Funding Opportunities

COVID-19 Update (September 2021):

In light of the ongoing pandemic, we are delaying the Catalyst Workshops, Novel, and International Collaborations competitions, until appropriate.

Travel restrictions have significantly impacted our Visiting Scientist and Ph.D. Exchange Programs. We encourage the applicants to stay in contact with their host representatives and institutions for up-to-date information regarding international travel. Visiting Scientist competitions are likewise disrupted until further notice. Please contact admin@mcdonaldinstitute.ca for more details.


The McDonald Institute has several funding opportunities to enable meaningful scientific progress and maximize collaborative interactions, researcher exposure and overall impact of the Astroparticle physics community.  The four streams, Internships,  Research Resources, Exchanges and Linkages, and Collaborations each has its own set of funding envelopes, timelines, and review processes.


Research Resources:



All applications will be reviewed by the McDonald Institute Research Management Committee, which oversees the scientific progress of the McDonald Institute, with award results available within 30 days from each application due date. If you are currently receiving funding through the McDonald Institute, you will require the templates available in our financial toolkit.


Research Resources

Frontier Research Venture Fund

Description: One year of research funding for new high-risk, high-reward research areas that help maximize the scientific output from the suite of experiments that are currently operational or under development.

Eligibility: Funding is for faculty members at any Canadian academic institution, who can currently hold funds from of any the granting agencies including CFREF.

Projects must be one year in length and address one of the following:

  • Programmatic or Network-level research partnership development initiatives.
  • Unique capacity building/training/professional development opportunities within existing research projects.
  • Seed funding of new research and development initiatives to build new teams or enable proof of principle that will lead to follow-on funding from other sources of research support.
  • Funding can be used for salaries, equipment, materials, supplies, and travel.

How it works: Successful recipients will be notified by award letter, which stipulates the terms of the funding. The one-year window begins when the funds are released, upon signing of the award letter. Funds will be transferred to the faculty’s institution using the standard processes.

Reporting is ongoing, per the use of funds, on a quarterly basis. Indirect costs may be eligible for additional funding but must be indicated at the time the award letter is signed and outlined in a separate budget submission.

Competition Opens: Monday, July 20th
Competition Closed: August 28th
Results Released: Fall 2020

Next Competition: TBD

Amount: Maximum of $125,000

HQP Pooled Resources

Description:This competition has been split into two streams. One stream targets funding towards identified graduate students for a maximum of two years (excluding scholarships or salaries gained through teaching and research assistant positions etc.), with a start date prior to September 2021A second stream targets undergraduate applications with a start date prior to September 2021 but does not require an identified individual. A separate set of guidelines and application forms are provided for the graduate and undergraduate streams. Funding for positions is available to those pursuing astroparticle physics research in Canada aligned with the McDonald Institute Research Strategy. This will be one of the last HQP Pooled Resources opportunities.  

Eligibility:The applicant must be able to supervise at a Canadian academic institution and be eligible to hold an institutional account for grants or awards (e.g. granting agencies, or currently receives CFREF funding).  

The proposal must be in line with the McDonald Institute’s vision and scientific goals. 

NEW program requirements

Graduate Applications 

The application form requires an identified graduate student and their record of academic standing. Please see below for more details.   

Undergraduate Applications 

The application form does not require an identified student, however, the application and matrix have been updated from the last competition. 

Proposal:Applicants can apply for multiple positions; however, a separate application form for each position must be completed. Where applicable, certain information may be copied between your applications, but each position is unique and will be considered based on the merits of the application package. Template completion is mandatory and includes several sections with assigned page limits.  

In the undergraduate stream, a student does not need to be identified. However,  graduate student applications must identify a student. The graduate student should provide the applicant with a copy of an unofficial transcript and an abbreviated version of their Curriculum Vitae highlighting their volunteer work, associations they are involved in, conference presentations, awards, etc., for the application package. The purpose of the supporting documentation is to gather more information on the student, such as which classes have been completed, what interests the student has, and their academic standing.  

Applications that are incomplete or fail to follow the template will not be considered. Once a proposal has been submitted, a confirmation e-mail will be sent within one business day. 

How it works: Successful supervisors will be granted one ticket for each successful position, to be filled with the identified student within a period of six months from the award date. The position is considered filled when a signed letter of offer or comparative letter is received by the McDonald Institute confirming the student and supervisor’s commitment with a start date no later than September 2021. The award letter is valid for six months but may be renewed for a period at the discretion of the McDonald Institute administrative staff when extenuating circumstances are in place. All unused tickets and/or portions of funding will be returned to the pool and made available for future competitions. 

