Health Research Week is here, and we are taking the opportunity to provide an annual update on all things 'SHRF'! Continue reading to learn more about SHRF's 20th anniversary, funding program updates, and changes to our CV process.
SHRF Turns 20!
This year marks SHRF's 20th year of existence and operation in Saskatchewan! First established by an act of legislature in 2003, SHRF was established to:
Seek and receive funding to support health research;
Encourage and facilitate health research in Saskatchewan;
Fund research; and
Disseminate information about funded research.
SHRF's first Establishment Grants were awarded in the summer of 2003.
20 years later, and following an organizational strategic update to improve our research funding opportunities and administrative processes, SHRF has a renewed commitment to our core values of:
SHRF's strategic update was a gradual and collaborative process. Throughout 2019-2022, we held listening sessions, and consulted with the research community, our partners and the SHRF Board. This input was instrumental in shaping SHRF's program objectives and requirements, and laid a guiding path forward. We would like to extend our thanks to all those who participated, and continue to participate in, these consultations.
While many of the changes to SHRF's suite of programs have already been implemented (SHRF Announces First New Program After Refresh, SHRF Offers New Funding Program to Align Research with Needs of Saskatchewan), we wanted to use our 20th anniversary as an opportunity to summarize these changes and their context for the Saskatchewan research community, as well as to introduce our plan for the 2023-24 fiscal year. At the same time, SHRF's activities and priorities are always open to continuous improvement, framed by our mandate, strategic objectives and program goals.
Part of SHRF's strategic update was a 'programs refresh'. This refresh reflected the value SHRF places on supporting and encouraging new health researchers as they build their careers in Saskatchewan. It also encompasses the importance of building effective collaborations that address pressing local needs, finding highly-qualified personnel to drive innovative research programs, getting research outcomes and knowledge into the 'right hands' in order to advance health outcomes, supporting meaningful reconciliation activities, and maximizing available resources to promote impact.
SHRF's funding suite is now shaped into four programming buckets, namely:
Each program furthers SHRF's strategic goals in a unique way, and together in a complementary manner, to:
Strengthen research capacity and competitiveness;
Increase investment in research and innovation; and
Align research with stakeholders' needs.
SHRF has also enhanced our focus on application support and grant management by updating staff roles in line with our refreshed program objectives.
More information on each program can be found below.
SHRF Programs Update
Solutions Program Update
The Solutions Program aims to provide real-world Solutions to Saskatchewan health challenges. The Program offers peer-reviewed funding for transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary teams working together with knowledge users to coordinate diverse skills and perspectives in a focused area. The two grants focus on either innovative new ideas and approaches (Innovation Grant) or the translation of research into real-world settings and practical applications (Impact Grant).
SHRF has now been administering the Solutions Program for three years. The first year emphasized a focus on Virtual Care, and invested a total of one million dollars into 14 projects. The second year of the Program focused on Addictions, where SHRF invested over $900K in 10 projects. The results of the third year will be shared in the summer of 2023.
SHRF's next 'Solutions Focus Area' will be announced on January 24, 1:00pm CST.
Current Solutions Opportunities:
Capacity Program Update
SHRF's Capacity Program investment aims to strengthen research capacity and competitiveness. The Establishment Grant, SHRF's longest-running grant, provides peer-reviewed funding for early-career researchers in Saskatchewan as they work to establish an autonomous program of health research that addresses Saskatchewan's health challenges.
During SHRF's program refresh process, there was interest expressed to adjust the eligibility requirements to 'time from academic appointment' and away from 'date of residence within Saskatchewan', in order to better focus this funding toward early-career researchers. This change has already been implemented and continues to be a requirement of the program.
The Establishment Grant provides funding for up to three years. For the 2023-24 competition, this amount has been increased from $120,000 to $150,000 to be comparable to other similar awards. This increased project funding amount also addresses feedback from the research community concerning the growing costs of conducting research, and aims to best support projects that matter to Saskatchewan.
Current Capacity Opportunities:
Connections Program Update
The foundations of the Connections Program grew from the Research Connections Grant, another long-standing SHRF funding avenue. During the programs refresh, the importance of getting produced knowledge into the right hands became evident. While the Research Connections Grant had always intended to support knowledge exchange and knowledge mobilization, its evolution emphasized the importance of these activities in a non-academic environment.
