Nurse Innovator Award


The Nurse Innovator Award (NIA) was conceived by the RNFOO Honorary Life Members to design and build a mechanism to enable, encourage, support and celebrate nursing innovation. The initial fundraising campaign recruited 124 Founding Donors, each of whom have pledged $2,500 over five years. Nurses with new and original ideas and methods can find financial support and mentorship to create the changes they imagine. For the purposes of this award, an innovative approach is an idea that has not been tried before and one that will enhance nursing practice, education, work life and/or the patient experience from the nursing perspective

In the first year RNFOO provided two awards worth $30,000 in November 2019. In 2020, a total of $63,000 was shared among 3 projects.  You can learn about the winning projects here.  In 2021 there will be up to $60,000 available for one or more awards.   

Nurse Innovators applying for this award will be using creative thinking and idea development, and be willing and prepared to embark on an initiative that will enhance nursing practice, nursing education, nursing work/life, and/or the patient experience from the nursing perspective. Nurse Innovators, turning their ideas into action, will play a key role in driving the nursing profession and health care forward, now and into the future.


Applicants for a Nurse Innovator Award must be an RN, RPN, or NP currently registered in good standing with the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO) and living or working in Ontario.  In the event of a team application, the lead professional(s) must be an RN, RPN or NP.  With the intent of capacity-building, reviewers will look favourably upon applications which include nurses (in any category including nursing students) who are new to the process of innovation.

There is a $25 non-refundable application fee. 

The Application Process

The 2021 application process is now open.  Applications must be complete by noon, on Monday May 10th. Information about the process is provided here and through a Q&A webinar offered during the application period.  This webinar was held on April 15th at 4:00 pm.  The recording can be accessed through the link in the Applicant Webinar Available article in the right-hand column of this page.

There is a 2-step process for applicants: 
STEP 1:  Applicants must register (using the NIA Applicant login box that will be available), pay the $25 application fee, and provide all information requested through the on-line form.  In addition to basic information, applicants must submit:
i) A letter of intent (3-page maximum) providing:

  • a title that clearly defines the innovation (maximum 10 words)
  • a clear description of the innovation in the opening paragraph
  • the issue the innovation addresses including relevant background
  • anticipated impact on on nursing practice, nursing education, nursing work life, and/or the patient experience from the nursing perspective
  • target audience(s), stated aims, planned deliverables, and plan for implementation

ii) An abbreviated résumé (2-page maximum) that focuses on professional experiences, positions, education and other pertinent information that is relevant to the focus of the application.  In the event of a team application, a combined 2-page summary resume is required.

iii) Two supporting letters from people who can attest to the value and potential of the innovation and the applicant’s ability to execute the innovation.

Applicants may wish to review the Step 1 scoring tool, in order to better understand what the committee is looking for.
Applications must be marked complete by the posted deadline.  Complete applications will be reviewed, and a short-list of candidates will proceed to the second step.  

STEP 2. If short-listed, applicants will be asked to provide:

A 3-minute (maximum) self-made video. The video must be clear, compelling and brief. Instructions for uploading videos will be provided. The video can be self-filmed on a cell phone, and must include the following descriptions:

  • A clear and prominent description of the innovation
  • How the innovation proposes original ideas for addressing an important issue
  • The impact, and how it will make a difference to nursing practice, nursing education, nursing work life, and/or the patient experience from a nursing perspective
  • Why you think you are the person who can lead the successful innovation
  • What you will do to evaluate the project and disseminate the results of the innovation to others  

In addition to the video please provide:

i) A synopsis (50-word abstract) of the innovation

ii) Detailed outcomes, timeline and specific deliverables for 2022 (2-page limit)

iii)A detailed statement of funds requested (download template).

iv) A letter from an organizational sponsor (where appropriate) who can champion the innovation, provide mentorship, and/or be a contact person for receipt of funds.

Applicants may wish to review the Step 2 scoring tool, in order to better understand what the committee is looking for.

All submissions are due by noon, Monday August 23, 2021.
A webinar for applicants invited to Step 2 will be held at 4:00 pm on Wednesday, June 23; and a recording will be made available to those who cannot attend.   

Applicants should note that submission of the video application gives RNFOO permission to share and edit the video as part of the NIA Reception or promotional campaigns.

Other Information 

Click here for some resources on how to pitch an idea.

It is expected that the innovation will be carried out within twelve months of receiving funding.  Awards will be distributed at or immediately after the Reception in November, pending receipt of the signed agreement that will be provided by the RNFOO office.

Successful applicants will be required to provide a progress summary report (3-page maximum) six months after the commencement of the project and a final report and deliverables (5-page maximum) upon completion.

RNFOO Nurse Innovator Award funding must be acknowledged in any publications or presentations that result from the project.

The Nurse Innovator Award has mentors who are willing to help successful award winners as they implement their innovations.

Questions about the application process can be directed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 Registered Nurses’ Foundation of Ontario
 7270 Woodbine Ave. Suite 305
 Markham, ON L3R 4B9