John R. Evans Leaders Fund (JELF)

The Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) John R. Evans Leaders Fund (JELF) provides funding support for the acquisition or development of research infrastructure for projects with a maximum total eligible cost of $2,000,000. The JELF helps the institution to attract and retain researchers who are leaders in their field and to remain competitive in areas of strategic research priority.

Current Request to apply (rTA) Intake

The RTA for the February 2025 CFI intake is now OPEN

The RTA will close Thursday August 1, 2024 at 9 am. 

Request to Apply for submission form


  • JELF awards are held by the institution rather than by individual researchers.

    • The applicant is the Project Leader.

    • The Vice President (Research and Innovation) (VPRI) is the Project Holder.

  • There are three JELF submission deadlines per year: February 15, June 15, and October 15 (or nearest Monday if the date falls on a weekend).

  • The CFI will support a maximum of 40% of the eligible costs of a JELF project.

  • JELF applicants must apply for funding to match the CFI support through the Government of Alberta  Research Capacity Program’s Small Equipment Grants stream (RCP-SEG).

    • NOTE: there is only one RCP submission intake every October. This intake is for JELF applicants who submitted proposals on the preceding October, February, and June competitions.

  • The remaining 20% of the JELF eligible costs need to be brought to the project by the project team. Project teams are encouraged to cover as much of this 20% portion as possible with vendor in-kind and/or other eligible matching funds.

  • Before a researcher can move forward to develop a JELF application for submission to the CFI, they must go through the approval process after submitting a Request to Apply (RTA).

    • NOTE: There are three RTA intakes per year in alignment with each of the CFI submission timelines.

Important dates for the current JELF allocation period

Dates and deadlines for the JELF allocation period
CFI Intake RTA Opens RTA Deadline 1st Draft to RAS CFI Deadline GoA Deadline
October 2022 Feb 1, 2022 April 1, 2022 Sept 1, 2022 Oct 17, 2022 October 2023
February 2023 June 1, 2022 Aug 2, 2022 Jan 3, 2023 Feb 15, 2023 October 2023
June 2023 Oct 3, 2022 Jan 10, 2023 May 1, 2023 June 15, 2023 October 2023
October 2023 Feb 1, 2023 Apr 3, 2023 Sept 1, 2023 Oct 16, 2023 October 2024
February 2024 June 1, 2023 Aug 1, 2023 Jan 2, 2024 Feb 15, 2024 October 2024
June 2024 Oct 2, 2023 Jan 9, 2024 May 1, 2024 June 17, 2024 October 2024
October 2024 Feb 1, 2024 Apr 2, 2024 Sept 2, 2024 Oct 15, 2024 October 2025
February 2025 June 3, 2024 Aug 1, 2024 Jan 2, 2025 Feb 18, 2025 October 2025
June 2025 Oct 1, 2024 Jan 9, 2025 May 1, 2025 June 16, 2025 October 2025
October 2025 Feb 3, 2025 Apr 1, 2025 Sept 1, 2025 Oct 15, 2025 October 2026

Note that CFI intakes are color-coded according to the corresponding provincial matching application deadline.

The following diagram illustrates the timelines for each JELF intake:

JELF intake timeline

Step I: Request to Apply (RTA)

Potential JELF applicants must first submit an RTA form, which is reviewed by their Faculty and then the Office of the VPRI. Based on the quality of the RTA, potential applicants are either approved or not approved to move forward with a full JELF proposal. See below for details on the RTA process.

Request to Apply Procedure

All potential JELF applicants must submit an RTA. The online RTA form collects the following information:

  • Details about the applicant(s).
  • Faculty letter of support and confirmation of research space allocation (letter of support required from all involved Faculties in the case of more than one applicant).
  • Summary of the proposed research and requested infrastructure.
  • Relation to and alignment with existing research and infrastructure.
  • Alignment with provincial research outcomes.
  • Budget and quotes.
  • Information about the research space and technical requirements of the requested infrastructure.

RTA applicants are encouraged to complete as much of the RTA form as possible, to ensure that the research project is innovative and feasible, and to ensure that the infrastructure is well-justified. 

RAS guidelines for completing a JELF RTA are available.

