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Research infrastructure and research support
The Leaders Opportunity Fund (LOF) is designed to help universities attract and retain the very best of today’s and tomorrow’s researchers at a time of intense international competition. To this end, the LOF offers universities the opportunity to:
- acquire infrastructure for their leading research faculty to undertake cutting-edge research; and
- create competitive packages of research support in the form of infrastructure and a portion of the operating and maintenance costs from the CFI, coupled with direct research costs from partner organizations.
A joint process has been developed with CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC to offer universities and their researchers the opportunity to create competitive packages for the funding of infrastructure and operational research support. The purpose of this collaboration is to:
- lessen both applicant and reviewer workload by reducing the number of proposals needed to secure both operating and infrastructure support;
- create a unique, user-friendly funding tool for researchers and institutions;
- ensure an accurate and fair review of both operating and infrastructure support requests.
Eligibility to apply
This process provides for the review of proposals submitted jointly to the CFI through the LOF and one of the following federal funding agency programs:
CIHR - Programmatic Grants in Food and Health
The purpose of this funding opportunity is to support programmatic operating grants in Food and Health research that are innovative and span beyond what a typical operating grant could accomplish. This may include projects which span research themes (e.g., basic biomedical science and human/clinical research, or clinical and population health research), or involve a diverse group of collaborators and build on existing research platforms. Programmatic research involves connected sequences of conceptually related research projects, executed by the same group of investigators and could include their decision-making partners.
NSERC - Industrial Research Chair
Industrial Research Chair grants assist universities in building on existing strengths to achieve the critical mass required for a major research endeavour in science and engineering of interest to industry. They also assist in the development of research efforts in fields that have not yet been developed in Canadian universities but for which there is an important industrial need.
SSHRC - Insight Grants
Insight Grants support research excellence in the social sciences and humanities. Funding is available to both emerging and established scholars for long-term research initiatives. Insight Grants research initiatives may be undertaken by an individual researcher or a team of researchers working in collaboration.
SSHRC - Partnership Grants
Partnership Grants provide support to new or existing formal partnerships for initiatives that advance research and/or knowledge mobilization in the social sciences and humanities.
In order to submit a proposal through this stream, the university must be eligible to receive funding under the LOF. The LOF is an allocation-based fund whereby the CFI predetermines the maximum amount of funding available for each eligible institution. Universities having a minimum annual average of $300,000 in sponsored research income (excluding CFI awards) as reported by the Canadian Association of University Business Offices (CAUBO), are eligible to receive a LOF allocation. These allocations may be reviewed periodically as new funds are made available to the CFI.
In November 2010, the CFI invested an additional $140 million in the LOF. For universities having received more than 0.2 percent of the total sponsored research income as reported by CAUBO, the additional LOF allocation is proportional to the average amount of sponsored research income over the 2006-07 to 2008-09 period. For universities having received less than 0.2 percent of the total sponsored research income, the CFI has created a Small Institution Fund of $7 million to replace institutional allocations.
An eligible university may put forward an infrastructure proposal for either a current faculty member with a full-time academic appointment, or a candidate the university is in the process of recruiting to a full-time academic position. Universities are expected to submit LOF proposals to attract or retain faculty in the priority areas identified in their Strategic Research Plan. Research hospitals and research institutes may only apply through the eligible universities with which they are affiliated.
The LOF is intended to serve the infrastructure needs of individual faculty, or small groups of up to three faculty members when there is a demonstrated need to share infrastructure. The LOF is not intended to serve the infrastructure needs of larger groups, centres, departments or institutions. In addition to meeting general CFI eligibility requirements, infrastructure requested through the LOF must be:
- essential for the research program of the candidate(s);
- acquired or developed through expenditures no more than six months before the date of submission of the proposal.
Candidates must be recognized leaders in their field of research or show promise of becoming research leaders. They must be engaged in, or embarking on, an innovative research program for which the infrastructure is essential and which will provide an enriched research training environment.
Candidates who have previously been supported through the LOF, New Opportunities Fund, Canada Research Chairs Infrastructure Fund or Career Award are eligible for additional funding. However, candidates must justify the value added of another award.
Application and review process
The application process involves two steps:
- Completing the relevant agency’s application form for the programs specified above.
- Completing an abbreviated LOF application form on the CFI’s website.
Universities must submit the abbreviated LOF application form electronically to the CFI. They must also send the CFI one single-sided paper copy of each application form, along with a covering letter signed by their President/CEO or delegate. The paper version will be considered the official copy. The CFI will forward this to the relevant agency where it will be combined with the research support application form into a joint proposal for review.
More information on the agencies’ programs can be found on their websites:
CIHR, NSERC or SSHRC will conduct the merit review process for both components of the proposal, i.e. research support and infrastructure according to their standard procedures. Their reviewers will evaluate the infrastructure portion of the proposal in accordance with CFI criteria. When necessary, the CFI will clarify its policies and procedures for the reviewers. In addition, a CFI representative will be present during the adjudication process.
The final decision for funding of the research support portion of the proposal will be made by the relevant agency. Funding recommendations for the infrastructure portion of the proposal are presented to the CFI Board of Directors at the earliest possible decision point. The CFI Board of Directors will make the final decision for funding of the infrastructure portion of the proposals.
Universities will be informed of decisions related to the infrastructure portion of the proposal by email shortly after the Board has met. Successful proposals will also be listed on the CFI website. The CFI will inform universities of any conditions associated with an award. The reviewers’ comments will be made available to the universities by the agency through which the funds for research costs were requested.
It is the responsibility of recipient universities to submit the necessary documents to the CFI in order to finalize awards and establish payment schedules.
The CFI will make a national public announcement of the decisions made by the CFI Board of Directors within one month of the Board meeting, when possible. When a joint announcement is to be made in collaboration with other agencies, the timing may differ. Universities must not make these decisions public until the national announcement is made. The CFI also seeks additional opportunities to work with universities on local or regional announcements following the national event.
Support for operation and maintenance of the infrastructure
The CFI will contribute to the operation and maintenance costs of projects funded under the LOF through its Infrastructure Operating Fund (IOF). Universities will receive IOF at a rate of 30 percent of the finalized CFI contribution to LOF projects. For further information on the IOF, see section 2.3 of the CFI Policy and Program Guide.