Innovation grants

The Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) Innovation Grants support the highest quality creative problem solving in cancer research.

Deadline dates

Note that this program is not being offered. For information only.

Please review the eligibility and requirements section prior to creating an application.

Previously funded grants through this competition are available here.

Please note:

  • this competition consists of a full application only, abstract registration is not required
  • there must be no (0%) overlap with any pending or held grant applications (i.e. 100% unique aims are required - conceptual overlap is acceptable but must be described by the applicant)

 Application guides can be found on the EGrAMS documentation for applicants page.

Full application due date
Results announcement
Anticipated start date

Program description

Innovation Grants support the highest quality creative problem solving in cancer research. The goal of the Innovation program is to support the development and testing of transformative, paradigm-shifting concepts and approaches to address problems in cancer research, enhance our understanding of cancer, and generate novel approaches to confront the challenges we face in defeating cancer.

Successfully funded Innovation projects are ideally based on “high risk” ideas that have a strong potential for “high reward”. They are feasible and doable by the applicant(s), but not necessarily based on a significant amount of preliminary data. With a significant emphasis on innovation, this program encourages bold attempts to test novel hypotheses and/or generate new knowledge and/or improvements related to cancer prevention, detection, diagnosis, treatment, and support. Applications are encouraged from across all areas and disciplines of cancer research, as well as from investigators in other disciplines whose ideas are relevant to the field of cancer research.

It is hoped that this program will accelerate the introduction of innovation into the entire cancer research system and contribute to the scientific idea pipeline. Proposals with high scientific merit that are deemed derivative or formulaic, pursue next logical steps, or seek to make incremental advancements are not considered innovative and should not be submitted to this competition. Applicants are also cautioned to avoid overly-ambitious aims or aims that are not clearly connected - significant findings from investigators funded by Innovation Grants may be developed further through a CCS "Innovation to Impact" Grant.

Applicants are encouraged to review past competition results for examples of funded projects.

Funds available

It is anticipated that approximately 30 grants will be awarded in this competition.

Special funding calls within the Innovation Grant competition envelope:

  • Applications relevant to breast cancer research are encouraged
  • Applications relevant to skin cancer are encouraged
  • As a result of a generous donation, funding for one application with a focus on early detection, diagnosis, and/or treatment of malignant mixed Müllerian tumours (MMMT) is available
  • Additional funds may be available from the Lotte and John Hecht Memorial Foundation to support innovative projects focused on the application of complementary and alternative approaches in cancer treatment and control

Grant budgets may be up to $100,000 per year and a maximum of $200,000 per grant. Grant expenditures may be extended over 3 years if justified in the application. Grants will be non-renewable.

Funding will be provided to support the direct costs of research, including supplies, salaries, and equipment associated with the proposed work. Equipment requests cannot exceed 25% of the requested budget. Indirect costs are not eligible. 

Grant budgets
up to $200,000 
Budget per year
up to $100,000 
cannot exceed 25%

Peer review panels

Multidisciplinary peer review committees will be assembled to review the full applications. Peer review committees will consist of scientific experts with broad expertise, along with patient/survivor/caregiver participants, as applicable.

Review panel information can be found below. Please review carefully before making your panel selection, however, CCS reserves the right to determine the panel with the greatest expertise to review the application. Panel composition will be finalized after the Full Application deadline, based on the best fit for each application.

