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Friday, March 28, 2014

CIHR funding guidelines

Funding Organization Canadian Institutes of Health Research
Program Name Foundation Scheme : 2014 1st Live Pilot
Program Launch Date 2013-11-22

Important Dates

Registration Deadline 2014-06-23
Application Stage 1 Deadline 2014-09-15
Application Stage 2 Deadline 2015-02-05
Anticipated Stage 1 Notice of Decision 2014-12-01
Anticipated Stage 2 Notice of Decision 2015-05-15
Anticipated Stage 3 Notice of Decision 2015-07-02
Funding Start Date 2015-07-01


Note: The Foundation Scheme: 2014 1st Live Pilot funding opportunity has been posted 7 months in advance of the competition's registration deadline in order to provide the research community with the program details and the opportunity to prepare for the competition. It is important to note, however, that updates may be made based on results from on-going pilots.

Note: Some elements of this competition may be unique to this live pilot and CIHR will continue to refine the funding scheme based on this and other pilots.

Note: Some of the links within this funding opportunity are not yet active. They will become available as soon as the relevant information is available.

Note: The Transitional Operating Grant: 2014-2015 competition is being run in parallel with the Foundation Scheme: 2014 1st Live Pilot competition in order to facilitate the transition within CIHR's open funding scheme. 

For more information, please see Reforms to CIHR's Open Suite of Programs and Peer Review Process: Design or contact

The content of this funding opportunity has been updated
Date updated: 2014-03-28
Sections updated: Important Dates (Anticipated Stage 3 Notice of Decision), Eligibility, How to Apply

Date updated: 2014-02-14
Section updated: Important Dates (Funding Start Date)

Table of Contents


The Foundation Scheme is designed to contribute to a sustainable foundation of new and established health research leaders, by providing long-term support for the pursuit of innovative and high-impact research programs.

The Foundation Scheme is expected to:

  • Support a broad base of health research leaders across all career stages, areas, and health-related disciplines;
  • Develop and maintain Canadian capacity in health research and other related fields;
  • Provide research leaders with the flexibility to pursue novel and innovative lines of inquiry;
  • Contribute to the creation and application of health-related knowledge through a wide range of research and/or knowledge translation activities, including relevant collaborations.

New and early-career investigators: Special consideration

New and early-career investigators are eligible to apply to the Foundation Scheme competition as a Program Leader. To support the objective of the program – a sustainable foundation of health research leaders – a minimum annual intake of new investigators into the Foundation Grant portfolio will be established. Competition processes and peer review for this cohort will be fully integrated with the competition as a whole with no additional steps being required on the part of the applicant. Eligibility for consideration as a new or early-career investigator is outlined in the eligibility section below.

The success of new/early career investigators in the Foundation Scheme will be actively monitored. Peer reviewers will be instructed to take into consideration the career stage, research field and institution setting of all applicants. At Stage 3, new/early career investigators will be assessed and ranked against other new/early career investigators.

Funds Available

CIHR's financial contributions for this scheme are subject to availability of funds. Should CIHR funding levels not be available or be decreased due to unforeseen circumstances, CIHR reserves the right to reduce, defer, or suspend financial contributions to grants received as a result of this funding opportunity.

  • The combined total amount available for CIHR's 2014-15 Open Grant Programs (2014-15 Transitional OOGP and Foundation Scheme: 2014 1st Live Pilot) is approximately $500M.
  • The number of grants expected to be funded for this Foundation Scheme competition is approximately 120 to 250 grants over the multi-year terms of the grants. An investment at this level assumes a robust application pressure: therefore, the actual number of grants awarded may vary.
  • Based on historical modeling, it is expected that most Foundation grant budget requests will fall within a range of $50K to $1.5M per annum. Foundation grant levels will be commensurate with need, which is expected to vary by research field, research approach, and scope of program activities.
  • Senior and mid-career investigators will be awarded 7-year grants. New/early-career investigators will be awarded 5-year grants.
  • For existing CIHR grantees, the budget request should be consistent with the applicant's previous CIHR open grant research funding history. Applicants must provide robust justification for requests that are significantly higher than their historical grant levels.

Research Areas

The Foundation Scheme is open to applicants in all areas of health research that are aligned with the CIHR mandate: "To excel, according to internationally accepted standards of scientific excellence, in the creation of new knowledge and its translation into improved health for Canadians, more effective health services and products and a strengthened Canadian health care system".



Eligibility criteria for all CIHR research funding programs apply. The business office of the institution of an eligible Program Leader generally administers CIHR funds. Refer to the Individual Eligibility Requirements regarding the eligibility requirements for individuals and institutions.

Eligibility to Apply

Foundation grants are designed to support research leaders at any career stage to build and conduct programs of health research across CIHR's mandate. Eligible applicants will include new/early-career, mid-career, and established researchers who are independent researchers with a demonstrable track record of excellence and impact in their field of study. An individual may only be a Program Leader on one Foundation grant at any one time.

