MSSI Funding

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The MSSI Ideas Fund - Winter 2019 Call for Applications


High risk/high reward projects are increasingly seen as avenues to move fields of research forward rapidly. The MSSI Ideas Fund provides small amounts of seed funding to explore bold projects and novel ideas which, if successful, could make a significant impact on a challenge related to sustainability.

The Ideas Fund allows recipients to explore the feasibility of ideas before dedicating significant resources to flesh them out. This includes development of collaborations and production of data required to justify a joint grant application. Its aim is to enable development of projects to a stage where they can attract other funding, perhaps in one of our thematic research areas.

Download the MSSI Ideas Fund 2019 Application Template Download the MSSI Ideas Fund Winter 2019 Application Template

Download the MSSI Ideas Fund 2019 Funding Call Download the MSSI Ideas Fund Winter 2019 Funding Call

The deadline to apply is 11:59 pm on March 3rd, 2019.

Available Funds

Faculty Research Awards: up to $50,000 per award ($250,000 available in total)
Student Research Awards: up to $7000 per award ($25,000 available in total)


The Idea/Research

The idea or research must be bold and new, have potential for a significant impact on a sustainability problem/challenge and align with the MSSI vision. Its nascent state or boldness should render it premature for other funding. Previously funded projects can be viewed here.

Previously unsuccessful proposals will only be accepted for a subsequent competition if they contain obvious and significant developments.

The Proposer/s

  • All lead applicants must be active McGill faculty or students. Student projects must have a named McGill faculty supervisor.
  • All applicants must be MSSI Members or Affiliates (register at Applications from non-MSSI members will be returned.
  • Applications from groups are welcome. At least 50% of each group must be active members of McGill and all applicants must be either MSSI Members or MSSI Affiliates.

The MSSI is a McGill-wide initiative. We particularly welcome applications from scholars/groups/students who have not previously received MSSI funding.

Eligible Costs

  • Materials and supplies
  • Travel costs
  • Conference costs
  • User fees
  • Community engagement expenses (e.g. workshops, community consultations etc.)
  • HR compensation (stipends and salaries for students/post-docs, this is not applicable for student- led applications)

Ineligible Costs

  • Building and refurbishment costs
  • HR compensation for student applications

Selection Criteria

Projects are evaluated on their potential for impact on a sustainability problem and their ability to become competitive for identified external funding. In line with MSSI goals, projects that take an interdisciplinary approach are viewed favourably.

The Ideas Fund Review Committee reviews the applications and makes recommendations to the Executive Committee for final approval. Proposals that ranked highly in previous competitions met the following criteria:

  1. Original idea;
  2. Clearly grounded in sustainability with potential for big impact if successful;
  3. Explicit demonstration of the feasibility of budget and deliverables;
  4. Research receives no other funding;
  5. Lead applicant does not currently receive direct funding from MSSI;
  6. Demonstrated potential for further funding at the end of the funding period.

Note: Proposals that move an existing idea from bench to commercialization or toward widespread adoption (innovation) should be submitted to the MSSI Innovation Fund.

Other Criteria

Additional space and associated costs must have been approved and allocated by the relevant Department prior to application.

Where applicable, approval must have been granted by the appropriate McGill Research Ethics Board prior to application.

Successful applicants are expected to become active members of the MSSI community, to present their work at MSSI events and on request, act as reviewers in future competitions.

Reporting Requirements

An update on research activities is required after six months and a short final report must be submitted one month after the funding ends.


All material and information submitted should be non-confidential as a high-level synopsis of funded projects may, after consultation with the awardee, be made available on the MSSI website.

Applicants are responsible for taking the necessary steps to protect the intellectual property (IP) associated with the project following McGill’s process for technology transfer and commercialization (see for more information).


The review process will be completed in late March 2019 and funds will be allocated towards the end of April 2019. Work covered by the fund must be completed within one calendar year of the grant start date (carry-forwards require approval of the Ideas Fund Committee).

To Apply

Proposals should be submitted using the template found on the MSSI website. Supporting figures can be included separately from the completed template.

Proposal Details (see template)

  1. For each applicant on the proposal (including the faculty supervisor for student applications):
    1. Full name and e-mail;
    2. McGill faculty and department, or external affiliation for non-McGill co-applicants;
    3. Area of expertise relevant to proposal;
    4. An abridged resumé (maximum 5 pages, additional to the main proposal) highlighting relevant background, publications, patents, and collaborative research activities should be provided for each applicant;
    5. Undergraduate and graduate student applicants must also include an unofficial transcript.
  2. Outline of the research proposal or idea (maximum 200 words);
  3. Explicit description of its novelty (why is this a bold idea?);
  4. Its relevance to sustainability;
  5. The anticipated deliverable(s);
  6. Project timeline and major milestones within the 1-year funding period;
  7. Budget (e.g., human resources, materials/supplies, travel and auxiliary costs);
  8. Additional information relevant to the proposal, such as:
    1. Its potential (socio)-economic and other benefits;
    2. Commercial product or service that could be implemented or developed through application of the research results, including reference to other applications of the product or service;
    3. Collaboration with industry related to the proposal.

Proposal Submission

The completed form should be named “MSSI Ideas 2019 LastName” where ‘LastName’ is the family name of the lead applicant.

The completed template, supplemental figures (if any) and resumés should be submitted in a single e-mail to, copying in all co-applicants.

Non-conforming applications (including resumés greater than 5 pages in length) will be returned for modification and resubmission up to the competition closing date.

