Awards from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) are granted to the university as an institution rather than to an individual Faculty member.

Therefore, the Office of Vice-President Research (OVPR) is accountable for all aspects of the award.  On behalf of the OVPR, Research Acceleration and Strategic Initiatives coordinates the application process, including an internal application development and review process at the pre-submission stage, and oversees post-award administration of all CFI awards.

The CFI has detailed policy and program guidelines and reporting requirements related to the use and administration of the funds.

CFI Innovation Fund (CFI-IF)

The Innovation Fund (IF) invests in infrastructure across the full spectrum of research, from the most fundamental to applied through to technology development. Projects funded through the Innovation Fund will help Canada remain at the forefront of exploration and knowledge generation while making meaningful contributions to generating social, health, environmental and economic benefits and addressing global challenges. Our Strategic and Institutional Research Initiatives (SIRI)team supports the CFI-IF competition.

The CFI-IF program supports transformative infrastructure projects that advance and shape the
Canadian research landscape. Past competitions have funded projects which:

  • Enable global leadership by supporting world-class research and technology development.
  • Enhance and optimize the capacity of institutions and research communities to conduct the proposed research or technology development program(s).
  • Lead to social, health, environmental and/or economic benefits for Canadians.

Although CFI’s formal timelines and envelope allocations have yet to be released, the USask institutional envelope for the IF competition is expected to be between $15M and $20M. Due to the competitive nature of this program, USask is using an excellence-based approach to select projects for submission. To strengthen your NOI, we recommend participation in RASI’s services.


CFI has announced an exciting new strategy for funding social sciences, humanities, and the arts (SSHA). To better support the research community in SSHA, the 2025 Innovation Fund will:

  • Allow each institution to submit one proposal outside of the institutional envelope with the primary field of research in SSHA.
  • Establish an SSHA-specific funding stream with adapted assessment criteria.
  • Extend the eligibility of personnel required for the continuous development and use of databases (evergreening).

2025 Innovation Fund Competition Timeline: here.

1.Attend an Information Session on the 2025 CFI IF Competition
Date: October 17, 2023
Time: 1:30 pm-2:30 pm
View slides from the session here.

2.Register for the Pitch and Networking Event
Researchers will have an opportunity to pitch their proposal to senior leadership to gain valuable feedback prior to submitting their internal NOI. SIRI will provide registrants with guidelines to support the development of a strong and compelling pitch. Though highly recommended, participation in the Pitch and Networking event is optional. Please submit the pitch registration form by December 31, 2023, to sign up. Scheduled for January 22, 2024, 1:30 pm-4:30 pm.

Location: Convocation Hall

Registration for the pitch event is now closed.

3.Submit an Internal Notice of Intent (NOI). NOIs are due April 5, 2024.  To receive SIRI feedback prior to the deadline, please submit your NOI to RASI by March 1, 2024. Ranking of projects based on envelope allocation expected by May 1, 2024. Both USask led and Non-Usask led proposals need to submit a NOI by the deadline to be considered for the USask envelope.

Please notify SIRI ASAP if you are part of an IF led by another institution
Submission: rasi.support@usask.ca

USask NOI Form - USask Led

USask NOI Form - Non-USask Led

Please note NOI intake has now closed.

2025 CFI-IF Draft Call

CFI has released its draft 2025 IF Call and is requesting institutions' feedback. If you would like to submit feedback on the draft call, please have your comments and suggestions submitted to RASI by May 8, 2024, at 4:30 p.m. Feedback and comments can be sent by email to cfi.support@usask.ca.

2025 CFI IF Draft Call

For more information contact rasi.support@usask.ca

CFI - John R. Evans Leaders Fund (JELF)

The John R. Evans Leaders Fund (JELF) enables a select number of an institution’s excellent researchers to undertake leading-edge research by providing them with the foundational research infrastructure required to be or become leaders in their field. In turn, this enables institutions to remain internationally competitive in areas of research and technology development, aligned with their strategic priorities.


The CFI has designed the John R. Evans Leaders Fund (JELF) to help universities attract and retain the best researchers at a time of intense international competition by allowing the universities to:

  • acquire infrastructure for their leading research faculty to undertake cutting-edge research
  • create competitive packages of research support for infrastructure, direct research costs and operating funds.