For an application to be eligible:

  1. The Program Leader(s) (link to come) must be an independent researcher.
  2. The Program Leader who is responsible for the administration of the grant must have an academic or research appointment at an eligible institution at the time of application (See Institutional Eligibility Requirements for eligibility process and associated timelines.
  3. Where applicable, multiple Program Leaders submitting a single application must convincingly demonstrate synergy and a track record of co-managing programs of research with each other.
  4. An individual may only submit one application in the role of Program Leader per competition.

New/early-career investigators:

New/early-career investigators are eligible to apply to the Foundation Scheme competition as a Program Leader. CIHR defines a new/early career investigator as someone who, at the Stage 1 application deadline, has assumed his/her first independent academic position (e.g., faculty appointment) within the last 5 years (60 months).

Note: All time spent in research appointments will be taken into consideration when determining eligibility. Should an applicant hold or have held a part time appointment, CIHR will count that time as 50% (e.g., a one-year part-time appointment will count for 6 months towards the 60 month maximum).

Leaves of absence, as indicated in the Leaves of Absence section under Employment of your Common CV, will not count towards the 60-month maximum. (Updated: 2014-03-28)

For the Foundation Scheme 2014 1st Live Pilot competition, the Program Leader must also fall into one of the following three groups:

  1. On July 30th 2013, the Program Leader is the Nominated Principal Investigator or Co-Principal Investigator of a CIHR Open program grant with an expiry date no earlier than October 1, 2014 and no later than September 30, 2015.
  2. The Program Leader is considered to be a new/early-career investigator, as defined by CIHR, at the Stage 1 application deadline.
  3. On July 30th 2013, the Program Leader has never held Open CIHR funding as a Nominated Principal Investigator or a Co-Principal Investigator.

Institutional Support:

The appropriate individual at the Program Leader's or Leaders' institution(s) must approve the application confirming that it agrees to support the Program Leader as articulated in the Grants and Awards Guide and also as may be further articulated within the application.

Note for Foundation grant holders: (relevant only to applicants in future competitions)

Foundation grantees interested in continuing their program of research beyond the duration of the Foundation grant may submit a new application in Year 6 (for 7-year grants) or Year 4 (for 5-year grants) to the regular Foundation Scheme competition.

In exceptional circumstances, Foundation grantees may choose to submit a new application in an earlier year with the goal of obtaining a higher level of grant support. Unsuccessful applications will result in the currently-held Foundation grant being terminated one year after the published funding start date for the competition in which the application was unsuccessful.



General CIHR Guidelines

This funding opportunity will fully comply with the policies and guidelines as outlined in CIHR's Funding Policies. CIHR policies reflect areas of importance such as (but not limited to): Gender and Sex-Based Analysis, Knowledge Translation, Open Access, Global Health Research and International Collaborations. Policies and guidelines also cover areas such as Applicant Responsibilities, Official Languages policy, Access to Information Act, Privacy Act and Communication Requirements.

Information collected by CIHR may be shared as described in the Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality Policy of the Federal Research Funding Organizations.

Allowable Costs

Recipients should review the Use of Grant Funds section of the Tri-Agency (CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC) Financial Administration Guide for a complete listing and description of allowable costs and activities.

The following cost is not eligible for support through this funding opportunity:

  • Salaries for Program Leaders

Conditions of Funding

Successful applicants funded through this funding opportunity and any other persons working on the program of research must comply fully with the CIHR Funding Policies. Successful applicants will be informed of any special financial requirements prior to the release of funds or when they receive CIHR's Authorization for Funding (AFF) document.

Other conditions of funding specific to this program:

  • The Program Leader(s) is required to submit an electronic Final Report to CIHR.
  • To meet federal reporting and accountability requirements, Program Leaders will also be expected to report periodically on their research productivity and achievements.
  • The Program Leaders who are successful within this competition must enroll, and actively participate, as members of the CIHR College of Reviewers – instructions will be provided to successful grant recipients.
  • While the broader research team may evolve over the duration of the grant, Program Leaders (whether single or multiple) must remain unchanged over the course of the grant.


Review Process and Evaluation

Adjudication and Selection Process

Peer review will be conducted in accordance with the CIHR Adjudication and Selection Process Manual for the 2014 Foundation Scheme Competition. (link to come)

The Foundation Scheme 1st Live Pilot competition will be a multi-stage competition with 2 distinct applications and 3 review stages. Only successful Stage 1 applicants will be invited to apply to Stage 2.

Stage 1 and 2 review will be conducted remotely by expert reviewers supported by an internet-assisted platform that will enable communication among reviewers in a virtual space. Reviewers will review their assigned structured applications by providing a structured review that consists of rating each sub-criterion (see below) and briefly commenting on the strengths and weaknesses in each section. Aided by their ratings, reviewers will be asked to rank the group of applications they are assigned. CIHR will consolidate all individual reviewer rankings into a consolidated ranking for each application, which will be used to make funding decisions.