The application deadline is 11:59 pm on March 3rd, 2019.

MSSI Ideas Fund faculty recipients – Spring 2018

Hamid Akbarzadeh & Larry Lessard

3D Printing of lightweight sustainable materials: Wood-fiber reinforced cellular composites

Bruce Arndtsen

Development of an electrocatalytic method for the direct functionalization of methane to aldehydes

Jeffrey Bergthorson

Supercritical metal-water reactor proof of concept

Treena Delormier, Gordon Hickey & Murray Humphries

Indigenizing concepts of food security

Matthew Harrington

Green supramolecular polymer assembly inspired by the velvet worm

Mary Kang, Peter Douglas, Yajing Liu & Jeffrey M. McKenzie

The role of induced earthquakes on methane emissions from oil and gas infrastructure in Western Canada

Ajjamada Kushalappa

Changing-climate resilient cisgenic crop variety development through genome editing

C.J. Li, Hong Guo & Zetian Mi

Engineering nanocatalysts for photo-fixation of nitrogen into ammonia

Milan Maric

Sustainable copolymer additives for durable roadway asphalts

Sarah Moser, Idowu Ajibade & Laurence Côté-Roy

Resilience planning in new master-planned cities

Jennifer Sunday

Developing the use of seawater eDNA to track species responses to environmental change

MSSI Ideas Fund student recipients – Spring 2018

The MSSI Innovation Fund Fall 2018 call is now closed. The review is scheduled for January 2019. 

Download the MSSI Innovation Fund 2018 Funding Call Download the MSSI Innovation Fund 2018 Funding Call

MSSI Innovation Fund Recipients – Spring 2018

Karine Auclair & Tomislav Friščić

Solvent-free enzymatic depolymerization of poly(ethylene terephthalate

Sylvain Coulombe

Novel plasma technology for renewable ammonia synthesis

Richard Leask, Milan Maric & Jim Nicell

Sustainable Green Plasticizers

Eric McCalla

Design of advanced Na-ion batteries

Sidney Omelon

Closing the Phosphorus Loop through Phosphate Rock Production from Municipal Sludge

If interested in applying for external funding, McGill researchers are asked to contact the Office of Sponsored Research (info.osr [at]

Appel à projets franco-québécois dans le secteur maritime

February 18th 2019: Funding opportunity for maritime research collaborations between France and Quebec. Deadline to apply is May 15th, 2019

The call for proposals is now open and can be accessed here.

LOI phase closes November 30, 2018.

Landscapes Scholar Program

Are you a Ph.D. or MSc student at McGill who works on landscapes, sustainability, social-ecological systems, or something similar? 

Do you need a little extra funding to do something really cool with your research?

Do you want to benefit from additional training in interdisciplinary research, knowledge-to-action science, and leadership?  

If so, you want to apply to be an MSSI Landscape Scholar!


  • $5000 funding per year (for 2 years), plus additional training in leadership and interdisciplinary landscape sustainability research, and membership in a unique, cross-faculty cohort of graduate students who share your interest in landscape sustainability. We anticipate the cohort will meet approximately every other week to engage in activities, discussions, or projects. Additional support may be available for related research dissemination and/or group activities.


  • Approximately 5-10 Ph.D. and master’s students will be chosen to be part of a 2-year training and funding program. Any graduate student at McGill is welcome to apply. We will prioritize the development of a multi-faculty cohort who are seeking to understand landscape sustainability from a variety of perspectives.


  • The first cohort will start September 1, 2018. A second cohort will start the following year. To participate in the cohort, you must be present at McGill for the majority of the 2-years (e.g., not planning to graduate or be away for extended periods – please mention any absences, such as for fieldwork, in your application.)


  • To create a community of like-minded scholars working at the cutting edge of applied, integrative, interdisciplinary science
  • To use the best of academia to address a real-world problem
  • To hone leadership skills to apply to problem-solving in sustainability science


  • To apply, please send (a) your CV, (b) a brief (no more than 1-page) statement about why you want to be part of this cohort, what you stand to gain, and what you can offer to the group, and (c) a letter of support from your primary supervisor. Please send materials to mssi [at] (subject: %E2%80%9CMSSI%20Landscapes%20Graduate%20Student%20Cohort%20Application%E2%80%9D) with the subject line MSSI Landscapes Graduate Student Cohort Application” by August 3, 2018. In your materials, please mention any absences for the upcoming two years, such as for fieldwork.

Decisions will be made by mid-August. Cohort activities will begin at the start of the fall semester

The New Opportunities Fund


The Adapting Urban Environments for the Future theme within the McGill Sustainability Systems Initiative (MSSI) aims to develop an integrative program of research on urban sustainability that will generate and mobilize the knowledge required to make cities more socially inclusive and less environmentally impactful while improving the well-being of residents.

The New Opportunities Fund provides seed money to encourage questions looking at urban issues from a multidisciplinary perspective. This year the fund provided $22,000 to fund three research projects.

New Opportunities Fund Recipients – Spring 2018

Emine Sarigöllü

From a Throwaway Society into a Sustainable Society: A Consumer Perspective

Sébastien Breau

Potential impact of the proposed ‘Pink’ metro line as a sustainable and more inclusive form of transportation in Montreal

Will Straw

An international workshop of urbanists, lighting experts, historians and geographers will take up the question of how lighting policy can ensure a safe, accessible and festive experience of the Montreal night