SPOR SUPPORT Unit Phase II – Questions & Answers

March 2020

1. Part of the objective for this funding opportunity is to “bridge the gap between research evidence and health care practice by providing services to generate evidence and innovations”. Does this include continuing to deliver consultations and project support to those conducting patient-oriented research?

The SUPPORT Units support Patient-Oriented Research (POR) in Canada; therefore, providing consultation and project support are eligible activities. If requests for POR support do not align with the four components of the Phase II SUPPORT Units, they could be supported using non-CIHR contributions.

2. Should the business plan be structured around the core components?

Applications should include clear descriptions of each core component but do not necessarily need to be structured around the components.

3. Is there an expectation that Phase II will fund “demonstration projects”?

Demonstration projects are not an expectation, and these types of projects are not eligible for CIHR funding in Phase II. Such projects may be undertaken by SUPPORT Units using non-CIHR contributions.

4. Is there a minimum / maximum budget to allocate to each component?

There is no minimum/maximum budget to allocate to each component. CIHR funds can be allocated to the four core components as deemed appropriate by each SUPPORT Unit.

Component 2: Learning Health System

5. What mechanism will coordinate projects between SPOR SUPPORT Units and the SPOR Evidence Alliance (SEA)? Will it be up to each SUPPORT Unit to create a mechanism or will there be a national coordinating function?

CIHR is not planning to create a mechanism through which projects between SPOR-funded entities will be coordinated; this is up to each funded entity. The SEA has many representatives from the SUPPORT Units who serve on its governance structure, and its web-based Query intake form includes a question to confirm whether the same research question was previously submitted to another SPOR-funded entity or similar initiative. The SEA informs local collaborators when a query is received from their jurisdiction to ensure that SUPPORT Unit stakeholders are not using the Alliance’s services without the SUPPORT Unit’s knowledge.

Component 3: Capacity Development

6. CIHR undertook an evaluation of the Foundations in POR training modules. Will the modules be updated based on the evaluation?

A rigorous evaluation took place and based on the findings, the training modules were updated and posted on the SUPPORT Unit SharePoint site in 2018. Revisions for each module were led by the original developers and a subset of the pilot facilitators, who are all members of SUPPORT Units and Networks.

7. Will it be possible to fund Capacity Development awards through the CIHR funds?

Patient-Oriented Research awards are an eligible expense to be offered through the Phase II funding.

8. Are there any examples to clarify “moving beyond the traditional approaches to training…”?

The intention of this is that training pathways for researchers and health care professionals should be progressive and include the development of essential POR skills such as knowledge of patient engagement, knowledge of Indigenous and/or non-Western research methods, more emphasis on integrated KT, etc.

Component 4: Patient Engagement

9. Patient Engagement does not have a dedicated national entity funded through SPOR. Why is that?

Patient Engagement underpins everything that is done through SPOR and it is expected that Patient Engagement is a core priority/principle of all SPOR-funded entities.

Additional Requirement 2: Providing Services to other SPOR-Funded Entities

10. If insufficient requests are received to cover the 50% requirement, do the remaining funds need to be spent within the allocation year, or can they roll over into the next fiscal period?

The Units can spend the residual funds from the in-year allocation for this budget line if insufficient requests were received from the other SPOR-funded entities. CIHR funding can be carried forward over fiscal years.

11. Is there consideration for how the 50% requirement will affect the ability to respond to new or emergent Ministerial priorities for POR?

The intention is that research supported through SPOR will be in alignment with Ministerial and Provincial/Territorial priorities. The 50% requirement pertains to CIHR contributions; contributions from other organizations may be allocated to support such priorities if CIHR funds are exhausted.

12. What types of activities would be considered under this requirement?

Service requests that come from SPOR-funded entities that are Patient-Oriented should be considered for support from the SUPPORT Unit. It is not an expectation nor a requirement for cash to be provided to other entities, unless this is mutually agreed upon mechanism of support. Each Unit is required to describe a mechanism founded on consensus-based, transparent and fair principles for how they plan to meet service needs, including which services are available, how requests are to be submitted to the Unit and expected service standards.

