Grants for Catalyzing Research Clusters

Fostering collaboration is a central priority in UBC’s new strategic plan (Shaping UBC’s Next Century). The Grants for Catalyzing Research Clusters (GCRC) competition was jointly created by the Offices of the Vice-President, Research & Innovation and the Provost & Vice-President, Academic, UBC Vancouver to enable the formation and growth of interdisciplinary research excellence clusters.

For the purposes of this funding competition, a research excellence cluster is defined as a network of researchers spanning multiple disciplines at UBC who form and nurture interdisciplinary teams that foster partnerships and collaborations, develop new research questions/directions/themes in research creation, address key societal and cultural problems, and work together to solve challenges that transcend traditional boundaries. These awards are specifically targeted to catalyzing research initiatives, thereby enabling clusters to produce a greater impact than would otherwise be possible. Researchers from all disciplines are invited to apply for funding.

GCRC competitions are open to clusters led by researchers at our Vancouver campus and affilaited hospital sites. Clusters being led by researchers at our Okanagan campus can apply for funding through the Eminence program


THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED, the following is provided for information only

There will only be one competition in the winter for 2022/23 GCRC awards. New clusters and eligible clusters funded by previous GCRC competitions are invited to apply.

NOI: November 1, 2021
Full application deadline: January 12, 2022
Information sessions: October 6 and 19, 2021

Information sessions

Information sessions will be held via Zoom on:

  • October 6 from 10-11:30 am, and
  • October 19 from 9:30-11 am


An optional Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Session will be held on November 16 from 9:30-11am for those who submitted an NOI. Registration for this session will open closer to the date.


New online application PROCESS

To apply to the GCRC competition, the cluster lead must log in to VPRI’s new online application system UBC Research + Innovation Apply using their campus wide login (CWL), and follow the instructions provided. Once the full application has been initiated, the cluster lead may invite co-applicants with a CWL to contribute using the “add collaborator” button located in the left side block. Applications can be saved and completed at a later date before final submission, and can be downloaded as a PDF at any time. Each section must be marked as complete before the lead applicant can submit the application.

A completed and signed Research Project Information Form (RPIF) must be uploaded as part of the application.

Researchers are invited to submit an application that demonstrates how the requested funding will be used to create and/or advance a research excellence cluster. Clusters should seek to generate new opportunities for collaborative research, scholarship and/or artistic creation. The outcomes achieved with GCRC funds may vary among applications (e.g., new partnerships, pursuit of increased extramural funding opportunities, international collaborations), and the application should make a strong case for the value of those outcomes to the proposed research cluster, and demonstrate how the funding will be used to achieve them.

Applications include the following components:

  • Notice of Intent (NOI) due Nov 1, 2021
    • An NOI is required but not adjudicated. It is used internally to plan review panels and coordinate potentially overlapping applications. Once the cluster lead submits the NOI, the full application will become available, and is due on Jan 12, 2022. Details of the full application are below. NOIs and full applications are submitted through UBC Research + Innovation Apply
  • Cluster Lead Applicant Information
  • Proposal Narrative
    • Describe research themes, new directions for research, scholarship and/or artistic creation (500 words max).
    • Table of confirmed team members, collaborators, and partners (min 5 people, max 15 people).
    • Description of the role confirmed team members, collaborators and partners will have in the cluster, including suitable measures of the team’s excellence in research, scholarship and/or artistic creation (500 words max).
    • Describe the cluster's commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion as it applies to cluster membership, proposed activities and research themes (300 words max; please refer to our updated GCRC EDI Guide for Applicants).
    • Articulate the cluster's goals and expected outcomes, including a project timeline (500 words max).
    • Describe the cluster’s knowledge exchange activities, including the change or impact desired as a result of the cluster’s research, and identifying target audiences and potential collaborators (300 words max; for additional knowledge exchange resources please see the knowledge exchange resource guide).
    • 1 page max for references and 1 page max for figures and tables uploaded as PDFs (both are optional and have strict formatting instructions that must be adhered to or they will not be reviewed).
  • Budget Justification
  • Trainee Stipend (optional, 500 words max)
    • To enhance training as part of cluster activities, emerging clusters may apply to use up to $30,000 of their cluster award for trainee stipends. Established clusters may apply to use up to $60,000 of their cluster award for trainee stipends. These training activities must support research projects that advance the cluster’s goals and outcomes.
    • Applicants must provide a brief description of the research project(s) and role(s) that the trainee(s) will play in support of your cluster goals and proposed outcome, and how this will mutually benefit both the cluster and the trainee(s); and
    • Provide a brief description of the access the trainee(s) will have to research training support and mentorship, and career development.
  • Outcomes Report (required for all previously funded clusters for their most recent GCRC award). Outcome reports are completed online using UBC Research + Innovation Apply - see a sample outcomes report.
  • Completed and signed Research Project Information Form uploaded as a PDF to UBC Research + Innovation Apply.


