Major Science Initiatives Fund (2023-2029)

The CFI Major Science Initiatives (MSI) Fund supports the operation and maintenance needs of research facilities of national importance and ensures that these facilities have solid management and governance policies and practices in place. MSI funding is intended to secure and strengthen these facilities to ensure that Canadian researchers can undertake world-class research and technology development that leads to social, health, economic, or environmental benefits to Canadians.

The call for proposals for this competition has been released by CFI on July 12, 2021. For further details, please visit the CFI website. You can also find the list of facilities currently supported through the MSI Fund here.

UPDATE: The CFI has provided a FAQ document for the MSI Fund competition. RSO recommends that all applicants review the document before starting proposal development.

Eligibility Criteria

The CFI requires that facilities seeking support from the MSI Fund MUST meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Provides highly specialized equipment, services, resources, or scientific and technical personnel.
  • Has a demonstrated demand from a research community for equipment, services, resources and scientific and technical personnel.
  • Has as an established governance model appropriate to its size and complexity, with a clearly defined national mandate.
  • Has a management structure and practices appropriate to its size and complexity.
  • Has a publicly available user access policy through which any interested user can request access.
  • Has demonstrated annual eligible operating and maintenance costs exceeding $1 million to support human and operational resources beyond what is typically available in Canadian research institutions.
  • Is fully operational.
  • Is owned by one or more CFI-eligible institutions.

Further details on the requirements of each of these eligibility criteria are outlined in the Call For Proposals


CFI Information Sessions 

The CFI will hold information sessions on July 14 & 15, 2021 from 1-2 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.

Register for the Information session:

July 14, 2021 English session

July 15, 2021 French session


Application Process

The Office of the Vice-President (Research and Innovation) has initiated a three-step internal application process to review and approve projects to submit an application in the upcoming CFI MSI competition.

There will be two streams in this competition:

  • New applicants: includes facilities that did not receive funding in the previous (2017-2022) MSI competition.
  • Currently funded facilities: includes facilities funded under the previous MSI competition.

 

Step I: Internal Expression of Interest (EOI)

Project Leaders wishing to submit a new application to the MSI competition must first submit an EOI form, which is reviewed internally. Based on the strength of the project and the ability to meet CFI eligibility criteria, potential projects are either approved or not approved to move forward with the next steps of proposal development.

The EOI will collect information about the following:

  • Project team
  • Facility description
  • Ability to meet CFI eligibility criteria
  • Facility budget

The EOI form for the upcoming MSI competition can be accessed via this link and will be closed on June 23, 2021, at 9:00 am.
A printable (PDF) version of the full EOI form is available here.

Internal EOI form responses will be reviewed by an internal panel. On August 5, 2021, Project Leaders will be advised if their EOI is approved.

Important Notes:

  • PIs with currently funded facilities do not have to submit an internal EOI.
  • Applications with computational needs MUST contact Scott Delinger, Director, Research Computing at IST (scott.delinger@ualberta.ca) to discuss further.

 

Step II: Notice of Intent (NOI) submission to CFI

Projects in both the New applicants and Currently funded facilities streams must submit a Notice of Intent (NOI) to the CFI (deadline September 20, 2021).

For New applicants, the NOI is required to assess the eligibility of the facility for the MSI Fund and to collect information on the historic facility budget, forecasted budget, and suggested reviewers. NOIs will be reviewed by a multi-disciplinary assessment committee (MAC).

On November 4, 2021, the CFI will inform institutions of the New applicants NOIs that are approved to submit a full application. For Currently funded facilities, the NOI will be used for administrative purposes only and will provide the CFI with information about the anticipated 2023-2029 budget and suggested reviewers. (Note that November 4, 2021 is also the deadline for Currently funded facilities to submit their full proposal to the CFI.)

Please see below for RSO’s internal timeline for the MSI NOI. Note that RSO will continue to work with project teams to revise the NOI prior to submission and will communicate any feedback following OVPRI review in early September.

Activity Deadline
First draft NOI to RSO 24-Aug-2021
Revised draft to RSO 8-Sep-2021
Submission to CFI 20-Sep-2021

 

Details of the information that the NOI will contain can be found in the MSI Fund Call for Proposals.

The NOI will be completed by the Project Leader in the CFI Awards Management System (CAMS)RSO will submit the NOI to the CFI.

The NOI contains five sections:

  1. Project information: Basic information about the project, including facility name, Project Leader, estimated eligible costs for the funding period, and amount requested from the CFI.
  2. Management team: Maximum of three individuals, not including the Project Leader, who play key roles in the management and operations of the facility (e.g. chief financial officer, science director, etc.).
  3. Participating institutions: Institutions participating in the project that are actively involved in the management or governance of the facility.
  4. Demonstration of eligibility and budget overview: PDF attachment including:
    1. (For New applicants only) Brief description (max 5 pages) of the facility and demonstration of how it meets the eight eligibility criteria as listed in Part 1 of the Call for Proposals.
    2. Organizational charts (1-2) outlining the governance and management structures of the facility.
    3. Tables describing user information, access requests, and actual and forecasted costs and revenue sources.* (Currently funded facilities only need to submit tables describing forecasted costs and revenue.)
  5. Suggested reviewers: Minimum of six reviewers who are especially well-qualified to review the proposal, including reviewers with expertise in research, governance, management, or financial monitoring of similar facilities.

