Spark Grants

What is a Spark Grant?

The Faculty of Environment’s Spark Grants are small grants ($3,000 max) to spark new research ideas and activities, and support creating collaborations between our Faculty’s researchers and their research partners. Spark Grants focus on supporting research development and pre-research activities that can lead to securing external grant funding and/or producing impactful collaborations. Spark Grants support the Faculty of Environment’s research community by providing this funding with minimal barriers in a time-sensitive fashion.

This funding is available throughout the year, with approximately $20,000 each semester with a maximum of $60,000 per year. Funds will be dispersed until the semesterly (and annual) allocation is reached.

Who in the Faculty of Enviornment is eligible to apply?

We welcome applications from:

  • Tenure-track faculty members (e.g., Assistant, Associate, Full Professors);
  • Limited-term faculty members (e.g., Professors of Professional Practice, etc.); and
  • Lecturers and Senior Lecturers (continuing appointments) with research programs.

Professors emeriti, visiting faculty, post-doctoral fellows, sessional instructors/lecturers, graduate students, research associates, adjunct faculty and staff are not eligible to apply.

Eligible lead applicants can submit one application per academic year and awardees can hold a Spark Grant once every three (3) years.

What activities do Spark Grants support?

Spark Grants are intended to support new research ideas and activities, and to encourage collaborations with partners across a broad spectrum. These grants seek to respond to the rapidly shifting research environment, and the need to adapt and take advantage of new research opportunities as they arise. They also provide reasonably accessible funds that can be leveraged by Faculty of Environment researchers in applications for external grant funding.  

Some examples of activities Spark Grants might fund include – but are not limited to:

  • Responding to urgent and time-sensitive research development opportunities, such as an exploratory visit to a new field site or swift collection of timely preliminary data needed to build a case for continued exploration;
  • Relationship-building activities with community partners that can lead to building engaged research partnerships;
  • Establishing or expanding scholarly collaborations and/or professional networks in ways that are directly relevant to establishing new research (e.g., in-person meetings with researchers from other institutions to co-develop new projects, etc.);
  • Planning activities to support the development of a new funding proposal (e.g., scoping/literature review, gathering archival materials, etc.).

Spark Grants are not intended to replace supports that are already available through University programs (e.g., VPR Travel Grants, University Publication Funds, ACERS Research Reconnaissance Travel Grant, etc.).

How will Spark Grants be reviewed?

We will accept applications on a rolling basis - until the semesterly (and annual) allocations are reached. Spark Grant applications will be reviewed by appropriate members of the Faculty of Environment’s Dean’s Office and will be assessed based on their potential to spark new research directions and/or collaborations that will lead to new external funding or funding-relevant outputs such as community partnerships. Decisions will be made within ten (10) business days from the time of receipt of proposals. Awardees are asked to spend the awarded funds within one year of the date of the award.

Due to the ease of the application process and immediate responsiveness of the funding, we ask that you submit a Spark Grant application only at the point at which research development funding is needed (i.e., up to 4 months in advance of need). In addition, please only request the amount of funding that is needed, and justify in detail accordingly. This will allow funds to be distributed across the Faculty of Environment without clustering applications, and will support a larger number of applications to be funded. Applications which do not follow these principles may be ranked less favourably.

How to apply

The maximum funding request for a Spark Grant is $3,000.

As these grants are meant to be timely, the application process is designed to be simple. We require:

  • A lead investigator to be identified (name, affiliation);
  • Proposal title;
  • A 300-word summary of the research activities to be undertaken;
  • (if applicable) a list of research partners/collaborators;
  • A 100-word statement of expected outcomes and/or knowledge mobilization;
  • A brief budget description and justification;
  • Whether ethics/biohazard/animal certificates are required;
  • Identification of external funding opportunities that are relevant to your research development activities; and
  • A summary report due 90 days after the completion of the 4-month research activity period.

Eligible expenses for Spark Grants will follow the Tri-Agency Financial Administration Guide, which reflects the rules and guidelines of all three federal grant agencies (i.e., SSHRC, NSERC, CIHR). Please refer to the guidelines for eligible and non-eligible expenses. Grant recipients maintain the right to use purchased equipment for the duration of their affiliation with the Faculty of Environment. Decisions on the use, management, and ownership of equipment will be made between the Dean’s Office and the grant recipient, with the Dean acting as final authority in the decision-making process.

Applicants are encouraged to prepare applications materials in any word processing software (e.g., Word, Google Docs, etc.) before entering into the application webform to ensure formatting and word count limits. If you have any questions regarding the application, please reach out to our research facilitator ( for assistance.