MSSI Funding

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The MSSI Innovation Fund - Fall 2018 Call for Applications


Do you have an innovation that has potential for commercialization or a process that will lead to policy development in the field of sustainability? Do you need funds to proceed to the next stage of development? The MSSI Innovation Fund can provide up to $75K to accelerate the innovation or process and move your project forward.

File Download the application template

File Download the funding call

The deadline to apply is 9h00 on December 10th, 2018.

Available Funds

Faculty Research Awards of up to $75,000 per award, to a total amount of $150,000.


The Innovation/Process

The innovation or process must have a positive impact on a problem in sustainability and align with the MSSI vision. The following are within the scope of the Innovation Fund: policy development, proof of concept (perhaps as a prelude to an entrepreneurial path, transfer of a technology to industry, or the implementation of a social innovation), preparatory work for IP filing, development of a prototype or small-scale pilot system, testing the viability of an approach in the environment and reduction to practice.

Previously unsuccessful proposals will only be accepted for a subsequent competition if they contain obvious and significant developments that are clearly identified in the proposal.

The Proposers
  • All lead applicants must be active members of McGill Faculty or staff.
  • All applicants must be MSSI Members or Affiliates (register at

Group applications are welcome. If an application is made on behalf of a group at least 50% of the applicants must be active members of McGill and all applicants must be MSSI Members or Affiliates.

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)
  • IP filings etc.
Ineligible Costs
  • Building and refurbishment costs

Selection Criteria

All Innovation Fund proposals are reviewed by the Innovation Fund Review Committee. This committee provides recommendations to the Executive Committee for final approval.

Projects receiving Innovation Funds are selected for their impact on a sustainability issue, their feasibility to move an idea from bench toward commercialization or widespread adoption, their potential to be awarded further funding from commercialization-enabling programs (NSERC I2I, VC accelerator/seed funds, etc.) or foundation translational programs (Gates, Kavli, etc.) at the end of the funding period.

Successful proposals from previous competitions (see bottom of page) had the following attributes:
  1. A clear explanation of how the end product (technology, process, policy etc.) will positively impact sustainability;
  2. A well-defined project;
  3. A well-articulated and feasible plan that moves the end product from the idea or bench stage to practical application;
  4. A description of the steps required to implement the end product;
  5. Existing links with potential users of the end product;
  6. An explanation of how the expertise and breadth of the research team enables the success of the proposed project;
  7. A well-defined, though not necessarily detailed, budget that included explanations of the subcomponents and how any training is incorporated.

Other Criteria

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

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

Successful applicants are expected to become active members of the MSSI community. This includes participating in MSSI events and acting as reviewers for future competitions.


All material and information submitted to the competition 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 any intellectual property associated with the project.

Reporting Requirements

Successful applicants must provide a short update report six months after the start of the funding and a final report no more than one month following its the end.


Winners of the Fall/Winter 2019 competition will be announced by February 2019. Work covered by the funding must be completed within one calendar year of the grant start date (carry-forwards require written approval from the Innovation Fund Committee).

To Apply

Please use the template provided to submit a proposal. Applications should also include an abridged resume for each applicant, highlighting relevant background, publications, patents, and collaborative research activities (pdf format). Supporting figures can be included separately from the completed template. Non-conforming applications will be returned for modification and resubmission up to the competition closing date. No late submissions will be accepted.

  Proposal Details
  1. Please clearly indicate the following information for all applicants, clearly indicating the lead applicant:
    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.
  2. Outline of the research project (maximum 200 words) with explicit description of its novelty (figures can be included as separate attachments);
  3. Relevance to sustainability;
  4. Anticipated deliverable(s) including those associated with IP;
  5. Project timeline within the 1-year funding period;
  6. Budget (please include categories such as human resources, materials/supplies, travel and auxiliary costs);
  7. Any additional information relevant to the proposal:
    1. Potential (socio)-economic and other benefits which could be realized;
    2. Any 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. Any collaboration with industry related to the proposal.

Proposal Submission

Please save the completed form with the last name of the lead applicant appended “MSSI Innovation 2018b LastName”). Please submit completed form, supplemental figures (if any) and CVs in a single e-mail to, copying in all co-applicants.

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]

NSERC Advancing Climate Change Science in Canada

November 6th 2018: NSERC, Environment and Climate Change Canada, and Health Canada have partnered to further climate change science in Canadian universities through the Advancing Climate Change Science in Canada initiative.

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

LOI phase closes November 30, 2018.

The MSSI Ideas Fund Spring 2018 (closed)


The McGill Sustainability Systems Initiative (MSSI) brings together scholars from across McGill’s faculties and disciplines, from social sciences and humanities to natural sciences and engineering, to form a robust and vibrant community of committed sustainability researchers. It supports solutions-oriented research that moves society towards a sustainable model of existence.

The MSSI Ideas Fund provides small amounts of seed funding to enable faculty and students alike to explore bold projects and novel ideas which, if successful, could make a significant impact on sustainability. The funding allows recipients to explore the feasibility of ideas before dedicating significant resources to flesh them out.

The Spring 2018 Ideas Fund competition is providing $527,000 to fund 11 research projects led by scholars across nine departments and three faculties, as well as three projects led by students.

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

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