Photo of CIFAR Research Workshops: Call for Proposals

CIFAR Research Workshops: Call for Proposals

Announcement News 21.02.2017

Thank you for your interest in the Research Workshop Program. We are currently not accepting new proposals through the open call. We will be opening a special call for proposals for Research Workshops on topics related to the societal implications of Artificial Intelligence in March, 2018. We anticipate accepting open call proposals later this year. Please check back with us or sign up to receive new notifications via our website.

For more than three decades, CIFAR’s global research programs have connected many of the world’s best minds – across borders and disciplines – to shape new perspectives and spark ground-breaking ideas. Our commitment to sustained research interactions and engagement through interdisciplinary research networks offers researchers the rarest of commodities: freedom to take intellectual risks that are essential for creating truly transformative knowledge.

CIFAR is announcing the launch of a new opportunity to explore key questions of global importance that can best be addressed through interdisciplinary, international teams. We have designed a research workshop program for short-term, time-limited interactions of 10 to 20 people.

We invite the global research community to submit proposals for workshops that are centred on complex, fundamental questions of importance to the world. Topics selected for workshops should have the potential to impact multiple sectors of society internationally. Topics that are timely in the context of world events, high-risk or which have strong potential for advancement or refinement through a collaborative and interdisciplinary approach are encouraged.

CIFAR is pleased to announce the first set of competitively selected, peer reviewed Research Workshops. Check back for details about additional workshops to be awarded over the year.  



Open call proposals

CIFAR is not currently accepting new proposals through the open call. We will be opening a special call for proposals for Research Workshops on topics related to the societal implications of Artificial Intelligence in March, 2018. We anticipate accepting open call proposals later this year.  

Please check back with us or sign up now to receive updates about this call for workshop proposals directly by email.

When accepting proposals, the open call for workshops accepts proposals from any field of humanities, engineering, social, natural, or biomedical sciences that address critical questions of global importance.

Open call workshop proposals will be accepted and assessed on a rolling basis. CIFAR will strive to make decisions on successful proposals as promptly as possible. CIFAR will provide two weeks’ notice in advance of when the call for workshops will close for the year. Where multiple proposals are submitted on similar research questions, CIFAR may encourage the applicants to collaborate and will facilitate that process.

Targeted proposals

In addition to the open call for proposals, CIFAR anticipates launching targeted calls in various research areas. These target calls will be assessed based on a predetermined timeline. If you have questions about these areas, please contact Child Well-being is the first target area. Please continue to visit this website for more information about target area workshops.

Sign up now to receive updates about the targeted calls directly by email.

Child Well-being

A list of awarded child well-being research workshops is available here


  • Workshops must be comprised of a core team of three to four international and interdisciplinary researchers who intend to address topics of global importance. At least one researcher must be based in Canada. Other participants are expected to be geographically diverse. One of the core team members must serve as the lead applicant for the proposal. CIFAR will work with the core team to identify and recruit additional participants.
  • Workshops must address a new area of research, or a gap in the research agenda.
  • Workshop proposals submitted by existing CIFAR fellows must be outside the research scope and evolution of the current CIFAR programs.
  • Proposals should outline the plan for the Workshop, including themes and anticipated outcomes, possible location(s) and length.  A high-level budget (travel, accommodation, meals and onsite costs, pre- and post-meetings for planning) is required for up to a maximum of $50,000 CAD. Proposals that exceed this cost will be excluded from consideration. CIFAR will work with selected applicants to further develop a detailed budget.
  • It is expected that all members of the core team will be internationally recognized researchers who are considered experts in their field. They must hold a Doctorate in their related field. 
  • CIFAR does not provide sponsorship for workshops/conferences that are already planned. This program is intended for workshops that are in the earliest stages of planning. Note that CIFAR will work with the applications to further develop the workshop, including invitee list and budget if awarded.
  • Workshops are intended to develop new research collaborations, proposals should demonstrate that this is a new group of researchers coming together to advance the proposed research topic.


Submissions must be done through the electronic form found here or at the bottom of this page. You may wish to draft your proposal in a word document and then copy and paste into the electronic form. 
Submitted proposals are required to answer the following questions:
    1. What is the research question(s) or thematic area that this workshop will address? Why is this issue significant today (e.g. timeliness, global relevance)? (Max. 500 words)
    2. How will this interdisciplinary workshop add value to the current state of knowledge related to this area? Why is an international network beyond your established collaborators necessary for this workshop? (Max. 250 words)
    3. What is the proposed format of this workshop? Please be sure to clarify what the expectations of participants are during the workshop (e.g. presentations, breakout sessions) (Max. 250 words)
    4. What are the potential outcomes of the workshop? (e.g. workshop report, proceedings) (Max. 250 words)
    5. Please list the proposed core international team (lead applicant, plus up to three others), including their expertise. At least one team member must be based in Canada.
    6. What is the strategy for expanding the workshop network beyond the core team of participants (e.g. what additional disciplinary or sub-disciplinary expertise do you hope to add to the discussion)? (Max. 250 words)
    7. If applicable, please list any proposed, or existing, research partners. Include the level of support (committed, approached, proposed) and the type (direct financial, in-kind, expertise etc). (Max. 250 word)
    8. Applicants will also be asked to submit as appendices:
      i. Literature cited (max. 1 page)
      ii. Short CVs (max. 2 pages each) for each core member of the workshop.
      iii. If applicable, letters of support from partner organizations or collaborators describing their contribution (in-kind, cash, expertise) to the proposed workshop.
      iv. Workshop budget that includes travel, accommodation, meals and onsite costs. Please provide a brief justification for each line item. The need for funds should be specified, along with any existing funds that would be used to offset workshop costs (direct or in-kind). Note: budgets over $50,000 CAD will not be considered.


