Canadian Cancer Society and Lotte & John Hecht Memorial Foundation Disruptive Innovation Grants in Cancer Research

Program Launch Partners

Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) and the Lotte & John Hecht Memorial Foundation (Hecht Foundation) have committed a total of up to $4.0M over two years to jointly fund up to 16 Disruptive Innovation Grants in Cancer Research. 

Please see the ‘Partners description’ section below for more information on the Lotte & John Hecht Memorial Foundation.  

Deadline Dates

Program Launch:
Mid-January 2024
(Mandatory) Letter of Intent due date:
March 21st, 2024
Full application due date:
August 20th, 2024
Results announcement:
Mid- December, 2024
Anticipated funding start date:
January 15th, 2025


The Disruptive Innovation Grants in Cancer Research program will provide a unique opportunity for researchers in cancer, or any other field or discipline, to test out their novel ideas for potentially game-changing impact in cancer prevention, detection or treatment. Disruptive Innovation Grants will be bold, high risk/high reward, early-stage projects for which preliminary data is not required. Projects will be rated on their novelty, feasibility and potential impact in the cancer field. 

Disruptive Innovation Grants will address a largely unmet need in our funding ecosystem by supporting unique, disruptive, ideas inspired by imagination, serendipity, and hitherto unexplored connections across fields and disciplines, projects that would not normally be able to access “traditional” funding sources. Examples of the kinds of projects we are seeking would include the adaptation of breakthroughs in other health conditions, such as cardiovascular, neurological, metabolic and infectious diseases to the cancer field, or the harnessing of technologies from fields such as AI, robotics, engineering, chemistry, biology and ecology, or the opportunity to pursue serendipitous observations not supported by existing funding. If successful, Disruptive Innovation Grants will achieve what their name suggests - disruptions in the way we currently prevent, diagnose or treat cancer that will ultimately change the status quo. The funding opportunity is open to both independent researchers and teams, as appropriate for the work proposed.  

Program Description

Disruptive Innovation Grants will support preliminary research to establish proof of principle in novel concepts and approaches with the potential to revolutionize cancer prevention, detection and treatment. Disruptive Innovation Grants will support proposals from any research field and discipline that demonstrate the potential for high impact and, where appropriate, seed collaborations among non-traditional cancer fields, such as engineering, AI, robotics, physics, nanoscience, statistics, informatics, computer and data sciences, behavioural science, and any other research domain poised to generate the next generation of disruptive technologies in cancer control. These grants are not intended to support research that represents incremental research in a program of work, or an expansion of previous work, but rather provide truly novel insights and directions for future larger grants that will serve as “game-changers” in the way we approach cancer, disrupting existing methods and displacing the status quo.

Funding can be applied to generating pilot data for a new and exciting idea, establishing and developing new collaborations where appropriate, testing a new technology/intervention or using an existing technology/intervention in an innovative way. We envisage that data generated and/or collaborations established through a Disruptive Innovation Grant will form the basis for a more extensive future project.

 The goals of this funding opportunity:

  • To spur the development and/or application of truly novel “out-of-the-box” ideas to better prevent, diagnose and treat cancer and/or lead to new lines of future investigation. 
  • To provide a unique opportunity for researchers to follow up on serendipitous findings that they would not otherwise have the resources to probe.
  • To facilitate the adaptation and repurposing of existing methods and technologies from other health fields and research disciplines with the potential to change the status quo in cancer prevention detection and treatment.
  • To fund bold projects that, if successful, would lead to disruptions in current standards of care and replace the status quo in cancer prevention, detection and treatment.

Projects that would be considered ineligible for this competition include:

  • Projects that focus on obvious next steps or incremental research associated with ongoing studies
  • Projects for which validation already exists in the literature
  • Projects with no obvious potential impact on cancer 

Scientific focus of the program

Eligible research areas are limited only by the imagination and resourcefulness of the applicants and the originality and feasibility of the proposed study.

Funds Available

Approximately $4M is available for this funding opportunity, enough to fund up to 16 projects. Individual projects will be awarded up to $250K over two years, with the full $250K being awarded in the first year. Funding can be applied to generating pilot data for a new and exciting idea, establishing and developing new collaborations where appropriate, testing a new technology/intervention or using an existing technology/intervention in an innovative way. We envisage that data generated and/or collaborations established through a Disruptive Innovation grant will form the basis for a more extensive future project.

Expert Review Process

Expert review will be a three-step process. 

Step 1
A “blue-ribbon” panel comprised of national and international leaders drawn from across the cancer field and patient reviewers, will be assembled jointly by CCS and the Hecht Foundation for this competition. This single panel will review both the Letters of Intent and the Full Applications. The letters of Intent will be anonymized prior to submission to the blue-ribbon panel to facilitate selection of a short list of the most novel and promising projects based solely on the merits of the idea being proposed. It will be important to remember that while the panel members will represent a broad area of expertise, they may not necessarily have an in depth understanding of a particular specialty. The onus therefore rests with the applicant to clearly articulate the novelty, timeliness, and potential impact of their idea and why it should be among those selected to submit a full application.
Step 2
Short listed letters of intent will be invited to submit full applications. Anonymized LOIs invited to full application will be 'unmasked' for the panel, at which time the blue-ribbon panel may be expanded to ensure the appropriate (unconflicted) expertise is present to evaluate the full applications.  
Step 3
The blue-ribbon panel will provide preliminary reviews and scores, followed by an in-person meeting to review and rank applications based on the review criteria outlined below. Applications will funded in rank order based on final scores. Additional donor or partner funding may result in further funding of projects outside of rank order, but within the fundable range.