In 2022, SHRF offered the Align Grant for the first time, with the intention of enabling the development and engagement of robust interdisciplinary research teams — including members outside of academia — to improve their long-term success in additional peer-reviewed funding competitions, and to generate research that addresses Saskatchewan's health challenges. Doing so ensures that research better aligns with the needs of Saskatchewan's communities, healthcare practitioners and patients, and can be used by them.
In response to the success of the Align Grant in promoting the development of research questions and collaborations alongside non-academic stakeholders, the Research Connections Grant has been able to focus more clearly on knowledge mobilization: Getting research into usable forms and into the hands of those that can use it to improve health.
To reflect this distinction in grant objectives, the Research Connections Grant will be replaced with the Mobilize Grant. The Mobilize Grant will launch in the spring of 2023, following the final Research Connections call (deadline: March 1, 2023).
Moving forward, both Align Grant and Mobilize Grant applications will be submitted via the SHRF Research Management System (RMS), alongside SHRF's other grant applications.
Multiple intakes of Align and Mobilize will be offered in 2023-24, including focus areas such as Truth and Action.
SHRF's Truth and Action Grant — which specifically supports work intended to address efforts of reconciliation — will continue within the Mobilize umbrella. SHRF recognizes the importance of the TRC and the role of reconciliation in improving the health of all Saskatchewan residents. We are committed to supporting these efforts by funding work that highlights and recognizes Indigenous ways of knowing, provides guidance on culturally-responsive healthcare, and responds to intersecting barriers to care. In doing so, we hoping to support the improved health of Indigenous people in Saskatchewan.
More information on the 2023-24 Align Grant competitions will be announced on January 25, 2023.
Current Connections Opportunities:
Partnerships Program Update
The Partnerships Program underscores and amplifies all that SHRF does.
SHRF continues to seek out opportunities and offer dedicated partnership funding for Saskatchewan applicants to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation (CABHI), Mental Health Research Canada (MHRC) and other peer-reviewed granting agencies to foster the success of Saskatchewan researchers at the national and international level.
Relationships also play an important role as we utilize our Solutions Program and other funding opportunities to address our research focus areas. Since 2020, SHRF has successfully offered funding with our partners to specifically address rural and remote healthcare, lung health, Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, chronic diseases in Indigenous communities, brain health, mental health, and patient-oriented research — all in addition to our budgeted investments in virtual care and addictions.
SHRF also continues to work with our funding partners in different models. We continue to administer the Jim Pattison Children's Hospital Foundation (JPCHF) Research Grants competition on behalf of the Pattison Children's Hospital. This partnership achieves our shared goal of building a culture of innovation and improving the health of Saskatchewan citizens.
SHRF would like to thank our many partners, provincially and nationally, for their support and collaboration. These partnerships are vital to our work and our collective impact is greater because of a shared desire to improve the health and wellbeing of individuals across Saskatchewan and Canada.
CV and Application Updates
SHRF has made the decision to discontinue the use of the CCV. SHRF values our ability to adapt to changing trends, aligning with the needs and priorities of the province and our stakeholders. We are committed to achieving operational excellence by ensuring our processes are improved and optimized for the best user experience. For these reasons, we have created a Researcher CV template to be used when applying to SHRF's programs.
At SHRF, we understand that research contributions come in many different forms. SHRF's template gives the applicant the freedom to decide how they want to highlight their expertise and skills in their area of research, while still maintaining a general structure for our peer reviewers to properly adjudicate the information. The template headers are broad, to include anything from traditional academic publications to creative and non-traditional forms of knowledge sharing.
The 2023-24 Establishment Grant will be the first competition to use the SHRF Researcher CV template. Please note that the Pattison Children's Research Grant which is currently underway will continue to use the CCV for this funding cycle.
In 2020, SHRF implemented a new Research Management System (RMS), guided by what we heard from applicants and reviewers over the years. We evaluate this system on an ongoing basis and gather feedback from applicants to determine how our processes can be improved. Our efforts in the coming year will focus on enhancing our resources to support applicants and ensure we successfully fund researchers using this system.
The SHRF Researcher CV, along with the Knowledge User CV, Testimonial instructions and other resources are found at https://www.shrf.ca/resources