*Note: The variation between the requested amount from the CFI in the NOI and the final application proposal should be less than 10%.

RSO will assist in developing the NOI and will provide a template for the tables in section 4 above.

Step III: Proposal Development

The CFI will announce which NOIs are invited to submit full proposals on November 4, 2021.

Currently funded facilities stream:

  • RSO will begin working with the Project team before the NOI submission deadline, as the CFI’s full proposal submission deadline for Currently funded facilities is November 4, 2021.

New applicants stream:

  • Applicants are encouraged to develop the proposal and budget while they wait for the CFI’s decision of which NOIs are invited to submit full proposals. RSO will continue working with the Project team following NOI submission. The CFI’s full proposal submission deadline for New applicants is February 8, 2022.

Details of the information that the proposal will contain can be found in the MSI Fund Call for Proposals; please refer to this document while developing the proposal and budget. Your RSO Contracts Specialist will work with you throughout the proposal development process to ensure the CFI’s criteria are met.

Completing the proposal

Like the NOI, the full proposal will be completed in the CFI Awards Management System (CAMS) and submitted by RSO by the deadline.

Information on CAMS from the NOI submission, including Project information, Management team, Participating institutions, and Suggested reviewers, will be populated automatically for the proposal.

Two CAMS modules will be completed for the proposal:

1. Project module, including:
  • Plain language summary: Up to 1,500-character summary of the facility and its research activities.
  • Executive summary: Up to 2-page overview that describes the facility, summarizes the facility’s strategic goals and research, and outlines the funding request.
  • Assessment criteria and budget justification: A PDF upload (not exceeding 20 MB) that addresses the following criteria (please refer to the Call for Proposals for details):
    • Scientific excellence
    • International competitiveness
    • Need for CFI funding
    • Operations and user access
    • Excellence in governance
    • Excellence in management

The length of the assessment criteria, including tables and figures, will be determined by the total amount of funding requested from the CFI:

♦ ≤ $15 million: 30 pages (max.)

♦ > $15 million: 40 pages (max.)

Additional documents – PDF attachment (not exceeding 20 MB) includes:

  • Facility strategic plan.
  • Facility management plan.
  • List of key publications (max 2 pages) related to the use of the facility in the last three years.
  • CVs (max 3 pages each) of up to four individuals in key roles in the management and operations of the facility.
  • Transitional funding plan (max 3 pages) (for facilities currently receiving more than $2 million annually from the MSI Fund).
  • The following, if not already included in the facility management or strategic plans:
    • Facility decommissioning plans (max 5 pages)
    • Equity, diversity, and inclusion policy/plan (max 5 pages)
    • Data management and cyber security policies/plan (max 5 pages)
    • Organizational charts (max 2 pages)

2. Finance module, including:

  1. Detailed budget: Breakdown of costs, grouped by categories of eligible expenses, for each of the 6 years of the funding period (April 1, 2023 to March 31, 2029).
  2. Contributions from eligible partners and the Infrastructure Operating Fund (IOF): List of funding contributions (expected or secured) from eligible partners and IOF for the 6-year funding period. Do not include the current CFI request.
  3. Historic expenditures and contributions: Actual and forecasted expenditures (cash and in-kind), grouped by categories of eligible expenses, for the four fiscal years preceding the start of the requested funding (2019-20 to 2022-23).
  4. Project funding (generated automatically): Total CFI funding requested over the 6 year funding period, including IOF, must not exceed 40% of the facility’s total eligible O&M costs.

Proposal review

Proposals will be reviewed by an Expert Committee, who will recommend to the Multidisciplinary Assessment Committee (MAC) those proposals that meet the standard of excellence for the competition. The MAC will review all of the proposals recommended for funding by the Expert Committees and will provide the final funding recommendations and funding amounts to the CFI Board of Directors. The results of the competition will be announced on June 22, 2022.

Important dates and deadlines for the upcoming MSI competition

  Deadline*
Activity New applicants Currently funded facilities
Step I: Internal EOI form available to potential applicants 10-May-2021
N/A
Internal EOI form submission deadline 23-Jun-2021
N/A
CFI Call for Proposal Released 12-July-2021
VPRI/AVPRI final approval decisions 28-July-2021
N/A
EOI submission to CFI (RSO) 10-Aug-2021
N/A
Step II: Notice of Intent (NOI) submission to CFI 20-Sept-2021
Step III: Invitations to submit proposals announced 04-Nov-2021 N/A
Internal deadline for first draft of full proposal 13-Dec-2021
7-Sep-2021
Internal deadline for revised draft of full proposal 10-Jan-2022
4-Oct-2021
Submission to CFI 8-Feb-2022
4-Nov-2021
Funding Announcement 22-June-2022

*deadlines are subject to change; please check this page regularly for updates.

For more information, please contact:

Nancy Klimczak
Associate Director, Research Administrative Services
780-492-1452
nancy.klimczak@ualberta.ca

Amin Karim
CFI Coordinator/Senior Finance Analyst
780-492-1535
amin1@ualberta.ca

Ryan McKenzie
Contract Specialist, Research Administrative Services
(780) 492-6154
ryan.mckenzie@ualberta.ca