Additional Information

Letters of Intent should be completed here:

Only Letters of Intent submitted through this portal, by the deadline date, will be accepted. The LOI process is mandatory.

Letters of Intent (LOI) proposals are limited to 6000 characters including spaces with no references, graphs or figures. LOI submissions will include applicant details (Principal Investigators, Co-Applicants, Additional Authors, Host Institution) for administrative purposes, however these personal identifiers will be removed prior to review to enable the blue-ribbon panel to focus solely on the originality, feasibility, timeliness, and potential impact of the proposed idea.  

All personal or institutional identifiers must be absent in the text of your LOI proposal. Failure to meet this requirement will result in the elimination of your application. 

The purpose of the LOI is to provide the blue-ribbon panel with the following:

  • A public lay summary of the proposed study, which will be reviewed and evaluated for clarity and content. This section must be readily accessible to non-experts.

  • A clear description of how the proposal represents a novel, bold and intriguing idea that has not yet been explored.

  • A justification as to why now is the time to undertake this work and why it has not been done previously.

  • A description of the areas of expertise brought together for this application and the identification of any new collaborations (by expertise only please, no names).

  • A high-level summary of the approach to be taken and the resources required.

  • A description of exactly how the proposed project could, if successful, revolutionize the prevention, detection and/or treatment of cancer.

Specific guidelines for the Letter of Intent are available and should be closely consulted during preparation of the application.

For this competition, there is a limit of one application per nominated Principal Investigator or co-Principal Investigator. Applications from Early- and Mid-Career Researchers (within 15 years of their first academic appointment) are strongly encouraged. In addition, researchers from non-traditional disciplines, outside the cancer field, are also strongly encouraged.

Only the most novel, creative and exciting Letters of Intent, as identified by the blue-ribbon panel, will be invited to submit a Full Application. We are anticipating that this step will be highly competitive.

Any significant changes to the proposed project or applicant team after the Letter of Intent deadline should be communicated to CCS ( as soon as they are known. Substantive changes that significantly alter the overall goals and aims of the proposal relative to the Letter of Intent are not permitted.

Full applications will be completed in EGrAMS and will not be anonymized. Guidelines for the full application stage should be carefully consulted.

Full applications include but are not limited to the following:

  1.  Team member contact details / Biosketch / Letters of Support (CCS Biosketch required for PIs and Co-PIs only, letters of support for remaining team members).
  2. A public summary in lay terminology of the proposed research that demonstrates how the research could lead to game-changing improvements in cancer prevention detection and treatment and why these changes are needed. (limit: 2000 characters including spaces)
  3. A relevance statement describing how the proposed research represents a truly unique, timely, original and previously untried approach that could dramatically improve the way we currently prevent, diagnose and/or treat cancer. (limit: 2500 characters including spaces)
  4. A scientific abstract that clearly states the aims of the overall proposal, experimental design(s), methods and analysis plans. (limit: 4200 characters including spaces)
  5. detailed proposal describing the work to be performed. (limit: 21,000 characters including spaces)
  6. Terms of Reference describing the roles and expectations for all team members, including details of new collaborations formed, integration of members from outside the cancer field, etc.
  7. Considerations regarding sex and/or gender and/or diversity.
  8. A description of any products expected to result from this funding (if applicable). (limit: 2500 characters including spaces)
  9. A knowledge translation and mobilization strategy that chronicles potential next steps and which could include collaborations and partnerships with other research institutions, networks and/or sectors, as appropriate. (limit: 4200 characters including spaces)
  10. A detailed budget and justification for supplies, expenses, personnel and equipment to conduct the proposed research. This must include the number of personnel required to complete the work and a description of their experience and/or education level.
  11. Other funding (PI/Co-PIs) details.


The review criteria for the applications will include but not necessarily be restricted to the following:

  • the originalitytimeliness, and feasibility of the proposed work 

  • the potential for disruption of the status quo in cancer prevention, detection and/or treatment

  • the scientific rationale and unique aspects of the proposed research

  • the novelty and value of any new collaborationacross different fields and disciplines

  • the appropriateness of the methods for the focus of the research

  • the appropriateness of the qualifications and experience of the investigators leading and participating in the project

  • the appropriate incorporation of sex as a biological variable and/or gender as a social determinant of health, where applicable


Applicants are reminded to review the eligibility and requirements page for details on scientific and financial reporting, funder acknowledgement, and Canadian Cancer Society policies. In addition, research applications may be related but cannot be identical to any other currently funded projects or pending grant applications. It is the responsibility of the applicant to notify the funding partners immediately should substantial overlap arise from new funding awards during the application and review process of this competition.

Partner Description

The Canadian Cancer Society works tirelessly to save and improve lives. We fund the brightest minds in cancer research. We provide a compassionate support system for all those affected by cancer, across Canada and for all types of cancer. As the voice for people who care about cancer, we work with governments to shape a healthier society. No other organization does all that we do to make lives better today and transform the future of cancer forever.
The Lotte & John Hecht Memorial Foundation advances the priorities and concerns of its namesake founders, including innovative medical research and practices, free market economic education, and the provision of basic necessities to people in need. The Hecht Foundation also supports other community benefits, including the preservation and celebration of Vancouver, BC's unique built heritage.