Graham Seed Fund

Graham Seed Fund

The Graham Seed Fund (GSF) is designed to broadly encourage innovative health-care solutions to challenges of today and tomorrow. The GSF seeks to leverage and build health system partnerships by providing resources for collaborating directly with a full range of health providers and clinicians. It is anticipated that this collaborative, interdisciplinary model will help to quickly advance solutions for challenging areas in health technology.

This five-year initiative (2022-2026) responds to one of University of Waterloo’s strategic priorities of creating a globally recognized hub for innovative and transformative health technologies. With funding made possible from the J.W. Graham Trust Endowment Fund, the GSF is intended to cover the cost of hiring highly qualified personnel (HQP), with the aim of leveraging the seed funding through external granting agencies and organizations.

The first round of applications focused on engagement with healthcare partners and potential collaborations across disciplines and/or faculties at Waterloo, across NSERC/CIHR/SSHRC related fields and/or on a regional, national, or global level. The second round will centre on strengthening Waterloo’s position in the community by emphasizing partnerships with Grand River Hospital, St. Mary’s General Hospital, Cambridge Memorial Hospital (local hospitals) and member organizations of the KW4 Ontario Health Team. This opportunity is for all faculties at the University of Waterloo, with early-career researchers strongly encouraged to lead the applications.

Research focus areas

Proposals are encouraged that focus on the following areas: 

  • Assistive technology
  • Community-based health care delivery with technology or data
  • Health data, data science applied to health, AI approaches to health
  • Health technology, data and ethics
  • Health technology or health data innovation
  • Human-centred health
  • Point-of-care diagnostics
  • Therapeutic robotics
  • Virtual care
  • Wearable technology

We strongly encourage and prioritize proposals that create and/or increase equitable access to healthcare for marginalized and under-served populations. To maximize interdisciplinary exchange and collaboration on health transformation through technology, we encourage projects that leverage and build health system partnerships including patients, patient families, the public, academics, clinicians and healthcare providers. Collaborations across disciplines, faculties, departments and NSERC/CIHR/SSHRC related fields are strongly encouraged. Note that the GSF supports only new projects, initiatives and activities.

NEW Health care partners’ areas of focus

The research project must include collaborations with at least one of the three hospitals, Grand River Hospital, St. Mary’s General Hospital, and Cambridge Memorial Hospital, and member organizations of the KW4 Ontario Health Team. As part of the research team, these clinical, healthcare, community and patient collaborators should activelyengage in defining the research question, the design of the study, and/or the knowledge mobilization plan.  Priority will be given to projects that connect with the areas of focus identified by these partners which include:

  • Innovative ways to reduce the administrative burden of health-care workers 
  • Innovative ways of reducing the time spent by health care workers on non-clinical duties (equipment tracking is one of these concerns) 
  • Improved communication 
  • Innovative ways to improve the recruitment and onboarding of health-care workers 
  • Innovative ways to improved primary care capacity –innovative ways to increase their capacity to take on more patients.
  • Innovative ways to improve access to services for marginalized populations
  • Innovative ways to improve navigation services-working with the hospitals to determine how to create secure messaging between hospitals and primary care providers
  • Innovative ways to improve access to and coordination of mental health services

For a more comprehensive list of health-care partner priorities, please visit the Graham Seed Fund SharePoint site.


The GSF has a total annual funding envelope of up to $235,000 per year over five years (2022-2026). There is one cycle of funding per year, starting in the Fall. If funds remain, a mid-year competition may be held. The GSF provides funding in the amount of up to $25,000 per project for a one-year period, with a one-year no-cost extension available on request. Projects funded under GSF are expected to lead to other sources of follow-on external funding.

Allowable expenses

The fund is primarily intended to cover the cost of hiring HQP. The allowable expenses are direct costs related to the research project including:

  • Salaries, benefits and student payments;
  • Costs to support the participation of clinicians, patients or community members in the research;
  • Minor equipment;
  • Materials and supplies; and 
  • Travel and knowledge mobilization.

