New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF)

The New Frontiers in Research Fund ( NFRF) supports extraordinary, Canadian-led research not fundable by a single tri-agency. Review is by a multidisciplinary panel which considers:

  • Double-blind expert assessments by external reviewers. 
  • Merit criteria which emphasize interdisciplinarity, novelty, EDI and intersectionality, risk vs reward, and feasibility.

Funding Streams

There are four funding streams:

  • Exploration: 2 years, $125K/ year. NOI (non-adjudicated) usually in October, full application in December.
  • International: 3 years, $1.5M from Canada, more from international funders. NOI (non-adjudicated) usually in May; full application in September.
  • Transformation: 6 years, $2M – 4M / year. Bi-Annual competition. NOI (non-adjudicated), in October, two stage LOI and invited full application, usually in subsequent January and September.
  • Special Calls: Deadlines vary. 

Senior Research Partners lead on institution-wide support for applicants to the NFRF competitions. Contact details for each competition below.

For NFRF competitions, Research Administrative Services (RAS) are required to complete compliance and eligibility checks beyond the usual for tri-agency applications. Please schedule to meet the RAS deadlines, not the external deadlines.

NFRF Good to Know

NFRF competitions are a multi-stage, highly competitive process, with success rates of approximately 17% or less.

NFRF Selection committees are seeking applications with disciplines which do not normally partner, eg: Engineering, Religious Studies and Forestry; Physics, Music and Native Studies; Chemistry, Art and Design, Political Science. 

Eligibility

Students, postdoctoral fellows, research associates, etc. are not eligible to apply as nominated principal investigators, co-principal investigator or co-applicant.

Participants who do not meet the eligibility criteria will be removed from the application.

A researcher may only be NPI on a single application per competition.

In the event that the NPI is considered ineligible, the application will be removed from the competition.

If removal of ineligible participants from the application results in research teams with fewer than five members, the application will also be removed from the competition.

At the NOI and full application stages, RAS must confirm the following:

  1. That all participants meet the NFRF eligibility criteria and the definition of ECR (if applicable). Written approval from all other institutions with participating Co-PIs and/or Co-Aps must be obtained using the external institution confirmation form
  2. The proposed research project meets the eligibility criteria.

RAS must forward the submitted NOIs and full applications through the NFRF Convergence Portal before 4 pm on the day of the sponsor deadline. Their turnaround time is tight.

Institutional Financial Support:

There is no requirement for institutional financial support but a description of support (institution or partner) may be included in the budget justification at the full application stage.

Exploration

Program Summary - Objective

  • To inspire high risk/ high reward research that extends beyond traditional or common interdisciplinary approaches.
  • To explore new projects that may fail but have the potential for significant impact.

Award Amount and Duration

  • Up to $100,000 for direct costs per year plus 25% in indirect costs funding for up to 2 years.
  • 25% must be added to the budget in addition to the direct costs.

Who can help me?

If you are interested in the NFRF-Exploration competition, please contact:

Feiyue Akishyn
feiyue.akishyn@ualberta.ca
Research Partner

How to Apply

Consult Research Services guidelines

Application Stages: Two mandatory stages, using the Convergence Portal:

  1. Notice of Intent (NOI)
    • RAS internal deadline: Aug 15, 2024 (8 business days prior to the Agency deadline)
    • RAS will forward to the Agency after eligibility reviews by: Aug 27, 2024
  2. Full application 
    • RAS deadline: Oct 24, 2024 (8 business days prior to the Agency deadline)
    • RAS will forward to the Agency after eligibility reviews by: Nov 5, 2024

Transformation

Program Summary - Objective

The Transformation stream invites proposals that:

  • tackle a well-defined problem or challenge;
  • propose a novel world-leading approach that is different from the current state-of-the-art approaches to the issue;
  • are highly and uniquely interdisciplinary, bringing diverse perspectives to the defined problem. For reference, see:

Deadlines

  • NOI: Oct 24, 2023 (not adjudicated). RAS deadline October 17, 2023.
  • LOI: Jan 10, 2024. RAS deadline January 3, 2024.
  • Full Application to RAS: Aug 28, 2024. RAS will forward to NFRF by Sept 5, 2024.