The RTA will be reviewed by the Faculty, RAS, UofA Facilities and Operations (F&O), and VPRI for feasibility. If approved, the applicant will be recommended to develop and submit a full proposal. A timeline of the RTA process is illustrated below:

  1. RAS releases RTA form

  2. RTA development phase

    Researchers interested in submitting an application must consult with their Faculty research office(s) during this phase regarding:

    • Information about faculty review and selection process
    • Strategic discussion of project and infrastructure request
    • Space allocation

    For projects requesting support from centrally-managed allocations, the following must also occur during this phase:

    • Discussions between collaborating Faculties
    • Development of Faculty letters of support. Note that Faculty letters of support must be included with RTA submission if a request from a centrally-managed allocation is included.
  3. Submit RTA to RAS

  4. Institutional review phase

    Institutional review by the VPRI office of proposals, including a request from Strategic Priorities or Other Faculties allocation streams.

    Faculties may choose to carry out an internal review and selection of projects that do not include a request from a centrally-managed allocation during this period.

  5. Decisions communicated to applicants

Allocation Stream

Depending on their Faculty and other characteristics of the proposal, researchers may request funding through one or more of the following JELF allocation streams:

  1. Faculty-Managed streams: Faculties listed below manage a portion of the institutional JELF allocation directly. Applicants from these Faculties whose projects are expected to benefit their Faculty, or smaller cross-Faculty collaborative projects that are not suitable for the Strategic Priorities stream, should apply to the appropriate streams from the following options:
    • Agriculture, Life, and Environmental Sciences (ALES)
    • Engineering (ENG)
    • Medicine & Dentistry (FoMD)
    • Science (SCI)
  2. Other Faculties stream (Centrally-managed): applicants from all other Faculties.
  3. Strategic Priorities stream (Centrally-managed): applicants from one or more Faculties (including those from ALES, ENG, FoMD, and SCI) whose project clearly shows that it is collaborative, interdisciplinary, and aligned with an area of institutional strength and strategic importance.

More details about the allocation streams can be found in the RAS guidelines for completing a JELF RTA

More information on the distribution of the JELF allocation among the streams at the beginning of the current allocation period (2023-2025) is available.

Review Process

The review process varies depending on the allocation stream under which the RTA is submitted.

  1. Faculty-Managed streams: the RTA is reviewed by the applicant’s Faculty, and the Faculty will recommend to the VPRI office whether or not the project should move forward to full application.
  2. Other Faculties and Strategic Priorities streams: the RTA is reviewed by the Office of the VPRI. The information provided in the Faculty letter(s) of support will be considered, but final decisions regarding allocations will be made at the discretion of the VPRI.

After the review process is complete, applicants will receive an email indicating whether or not their RTA was approved for further development and submission to the CFI. In the case of successful projects, this communication will also indicate the maximum approved CFI allocation.

Step II: Proposal Development

Once a Project Leader has been approved to submit a JELF application to the CFI, a Contract Specialist from RAS will contact the project team with information about the next steps in proposal development and internal project setup.

Please note that to submit a JELF application, the Project Leader and any co-applicants must attend a mandatory JELF Information Session held by RAS shortly after receiving approval.

More information on the JELF proposal development process is discussed below.

Project Setup

RAS will set up RES projects on the Researcher Home Page for the CFI and RCP-SEG projects and will send the Project Leader instructions on how to complete the information and submit for workflow approvals. 

guide to using the Researcher Home Page is available.

The Project Leader will also open a new project on the CFI Awards Management System (CAMS). By the JELF submission deadline, all of the necessary information for the application will be entered on CAMS. More information on using CAMS is available.

RAS will also share with the project team a link to a folder on Google Drive containing the following:

  • JELF proposal template
  • JELF budget spreadsheet template
  • RCP-SEG proposal template
  • Important, proposal-related documents, including CFI and JELF guidelines, RCP-SEG guidelines, and the UofA Strategic Research Plan
  • Folders for quotes and documents related to renovations, if applicable


Proposal Development

Budget: JELF applicants can request between $75,001 and up to a maximum of $800,000 from the CFI. The CFI will allow submission of proposals requesting less than or equal to $75,000 from the social sciences, humanities, and arts.

Typically, the JELF budget is finalized before significant work is done on the JELF proposal text:

  • The proposal, which discusses the requested infrastructure and research project in the context of the infrastructure, flows logically from the budget.
  • The RTA budget provides a good sketch of the budget, but a more comprehensive budget will be created during proposal development. More information on  budget development is available.
  • Quotes will be required for all budget items, where available. More information on obtaining CFI-appropriate quotes is available.

