A total of 33 institutions submitted a letter of intent (LOI) to the third Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF) competition, representing a total request of $3.5 billion dollars. These submissions included a total of 89 eligible partner institutions.
Each LOI was reviewed by a multidisciplinary review panel composed of leading Canadian and international experts. The review panel evaluated the submissions’ relative strengths and weaknesses, based on the established selection criteria. The panel provided their resulting recommendations to the Tri-agency Institutional Programs Secretariat (TIPS) steering committee, which approved the review process and provided final approval of the LOIs. Twenty-six institutions were invited to submit a full proposal, representing a total request of $3.3 billion.
The full proposals underwent a rigorous, multilevel peer review and selection process. This included evaluation of scientific merit and strategic relevance by external experts, and assessment against all three selection criteria by the multidisciplinary review panel.
Proposals then underwent strategic review by the selection board, 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 the review, 18 institutions were invited to the final selection round, which involved a virtual interview of applicant delegations by the selection board.
Following the selection board’s resulting recommendations, the steering committee approved the following 11 awards for the 2022 CFREF competition:
Award amount: $123,160,035
Title: Electrifying Society: Towards Decarbonized Resilient Communities
Partner institutions: Toronto Metropolitan University; University of Calgary
Electrifying Society coalesces university research and innovation with Indigenous, industry, private and public sector expertise to deliver integrated, affordable decarbonization solutions, focusing on electrification, including energy storage, transportation, energy systems, smart buildings, cybersecurity, and digital twins. A network of living labs actively encouraging citizen engagement will foster social adoption of innovations designed to accelerate Canada’s path to net zero through 2030.
Award amount: $154,414,655
Title: Transforming Climate Action: Addressing the Missing Ocean
Partner institutions: Memorial University of Newfoundland; Université du Québec à Rimouski; Université Laval
Our ocean has absorbed 90% of global warming heat, but its capacity as the world's largest carbon sink is not limitless. Through Transforming Climate Action: Addressing the Missing Ocean, world-leading experts from Dalhousie University and partner universities, working with Indigenous communities, governments, industry, and other national and international partners, have developed a program of research and innovation aimed at reducing uncertainties in the climate budget, co-designing and evaluating novel approaches to mitigate climate change, and bolstering justice and equity within adaptation at the ocean-climate-people nexus.
Award amount: $165,307,034
Title: DNA to RNA: An Inclusive Canadian Approach to Genomic-based RNA Therapeutics (D2R)
Partner institutions: McMaster University; The University of British Columbia; Université de Sherbrooke; University of Ottawa
D2R is a unique interdisciplinary program that will deliver novel, genomic, medicine-based RNA therapies to benefit the health of people afflicted by infectious diseases or by rare and neglected diseases, or who are suffering from cancer. Building on a revolution in medicine created by a convergence of scientific breakthroughs in genomics and RNA, D2R will make Canada a world leader in RNA-based medicine development and social and regulatory health policy implementation.
Memorial University of Newfoundland
Award amount: $91,551,679
Title: Qanittaq Clean Arctic Shipping Initiative
Partner institutions: University of Ottawa
The Qanittaq Clean Arctic Shipping Initiative is a unique partnership, co-led and co-developed by Memorial University and the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC) Canada, to address and respond to concerns about Arctic shipping and related environmental impacts affecting Northern communities. It will develop robust and innovative ship design and operation technologies, as well as surrounding policy and governance to position Canada and Inuit as world leaders in Arctic shipping.
Toronto Metropolitan University
Award amount: $98,643,938
Title: Migrant Integration in the Mid-21st Century: Bridging Divides
Partner institutions: Concordia University; The University of British Columbia; University of Alberta
The Bridging Divides research program is dedicated to building a new understanding of the challenges and opportunities that migrant integration poses for Canada (and all countries) at a time when technological transformations are rapidly changing the way we work, live and connect with one another locally and across borders. The intersectoral and interdisciplinary consortium will generate insights and knowledge in four thematic areas: 1) Health and Well-Being, 2) Employment and Lifelong Learning, 3) Place and Infrastructure and 4) Citizenship and Participation.
Université de Montréal
Award amount: $124,580,996
Title: R3AI: Shifting Paradigms for a Robust, Reasoning, and Responsible Artificial Intelligence and its Adoption
Partner institutions: École Polytechnique de Montréal; HEC Montréal; McGill University; Université Laval
The Université de Montréal and its partner universities are undertaking, under the leadership of IVADO, an ambitious project that proposes a disruptive change in both the fundamentals of AI and how it will impact science and society by bringing about a robust, reasoning and responsible AI (R3AI). The R3AI initiative will implement new AI design and adoption strategies in areas of strategic importance for Canada, including molecule discovery, health systems improvements and climate change mitigation, and that prioritise equity, diversity and inclusion for a responsible deployment of AI.
University of Calgary
Award amount: $125,226,201
Title: One Child Every Child: A Transformational Child Health Research Initiative
Partner institutions: Athabasca University; University of Alberta; University of Lethbridge
The One Child Every Child initiative investigates the biological, social and health-systems determinants of child health to find transformative solutions for children, families and communities. Building on the strengths of Indigenous and non-Indigenous researchers, and fueled by cross-sectoral partnerships across Canada and beyond, the initiative will drive strategies to improve the health and well-being of children across Canada.
University of Ottawa
Award amount: $109,324,461
Title: Brain-Heart Interconnectome
Partner institutions: McGill University; University of Saskatchewan
The Brain-Heart Interconnectome program will position Canada as the global leader in integrated brain-heart research to reduce the world-wide burden of these interlinked diseases while achieving economic impact. This solution-driven and multi-partnered program will uncover mechanisms of interlinkage; target at-risk populations and vulnerable life stages for prevention and care; and transform outcomes for brain-heart patients with novel diagnostics, therapeutics and care models.
University of Toronto
Award amount: $199,570,433
Title: Acceleration Consortium: Self-Driving Labs for Molecular and Materials Discovery
Partner institutions: The University of British Columbia
New material development is critical to securing a future for Canadians that is healthy, sustainable and resilient. To revolutionize scientific discovery, the University of Toronto’s Acceleration Consortium and its partners will develop self-driving labs that combine AI and automation to create a wide range of new materials and molecules for a fraction of the usual time and cost—from life-saving medications and biodegradable plastics to low-carbon cement and renewable energy.
University of Victoria
Award amount: $83,602,887
Title: Accelerating Community Energy Transformation
Partner institutions: Royal Roads University; The University of British Columbia; Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières; Yukon University
Accelerating Community Energy Transformation is a collaborative initiative led by the University of Victoria that will bring together diverse partners, including Indigenous, rural and remote communities, to create innovative place-based solutions for energy system transformation. The initiative will help transform regional economies, inform inclusive national policies, and integrate breakthrough renewable energy technologies that will position Canada as a world leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and achieving net zero goals.
Award amount: $105,658,935
Title: Connected Minds: Neural & Machine Systems for a Healthy, Just Society
Partner institutions: Queen's University
New technologies are transforming the way we interact with the world and each other, often with unforeseen consequences for society. The Connected Minds program will co-create socially responsible, community-engaged research to understand the complex interactions between humans and machines, work with multi-sector partners to create innovative technologies, policies and regulations, and train new professionals for a healthy, just and equitable world.