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Connected Minds Seed Grants


New technologies are revolutionizing society, creating a 'techno-social collective' where humans and intelligent technologies are deeply interconnected. While such advances present exciting opportunities, they also present significant risks, especially for vulnerable and/or marginalized populations. The Connected Minds Program –supported by the Canada Research Excellence Fund, York and Queens’ Universities, and our many partners from multiple sectors—envisions a world where breakthroughs in technology promote social health and justice for all, with special focus on Indigenous Peoples in Canada. For further details, see:

Connected Minds Long-Term Goals:

  1. To understand how the interplay of humans and intelligent technologies produces unexpected, emergent properties at the community/whole society levels
  2. To predict how new technologies will disrupt the techno-social collective
  3. To use these predictions to drive new research and technology development

As such, we expect all funded initiatives and awards to contribute towards the long-term goals of our program.


CFREF funds have been allocated for a research seed grant program open to registered members of the Connected Minds research group. Request for proposals will be released on an annual basis and will normally fund 6-8 grants per call *at a maximum of $75,000 per award over 2 years.

*at least 20% of these awards will be set aside for an Indigenous-led proposal and/or is substantially guided by and centers Indigenous community priorities, as determined by the Connected Minds Indigenous Advisory Circle, and that meet the minimum requirements set for the award.

Connected Minds seed grants are intended to establish new collaborative research projects that promote community building, investigations, and scholarly activities aligned with the overarching goals and themes described above. They are not intended to replace other funds or support ongoing research projects. They may be exploratory or ‘high risk’ in nature but should include a plan for sustainability if successful.

Specifically, effective seed grants are expected to make meaningful contributions towards fulfilling a subset of Connected Minds' strategic objectives and pivotal performance benchmarks, encompassing:

  • Collaborations with industry, academic, government, & community partners (including building relationships with Indigenous communities)
  • Increased interdisciplinary scholarship, research, & art creation
  • Increased international recognition, collaboration, & leadership
  • Contributions to the following three National Science and Innovation Priority Areas (NSIPA): 1) Healthy Canadians, 2) Innovative Resilient Communities 3) Technologically Advanced Canada

These partner focused research grants are designed to generate pilot data to secure follow-on funding from external sources, e.g., Tri-Council. The program is not intended to provide continuing support for ongoing research/creative projects or to serve as a substitute for external funding. The mandate of CFREF is not to replicate existing funding, but to provide an opportunity to secure new and/or greater sources of funding, or perhaps move in a different direction.

Notice of Intent Deadline:

April 1, 2024

Invited Full Application Deadline:

August 6, 2024

Click here to submit an NOI

Click here to complete the Self-Identification survey

  • Only registered members of Connected Minds who are eligible to hold a cost centre may be Principal Investigators. (Please note that a PI can only hold 2 seed grants at the same time. This does not apply to Co-Is.)
  • Proposals must include at least one transdisciplinary Co-Investigator (a registered member in the Connected Minds program) from a different Connected Minds Pillar of Expertise (neuroscience, technology, society) than the Principal Investigator.
  • The project must include at least one external collaborator/partner from an established or potential partner organization (academic, industry, community, and/or government).
  • In addition, proposals may include non-member collaborators from within York or Queen’s.
  • The research must fall within the scope of Connected Minds’ mandate and span research theme I and at least theme II and/or III. If two grants are otherwise judged to be equal, the one that spans all three themes will be judged as superior.
  • For successful applications, before the cost centre can be opened, proof of institutional Research Ethics Board (REB) approval(s) is required to be submitted to the Connected Minds office.
  • All successful PIs are required to complete our on-line progress report at the end of each fiscal year (starting with the fiscal year that funding was received) up until the end of the Connected Minds program. In addition, PIs must provide a one-time baseline data set consisting of 5 years of research progress prior to receiving the funds for the Connected Minds performance management plan. If invited, PIs are expected to present their progress / results at Connected Minds annual retreats.
  • Named collaborators outside of the host and partner institutions (York and Queen’s) will automatically become eligible Affiliate members of the program.
  • Authors of manuscripts from Connected Minds funding, particularly those on novel technologies or methodologies, are encouraged to submit their work with Innovation York or Queen's Office of Partnership and Innovation for IP review before final publication. This aligns with CFREF's mandate to contribute to the Canadian economy's growth, fostering collaboration between research and commercialization. While there's no obligation for members to commercialize their results, sharing publications helps explore potential IP opportunities.
  • Connected Minds / CFREF funding must be acknowledged in professional communications, publications, presentations, and conference materials as follows: “The research was undertaken thanks in part to funding from the Connected Minds Program, supported by Canada First Research Excellence Fund, Grant #CFREF-2022-00010.”
  • The deadline for a notice of intent (NOI) and the full proposal submission as posted on the Connected Minds website will be strictly enforced.
  • The NOI and full proposal must be submitted through the MachForm link posted on the Connected Minds website.
  • The final submission must include an uploaded pdf document with signatures (digital or scanned) from the Principal Investigator, all Co-Investigators, and partners, and must include the following statement: “I agree to collaborate on the proposed project as outlined in this application. I have contributed to its development and have reviewed the final draft prior to submission”.
  • Each proposal must address all sections described below and must be aligned with the Connected Minds mandate to be eligible for funding.

