Strategic Science Fund: About the program

The Strategic Science Fund (SSF) is a new approach to improve the effectiveness of federal investments in supporting third-party science and research organizations (TPOs). The SSF has established a principles-based framework for allocating federal funding to TPOs that includes competitive, transparent processes. Eligible recipients are not-for-profit organizations incorporated in Canada (federally or provincially) that cannot access other federal funding programs. The SSF is jointly administered by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada and Health Canada.


The SSF aims to achieve the following objectives:

  • Research: Increase the quality of internationally competitive, leading-edge research in areas critical to the health, economic and social well-being of Canadians.
  • Talent: Develop, attract and retain world-class research and innovation talent in scientific areas that are aligned with Canada's priorities.
  • Knowledge mobilization: Accelerate the exchange of research results and the translation of this knowledge into action in Canada and abroad.
  • Culture: Strengthen evidence-based decision-making, innovation skills development and science culture.

Eligibility and review criteria

Eligible recipients are not-for-profit organizations incorporated in Canada (federally or provincially) that cannot access other federal funding programs. TPO applications will be assessed against framework principles, which form the basis of the merit-review criteria:

  • Principle 1: Added value to federal science, technology and innovation (STI) investments
  • Principle 2: Strategic value aligned with core federal responsibilities and priorities
  • Principle 3: STI capacity, sound governance and operational efficiency
  • Principle 4: Demonstrable impact
  • Principle 5: Presence at the national level
  • Principle 6: Criticality of federal funding

Further descriptions of these principles, eligibility criteria, co-funding requirements and other SSF program details are available in the SSF program guide.

Application process overview

The application process consists of 2 steps:

  1. Letter of intent (LOI): Applicants are required to submit a summary of their proposal, including total funding requested. LOIs will be reviewed and assessed by the SSF Secretariat, with input from other federal government departments and agencies, as needed, to confirm the extent to which each LOI responds to merit-review criteria. See the LOI guide to the 2021 competition for application details.

    Following the SSF Secretariat's positive assessment of the LOI, applicants will be invited to submit a full application.

  2. Full application: Applicants will be required to complete a full application, outlining in greater detailed the project proposal. Information provided on this form will be used to complete the project due diligence and benefits assessment.

    The review and assessment of full applications will include:

    • a technical review of each proposal by at least 2 subject matter experts; and
    • a multidisciplinary expert panel which will consider technical reviews and provide recommendations on a strategic portfolio of organizations to support.

    The full application guide for the 2021 competition provides additional application details.

    Final decisions will be made by the Minister of Health and the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, informed by the advice of these independent expert assessments.