Climate Action Genomics Initiative – Climate Smart Agriculture and Food Systems – Interdisciplinary Challenge Teams-Ontario Genomics- 2022/2023

Updated Information

Link added for the informational webinar held on May 20, 2022. View the webinar here.


Genome Canada (c/o Ontario Genomics)


Interdisciplinary Challenge Teams 

For More Information

For additional information, please visit the program guidelines from Ontario Genomics. 

Ontario Genomics hosted an informational webinar on May 30, 2022 to provide further information on this funding opportunity. Please visit the webinar recording page to view. 


Genome Canada is launching a new Climate Action Genomics Initiative funding opportunity in May 2022.

Climate change poses a significant risk to our agricultural systems, impacting the availability of food and other vital resources, from fuels to the raw materials used to develop everyday products. The Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act calls for ambitious action to reduce emissions in the agriculture sector. New technologies, products and approaches are required to reduce emissions while maintaining productivity and competitiveness given Canada’s global leadership in feeding the world. Canada’s food systems and other agriculture processes must be resilient and sustainable given global shifts in environmental, geopolitical and climate conditions. In response to this major challenge, Genome Canada’s latest large-scale genomics initiative supports climate change mitigation and adaptation through strategic investments in climate-smart agriculture and food systems.

The new opportunity, called the Climate-Smart Agriculture and Food Systems initiative, is investing $30M in cutting-edge genomic research and innovation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the carbon footprint of Canada’s food production systems—building their resiliency, environmental sustainability and economic viability. A distinguishing feature of the Initiative is that it funds a portfolio of interdisciplinary projects and helps coordinate and connect their efforts with cross-cutting programs for knowledge mobilization, data coordination and implementation across Canada. This portfolio approach allows benefits from one solution to translate into other food production systems or supply chains and cascade impact throughout the broader food system. The Initiative will deploy a number of funding opportunities that will make up the portfolio.

At the outset, these will include:

  • Funding for Interdisciplinary Challenge Teams (open now).
  • Funding for a Data Coordination Centre (coming in summer 2022).
  • Funding for a Knowledge Mobilization and Implementation Coordination Centre (coming in summer 2022).

Genome Canada is looking forward to working with diverse partners—including academic, public, private, industry and non-profit players—in funding a portfolio of genomics research and innovation projects that deliver solutions to reduce the carbon footprint of Canada’s food production systems. 


Each proposal will be reviewed for eligibility at each stage of the application process. The following criteria will be used:

  • Does the proposal respond to the program objectives?
  • Does the proposal include genomics approaches as essential components in terms of importance to the overall project outcomes?
  • Does the proposal include GE3LS research, whether as the major focus or as an integrated component?
  • Does the proposal’s scale and scope enable it to address challenges requiring a genomics approach, compete internationally and make a major impact?

ICTs must focus on the use of genomic approaches to deliver genomic tools and technologies that mitigate the impacts of climate change and ensure Canada’s food systems are resilient, economically viable and environmentally sustainable. To be eligible, projects must demonstrate how genomic technologies have the potential to address one or more of the following impact areas:

  • Reduced greenhouse gas emissions and carbon footprint from food production and inputs manufacturing.
  • Enhanced carbon sequestration to improve performance, mitigate climate impacts and support healthy ecosystems.
  • Resilient and sustainable food systems that reduce environmental impacts and greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Novel nature-based solutions and processes that can replace traditional consumptive production processes with sustainable and circular solutions for the environment and economy.

While projects can seek to increase the productivity of an agriculture or food production system, this increase must not come at the cost of a net increase in emissions, increased use of inputs, or unintended disturbance of natural landscapes. This competition provides an opportunity for research teams to propose large-scale projects that would be part of even larger national and international research initiatives, as long as the eligibility criteria are met. 

Please see the program guidelines for more details on eligible research areas. 

Funding Availability

There is approximately $24 million available for the Interdisciplinary Challenge Teams from Genome Canada. Genome Canada’s maximum contribution to an approved project will be $3 million. There must be a minimum contribution of $1 million from Genome Canada to each approved project.

A project’s eligible costs must be co-funded from eligible sources such that the co-funding is at least equal to the Genome Canada contribution. Successful teams will be awarded funding for a term of up to four years. It is anticipated that eight to ten Interdisciplinary Challenge Teams will be funded as part of the initiative portfolio. The portfolio will also include a Data Coordinating Centre as well as a Knowledge Mobilization and Implementation Coordinating Centre.

Indirect Costs


Special Notes

Please note that research activities carried out in the context of COVID-19 need to adhere to the University of Guelph COVID-19 research principles, policies, guidelines and processes as they may be updated from time to time and communicated on the Office of Research web-page.


If College-level review is required, your College will communicate its earlier internal deadlines.