The NOI must be submitted by the posted deadline and must include:

  1. Proposal Title
  2. Names of Principal Investigator, Co-Investigators, and Collaborator(s)/Partner(s)
  3. Check boxes for REB status (approved, submitted, TBD, not required) for the use of Human Participants, Animals, BioHazard Materials, Potential New Technologies
  4. A list of 5 keywords
  5. Abstract (500 words)
  6. Impact statement relative to the Connected Minds themes and research goals (250 words)
  7. Description of how these funds will be utilized to initiate new research areas or secure additional and sustainable sources of funding to support the continuation of this research endeavor (100 words)
  8. Self-Identification Survey completed by all members of the research team (PI, Co-Is and Collaborators/Partners)
  9. External reviewers may be contacted if the review panel does not have sufficient expertise to review the project. A list of three external reviewers must be provided and must include the following:
    1) Name
    2) Email
    3) Affiliation/Institution
    4)Area of expertise
    All reviewers must be arm’s length from the Principal Investigator, collaborators, and partners and follow the conflict of interest guidelines outlined here

Click here to submit an NOI

Click here to complete the Self-Identification survey

Project Description - Approach/Methodology/Objectives

  1. Please provide a lay summary of the research question, objectives, approach, relationship to the goals of Connected Minds, and expected outcomes/impact of the proposed project. This summary may be used for public communications and thus should be targeted to the layperson. (300 words max).
  2. Describe the proposed research approach/methodology. (750 words max)
    • Clearly state the research question being proposed, the rationale for the proposed research, and the objectives of the project;
    • Describe the design of the research project, including how the proposed research is novel and/or innovative; and/or
    • How this funding will allow the research team to put down roots for their research, collaborations, and support future growth, which may include a commitment to listening and learning from Indigenous Peoples’ knowledge, ecology, spiritual practice, and experiences.

Project Milestones (Text (150 words) and/or Upload)

  1. Provide realistic milestones that are achievable during year-1 and year-2. Charts and graphs may be uploaded under the appendices section.

Interdisciplinary, Co-Creation, & Knowledge Mobilization Aspects (250 words)

  1. Describe the interdisciplinary, co-creation, and knowledge mobilization aspects of the project (in the context of the objectives of the Connected Minds seed grant program). Note, for Indigenous specific funding, collaboration is considered essential to exploring approaches and making room for Indigenous research and/or Indigenous forms of disseminating research.

Description of the Research Team and the Partnership(s) (200 words)

  1. Describe the skills/experience of the proposed project team and the impact of proposed collaborations and partnership(s);
  2. Describe how the research builds on established partnerships or establishes new partnerships.
  3. Describe active efforts to increase equity, diversity and inclusion of underrepresented groups (Indigenous Peoples; African, Caribbean, and Black individuals; racialized individuals; persons with disabilities; women and 2SLGBTQIA+) in the research ecosystem in the creation of the research team and partnerships, and how tokensim will be prevented within the team composition.

Impact and Return on Investment (150 words)

  1. Please describe the impact of the project on one of the following National Science, Technology and Innovation Priorities:
    1. Healthy Canadians: Enhancing the health and wellness of Canadians across all life stages
    2. Innovative and Resilient Communities: Building thriving communities that are inclusive, liveable, smart and safe
    3. Technologically Advanced Canada: Advancing transformative and enabling technologies that will support a technologically advanced economy and society
  2. Explain how this work will lead to subsequent external funding and indicate the potential source(s).

Budget & Budget Justification

Budget & Budget Justification - Please complete the budget template provided by first and second year for both the awarded funds and partner contributions (cash or in-kind). These may include research trainee support, research equipment and materials, space, and other expenses. If the project includes both York and Queen’s investigators, break this down into two separate budgets (total maximum $75,000). Present a clear rationale for the proposed expenditures. (150 words).

