Bridge Funding Program


The Healthy Brains, Healthy Lives (HBHL) initiative is a high profile, high priority multidisciplinary and cross-sectoral initiative located at McGill University made possible with support from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF). The  HBHL Strategic Research Plan  outlines the vision, deliverables, and overall goals of the initiative, and the research priorities of its four research themes.

This Bridge Funding opportunity aims to continue to support the most promising projects in their post-IGNITE maturation, help projects and technologies gain traction, and generate interest from industrial partners or investors. 

Funds available

Total funding will be up to $100,000 for an overall duration of 8-9 months. Funds will be released in two tranches with the first tranche being up to $50,000 for six months or less. The release of the second tranche will be dependent upon an interim report review and milestones achieved. The second tranche will be a maximum of $50,000 for an additional three-month period.

Important: Please note that this second $50,000 tranche will be deducted from the HBHL/NeuroSphere contribution to an Accelerate grant.

Funding is non-renewable.

Rolling basis

Application process


  • To be eligible, applicants must have successfully completed the Ignite phase.
  • A report of Invention (ROI) must be approved with the Innovation and Partnerships Office at McGill (I+P).
  • Applicants will be required to meet with NeuroSphere staff prior to submitting an application to determine their eligibility.
  • Applications will be reviewed internally for eligibility and relevance.
  • Applications will be sent to a review committee, which will review the application, and will then be submitted to the HBHL Innovation Committee (IC).
  • The IC will make the final funding decisions.
  • Successful applicants will be required to submit interim and final reports to HBHL and meet with NeuroSphere at the end of the first tranche funding period (at month 6 or less based on the pace of the project) and at project completion after review of final report. Strategic discussions will be held to determine project success, traction (e.g., future users, customers, industry partners, investors) and readiness for the Accelerate grant.
Submission Submissions will be on a rolling and invitation basis for Ignite grantees.


1. Meet with NeuroSphere Staff and obtain an invitation to apply

All applicants must meet first with the NeuroSphere team to discuss their application and evaluate the eligibility of their project based on the following strategic selection criteria established by NeuroSphere and validated by the HBHL Innovation Committee.

Strategic criteria (each scored 1 to 5)

  • Capacity of the project to move to a higher TRL (ideally minimum TRL 4 level at project start)
  • Market assessment with demonstration of a market gap
  • Potential for commercial benefit or for success with clear market need(s)
  • Intellectual property strategy
  • Industry readiness (traction, alignment with market/partner needs and demands)
  • Team expertise and environment
  • Budget justification
  • PI's investment (participation to NeuroSphere's initiative, etc.)
  • Outcomes and avenue(s) post-bridge funding

2. Eligibility review

The NeuroSphere team will assess the eligibility of applications based on the following criteria:

Applicant eligibility
  • Applicant: the applicant must be a McGill researcher who is eligible to hold Tri-Agency research funding (students and postdoctoral researchers are not eligible) and must have been invited to apply to this Bridge funding opportunity.
  • Co-applicants: co-applicants must be researchers from McGill University or from one of our CFREF partner institutions (Western University, Université de Montréal, University of British Columbia or Montréal Polytechnique). Grant funding may NOT be transferred to co-applicants from other institutions.
Intellectual property
  • A Report of Invention (ROI) must be approved with the Innovation and Partnerships Office at McGill (I+P). If a McGill-affiliated researcher decides to manage IP by themself, without I+P, they will not be eligible.
  • The technology must not yet be licensed or optioned.
Application completeness

To be considered “complete,” the application must include:

  • The online application form
  • The complete proposal
  • A comprehensive budget form

3. Relevance review

The NeuroSphere team will evaluate the relevance of applications based on the following criteria:

  • Alignment with the strategic criteria for this Bridge grant.
  • Alignment with HBHL’s vision and strategies within neuroscience fields relevant to one or more HBHL’s 4 themes.
  • Allowable Costs: Funding must go towards direct support of technology maturation (i.e., personnel, materials and supplies). Business case and model evaluation and strategic planning could also be considered as allowable costs. Equipment is not an eligible expense. Other non-eligible expenses include market studies, patent searches or filling, maintenance costs, or salaries associated with commercial development. Although these activities are not eligible, I+P and NeuroSphere staff can provide assistance in these areas. Funds cannot be used for compensation/salary of principal investigators, co-investigators or collaborators.

