The Ottawa River at sunset viewed from a high point near Parliament Hill.

Our history

The CFI’s success is based on a simple premise — give Canadian researchers the tools they need to think big and conduct world-class research.

Since 1997, Canadians have directly experienced the transformative impact of public investments in research infrastructure. These investments have led to research breakthroughs in sectors as diverse as health, natural resources, information and communications technology, and the environment.

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Our origins

Listen to the voices of our founders in our podcast series as they describe how the vision of the CFI came to life.

Take a scroll through our history

Browse through some of our milestones and learn about breakthrough discoveries enabled by CFI funding.
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Build it, and they will innovate

What do you get when you combine a $500-million federal surplus and a research community in need of newer, better labs and equipment? The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), of course. Which is why the Government of Canada proposes to create the CFI to give researchers the tools they need to think big and innovate.
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Day one of 1,825

We're established with a five-year mandate, $800 million in the bank and grand plans to reshape Canada's research landscape.
Keith Brimacombe, a metallurgical engineer, is named our first President and CEO. Upon his unfortunate passing in December 1997, Denis Gagnon steps in as acting President and CEO the following month.

A leader is named

Keith Brimacombe, a metallurgical engineer, is named our first President and CEO. Upon his unfortunate passing in December 1997, Denis Gagnon steps in as acting President and CEO the following month.
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First meeting of the minds

Our Board of Directors meets for the first time and approves funding mechanisms and eligibility guidelines. The first deadline for submissions for CFI funding is set for May 1998.
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And the winners are...

Our first Innovation Fund competition is launched to support research in areas where Canada excels. Forty-nine institutions receive $198 million for more than 400 projects across the country. This is one of the largest investments in research in Canada at the time.
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We're bringing scientists back

Our first Report on Results, which looks at how CFI funding has affected the research community, points out the beginning of a brain drain reversal thanks to the research facilities that are now available in Canada.
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We make new friends

We forge a funding partnership with the Canada Research Chairs Program. This program invests around $265 million a year to attract and retain some of the world’s brightest minds.
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More time to make positive change

The 2000 Federal Budget includes an additional $900 million in funding for the CFI, extending our original five-year mandate to 2005.
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Tackling big health issues with a big fund

To increase Canada’s capacity to conduct world-class research in critical health-related areas, we launch the Research Hospital Fund, a $554-million fund for large-scale research-hospital-based infrastructure projects.
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Remembering a Canadian research pioneer

We pay tribute to the outstanding contributions of John R. Evans, our first Chair of the Board, by renaming our Leaders Opportunity Fund in his honour.
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Online dating for businesses

The Research Facilities Navigator is launched to help industry access labs and expertise. The online directory lists research facilities across the country that are open to working with business.
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Innovative awards for innovative minds

We are a founding partner of the Governor General's Innovation Awards and responsible for the management of the adjudication process.
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Our 20th anniversary campaign kicks off

We celebrate 20 years of CFI-funded research with a fresh new site full of stories of how research builds communities across Canada.
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Supporting Canada’s world-class research facilities

The Government of Canada announces an investment of $328.5 million through the CFI to ensure the optimal performance of 17 national research facilities led by 12 universities across Canada.
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I am innovation

To highlight the achievements of Canada’s next generation, we launch the #IAmInnovation campaign to tell the stories of how access to CFI-funded tools and research spaces have helped students and post-docs advance their research and their careers.
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Beyond all limits

The Government of Canada announces $554 million through the CFI’s Innovation Fund in 117 new infrastructure projects at 61 universities, colleges and research hospitals across Canada. With this announcement, we also mark an important milestone, having funded more than 10,000 projects since the organization began.
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New Science committee established

We welcome the establishment of the Canada Research Coordinating Committee (CRCC) in response to the recommendations made in the Fundamental Science Review. The CRCC Committee aims to enhance collaboration between the CFI and granting agencies.
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Celebrating a new generation of Canadian researchers

We assemble a talented group of young scholars at an event on Parliament Hill where more than 100 guests, including Members of Parliament, come to meet the next generation of researchers.
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Ongoing funding for research infrastructure

In Budget 2018, the federal government allocates $763 million over five years to the CFI to support the development of state-of-the-art research infrastructure at Canadian universities, colleges and research hospitals. In addition, it proposes to establish permanent funding at an ongoing level of $462 million per year by 2023–24 for research tools and infrastructure supported through the CFI.
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A better way to assess the impact of research

We reaffirm our commitment to the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), a global initiative to support the development and promotion of best practices in the assessment of scholarly research, at the Canadian Science Policy Conference in Ottawa.
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Responding to COVID-19

Our downtown Ottawa office closes and CFI staff begin working remotely. We make provisions to allow salary support for research personnel who are temporarily redeployed from CFI-funded infrastructure to support COVID-19 research.
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Case study of the CFI's funding model

A new policy paper from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development uses a CFI funding model as a case study to better exploit scientific capabilities of national research infrastructures.
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A new Canadian standard for classifying research

We implement the Canadian Research and Development Classification (CRDC), a new system that provides a common approach to classifying research across institutions and governments.
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A letter of understanding

We sign a letter of understanding with the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council to foster Canada-UK research collaboration and access to infrastructure.
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Ensuring Canadian researchers are well equipped to tackle the pandemic

The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, announces close to $28 million in research infrastructure support through the CFI's Exceptional Opportunities Fund to cover the urgent need for equipment for ongoing research related to COVID-19. The funding will support 79 projects at 52 universities and research hospitals, colleges, polytechnics and Cégeps across Canada.
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Celebrating our silver anniversary

We mark the beginning of our 25th anniversary year by launching a refreshed brand and a new website.