2020 Exceptional Opportunities Fund – COVID-19 (Universities)


Note: This competition is now closed. The CFI is no longer accepting proposals.

Ensuring Canadian researchers are well equipped to tackle the pandemic

The threat of infectious disease continues to be a major global concern for human health and is a key driver of healthcare system costs, human lives lost and economic turmoil.

Through this Exceptional Opportunities Fund – COVID-19 competition, the CFI will invest up to $25 million with the objective of supporting urgent needs for equipment for ongoing research related to COVID-19.

As an exception to our usual competitions, the CFI will cover up to 100 percent of the eligible costs of a project. We still encourage institutions to seek funding from other partners when possible, as this will broaden the scope of the initiative.

The deadline for submitting proposals is July 6, 2020 at 23:59 EDT. Please note that the CFI Awards Management System (CAMS) will be ready to receive proposals starting June 10, 2020. Please send any question you may have to EOF-COVID19 [at] innovation.ca (EOF-COVID19[at]innovation[dot]ca).

Consult the UPDATED Guidelines for completing a proposal for details on how to apply.

UPDATED Guidelines for completing an EOF-COVID-19 proposal

Guidelines for reviewers

Frequently asked questions: EOF – COVID-19

What key changes did the CFI make to the Guidelines for completing a proposal?

This competition was launched on May 26 and then briefly suspended while we revised it to better meet the needs of the research community. Please take note of the key changes we have made to the initial guidelines:

  • The deadline for submitting all proposals is now July 6, 2020, at 23:59 EDT. 
  • Eligible institutions are given a predetermined envelope.
  • Colleges are not eligible for this competition. There will be a separate competition to address infrastructure needs for colleges conducting COVID-19 research. Details will be announced soon.
  • Research infrastructure expenditures must have been incurred after April 1, 2020.
  • An institutional support letter is no longer required.

Why did the CFI relaunch this competition?

We relaunched this competition after we received feedback from the research community that led us to reconsider the competition deadline. We revised the deadline to provide enough time for institutions to prepare high-quality proposals and approve them internally before submitting them to the CFI. We also hope the revised deadline will allow a broader diversity of researchers, including those facing special circumstances, to prepare competitive proposals.

Did the CFI consult the research community before issuing the initial guidelines for this competition, as it usually does?

As usual, we conducted formal and informal consultations with a number of stakeholders before launching the initial guidelines. Once we suspended the competition, we had more discussions with members of the U15 and Universities Canada, which provided valuable feedback to improve the guidelines.

Why did the CFI opt for an envelope model?

Most institutions are familiar with the use of envelopes when applying to the CFI. In fact, as part of the feedback we received, institutions told us that this was their preference as this would allow an internal selection so that only the highest quality proposals are submitted to the CFI.

How did the CFI determine the envelope size for each institution? 

An institutional envelope is the upper limit on the total value of funding that an eligible institution may request. We determined it based on the average share of research funding that the institution received from the three federal research funding agencies over the period 2014–15 through 2016–17 (which is the most recent available data). Eligible institutions without a specified institutional envelope will receive an envelope of $200,000.

When will the CFI Board of Directors make its funding decisions?

We anticipate that the CFI Board of Directors will make funding decisions in early fall, 2020. This depends on the volume of proposals submitted.

What does the CFI mean by “currently engaged in research or technology development activities related to COVID-19”? Is this restricted to researchers with existing funding for COVID-19 related research?

This competition is open for proposals from all disciplines that can demonstrate a direct and immediate impact on current and pressing research issues related to COVID-19. This may include, but is not limited to, research in epidemiology, virology, vaccine development, diagnostics, therapeutic devices, mental health, social and economic policy and public health response. There is no need to have existing funding specifically targeted to COVID-19.

Can a proposal include researchers from multiple institutions?

A proposal can include researchers from multiple institutions, however, envelope sharing is not allowed.

How much funding can we request in a proposal?

You can request between $200,000 and $1.5 million from the CFI per proposal. However, the total eligible cost can be higher than the amount requested from the CFI if you expect to have partner funding. The total value of CFI funding requested for all proposals submitted by your institution must be within your institution’s envelope.

What constitutes minor renovations? 

Minor renovations include work that institutions need to install the requested equipment. The intent is to minimize implementation delays after your institution receives a favourable funding decision. These minor renovations must be completed by March 31, 2021. Floor plans are not needed in the proposal.

Do we need to list the operations and maintenance costs for the project (in the amount of up to 10 percent of eligible costs) in addition to the eligible costs or as part of the eligible costs?

You should list the operation and maintenance costs of 10 percent as part of the eligible costs. The operation and maintenance costs must be included in both the main infrastructure budget (included in the total eligible costs) and the operation and maintenance table. For example, in a project of $200,000 (total eligible costs), equipment costs would be $180,000 and operation and maintenance costs would be $20,000.

Should the costs for extended warranties and service contracts be included in the infrastructure budget or within the 10 percent allowed for operation and maintenance costs?

Costs for extended warranties and service contracts should be included in the infrastructure budget.