4. Peer review

Once the eligibility and relevance have been validated, a peer review committee will be formed to review the application based on the following criteria:

  • Maturation status
  • Industry/partnership readiness
  • IP status/strategy
  • Project/technology (commercial) outcomes & next steps
  • Value for money
  • Team expertise and environment
  • Appropriateness of the proposed budget
  • SGBA+
    • Appropriateness of the application’s integration of sex as a biological variable, gender as a socio-cultural determinant of health, and/or other relevant factors (e.g., race, age, Indigeneity, ability) or an evidence-based justification for not including these or other intersectional factors.
    • The historical omission of sex, gender and other identity factors from health research has resulted in a dearth of evidence about the effects of these factors. Therefore, a lack of evidence indicating the importance of these factors in the literature is not a sufficient justification on its own for omitting them in the proposed study.
    • SGBA+ will be reviewed separately by designated, knowledgeable reviewers for all applications. Applicants may be asked to revise this section prior to receiving funding if reviewers deem it inadequate.
  • EDI: respect of the EDI guidelines and continued commitment

5. Strategic selection and final approval

Upon completion of the peer review, the NeuroSphere staff will submit the application to the HBHL Innovation Committee for final decision and approval. To reach a funding decision, the HBHL Innovation Committee will consider both the results of the peer review as well as the strategic investment value of the application in contributing to HBHL’s innovation objectives (e.g., remaining funding, priority areas, continued support to promising existing projects, etc.).

6. Results and post-awards

  • Applicants will be notified by email of the results of their application.
  • Successful applicants will be sent a Notice of Award (NoA). It is the applicant’s responsibility to complete the Acceptance of Award form and other required documents including the McGill Office of Sponsored Research (OSR) checklist, by the indicated date.
  • Project start date must fall after the award has been approved and within 1-2 months after reception of NoA.

7. Responsibilities of successful applicants

Successful Principal Investigators are required to:

  • Spend all awarded funds within the granting period—no extensions will be permitted except in extremely extenuating circumstances.
  • Provide a final report to HBHL within 30 days of the end of the granting period to retain access to all other HBHL funding programs.
  • Meet with the NeuroSphere business development team at the end of the granting period to discuss results and potential to apply to the Accelerate grant phase.
  • Funded researchers, their collaborators and trainees are encouraged to attend educational, training and entrepreneurship events and or co-investigators and workshops offered by NeuroSphere.


All applications must be submitted online through the Bridge grant application form as a single PDF document. Please use the templates provided below and upload all parts as a single PDF application package named as “Lastname_Firstname_Bridge.pdf”.


In a maximum of  5 pages, describe the research project for which funding is requested. Refer to the evaluation criteria. Number the pages and indicate the Applicant’s name in the top right corner of each page. The Research Project should contain the following sections (with required space limitations):

Summary of key findings (0.5 page) should include:

  • Key findings from the Ignite grant

Roadmap to commercialization (1 page) should:

  • Define a clear and detailed product development roadmap including key milestones from now to commercialization
  • Describe what market and technical gaps this funding would help you fill
  • Describe potential challenges and risk factors that could prevent commercialization
  • Define competitive advantages for your offering

Research and Technical plan (1.5-2 pages) should articulate:

  • How challenges and potential development/technical risks will be addressed
  • Key achievable deliverables in direct correlation with the planned development milestones mentioned in the roadmap

Sex- and Gender-based Analysis Plus: Describe how sex as a biological variable, gender as a socio-cultural determinant of health and/or other relevant factors (e.g. race, age, Indigeneity, ability) have been considered in the research so far and how they will be integrated into the work going forward (if applicable). If none of the above factors were considered, provide an evidence-based justification for this decision. The applicant must attach to the application an electronic certificate of completion, showing their name and date completed, from at least one of CIHR’s Online Training Modules on Integrating Sex and Gender in Health Research.

Intellectual Property (IP) strategy (0.5 page) should include:

  • How would this work help develop an IP position and a forward strategy?
  • If any prior art analysis has been performed

Budget justification, team expertise and environment (0.5-1 page) should include:

  • How will the proposed expenditures be used to achieve the planned milestones? Are the budget items well justified?
  • Are the team, environment and resources adapted for running the proposed activities?
  • What will be the time commitment of team members during and after that bridge funding period?

EDI (1/2 page) should include:

Describe the manner in which the activities of your research team, and the team(s) of any collaborators, advance McGill’s commitment to Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion (EDI).  View examples of practices that you may wish to refer to in your response, and implement if you have not already

Applicant must include all the necessary information (including tables, figures and a list of references) within 5 pages. Please note that extra pages will be removed from your application.


Access the Budget template (upload as part of single PDF application package).

Provide details of the anticipated expenses, and how they were calculated. Justify why these expenses are necessary to the project. Mention any relevant quotes from suppliers for materials or services >$10,000.

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