Matching funding: As CFI and RCP funding only covers up to 80% of the total project cost, the other 20% needs to be brought to the project by the project team. Project teams are encouraged to cover as much of this 20% portion as possible with vendor in-kind contributions.

More information on in-kind is available. 

If in-kind do not cover the entire 20%, eligible matching funds must be brought to the project to cover the shortfall. More information on eligible sources for matching funds can be found in the CFI Policy and program guide (Section 4.8).

Renovations: A contingency of 5% of total project cost is included in the RTA budget for potential renovation costs. 

UofA F&O will assess the research space in which the requested infrastructure will be housed and, if renovations are deemed necessary, will generate an estimate to be included in the budget. In some cases, the 5% contingency will not be sufficient to cover renovation costs, and the Project Leader may need to request an increase in CFI allocation or bring additional funds to the project. In these cases, the Project Leader should consult RAS for further guidance. If renovations are not required after F&O’s assessment, the 5% contingency will be removed from the budget.

Structure of the CFI JELF Proposal

On CAMS, the JELF proposal is built from three modules: 

1) Project module, 2) Finance module, and 3) Suggested reviewers module.

1) The Project module includes:
  1. Project information: Basic information about the project, such as the title, applicant institution, keywords, and disciplines/areas of application.
  2. Plain Language Summary: A short summary, in plain language, of the proposed project (what is being researched, how it is being done, and why it is important). (max. 1500 characters).
  3. Researchers: Up to three candidates (applicants) may be listed on the proposal when there is a demonstrated need to share infrastructure. Researchers’ CVs will be appended to the proposal through CAMS (the CFI has its own CV format; Common CV is not needed).
  4. Assessment Criteria: A PDF document uploaded to CAMS. For applications requesting over $75,000, applicants must address five criteria within a maximum of 15 pages, as required by the CFI. Applications requesting less than $75,000 only have to address the first three criteria within a maximum of 10 pages. 
    1. Research or Technology Development: Description of the proposed research project, including why it is innovative and feasible in an international context. How does the research align with key institutional research investments? (This is discussed in the context of the institutional Strategic Research Plan.)
    2. Researchers: Who is the project team, why are they the best researchers to carry out this project, and what is their scientific track record and experience/expertise with the requested infrastructure?
    3. Infrastructure: For each item in the budget, what is it, what does it do, why is it essential for the research, and why can’t existing infrastructure be used?
    4. Institutional Commitment and Sustainability: What institutional supports will be provided for the research and housing of the infrastructure? Discussion of a management plan for the infrastructure. How does the research team plan to ensure that the infrastructure will be operable and maintained for its useful life?
    5. Benefits to Canadians: Discussion of socio-economic benefits of the research, including training of Highly Qualified Personnel (HQP). Discussion of knowledge mobilization and/or a technology transfer plan. 
  5. Financial resources for operation and maintenance: A budget for estimated overall annual costs and sources of support committed to ensuring effective operation and maintenance of the infrastructure for the first five years after it becomes operational.
  6. Attraction and retention of leading researchers: This section will be completed by RAS.
  7. Past/current CFI investments: This section will be completed by RAS.
2) The Finance module includes:
  1. Cost of individual items: Lists details of each budget line (description, CFI category, and cost). This information is taken from the ‘Summary’ tab of the CFI budget spreadsheet.
  2. Floor plans (if applicable): A PDF document uploaded to CAMS. For projects with renovation costs, this document contains the demolition (if any) and renovation floor plans, estimated timeline, and estimated cost, all provided by F&O.
  3. Contributions from eligible partners: A list of secured and expected partner funding sources. Matching funds from RCP-SEG and other eligible sources (as needed), as well as vendor in-kind contributions, are listed here.
  4. Infrastructure utilization: How the infrastructure will be used, by percentage.
3) The Suggested reviewers module includes:

The Project Leader will enter a minimum of six (6) reviewers who are specially qualified to review the proposal and who are not in conflict of interest. Note that the CFI does not exclusively recruit from the list of suggested reviewers provided.

RAS Assistance and Proposal Submission Requirements

RAS will assist the applicant(s) throughout proposal development. The current JELF guidelines (March 2021) are available. RAS has created the following documents to assist applicants with proposal development:

Application to Government of Alberta - Research Capacity Program - Small Equipment Grants (RCP-SEG)

The application to GoA for matching funds consists of the Alberta Alignment Module and the JELF application. Even though there is one RCP-SEG submission deadline per year, RAS requests that JELF applicants develop a draft of the Alberta Alignment Module concurrently with the JELF proposal so that the material is consistent between the two documents. The Alberta Alignment Module can be updated/revised, if need be, before the RCP-SEG submission deadline.