External Deadline

Ontario Genomics will be hosting an informational webinar on May 30, 2022 at 10:00 AM to provide further information on this funding opportunity. Call details (ZOOM) will be sent to all registrants.

Please visit the webinar recording page to view. 


External Deadline

Draft registration due to OG (optional).

External Deadline

Deadline for submitting registration to OG.

External Deadline

Draft LOIs due to OG.

Internal Deadline

Please submit your LOI along with an OR-5 form to

External Deadline

Deadline for submitting LOI to OG.

Internal Deadline

Please submit your full application including budget and appendices to

External Deadline

Deadline for submitting full application to OG.

How to Apply

Applicants are required to apply for funding through their regional Genome Centre. The application process comprises three steps: registration, Letter of Intent (LOI) and full application. Both the LOI and full application steps will include an element of portfolio review. 

A brief registration form via Survey Monkey will be used to indicate each applicant’s interest in applying to the competition. Please contact Laura Riley at to express your interest in applying and she will provide the necessary link. The registration will include applicant information, a brief description of the project—including integrated GE3LS, research methodologies and technologies—expected deliverables, approximate budget and suggested reviewers. Registration enables an eligibility check and facilitates the early selection of reviewers for the peer review process. Information from eligible registrations—that is, the name(s) of project leader(s), lead institution, title of project and a brief project description—will be posted on the Genome Canada website so researchers can identify areas of potential synergy between proposals across the country and consider engaging with others on common projects. Virtual information sessions with members of the eligible registered Interdisciplinary Challenge Teams will be organized and delivered in conjunction with the Genome Centres. These sessions will focus on the objectives of the Initiative and ICT program as well as the project and portfolio review processes and review criteria, and will provide a further opportunity for teams to come together.

Letter of Intent

For the LOI, applicants will be asked to submit a short description of:

  • The proposed research plan, including integrated GE3LS research.
  • How the team will engage users in the project.
  • The expected deliverables of the research.
  • The potential impact and benefits for Canada.

LOIs will be reviewed in two stages.

  • The first stage will involve an initial review that will be done by a college of reviewers (all subject matter experts). These reviewers will focus on the quality of the research plan and the potential benefits for Canada. Reviews will rate the quality of the research proposal and potential for benefits. A ranking of the LOIs will be prepared. The LOIs with the lowest scores will not be considered further.
  • The second stage will involve review by a committee with broad expertise in research, portfolio design and management, mission-oriented innovation policy, and climate change policies. This second stage will consider the reviews from the first stage and finalize the assessment of the LOIs based on the quality of the research plans and their potential benefits. This committee will also carry out an initial review based on the portfolio selection criteria: the potential for synergy across a diversity of topic areas, technologies and teams; the potential for building on regional priorities for national impact; and the potential for effective coordination.

Only those LOIs that have demonstrated the best combination of quality of research, potential for impact and benefits for Canada, and potential for being part of a portfolio (see Section 7, Portfolio considerations) will be invited to submit a full application. Information from approved LOIs will be posted on the Genome Canada website, including the names of project leaders and lead institutions, project titles and abstracts.  

Full Application 

Applicants who succeed at the LOI stage will be asked to submit a full application. Full applications must address the evaluation criteria for individual projects established for the competition—that is, quality of the research proposal, impact and benefits for Canada, and management and financial competency. The projects considered the most meritorious will be considered for inclusion in the portfolio.

Review as individual projects-  A multidisciplinary committee of experts with expertise in assessing all of the review criteria will review applications. It is expected that the review committee will meet with and interview representatives from each project through virtual or in-person meetings. Projects that best meet the competition’s criteria will advance to the portfolio selection stage.

Portfolio review - The portfolio selection committeewith broad expertise in research, portfolio design and management, mission-oriented innovation policy, and climate change policies—will select the final portfolio of Interdisciplinary Challenge Team projects. The committee will base its selection on the potential for synergy across a diversity of topic areas, technologies and teams; the potential for building on regional priorities for national impact; and the potential for effective coordination. The committee is accountable for recommending the component Interdisciplinary Challenge Teams at the core of the portfolio to Genome Canada’s Board of Directors for decision.

Information For Co-applicants

If you need to meet a deadline set by the lead institution for this opportunity, please ensure that you provide the Office of Research with at least five days in advance of the lead institution’s deadline to review the application, or your proposed component of the project. Please be in touch with the Office of Research (contact information below) ahead of the deadline if it looks like it will be difficult for you to submit all the required documentation on time (i.e. budget, proposal, OR-5 Form).

For Questions, please contact

Ontario Genomics
Laura Riley 
Manager, Sector Innovation & Programs

Research Innovation Office
Gregor Lawson
Industry Liaison Manager 

Office of Research

Devon Staaf, Senior Grants and Contracts Specialist
Office of Research Services

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