BIG IDEAS: Research Enrichment Plan

Big Ideas Begin Here

What's The BIG IDEA? Innovate, Transform, Impact

Ask yourself: If I had a million dollars...Wouldn't it be great if?

We are seeking BIG IDEAS for 2-3 research initiatives that are large in scope, innovative in character and have the ability to transform the research landscape in the Faculty of Health Sciences and at Western.

A BIG IDEA is designed to solve BIG PROBLEMS, have ground-breaking impacts, and attract stakeholder and community enthusiasm and excitement. A BIG IDEA is ambitious and hard to achieve without leadership and significant support.

BIG IDEAS will be proposed and led by a Champion(s), developed with the participation of multiple faculty members in FHS and finessed with the support of an Advisory Panel.

The Genesis of the BIG IDEA

During the 2019-20 academic year, the Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) Leadership Committee agreed to expend the Faculty’s carry forward funds on enhancing research, and that a Research Enrichment Plan for leveraging those funds would be developed with Faculty-wide input. In the Fall of 2020, FHS conducted member surveys and focus groups to generate big ideas for strategic research funding. The cross-cutting theme of health equity emerged, but it was not the only one and it became clear that a further process was needed to decide upon themes for major investment. With $3 million available for one-time investment in BIG IDEAS over the next four years, we wanted to take the time to get it right. The Research Enrichment Plan Advisory Group and Steering Committee have been working hard to develop this process, making a concerted effort to emphasize inclusion, blue sky thinking, and co-development of the BIG IDEAS, while recognizing that for BIG IDEAS to be successful, they require a leader and targeted outcomes.

The BIG IDEA Process

Phase 1: BIG IDEA Registration (CLOSED)

Register the title of your BIG IDEA, along with the name(s) of one or two Champions.

  • Submit your BIG IDEA to
  • Registration Deadline: April 28
  • BIG IDEAS will be posted to an OWL Forum for:
    • Discussion
    • Feedback from Colleagues
    • Collaboration Opportunities
    • Exchange of Ideas and Information
    • Refinement for the WHY Pitch (Phase 2)

See below to learn more about being a BIG IDEA Champion.

Phase 2: Concept Pitch

For those who were unable to attend the Concept Pitch Session, a video has been posted for viewing on the BIG IDEAS Owl site.

On Wednesday, June 16 at 4 p.m., the BIG IDEA Champion(s) will deliver a 10-minute concept pitch that addresses:

  • What is the BIG IDEA? What is the big issue that this idea addresses?
  • What is new, innovative and ambitious about this BIG IDEA?
  • How does this idea represent a next-level innovation of current research capacity that could not otherwise be achieved?
  • What are the top three expected outcomes of this BIG IDEA?

The Concept Pitch will be delivered live via Zoom and is open to all FHS members. Login details TBA. An Advisory Panel will provide live feedback and suggestions for further development of the BIG IDEA.

Advisory Panel Members

  • Jayne Garland, Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences
  • Lesley Rigg, Vice-President Research
  • Kevin Shoemaker, Acting Associate Vice-President Research
  • Susan Gajic-Bruyea, Associate Vice-President, Alumni Relations and Development
  • Eric Morse, Special Advisor to the President and Director of Entrepreneurship, Ron and Nancy Clark Professor of Entrepreneurship, Ivey Business School

Phase 3: Implementation Pitch

November 11 - 8:30 to 1030 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

BIG IDEA Champion(s) will be allocated 30 minutes, which will include:

A. 15-minute Implementation Pitch presentation by the Champion(s) that addresses
  • What will it take to deliver the BIG IDEA?
    • How would this Big Idea make use of a $1M+ investment (or a smaller requested amount of at least 500K)?
    • What programs and initiatives would be launched with these funds?
    • What resources would be leveraged and what would be needed?
  • Who could/would be involved with this BIG IDEA?
  • How will the principles of equity, diversity, inclusion and decolonization be upheld in pursuit of this BIG IDEA?
  • How will this BIG IDEA be sustainable beyond 2025?

B. 15-minute Q&A between the Champion(s) and the Evaluation Panel, which consists of the Dean, School Directors and Centre Directors

NOTE: These sessions will be delivered live via Zoom, are open to all FHS members, and will be recorded and posted on OWL for those who cannot attend. Meeting links and information will be distributed via email.

BIG IDEA Outcomes

BIG IDEAS must have the potential to make substantial impacts in all or most of the following areas:

1. Real World Impact

  • On the populations/communities it is targeted to help?
  • On policy making?
  • Real-life applications of importance to the area of research?

2. Collaborations and Interdisciplinarity

  • Within FHS?
  • Across campus, alumni, community and international partners?
  • Does it connect with an existing Western Institute or lay the foundation for a new one?

3. Grants and Funding

  • Funding from other agencies or donor support?
  • Endowed Chairs?
  • Is it currently a funded area?

4. Research Training

  • Innovative training opportunities for highly-qualified personnel?
  • Easy recruitment of exceptional graduate and postdoctoral trainees?

5. Reputation and Profile of FHS

  • Creation of world-class research?
  • Increase international recognition?
  • Generate media attention?
  • A bold new venture that will catalyze more research?

6. Building on Existing Capacity

  • Build on current research interests and assets?
  • Take current interests and assets to a new/innovative level?

7. EDID Focus

  • Does the research enable equity, diversity, inclusion and decolonization in a meaningful way?

What is a BIG IDEA Champion?

BIG IDEA Champions lead the development of the BIG IDEA for a large-scale research initiative in FHS.

BIG IDEA Champions present the BIG IDEA in the Concept and Implementation Pitch sessions.

BIG IDEA Champions assume the role of Lead/Co-Lead for the BIG IDEA if it is funded:

  • Receive portion of budget for resources to support leadership activities (e.g., staff)
  • Lead development of multi-year plan for research activities and initiatives, including timeline and milestones
  • Lead budget development, including allocation of funds
  • Lead development and adjudication of open calls for proposals for sub-projects/initiatives
  • Lead oversight and reporting on the progress of the activities, milestones and budget