In order to address the mandate of the JELF, and to stay competitive at the national level, all eligible faculty members at the UofS will have an opportunity to apply for the JELF competition.

The CFI has 3 deadlines for submitting JELF applications – 15 February, 15 June and 15 October. The University of Saskatchewan will typically participate in February and October JELF submissions, but not June submissions. The CFI Advisory Committee will review and screen the applications and will take into consideration the priority assigned to each application by the College. All faculty members with full-time academic appointments are encouraged to apply.

The CFI Advisory Committee may recommend that some applications be submitted for a later competition. The committee will accept group JELF applications (maximum of 3 researchers). Each co-applicant must have a strong link to the research project, for example a critical need to use the proposed infrastructure. The CFI Working Committee will assist the researchers in developing their full proposals.

Screening of JELF Proposals

As the CFI Advisory Committee will need to make strategic decisions regarding usage of the CFI envelope, the following guiding principles will be used:

  • Innovative research and strength of candidate
  • Fit with the Research Themes identified in the UofS Strategic Research Plan for CFI/CRC
  • Any redundancy of proposed infrastructure on campus
  • Full utilization of the proposed infrastructure
  • CFI ask and availability of matching funds
  • College ranking (recruitment and research priorities, building capacity, order of priority if multiple applications from a College)

Committees and Roles

The CFI Advisory Committee is chaired by the Vice-President Research and consists of Deans and Associate Deans and representatives from University of Saskatchewan committees and the Canadian Light Source. The committee advises the Vice-President Research on the management and implementation of the CFI program at the U of S.

The CFI Working Committee consists of senior Faculty members from each of the Colleges and the Canadian Light Source. The committee assists Project Leaders with the development of CFI applications and provides recommendations to the CFI Advisory Committee.

The CFI Admin Group consists of representatives from Facilities Management Division, Information and Communications Technology, Safety Resources, and Purchasing Services. The Admin Group is coordinated by the Research Services and Ethics Office. The Admin Group works with Research Services and Ethics Office to provide pre- and post-award assistance with equipment purchases, space and renovation requirements, and University policies and procedures. Research Services and Ethics Office also oversees post-award administration of the project. 

What happens next? 
Please refer to the timelines for a guideline on when to expect a funding decision from CFI and when purchasing for the project can begin.

All communications regarding the award status must remain confidential until CFI makes their first public announcement. USask's Research Profile and Impact unit will coordinate all public research communication activities in consultation with the Project Leader (faculty member who is lead applicant).

The CFI Review process takes approximately 4 to 6 months. Research Services will notify each Project Leader as soon as the results of the application are received from CFI and will provide information on finalizing award agreements for matching funds and the CFI Award Acceptance Process. Please consult with Research Acceleration and Strategic Initiatives before beginning any purchasing for the CFI project.

Award Acceptance and Post-Award Procedures

RASI will assist the Project Leader with any applications for matching funds and with finalization of the agreements/contracts for matching funds. During this time, RASI will discuss procedures for CFI purchasing and renovations, project reporting requirements and any other concerns, with the Project Leader. When all agreements for matching funds are finalized, all relevant certificates for health and safety and ethics are filed, and project space is available, RASI submits the Confirmation of Award and Itemized List and Summary of Secured Contributions form to CFI. After the Award Agreement documents are sent to CFI, purchasing for the project may begin in consultation with the OVPR Financial Commons office. See CFI Post-Award Procedures for details.

Post-Award Administration

CFI awards are institutional awards and therefore, the Vice-President Research holds all project funds. RASI, on behalf of the Vice-President Research, will administer each award and assist the Project Leaders throughout the process.

CFI awards are executed differently from awards through other granting agencies, as follows:

  • RASI must authorize all expenditures for the award
  • RASI is responsible for:
    • Coordinating all CFI and other funding reports. Each Project Leader will be asked to prepare status reports as needed
    • Providing all financial statements to the funding partners
    • Notifying each Project Leader prior to closing the project file
  • RASI is responsible for:
    • Coordinating all CFI Annual Project Progress Reports

Infrastructure Operating Fund

The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) has created the Infrastructure Operating Fund (IOF) to assist institutions with addressing operating and maintenance costs to ensure optimal operation of CFI‐funded infrastructure. CFI provides each institution with an allocation based on the CFI contribution to eligible projects funded since July 1, 2001. Each institution is responsible for deciding how to distribute the IOF allocation among its eligible projects.

