New funding announced to upgrade Canada’s biocontainment facilities

Government of Canada investment of more than $127 million will keep Canadian biosciences facilities at the cutting-edge

OTTAWA, ONT. — The COVID-19 pandemic taught us that to tackle emerging global health issues countries must remain at the forefront of research. In Canada, this includes equipping biosciences researchers with high-performance tools, innovative research spaces and biocontainment facilities to bring their ideas from discovery to development and commercialization. In many cases, this work requires specialized equipment to conduct infectious disease research safely.

To help meet this need, the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, announced today an investment of more than $127 million through the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) to support upgrades to eight biocontainment facilities across the country. These investments are part of a $1.6 billion suite of funding programs for researchers, students and science infrastructure announced today during Minister Champagne’s live remarks at the Canadian Science Policy Conference this afternoon. 

Projects being funded will contribute to:

  • Expanding a laboratory at Canada's Global Nexus for Pandemics and Biological Threats at McMaster University, where an internationally renowned team of experts in infectious disease and immunological research find new antimicrobials, antivirals, vaccines and diagnostics to combat the world's worst pathogens
  • Enlarging the containment level 3 facility at the University of Calgary to be able to visualize what a pathogen is doing inside a cell and to see whether new drugs are working, making it one of a few CL3 facilities in North America with the capability to do so
  • Expanding Western University's Imaging Pathogens for Knowledge Translation containment level 3 facility and establishing a new Pathogen Research Centre to test the effectiveness of new antimicrobial materials and strategies that will reduce or prevent the spread of pathogens through the air or by touch
  • Expanding the capacity of the Toronto High Containment Facility, which is part of the Emerging and Pandemic Infections Consortium at the University of Toronto to make it a world leader in its ability to support innovative interdisciplinary research 
  • Supporting ongoing research at McGill University on emerging pathogens to develop new lines of investigation and train the next generation of infectious disease researchers
  • Upgrading the capability of the University of Saskatchewan’s Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization to study pathogens that emerge in animal and human populations
  • Modernizing one of the containment level 3 labs at the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control to focus on SARS-CoV-2, tuberculosis and multidrug-resistant pathogens
  • Creating a centre for discovery and translational research at the University of Alberta’s Alberta High Containment Research Infrastructure facility that will develop and test new vaccines and therapeutics to support the immediate and long-term growth needs of Canada's biopharmaceutical sector.

This is the first investment made through a new CFI funding program — the Biosciences Research Infrastructure Fund (BRIF) — which was launched in September 2021. It responds to urgent and essential needs of postsecondary institutions and research hospitals by supporting containment facilities capable of working with pathogens. The funding will help institutions keep their facilities at the cutting-edge and strengthen their capacity to work with industry and government to advance promising discoveries and promote training and talent development in the biosciences.

The 2021 federal budget allocated $500 million to support BRIF as part of Canada’s Biomanufacturing and Life Sciences Strategy. Today’s announcement is a result of the first BRIF competition. The remaining funds will be dispersed through a second competition, the Canada Biomedical Research Fund (CBRF) and BRIF – Stage 2 that will launch in early 2023 in collaboration with Canada’s Tri-Agency Institutional Programs Secretariat. Visit the Canada Biomedical Research Fund website for information on the second BRIF competition. 


“To continue protecting the health and safety of Canadians, Canada’s post-secondary institutions and research hospitals require innovative research spaces and biocontainment facilities like the eight state-of-the-art facilities announced today. This investment, guided by the Biomanufacturing and Life Sciences Strategy, will help build Canada’s talent pipeline and research systems to grow a competitive domestic life sciences sector, with cutting-edge biomanufacturing capabilities.”

The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

“The COVID-19 pandemic clearly demonstrated the importance of cutting-edge research in infectious diseases. Ensuring labs meet standards and are well equipped to combat new challenges in biosciences will contribute to a healthy future for Canadians.”

 Roseann O’Reilly Runte, President and CEO, Canada Foundation for Innovation

Quick facts

  • The total investment made today by the Government of Canada through the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s Biosciences Research Infrastructure Fund is $127,976,086.
  • This total investment includes $98,443,143 in research infrastructure funding and $29,532,943 awarded under the Infrastructure Operating Fund (IOF), a mechanism that assists institutions with the incremental operation and maintenance costs associated with the new infrastructure.
  • Support from this fund advances the Government of Canada’s Biomanufacturing and Life Sciences Strategy by strengthening the research capacity of Canada’s biomanufacturing and life sciences ecosystem.
  • Minister Champagne also announced today CFI funding affiliated with the Canada Research Chairs Program through its John R. Evans Leaders Fund.

Associated links

Social media
For updates, follow us on Twitter @InnovationCA, LinkedIn and Facebook, and subscribe to our YouTube channel to find videos about the CFI and its transformative research projects.

About the Canada Foundation for Innovation
Since 1997, the Canada Foundation for Innovation has invested in infrastructure that researchers need to think big, innovate and push the boundaries of knowledge. State-of-the-art research facilities and equipment increase the capability of Canada’s universities, colleges, research hospitals and non-profit research organizations to carry out high-quality research. This, in turn, helps them to attract and retain the world’s top talent, train the next generation of researchers and support world-class research that strengthens the economy and improves the quality of life for all Canadians.


Malorie Bertrand
Media Relations and Social Media Specialist
Canada Foundation for Innovation
C: 613-943-2580
malorie.bertrand [at] (malorie[dot]bertrand[at]innovation[dot]ca)

Media Relations
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
media [at]

Biosciences Research Infrastructure Fund

Biocontainment and large-animal facilities competition

Applicant institution

Project title

Maximum CFI contribution
McGill UniversityCL3 Capacity for Innovative Research and Training on Emerging and Reemerging Pathogens


McMaster UniversityExpansion of the CL2+/CL3 Capacity at Canada’s Global Nexus in Pandemics and Biological Threats


University of AlbertaAlberta High Containment Research Infrastructure (AHCRI)


University of British Columbia (The)BOLSTER-3-Pathogen Research: Building Operational Laboratory Strength To Enhance Risk 3 Pathogen Research


University of CalgaryImaging Pathogens in Living Organisms at Single Cell Resolution


University of SaskatchewanVIDO Large Animal CL3/CL4 Enhancement and Upgrade


University of TorontoToronto High Containment Facility


University of Western Ontario (The)CL3 Pathogen Research Center: Expansion for Microbial Transmission and GMP Antimicrobial Production