Ticket Value:The McDonald Institute recognizes that different institutions have different pay scales and arrangements for student salaries. The expectation is for salaries to be consistent with the norms in your department, but the ticket value will not exceed $24k per year over two years for a graduate student or $12k per four-month term for an undergraduate student. We encourage faculty members to assist the students in acquiring other sources of funding, such as TA and RA positions, as the award only covers faculty costs associated with the salary of the HQP. Successful applicants will be granted one ticket for each successful position. All unused tickets and/or portions of funding will be returned to the pool and made available for future competitions. 

An example of the funds to offset faculty real costs: A Master’s student wage is set at $18,000. The student is TA’ing a course that pays $5,000 and receives a scholarship for $5,000; the McDonald Institute would pay the balance of $8,000. 


Competition Closed: January 29, 2021, 4:00 pm EDT
Results Released: Early March 2021
Next Competition: To be determined 

Completed applications may be sent to admin@mcdonaldinstitute.ca with the subject line “HQP Pooled Resources Round 7 – {Faculty Last Name}” for graduate applications, or “HQP Pooled Resources Round 7 UG – {Faculty Last Name}” for undergraduate applications. 


Proof of Concept Seed Fund Pilot Program

Description: The McDonald Institute Proof of Concept Seed Fund Pilot Program provides early-stage support for technology innovation supervised by an awardee. Funding of up to $20,000 CAD is currently available to offset the real costs to an eligible astroparticle physics researcher developing an early-stage demonstration of practical technologies either adapted, or transferred from research-driven activities. Funding may be used for a portion, or the entirety of costs incurred for, prototype development, technology integration, or technology demonstration. Once funds for the current Pilot are exhausted, the opportunity will close until the next fiscal year (April 2022- March 2023).

Applicant Eligibility: Any researcher focused on astroparticle physics and already eligible to hold funds from Tri-Council granting agencies (or currently in receipt of CFREF funding through the McDonald Institute) may apply if they are eligible to manage an institutional research account. Any researcher working under the direct supervision of a researcher meeting the above criterion may act as the application lead (proponent), but all funds must flow through a Tri-Council eligible researcher’s account (awardee).

Eligible Expenses: Successful awardees may invoice the McDonald Institute to recover up to $20,000 of proof-of -concept costs including salary costs of awardee-supervised research personnel (post-doctoral, graduate, undergraduate students, or technical or engineering staff); materials, licences and fees required to fabricate, operate or demonstrate the proof of concept (including fees for machining work, assembly, software development). Up to 20 percent of an award is eligible for travel support related to proof-of-concept activities. Documented expenses incurred in the three months prior to an award letter may be reimbursed if they are CFREF eligible, provided that the applicant has disclosed such prior spending in their application budget.

Ineligible Expenses: Awardees will not be eligible for the reimbursement of intellectual property protection costs, legal advice, hospitality, or the recovered costs of goods that are subsequently sold to a third party (e.g., prototypes or services that are sold as products). This list is not exhaustive, please reach out to the program contact staff for confirmation of eligibility.

How it works: Successful applicants will be granted an award letter committing the McDonald Institute to reimburse up to $20,000 CAD of receipted expenses incurred up to 12 months from the award date. The target of the first award call is to bolster community members’ experience in mobilizing research technology to address practical problems and to de-risk such mobilizations by demonstrating feasibility (problem-solution “fit”). Applications are welcomed at any time for this funding opportunity Once this funding pool (currently $20,000 CAN) has been exhausted, this competition will close for the current fiscal year. Contact Dr. Alexandra Pedersen (Business Development Officer) for additional application information and guidance.

Call for applications opens: March 26, 2021 Results will be announced within one month of each application submission.

Potential applicants must contact Dr. Alexandra Pedersen, the McDonald Institute Business Development Officer, at admin@mcdonaldinstitute.ca prior to submitting an application to discuss the project.

Completed applications may be sent to admin@mcdonaldinstitute.ca with the subject line “Proof of Concept Seed Fund Round 1 – {Applicant Last Name}”.


