Challenge Programs

Breakthroughs take teamwork

Consistent with Canada’s vision for science and building on the Innovation and Skills Plan, the government is transforming and re-tooling Canadian innovation programs to better support Canada’s innovators. Challenge Programs are a component of this transformation.

To catalyze transformative, high-risk, high-reward research with the potential for game-changing scientific discoveries and technological breakthroughs, the Government of Canada has provided $150 million over five years with $30 million per year ongoing, to the NRC to fund its researchers to work with innovators from post-secondary institutions and businesses on multi-party research and development programs. This research will be modelled on the highly successful Advanced Research Projects Agencies in the United States.

The recent mandate letter for the President of the NRC sets the stage to build collaborative multi-stakeholder teams to address grand challenges in areas such as sustainable environment, the aging population and health, the North, digital technologies, and the Internet of things.

Based on initial consultation, the NRC received guidance to pursue three challenge missions, from which we are now developing the inaugural round of Challenge Programs. They are as follows:

  • Energy Materials – to develop new materials for clean and sustainable sources of energy
  • High-throughput and Secure Networks – to develop high performance, affordable and secure communication for rural and remote communities
  • Health – to develop disruptive technologies to significantly improve health outcomes (refer to the workshop about the NRC's programs in Human Health Therapeutics for more information).

In addition, we will create a fourth cross-cutting program:

  • Artificial Intelligence in Support of Design – a foundation of AI tools, technologies and capabilities to support the above three mission areas

The NRC is committed to bringing together the best minds available to advance knowledge, fundamental science and technology development that contribute to Canadian research excellence.

Collaborate with us

These Challenge Programs will be developed in consultation with collaborators, strengthened through peer review process, beginning implementation in 2019. These programs will be supported by grant and contribution funding to fund complementary research collaboration with external stakeholders, in particular academic researchers and small- and medium-sized enterprises.

As the programs begin to take shape, we will post opportunities for collaboration here.

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