Launch, Grow or Sustain an Initiative

College of research images from across the University of Toronto

The Institutional Strategic Initiatives portfolio coordinates university-wide resources to increase the University’s capacity to initiate, grow, and sustain strategic research initiatives.

New Initiatives

Investigator-initiated proposals for new initiatives must be championed by multiple divisions before being considered for Institutional Strategic Initiatives funding. Faculty interested in launching an initiative or supporting an existing initiative should connect with the academic leadership team in their division’s research office, such as the Vice Principal or Vice/Associate Dean Research.

Proposed initiatives must meet the following key criteria.

1. Addresses a significant challenge that requires an interdisciplinary approach

2. Matching funds secured from three or more Academic Divisions

3. Path to sustainability demonstrated by the clear opportunity for external funding

Application documents for initiatives are available here (UTORauth required).

Other funding sources for interdisciplinary research initiatives:

**DO NOT USE THIS ONE**

Connaught Global Challenge Award

Participating Divisions

All Univeristy of Toronto divisions

Summary

The program aims to heighten UofT’s contribution to important issues facing society through the advancement of knowledge, and the transfer and application of solutions. Global Challenge teams represent new collaborations involving leading UofT researchers and students from multiple disciplines, along with innovators and thought leaders from other sectors. The program objective is to enhance UofT’s capacity to achieve meaningful outcomes and impact, including but not limited to: major new external funding to further develop solutions to the global challenge, important new partnerships, and/or new research oriented academic programs.

More information about the Connaught Global Challenge Award

EMHSeed - FASE + FoM, UofT Affiliated Hospitals

Participating Divisions

Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering + Faculty of Medicine (FoM), UofT Affiliated Hospitals, Medicine by Design, Translational Biology and Engineering Program

Summary

EMHSeed is an interdivisional research funding program designed to promote multi-disciplinary research and catalyze new innovative partnerships between a coPI from the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering and a coPI from partner divisions. This seed program is meant to enable the leveraging UofT’s combination of world-class engineering and worldclass medical and clinical research. Funding supports new cross-divisional collaborations with early career researchers that have the potential to leverage external grants. Additional EMHSeed projects can be funded if they align directly with the research goals of Translational Biology and Engineering Programor Medicine by Design.

EMHSeed is an annual, competitive process with matching from each division.

More information on EMHSeed

Clusters of Scholarly Prominence Program - UTSC

Participating Divisions

University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC)

Summary

The purpose of the Clusters of Scholarly Prominence Program is to promote self-sustaining, interdisciplinary, inter-departmental, collaborative clusters of scholarship in areas of established and emerging strength at UTSC and which have a demonstrable capacity to augment UofT’s global standing through prominence in research, creative activity and exceptional learning.

Annual, competitive process.

More information on the Clusters of Scholarly Prominence Program – UTSC (PDF document)

DLSPH Open: Interdisciplinary Research Teams

Participating Divisions

All University of Toronto

Summary

DLSPH Open aims to create and nurture clusters of experts that will tackle critical challenges in public health and health systems in partnership with colleagues across the School, University and health systems, locally and globally.

More information on DLSPH Open

UTM Internal Funding Competitions

Participating Divisions

University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM)

Summary

The University of Toronto Mississauga’s Office of the Vice-Principal, Research has several internal funding competitions

More information on UTM Internal Funding Competitions

XSeed - FASE + FAS, UTM, UTSC, DLSPH

Participating Divisions

Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering + Faculty of Arts & Science, University of Toronto Mississauga, University of Scarborough, Dalla Lana School of Public Health

Summary

The XSeed is an interdivisional research funding program designed to promote multi-disciplinary research and catalyze new innovative partnerships between a coPI from the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering and a coPI from partner divisions. XSeed funding supports new cross-divisional collaborations with early career researchers that have the potential to leverage external grants. Funding is available across all disciplines, and includes graduate student funding.

XSeed is an annual, competitive process with matching from each division.

More Information:  FASE, FAS, UTM, UTSC (PDF document)

Supports for Existing Strategic Initiatives

The Institutional Strategic Initiatives portfolio seeks to elevate the profile of the University in high-priority research areas by working with Divisional units and central services to support large-scale research initiatives in the following areas: 

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Governance
  • Guidance on successful governance models and support setting up steering committees (including templates for terms of reference, etc.)
  • Establishment of Steering Committees comprised of Divisional and University Leadership
  • Guidance on effective implementation of equity, diversity and inclusion principles in the initiative’s planning and oversight
Strategic Planning

The ISI team will provide facilitation for strategic planning to support initiatives in achieving research excellence, impact, international recognition, and sustainability. Strategic plans will include the following areas: 

  • Vision
  • Value propositions (including areas of expertise and differentiators)
  • Areas of strategic focus
  • Strategic objectives
  • Key performance indicators (KPI) that reflect progress against strategic objectives

Strategic plans will include objectives related to the following items:

  • Increasing research impact
  • Enhancing training opportunities
  • Sustainability – Securing operational, infrastructure, and research funding from industry, government, foundations, and donors
  • Increasing the initiative’s profile – Communicating research and translation impact to raise the profile of the initiative and the University
  • Enhancing equity, diversity, and inclusion in research, membership, programs and training
Branding and Communications Strategy

ISI will work with communications professionals to develop effective branding and communication strategies to raise the profile of the initiative and its members, attract research talent, partnerships, and funding support.

