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DRI Investments for 2023-25

On March 24, 2023, Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) Canada awarded funding of up to $228.3 million for the 2023-25 period for digital research infrastructure (DRI) initiatives that will directly benefit Canada’s researchers. 

The Alliance submitted its Multi-Year Funding Proposal (MYFP) for 2023-25 to ISED on September 30, 2022, following the development of the Canadian DRI Needs Assessments and extensive collaboration with Canada’s DRI ecosystem. The $450 million investment proposal included initiatives to upgrade critical infrastructure, as well as initiatives to improve services, access and functionality over fiscal years 2023-24 and 2024-25. 

Critical infrastructure upgrades, service continuity and support 

ISED has approved federal funding for the following initiatives, subject to the fulfillment of cost-matching requirements: 

Addresses the critical issue of Canada’s aging Advanced Research Computing (ARC) infrastructure (High Performance Computing Renewal and Community Cloud Renewal) across the National Host Sites.  

The High Performance Computing (HPC) Renewal initiative will replace computing resources (node-for-node) nearing end-of-life and capacity for storage in four National Host Sites. Each Host Site will undertake a competitive procurement process for its respective funding envelope. 

The Community Cloud Renewal initiative replaces computing resources (node-for-node) nearing end-of-life and capacity for storage at Arbutus Cloud (University of Victoria), Cedar Cloud (Simon Fraser University) and Graham Cloud (University of Waterloo). 

Additionally, ISED has directed the Alliance to develop a commercial cloud strategy and pilot proposal to complement existing community cloud solutions. 

Federal Contribution: $120,569,000 

ISED Conditions: Evidence of cost-match; updated implementation plan and project selection framework 

Upgrades to the existing power infrastructure to 5 MW with related cooling capacity at Beluga (McGill/Calcul Québec), allowing future HPC and Cloud expansions in this site. 

Federal Contribution: $8,188,392 

ISED Conditions: Evidence of cost-match; agreement with ÉTS for dedicated power support for the national platform 

Controlled Access Management for Research Data (CAM) aims to enable researchers, institutions and repositories to manage controlled access to research data through new software, tools and workflows. With these resources in place, Canadian research security will be strengthened, greater discovery will be supported and unnecessary data loss will be prevented.

The Alliance has awarded a total of $240 thousand to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), Université de Montréal and Unity Health Toronto for this initiative. Each institution will match $53 thousand.

Unity Health Toronto will host a Controlled Data Access Services Specialist, who will support pilot testing of new encryption software.

CAMH and Université de Montréal will each host a Controlled Data Access Engagement Specialist, who will support collaboration between researchers, repositories and institutions participating in the pilot.

29 Partner Organizations across Canada will co-develop and implement a Pilot Roadmap that will outline how controlled access management for research data technologies will be piloted, and how workflows and training resources will be developed and tested.

Investments in CAM will:

  • Improve research data management
  • Enhance research security
  • Streamline research workflows
  • Support compliance with data security and sharing requirements
  • Enable appropriate data reuse to help inform new research, promote collaboration and advance open science

Partner Organizations:

  • Athabasca University
  • Borealis (University of Toronto Libraries)
  • Canadian Research Knowledge Network
  • Carleton University
  • Centre de recherche de l'institut universitaire de santé mentale de Montréal
  • Centre de recherche du CHU Sainte-Justine
  • Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
  • Consortium Érudit
  • Federated Research Data Repository (Digital Research Alliance of Canada)
  • Kwantlen Polytechnic University
  • McGill Centre for Integrative Neuroscience
  • McGill University
  • McMaster University
  • NorQuest College
  • PolicyWise for Children & Families
  • Queen's University
  • Simon Fraser University
  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council
  • Unity Health Toronto
  • Université de Montréal
  • Université de Sherbrooke
  • Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)
  • Université Laval
  • University of British Columbia
  • University of Calgary
  • University of Guelph
  • University of Toronto
  • Vector Institute

Federal Contribution: $240,000

The DMP Assistant Stabilization initiative aims to improve the usability and scope of the DMP Assistant, the Alliance’s bilingual data management planning tool developed in collaboration with the University of Alberta Library. The DMP Assistant helps researchers develop DMPs, which are foundational to research data management (RDM), an international best practice, and increasingly required by institutions and funders with the implementation of the Tri-Agency Research Data Management Policy.

The Alliance has awarded $237 thousand in funding to the University of Alberta for this initiative. The University of Alberta will match $158 thousand.

Through this initiative, the University of Alberta is hosting two positions, providing additional capacity and technical resources to implement new and extended features for the DMP Assistant. These features will help to:

  • Support researchers with Tri-Agency and institutional funding requirements for DMPs
  • Advance DMP innovations including machine-actionable DMPs and persistent identifiers (PIDs)
  • Support researchers and their institutions through greater integration with allied research processes (e.g., ethics review, funding applications and grant administration)
  • Augment the ability of Canadian researchers to participate in international research
  • Leverage and track the impact of data management planning on the research workflow
  • Support the FAIR Principles by making research more findable and citable

These new positions will also increase capacity to maintain the DMP Assistant, provide additional support for increased usage, and develop new resources including DMP examples and templates.

