Innovative Clinical Trials Initiative

The SPOR innovative Clinical Trials (iCT) Initiative contributes to increasing Canadian competitiveness in iCT research and provides a stimulus for trialists to adopt new methodologies. It also encourages collaboration with various stakeholders, including patients, decision makers and key stakeholders involved in other elements of SPOR, such as the research networks and the SUPPORT Units.

Innovative clinical trials use designs that are alternative to traditional Randomized Controlled Trials with application in areas ranging from product development to health system improvement. iCT methods can reduce the cost of conducting trials, reduce the amount of time needed to answer research questions, and increase the relevance of research findings to patients, health care providers and policy makers. Adopting these alternative designs can maximize the use of existing knowledge and data.


The objectives of the SPOR iCT Initiative are to:

  1. Build capacity in iCT by:
    1. Attracting Canadian clinical investigators with a focus on shifting their research programs to include innovative methodologies and adopt the principles of SPOR; and,
    2. Enhancing Canada’s capacity and expertise in innovative and cost-effective trial methodologies.
  2. Increase the intensity of iCT research nationally.

Funding opportunities

The iCT Initiative aims to build capacity through catalyst grants, mentorship chairs, and ongoing multi-year grants to expand the spectrum of innovative clinical trials research.

The SPOR iCT Initiative includes the following types of opportunities (but please note that specific information regarding timelines and available funding will only be provided in the individual funding opportunities posted on ResearchNet):

  • Catalyst Grants – These opportunities will provide seed funding for novel research perspectives. These are short-term grants to support research capacity building in iCTs in early research stages which could be useful for researchers to demonstrate sufficient potential and apply to operating grants. Applicants developing new and transformative methods relevant to iCTs, with the potential to generate high impact results, are highly encouraged to consider applying to this opportunity. Matching funds will not be required for this opportunity.
  • Mentorship Chairs – This opportunity aims to develop capacity in iCT through provision of salary and operating funds. Its intent is to attract investigators with experience/interest in iCT and patient-oriented research and will have a strong focus on mentorship.
  • Multi-Year Grants – These opportunities will allow researchers to build/develop/improve leadership and research planning. Multi-year funding is an effective way to achieve long-term goals and eliminate a lengthy start-and-stop process that can be imposed by shorter-term grants, allowing more stability and greater staff retention. As a result, researchers can continue to develop, master, and advance new methods and protocols.

Rewarding Success Initiative

To change the paradigm of how research is rewarded, CIHR designed a new funding model that will reward success as a means of incentivizing research teams and their healthcare partners to enhance value-based care, health system sustainability, and health outcomes. Teams will take advantage of innovative clinical trial  (iCT) designs to institute complex interventions that will allow them to fail fast and iterate to improve the likelihood of success. Use of an iCT design will also enable unambiguous attribution of the effect of the intervention(s) employed to improve value and efficiency in health care.

For more information, please consult the Rewarding Success Initiative page.

Frequently Asked Questions

This series of frequently asked questions (FAQs) is meant to provide detailed information pertaining to the iCT initiative and the associated funding opportunities.

If you have any questions that are not addressed in the FAQs, please contact the CIHR Contact Center at

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