The University of Saskatchewan has developed an Institutional Allocation Plan to manage the internal distribution of the IOF. Project Leaders are advised to work with their Dean/delegate and Department Head to ensure efficient use of the IOF funding.

To ensure the long-term sustainability of projects, Project Leaders are required to submit a sustainability plan that demonstrates the strategic use of the IOF funding during the first five years of the project and outlines a plan for sustaining the project beyond year six. This plan must be submitted during proposal development and should provide a clear description of how the project will be sustained, including details on the use of user fees, partnerships with industry, or other funding sources. It is important that Project Leaders carefully consider the financial and operational requirements of their project and develop a realistic and viable sustainability plan. 

John R. Evans Leaders Fund (JELF)

For Project Leaders applying for JELF funding, an IOF allocation of up to 18% of the CFI capital award amount can be requested when submitting individual applications. This source of funding is allocated in the Operations and Maintenance budget. In exceptional circumstances, such as change in management focus or clientele resulting in unforeseen and excessive costs, the CFI Advisory Committee may approve an allocation of up to 22.5% of the approved CFI award amount at the Award Finalization stage.

Innovation Fund (IF)

For Project Leaders applying for IF funding, an IOF allocation of up to 22.5% of the CFI capital award amount can be requested when submitting individual applications. This source of funding is allocated in the Operations and Maintenance budget. In exceptional circumstances, such as change in management focus or clientele resulting in unforeseen and excessive costs, the CFI Advisory Committee may approve an allocation of up to 27% of the approved CFI award amount at the Award Finalization stage.

Project Leaders, along with their Dean’s Office and Department Head, who accept IOF are responsible for:

  • Compliance with CFI Policy and Program Guide related to IOF (Section 4.7.1) (https://www.innovation.ca/sites/default/files/2021-10/CFI-PPG-2019_1.pdf).
  • Ensuring that all expenditures are related to the operation and maintenance of the infrastructure funded by CFI.
  • Funding over-expenditures and ineligible expenditures from other sources.
  • Retaining a file of supporting documentation for expenditures for 6 years.
  • Read and adhere to the Institutional Allocation Plan

February-March RASI invites eligible JELF and IF Project Leaders to submit an IOF Application form. 

Project Leaders submit a signed IOF Application Form (attached) to RASI for review and processing; JELF projects seeking more than 18% will go to the CFI Advisory Committee for review.

The IOF Application Form & Tips for Completing the IOF application document can be aquired by emailing cfi.support@usask.ca.

Institutional Allocation Plan

April-May RASI notifies Project Leaders of the funding decision.
June RASI compiles the successful internal IOF Application Forms and submits the annual institutional request to CFI.

RASI sends Letter of Acceptance Form to the Project Leader which outlines the amount and terms and conditions.

Project Leaders submit

August-September Once Letter of Acceptance Form has been fully signed and received by RASI, an operating fund will be created in the Project Leader’s name for each approved project for the full amount stated in the award letter. 


Project Leaders, if applicable, will submit a Certification - Salary of Technicians and Professionals, as required by CFI; (RASI will provide appropriate form to Project Leaders):


RASI compiles the internal reports and submits the annual institutional request to CFI.

Major Science Initiatives

The CFI Major Science Initiatives (MSI) Fund contributes to the ongoing operating and maintenance needs of research facilities of national importance.  The next competition is for a six-year funding cycle (2023-2029) and will be open to currently MSI funded facilities as well as to new applicants.  

Competition Objectives:

  • 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 by the adoption of best practices in governance and management


  • Research facilities must be nationally important (highly specialized equipment and services,  users from a national pool).  Regional facilities are not eligible.
  • Annual operations and maintenance costs need to exceed >$1M.  New applicants must demonstrate they meet the threshold level over the past three years of operations. 


Eligible facilities should already be in contact with RASI.support@usask.ca.  RASI will be in contact with those facilities regarding internal timelines.


See the CFI MSI webpage for details about the competition, including the draft call for proposals.