Investments in data management planning will also help to ensure more effective and efficient use of advanced research computing resources, as well as improved management, retention and reusability of research software code associated with research data.

The Expansion of Lunaris initiative aims to improve data discoverability in Lunaris, the Alliance’s bilingual research data discovery service, by expanding the support and development team.

The Alliance has awarded $164 thousand in funding to McMaster University for this initiative. McMaster University will match $109 thousand.

Through this initiative, McMaster University will host two positions, providing additional capacity to facilitate service improvements that will meet researcher needs and improve the discoverability of research data.

Service improvements to Lunaris will include:

  • Enhanced user experience (UX)
  • Alignment with Indigenous data sovereignty principles
  • Expansion of metadata harvesting capabilities to allow for an enhanced search experience
  • Improved discovery capabilities for specialized disciplinary data collections
  • Increase in Canadian repositories available for federated national discovery
  • Development of a community of practice centred on engagement, collaboration and promotion

Investments in Lunaris will ensure that researchers receive high-quality national data discovery services, add value to publicly funded research and help Canada become a leader in the expanding global community of open research.

Expands and implements the Cybersecurity Action Plans and Program with additional staff. 

Federal Contribution: $987,600 

Supports quantum HQP research support staff and research software for researchers who are innovating on quantum devices. 

Federal Contribution: $1,012,932 

ISED Conditions: Evidence of cost-match; the establishment of a national framework to assess best practices and lessons learned for a potential future scale up 

The DRI EDIA Champions pilot program is a $3.15 million funding opportunity to support a new equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility (EDIA) initiative.

This opportunity aims to increase awareness and uptake of the Alliance’s digital research infrastructure (DRI) by equity-seeking groups. Equitable access to tools like those found within the Alliance DRI can empower researchers to lead, share knowledge and drive discovery. This, in turn, strengthens the Canadian research ecosystem by expanding the pool of DRI-informed researchers.

The pilot program will award $35,000 per successful applicant (“DRI EDIA Champion”) to support their project.

Full details are available on the DRI EDIA Champions pilot program call for proposals webpage.

Federal Contribution: $5,000,000

Provides expert technical and user support to the research community, maintaining the level and quality of services as user numbers continue to grow and to provide integrated front-line support covering all DRI pillars. 

Federal Contribution: $3,469,786 

ISED Conditions: Evidence of cost-match; DRI ecosystem workforce plan 

Funding for existing DRI ecosystem operations

Up to $48 million is earmarked for the 2023-25 period to support existing operations of the DRI ecosystem and $40 million for Alliance operations, subject to workforce planning and enhanced data collection and reporting. This funding will provide for continuity of services to researchers for the next two years, support expert staff working within the DRI ecosystem across the country.  

Remaining Initiative Approvals

The following proposed initiatives did not receive federal funding in this funding cycle. The Alliance remains committed to working with partners to address the gaps identified during the DRI Needs Assessment and MYFP consultations. These initiatives will be evaluated as part of the development of the 2025-30 funding proposal. 



Connecting DRI, People and Research Outputs: Building a National PID Strategy ​  

Includes several initiatives to increase the amount and function of Persistent Identifier (PID) integrations to address lagging resources and automation. 

Networked Curation Services ​  

Supports a national data curation network to enable researchers to better fulfill their Tri-Agency requirements for data deposit while improving the value of their data. 

Towards a Sustainable Canadian Research Software Community ​  

Enables a coordinated national process for a three-stage funding call to improve long-term funding for software platforms (RSPs) and teams (RSPTs). 

Supporting and Expanding Training Capacity in the Canadian DRI Ecosystem ​  

Provides the necessary resources to create and enable a data-driven ecosystem-wide training strategy, while supporting existing training programs with the technology required to deliver a consistent accessible training experience. 

Innovation Funding Opportunity 

​​A​ funding program to redistribute funds to projects that integrate two of the three pillars (advanced research computing, research data management and research software).  

Next steps

The Alliance has been actively working on implementation plans since October 2022 in preparation for the formal decision from ISED. Implementation plans describe how the Alliance will administer each initiative by defining the program requirements, metrics, timelines, oversight, resources, risk management and communications.  

Once Contribution Agreements are finalized between the Alliance and ISED, the Alliance will engage with regional organizations and partner institutions with respect to the development of funding agreements, updated operating budgets and cost-matching requirements. The Alliance will regularly engage with ecosystem partners to collaboratively advance these important initiatives to implement Canada’s national DRI Strategy. 

More information

About the New Service Delivery Model/Funding Model

The New Service Delivery Model (NSDM) outlines the DRI services available across the three layers within the ecosystem (national, regional and local) and the roles of service sponsor and service provider for these services within each layer. The New Service Funding Model (FM) aims to develop a framework for predictable and stable funding for DRI and will include details on cost eligibility for services available across the ecosystem’s layers. The proposed NSDM and FM are currently under development and require additional work, validation and testing with our DRI community partners. We are devising a consultation process to engage further with our members and service partners.   

If you have any questions, please contact