Major Science Initiatives Fund

The Major Science Initiatives Fund provides support for the ongoing operating and maintenance needs of research facilities of national importance and ensures that they use appropriate management and governance policies and practices.

2023 MSI Fund competition call for proposals

Frequently Asked Questions – 2023 Major Science Initiatives Fund

Scroll down to register for an information session about the 2023 competition​.

How do we define a facility in the context of this fund?

A facility funded through the MSI Fund addresses the needs of a community of researchers representing a critical mass of users distributed across the country.

This is done by providing shared access to substantial and advanced specialized equipment, services, resources, and scientific and technical personnel.

Whether single-sited, distributed or virtual, the facility:

  • Supports leading-edge research and technology development, and promotes the mobilization of knowledge and transfer of technology to society
  • Requires resource commitments well beyond the capacity of any one institution
  • Is specifically identified or recognized as serving pan-Canadian needs and its governance and management structures reflect this mandate. 

Who is eligible to apply to this fund?

Canadian universities, colleges, research hospitals and non-profit research institutions recognized as CFI-eligible can apply to this fund on behalf of a facility. Check our list of CFI-eligible institutions.

With each new competition, we set a list of specific criteria that facilities must meet to be eligible for funding.

How is the funding distributed?

With each new competition, we set an overall budget, which is awarded to successful facilities to cover a portion of their operating and maintenance costs.

We distribute the overall budget based on the needs of each facility, as assessed by the review committees during the competitive process.

Halfway through each funding cycle, we conduct a midterm review of each facility to assess its performance and determine the amount of our contribution for the second half of the funding cycle.

2023 competition

What is the timeline?

The 2023 competition will provide funding to facilities for six years, from April 1, 2023 to March 31, 2029.

Facilities funded in the 2017 competition

Any other facility

Information sessions for potential applicants

July 14, 2021 (English)
July 15, 2021 (French)

Deadline to submit expressions of interest

Not applicable

August 10, 2021

Deadline to submit notices of intent

September 20, 2021

Review of notices of intent by a Multidisciplinary Assessment Committee

October 2021

CFI issues invitation to submit proposals

Not applicable

November 4, 2021

Deadline to submit proposals

November 4, 2021

February 8, 2022

Review of proposals by Expert Committees

Dec 2021 through Feb 2022

March and April 2022

Review of proposals by a Multidisciplinary Assessment Committee

May 2022

Decision by CFI Board of Directors

June 22, 2022

How much funding is available?

The CFI will invest up to $660 million through the 2023 competition.

What are the objectives?

Funding through the 2023 competition is intended to:

  • Enable pan-Canadian research communities to undertake world-class research and technology development that lead to social, health, economic or environmental benefits for Canadians
  • Enable facilities to operate at an optimal level to ensure the best use of their specialized equipment, services, resources, and technical and scientific personnel
  • Promote responsible stewardship through the adoption of best practices in governance and management.

What are the eligibility criteria?

A facility is eligible for funding through the 2023 competition if it:

  • Provides highly specialized equipment, services, resources, or scientific and technical personnel
  • Has a demonstrated demand from a research community for equipment, services, resources and scientific and technical personnel
  • Has as an established governance model appropriate to its size and complexity, with a clearly defined national mandate
  • Has a management structure and practices appropriate to its size and complexity
  • Has a publicly available user access policy through which any interested user can request access
  • Has demonstrated annual eligible operating and maintenance costs exceeding $1 million to support human and operational resources beyond what is typically available in Canadian research institutions
  • Is fully operational
  • Is owned by one or more CFI-eligible institutions

See the call for proposals for the 2023 competition for the specific requirements of each of these eligibility criteria

What is the process to apply?

Follow the steps below and consult the 2023 MSI Fund competition call for proposals for complete instructions on how to apply.

Step 1: Send us an expression of interest

If your institution is acting as the administrative institution for a facility not funded in the 2017 competition, submit an expression of interest before you submit a notice of intent.

