Spark ON – Investing in innovative frontline care solutions


Are you an Ontario-based frontline care worker, clinical manager, or clinical researcher?
Do you have an innovative idea to improve the lives of older adults, persons with dementia, and their care partners under COVID-19?

Those selected for Spark-ON will receive the following over a 12-month period:

Tailored coaching, mentorship, and networking, guided by CABHI’s team of experts.

Participation in a four-month accelerator program, Spark-U, to ensure your project is poised for success, sustainability, and maximum impact.

Up to $50,000 CAD to develop, test, and/or scale your solution.

Meet our first cohort of Spark-ON projects.

COVID-19 has created extremely challenging circumstances for point-of-care staff who work with older adults and persons with dementia. Throughout 2020, healthcare workers – especially those working in congregate-care environments – have been relied upon to use their expertise and creative problem-solving abilities to protect the health and wellbeing of the aging population.

As we look ahead to 2021 and beyond, no one is better positioned to take on these critical challenges than point-of-care workers themselves. Spark-ON seeks applications for projects that accomplish one of the following two objectives:

  • Developing and/or testing your own novel innovative solution at your own organization.
  • Scaling your own solution to one or more collaborating organizations.

Note: Projects must follow all government and organizational infection prevention policies and consider other restrictions on implementation posed by COVID-19.

Program Criteria

We seek applicants who work at a healthcare delivery organization located in Ontario and are one of the following:

    • Frontline care staff, including:
      • Healthcare professionals
      • Allied health professionals
      • Personal support workers
      • Certified nursing assistants
      • Support staff (for example, dietary aides or housekeepers)
      • Home healthcare aides
    • Clinical care manager
      • Person who directly manages clinical care delivery
    • Clinical researcher
      • Person who conducts applied or translational research in a care setting

To be considered for funding, your proposed solution must address one or more of the following COVID-19-related senior care priority themes:

Caregiver Wellbeing

Solutions that specifically support both formal and informal caregivers of older adults and PwD to maintain and improve their own health during COVID-19.

Infection Prevention and Control

New solutions that promote optimal use of PPE and protocols for expanding staff and restricting visitors during COVID-19 outbreaks in older adult and PwD care environments.

Social Connectedness

Solutions that combat loneliness, address the “digital divide,” and promote social engagement for older adults and PwD at risk of becoming isolated during COVID-19.

Training Unregulated Care Providers

Solutions that support the training and education of unregulated healthcare providers working in care environments, as well as solutions that support their onboarding and retention during COVID-19.

Proposed solutions must:

  • Clearly address clearly at least one of CABHI’s four Spark-ON priority themes
  • Be sufficiently innovative, meaning that the solution purposely differs from existing solutions
  • Represent Intellectual Property that belongs to the host organization, the applicant, or a combination thereof

Projects must:

  • Focus on the development, testing, and/or scaling of an innovative solution at a healthcare delivery organization located in Ontario
  • Be completed, reasonably, in a maximum of 12 months
  • Not involve basic research, primarily academic goals, subsidizing existing programs or initiatives at the host organization, capital investment, pharmaceutical trials, or incubators for startups

Applications will be evaluated based on the following selection criteria:

The Solution (25%)

-How well does the solution address a critical COVID-19 issue?

-How is this solution better than others?

Strategic Alignment (25%)

-How well aligned is the solution to CABHI’s four priority themes?

-How effectively does the solution address the identified problem?

Project Plan (25%)

-Does the project have clearly defined goals and objectives and consider COVID restrictions?

-Is the intended use of funds clearly linked to project goals and objectives?

Project Team (25%)

-How strong is the team’s point-of-care experience?

-How well positioned is the project team to complete the proposed project?

Important Dates

Application window opens Monday, Nov. 16, 2020
Application deadline Monday, Dec. 21, 2020
CABHI notifies awardees Friday, Jan. 29, 2021
Signed program agreements returned to CABHI Friday, Feb. 26, 2021
Program and projects begin Monday, March 1, 2021

Want more information?

Applications are now closed. Meet our first cohort of Spark-ON projects.

If you wish to learn more about the program, watch a recording of this webinar on how to submit a successful application.

  • Topics include: the keys to a successful proposal; how to submit a proposal through our online portals; funding allocation; responsibility for reporting; and more.

Download and review the full program package before applying:

If you have questions about the Spark-ON Program, contact Karol Kamecka, Analyst, Innovation Office, at

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