13. Would joint SUPPORT Unit projects count toward this requirement?

SUPPORT Units are required to dedicate resources for participation on cross-SUPPORT Unit projects approved by the collective SUPPORT Unit management/leadership. If a Unit holds specific expertise that can support the work of another Unit, this can be counted toward the 50% service requirement.

Additional Requirement 3: Governance Structure

14. Is there an expectation that all stakeholder groups are represented in all levels of governance?

The intent is that all stakeholder groups are represented at the highest level of the governance structure. Decision-making must be inclusive of all stakeholder perspectives.

15. How does CIHR envision the patient role in governance?

Patients must be meaningfully engaged. Specific roles depend on existing structures and relationships, as well as an understanding of roles Patient Partners would like to have in the governance structure.

Conditions of Funding

16. Is each Unit required to develop its own performance measurement strategy or is it sufficient to follow the CIHR performance measurement requirements?

Each application is required to include a performance measurement framework, including relevant metrics, to evaluate outcomes that matter most to patients, their health care providers, and health policy makers.

17. The funding opportunity states that all Units must “adhere to common oversight and performance measurement reporting requirements.” Will the Units be part of the development of these common reporting requirements?

Similar to Phase I, Units will be consulted and involved in the development of reporting requirements.

Allowable Costs

18. Compensation for Principal Applicants is not a CIHR eligible expense. How can positions such as the operational lead be funded if not filled by a Knowledge User?

Operational leads may be compensated for their time spent on the grant activities, as long as they are not conducting research independently as part of the terms and conditions of their employment, and that they are not expected to work on grant activities free of charge as a collaboration as outlined in any relevant agreements. Additionally, if the operational lead is employed and compensated by another organization for the time spent on the funded activities, they are not eligible to be paid from the grant; instead, the grant funds must be used to reimburse their organization for the costs associated with compensating the individual for the time spent on grant activities.

Funds Available

19. How were the financial allocations to each province/territory determined?

Phase II introduced a funding formula for the CIHR contribution using the following criteria: an annual base amount of $750K for each Unit; an additional annual amount based on the provincial/territorial population as a ratio of the overall Canadian population; and a final adjustment to ensure the Phase II funding was capped at no more than 85% and no less than 40% of a Unit’s CIHR Phase I funding.

20. Are matching funds required to be 1:1 each year, or overall over the duration of the grant?

There is no set requirement for the percent of matching partner contributions each year. CIHR will monitor partner contributions annually. If CIHR contributions are perceived to be at risk of not being matched at a minimum 1:1 ratio, CIHR reserves the right to reduce or stop its funding.


21. Is there a maximum number of principal applicants?

There is no maximum number of principal applicants. The six principal applicants outlined in the funding opportunity is a minimum.

22. Is it permissible to have more than one Patient on the application team?

There is no maximum number of patients that can be part of the team.

23. What is the expectation from the health care professional role?

The intent of including health care professionals is to ensure that knowledge of health care delivery and the direct perspective of this key stakeholder is integrated into the leadership of the SUPPORT Unit and its priorities. These individuals would have specific connections to their professional community(ies) as well as expertise and leadership in health care delivery that will be essential to fulfilling the Components, particularly Component 2 which requires the integration of research and care.

24. What does CIHR mean by a health system administrator described as: "…individuals at an appropriate level of authority, who have the ability to influence health policy and/or the delivery of health services"?

The intent is to ensure strong and meaningful connections between the SUPPORT Unit and the health care systems. One of the goals of Phase II is to foster a learning health system environment to address P/T health research priorities; health system administrators on the team should have sufficient decision-making power and influence to help achieve this goal.

25. What type of individual would meet the requirement for Indigenous representation in the leadership of the SUPPORT Unit?

A person who self-identifies as Indigenous (First Nations, Inuit, Métis). Team members working with Indigenous Peoples and they themselves are not of Indigenous ancestry, would not be considered as Indigenous representation.

26. What is the specific role of the Patient Partner on the proposal team?

The role of a Patient Partner is determined through discussion between Patient Partners and other members of the research team. They should have opportunities to be engaged throughout the research process, i.e., from research question identification to proposal development to dissemination of the results of the project. CIHR’s Patient Engagement Framework provides important information regarding Patient Engagement.

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