We will use expressions of interest as a first step toward planning the competition.

Include the following information in your expression of interest:

  • Name of the facility
  • Website address of the facility, if there is one
  • Brief description of the facility (maximum 200 words)
  • Annual operating budget of the facility (based on costs and revenues eligible through this fund)
  • Your best estimate of the total amount you will request from the CFI for the period April 1, 2023 through to March 31, 2029.

Email your expression of interest to MSI-ISM [at] innovation.ca.

Step 2: Submit a notice of intent

If your institution is acting as the administrative institution for a facility seeking funding through this competition, submit a notice of intent.

Both facilities funded in the 2017 competition and those that were not must submit a notice of intent.

We will use notices of intent to plan the merit-review process and to start recruiting reviewers.

We will also use the notices of intent to determine whether facilities not funded in the 2017 competition meet the eligibility criteria for the competition.

We will notify the administrative institutions of these facilities whether or not they are invited to submit a proposal.

Submit your notice of intent in the CFI Awards Management System (CAMS)

Step 3: Submit a proposal

If your institution is acting as the administrative institution for a facility seeking funding through this competition, submit a proposal.

Submit your proposal in the CFI Awards Management System (CAMS)

Step 4: The review process begins

After the deadline to submit proposals, the merit-review process begins. This is how we will assess which proposals receive funding.

How is my proposal assessed?

After you submit your proposal, it is assessed through our merit-review process.

We tailor the review process to the nature and complexity of each proposal. It includes these stages:

1. Administrative review   

We review each proposal to make sure it’s complete and adheres to our guidelines.

2. Expert Committee

Expert Committees assess each proposal against the assessment criteria for the competition. For each proposal that meets the standard of excellence for the competition, they recommend to the Multidisciplinary Assessment Committee the amount to be awarded to the project.

Guidelines for expert committee members

3. Multidisciplinary Assessment Committee

From the proposals recommended by the Expert Committees, the Multidisciplinary Assessment Committee:

  • Identifies the ones that best meet the competition objectives relative to other competing requests
  • Establishes the amount that should be awarded to each proposal, within the competition budget
  • Reviews requests for transitional funding from facilities funded in the 2017 competition but which are not successful in the current competition at either the Expert Committee or Multidisciplinary Assessment Committee stage
  • Provides the final funding recommendations and funding amounts to the CFI Board of Directors.

Guidelines for Multidisciplinary Assessment Committee members

Who makes the final funding decisions?

Funding decisions are made by the CFI Board of Directors.

What are the assessment criteria?

With each new competition, we set a list of criteria against which review committees assess each proposal.

The assessment criteria for the 2023 competition are:

  • Scientific excellence
  • International competitiveness
  • Need for CFI funding
  • Excellence in governance
  • Excellence in management
  • Operations and user access

See the call for proposals for the 2023 competition for details of each of these assessment criteria

If your facility is funded, there are a few things you’ll need to do to finalize, manage and report on your award.

What is the timeline for reporting on and managing awards?

The timeline for reporting on and managing your award depends on which competition your facility is funded through. Check the table below for what is coming up.

Facilities funded in the 2017 competition

Facilities funded in the 2023 competition

Deadlines to submit annual reports

June 15, 2021

June 15, 2022

June 15, 2024

June 15, 2025

June 15, 2026

June 15, 2027

June 15, 2028

Deadline to submit final report

June 15, 2023

June 15, 2029

Midterm review

Completed

Summer/Fall 2025

Workshop

About once a year

How are awards finalized?

Help us establish your facility’s customized monitoring activities

Before we can finalize your funding, we will contact you to establish your facility’s customized monitoring activities.

Monitoring activities are unique to each facility and are based on the complexity of the facility. 

We use a framework to guide how we customize our monitoring activities.

Read our framework for how we monitor facilities funded through the MSI Fund

Finalize your funding

Next, you will need to finalize your award before we can release funds to your institution.