Exchanges and Linkages


Visiting Scientist

Description:  A travel bursary for scientists to visit a host institution for collaborative work, similar to a research sabbatical, ranging from 3 to 12 months. The goal is to advance areas of research that align with the objectives of the McDonald Institute and have a scientific impact on the hosting and sending institution, thus mobilizing research talent in Canada to international research institutions and bringing international researchers to Canada. Funding will only cover pre-approved costs for travel and accommodations during the exchange.

Eligibility: Applicants must have completed a Ph.D. and be an established researcher working in the area of astroparticle physics. The proposed research program must also be aligned with the objectives of the McDonald Institute and should not be financially supported through other sources of funding.

How it works: Individuals will prepare the application form with the assistance of their host institution for exchanges from 3 to 12 months in duration (shorter durations may be considered). Awards will cover the costs of travel and accommodations during the exchange, however, there are a limited number of awards annually. A budget estimate form must be completed as part of the application, applications requesting retroactive coverage are not eligible. Funds will be distributed through a cost-recovery model, upon receiving compliant invoices.

Amount: Maximum of $25,000 CDN

Application Deadline: TBA

Previous application resources:

Ph.D. Exchange

Description: This program allows Ph.D. students to gain experience at another research group for up to six months and bring new knowledge back to their home research group. This opportunity is limited to applicants studying astroparticle physics or a related field. Funding will only cover pre-approved costs for travel and accommodations during the exchange.

Eligibility: Open to all Ph.D. students studying astroparticle physics or a related field who are either enrolled at a Canadian academic institution and/or wish to visit a Canadian academic institution as part of the program. There is no restriction on citizenship.

How it works: Individuals will prepare the application form with the assistance of their host institution for exchanges up to six months in duration. The program will cover the costs of travel and accommodations during the exchange, however, there are a limited number of awards annually. A budget estimation form must be completed as part of the application, applications requesting retroactive coverage are not eligible. Funds will be distributed through a cost-recovery model, upon receiving compliant invoices.

Amount: Maximum of $10,000 CDN

Application deadline: TBA

Previous application resources:


Timeline: Currently closed.

Next Competition: TBD

Amount: Maximum of $10,000 each

Novel Collaborations with Astroparticle Physics

Description: Funding to host a collaboration meeting, targeting the creation of new scientific outcomes. BlueSky ideas that seed exploration of research interests or address overlap between research groups are encouraged.

Eligibility: Meetings will take place in Canada between Canadian collaborators, including any person who holds a position at a Canadian academic or research institute with a focus on Astroparticle physics. Participants must be groups that have not previously interacted scientifically (previously collaborated or jointly published), and interdisciplinary research is encouraged.

How it works: One to two competitions per year, that will take place in early spring and late summer. Within one year of award funds being released, the meeting must take place, with the final report due within 30 days of the event date. Funding for travel, meeting costs, demo development (equipment or software). Some calls may be targeted (e.x. Low Radioactivity Technology, Detector Development). Funding will be transferred to eligible institution upon invoicing.


International Astroparticle Physics Collaborations

Description: Funding to host international collaboration meetings in Canada to create international linkages on research ideas, or meetings at international locations that demonstrate clear evidence for future opportunities in Canada.

Eligibility: Meetings must be between a Canadian Delegation and an International Delegation, and led by senior research officials. Individual travel may be considered, however the goal of this fund is to promote larger group interactions, ideally with a minimum of three team members.

How it works: The meeting must be held within one year of award funds being released, with the final report due within 30 days of the event date. Funding supports some travel, accommodations, and meeting costs and may be targeted calls (Low Radioactivity Technology, Detector Development).


Catalyst Workshops Program

Description: Output driven workshops to advance/influence theoretical or experimental astroparticle physics research.

Eligibility: Any person who holds a position at a Canadian academic or research institute can apply.

How it works: The workshop must occur within three months of the award funds being released. Funding can be used for travel, meeting, costs, and knowledge translation. Workshops are task-oriented and must have a research related output as the main goal.  Outputs may include finalizing publications, progressing the development of R&D, knowledge mobilization, commercialization, or technology transfer outputs.

Collaboration Application

This application form can be used to apply to any one of the three competitions for support funds within the Collaboration opportunities described above. Complete applications must include this form, a full budget breakdown, and any letters of support from other partner institutions. If you intend on submitting applications for multiple meetings/workshops, a separate application should be submitted for each meeting/workshop. Please ensure the information provided aligns specifically to the requirements of the opportunities described above and herein.

Get notified

If you wish to be notified of new competitions and upcoming deadlines, fill out the form below.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.