Neuro commercialization grants. Ignite


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.

Ignite grants represent the first of two phases in the HBHL Neuro-Commercialization Grants program. The objective of the Ignite grant is to support small-scale validation/proof-of-principle efforts in the development of a neuroscience-related technology.

Funds available

Up to $50,000 for 6 months.

Funding is non-renewable.


Final competition

  • Competition launch: October 20, 2022
  • Application deadline: December 19, 2022
  • Funding start date: April 1, 2023

Application process

Prerequisite: A report of Invention (ROI) must have been filed with the Innovation and Partnerships Office at McGill (I+P).

  1. Applicants will be required to meet with NeuroSphere staff prior to submitting an application to determine stage of readiness and fit for the program;
  2. Applications will be reviewed internally for eligibility and relevance;
  3. Applications will be sent to a review committee, which will review the application for program relevance and project advancement. The most promising applications will be submitted to the HBHL Innovation Committee (IC) for funding decisions;
  4. Successful applicants will be required to submit a final report to HBHL and meet with NeuroSphere at the end of the granting period to discuss their results and whether they are ready to submit an application to the Accelerate phase.


Follow the instructions below before submitting your application.


1. Meet with NeuroSphere staff and obtain invitation to apply

Applicants must meet with the NeuroSphere team to discuss their application to ensure eligibility for funding and alignment with HBHL goals.

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).
  • 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 have been filed with the Innovation and Partnerships Office at McGill (I+P). If a McGill-affiliated researcher decides to manage IP by him/herself, without I+P, he/she will not be eligible. Even if projects adhere to guiding principles of Open Science, a ROI must be filed.
  • The technology must also not yet be licensed or optioned.

Application completeness:

For an application to be considered complete, it must include:

3. Relevance Review

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

  • Alignment: The project must be within the field of neuroscience, cognitive neuroscience, mental health or neuroinformatics and align with HBHL's Strategic Research Plan.
  • Allowable Costs: Funding must go towards direct support of technology maturation (i.e., personnel, materials and supplies). Business case and model evaluation and strategic planification 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 for principle investigators, co-investigators or collaborators.

4. Peer Review

Once the eligibility and relevance has been validated, a peer review committee will be formed to review the application based on 1) the review of the science and potential commercialization and 2) a strategic review [New as of 2022]:

Science and potential for commercialization:

  • Science
    • The innovation/technology is novel and address a health problem;
    • The innovation/technology is adequately described;
    • The applicant’s research activity and experience adequately support the innovation/technology;
    • Milestones are feasible within 6 months;
  • Potential for commercialization
    • Maturation plan of the technology;
    • Maturation plan is feasible and realistic within proposed budget;

Strategic review

Each Ignite application is evaluated by the NeuroSphere team on the basis of strategic selection criteria validated by the HBHL Innovation Committee (a total average score is calculated)

  • Capacity of the project to move to a higher Technology Readiness Level (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
  • Potential for industry readiness (potential for traction, alignment with market/partner needs and demands)
  • Team expertise and environment
  • Budget justification
  • PI's investment/motivation (participation to NeuroSphere's initiative, etc.)
  • Outcomes and avenue(s) post-bridge funding


  • 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.

5. Strategic Selection and Final Approval

The NeuroSphere staff will submit a pre-selection of the most promising, high-priority projects to the HBHL Innovation Committee for final approval and authorization of funds.

6. Results and Post-Awards

  • All applicants will be notified by email of the results of the competition by the end of February 2023.
  • Successful applicants will be sent a Notice of Award. 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.

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; and
  • 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 Ignite Grants 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_Ignite.pdf”.


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

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 at the top right corner of each page.

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

The proposal should contain the following sections (with requested space limitations):

1. Overview (1 page): Should include:

  • Description of the technology/invention that highlights the novelty and the key problem(s) it is trying to address
  • Definition of the market/business opportunity and anticipated value for your targeted end-user(s).
  • Justification of how the requested funds will contribute to the maturation of the technology/invention.

2. Advancement of the project and objectives (1.5 pages): Should include:

  • Background and context of the technology/invention and of the market need(s)/problems that the project is addressing.
  • Current results and stage of development.
  • Competitive advantages and limitations of the technology/invention.
  • What are the main objective(s) and/or milestones to be achieved to move the technology/invention towards a feasible maturation/commercialization phase to ultimately solve an identified medical problem/need.

3. Research and Technical plan (2 pages): Should include:

  • Description of technical/scientific and commercial requirements to move the technology/invention forward.
  • Explain how the R&T plan will address these requirements and facilitate the transition towards maturation/commercialization.
  • Timelines and deliverables.
  • 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.

4. 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 can implement in your research design if you have not done so 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.

When completing the EDI sections of the application for HBHL Start-up Funds, applicants must protect the privacy and confidentiality of others. How an individual self-identifies is considered personal and confidential information and should not be disclosed without that person’s consent.

Please do not include in your response any demographic information (e.g. gender, Indigeneity, ability, race, ethnicity and/or sexual orientation) that can be connected directly to any specific individual other than yourself.

Instead, give concrete examples of clear and specific initiatives and measures that you and your team have undertaken. Examples of practises you may wish to refer to in your response are provided on the
HBHL website.


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. Specify any co-funding contributions from collaborators, industrial partners or foundations.


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

For each applicant and co-applicant, provide a maximum 2-page biosketch that includes: Name, Affiliation; Education/training; Employment/affiliations; Research funding in the past 4 years; Most significant contributions (e.g. publications) (up to five).

Applicant and co-applicant(s) are invited to describe any career interruptions to explain impact on productivity. If this option is chosen, an additional maximal half page (only for this purpose) may be added to their 2-page CV.

Note: Please do not submit biosketches for collaborators.

CIHR Training Module Certificate

Application PDF package must include an electronic certificate of completion (incl. name and date) from at least one of CIHR’s Online Training Modules on Integrating Sex and Gender in Health Research.

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