Catalyst Grant Funding

2023 Catalyst Grant Competition - Closed

"Innovations That Make a Difference"

The Edwin S.H. Leong Centre for Healthy Children (Leong Centre) at The Hospital for Sick Children and the University of Toronto is committed to supporting multi-disciplinary teams of investigators to seize upon their most innovative, disruptive ideas and new avenues of inquiry that will have a major impact on child health equity. The theme of this year's annual competition is "Innovations that make a Difference”.

Catalyst grants will be awarded to pilot or evaluate innovative interventions that can potentially lead to larger scale randomized trial applications related to child health, in both clinical and non-clinical settings. We seek to catalyze innovative responses to child and family health needs be it by increasing access to healthcare programs or other services or addressing specific needs for those who are impacted by structural and social determinants of health. A preference will be given to those projects that use new technologies or innovations.

Some examples of projects of interest include, but not limited to:

  • Useability or feasibility testing of artificial intelligence-powered translation devices to facilitate healthcare encounters and minimize caregiver language barriers
  • Assessing health outcomes of a childhood literacy support program
  • Piloting “social prescribing” initiatives
  • Evaluating financial navigation supports in clinical settings

Application Process

Awards will be granted following rigorous peer review by a Selection Committee drawn from across the University of Toronto and The Hospital for Sick Children. In advance of reviewing full applications, there will be a Letter of Intent (LOI) stage to assess potential applications for relevance and to help foster potential collaboration of groups working on similar proposals.

Funding Request Guidelines

The proposed project must address the impact of the innovation on improving the health and well-being of children and their families, in the context of known health inequities. Proposals that leverage additional funding opportunities (e.g., private/public partnerships) are welcome, although stand-alone funding requests will be considered.

Prioritization will be considered for proposals that:

  • Bring different disciplines and/or stakeholders to tackle complex problems using innovative approaches.
  • Have the potential for spread and scale.

Applicants can request funding of up to $75,000 total for up to 2 years, with priority given to projects that can be completed in 1 year. Grants needing smaller amounts are very welcome and the committee will try to fund as many high-quality projects as possible. In exceptional circumstances, the maximum budget requested can be up to $125,000 for larger scope projects.

Eligibility & Allowable Expenses 

  • Principal Investigators must hold a faculty level appointment at the University of Toronto and be eligible to hold grants. Students, trainees and fellows without staff appointments may be listed as co-applicants or team members but cannot apply as principal applicants.
  • Principal Investigators and all team members must first register as Leong Centre members in order to qualify for funding.
  • More than one application can be submitted by the same applicant; however, priority will be given to funding as many distinct research groups as possible. A condition of the grant is that investigators commit to present findings at Leong Centre Rounds and include acknowledgement of the Edwin S.H. Leong Centre for Healthy Children in all associated presentations and publications.
  • Applicants successful at the LOI stage must submit a completed application by the deadline, using the template provided to Confirmations of receipt will be sent. 
  • Applications must include the project outline, detailed budget and alignment with Leong Centre vision. Incomplete or late applications will not be accepted.
  • Awards will be provided at the discretion of the Selection Committee and based on the grant criteria and the innovative nature of the project submissions.
  • Allowable expenses include trainee salaries, conferences and knowledge translation activities, equipment and open access journal fees, in adherence with the Tri-Agency (CIHR, NSERC & SSHRC) Financial Administration Guide.

Funding Request Process 

Letter of Intent – Due Friday November 3, 2023 - 12pm (noon) ET 

Full Application – Due Friday January 12, 2024  - 12pm (noon) ET

For applications successful at the Letter of Intent stage, the invited deadline for Full Applications is Friday January 12, 2024. Notice of awards will be delivered in March 2024.

Adjudication Process 

  • Letters of Intent will be reviewed by the leadership of the Leong Centre, who will then decide on invitations to submit a Full Application.
  • Full Applications will be reviewed by a Selection Committee; ad hoc reviewers may be included in the review process as subject matter experts. Each application will be reviewed by at least 1 primary reviewer and 1 secondary reviewer, depending on the number of submissions received and scored according to a standardized set of award criteria:
    • Innovative
    • Addresses issues related to the health and well-being of children and youth, particularly as it relates to equity
    • Has scientific merit
    • Feasibility
    • Quality and breadth of team
    • Relevance to the vision of the Leong Centre
  • If a Selection Committee member wishes to apply, they will be excused from the adjudication process for that application and a replacement Committee member will be appointed.
  • Multi-disciplinary research is strongly encouraged including involvement of team members outside of the department or faculty of the Principal Investigator.


Past Competition Themes

2022: “Data Impact for Children’s Health and Equity” 

2021: "Engaged Research for Child Health Equity"

2020: "Equity in the health and well-being of children and their families in the context of COVID-19"