Government of Canada invests $1.4 billion in strategic research at postsecondary institutions

News release

Investments further position Canadian universities as world leaders 

April 28, 2023—Montréal, Quebec—Tri-agency Institutional Programs Secretariat

Throughout Canada, universities spur innovation, support scientific discoveries, and train tomorrow’s researchers and workers. To ensure Canada remains at the forefront of research, innovation and wealth generation, the Government of Canada is investing in the success of our researchers.

Today, the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, announced an investment of $1.4 billion in support for 11 large-scale research initiatives in strategic areas, through the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF). This investment will allow researchers at Canadian institutions to capitalize on the strengths of their respective research areas, and attract capital and world-class talent.

The funded initiatives will foster community, provincial, national and international partnerships across the academic, private and not-for-profit sectors, to deliver research leading to important social and economic benefits for Canadians.

This investment will support the following 11 large-scale research initiatives:

  • McGill University: $165M for DNA to RNA: An Inclusive Canadian Approach to Genomic-based RNA Therapeutics (D2R)
  • Memorial University of Newfoundland: $91M for Qanittaq Clean Arctic Shipping Initiative
  • University of Ottawa: $109M for Brain-Heart InterConnectome
  • Dalhousie University: $154M for Transforming Climate Action: Addressing the Missing Ocean
  • University of Toronto: $199M for Acceleration Consortium: Self-Driving Labs for Molecular and Materials Discovery
  • University of Victoria: $83M for Accelerating Community Energy Transformation
  • Université de Montréal: $124M for R3AI: Shifting Paradigms for a Robust, Reasoning, and Responsible Artificial Intelligence and its Adoption
  • York University: $105M for Connected Minds: Neural and Machine Systems for a Healthy, Just Society
  • Concordia University: $123M for Electrifying Society: Towards Decarbonized Resilient Communities
  • University of Calgary: $125M for One Child Every Child: A Transformational Child Health Research Initiative
  • Toronto Metropolitan University: $98M for Migrant Integration in the mid-21st Century: Bridging Divides

From cutting carbon emissions in our communities, to treating and preventing brain and heart disease, to making discoveries through responsible artificial intelligence use, robotics and advanced computing, Canadian scientists are pioneering global insights and strengthening Canada’s social and technological innovation ecosystems.


“Today’s research is tomorrow’s economy. Since the start, our government has re-established the fundamental role of science and scientists in our society. The initiatives announced today will lead to breakthrough discoveries that will improve people’s lives, nourish our innovation ecosystems, and shape Canada’s prosperity for years to come. Such is the value of universities, and of our Canadian researchers who think outside the box to tackle the greatest challenges of our time.” 

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

“Canada’s postsecondary institutions are rich in talent and ideas, and are committed to building healthier, more sustainable, more inclusive and prosperous communities. With support from the federal government’s Canada First Research Excellence Fund, they are able to build on these foundations to develop advanced research programs that showcase Canadian talent and lead the world in developing solutions to the critical challenges facing our planet, from environmental sustainability to advanced biotherapeutics, child health and population migration.”

—Ted Hewitt, Chair, Tri-agency Institutional Programs Secretariat Steering Committee; President, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada; and Chair, Canada Research Coordinating Committee

Quick facts

  • Created in 2014, CFREF supports Canadian postsecondary institutions in their efforts to become global research leaders. The program helps Canadian universities, colleges and polytechnics compete with the best in the world for talent and partnership opportunities. It also supports them 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.

  • CFREF invests approximately $200 million per year through a highly competitive peer review process, held every seven years, to support selected Canadian postsecondary institutions in turning their key strengths into world-leading capabilities.

  • CFREF is a tri-agency institutional program administered by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) on behalf of the three federal research funding agencies: the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and SSHRC.

  • Initiatives funded by CFREF are selected through an independent, multidisciplinary, international competitive peer review process. 

Associated links


Laurie Bouchard
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

Media relations
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

Media relations
Tri-agency Institutional Programs Secretariat

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