The branding Strategy will include the following elements:

  • Brand Positioning – The initiative’s unique competitive difference and how it is perceived by its audiences. Understanding the initiative’s position in the competitive landscape informs the branding strategy in terms of how integrated marketing communication plans and dedicated campaigns will shift the perception of the initiative. 
  • Communications Objective – The bold goal of the initiative. How is this objective visionary (i.e. to be the leading X in the world; to develop tools/technologies that transform healthcare….)? 
  • Intended Audience – The initiative’s primary and secondary target audiences (i.e. academics, governments, corporate leaders, investors, public, students, etc.)? 
  • Brand Creative Expression – The physical look and emotional tone of your brand 
  • Brand Identity –  The tangible visual elements of the initiative’s brand, including wordmark, colors, templates, etc. that are recognizable in communications and social media (see Appendix II for ISI wordmark approach)

**DO NOT USE THIS ONE**

Governance

  • Governance and oversight models
  • Guidance on successful governance models and support setting up Councils of Deans (including templates for terms of reference, etc.)
  • Guidance on effective implementation of equity, diversity and inclusion principles in the initiative’s planning and oversight

Strategic Planning

Facilitation for strategic planning to support initiatives in achieving research excellence, impact, international recognition, and sustainability. Strategic plans will include the following areas:

  • Vision & value propositions (including areas of expertise and differentiators)
  • Areas of strategic focus
  • Strategic objectives
    • Strategic objectives will be related to the following items:
      • Increasing research impact
      • Enhancing training opportunities
      • Enhancing equity, diversity, and inclusion in research, membership, programs and training
      • Sustainability by securing operational, infrastructure, and research funding from industry, government, foundations, and donors
      • Increasing the initiative’s and the University’s profile by communicating research and translation impact
      • Identifying key performance indicators that reflect progress against strategic objectives

Branding & Communications Strategy

The Institutional Strategic Initiatives team will work with communications professionals to develop effective branding and communication strategies to raise the profile of the initiative and its members, attract research talent, partnerships, and funding support.

Elements of a Branding Strategy

  • Brand Positioning – The initiative’s unique competitive difference and how it is perceived by its audiences
  • Communications Objective – The bold and unique goal of the initiative
  • Intended Audience – The initiative’s primary and secondary target audiences
  • Brand Creative Expression – The physical look and emotional tone of your brand
  • Brand Identity –  The tangible visual elements of the initiative’s brand, including wordmark, colors, and templates

Elements of a Communications Strategy

  • Target Audiences (Stakeholders) – Which audiences are you trying to reach? What does the initiative want from these stakeholders?
  • Key Messages – The compelling messages and information that should be conveyed
  • Communication Channels and Frequency – How to reach the initiative’s stakeholders most effectively
  • Measurement / Evaluation Plan – Quantitative targets to measure the effectiveness of the communications plan

Sustainability Planning

Sustainability planning will be conducted in partnership with the following offices and divisions.

  • Division of University Advancement
    • Identification of potential partnerships, philanthropic donors, funding sources, etc.
  • Governement Relations Office
    • Identification of governmental priorities and funding opportunities
  • Office of the Vice-President International
    • Development of partnerships with international corporations and academic institutions
  • Innovations and Partnerships Office
    • Building industry consortia and relationships with industry, government and community partners
  • Other models: Access to fee-for-service facilities, professional courses, start up accelerators, etc.

Performance and Budget Reporting

The Institutional Strategic Initiative team supports initiatives in reporting on their progress towards their strategic plans, specific objectives, and their research, translation, and training impact.

Assessment of the progress towards the initiative’s strategic plan and the achievement of specific objectives includes:

  • Progress against the initiative’s milestones and deliverables as outlined in the strategic plan
  • Funding secured from the federal tri-agencies (CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC), CFI and other government, industry, foundation, and philanthropic sources
  • A summary of the key problems/ challenges, risks and mitigation strategies

Evaluation of the initiative’s research, translation, and training impact include:

  • The extent to which Institutional Strategic Initiatives funds have furthered research capacity at the University (e.g. new and/or improved research infrastructure, enhancements to the training environment, and the development of partnerships and collaborations)
  • The quality and impact of research outputs from research-related activities and how innovation has been fostered (e.g. new discoveries and insights, publications, conferences, patents, sharing with knowledge users)
  • The impact Institutional Strategic Initiatives funds have had in helping the University to compete and lead on the national and global stage

Staffing

The Institutional Strategic Initiatives portfolio supports the hiring and mentoring of administrative and operational staff to coordinate network activities and work on fostering area-specific advancement and business development opportunities that support the long-term sustainability of funded initiatives.

  • Assistance drafting job descriptions
  • Engagement with the Human Resources & Equity office 
  • Implementation of equity, diversity and inclusion principle

Supports for Academic Leads & Senior Staff

The following supports are provided to funded strategic initiatives:

  • Community of Practice for senior staff
  • Professional development for senior staff
  • Mentorship for academic leads
  • Operational templates (e.g. budget, reporting, etc.)

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

The Institutional Strategic Initiatives team will provide support to ensure equity, diversity, and inclusion priniciples are included in all aspects of the initiative including:

  • Initiative Oversight
  • Research Teams
  • Training Opportunities
  • Communications

Please address questions about the supports provided for existing initiatives to strat.initiatives@utoronto.ca.