Application dates

The second cycle opens on Tuesday, October 17, 2023, with all applications submitted to  by Monday, December 18, 2023, at 11:59 p.m. ET, with the subject header “GSF2023 Application – Round 2”. Primary applicants will receive acknowledgment of receipt within one week of submission. Late submissions will not be accepted. There is a networking event with health-care partners, clinicians and researchers on Friday, October 27, 2023, in the Enterprise Theatre, East Campus 5 (EC5), Room 1111, from 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. Register to attend. If you miss the networking event, you can find a copy of the slides at the Graham Seed Fund SharePoint site. Primary applicants will receive written notice of the decision in February 2024.


This opportunity is applicable to all Faculties at Waterloo. The primary applicant or principal investigator (PI) must be a tenured or tenure-track faculty member or hold a definite term research professor appointment, where the primary affiliation is with the University of Waterloo. With the goal of developing talent, teams are encouraged to nominate early career researchers at the lead PI.

The research project must include collaborations with at least one of 4 partnering institutions (Grand River Hospital, St. Mary’s General Hospital, Cambridge Memorial Hospital, and KW4 Ontario Health Team). The proposal must demonstrate partner engagement throughout the design of the research and include a solid plan to continue engagement and mobilize knowledge with the partner.  Priority will be given to projects that align with these partners’ identified areas of focus.

Note that a PI can apply as a lead for only one proposal within a cycle. However, there is no limit to the number of proposals on which they are listed as collaborators. PIs who currently hold a GSF award are not eligible to apply for another award. However, they can be listed as collaborators on proposals. All proposals should include specific short to medium term objectives, evidence of detailed planning including community engagement in the choice of the research project, sound budget justification, intended approaches including community involvement in the research, milestones, deliverables, plans for appropriate knowledge sharing both scientific and with community partners, and plans to advance the project through future research and funding. Review the evaluation criteria below for the key elements of a successful project.

NEW Application and proposal requirements

The application package includes the following:

The main proposal must be a maximum of 8 pages, including tables, charts, graphs, diagrams and illustrations. There is no page limit for project references. Use language that can be understood by a multidisciplinary review panel. Note that the proposal

  • pages must be 8 1/2" x 11" (216 mm x 279 mm)
  • text must use the 11-point Arial font; no condensed fonts
  • text must be single-spaced, with no more than six lines per inch; and
  • page margins must be set at a minimum of 3/4” (1.87 cm)

Complete and submit the Electronic Coversheet for Sponsored Research for approvals prior to submission of the proposal. Do not send a copy of the approved coversheet with the application. In the proposal form, state whether the coversheet has been approved or is in the process of approval.

Submit your proposals electronically using the Waterloo Grants Portal System by Monday, December 18, 2023, 11:59 PM ET. Request a user account from to be able to submit a proposal. For a step-by-step process on submitting your application, visit the electronic submission guide.

Evaluation criteria

Applications will be evaluated by an internal review committee and scored based on the following criteria:

  • Applications will be evaluated by an internal review committee and scored based on the following criteria:

  • Demonstrated relevance to GSF’s objectives and supported research areas
  • Demonstrated alignment with partners’ areas of focus
  • Engagement with healthcare providers, clinicians, patients and/or family member participants in the region of Waterloo
  • Interdisciplinarity of the team– potential collaborations across disciplines and/or Faculties at Waterloo, across NSERC/CIHR/SSHRC related fields
  • Knowledge mobilization and translation throughout the research project. Applicants are encouraged to consult the following sources to review good practices in knowledge mobilization and translation such as SSHRC’s Guidelines for Effective Knowledge Mobilization and CIHR’s Guide to Knowledge Translation Planning at CIHR: Integrated and End-of-Grant Approaches
  • At least one training opportunity (i.e., undergraduate, graduate or postdoctoral involvement, community partners, clinicians, external partners)
  • Clear description of the appropriate use of the requested funds (i.e., dollar amount requested should match the scale of activities planned, and the budget outlined should clearly explain how funds will be used)
  • Clear description of how a seed fund award will help facilitate future external funding. A plan for applying for external funding should be clearly outlined

Review committee

A multidisciplinary review committee will be appointed by the Associate Vice-President, Health Initiatives to review applications. The reviewers may include members of the J.W. Graham Trust Committee, Waterloo researchers, and clinical and healthcare partners. Any conflicts of interest will be declared in advance (i.e., co-applicants, primary applicant from own department, etc.) and reviewers will not participate in discussions or decisions related to applications for which they have a conflict of interest. Refer to Waterloo’s Policy 69 on conflict of interest for guidance.