Please note that:

  • Personnel funding levels should be consistent with the applicant’s institutional minimum and maximum limits for research staff and trainees; trainee stipend amounts should be consistent with the higher of either the applicant’s institutional minimums or minimums recommended by Tri-Council Policy;
  • Proposed expenditures should be consistent with CFREF’s guidelines on eligible expenditures;
  • Indirect costs are ineligible for this program;
  • For any questions related to the eligibility of research costs, please contact

Equity & Diversity Considerations

EDI are embedded as foundational principles in the CFREF objectives, expected outcomes, and reporting requirements. The Tri-Agency Institutional Program Secretariat expect that CFREF-funded initiatives will demonstrate exceptional leadership in contributing to transforming their research disciplines and Canada’s research ecosystem to help it become equitable, diverse, and inclusive.

Explain how EDI principles and best practices were applied in the development of the proposal’s research design, implementation, and impact by answering the following:

  1. Are sex (biological) considerations addressed in this study proposal? Please explain how or why not. (100 words)
  2. Are gender (socio-cultural) considerations addressed in this study proposal? Please explain how or why not. (100 words)
  3. Are diversity considerations (e.g., Racialization, Indigeneity, 2SLGBTQIA+, Poverty, Disabilities) addressed in this study proposal? Please explain how or why not. (100 words)
  4. Please explain how this research impacts underrepresented (Indigenous Peoples; African, Caribbean, and Black individuals; racialized individuals; persons with disabilities; women and 2SLGBTQIA+) groups. (100 words)

Appendices (any uploaded form should have a font of Arial 11, or equivalent, and be in pdf form)

  1. Signature page – Please upload one PDF document with the signatures (digital or scanned) from the Principal Investigator, all Co-Investigators, Collaborators, and Partners and must include the following statement “I agree to collaborate on the proposed project as outlined in this application. I have contributed to its development and have reviewed the final draft prior to submission”.
  2. Tables, Figures, Project Timeline (Optional, 2 pages max) - Two additional pages may be included for tables/figures. Please note that any additional pages beyond two may be deleted prior to review.
  3. Curriculum Vitae - Please provide a current CV for the PI and all Co-PIs/collaborators working on the project (any CV format acceptable). Note: a standard resume is acceptable for any community based / non-academic Co-PIs.
  4. References (1 page max) – One additional page may be included in the appendix for references.

Social Impact Assessment: (section only applicable if the project involves developing new technology)

Given the complex, interdisciplinary and techno-social focus of the Connected Minds program, the Connected Minds Social Impact Assessment Guidelines were developed to emphasize that researchers and prospective researchers are further required to think about their research, their technologies and the proposed uses of those technologies through the lenses of social responsibility, harm avoidance, equity and inclusivity. 

Socially responsible research prioritizes ethical principles and values throughout the development and implementation of new programs, processes, technologies, and ways of knowing and doing. It is research that takes into account the potential impact(s) on individuals, communities and society/societies as a whole, while aligning with human values, respecting both individual and collective human rights, and contributing to a sustainable and inclusive future. 

Researchers (both funded and prospective) must be able to demonstrate to the program and its reviewers that they have considered and adequately addressed the following considerations in their proposals/reviews: 

1. Social Responsibility:

Clearly articulate how your research will be conducted in a socially responsible manner. Explain the measures you will take to ensure that the research process and outcomes contribute positively to societal well-being. If appropriate, apply generally agreed-upon risk assessment tools to identify and mitigate potential harms associated with your research. Clearly outline the steps you will take to monitor and address risks, with a focus on minimizing adverse impacts on impacted communities. (500 words)

2. Consideration of Diverse Perspectives:

Clearly demonstrate how your research accounts for the needs and perspectives of diverse populations. Provide details on how you plan to prevent biases and ensure inclusivity across socioeconomic status, race, gender, and other equity-deserving identity characteristics. (500 words)

3. Environmental Impact Assessment:

Please describe how the proposal integrates considerations for environmentally sustainable technologies. Proposals with potential environmental ramifications should explicitly showcase the prediction, analysis, and mitigation measures employed to ensure any adverse effects are identified and addressed to prevent harm. (500 words)

4. Building Trust and Public Acceptance:

Demonstrate how your research approach is designed to build trust and gain public acceptance. Highlight specific strategies to engage with the public (including users and/or patients, as applicable), address concerns, and maintain transparency throughout the research lifecycle. (500 words)

5. Acknowledgment of Intellectual Property and Considerations for Traditional Knowledges:

Clearly acknowledge and outline how your research and any technologies developed respect the intellectual property of individuals or entities who hold rights to them. Identify and specify the types of intellectual property involved, such as patents, copyright, trademarks, and trade secrets. Identify the data governance framework that will be applied to this proposal. If applicable, address Indigenous intellectual property rights as outlined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) (2017). Emphasize how your research respects Indigenous rights to the protection of traditional knowledge, cultural heritage, and customs. (500 words)

Please note that any project addressing Indigeneity will be further reviewed by the Indigenous Advisory Circle at the NOI and full application stage. In keeping with principles of self-determination, the Circle has the right to veto projects related to Indigenous research.