The lead applicant must be a UBC Vancouver faculty member eligible to hold Tri-Agency funding. Clusters may include non-faculty researchers, and we encourage clusters to include researchers from both UBC campuses and affiliated hospital sites as appropriate. Researchers may be members of more than one cluster, but may only be the nominated lead on one application per competition. 

Clusters led by faculty members at the Okanagan campus can apply for cluster funding through the Eminence Program.

Currently and previously funded clusters whose project term lengths have ended or will end by March 2022 are eligible to apply.    

All clusters must apply as either an Emerging or Established cluster, and must choose a one- or two-year project term. The two-year term is designed to allow more flexibility for planning and spending an awarded budget. Please note that there is no budget increase if a two-year term is chosen. Applicants selecting a two-year budget term will not be eligible to apply to a potential 2023/24 GCRC competition.

Direct costs of research are ineligible. Clusters may choose to use a portion of their award to support trainees by completing the trainee stipend section of the application. Stipends cannot be applied for following the awarding of GCRC funds.


We invite applications led by PIs from all disciplines who seek to propel their clusters towards global leadership.  Applicants will be asked to self-identify on the application if the proposed cluster is considered as Emerging or Established.

Generalized characteristics and potential catalytic activities are presented here for illustrative purposes:


General characteristics

Examples of catalytic activities

Emerging clusters

 (up to $100k)

  • Key faculty members are emerging as leaders in their field
  • A limited collaborative history with other key members (< 3 years)
  • Demonstration of some knowledge exchange activities
  • Demonstration of a defined pathway for research outcomes to have societal impacts
  • Evidence of a strategy for collaborative group funding
  • Develop group funding proposals
  • Develop research collaborations
  • Initiate and develop partnerships
  • Initiate community engagement opportunities
  • Engage in collaborative activities and/or events with other members


Established clusters

 (up to $200k)

  • Key faculty members are established as leaders in their field
  • Established collaborative history among members (> 3years)
  • Evidence of ongoing and advanced knowledge exchange activities
  • Evidence that research outcomes have societal and/or cultural impacts
  • Evidence of significant collaborative group funding
  • Engage in activities to enhance cluster funding
  • Expand international partnerships
  • Enhance community engagement
  • Partner across sectors to enhance multidisciplinary approach
  • Develop an innovation plan to increase the uptake of research outputs by research users


A total funding envelope of $3.5M is available for this competition. Emerging clusters may request awards up to $100,000 per proposal. Established clusters may apply for awards up to $200,000. Applications must include a strong budget justification that aligns specific activities with goals and expected outcomes. The GCRC review committees will carefully consider each budget item and have the option to recommend funding of only partial budgets, if required.

All applicants will be notified of the competition results in February 2022, and awards will commence in April 2022. Funding must be spent within 1 year of award receipt, or if a two-year term is chosen, clusters must spend at least 30% of their budget by the end of the first year. Successful applicants are required to submit an outcomes report no later than 60 days from the end date of the award. No extensions will be permitted.

