Find Nonprofit and Small Business Grants

Advance Search

Only Available for Paid Subscribers
Clear Filters
Search Filters

Grants to Canada Postsecondary Institutions for Research Initiatives of Strategic Importance

Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF)

Government of Canada

Agency: Federal

GrantWatch ID #162727

Grant Description

Grants to Canada postsecondary institutions to support large, complex institutional research initiatives demonstrating the potential for global leadership in focus areas of strategic relevance for the country at-large. Applicants are required to submit an LOI prior to a full grant application. Institutions are also welcome to submit proposals for smaller-scale initiatives, more narrowly focused in scope, but representing a unique opportunity and world-leading in priority areas and strategic relevance for Canada, and capable of resulting in partnerships with other global research leaders.

The Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF) is a unique institutional program to support large-scale research programs focusing on an existing institutional thematic area aligned with the Government of Canada’s science, technology and innovation (ST&I) priorities for the CFREF and Canada Excellence Research Chairs (CERC) programs.

Each proposal must focus on one area of institutional research excellence and align with one or more of the Government of Canada priority challenge areas:

  • Healthy Canadians: Enhancing the health and wellness of Canadians across all life stages.
  • Innovative and Resilient Communities: Building thriving communities that are inclusive, livable, smart and safe.
  • Sustainable Food Systems: Maximizing Canada’s agri-food potential to support economic growth and secure, equitable access to food.
  • Clean and Resource-Rich Canada: Fighting climate change and protecting Canada’s environment while harnessing the potential of natural resources to support a resilient, sustainable economy, and high quality of life.
  • Technologically Advanced Canada: Advancing transformative and enabling technologies that will support a technologically advanced economy and society. 

Areas of focus have been identified under each challenge area. Proposals that could achieve the goals of a challenge area, but do not directly align with the areas of focus listed, would also be considered. The challenge areas, areas of focus, and expected outcomes are provided in more detail in the following table: ST&I priorities for the CERC and CFREF programs:

CFREF objectives are to support the full range of research—from fundamental to applied—and to give institutions the ability to:

  • Pursue the best in the world for talent and partnership opportunities to enable breakthrough discoveries;
  • Seize emerging opportunities and strategically advance their greatest strengths on the global stage; and
  • Implement large-scale, transformational and forward-thinking institutional strategies.

For additional program considerations, see:

This competition will use a challenge-driven approach to priority areas. This approach reinforces the expectations for CFREF initiatives to:

  • Use an interdisciplinary and intersectoral approach inclusive of all research disciplines, including the social sciences and humanities;
  • Establish significant and meaningful partnerships and collaborations with Canadian and international entities (academic, public, private, not-for-profit, philanthropic); and
  • Promote knowledge translation, mobilization and commercialization.

Need help writing this grant?


  • Others (see text field entitled "Additional Eligibility Criteria" for clarification)

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Only Canadian post-secondary institutions that meet the eligibility requirements of one of the three federal research granting agencies may apply for and hold a Canada First Research Excellence Fund (Fund) grant.

To be deemed an eligible Canadian post-secondary institution for the purposes of Fund competitions, an institution must:
- Be authorized by a provincial or territorial government to grant university degrees, applied degrees or postsecondary diplomas;
-Offer its own degrees or diplomas, and not simply certify that a student is qualified to receive a degree or diploma from another institution;
- Have awarded degrees or diplomas over the past two years, or have students registered in the current calendar year or the three subsequent years;
- In the case of a public institution, receive operating funds directly from a provincial or federal government and not through another institution;
- In the case of a private institution, hold formal not-for-profit status, and not receive its funding through another institution; and
- Meet the eligibility requirements—whether for university or college programs—of one of the three federal research funding agencies—CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC.

While there is no limit to the number of proposals in which it can be listed as a partner, an institution can be identified as the lead institution for only one proposal within any given competition. For example, an institution can identify itself as the lead institution in its own proposal while simultaneously being identified as a partner in one or more proposals led by other institutions.

Pre-proposal Conference:

Applicants are encouraged to attend webinars to learn more about this competition and the overall application process using the Convergence platform.

The presentations will be made available following the sessions.

February 15, 2022: 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. (eastern) English
February 16, 2022: 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. (eastern) French
February 17, 2022: 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. (eastern) English

Please send an email for more information or to register.

Pre-Application Information:

Letters of intent to apply deadline: April 5, 2022, 9:00 p.m. (eastern)
Full application deadline: August 31, 2022, 9:00 p.m. (eastern)

To ensure the CFREF initiative can fully meet its objectives, and to ensure sustainability of the initiative, it is expected that institutions will provide additional support, leverage other sources of funding, and promote knowledge mobilization and translation, through partnerships with:
- The private sector;
- International research institutions; and/or
- Public sector, academic, not-for-profit and philanthropic organizations, both in Canada and abroad.

Institutions will be required to develop a rigorous sustainability plan that will use leveraged and supporting funds to ensure the momentum of the research program is maintained.

Application Process and additional relevant links:

Full Application Information:

LOI Instructions:

Regulations, policies and other information:

Eligibility Information:

Additional Funding Information:

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Number of Grants:

Number of awards depends on the amounts requested in successful applications.

Estimated Size of Grant:

There is no maximum or minimum limit.

Term of Contract:

All awards are for up to seven years and are non-renewable.

Contact Information:

You must complete the LOI using the Convergence Portal:

For more information, or to register for the webinars:

Live Chat Chat Now