald Canadian Astroparticle Physics Research Institute

Particle astrophysics is the study of the fundamental properties of the building blocks of nature, and their influence on the evolution of structure in the universe. The questions being addressed are considered, worldwide, to be among the most important in physics today. The Canada First Research Excellence Fund offers an opportunity to enable Canadian scientists to continue their pre-eminence in this field.


Université de Montréal

Award amount: $93,562,000

Title: Data Serving Canadians: Deep Learning and Optimization for the Knowledge Revolution

Campus Montréal is proposing a transformative and far-reaching strategy that capitalizes on the unique and synergistic combination of machine learning / deep learning and operations research—the science of optimization. The strategy, which lies at the core of data-driven innovation, will pave the way to major scientific breakthroughs, allowing useful information to be efficiently extracted from massive data sets (machine learning) and turned into actionable decisions (operations).


University of Alberta

Award amount: $75,000,000

Title: Future Energy Systems

The University of Alberta proposes to establish Future Energy Systems (FES) to develop a path to the responsible development and use of Canada’s multi-trillion-dollar energy resources, while facilitating a smooth transition to a lower-carbon energy economy. FES will build a new energy future for Canada, propelling our country to world leadership in energy technology development and use.


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University of Calgary

Award amount: $75,000,000

Title: Global Research Initiative in Sustainable Low Carbon Unconventional Resources

The University of Calgary’s scientific strategy could significantly reduce the carbon footprint of unconventional resource development. The University of Calgary’s strategy tackles the core features that make extraction of these resources so carbon-intensive—namely, the high viscosity of heavy oil and bitumen, and the extremely low permeability of tight oil and gas reservoirs.


University of Guelph

Award amount: $76,613,000

Title: Food from Thought: Agricultural Systems for a Healthy Planet

The grand challenge is to develop systems that are capable of meeting the rising human demand for food while being resilient to climate change, and able to sustain healthy ecosystems, economies, and populations. Food from Thought would allow the University of Guelph to become the global leader in this field.


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University of Saskatchewan

Award amount: $77,840,000

Title: Global Water Futures: Solutions to Water Threats in an Era of Global Change

By developing new, transdisciplinary science; new environmental monitoring systems and predictive modeling tools; and novel, user-focused approaches to putting new knowledge into action, Global Water Futures could become an international provider of urgently needed risk management technologies, decision-making tools, and other evidence-based solutions to complex water challenges.


University of Waterloo

Award amount: $76,277,000

Title:Transformative Quantum Technologies

Transformative Quantum Technologies will tackle three grand challenges in quantum device development: demonstrate a quantum computer that is beyond the ability for a classical processor to simulate; develop quantum sensors with applications in navigation, materials, biochemistry, medicine and other fields; and deploy useful, long-distance quantum communication / key distribution.


Western University

Award amount: $66,000,000

Title: BrainsCAN: Brain Health for Life

Researchers at Western University, along with their national and international academic and commercial partners, will deliver evidence-based assessments and interventions for the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the brain. In partnership with the Canada First Research Excellence Fund, the BrainsCAN initiative will accelerate the university’s ability to deliver effective solutions to the grand challenge of maintaining brain function across the lifespan.


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York University

Award amount: $33,338,000

Title: Vision: Science to Applications (VISTA)

Blending psychophysical, physiological and computational approaches, VISTA will create a novel, interdisciplinary paradigm in visual neuroscience and computer vision. VISTA will propel Canada’s global leadership in vision research, which would translate into long-term economic benefits for Canada in four top-priority industry sectors: health and aging, robotics, 3D film and digital media, and surveillance and transportation.


Letters of Intent

Each LOI underwent a multilevel review process. This process included an evaluation of the proposed initiative's scientific merit and strategic relevance, as determined by expert review panel and the selection board, and based on two selection criteria.

The selection criteria focused on the existing strengths and capacity, as well as the current global position, of the institution in its proposed area(s) of focus, as well as the alignment of the proposed initiative with the Government of Canada’s science, technology and innovation priority research areas.

The Fund’s steering committee approved the selection of 30 institutions that were invited to submit a full proposal by March 29, 2016. Collectively, these 30 LOI proposals represented a total Fund request of close to $2.4 billion.