The Vice-President, Research & Innovation (VPRI) Office will provide successful clusters with website development (provision of a web template plus development support) and access to specialists in innovation and commercialization. Applications that request funding for these activities must specify why additional support in these areas is required.

Successful clusters will be required to attend a pre-award cluster workshop facilitated by the VPRI Office on February 28, 2022 from 9:00 -11:00 am. Please hold this date and time in your calendars when submitting an application.


Applicants are required to select one of three interdisciplinary review panels (STEM, Health, or Social Sciences, Humanities and Performing & Creative Arts). We recognize that clusters will include members and activities that work across these stated research areas. Applicants are asked to try their best to assign their application to the review panel that best represents the primary research theme and activities of the cluster. If you are uncertain as to which panel you should apply, please contact the Manager, Internal Research Competitions: Stacey Herzer ( in advance of submission to discuss.

Interdisciplinary panels will review applications and make decisions based on merit and the ability to best demonstrate how GCRC funds will be used to develop or expand a research cluster. Specific assessment criteria for both Emerging and Established clusters include:

  • Proposed research addresses one or more complex and important questions facing society, and funding the cluster has the potential for transformative impact
  • Proposal leverages GCRC funding to attract further funding opportunities
  • Proposed collaboration involves multiple disciplines, partners, and/or sectors
  • Research team demonstrates evidence for excellence in research and/or artistic creation
  • Proposed knowledge exchange activities support the stated societal or cultural impacts, and meet the needs of, and involve the targeted stakeholders
  • A commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion reflected in cluster membership and proposed activities through the following:
    • The creation of diverse teams that plan to include a range of gender and sexual identities, career stages, and groups traditionally underrepresented in higher education
    • A commitment to the equitable development and support of all team members
    • The design of cluster activities that ensure team members, collaborators and partners have equal opportunities and access to resources, feel they belong, and are adequately supported and integrated into the team

For additional resources, see the GCRC EDI Guide for Applicants, the EDI Best Practices Guide (developed for the SSHRC New Frontiers in Research Fund competition), and the Support of Researchers – Equity, Diversity and Inclusion webpage on the VPRI website.

Additional criteria for Established clusters include:

  • Demonstrated track record of teamwork (e.g., co-publications, co-supervised students, team grants, etc.)
  • Evidence of previous knowledge exchange accomplishments and a plan for future activities (e.g., community engagement, policy impact, commercialization, etc.)
  • Long-term plan for sustained funding

Additional criteria for the optional Trainee Stipend include:

  • Proposal describes the research project(s) and role(s) that the trainee(s) will play in support of cluster goals and proposed outcomes, and how this will mutually benefit both the cluster and the trainee(s)
  • Proposal describes what the trainee(s) will receive with respect to research training support, mentorship, and career development

Additional criterion for previously funded clusters:

  • The extent to which the outcomes of the previous award have been met or exceeded. If proposed cluster goals have not been met, deviations from expected outcomes and progress towards completing goals need to be well justified

Learn more about the submission and peer-review processes > 


The VP, Research & Innovation Office will be hosting two information sessions on the current competition.  We encourage all groups who are interested in applying for this competition to attend one of these sessions.  

For further information on the GCRC funding competition, contact Stacey Herzer in the VP Research & Innovation Office.


September 29, 2021

Competition Launch

October 6 2021

10:00 am – 11:30 am

(Optional) GCRC Competition Information Session

October 19, 2021

9:30 – 11:00 am

(Optional) GCRC Competition Information Session

November 1, 2021

11:59 pm

Deadline for submitting a notice of intent

November 16, 2021

9:30am- 11:00am

 (Optional) Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Session for GCRC applicants

January 12, 2022

11:59 pm

Deadline for submitting applications

February 28, 2022

9:00 – 11:00 am

[POSTPONED] Pre-award cluster workshop

April 1, 2022

Funds distributed


Application Process and Format