Grand Challenge: Cancer Digital Intelligence (CDI): Scalability

Request for Applications

Registration for the 2023-2024 Grand Challenge: Scalability is now closed. Be sure to keep your eyes out for announcements for future grand challenges and other open calls soon.

Princess Margaret Cancer Centre Grand Challenges support bold, innovative and high impact projects across the spectrum of cancer care. At the Princess Margaret (PM), we aspire to be a global leader in the application of digital intelligence to enable the best care possible for people affected by cancer. As part of the Cancer Digital Intelligence Program, the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre is pleased to open the call for applications for Grand Challenge: Cancer Digital Intelligence (CDI): Scalability

Applications should focus on projects with a clear mandate to improve discoveries, care delivery or experience in cancer through the fusion of human wisdom, data & technology.

Projects must clearly demonstrate scalability (i.e.: the ability to cope with changes in demand without sacrificing performance to deliver economies of scale) and have a plan for implementation across cancer patient populations, clinical or research activities at Princess Margaret. The solution does not have to achieve broad implementation across all populations and activities within the 12-month duration of the Grand Challenge but must have a plan to complete the work independently if more than 12 months is required.

Scalability draws from features such as:

  • Low user acquisition cost
  • High user retention
  • Fixed cost structure
  • Few incremental costs
  • Automation
  • Virtuous feedback loop structure
  • Indirect network effects
  • Platform effects

This opportunity is open to applicants from all UHN campuses across all cancer disciplines. Projects should be bold but prepared for implementation with clearly defined milestones, a realistic endpoint, and clear impact achievable within a 12-month time-period and sustainable thereafter.

Evaluation Criteria Considerations:

  1. Explicitly addressing a “need” from the PM community:
    • What is the “need” explicitly addressed?
    • What are the problems with existing solutions?
    • How is your project addressing the “need”?
    • Who are the users (UHN members, collaborators, partners and/or outside users)?
    • How important is the “need” to users (if more than one user group, then specify for each group)?
    • How have users been involved in defining the “need” (if more than one user group, then specify for each group)?
    • What is the size of the user pool (if more than one user group, then specify for each group)?
  2. Growing Princess Margaret’s competitive advantage
    • Why is PM uniquely positioned to materialize and advance this project?
    • Which domains of excellence at PM will benefit from this initiative?
    • What proprietary resources are considered?
    • How easy is it for non-PM members to copy your project outside of UHN?
    • Is your project exportable outside of UHN?
  3. Contribution towards PM value proposition
    • Do you have more than one user group (e.g. data providers and data analysts; UHN members and Private users, etc)?
    • How is “user behavior” increasing the value proposition of the project (if more than one user group, then specify how each group’s behavior contributes to growing the value proposition of the project)?
    • How much growth in value comes from the user input (if more than one user group, then specify for each group)?
    • How strong are the network effects (direct or indirect) amongst users and/or PM Community?
    • What are the local, national and/or international resources/infrastructure complementing your project?
  4. Sustainable:
    • What existing resources are being leveraged?
    • How low are user/customer acquisition costs?
    • How low are the costs of maintenance?
    • Are there any options for automation?
    • How will needed revenue be generated/secured past the funding period?
    • How long will it take to be cost/revenue neutral?
    • How will economies of scale be achieved?
    • What are timelines for additional expansions?
    • What are the costs of expansions compared to the initial effort?
    • What is the change in the return on investment with scale?
  5. Adaptable:
    • Ease of integration of resources outside UHN (MTA/DTA requirements, others)?
    • What versatility features are implemented to address future technical innovation?

Resource Allocation:

  • Funding will be awarded in the form of resources and expertise provided by the CDI Program (project management, analysts, developers, data scientists, product and service design) dedicated to support the execution of the proposed work.
  • Selected project(s) will receive resources equivalent of up to $250,000 for the implementation, integration and/or validation of their project at the Princess Margaret.
  • Resources will be assigned based on the scale, resources required, timelines and projected impact and could be subject to adjustments based on discussions with successful applicants.
  • Only projects with an implementation timeline not exceeding 12 months will be considered, as the resources to support the project will be time constrained.


  • Applicants from all UHN campuses are eligible.
  • An individual can be the principal applicant for only one proposal.
  • At least one of the principal applicants must have a faculty appointment as a clinician or scientist, or relevant professional practice at UHN.
  • Applications across the full spectrum of clinical, translation and basic research are eligible.
  • Applications will be evaluated on their impact and contribution to the PM community, scalability, scientific quality, alignment with the CDI domains, ability for project deliverables to be completed in 12 months and resource requirements.


  • Full applications must be completed using the application form.
  • A maximum of two (2) pages of figures can be appended to the application form.
  • The project schedule and required resource should be justified and appended.
  • References are not required.

How to Apply

Applications for the 2023-2024 period are now closed. Thank you to everyone who applied to this round!

Grand Challenge winners:

2023-2024 Project Winners:

Computational & Bench Scientist Ecosystem (CoBE)

CoBE is a web portal recommendation engine allowing scientists to rapidly find or contribute self-contained, fully reproducible software tools & bioinformatic pipelines that address the most pressing analytical needs for computational biology at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and UHN.

Scalable Integrated Radiation Therapy Autosegmentation and Decision-Support for Individualized Cancer Care (SIRTADICC)

The SIR TADICC project will provide new tools to safely automate the way doctors identify the areas that need radiation treatment for head-and-neck cancers and assist doctors in making high quality treatment decisions. These segmentation tools and decision supports will allow for rapid adjustments to patient radiation plans according to the tumor response or other factors.

2022-2023 Project Winner:

Clinical Trial Integrated Matching System (CTIMS)

CTIMS intoduces an innovative approach to harnessing a patient’s ‘digital fingerprint’ to pinpoint trials they may be eligible for. CTIMS offers a new trial match process that significantly minimizes the time and resources required to identify patients eligible for clinical trials.

Click here to learn more.

More Information

Direct questions about funding opportunity details and eligibility to, Medical Director, CDI or, Scientific Director, CDI.

Direct questions about the application process to