I1a - Biomarkers & Genomics
Including the use of high-throughput methodologies like genomics, transcriptomics, metabolomics and radiomics applied to cancer patients or model systems to develop mechanistic or translational insight or to develop biomarkers.
I1b - Gene Regulation & Cell Biology
Including mechanisms of transcriptional control, epigenetics, chromatin structure and function, translational control, RNA biology, post-translational modifications, telomere function, DNA damage and repair, organellar biology, model organisms, angiogenesis, cell migration, cell invasion, tumour environment.
I2 - Imaging and Technology Development
Including platform and tool development, systems biology, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET), ultrasound, computer tomography (CT), radiobiology, radiotherapy, photodynamic therapy (PDT), optical imaging, microfluidics, nanotechnology.
I3 - Immunology, Signalling & Stem Cells
Including metastasis, hormone-sensitive pathways, growth-factor mediated signalling, immunotherapies, viral therapeutics, cancer stem cells, signal transduction, innate immunity, tumour antigens, immune surveillance, hematopoiesis.
I4 - Novel Therapeutics
Including small molecule and biologic drug candidates, rational drug design, hit and target validation, compound screening, medicinal chemistry, pharmacology, drug delivery systems, drug transport, drug resistance, combination therapies and pharmacogenomics. 
I5 - Prevention & Quality of Life
Including epidemiology, prevention interventions, lifestyle and environmental risk factors, health economics, health services, quality of life, survivorship, palliative care, psychosocial issues, knowledge translation and exchange.


Only Full applications are required for this competition (no abstract registration required).

A maximum of one application per Principal Investigator or Co-Principal Investigator will be permitted in each competition.

The proposal will contain no more than 4 pages of single-spaced text and 2 pages of figures/tables/charts and associated legends. Specific guidelines for the online application are available here.

When preparing the full application, the following is required:

  1. a public summary of the proposed research
  2. a scientific abstract (and non-confidential scientific abstract)
  3. an innovation statement explicitly describing how the project is transformational and innovative.
  4. a detailed scientific proposal clearly stating the aims of the project, experimental design, methods and analysis.

    • Investigators must provide a compelling rationale for the hypothesis.
    • Preliminary data may be included, but is not a requirement.
    • Overly-ambitious aims are discouraged (see above)
    • Details of the investigator(s) including which member(s) of the research team will be responsible for which aspect of the project and a rationale for their inclusion in the project are required, and a description of the research environment where the work will take place. 
  5. a vision statement explicitly describing how the proposed work could move the field forward and accelerate progress in cancer research. This statement should also clearly address the expected “next steps” following completion of the project.
  6. a budget justification related to the supplies, equipment and personnel associated with the research project. This must include the number of personnel required to complete the work and a description of their experience and/or education level and their commitment to the project.

The review criteria will include, but not necessarily be restricted to, five assessment categories: Innovation, Research Strategy, Investigator(s), Environment, and Cancer Relevance.


(Innovation rating scale)

  • potential to address an important problem or a critical barrier to progress in the field
  • potential to improve or apply a novel theoretical concept, approach, methodology or tool
  • degree to which the research is transformative, original, unique and creative, in the context of the current state of the field
  • potential gain relative to (any) perceived risk
  • degree to which the research proposes new paradigms or challenges existing ones

Research strategy

  • scientific merit and compelling rationale that considers critical review and analysis of preliminary data and/or published literature, as appropriate
  • identification of potential limitations of the proposed research strategy and how they will be addressed, including alternative approaches
  • appropriateness of the term and amount of support requested


  • qualifications and appropriate expertise of the investigator(s)


  • quality of the research environment in which the work will take place

Cancer relevance

  • potential impact on cancer prevention and/or control
  • degree to which the proposed research could ultimately address CCS’s mission to eradicate cancer and enhance the quality of life for people living with and beyond cancer.


There must be no overlap (0%) with any held or pending applications including those at the registration, abstract or Letter of Intent submission stage to any agency as of this competition due date. The Innovation grant must contain 100% unique aims to comply with this policy (conceptual overlap is permitted but must be explained by the applicant.

Duplicate applications will not be accepted.

Applicants are reminded to review the eligibility and requirements section for details on scientific and financial reporting, funder acknowledgement, Canadian Cancer Society policies on open access and tobacco related funding.

Partner Description

Founded in 1962 to support charitable causes in Vancouver, the Lotte & John Hecht Memorial Foundation has since broadened its mandate to include the investigation and support of complementary and alternative medicine, particularly in the treatment of cancer. As part of its support for health research, the Foundation has partnered with Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) since 2012 to support relevant research projects in the CCS Innovation, i2I and Impact Grant programs.

Last modified on: May 4, 2020