Canada Biomedical Research Fund
Through Canada’s Biomanufacturing and Life Sciences Strategy, the Government of Canada is investing more than $2.2 billion over seven years to continue growing a strong, competitive biomanufacturing and life sciences sector, and to ensure Canada is prepared for future pandemics. The Strategy includes these foundational investments to help build Canada’s talent pipeline and research systems, as well as foster the growth of Canadian life sciences firms:
Canada Biomedical Research Fund
- This investment of $250 million over four years, starting in 2022-23, is to create a tri-agency program administered by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) on behalf of the three federal research funding agencies: SSHRC, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council.
Biosciences Research Infrastructure Fund
- This investment of $500 million over four years, starting in 2021-22, is for the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) to support the bioscience infrastructure needs of postsecondary institutions and research hospitals.
The Strategy will improve Canada’s pandemic preparedness for years to come. It is driven by two objectives:
- to grow a strong, competitive domestic life sciences sector, with cutting-edge biomanufacturing capabilities, while creating good jobs for Canadians
- to make sure Canada is prepared for pandemics and other health emergencies in the future, including by increasing domestic capacity through investments and partnerships to produce life-saving vaccines and therapeutics
The Canada Biomedical Research Fund (CBRF) and Biosciences Research Infrastructure Fund (BRIF) are essential components of the Strategy, each designed to strengthen research systems and the talent pipeline.
The CBRF supports high-risk, applied research, training and talent development, as part of a suite of foundational investments to establish a resilient, robust domestic biomanufacturing sector in Canada. This fund contributes to the pipeline of new technologies and supports the translation of academic research into applications and commercial products. The CBRF supports initiatives on a larger scale than typically available via individual research funding agency programs. It encourages academic collaboration with industry, not-for-profit organizations and public sector partners, to accelerate translating promising life sciences discoveries into innovative products and processes; and facilitates skills and training needed to drive innovation and growth in Canada’s biomanufacturing industry.
The BRIF addresses the biosciences research infrastructure needs of postsecondary institutions, and strengthens their capacity to support pandemic preparedness and responses to emerging health threats. The BRIF helps advance promising discoveries and promote training and talent development in the biosciences. It also supports researchers working in a variety of settings in developing strong links with each other, and with users of research results in all sectors. The BRIFcreates environments to attract and train highly qualified research and technical personnel based on the needs of the biomanufacturing and life sciences sector.
A first BRIF phase was launched as a stand-alone competition, with a draft call for proposals released August 25, 2021, followed by an official call for proposals September 21, 2021. The $150 million investment responds to critical infrastructure needs by supporting containment levels 3 and 4 (CL 3 and 4) facilities capable of working with human pathogens. The funding will help institutions keep their facilities at the cutting edge, strengthen their capacity to work with industry and government to advance promising discoveries, and promote training and talent development in the biosciences.
Consistent with the holistic approach to investments under the Strategy, the Tri-agency Institutional Programs Secretariat (TIPS) and the CFI will deliver the CBRF and remaining BRIF funding ($350 million) through an integrated competition. This will maximize the Strategy’s impact and ensure investments under the two programs complement and reinforce each other. The integrated competition will focus on bio-innovation ecosystem priorities and themes. It will invite proposals for research, training and infrastructure.
CBRF and BRIF governance is integrated into that of the Strategy, to ensure investments are coherent and aligned with the Strategy’s objectives, priorities and desired outcomes. To leverage and build on the assessments of experts, an arms-length strategic review committee will be composed of prominent research and industry leaders from multiple disciplinary sectors, including life sciences and the broad biomanufacturing sector. The committee will provide recommendations to ensure investments for the CBRF and BRIF are well aligned with and directly support the Strategy’s objectives and priorities.
Authority for approval of final award decisions for the CBRF is with the tri-agency programs (TIPS) Steering Committee, which includes representatives from the three federal research funding agencies; the CFI; Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada; and Health Canada. TIPS, housed within SSHRC, delivers and administers the CBRF on behalf of all three federal research funding agencies.
The CFI delivers and administers the BRIF, and the CFI’s Board of Directors approves the final award decisions.
Together, the CBRF and BRIF support high-risk, applied research, training and talent development, as well as research infrastructure, to advance the Strategy’s objectives and establish a resilient, robust domestic biomanufacturing sector in Canada.
