MSSI newsletter

Innovation Fund

Given the pressing nature of many modern challenges, effective knowledge mobilization is a crucial component of sustainability research. With this in mind, the Innovation Fund was created to serve as a catalyst, accelerating the development of ideas or technology toward widespread societal adoption. This is achieved by providing seed funding for sustainability-related research with the potential to inform policy or move an innovation toward commercialization.

The application deadline is January 29, 2023. Applications received after the deadline will not be reviewed.

Download the call

Download the application template

Available funds

One-year duration, up to $50,000 per award ($100,000 available in total).



The innovation or process must have a positive impact on a sustainability challenge. The following are within the scope of the Innovation Fund: policy development; proof of concept (perhaps as a prelude to an entrepreneurial path, transfer of a technology to industry, or the implementation of a social innovation); preparatory work for IP filing; development of a prototype or small-scale pilot system; testing the viability of an approach in the environment; and reduction to practice. See previously funded projects.

Previously unsuccessful proposals will only be accepted for a subsequent competition if they contain obvious and significant developments that are clearly identified in the proposal.


  • Lead applicants must be active McGill faculty.
  • Students are not eligible to be lead or co-applicants. They can, however, receive compensation for work on the project.
  • Postdoctoral fellows can apply as co-applicants but not as lead applicants. As co-applicants, they cannot receive compensation.
  • All applicants must be MSSI Members or Affiliates (register at
  • Applications from groups are welcome providing that at least 50% of participants are active McGill faculty and all applicants are either MSSI Members or MSSI Affiliates.
  • Lead applicants cannot concurrently be receiving other MSSI funding (e.g., from other funding competitions or from research themes). These individuals may apply as co-applicants only.
  • Applicants may only appear on one application as either a lead applicant or a co-applicant.


  • Materials and supplies; user fees (reasonable, as related to the project).
  • Community engagement expenses (e.g., workshops, community consultations, etc.).
  • HR compensation (stipends and salaries for students/postdoctoral fellows).
  • IP filings, etc.


  • Building and refurbishment, large equipment.
  • Conference costs (e.g., registration, travel).
  • Alcohol.

Selection criteria

The Innovation Fund Review Committee reviews the applications and makes recommendations to the Executive Committee for final approval.

Projects receiving Innovation Funds are selected for their potential for significant impact on a sustainability issue and their feasibility to move an idea from bench toward commercialization or widespread adoption.

To reflect the complexity of sustainability challenges, proposals are encouraged to take a systems-level perspective (i.e., to consider the social, economic, and environmental implications). In line with MSSI goals, projects that take an interdisciplinary approach are viewed favourably.

Proposals that ranked highly in previous competitions met the following criteria:

  • A clear explanation of the research and how the outcome (technology, process, policy, etc.) will positively impact sustainability.
  • A feasible plan that clearly describes the progress that will be made in moving from the idea to practical application within the stated timeline.
  • An explanation of how the expertise and breadth of the research team enables the success of the proposed project.
  • A well-defined, though not necessarily detailed, budget that includes explanations of the subcomponents and how any training is incorporated.

Applicants may also find it helpful to refer to the Government of Canada Technical Readiness Level (TRL) scale.


  • Work covered by the fund must be completed within one calendar year of the grant start date. All funding extensions must be approved by the MSSI.
  • Additional space and associated costs must have been approved and allocated by the relevant department prior to application.
  • Funding is dependent on obtaining all appropriate McGill Research Ethics Board approvals. Funds cannot be allocated until approvals are confirmed.
  • In the event that other funding is received for this research, it is expected that the MSSI will be notified so a decision can be made on possible return to the MSSI of the full or partial award.


A short final report must be submitted one month after the funding ends.

Successful applicants are expected to become active members of the MSSI community, attend and present their work at MSSI events as appropriate, and act as reviewers in future competitions upon request. Graduate students and postdoctoral fellows receiving compensation from the Innovation Fund are expected to participate in the MSSI HQP Collective.

Awardees are also expected to provide reports and other material to help promote sustainability research at McGill.


All material and information submitted to the competition should be non-confidential as a high-level synopsis of funded projects may be made available on the MSSI website and in other communications output. Applicants are responsible for taking the necessary steps to protect any intellectual property associated with the project.

How to apply

Proposals must include:

  1. The completed Template, found on the MSSI website (note that the template should not be modified).
  2. A separate Appendix. This will include:
    • Up to two supporting figures (optional, can include legend but not body text).
    • Up to four technical references (optional, not full articles).
    • Up to two publications or media articles that provide relevant information for reviewers unfamiliar with the field of the proposal (mandatory).
    • CVs (mandatory, two pages for lead applicant and one page for co-applicants).

The review process will be completed in February/March 2023, and funds will be allocated in April 2023.

PROPOSAL DETAILS (also see Template)

  1. For each applicant on the proposal:
    • Full name and e-mail.
    • McGill faculty and department, or external affiliation for non-McGill co-applicants.
    • Area of expertise relevant to proposal.
    • A statement of relevant expertise or an abridged resumé highlighting relevant background, publications, patents, and collaborative research activities (maximum two pages for lead applicant and one page for co-applicants. Resumés exceeding the maximum page length will be returned for modification).
  2. Outline of the research project (maximum 200 words). Note that reviewers will likely not be experts in your field. Therefore, provide a strong description of the research project, situating it in the literature/prior research, and explain all technical terms.
  3. Relevance to and potential impact on sustainability (maximum 50 words).
  4. United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) addressed. Please refer to:
  5. Anticipated deliverable(s), including those associated with IP.
  6. Project timeline and major milestones within the one-year funding period.
  7. Equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI, maximum 50 words). In keeping with Tri-agency expectations, the MSSI asks researchers to consider EDI in their application. Please refer to the following resources for guidance:
  8. Budget.
  9. Any additional information relevant to the proposal:
    • Any commercial product or service that could be implemented or developed through application of the research results, including reference to other applications of the product or service.
    • Any collaboration with industry, government, etc., related to the proposal.
    • If relevant, description of novelty/originality of proposed innovation.
  10. Research Ethics Board approval (if pertinent).
  11. Declaration of other sources of funding.


The following documents must be submitted in a single e-mail to mssi [at], copying in all co-applicants:

  1. Completed Template, submitted as a Word file, labelled LeadLastName-Initial-Application (i.e., Smith-J-Application).
  2. Separate Appendix, submitted as a PDF file, labelled LeadLastName-Initial-Appendix (i.e., Smith-J-Appendix), and containing supporting figures, references, publications, and CVs.

Non-conforming applications will be returned for modification and resubmission up to the competition closing date.

A confirmation receipt will be sent via email within one business day. Please contact the MSSI if you don’t receive a receipt within this timeframe.


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