1. Evidence of the unique nature or novelty of the proposal theme and its potential impact
  • Is this a new research area or part of ongoing activities?
  • Will the workshop challenge existing paradigms, develop new methods or techniques, address an unexplored area, and/or is this a high-risk area with potential for breakthrough?
  • Does this workshop add value to what is currently being done internationally in the proposed research area?
  • Have the objectives been clearly defined? Are the potential outcomes or next steps clearly and logically outlined?
2. Need for an international and interdisciplinary approach and CIFAR involvement
  • Does the workshop require an international and interdisciplinary approach?
  • Does the applicant provide an accurate assessment of the current efforts in this area, including justifying why there is a need for the workshop?
  • Are the activities proposed the best method or approach for the proposed research question/area?
  • Is this a new collaboration and/or is this collaboration essential?
  • What is the nature and extent of the collaboration?
  • Is there a need to expand the researchers’ existing academic networks, and/or include partners and stakeholders in practice, business, policy or civil society?
  • Has the need for CIFAR support in building networks been clearly and logically articulated?
 3. Excellence of the research team
  • What does each participant add to the team in terms of her/his knowledge, expertise and/or resources?
  • Have the pertinence of the expertise, the role, and the expected contributions of each member been satisfactorily described?
  • Is the expertise interdisciplinary, complementary, potentially synergistic and well integrated?
  • Is the proposed research team international in composition?
  • Is this geographic distribution reflective of the scope of the research question(s) being explored?
  • Is there a clear logic for how/why the workshop will build new connections with researchers and other non-academic stakeholders?
4. Workshop Plan
  • Is the workshop plan reasonable and efficacious?
  • Can the activities be completed in the estimated time?
  • Are the leadership and management of the workshop appropriate?
  • Are the proposed locations, length and number of participants appropriate?
  • Is the budget logical and reasonable?


CIFAR will screen proposals for eligibility. Please note that proposals that are similar to, or natural extensions of, existing CIFAR programs will be eliminated at this stage. Eligible proposals will be sent for external peer-review by internationally recognized researchers. Additional review and advice will may be provided by members of the CIFAR Research Council. Final decisions rest with CIFAR.


1. What type of engagements will be funded?

CIFAR is interested in funding research workshops that promote short-term, time-limited interactions of approximately 10 to 20 people. The format of the workshop is dependent on the research question(s) being explored. Workshops may be a one-time meeting or may involve multiple engagements over a short period of time. 

Proposals should be focused on a fundamental research question of global importance. Successful proposals will put forward compelling research questions and demonstrate why it is necessary for the research area to be explored by the academic community. Note that application or implementation-based research is not within the scope of this call for proposals. These workshops are not intended for research dissemination. Where relevant, participation by policy, not-for-profit, or industry stakeholders is encouraged, if such participation helps to advance the research.

2. Does the research question/area need to be Canadian-focused?

The proposed topic should address a question of global importance.  

3. Can I submit more than one proposal and/or be listed on multiple proposals?

Individuals can only be the lead applicant for one active proposal at a time. However, they can be team members on more than one proposal.

4. How long do I have to organize and execute the workshop?

From the date of notification of acceptance, the organizing team has nine (9) months to implement the workshop unless agreed upon in advance by CIFAR.

5. What is CIFAR’s role in the development and execution of the workshop?

CIFAR will work closely with successful applicants throughout the planning process to expand the participant list to include additional academic researchers, and/or to include partner organizations and other stakeholders. CIFAR staff will be in attendance at the workshop.

6. Can this funding support work I am currently undertaking? 

While a workshop can be an extension of work currently underway, the proposal should clearly articulate how this workshop is a new project for the proponents. Proposals should also address how a research workshop will provide a unique opportunity to explore the proposed research questions that would otherwise not be possible through existing collaborations. The need for CIFAR should be made explicit in proposals.

7. How competitive is the call for Research Workshops?

The program is competitive, and it is expected that only a limited number of workshops of the highest caliber will be funded.

8. Can the workshops take place outside of Canada?

Yes. Workshops can take place outside of Canada. Workshops should take place in a location that is consistent with the research question(s) being asked, that is feasible within the budget and that is logistically convenient for a majority of workshop participants.

9. What is the deadline for the open call?

Workshop proposals may be submitted on an ongoing and continuous basis. Proposals submitted to the open call will be accepted and assessed on a rolling basis. 

10.  Where can I get information on the targeted call for proposals?

CIFAR is exploring a series of targeted calls for research workshops in the areas of Child Well-being, Quantum Science, Brain/Artificial Intelligence, and the Future of Energy. Proposals submitted under these themes will be assessed based on a predetermined timeline; there will not be rolling submissions.

11. Can I receive feedback on my proposal? 
If requested, CIFAR can provide feedback on administrative questions or issues, however, we are unable to provide substantive feedback on workshop proposals.  
12. Are indirect costs or overhead costs permissible?  
It is CIFAR’s policy that indirect costs of a project (including institutional overhead) are not eligible. 


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