Stage 3, the final assessment stage, will involve a face-to-face discussion of applications by an interdisciplinary committee. This committee will be responsible for integrating the results of the Stage 1 and  2 reviews, with a focus on assessing applications that fall into the "grey zone" (i.e., applications that are close to the funding cut-off, and which demonstrate a high degree of variance in individual reviewer rankings).  This committee will make final recommendations on which "grey zone" applications should be funded.

At Stage 3, new/early career investigators will be assessed and ranked against other new/early career investigators.

Adjudication Criteria

There are three review stages for the Foundation Scheme competition which require two separate submissions (Stage 1 and Stage 2 application) from the applicant. The first review stage will evaluate Stage 1 applications and successful Stage 1 applicants will be invited to apply to Stage 2.  The adjudication criteria considered at Stage 1 and 2 are different. A detailed description of these criteria can be found within the CIHR Adjudication and Selection Process Manual for the 2014 Foundation Scheme Competition. (link to come)

A structured adjudication process will be used to help reviewers assess each applicable criterion. The relative weights of each of the criteria are noted in parenthesis. Associated sub-criteria will be equally weighted.

Stage 1

Criterion 1:  Caliber of the Applicant(s) (75%)

  1. Leadership
  2. Significance of Contributions
  3. Productivity

Criterion 2 – Vision and Program Direction (25%)

Stage 2

Criterion 1 – Quality of the Program (40%)

  1. Research Concept
  2. Research Approach

Criterion 2 – Quality of the Expertise, Experience and Resources (60%)

  1. Expertise
  2. Mentorship and Training
  3. Quality of Support Environment


Note: The budget requested will not be factored into the scientific assessment of the application: however, a recommendation on the appropriateness of the budget requested will be sought from peer reviewers.


How to Apply

Important: Please read all instructions to in order familiarize yourself with the application process before applying. An overview of CIHR's application processes can be found under Apply for Funding. Note that these are general instructions only. Specific application instructions for this funding opportunity are described in the links below. All submissions must be made through ResearchNet.

  • Registration to the 1st Foundation Scheme Live Pilot competition will be accepted  between March 24, 2014 and June 23, 2014
  • Eligible registrants will be invited to apply to Stage 1. Stage 1 applications for the 1st Foundation Scheme Live Pilot competition will be accepted until September 15, 2014.  (Updated: 2014-03-28)
  • Only successful Stage 1 applicants will be invited to apply to Stage 2. Stage 2 applications for the 1st Foundation Scheme Live Pilot competition will be accepted between December 1, 2014 and February 5, 2015.

Reminder to applicants: Please ensure that your application is complete (including all required signatures) and is submitted to CIHR on time.

To complete your Registration, follow the instructions in the Foundation Scheme: 1st Live Pilot ResearchNet "Registration" Phase Instructions.

To complete your Stage 1 Application, follow the instructions in the Foundation Scheme: 1st Live Pilot ResearchNet "Application" Phase Instructions. (link to come)

For successful Stage 1 applicants, to complete your Stage 2 Application, follow the instructions in the Foundation Scheme: 1st Live Pilot ResearchNet "Application" Phase Instructions. (link to come)

Application requirements for Stage 1 and Stage 2 are available. Note that these documents provide a summary of the application requirements for Stage 1 and Stage 2 of the first Foundation Scheme Live Pilot. While the application content is not expected to change, the application for this competition will be completed through ResearchNet, and may therefore look different.

Note: Some of the links within this funding opportunity are not yet active. They will become available as soon as the relevant information is available.

Submission Requirements

  • It is important to be aware of your internal Institutional deadline.
  • Your Application must be submitted using ResearchNet. Scan and upload the signed signature pages including the routing slip in the Print/Upload Signature Pages task in ResearchNet prior to submitting your application.
  • This funding opportunity participates in the eApproval process. This means that when the applicant submits their application, it will be electronically directed to the Research Institution for review and approval. The eApproval process allows Administrators at a Research Institution to review and electronically approve applications for which the applicant has identified their institution as the Institution Paid. Once the applications are reviewed and approved by the Research Institution, they will submit the applications electronically to CIHR on behalf of the applicant.


Contact Information

For questions regarding CIHR funding guidelines, how to apply, and the peer review process, please contact:

CIHR Reforms Implementation Team

If you are experiencing technical difficulties with your ResearchNet account or the e-Submission process, please contact:

CIHR ResearchNet Support
Canadian Institutes of Health Research
Telephone: 1-888-603-4178 or 613-954-1968

Note: ResearchNet and Program Support are available after normal working hours (16:30 Eastern Time) and until deadline (20:00 Eastern Time) for issues related to application to this funding opportunity on deadline dates.