Notice of upcoming funding opportunity: New COVID-19 Rapid Research Funding to support a network of clinical trials networks

The Government of Canada would like to provide information on an upcoming launch of a rapid research response to continue to mobilize science to fight COVID-19. We are providing preliminary information at this time to allow the research community to prepare and respond to an expedited process.

The funding will support the establishment and/or expansion of a network of existing Clinical Trials groups/networks to collaborate and coordinate research on interventions to prevent, detect, manage, and/or treat COVID-19. Specifically, this funding will:

  • Establish central coordination and collaboration activities with existing clinical trials groups/networks to increase the availability of high-quality and real-time evidence and build capacity to support Canada's rapid response to the global pandemic and health emergencies in order to better prevent, detect, treat and/or manage COVID-19;
  • Establish a transparent, inclusive, multi-jurisdictional recruitment and membership process that describes benefits for and requirements and expectations of members;
  • Collaborate across member networks to establish resource and data sharing policies, increase efficiencies in research and related processes (including, but not limited to ethics review; contracts; common protocols; developing applications for trial funding; consistent and valid patient-oriented outcomes), reduce duplication, and maximize research impact for COVID-19;
  • Create data sharing agreements to ensure follow-up of patients through existing administrative data platforms within Canada;
  • Adopt a nimble and adaptive strategy for engaging stakeholders in research prioritization and oversight while shifting studies as needed, based on new knowledge and changing COVID-19 landscape;
  • Provide evidence to inform clinical and health system management and public health response, and/or decision-making and planning within and across jurisdictions in Canada and internationally; and,
  • Enhance local, national and/or international clinical trial collaborative efforts by aligning clinical trials networks with other COVID-19 research investments to prevent and/or mitigate the rapid spread of COVID-19 and related negative consequences.

The Network of Clinical Trials Networks research funded through this call must expand existing national and international networks, infrastructures and relationships with partners in order to leverage efforts and increase timeliness, efficiency, and impact of research on response and recovery from COVID-19. The areas listed below are key design components for the Network of Clinical Trials Networks:

  • Governance: A plan for enhancing coordination and communication among the member groups/networks to ensure that collaboration is enabled, efficiencies are gained, duplications are reduced, and research impact is maximized. The governance plan should ensure a mechanism for establishing an ongoing research priority-setting process, including the engagement of key stakeholders from academic, clinical, not-for-profit, industry, and other relevant sectors, as well as plans for oversight with external advice. The governance plan should include concrete strategies to ensure the Network's governance upholds principles of equity, diversity and inclusion.
  • Resource Sharing: Incentivize active collaboration and coordination across member networks to ensure resources are in place within member networks to support objectives of the funding.
  • International Linkages: A plan for liaison activities with like-minded international networks (e.g., those supported through WHO, NIH CONNECTS, and NIHR) focused on clinical trials research for COVID-19 interventions and related knowledge mobilization activities to maximize the impact and international visibility of the Network.
  • Patient and Citizen Engagement: The Network must include meaningful mechanisms for patients/citizens/informal care providers' engagement in core activities and governance.
  • Capacity Building at a Pan-Canadian Level: The Network will play a facilitation and coordination role, adding a multidisciplinary, inter-professional, and cross-jurisdictional element to research training and mentorship activities in COVID-19 research
  • Knowledge Mobilization: In collaboration with network partners and existing Canadian platforms, the Network will provide a plan to mobilize knowledge being generated within and across the member networks to maximize the impacts of research.

Availability of Funds

  • The total amount available through this funding opportunity is for one (1) grant up to $6,000,000, for up to 18 months, with potential for renewal.
  • Given the "Network of Networks" approach, partnership approaches, either in-kind or cash, to increase the budget available to projects and/or maximize the impact and reach is encouraged; however, they are not mandatory.

Preliminary application details

  • The Nominated Principal Applicant must be an independent researcher.
  • The Nominated Principal Applicant must be appointed at a CIHR eligible institution at the time of application (see the CIHR Application Administration Guide – Part 4).
  • The application process for this funding opportunity will be comprised of two steps: Expression of Interest (EOI) and Full Application.
  • Applicants will be required to submit an EOI by email to be eligible to submit a full application.
  • There will be no review process or screening out at the EOI stage; CIHR may schedule a call to explore collaborations across teams that have submitted EOIs for the competition.
  • The EOI email must include a 250-word summary, in a PDF format, that describes the network leadership, including relevant and recent experience in managing clinical trial groups/networks and planned approach to engage member networks across diverse areas to collaborate on the evaluation of interventions related to COVID-19. The summary will be used to assess the collaborations across teams and may be shared with other applicants.
  • Application requirements for the Full Application will be outlined in the Funding Opportunity details. Full applications include a 10-page proposal and is expected to address how the application addresses the objectives and design components; additional information will be required to address plans in a number of specific areas, including equity, diversity and inclusion and data management and sharing.

Expected key dates

  • Launch: November 10, 2020
  • EOI deadline: November 16, 2020
  • Application deadline: November 27, 2020
  • Notice of decision: December 22, 2020
  • Funding start date: December 1, 2020

Please also note that:

Data produced as a result of this funding must be shared in line with the Joint statement on sharing research data and findings relevant to the novel coronavirus (nCoV) outbreak. We also require applicants to ensure that all COVID-19 related publications are open access, in alignment with the call from the Chief Science Advisors.

Given the urgency of this funding competition, recruitment for peer reviewers will begin immediately. If you are interested and available to volunteer as a peer reviewer, please reach out to CIHR immediately at We thank applicants and peer reviewers in advance for their flexibility and understanding with respect to the need for this expedited process.


The information contained herein is anticipatory only and does not represent an official funding commitment by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Accordingly, the information, contained herein may differ from the official funding opportunity that will be published on ResearchNet.

Date modified: