Healthy Cities Research Initiative: Components

Learn more about the HCRI


In order to achieve the HCRI's objectives, the participating Institutes have developed an interdisciplinary and intersectoral strategic funding program over ten years. The program is informed by extensive consultations with stakeholders including the research community, municipalities and government agencies.

In the developmental years of the HCRI (2016-2017), a number of small to medium funding opportunities were launched to build a foundation for future investments. These activities were designed to work synergistically to address identified gaps in the research landscape.

The HCRI will adopt a continuous learning model, where funding opportunities that are relaunched throughout the course of the Initiative are responsive to evaluation and consultation with major stakeholders. This adaptive approach allows opportunities to respond to ongoing conversations with government and non-governmental partners as well as the evolving needs of the research community.

CIHR hosted a webinar on August 20 and 21 (in English and French respectively) to present and to answer questions related to the HCRI. Access the English recorded session and the French recorded session.

To connect with potential partners interested in the HCRI (e.g., community-based organizations, municipalities, researchers), visit our Linkage Tool page.

Note that the components described below are subject to change.

Funding and other components

  • Six foundational funding opportunities

    There are six foundational building blocks of the HCRI. These funding opportunities have already been launched at least once and each one leverages pre-existing CIHR mechanisms or programs. Several of these opportunities are designed to be launched annually. They are built to be agile and respond to ongoing conversations with partners and the evolving needs of the research community while also providing the structure and foundation that work to achieve the HCRI goals and objectives. These funding opportunities are:

    • Data Analysis Using Existing Databases and Cohorts*
    • Healthy Cities Research Partnership Development Grants*
    • Implementing Healthy Urban Policy Workshop*
    • Health System Impact Fellowship in Healthy Cities*
    • Fellowship in Research and Knowledge Translation on Urban Housing and Health*
    • Applied Public Health Chair - Sex, Gender and Healthy Cities

    * These opportunities have recurring launches.

    To see past launches of foundational funding opportunities, please visit the HCRI funding page.

  • Two transformative funding opportunities

    The HCRI includes two large funding opportunities. These opportunities have been designed to capitalize on earlier investments and create a platform for future healthy cities research investments by CIHR and its partners.

    • Healthy Cities Research Training Platform
      The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) have jointly funded a national Healthy Cities Research Training Platform (HCRTP) to develop an interdisciplinary, inter-sectoral training initiative that will generate cutting-edge knowledge and build capacity for implementation science and solutions-based research. This six-year, $4.95 million grant will support the Implementing Smart Cities Interventions to Build Healthy Cities (SMART) Training Platform team to design and deliver a national training initiative focused on building capacity among Canadian researchers to engage in high quality, impactful research on how to design, implement, and scale innovative, solution-based interventions in a variety of urban contexts. As a major component of the HCRI, the Training Platform is also designed to act as a central hub for capacity-building and knowledge translation as well as leverage and complement other components of the HCRI. For example, the SMART Training Platform team will organize and deliver an annual meeting bringing together the funded researchers, trainees and knowledge users that are part of the HCRI and beyond. Learn more about the team and the SMART Training Platform.
    • Healthy Cities Implementation Science Team Grants
      The multi-jurisdictional six-year Healthy Cities Implementation Science Team Grants will focus on increasing our understanding, in specific thematic areas, on promoting the systematic and equitable uptake and scale-up of interventions in multiple urban environments to improve health and well-being. Six teams have been funded and will focus on a range of important issues including: Sustainable and inclusive ways to increase uptake of active transportation, implementing and sustaining retirement communities for aging populations, wellbeing indicators for Indigenous youth aging out of care, type 2 diabetes prevention programs, fall prevention exercise programs and approaches to counter the effects of physical inactivity, loneliness, and social isolation in older adults. The Public Health Agency of Canada and Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council partnered on this competition to provide additional funding to expand the impact of the projects. Read more here.
  • Integrative components

    In addition to the eight funding opportunities outlined above, a number of components are being developed to ensure coherence of the HCRI and integration between researchers, knowledge users and implementors. These include:

    • Knowledge Mobilization Activities
      As an integrative component of the HCRI, CIHR will develop a knowledge translation and mobilization plan, including specific components for Indigenous Peoples. Knowledge mobilization activities such as policy dialogues, Best Brains Exchanges, end-of-initiative knowledge mobilization grants, or end-of-initiative meetings will be developed in collaboration with HCRI stakeholders. Knowledge mobilization activities will include an annual meeting (described above in the HCRTP) to bring together HCRI researchers, trainees and implementation partners to engage in knowledge sharing and dissemination activities.
    • Data Harmonization and Indicator Science Work
      CIHR will support the development, validation and integration of healthy cities-relevant indicators and analysis with a particular focus on filling data gaps (e.g. indicators related to sex and gender, urban Indigenous or LGBTQ2 populations) as well as ensuring harmonization, interoperability, and access to data across the country. CIHR funding for this work will occur principally through the Data Analysis Using Existing Databases and Cohorts opportunity and will be integrated into existing funding components as appropriate. Data harmonization and indicator science work will be done in partnership with key data custodians such as Statistics Canada and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, who have already committed in-kind investments such as facilitated access to microdata and data linkages, training on specific databases and creation of online data resources

HCRI approach

Canadian cities are hubs of diversity that are currently experiencing unprecedented demographic shifts due to immigration, internal migration and aging populations. A key cross-cutting priority that will be highlighted throughout the HCRI is an attention to health equity and the needs of urban populations across the life course who may be under-represented in data and research and who experience marginalization. This includes a strong emphasis on promoting sex and gender-based analysis, and a focus on specific urban populations, including Indigenous Peoples, racialized communities, and individuals with disabilities.

Funding opportunities will support the development and testing of urban solutions that actively examine, question and change root causes of inequity. Honouring and incorporating Indigenous worldviews, ways of knowing, relationships to the land and conceptions of well-being will be applied across all components, and in all aspects of the HCRI. Indigenous self-determination and Indigenous self-governance such as the First Nations principles of OCAP will be respected. Partnering with different urban populations will be a key requirement of HCRI components in order to learn about their research priorities, co-design meaningful projects, and support knowledge mobilization to equitably improve urban health.

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