Prevention innovation grants

This category is not open to applications. Details are provided for information only. Please see Financial administration for updated information on scientific and financial reporting requirements and policies.


The Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) in partnership with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research- Institute of Cancer Research (CIHR-ICR), will jointly fund this Innovation Grants program, specifically focused on prevention research. Proposed work should incorporate multi-pronged high risk/high reward approaches and stimulate new partnerships between researchers and experts in the cancer prevention field.  Applications addressing CIHR-ICR’s Strategic Research Priority area of health disparities or prevention service inequities are specifically encouraged.

Please see the ‘Partners description’ section below for more information on the CIHR-ICR.

Program description

Innovation Grants have been created to support innovative, creative problem solving in cancer research. As competition for grant funding increases, peer review panels become more conservative and risk averse, emphasizing feasibility more than innovation. The goal of this CCS grant program is to support unconventional concepts, approaches or methodologies to address problems in cancer research. Innovation projects will include elements of creativity, curiosity, investigation, exploration and opportunity. Successful projects may be based on “high risk” ideas, but will have the potential for “high reward” (i.e. to significantly impact our understanding of cancer and generate new approaches to combat the disease by introducing novel ideas into use or practice).

It is hoped that this grant program will accelerate the introduction of innovation into the entire cancer research system and contribute to the scientific idea pipeline. Significant findings from investigators funded by Innovation Grants may be developed further through CCS "Innovation to Impact" Grants or operating grants offered by other agencies.

Scientific focus of the program

The purpose of this funding initiative is to support unique, creative research ideas and applications of new knowledge with imminent application potential relevant to cancer prevention in human populations. Proposed projects must demonstrate a specific and defined potential for impact on cancer incidence, for example through prevention/risk reduction research, programs, and practice, including interventions, knowledge translation, best practices and health-related decision making at the individual, organizational and health system levels. Applications are invited for social/psychosocial and behavioural science, health policy, population health, health promotion and health services research aimed at cancer prevention. Applicants are required to submit proposals for studies that explicitly address the Society’s mission to reduce the incidence of cancer. For this competition, applications for research outside of cancer prevention are not eligible.

Innovative prevention programs will focus on research that reduces the risk of cancer. The Canadian Cancer Society recognizes that in order to change the risk profile, prevention research can be accomplished anywhere along the research continuum from identifying factors that affect the risk of cancer at an individual or population level to interventions that lead to action to reduce established risk factors.

Priority areas identified by the Canadian Cancer Society and/or the Canadian Cancer Research Alliance include, but are not limited to:

  • health disparities
  • tobacco control
  • occupational and environmental (chemical, physical, and biological) carcinogens (O&E)
  • UV and ionizing radiation exposure
  • healthy eating and physical activity
  • screening to reduce cancer incidence
  • health economics and health systems related to cancer prevention
  • behavioural and population interventions

Funds available

It is anticipated that up to 6 grants will be awarded.

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.

Peer review panels

A multidisciplinary peer review committee will be assembled to review the full applications. The committee will consist of scientific experts with broad expertise, along with community representatives to provide patient/survivor/caregiver perspectives.

The mandatory abstract registration will inform the composition and number of panels required. Review panel information can be found here.

Abstract registration

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

Registration is mandatory and will require applicant details (Principal Investigator(s)/Co-Applicants/Additional Authors), scientific abstract, keywords, innovation statement, suggested reviewers and research tracking information.

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

Full application

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.

When preparing the full application, the following is required:

1.  as part of the “public” (non-scientific summary), a cancer relevance statement clearly describing the potential of this project to impact cancer prevention

2.  a scientific abstract (updates to the Abstract submitted as part of the Registration are permitted – see above)

3.  an innovation statement explicitly describing how the project is “innovative”. Applications addressing diverse aspects of “innovation” are expected. Examples of eligible projects include the following:

  • the investigation of novel ideas and/or research questions
  • the use or development of novel research methods or new technologies to address a research question
  • the application or adaptation of existing methods or technologies to novel research questions or for clinical purposes that may differ fundamentally from those originally intended

Note that the next logical step or incremental advancement on published data is not considered innovative. Applications originally intended for a traditional grants program, including the CCS Prevention Research Grants competition, are not suitable for this funding opportunity.

  1. a detailed scientific proposal clearly stating the aims of the project including any previous work done in the area, experimental design, methods and analysis. Note that preliminary data is allowed but not required. Investigators must provide convincing rationale for the hypothesis. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Review criteria

The review criteria for the full application will include, but not necessarily be restricted to, five assessment categories: Innovation, Research Strategy, Investigator(s), Environment, and Cancer Relevance. ”Innovation” will be heavily weighted in the overall ranking of applications using the scientific merit rating scale.


(Innovation rating scale)

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

Research strategy

  • scientific merit and convincing rationale that considers critical review and analysis of preliminary data and/or published literature, as appropriate
  • identification of potential problems 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
  • degree to which the proposed research addresses the Society’s mission priorities to reduce cancer incidence

Multiple applications/multiple sources of funding

It is understood that applications may also be made to other agencies to provide support for grants/programs similar to those submitted to the Canadian Cancer Society. There must not be substantive overlap (more than 50%) with any pending application (including those at the abstract or Letter of Intent submission stage) to any agency as of this competition due date. The Innovation grant must contain >50% unique aims to comply with this policy. Duplicate applications will not be accepted. The onus is on the applicant to indicate the extent (or absence) of overlap. Grantees can accept funds from other sources, up to the CCS research panel recommended amount.

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

The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) mandate is to support research that reduces the burden of cancer on individuals and families through prevention strategies, screening, diagnosis, effective treatments, psychosocial support systems, and palliation. Partnering to support this funding opportunity with CCS responds to CIHR-ICR’s Strategic Plan.