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New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF) - 2020 Transformation Competition

Grants to Canada Research Teams for
High-Risk Interdisciplinary Projects

Agency Type:


Funding Source:

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Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)

Conf. Date:


Deadline Date:

07/15/20 8:00 PM ET


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Grants to Canada teams of investigators at eligible institutions for high-risk research projects with the potential for high reward. Applicants must submit a notice of intent and a letter of intent prior to submitting a full proposal. Funding is intended to support large-scale, Canadian-led interdisciplinary research projects that address a major challenge with the potential to realize real and lasting change. The challenge may be fundamental, leading to a scientific breakthrough, or applied, with a social, economic, environmental or health impact.

Transformation stream grants will support projects 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 interdisciplinary, bringing different perspectives to the defined problem; and
  • Have the potential to be transformative, defined as the potential to create a significant and real change or impact—a noticeable leap or tangible breakthrough rather than an incremental advance.

In the context of the Transformation stream, high risk refers to the novelty of the proposed approach to the challenge. Proposals will have to explain:

  • Why the project is novel, as it relates to the latest methods, concepts, information, and techniques;
  • How the approach builds on and benefits from expertise and resources across Canada and/or internationally;
  • What makes the approach “world-leading”; and
  • Why the approach is expected to lead to real change.

Funded proposals must have the potential for high reward to be transformative, High Reward is defined as the potential to create a significant and real change or impact. Applications must explain the anticipated change or impact that is likely to result and its significance. Proposals must also outline the major short-, medium- and long-term changes that are expected, the likelihood of their achievement, and who (or what) will be affected by the changes.

See the URL for Full Text link below for  more details on eligible projects.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 186427

Estimated Size of Grant:

Transformation grants are valued at between $2,000,000 and $4,000,000 per year (including indirect costs). The maximum budget for the direct costs of the research project is $3,200,000 per year, and the minimum budget is $1,600,000.

Applicants must request a budget (value and duration) commensurate with the objectives of the project. Applicants may also add up to 25% of the value of the direct costs of research to cover indirect costs and include this in the total funding request. This portion of the award must be used only to pay for eligible expenses

Term of Contract:

Up to six years. The start date of awards is March 2021.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Proposals must be submitted by teams. Teams must include a nominated principal investigator (NPI) and may include co-principal investigators, co-applicants and/or collaborators. Individuals who are not academic researchers are eligible for all roles except NPI. At the notice of intent to apply (NOI) stage, a minimum of five confirmed members (NPI, co-principal investigators and co-applicants but not collaborators) is required. Additional members can be added at each stage of the competition process and throughout the term of the grant. All core members of the team are expected to be confirmed when the letter of intent to apply (LOI) is submitted.

The appropriate team size and composition will depend on the requirements of the proposed project. The NPI and team members can be from any discipline(s). The NPI should be the most appropriate Canadian researcher to lead an interdisciplinary project of this scale which requires integration and coordination beyond usual disciplinary perspectives. Team members may be from any sector to ensure that all required sectors and disciplines are represented in the team and to provide an integrated interdisciplinary – and if applicable intersectoral – approach to the project. The focus should be on assembling a coherent team of experts to execute the project rather than on establishing a network.

National, international and cross-sector (private, public or other) collaborations are encouraged, as needed, to ensure that the most appropriate individuals and/or organizations are involved and that team composition reflects best practices in equity, diversity and inclusion. To support collaborations, funds from Transformation grants can be transferred to any organization within Canada or internationally except for-profit companies or federal, provincial or municipal governments.

Early career researchers (ECRs) must be included as confirmed members in all teams. For competitions under the Transformation stream, ECRs are defined as individuals who have five years’ or less experience since their first academic appointment as of the first of the month of the competition launch (December 2019 for this competition) with the exception of career interruptions (e.g., maternity or parental leave, extended sick leave, clinical training and family care) that occurred after their appointment. Part-time positions are taken into consideration. If a first academic appointment was part-time, the years of experience following it are counted at 50% until the time of an appointment to a full-time academic position. For all leaves except professional leaves (such as training-related, sabbatical, and administrative-related leaves), the five-year window is extended by twice the time interruption taken.

The NPI’s primary affiliation must be with a Canadian institution that currently has full institutional eligibility with one of the agencies:

To ensure that teams awarded a Transformation grant have sufficient time to dedicate to the project, award holders may serve as an NPI or co-principal investigator on only one Transformation grant. It is therefore recommended that individuals limit their participation as an NPI or co-principal investigator to a single application. An individual’s status as an applicant or grantee of other NFRF competitions (Exploration or International) does not affect their eligibility for the Transformation stream.

Students, postdoctoral fellows, research associates, and those in similar positions, are not eligible to apply as NPIs.

For additional information about the role of the NPI, see the URL for Full Text.

Pre-proposal Conference:

Webinars for applicants and research administrators:

February 26. 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM, (eastern) in French
To join:

February 26, 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM, (eastern) in English

See the URL for Full Text link below for a link to join.

There are a limited number of attendee spots per session. Institutions are strongly encouraged to arrange group Webinar sessions for their researchers. Links to join the webinar will be available approximately one hour before the scheduled start time. Webinars will be recorded and presentations will be made available following the session.

Pre-Application Information:

The Letter of Intent (LOI) deadline for the 2020 Transformation Competition has been extended to July 15, 2020, at 8 PM (eastern). This is the deadline for submission to the agency by the research administrators; institutions may have earlier internal deadline. Dates for future milestones will also be changed.

NOI information:

LOI information:

Best practices:

Evaluation matrices:


Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Application portal:

For more information, contact:

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

Canada: Alberta;   British Columbia;   Manitoba;   New Brunswick;   Newfoundland and Labrador;   Northwest Territories;   Nova Scotia;   Nunavut;   Ontario;   Prince Edward Island;   Quebec;   Saskatchewan;   Yukon;

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