Innovation Grants

Please see the eligibility and requirements section prior to creating an application.

Deadline dates

There are two competitions each year:

Abstract registration:
Full application deadline:
Results announcement:
Funding start date:
1st competition
August 15
October 1
February 1
2nd competition
February 15
April 1
August 1

Application guides can be found on the EGrAMS documentation for applicants page. See information slides and FAQs.

Abstract registration must be completed in order to submit a full application.

Additional special topic competitions may be offered in response to specific funding opportunities (eg. targeted donations or partnership funding), and will be announced on the CCSRI website.

Special call

The Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute (CCSRI) in partnership with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research- Institute of Cancer Research (CIHR-ICR) has established a joint funding opportunity to support Innovation Grants focused on high fatality cancers (i.e. pancreatic cancer, glioblastoma, etc.). This partnership will allow for funding of grants with a specific focus on accelerating progress in high fatality cancer research. Projects should either contribute to an improved understanding of high fatality cancers and how to treat them or improve the quality of life for those with high fatality cancers. Proposed work should incorporate multi-pronged high risk/high reward approaches across diverse fields of study and stimulate new partnerships between researchers and experts in the field. Note that this high fatality cancer call is to focus on cancers and/or molecular subtypes that respond very poorly to treatment and have high fatality. More details on the objectives of CIHR’s HFC Initiative can be found here

Please see the ‘Partners description’ section below for more information on the CIHR-ICR.

Program description

Innovation Grants have been created to support innovative, creative problem solving in cancer research. As competition for grant funding increases, peer review panels become more conservative and risk averse, emphasizing feasibility more than innovation. The goal of this CCSRI grant program is to support unconventional concepts, approaches or methodologies to address problems in cancer research. Innovation projects will include elements of creativity, curiosity, investigation, exploration and opportunity. Successful projects may be based on “high risk” ideas, but will have the potential for “high reward” (i.e. to significantly impact our understanding of cancer and generate new approaches to combat the disease by introducing novel ideas into use or practice).

It is hoped that this grant program will accelerate the introduction of innovation into the entire cancer research system and contribute to the scientific idea pipeline. Significant findings from investigators funded by Innovation Grants may be developed further through CCSRI "Innovation to Impact" Grants or operating grants offered by other agencies.

Scientific focus of the program

The purpose of this funding initiative is to support unique, creative research ideas that will impact cancer. Although this grant program is primarily designed to support the biomedical, translational and clinical research communities, applications from all areas and disciplines of cancer research will be considered eligible for funding and will be evaluated based on a common set of criteria. Applicants are required to submit proposals for studies that explicitly address the Society’s mission to eradicate cancer and enhance the quality of life of people living with cancer.

Funds available

There are two competitions per year. It is anticipated that up to 25 grants will be awarded each competition (up to 50 grants a year).

Grant budgets may be up to $100,000 per year and a maximum of $200,000 per grant. Grant expenditures may be extended over 3 years if justified in the application. Grants will be non-renewable.

Funding will be provided to support the direct costs of research, including supplies, salaries, and equipment associated with the proposed work. Equipment requests cannot exceed 25% of the requested budget. Indirect costs are not eligible.

Peer review panels

Multidisciplinary peer review committees will be assembled to review the full applications. Peer review committees will consist of scientific experts with broad expertise, along with community representatives to provide patient/survivor/caregiver perspectives.

The mandatory abstract registration will inform the composition and number of panels required. Review panel information can be found here.

Abstract registration

A maximum of one application per Principal Investigator or Co-Principal Investigator will be permitted in each competition.

Registration is mandatory and will require applicant details (Principal Investigator(s)/Co-Applicants/Additional Authors), scientific abstract, keywords, innovation statement, suggested reviewers and research tracking information.

Any significant changes to the proposed project or applicant team after the Abstract Registration deadline should be communicated to the CCSRI (research@cancer.ca) as soon as they are known.

Full application

The proposal will contain no more than 4 pages of single-spaced text and 2 pages of figures/tables/charts and associated legends. Specific guidelines for the online application are available.

When preparing the full application, the following is required:

  1. as part of the “public” (non-scientific summary), a cancer relevance statement clearly describing the potential of this project to impact cancer control
  2. a scientific abstract (updates to the Abstract submitted as part of the Registration are permitted – see above)
  3. an innovation statement explicitly describing how the project is “innovative”. Applications addressing diverse aspects of “innovation” are expected. Examples of eligible projects include the following:
    • the investigation of novel ideas and/or research questions
    • the use or development of novel research methods or new technologies to address a research question
    • the application or adaptation of existing methods or technologies to novel research questions or for clinical purposes that may differ fundamentally from those originally intended

    Note that the next logical step or incremental advancement on published data is not considered innovative.

  4. a detailed scientific proposal clearly stating the aims of the project including any previous work done in the area, experimental design, methods and analysis.

    Note that preliminary data is allowed but not required. Investigators must provide convincing rationale for the hypothesis. Details of the investigator(s) including which member(s) of the research team will be responsible for which aspect of the project and a rationale for their inclusion in the project are required, and a description of the research environment where the work will take place.
  5. a vision statement explicitly describing how the proposed work could move the field forward and accelerate progress in cancer research. This statement should also clearly address the expected “next steps” following completion of the project.
  6. a budget justification related to the supplies, equipment and personnel associated with the research project. This must include the number of personnel required to complete the work and a description of their experience and/or education level and their commitment to the project.

Review criteria

The review criteria for the full application will include, but not necessarily be restricted to, five assessment categories: Innovation, Research Strategy, Investigator(s), Environment, and Cancer Relevance. ”Innovation” will be heavily weighted in the overall ranking of applications using the scientific merit rating scale.


(Innovation rating scale)

  • potential to address an important problem or a critical barrier to progress in the field
  • potential to improve or apply a new theoretical concept, approach, methodology or tool
  • degree to which the research is original, unique and creative
  • potential gain relative to (any) perceived risk
  • degree to which the research proposes new paradigms or challenges existing ones
Research strategy
  • scientific merit and convincing rationale that considers critical review and analysis of preliminary data and/or published literature, as appropriate
  • identification of potential problems and how they will be addressed, including alternative approaches
  • appropriateness of the term and amount of support requested
  • qualifications and appropriate expertise of the investigator(s)
  • quality of the research environment in which the work will take place
Cancer relevance
  • potential impact on cancer control
  • degree to which the proposed research addresses the Society’s mission priorities to reduce cancer incidence, reduce cancer mortality, and improve the quality of life for Canadians living with and beyond cancer

Multiple applications/multiple sources of funding

It is understood that applications may also be made to other agencies to provide support for grants/programs similar to those submitted to the Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute. There must not be substantive overlap (more than 50%) with any pending application to any agency as of the full application due date. The Innovation grant must contain >50% unique aims to comply with this policy. Duplicate applications will not be accepted. The onus is on the applicant to indicate the extent (or absence) of overlap. Grantees can accept funds from other sources, up to the CCSRI panel recommended amount.

Applicants are reminded to review the eligibility and requirements section for details on scientific and financial reporting, funder acknowledgement, Canadian Cancer Society policies on open access and tobacco related funding.

Partner description

The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) mandate is to support research that reduces the burden of cancer on individuals and families through prevention strategies, screening, diagnosis, effective treatments, psychosocial support systems, and palliation. Partnering to support a pool in this funding opportunity with CCSRI responds to CIHR-ICR’s strategic research priority area focused on targeting high fatality cancers.

Last modified on: June 29, 2016