Canada First Research Excellence Fund


Only Canadian postsecondary institutions that meet the eligibility requirements of one of the three federal research granting agencies may apply for and hold a Canada First Research Excellence Fund (Fund) grant.

To be deemed an eligible Canadian postsecondary institution for the purposes of Fund competitions, an institution must:

  • be authorized by a provincial or territorial government to grant university degrees, applied degrees or postsecondary diplomas;
  • offer its own degrees or diplomas, and not simply certify that a student is qualified to receive a degree or diploma from another institution;
  • have awarded degrees or diplomas over the past two years, or have students registered in the current calendar year or the three subsequent years;
  • in the case of a public institution, receive operating funds directly from a provincial or federal government and not through another institution;
  • in the case of a private institution, hold formal not-for-profit status, and not receive its funding through another institution; and
  • meet the eligibility requirements of one of the three federal research granting agencies; institutions may be eligible to apply to university or college programs within a particular agency:

While there is no limit to the number of proposals in which it can be listed as a partner, an institution can be identified as the lead institution for only one proposal within any given competition. For example, an institution can identify itself as the lead institution in its own proposal while simultaneously being identified as a partner in one or more proposals led by other institutions.

Researchers cannot apply to the Fund directly.

How to Apply: 

The Canada First Research Excellence Fund (the Fund) helps competitively-selected Canadian postsecondary institutions turn their key strengths into world-leading capabilities.

The Fund helps institutions:

  • compete with the best in the world for talent, for partnership opportunities, and to make breakthrough discoveries;
  • seize emerging opportunities and strategically advance their greatest strengths on the global stage; and
  • implement large-scale, transformational and forward-thinking institutional strategies.

Value and duration

There is no prescribed award size. It is expected that some institutions will submit proposals for large awards, to support complex institutional initiatives demonstrating the potential for global leadership in focus areas of strategic relevance for Canada. Other institutions may decide to submit proposals for smaller-scale initiatives, more narrowly-focused in scope, yet still potentially world-leading and capable of resulting in partnerships with other global leaders.

The amount of funding requested in a Fund application should be established keeping in mind that each award is expected to support a broad, ambitious, institutional strategy that focuses on the areas in which the institution can realistically achieve global leadership.

The review process will consider the degree of originality and ambition of the proposal relative to the existing research capacity of the institution and, where applicable, its partners. It is expected that institutions awarded a Fund grant will extensively invest their own resources and those of partners to support the proposed initiative.

All awards are for up to seven years, to allow recipient institutions enough time to achieve the initiative’s proposed objectives.

Note: An institution can apply as the lead institution for only one award within a given competition.

All grants are nonrenewable. Successful applicants, however, may submit an application in a subsequent Fund competition, to support the evolution of initiatives previously supported through the Fund, new initiatives, or a combination of the two.

Fund awards will not be included in the calculation of credits to institutions for those tri-agency programs that allocate funding based on percentages of funding received from the federal research granting agencies (e.g., the Research Support Fund [formerly Indirect Costs Program] or Canada Research Chairs Program).


Frequently Asked Questions on the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (please click here as well).

For more information about the program, please click here.

External Deadline: 
Monday, August 31, 2015
Funding Source: 
Funding Level: