Major Science Initiatives Fund

Note: This competition is now closed. The CFI is no longer accepting proposals.

We contribute to the ongoing operating and maintenance (O&M) needs of national research facilities through the Major Science Initiatives (MSI) Fund. 

Since its inception in 1997, the CFI has supported the creation of a select number of key national research facilities. Owned by one or more institutions, these world-class facilities serve communities of researchers from across the country and internationally. Projects like these are increasingly complex and international in scope. They require robust governance, management and stewardship mechanisms to ensure that they are funded, managed and operated for success. In this way, they will ultimately be better positioned to contribute to the Canadian economy and society at large.

In 2010, we were mandated by the Government of Canada to design a systematic approach to evaluate and address the operating and maintenance (O&M) funding needs and the scientific performance of national research facilities. The purpose would be to ensure that these facilities have solid management and governance policies and practices in place. In response, we created the Major Science Initiatives (MSI) Fund.

How does the CFI define “national research facility?”

We define a national research facility as one that addresses the needs of a community of Canadian researchers representing a critical mass of users distributed across the country. This is done by providing shared access to substantial and advanced specialized equipment, services, resources, and scientific and technical personnel. The facility supports leading-edge research and technology development, and promotes the mobilization of knowledge and transfer of technology to society. A national research facility requires resource commitments well beyond the capacity of any one institution. A national research facility, whether single-sited, distributed or virtual, is specifically identified or recognized as serving pan-Canadian needs and its governance and management structures reflect this mandate. 

Current competition

The current competition for this fund runs from 2017-22. Through this competition, we will contribute to the ongoing operating and maintenance (O&M) needs of national research facilities for which the loss or absence of support would represent a serious setback for Canada.  We will accept proposals that seek support for O&M costs for facilities meeting all the eligibility criteria as reflected in the MSI 2017-22 Call for proposals.

Illustration of a megaphone which represents a call for proposals

Call for proposals

All the details you need for the 2017-22 competition

As with the 2014 special competition, facilities are not required to have previously received CFI infrastructure funding to apply.  Funding awarded under this competition is intended to secure and strengthen these facilities to ensure that Canadian researchers can undertake world-class research and technology development that lead to social, health, economic, or environmental benefits to Canadians. 

With the support of the Government of Canada, the CFI will invest up to $400 million over five years (2017–22) to cover a portion of the total eligible O&M costs of funded facilities.

The 2017-22 competition has three objectives

CFI support through this competition is intended to:

  • Secure and strengthen state-of-the-art national research facilities that enable Canadian  researchers to undertake world-class research and technology development that leads to social, health, economic, or environmental benefits to Canadians;
  • Enable funded facilities to operate at an optimal level and to have their scientific and technical capabilities fully exploited; and,
  • Promote the adoption of best practices in governance and management, including long-term strategic and operational planning in keeping with the scale and complexity of the facility.



December 21, 2015

Notice of Intent submission deadline

February 4, 2016

Invitation to submit proposals

April 21, 2016

Proposal submission deadline

May to July 2016

Expert Committee meetings

August 2016

Multidisciplinary Assessment Committee meeting

September 2016

Board of Directors meeting — funding decision

Expressions of Interest

In the current competition, applicants were asked to submit an Expression of Interest by email by October 14, 2015. These were used to gauge the level of interest and to plan the competition.

Notices of intent

This competition required that the administrative institution submit a Notice of Intent (NOI) through the CFI Awards Management System (CAMS) by December 21, 2015 to articulate how the facility meets all seven eligibility criteria for the competition. The NOIs deemed eligible by the CFI through the administrative review process were reviewed by a Multidisciplinary Assessment Committee (MAC ) composed of experienced individuals with expertise in the governance, management and operation of national research facilities. They were asked to identify those facilities that meet all seven eligibility criteria of the MSI. The recommendations from the MAC were endorsed by the CFI’s senior management. Institutions were advised by January 28, 2016 whether or not they were invited to submit a proposal.

The NOIs will also be used by CFI staff to plan its merit review process and to start the recruitment of expert committee members who will review the proposals.

List of Eligible Notices of Intent  (received December 21, 2015)


The submission deadline for proposals is April 21, 2016. To prepare a proposal, refer to Major Science Initiatives 2017-22: Guidelines for completing a proposal. Your application must be prepared using the CFI Awards Management System.

assessment criteria

Proposals will be assessed on the basis of:

  • Scientific excellence
  • International competitiveness
  • Need for CFI funding
  • Excellence in governance
  • Excellence in management and operations

To be considered for funding, a proposal must satisfy all five criteria to a degree commensurate with the size and complexity of the facility.