NOI Evaluation

  • All NOIs will be reviewed by the review sub-committee.
  • Only successful NOIs will be invited to the full application stage.
  • Feedback for all NOIs will be provided to the PI.

Full Application Evaluation

  • The reviewers will review each application and provide a score out of 100. Scores will be weighted based on the criteria below.
  • Once all applications are scored, the average for each application will be calculated and assigned an initial rank by the Connected Minds Admin team.
  • The review sub-committee will meet to discuss the scores and associated rankings and decide on the final ranking of the applications. The review sub-committee shall incorporate the comments of the Indigenous Advisory Circle. As such, the sub-committee may alter the rank of an application if discussion warrants it.
  • The Research Committee will provide recommendations on which applications to fund to the Connected Minds Leadership Committee for review and final approval.
  • Results will be communicated approximately 8-weeks after the submission deadline.

Review Committee

All project submissions will undergo an arm’s-length review. Each grant will be reviewed by a review sub-committee consisting of:

  • Three members of the Connected Minds Research Committee, with the substitution of other members if needed to balance area of expertise and avoid conflict of interest (one will have expertise in neuro/life sciences, one in AI/technology and one in arts/ humanities);
  • Ad-hoc external reviewers (only for specific grants) as required.
  • The Indigenous Advisory Circle will provide additional oversight in relation to Indigenous Peoples and will assist in identification of appropriate ad-hoc external reviewers.

Reviewers will i) determine whether the proposal is of sufficient quality to receive funding; ii) rank the proposals; and iii) recommend which grants should receive funding in the current round.

  • Reviewer may not be a PI, Co-Investigator, or partner on a grant in the given round;
  • Reviewers will declare conflicts of interest.


  • Meets all submission and eligibility criteria. (pass/fail)
  • Proposal aligns within the mandate and goals of the Connected Minds Program. (50%)
  • Clarity and specificity of impact statement relative to the Connected Minds themes and goals. (50%)


Social Impact Assessment (Pass/Fail)

A. Quality and originality of the proposal (25%)

  • The quality of the research design/methodology and rationale;
  • The degree to which the proposed research is novel/innovative and its potential impact on society;
  • The clarity and importance of the research question(s) and objectives.

B. Feasibility and merit of the proposal (10%)

  • The degree to which the milestones are achievable within the two-year period;
  • Whether the budget is realistic and appropriate for the proposed work.

C. Interdisciplinary, Co-Creation, & Knowledge Mobilization in terms of the Connected Minds mandate (20%)

  • The degree to which the proposed research is interdisciplinary (incorporates methods and/or outputs from multiple disciplines – e.g., neuroscience, artificial intelligence, arts and design, humanities);
  • Impact planning at the outset of the proposal together with end-users/community/industry partners;
  • The potential impact on clinical practice, knowledge translation, or commercial application.

D. Potential return on investment (15%)

  • The proposed work will produce improvements in key Connected Minds key performance indicators;
  • The proposed research will help to secure larger and/or new sources of funding (i.e., research grants, industry contracts, commercial licenses, etc.).

E. Quality of the research team, relevance and quality of the partnership (15%)

  • The research team is appropriate for the proposed work;
  • The partnership is relevant for the proposed work and anticipated impacts and will lead to enhanced quality of research.
  • Demonstrates an active effort to diversify the research team.

F. Equity & Diversity Considerations (15%)

  • The application outlines how co-creation processes will be involved throughout the development and implementation of the proposal's EDI considerations; 
  • The application clearly demonstrates how the project identifies transdisciplinary EDI needs regarding the experiences of underrepresented groups (Indigenous Peoples of Canada; African, Caribbean and Black individuals; racialized individuals; persons with disabilities; women; 2SLGBTQIA+; French linguistic minority); 
  • The application clearly demonstrates how research design identifies novel opportunities for EDI ‘better practices’ (how needs are addressed);
  • The goals of the proposal include clear objective, strategic, and feasible EDI initiatives to greatly impact the research environment and society. 

Last updated: 06/14/2024