HBHL Neuro-Innovation Fund


The Healthy Brains for Healthy Lives (HBHL) initiative is a high profile, high priority multidisciplinary and cross-sectoral program located at McGill University made possible with support from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF). HBHL’s Neuro-Innovation Fund aims to close the gap between proof-of-concept research grants, and funding from traditional investors (angels, venture capitalist, institutional investors). The Fund will provide technology development grants to support further proof of principle and/or add value to new technologies or inventions related to the research themes of HBHL. The grants from the Neuro-Innovation Fund will be matched 1:1 to investments from industrial partners, venture capital firms, private investors or foundations in an equity-based limited partnership or other acceptable financial strategies to jointly build value and move McGill innovations forward. 

Team Eligibility

  • McGill University Applicant: The Applicant must be a McGill faculty member who is eligible to hold Tri-Council research funding. There can only be one Applicant per application.
  • Co-Applicants: Teams involving Co-Applicants from McGill University or our CFREF partner institutions (Western University, Université de Montréal or University of British Columbia) are encouraged. These will be faculty members who are eligible to hold Tri-Council research funding.
  • Collaborators or Other Partners: We also encourage participation from collaborators from non-partner institutions, industrial partners, venture capital firms, private investors or foundations. Such partners can provide letters of support to describe their participation in the research project. However, CFREF funds may NOT be transferred to non-partner institutions, industrial partners, venture capital firms, private investors or foundations.

Project Eligibility

  • The project will build on an existing invention to advance commercial development or proof-of-concept of the invention. The Technology Transfer Office at McGill must have received and accepted a report of invention, or already have an existing or available invention on file, for the project to be eligible.
  • The project or product must be aligned with HBHL’s goals and research priorities (refer to the HBHL Strategic Research Plan) and tie in to at least one of HBHL’s four Research Themes.


  • CFREF funds may be transferred only to Applicants or Co-Applicants from McGill University, or Co-Applicants from eligible partner institutions (Western University, Université de Montréal, University of British Columbia).
  • Amount per project: Up to $300,000 per project per year available from HBHL. Cash co-funding from partners is expected to match 1:1 the funding provided by HBHL. Proposals for projects of up to 2 years duration will be considered. Two-year projects will be funded in the second year upon positive assessment of an interim report.
  • Eligible expenses are limited to direct research costs only, such as salary and benefits for research personnel, supplies, travel, small equipment, workshops, computers, and services. All expenses must adhere to guidelines in the CFREF Administration Guide. Indirect funds will not be provided.

Number of awards per year

Based on available funds


  • Program launch: March 2018
  • Application deadline: Projects may be submitted anytime but will be evaluated on a quarterly basis.


Applicants must submit by Email (HBHL [at] mcgill.ca) the completed application form and any attachments. For any questions, contact the HBHL administration office (HBHL [at] mcgill.ca). Applicants will be notified by Email of the successful submission of their application.

Evaluation Criteria

  • Novelty of the invention (10%): Describe the existing technology or invention and explain why it is novel and non-obvious. What is the unmet need which is addressed? What is the primary commercial product or service that could be implemented or developed from this invention? Are there other applications of the product or service? What are the potential economic and other benefits which could be realized?
  • Excellence of the proposed translation or development activities (30%): Describe the proposed translation or development activities, including the specific aims of the project that are necessary to develop the existing technology into a useful product or service. Are the specific aims of the project clearly elaborated, including how those aims will be achieved, which methods will be used, and what outcomes will be achieved? Is there a clear and feasible implementation plan (e.g. activities and timelines)? Are the milestones and deliverables realistic and achievable? Does the project provide an excellent opportunity for the further development of intellectual property, for the licensing of technology or the formation of a start-up or spin-off company?
  • Potential market and commercialization strategy (10%): Describe the potential client base for the product or service, and which steps will be undertaken to further commercialize the invention.  Are any emerging trends in the marketplace described that may support or discourage the acceptance of the proposed invention? Who are the principal competitors to the invention, product or service, and why is your innovation different and preferable? Are any potential risks associated with bringing the product or service to market described, and if so, are the risk management strategies adequate? Is the proposed commercialization pathway or exit strategy feasible?
  • Alignment with HBHL priorities and deliverables (20%): Is the project aligned with the research priorities of one or more of the HBHL research themes (refer to the HBHL Strategic Research Plan)? Does the project have potential to make major advances pertaining to HBHL deliverables?
  • Excellence of the leadership and team (10%): Is the team leadership well qualified to manage and deliver the proposed project objectives, to track milestones and deliverables linked to the project and provide relevant information back to HBHL administration for reporting purposes? Is there a link to McGill’s technology transfer office to provide feedback on the progress towards commercialization?
  • Budget (10%): Do the budgeted expenses appear reasonable and appropriate for the funding requested? Are the budgeted items well justified? Does the requested funding overlap with any currently held or applied-for funding, and if so, is this overlap justified?
  • Partnerships (10%): Are appropriate partnerships with industry, venture capital firms, private investors, or foundations set up that clearly define partner roles, intellectual property sharing and provided co-funding? If not, are such partnerships anticipated? If so, are the objectives well elaborated?  Have the human, technical and financial resources been effectively used to solidify this partnership? Have any tangible commercial results been produced from this partnership? Has the partner co-funding been secured? 

Evaluations & Selection

  • All applications will be reviewed for completeness. All complete applications will be evaluated by an independent peer review committee on a quarterly basis under the direction of the HBHL Partnerships and Innovation Council based on the evaluation criteria.
  • The Partnerships and Innovation Council will make a final decision on funding allocation based on scores and comments from the evaluation panel.

Terms of funding

  • All Applicants will be notified by Email of the results of their application, including requests for possible revisions.
  • Successful Applicants will be sent a Notice of Award. It is the Applicant’s responsibility to complete the Acceptance of Award form and the OSR checklist by the indicated date.
  • HBHL funding is allocated as a research grant (not equity) and is matched 1:1 by cash contributions from industrial partners, venture capital firms, private investors or foundations in an equity-based limited partnership or other acceptable financial strategy. Funding will be released once a Funding Agreement has been executed between McGill and the co-funding partner(s). The Funding Agreement will include terms (download generic Term Sheet here) regarding intellectual property ownership, publication rights, and licensing rights and will be managed by the Grants and Agreements Office at McGill.
  • Successful applicants and co-applicants will be expected to participate in HBHL’s college of reviewers, and to provide an annual progress report and project tracking data in a timely fashion for HBHL’s annual report to CFREF.

Important Documents