Research Funding

The research funding landscape continues to evolve, becoming ever-more competitive and requiring an escalating degree of strategic focus. It is increasingly necessary to ensure that we leverage all available resources and creativity to maximize our competitiveness and success in accessing the wide array of governmental, private-sector, not-for-profit, foundation-based, and other research funding programs and opportunities.

To that end, the VPRI provides and supports services and resources that help enable the U of T research community to successfully navigate the research funding environment and achieve their objectives. We also play a significant supportive role in cross-divisional and inter-institutional initiatives such as the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research, the CFREF-funded Medicine by Design, SCINET, and SOSCIP.

More than half of U of T’s research funding comes from government sources. The largest amount of funding from Federal sources is secured from the three primary Federal granting agencies – CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC– while the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation serves that function at the provincial level.

Research funds awarded to U of T and partner hospitals by sector (2014-15)

Total funding: $1.1B
Provincial: $108M

Data source: VPRI. Based on government fiscal year, April to March. The federal granting agencies include the Canada Research Chairs program and the Research Support Fund (formerly the Indirect Costs Program).

The VPRI works in partnership with staff, faculty and academic administrators in the academic divisions to achieve optimal participation and maximum success across a broad range of regional, national and international research funding programs. Our success is evident in the fact that the VPRI oversees 9,000 active research funds, working with faculty members to ensure that while all compliance obligations are met, the budgets, terms and conditions continue to support and enable the realization of their research objectives.

The VPRI liaises with sponsoring organizations including:

  • the Federal Tri-Agencies,
  • the Canada Research Chairs and the Canada Excellence Research Chairs programs,
  • the Canada Foundation for Innovation,
  • the Canada First Research Excellence Fund,
  • the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation, and
  • numerous others.


Of increasing importance over recent years is the need to monitor and undertake advocacy on the changing landscape of core funding programs, especially those operated by the Tri-Agencies.

The VPRI also helps build successful partnerships between industry and the U of T research community. The Innovation & Partnerships Office (IPO), which also manages the University’s portfolio of intellectual property, has developed and refined strategies and practices for building successful partnerships, including:

  • improving the turnaround time to complete industry-sponsored contracts and agreements,
  • developing industry-friendly templates, and
  • increasing business development activity to encourage and facilitate connection.

The results of those efforts are impressive, with the number of industry partners having grown to more than 300, while the amount of industry-sponsored research has increased by 50% in the past five years. The VPRI annually manages over 2,000 funded and non-funded agreements and contracts with industry.

Funding opportunities are increasingly presenting as large-scale, multi-partner initiatives (e.g., the establishment of the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research; the Medicine by Design initiative), with the expectation that they involve government, private-sector and other partners, interdisciplinary approaches and institutional commitments that span academic divisions. The VPRI assists faculty and staff so they can successfully navigate the increasingly complex milieu of such funding opportunities, and provides significant oversight and coordination for these types of initiatives.

Recognizing that principal investigators are increasingly being asked to lead larger teams and more complex interdisciplinary partnerships, the VPRI developed and offered a Large Research Grant Leadership & Management Workshop pilot, which provided researchers and senior project managers with insights on best practices and supports to help them navigate the array of leadership and management responsibilities that come with leading multi-partner teams. Our goal is to support the success of researchers wanting to pursue such projects, both for the inherent importance of their research and because many of these projects drive important elements at the University, such as our CRC allocation.

Connaught Fund

The Connaught Fund was created in 1972 from the sale of Connaught Medical Research Laboratories, which were the first to mass-produce insulin, the Nobel Prize-winning discovery by U of T researchers Frederick Banting, Charles Best, J.J.R. Macleod and Bertram Collip. The University serves as the steward of the Fund and has awarded more than $155 million to U of T researchers.

The Connaught Committee – which is chaired by the Vice-President, Research and Innovation and supported by five standing review panels – awards over $4 million annually to emerging and established scholars through a range of programs designed to support research excellence, target unmet societal needs and cultivate collaborations with transformative impact.

Connaught Fund amounts awarded (2014-15)

ProgramAmount AwardedNumber of Awards
Global Challenge Award$2,090,0002 full awards, 1 partial award, 3 proposal development awards
New Researcher Award$962,00068 awards in $10k category
14 awards in $25k Top-Up category
Innovation Award$500,0009 awards
Summer Institute Award$244,0005 awards
McLean Award$50,0001 award matched by McLean Endowment
International Doctoral Scholarship$755,00072 awards
Faculty Recruitment Support$20,0003 awards

Meet some of our Connaught winners