Submit your award finalization form in the CFI Awards Management System (CAMS)

What is required of administrative institutions for reporting on and managing an award?

Submit annual financial and performance reports and budget updates

Financial reports and budget updates include:

  • Actual and forecasted eligible costs
  • Actual and forecasted contributions to eligible costs from eligible partners
  • Actual and forecasted changes that have not been previously approved by the CFI.

Submit your financial reports and budget updates in the CFI Awards Management System (CAMS)

Annual performance reports include:

  • Information on the status, progress, outcomes and upcoming activities of your facility
  • Progress on meeting funding conditions imposed by the CFI (if any)
  • The latest measures for your facility’s performance indicators.

The CFI and key funding partners (provincial or others) will use the annual performance reports to monitor the progress and achievements of the facility.

Read our instructions for completing an annual performance report

Use our form to complete your annual performance report (Please download Adobe Reader to read and use this form.)

Email your annual performance report to your Senior Programs Officer.

Participate in a midterm review

Halfway through each funding cycle, we conduct a review of each facility to assess how well it has used our funding to maximize its scientific and technological capabilities, and to determine the amount of our contribution for the second half of the funding cycle.

During the midterm review we will look at:

  • The overall impact of our funding on the scientific excellence of your facility’s research program(s)
  • The research outcomes and impacts of your facility
  • Your facility’s governance, management and operations
  • Your facility’s plan for the second half of the cycle
  • The need for operating and maintenance funds for the remaining part of the funding cycle.

We will notify you when the process for the midterm review is beginning.

Submit final financial and performance reports

You must submit a final performance report and final financial report at the end of the funding cycle for the competition.

These reports include:

  • A summary of your facility’s progress and key achievements in relation to the objectives of the MSI Fund during the funding cycle
  • Both annual and cumulative data over the funding cycle.

You will submit your final financial report in the CFI Awards Management System (CAMS) and email your final performance report to your Senior Programs Officer.

Check back here in 2023 for the final performance report template for the 2017 competition

Participate in our workshops

About once each year, we host a workshop for directors and staff of the research facilities funded through the MSI Fund, representatives from the host universities, funding partners and other invited guests.

During these workshops, you can expect to:

  • Share knowledge, experience and best practices for common challenges that arise for research facilities of national importance
  • Build relationships across the community of people at research facilities of national importance
  • Look ahead to future opportunities.   

Browse videos from our 2021 workshop

Read and share good practices for managing your funding

Staff at facilities supported through the MSI Fund have developed good practices, policies and processes for managing the funding they receive through the MSI Fund.

Read some of them here and write to us to share your own.

Email us at MSI-ISM [at] innovation.ca to share your institution’s good practices for managing your awards.

History of the MSI Fund

2010: The Government of Canada mandates the CFI to design a systematic approach to evaluate and address the operating and maintenance needs and scientific performance of research facilities of national importance.

2011: We create the Major Science Initiatives (MSI) Fund and launch the first competition. The inaugural competition sets out to support large-scale research facilities that had previously received a one-time contribution of at least $25 million in infrastructure funding from the CFI.

2014: We launch a special competition through the MSI Fund, expanding the eligibility to include a greater range of research facilities of national importance, both in size and complexity and across all research disciplines.

2016: We launch the 2017 competition to contribute to the ongoing operating and maintenance needs of research facilities of national importance for which the loss or absence of support would represent a serious setback for Canada.

2019: After the 2018 federal budget awards permanent funding to the CFI, it allows us to extend the funding cycle for the MSI Fund from five to six years, providing for a longer planning horizon for facilities and greater stability to help retain highly qualified personnel.

Acting upon a recommendation made in Canada’s Fundamental Science Review report, we increase our share of funding from 40 percent to 60 percent of a facility’s operating and maintenance costs for facilities the report identifies as major in scale.

2021: We launch the 2023 competition.

MSI report image

Report highlights the impact of the program to fund Canada’s nationally significant research facilities   

Major Science Initiatives Fund helped facilities deliver outstanding, world-class science