The combined goals of the funds are to enhance Canada’s foundational biomanufacturing excellence and pandemic readiness by:
- addressing institutional research infrastructure needs
- developing the research and development and talent pipeline that drives downstream manufacturing capacity
In alignment with the Strategy, the CBRF and BRIF do the following:
- Support high-risk, applied biomedical research and training / talent development partnership projects. This includes responding to calls to take greater risks and fund initiatives on a larger scale than typically available via individual research funding agency programs, and building capacity to accelerate translating promising discoveries into product/service development.
- Support pandemic readiness and target funding to build on existing strengths and address key research gaps, in alignment with the Strategy.
- Enhance Canada’s pipeline of bio-innovation talent by including training opportunities for graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and/or early career researchers, with a focus on skills applicable to the biomanufacturing sector.
- Support projects that fall under the mandate of any of the three federal research funding agencies and the CFI.
- Address infrastructure needs in postsecondary institutions and research hospitals to support pandemic preparedness and responses to emerging health threats.
- Support the development of strong links between researchers working in a variety of settings, including government laboratories, and between researchers and research result users in all sectors.
- Create an environment to attract and train highly qualified personnel that reflects and responds to the needs of the biomanufacturing and life sciences sector.
Grants awarded through the CBRF and BRIF are institutional grants.
Canada Biomedical Research Fund
Institutions that have met the eligibility requirements for any one of the three federal research funding agencies are eligible to administer CBRF funds. Expenses are considered eligible in accordance with the Tri-Agency Guide on Financial Administration. The amount that can be used for indirect costs of research cannot exceed 25% of the amount allocated for supporting direct costs of research.
Biosciences Research Infrastructure Fund
Canadian universities, colleges, research hospitals and not-for-profit research institutions considered eligible by the CFI can apply to the BRIF competition. The CFI will contribute to the operating and maintenance costs of BRIF-funded projects through its Infrastructure Operating Fund. In addition to the BRIF funding, institutions will automatically receive an allocation equivalent to 30% of the CFI contribution for funded projects.
The CBRF and BRIF are based on an ecosystem approach, designed to build on existing assets, infrastructure, partnerships and strengths of institutions, and to support targeted investments for maximum impact. The integrated program delivery features a two-stage competitive process:
- selection of three to five research hubs (co-led by the CFI and TIPS, and administered by TIPS)
- open, national call for proposed partnered research and infrastructure projects associated with the selected research hubs (co-led by the CFI and TIPS)
Research hubs are coalitions of research actors that integrate research organizations, including institutional, not-for-profit, private and/or public organizations. One eligible institution must be designated to serve as the anchor for the hub.
Building on existing capacity and a track record of investing in people, research and infrastructure, each hub pursues its research program of high-risk, applied biomedical research, training and talent development, and associated infrastructure to support the end-to-end biomanufacturing pipeline, in alignment with the Strategy. The hub’s research program could include addressing gaps in funding for precompetitive development of promising technologies, and promoting their transfer to Canadian companies.
Note: The competition to select research hubs is distinct from the first phase of the BRIF, which was specific to CL3 and CL4 facilities; eligible institutions and organizations may apply to both competitions.
Selection of the hubs and of the research, training and infrastructure projects is done through both peer review and strategic review committee processes.
Hub proposals must demonstrate the research hub’s ability to significantly advance one or more of the Strategy’s research priorities through collaboration among partners that draw on key capabilities at any number of institutions across Canada.
Hubs are expected to be multidisciplinary, pursuing research programs consisting of projects that cut across the mandates of the three federal research funding agencies to mobilize and integrate expertise and insights across disciplines in order to drive innovation.
Hubs are expected to include multiple partners (institutional, not-for-profit, private and/or public sectors) working towards common objectives, and to be inclusive. Research hubs with a critical mass of research, infrastructure, talent and clinical trial expertise will be well positioned to scale up rapidly and compete globally.
In the second stage of the competitive process, the research hubs selected endorse and coordinate the institutions’ research and infrastructure project submission under their hub’s research program. The selected hubs will receive funding to cover expenses related to collaborating and convening within their hub and across the hubs in Canada, to ensure inclusivity, coherence and alignment with the Strategy.
Call for hub proposals
Late fall 2021
Call for proposals for projects associated with selected hubs (integrated competition with the CFI)
If you have questions or feedback about the CBRF, contact CBRF-FRBC@sshrc-crsh.gc.ca.
If you have questions or feedback about the BRIF, contact BRIF-FIRSB@innovation.ca.
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