Accelerator Internal Granting Program

*In July 2020, a number of changes were made to the program, including offering only a two-year stream and adding an EDI Action Plan requirement - you can see slides from an August townhall here. Please see updated guidelines and forms for full details.

* COVID-19 update on the BrainsCAN Accelerator Program

We are excited to be offering this internal funding opportunity arising from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF) supported BrainsCAN Initiative. CFREF invests approximately $200 million per year to support Canada’s postsecondary institutions in their efforts to become global research leaders.

The Accelerator Program is purposefully designed to push the limits of cognitive neuroscience and transform its landscape by supporting high-risk/high-reward research programs and helping them move forwards to become more competitive in traditional funding channels.

Once you’ve identified your transformational research concept, you can proceed with a targeted two year Accelerator Grant. The project should be focused on the aspect of the overall research program that is foundational to its overall success, and that might well be high-risk. It is the aspect with the most uncertainty. It is likely that many of the funded projects will not proceed beyond this phase. However, those projects that show success in the two years are ideally positioned to expand their research to a scale capable of producing substantial impact in the field of cognitive neuroscience, via typical external funding sources.

In summary, an Accelerator Grant addresses the key obstacle that needs to be proven to demonstrate the feasibility and allow a larger, transformative program to proceed. These full research programs raise the calibre of Western neuroscience to the highest international level, radically transform our understanding of the brain, significantly reduce the impact of cognitive disorders, and influence clinical practice and public policy through top-quality evidence.


The Program is currently chaired by Dr Pruzsynski who assembles a review panel for each call that reflects the diversity of applications submitted as LOIs.

Each application has three reviewers with at least one external (to Western) reviewer and one internal reviewer. Once the review panel has reached a consensus the rankings are anonymized and presented by the Internal Funding Chair to the Executive Committee (EC) at an in-person meeting for approval with a recommendation for the funding line cut-off. If Chair or EC member is in conflict, they are not party to the discussions. Once the funding line is set the EC members without COIs are unblinded. This is to address any specific concerns brought up by the panel that require grant details, as well as to confirm compliance with CFREF regulations.

Contact Information:

This program is administered through BrainsCAN's Support Team. Please email any questions to