The RCP-SEG application is submitted to the Research Capacity Program, which supports the acquisition of research infrastructure by Alberta’s post-secondary institutions. More information can be found in the Research Capacity Program Guidelines (2023-2024).

In the Alberta Alignment Module, the applicant must discuss:

  • How the proposed infrastructure will advance
  • Expected benefits for Alberta and how these will be realized.
  • How the research infrastructure will contribute to the attraction and/or retention of talent, as well as to overall research excellence in Alberta.
  • How the infrastructure relates to existing infrastructure at the institution and other post-secondary institutions in Alberta.

As with the JELF application, RAS will assist with RCP-SEG proposal development, and the application must be reviewed and approved for submission by the Office of the VPRI. RAS will submit the application to RCP-SEG on the submission deadline.

Mandatory Internal Deadlines

RAS requests that the Project Leader provide the following no later than 45 days before the JELF submission deadline:

  • Completed budget spreadsheet, accompanied by all vendor quotes (renovations may still be pending)
  • Completed draft of Assessment Criteria
  • Completed draft of Alberta Alignment Module
  • Appropriate progress must also have been made on any renovation planning. Consultations with other UofA units may be necessary to discuss construction/renovation, requests for high-performance computing infrastructure, and/or digital data management planning. More information about these  requirements, including contacts is available.

Step III: Notice of decision and project setup

The CFI notifies institutions of its decisions according to the following schedule:

CFI decision schedule
Intake CFI Notification Timeframe
February June 4 months post-submission
June November 5 months post-submission
October March 5 months post-submission

RCP-SEG typically notifies institutions of its decisions in late February/early March (i.e., 4-5 months following submission). Therefore, the CFI decision is always known prior to the RCP-SEG decision, but RAS will typically wait until RCP-SEG decisions are released before activating the CFI project. If the CFI application is unsuccessful, the RCP-SEG application will not be submitted (or will be withdrawn in the case of June JELF applications).

Successful CFI Applications

RAS will notify applicants of the sponsor’s decision immediately. Following this, RAS will work with the Project Leader to finalize the CFI and RCP-SEG awards. RAS will ask the Project Leader to confirm the following:

  • Any changes to the CFI budget
  • Estimated purchase date for each budget item
  • CFI project end date
  • Speedcode to cover any cash shortfall (if applicable)

RAS will collect the necessary approvals for the award finalization documents and the award agreements. Once the agreements are signed by the institution, RAS will complete the project set up on the Researcher Home Page, and the project team will receive an advice notice with the speedcode.

Before the project team can begin purchasing infrastructure, the Project Leader, and any individuals involved in purchasing must attend a CFI purchasing information session. Since CFI awards are held by the institution, the purchase of items over $25,000 requires institutional approval. More information on purchasing for CFI projects and post-award management is available.

Changes to the Project at Award Finalization

Occasionally, a CFI reviewer or the CFI Board will recommend that certain budget items or costs of items are not adequately justified. If so, the CFI may reduce the award amount or award conditional funding. In these cases, the RAS, in consultation with the project team, must submit an amendment to the CFI with a revised budget based on the funding awarded.

In rare cases, CFI funding is awarded, but RCP-SEG funding is not awarded. In this case, the project team is responsible for securing the missing 40% match for the project. Any eligible funding source can be used for this.

Unsuccessful CFI Applications

In the event that a JELF application is unsuccessful, the Project Leader may wish to discuss resubmission of a revised application to a future JELF intake with their Chair and Associate/Vice-Dean (Research).

Note that the CFI allocation for an unsuccessful JELF application is returned to the Centrally-Managed allocation. As such, all unsuccessful applicants who wish to resubmit (including through a Faculty-Managed stream (ALES, ENG, FoMD, SCI) will need approval from the VPRI. In addition, the Project Leader must provide a letter of support from their Faculty for the resubmission. Additionally, they will need to explain how they plan to address the reviewers’ comments in the revised proposal.

Alternatively, ALES, ENG, FoMD, or SCI applicants wishing to resubmit may discuss with their Faculty the possibility of resubmitting using the Faculty’s allocation.


For more information, contact:

Institutional Program Team