2016 SPARK Program: Microbiome Competition

SPARK 2016 Program: Microbiome Competition


With the SPARK program, Ontario Genomics seeks to provide investigators with catalytic funding to enable them to initiate novel, high-impact, and innovative early-stage projects in the genomic sciences. The focus of this year’s competition is microbiomes.

The intent of the SPARK 2016 competition is to catalyze new research directions and support innovative genomics-based projects that have the potential to advance microbiome research, and improve our knowledge and understanding of this important field.  To maximize the potential benefits for Ontario and increase the competitiveness of Ontario research and its life sciences sector, the SPARK 2016: Microbiome competition will be open to research projects involving human, plant, livestock and the environment including soil and water. Successful proposal(s) will enhance our understanding of how microbial communities contribute to health and disease in humans, plants and livestock and also how these communities can influence their environment. The outcomes should generate knowledge which, in the long-term, could be transferred to those who have the ability to translate and use it, ultimately resulting in useful applications in areas such as health care, food production, and environmental remediation.


Ontario Genomics will provide individual awards of up to $25,000 to be used for short duration (6-12 months) research projects. Ontario Genomics may fund up to four (4) research projects per year.


Projects should clearly respond to the objectives and intent of the SPARK 2016: Microbiome competition and should focus on discrete, unique and transformative project(s) that support and initiate innovations in the genomics space to improve our knowledge and understanding of microbiomes.

Demonstrate how the outcomes of SPARK will enable follow-on investment, further research, and allow eventual engagement of industry partners and/or end users. The potential to have impact for Ontario in the long-term must be clearly articulated.

The intention is to support high-risk, potentially high-reward projects that may not be readily funded by other mechanisms due to a lack of preliminary results. It is expected that the research being proposed has not yet been completed, that applicants do not have other means of funding this research, and that the research is independent of current funding or is incremental to previously funded projects.

Funded research must be performed in Ontario. To be eligible, the Principal Investigator (PI) must be at an academic or research institution.

Key Dates

Event Date
Proposals due to Ontario Genomics 9:00 am on Tuesday November 1, 2016
Funding decision notification December 2016
Agreement signed February 10, 2017
Start date March 1, 2017

All applications must be submitted electronically to ECorbett@OntarioGenomics.ca no later than 9:00 am on Tuesday, November 1, 2016.
Note: Please combine all relevant documents as a single PDF file and reference SPARK 2016 in the subject line of the e-mail.

More Information


If you have questions about this program or would like to discuss the fit of your proposal idea within the focus of the SPARK 2016 Program: Microbiome Competition, please contact:

Elaine Corbett, Senior Manager, Business Development and Research
E-mail: ECorbett@OntarioGenomics.ca

Funded projects:

SPARK 2011: Technology Development Competition
SPARK 2012: Technology Development Competition
SPARK 2014: Natural Resources Competition
SPARK 2015: Disruptive Innovations Competition

Genomic Sciences refer to genomics and related disciplines such as proteomics, bioinformatics and other *omics research fields. For purposes of describing Ontario Genomics’ mandate it also includes related disciplines such as, epigenomics, metabolomics, metagenomics, nutrigenomics, pharmacogenomics and transcriptomics.