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) provides investments 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. The CFI-IF competition is supported by our large-scale facilitation team.

In anticipation of the upcoming CFI Innovation Fund (IF) 2021-22 competition, Research Acceleration & Strategic Initiatives is soliciting submission of Expressions of Interest (EOI) prior to release of CFI’s formal timelines.

The CFI-IF program supports transformative infrastructure projects which 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.

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 EOI, we recommend participation in RASI’s services.

1. Attend an Information Session on the EOI Process
Date: 23 March 2021
Time: 3:00-4:30
View slides from the session here.

2. Schedule a Test Your Concept Session
Researchers will have an opportunity to strengthen their proposal by participating in a Test Your Concept session at the end of April or beginning of May. Though highly recommended, participation in the Test Your Concept is optional. To sign up for a Test Your Concept session, please contact rasi.support@usask.ca by 9 April 2021.

3. Submit an Expression of Interest
The intake for USask-led EOIs is complete.  Next steps have been communicated.
Deadline: 1 August 2021 for FYI if you are part of an IF led by another institution
Deadline: 8 Oct 2021 for Final intake of non-USask led EOIs
Submission: rasi.support@usask.ca
USask EOI Form
Project Led by Another Institution - Additonal Information Form

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 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

OVPR Financial Commons will assist the Project Leader with any applications for matching funds and with finalization of the agreements/contracts for matching funds. During this time, OVPR Financial Commons 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, OVPR Financial Commons 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. OVPR Financial Commons, 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:

  • OVPR Financial Commons must authorize all expenditures for the award
  • OVPR Financial Commons 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
  • Research Acceleration and Strategic Initiatives is responsible for:
    • Coordinating all CFI Annual Project Progress Reports

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.

USask’s JELF envelope has given us the opportunity to do a larger-scale internal special call in 2023 targeting the June 2023 submission. The selected proposal will clearly demonstrate benefit to the USask research community, contribute to either an existing or emerging core facility, and have secured the full amount of matching funding.

USask Special Internal Call 2023 Guidelines
  • Proposed infrastructure will support cutting-edge research at an existing or emerging core facility with clear benefit to USask as a whole.
  • Proposals can request up to $800,000 from the CFI, with a maximum total eligible cost of $2 million; preference will be given to those proposals with total eligible costs over $1 million.
  • Core team (upto 3 applicants) must have continuing, full-time academic appointments.
  • Units are encouraged to consider special requirements for the project.  Note that renovation costs covered by the unit and required to accommodate equipment purchases may be used as matching funding.  Please check with RASI for eligibility specifics.
  • Proposals have to demonstrate that all matching funding has been received by the university and/or provide letters of commitment from funding sources upon EOI submission. Requests by OVPR to Innovation Saskatchewan for matching funding is not an option.
  • Unless otherwise specified in the special call guidelines, standard CFI JELF guidelines apply.

Expressions of Interest (EOI) are required and must be submitted to RASI (cfi.support@usask.ca) by 13 December 2022.  The CFI Advisory Committee will review all EOIs and will take into consideration the priorities of the institution. USask's CFI envelope is strategically used and for this call the targeted funds can support one EOI at a $800K CFI ask.  If needed, adjudication will be done by the Advisory Committee and OVPR. 

Applicants will be notified of the decision by 21 December 2022.  Detailed timelines for the 15 June 2023 submission internal review process will be provided at that time. 

Please contact RASI at cfi.support@usask.ca for an EOI form.

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.  Eligible projects generate a one-time IOF allocation of 30% of the CFI contribution as at award finalization.  Each institution is responsible for deciding how to divide the IOF allocation among the eligible projects.

The University of Saskatchewan has created the Institutional Allocation Plan to manage the internal distribution of IOF funding.  Project Leaders are advised to work with their Dean/delegate and Department Head to find synergies between CFI-funded projects and to submit joint proposals, where possible, for more efficient use of the IOF funding.  When submitting individual applications for IOF, Project Leaders are recommended to request up to 75% of the IOF generated by their project (CFI portion of capital project X 30% X 75% = IOF request e.g. $60,000 X 30% X 75% = $13,500). 

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 Eligible Costs for IOF
  • 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.
February Research Acceleration and Strategic Initiatives (RASI) invites eligible Project Leaders to submit a request for IOF.

Project Leaders submit the signed copy of the IOF Application Form to the CFI Advisory Committee  for review.  

Refer also to Tips for Completing the IOF application.

April 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.
July Project Leaders submit
July A Fund # will be created in the Project Leader's name for each approved project.
March/April Project Leaders submit the following internal reports (RS will send a reminder):
June RASI compiles the internal reports and submits the annual institutional request to CFI.
July Funds budgeted for each year (i.e. April to March) are distributed to the Fund #.

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.