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Program Overview

The New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF) promotes groundbreaking and interdisciplinary research. The objective of the Transformation stream is "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 or applied and projects are expected to be world-leading, drawing on global research expertise, when relevant.

Transformation stream grants will support projects that:

  1. tackle a well-defined problem or challenge
  2. propose a novel world-leading approach
  3. are interdisciplinary (must include at least two different disciplines and fall under mandate of more than one federal research funding agency)
  4. have the potential to be transformative and create a significant or real change or impact - a noticeable leap or tangible breakthrough rather than an incremental advance.

Value: $2 million to $4 million per year (including indirect costs) for up to six years

Note: All applications must submit a notice of intent to apply (NOI) and letter of intent to apply (LOI). Only successful LOIs are invited to submit a full application.

For more information, please consult the agency website.

Project Team

  • Individuals who are not academic researchers are eligible for all roles except Nominated Principal Investigator (NPI)
  • At NOI stage, a min. of 5 confirmed members is required (NPI, co-principal investigators and co-applicants, but not collaborators)
  • National, international and cross-sector collaborations are encouraged
  • Early Career Researchers (ECRs, those within 5 years of first academic appointment excluding career interruptions) must be included as confirmed members in all teams

Nominated Principal Investigator (NPI)

  • engages in research-related activities that are not under the direction of another individual
  • has an academic or research appointment that: begins by August 1, 2022; allows the individual to pursue the proposed research project for the entire duration of funding; and obliges the individual to comply with institutional policies
  • primary affiliation must be with a Canadian institution currently holding full institutional eligibility with one of the following agencies: CIHR, NSERC, or SSHRC [revised for 2022]
  • Students, postdocs, RAs and such positions are not eligible as NPIs

Co-principal investigators and co-applicants

  • may be practitioners, policymakers, educators, decision-makers, health care administrators, Indigenous Elders and knowledge keepers, patients, community leaders, charitable workers, and others
  • Researchers and professors must be considered independent researchers with an affiliation to a Canadian postsecondary institution, a Canadian institution or organization that does not have full institutional eligibility with one of the three granting agencies, or an international institution outside of Canada [revised for 2022]
  • A government department (at any level) or for-profit company is not eligible


  • Can be affiliated with any Canadian or international organization
  • Individuals affiliated with a government department or for-profit company are eligible
  • Students, postdocs, RAs and other such positions are eligible if they are not supervised by the NPI, co-principal investigator, co-applicant and/or another collaborator

Institutional Strategic Awards (ISA) provides central proposal development support to teams in partnership with faculty Research Grants Facilitators.  Depending on the level of interest for this competition, the VPRI and AVPR will allocate the level of ISA proposal development services offered to NFRF-T applicant teams based on a determination of each project's readiness and support needs. 

To register your request for central support and participate in a pitch-your-proposal style event to receive interdisciplinary feedback from a panel of Associate Deans, Research, please submit an internal Notice of Intent form by October 1, 2021 (one form per team).

 All teams who register by the deadline will be offered the following central support:

  • Early interdisciplinary feedback from a panel of Associate Deans, Research at pitch-your-proposal style event
  • Resources, tools and templates for proposal development
  • An internal review of the draft proposal by the ISA team

Additional support for 1-3 teams may include some or all of the following:

  • 1:1 consultation with Senior Advisor on strategy and approach
  • Dedicated pre-award Research Project Manager to coordinate activities and timelines
  • Budget development support
  • Provision of customized strategies for EDI, Indigenous engagement, and other considerations
  • Graphic design support
  • External review of the draft application by subject matter experts

Applying to the Transformation program involves a three phase application process:

  1. Notice of Intent (NOI) - used for administrative purposes only (not competitive)
  2. Letter of Intent (LOI) - evaluated by multidisciplinary review panel
  3. Full Application (upon invitation) - reviewed by external reviewers and evaluated by multidisciplinary review panel; highest-ranked applications will proceed to review by a jury

These are to be completed using the Convergence Portal and submitted to the SFU Office of Research Services at least 3 business days prior to external deadline (see Timeline, right).

The following five criteria will be used to evaluate proposals (see program overview and merit indicators for details):

  1. Interdisciplinary (pass/fail)
  2. Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) - including ECR (pass/fail)
  3. High Risk (weighted at 20% for LOI stage and 25% for application stage)
  4. High Reward (weighted at 60% for LOI stage and 25% for application stage)
  5. Feasibility (weighted at 20% for LOI stage and 50% for application stage)

All NOIs, LOIs, and full applications are required to be submitted to the agency portal by SFU's Office of Research Services (ORS). See internal deadlines in Timeline, right. 

 For Phase 1 - Notification of Intent (NOI):

  1. Profiles for the research team (at least five participants)
  2. Content, including max 3500-character Outline of Challenge and 3500-character Overview of Approach and Potential Changes
  • Note: NOI content (section 2) may be updated at LOI stage

For Phase 2 - Letter of Intent (LOI):

  1. Profiles for any additional members of research team
  2. Content submitted at NOI stage, as well as: any changes to collaborators; suggestions for reviewers (min. of 20 of whom at least 10 must be from outside Canada); budget table; GBA+ [new for 2022 competition]; EDI and support of ECR; supporting documents incl. 10-page research proposal; references (unlimited)

For Phase 3 - Application:

  1. Profiles for any additional members of research team
  2. Content submitted at NOI and LOI stages, as well as: any changes to collaborators; detailed budget table; certifications, licenses and permits; 18-page research proposal; literature references (unlimited);
Last updated: May 21, 2024
Last updated: May 21, 2024