Major Science Initiatives Fund

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

We contribute to the ongoing operating and maintenance (O&M) needs of national research facilities through the Major Science Initiatives (MSI) Fund. 

In 2010, the CFI was mandated by the Government of Canada to design a systematic approach to evaluate and address the operating and maintenance (O&M) funding needs and the scientific performance of national research facilities. The purpose would be to ensure that these facilities have solid management and governance policies and practices in place. In response, we created the Major Science Initiatives (MSI) Fund. Held in 2012, the first competition under this new mechanism sought to support large-scale research facilities that had received a one-time contribution of at least $25 million in infrastructure funding from the CFI. For the 2014 special competition, eligibility was broadened and a special competition was launched to include a greater range of national facilities, both in size and complexity, across all research disciplines. Through the 2017–22 competition, the CFI continues to contribute to the ongoing O&M needs of national research facilities for which the loss or absence of support would represent a serious setback for Canada. CFI support through this competition is intended to:

  • Secure and strengthen state-of-the-art national research facilities that enable Canadian  researchers to undertake world-class research and technology development that leads to social, health, economic, or environmental benefits to Canadians;
  • Enable funded facilities to operate at an optimal level and to have their scientific and technical capabilities fully exploited; and,
  • Promote the adoption of best practices in governance and management, including long-term strategic and operational planning in keeping with the scale and complexity of the facility.

Decisions for the 2017–22 MSI competition were made by the Board of Directors in September 2016. Refer to the funding announcement for additional information related to this competition and the national research facilities or click on the icons on the following map.

Illustration of a megaphone which represents a call for proposals

Call for proposals

All the details you need for the 2017-22 competition

How does the CFI define “national research facility?”

We define a national research facility as one that addresses the needs of a community of Canadian 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. The facility supports leading-edge research and technology development, and promotes the mobilization of knowledge and transfer of technology to society. A national research facility requires resource commitments well beyond the capacity of any one institution. A national research facility, whether single-sited, distributed or virtual, is specifically identified or recognized as serving pan-Canadian needs and its governance and management structures reflect this mandate. 



December 21, 2015

Notice of Intent submission deadline

February 4, 2016

Invitation to submit proposals

April 21, 2016

Proposal submission deadline

May to July 2016

Expert Committee meetings

August 2016

Multidisciplinary Assessment Committee meeting

September 2016

Board of Directors meeting — funding decision

January 2017

Public funding announcement

Summer-Fall 2019

Mid-term review

Expressions of Interest

In the 2017–22 competition, applicants were asked to submit an Expression of Interest by email by October 14, 2015. These were used to gauge the level of interest and to plan the competition.

Notices of intent

The 2017–22 competition required that the administrative institution submit a Notice of Intent (NOI) to articulate how the facility meets all seven eligibility criteria for the competition. The NOIs deemed eligible by the CFI through the administrative review process were reviewed by a Multidisciplinary Assessment Committee (MAC ) composed of experienced individuals with expertise in the governance, management and operation of national research facilities. They were asked to identify those facilities that meet all seven eligibility criteria of the MSI. The recommendations from the MAC were endorsed by the CFI’s senior management. Institutions were advised by January 28, 2016 whether or not they were invited to submit a proposal.

List of Eligible Notices of Intent  (received December 21, 2015)


The submission deadline for proposals was April 21, 2016. To prepare a proposal, applicants referred to the Major Science Initiatives 2017–22: Guidelines for completing a proposal Major Science Initiatives 2017-22: Guidelines for completing a proposal

assessment criteria

Proposals were assessed on the basis of:

  • Scientific excellence
  • International competitiveness
  • Need for CFI funding
  • Excellence in governance
  • Excellence in management and operations

To be considered for funding, a proposal had to satisfy all five criteria to a degree commensurate with the size and complexity of the facility.

Merit review process

The assessment process was tailored to the nature and complexity of the proposal and generally included two stages: review by Expert Committee  and by the Multidisciplinary Assessment Committee (MAC).

Expert committee review

Expert Committees were convened to assess each proposal in relation to the established assessment criteria for this competition. These committees were tasked with recommending to the MAC those proposals that met the standard of excellence for the competition and with recommending the amount to be awarded to each proposal.

Multidisciplinary assessment review

The second stage involved assessment by a MAC of those proposals recommended by the Expert Committees. Following a careful analysis of the results of the expert review, the MAC was responsible for:

  • Identifying proposals that best meet the competition objectives relative to other competing requests;
  • Establishing the amount to be awarded to each proposal, within the competition budget; and,
  • Reviewing requests for transitional funding from facilities currently receiving MSI funding but that were not successful in the current competition at either the NOI, expert or MAC review stages.

The MAC was tasked with providing the final funding recommendations and funding amounts to the CFI Board of Directors.

Decision process

Funding decisions were made by the CFI Board of Directors at its September 2016 meeting.



The CFI has established an oversight framework which will guide the monitoring activities of the funded facilities. Oversight activities will be tailored to the complexity of the facility and will include:

  • Financial and progress reports, including short- and medium-term outputs and outcomes;
  • Risk assessment and mitigation strategy;
  • Performance monitoring strategy; and,
  • Decommissioning plans.

Each facility funded will undergo an external merit review at the midpoint of the award cycle (2019–20). The MSI mid-term review will assess the facility’s ability to maximize their scientific and technological capabilities as a result of the MSI funding. Accordingly, the mid-term review will provide an assessment of the overall impact of MSI funding on the scientific excellence of the research program(s), the research outcomes and impacts, and on the governance, management and operations. The future management plan and the need for operating and maintenance funds for the remaining period will also be assessed. The CFI contribution to the operating and maintenance costs for the remaining period will depend on the outcome of the mid-term review.

Illustration of an eye layered on top of a document which represents oversight

MSI Oversight Framework

An outline of how we oversee facilities funded through the MSI fund


Good practices