Merit review process

The assessment process will be tailored to the nature and complexity of the proposal and will generally include two stages: expert committee review and multidisciplinary assessment review Multidisciplinary Assessment Committee (MAC).

Expert committee review

Expert committees will convene to assess each proposal in relation to the established assessment criteria for this competition. These committees will be tasked with recommending to the MAC those proposals that meet the standard of excellence for the competition and with recommending the amount that should be awarded to each proposal.

Proposals not recommended for funding by the expert committees will not be considered by the MAC.

Multidisciplinary assessment review

The second stage involves assessment by a MAC of those proposals recommended by the expert committees. Following a careful analysis of the results of the expert review, the MAC will be responsible for:

  • Identifying proposals that best meet the competition objectives relative to other competing requests;
  • Establishing the amount that should be awarded to each proposal, within the competition budget; and,
  • Reviewing requests for transitional funding from facilities currently receiving MSI funding but that are not successful in the current competition at either the NOI, expert or MAC review stages.

The MAC will be tasked with providing the final funding recommendations and funding amounts to the CFI Board of Directors.

Decision process

Funding decisions will be made by the CFI Board of Directors at its September 2016 meeting. Following this meeting, the review materials for each proposal will be provided to the administrative institution.

Collaboration with funding partners

To coordinate the review processes and avoid duplication of review efforts, the CFI may provide committee reports, along with the names and affiliations of committee members, to relevant funding partners named in the proposal. In addition, representatives from the relevant funding partners will be invited, where appropriate, to participate as observers in the expert review process.

Public Announcement

The CFI makes national funding announcements related to its funding.  The results of the competition will remain confidential until after the national funding announcement.

Oversight and monitoring

The CFI has established an oversight framework which will guide the monitoring activities of the funded facilities. Potential applicants are strongly encouraged to read the MSI Oversight Framework (2015) prior to submitting an NOI to the current competition.

Oversight activities will be tailored to the complexity of the facility and will include:

  • Financial and progress reports, including short- and medium-term outputs and outcomes;
  • Risk assessment and mitigation strategy;
  • Performance monitoring strategy; and,
  • Decommissioning plans.

Each facility funded in this competition will undergo an external merit review at the midpoint of the award cycle (2019–20). The MSI mid-term review will assess the facility’s ability to maximize their scientific and technological capabilities as a result of the MSI funding. Accordingly, the mid-term review will provide an assessment of the overall impact of MSI funding on the scientific excellence of the research program(s), the research outcomes and impacts, and on the governance, management and operations. The future management plan and the need for operating and maintenance funds for the remaining period will also be assessed. The CFI contribution to the operating and maintenance costs for the remaining period will depend on the outcome of the mid-term review.

Illustration of an eye layered on top of a document which represents oversight

MSI Oversight Framework

An outline of how we oversee facilities funded through the MSI fund

 Performance report template (for facilities funded in the 2014 competition)

Detailed budget template (Annual report 2014-15)

Performance report template (for facilities funded in the 2012 competition)

2012 Competition

In support of the Government of Canada’s science and technology strategy, Mobilizing science and technology to Canada’s advantage, the inaugural MSI competition sought to support large-scale research facilities that had received a one-time contribution of at least $25 million in capital funding from the CFI. The CFI approved funding for the operating and maintenance costs of four such facilities for the period 2012-13 to 2016-17. The CFI provides governance and management oversight of these facilities based on best practices.

Refer to the 2012 competition program description  and the funding announcement for additional information related to this competition.

Program description – 2012 MSI competition

Guidelines for completing the mid-term performance report

2014 special competition

We expanded our support of the ongoing operating and maintenance needs of national research facilities through a Major Science Initiatives special competition in 2014. For this competition, eligibility was broadened to include:

  • A greater range of facilities, both in size and complexity, across all research disciplines;
  • Facilities with diverse levels of CFI investment (not restricted to a one-time $25 million capital investment); and,
  • Facilities without previous CFI investments.

Funding awarded under this MSI special competition, for the period 2014-15 to 2016-17, is intended to secure and strengthen unique national research facilities that support world-class research, the loss of which would represent a serious setback for Canada. Refer to the MSI 2014 special competition Call for proposals  and the funding announcement for additional information related to this competition.

Call for proposals – 2014 MSI special competition

Performance report template (for facilities funded in the 2014 competition)

Detailed budget template (Annual report 2014-15)