Award Amount and Duration

  • Up to $4M per year, inclusive of indirect research costs, for up to 6 years.
  • Indirect Costs: 25%

Who can help me?

If you are interested in the 2024 NFRF-Transformation competition, please contact:

Mark Taylor
Senior Research Partner

How to Apply

Consult Research Services guidelines

Application Stages: Three mandatory stages, using the Convergence Portal:

  1. Notice of Intent (NOI)
    • RAS internal deadline: Oct 24, 2023
  2. Letter of Intent to Apply (LOI)
    • RAS deadline: Jan 3, 2024
    • RAS will forward after eligibility reviews by: Jan 10, 2024
  3. Application (by invitation only)
    • RAS internal deadline: Aug 28, 2024
    • RAS will forward after eligibility reviews by: Sept 5, 2024

INTERNATIONAL

Program Summary - Objective

The International stream enhances opportunities for Canadian researchers to partner on NFRF-appropriate (high risk/high reward, interdisciplinary), internationally-partnered projects that are either:

  • Joint funding calls with international agencies on topics of international relevance
  • A dedicated fund to support participation of Canadian researchers within international teams in seeking funding from major global platforms

Deadlines

Deadlines for NFRF-I competitions are episodic. Current competition is the 2024 NordForsk-led International Joint Initiative on Sustainable Development of the Arctic. This two-stage call is announced as a collaborative effort between Research Council of Norway, Research Council of Finland, Independent Research Fund Denmark, Research Council Faroe Islands, Swedish Research Council, Greenland Research Council, Icelandic Center for Research, Canada Research Coordinating Committee (Canada), National Science Foundation (USA), and NordForsk.  The NFRF-I stream is described here.

Who can help me?

If you are interested in an NFRF-International competition, please contact:

Heather Young-Leslie PhD,
Senior Research Partner

How to Apply

Consult Research Services guidelines

Application Stages: The NFRF-I 2024 NordForsk-led competition has multiple mandatory stages, using the Convergence and NordForsk portals.

  1. Registration with NFRF (Canadian NPI submits)
    • RAS deadline: by May 23, 2024, 3pm
    • RAS will forward to NFRF by May 30, 2024
  2. Stage 1 "Preproposal" to NordForsk (submitted by Nordic NPI)
    • June 4 (Norway time; June 3 in Alberta)
  3. Stage 2 "Full proposal"
    • November 2024, by invitation delivered in September.

Good to Know

The 2024 International NordForsk-led International Joint Initiative on Sustainable Development of the Arctic is unique in that research teams must have a minimum of three Nordic nations represented, while NFRF will only fund projects that are Indigenous co-developed and co-led, with a co-PI who is a representative of the community or region where the research will take place. In addition to criteria such as high-risk/high-reward and interdisciplinarity, research proposals will be evaluated on the degree to which the proposed research supports relevant UN Sustainable Development Goals for the Arctic. Organizations based in the Russian Federation may not participate.

Supports for all NFRF Applicants

Researchers considering any NFRF competition are strongly advised to confer with the Senior Research Partner well in advance of the initial notice of intent (NOI) deadline.

The Research Partner Network (RPN), in partnership with other streams in the VPRI portfolio, coordinates and provides advice, resources and supports aimed at maximizing researcher success, and streamlining the application process.

Supports may include concept challenges, peer review, successful grants library, team composition advising, roundtables with experienced NFRF review panel members, and more.

Research Administration Services (RAS) conduct eligibility and institutional approvals prior to the NOI and final stages.

Deadlines are minimally five full working days prior to the sponsor deadline. Your college or faculty may have earlier deadlines.

NFRF Proposal Resources

How-to advice

Workshops, Webinars, Info Sessions

NFRF Exploration
NFRF Transformation
  • NFRF NOI Webinar (2024)
    • English webinar recording (not available)
    • English webinar slides (not available)
  • NFRF LOI Webinar (2024)
  • NFRF Full Application Webinar (2024)
    • English webinar recording TBD (invited NPI only)
    • French webinar recording TBD (invited NPI only)

Contact

For more information and support for preparing an application to a New Frontiers Research Fund competition, contact the appropriate Senior Research Partner.