Decision process

Applications will be scored according to the stated evaluation criteria and the alignment with the GSF objectives.  Applicants should be aware that this is a multidisciplinary review committee, and the focus is on identifying projects of strategic importance that can change health-care delivery in the future with technology and strengthen Waterloo relationships with our health-care partners.  While scientific excellence is important, it cannot be guaranteed that proposals will be evaluated by people with expertise in your discipline so the onus is on the applicants to justify their scientific advances with arguments that a multidisciplinary committee would appreciate. Approved applications will be ranked from highest score to lowest score. Note that projects involving Indigenous research will also undergo an Indigenous review.

Independent of the Waterloo proposal review, health-care partners will be informed of all projects where they are listed as a collaborator. The partner will be asked to confirm their capacity to support the project and, in the case of multiple projects, will provide a confidential ranking of their own projects to the Associate Vice President, Health Initiatives.  The review committee ranking, and the partner rankings will be combined to develop a joint score to ensure the projects that are funded are strong proposals, well aligned with partner priorities.  Based on this joint score, funds will be awarded as requested (to a maximum of $25,000 per application), starting with the highest-ranked application and moving down the list until all approved applications are funded or funds are depleted, whichever comes first.  Primary applicants will receive written notice of the decision.

Program requirements

Successful applicants are required to:

  • Participate in a research event or symposium for GSF recipients
  • Participate on a review committee for future GSF proposals

Reporting requirements

GSF recipients are required to:

  • Report outcomes or milestones resulting from the award. A brief narrative report will be requested at the middle and end of the funding period (i.e., description of the use of funds, update on the team, progress towards external funding, milestones achieved, scholarly outputs, industry engagement, EDI goals, knowledge mobilization, etc.) and further follow-up will occur to track the outcomes of external funding applications. A reporting form will be provided
  • Provide electronic copies of all papers, IP, talks and theses that acknowledge J.W. Graham Trust support via email at Where appropriate these should be accompanied with a brief description and representative figure to enable research translation to a broader audience including non-scientists

Funding acknowledgment

Successful applicants must acknowledge funding support from the J.W. Graham Trust in all public announcements, presentations and/or publications related to their funded project. 

Suggested acknowledgment statements:

This research was supported by the  J.W. Graham Trust at the University of Waterloo.

This research was undertaken thanks in part to funding from the J.W. Graham Trust at the University of Waterloo.

Ethics requirements

Where applicable and consistent with the University of Waterloo's Guidelines on Research Involving Human Participants and/or Guidelines for the Care and Use of Animals in Research and Teaching, projects must undergo prior ethics review and clearance through the Office of Research Ethics (ORE). This requirement applies to all research involving humans or live, non-human vertebrate animals regardless of whether the procedures used are invasive or non-invasive. Where applicable, funds will only be transferred after receipt of ethics certification. For information on the ethics process when partnering with hospitals, consult the Waterloo and Waterloo Wellington Research Ethics Board (WWREB) co-ordinated ethics review process.

Acknowledgement of responsibility

Prior to the release of funds, the PI as well as the applicable chair/director must sign an agreement.

Key measures of success for the GSF Program

The GSF will maintain a list of milestones, outputs and impact of the recipients for annual reporting to the J.W. Graham Trust. Performance will be monitored for funded projects, where primary applicants will report outcomes and address milestones biannually. Some of the metrics for measuring success of the program are provided below.

Area Indicators
Research excellence in transformative health technologies Publications and scholarly outputs
New innovative research projects, areas or approaches
Follow-on external funding
Talent (teams) Faculty engaged in GSF related research
Graduate and undergraduate students supported by GSF
Engagement of HQP in publications and knowledge mobilization
Participation of non-academic collaborators and partners, particularly clinicians, and healthcare providers
Knowledge for society Engagement with clinicians and healthcare providers 
Communications, briefs and knowledge exchanges with knowledge users
Attraction of follow-on external funding from diverse sources


For more information, please contact

For assistance on developing collaborative research partnerships with clinicians and healthcare providers, please contact Nadine Quehl, Senior Manager, Knowledge Mobilization and Partnerships ( for local hospitals and Yibei Zhao, Research Development Officer, Health Initiatives ( for the KW4 Ontario Health Team.

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