New Frontiers in Research Fund

The New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF) supports world-leading international, high-risk/high-reward, transformative and rapid-response research.

NFRF is composed of three streams that support specific goals and also occasionally launches special calls:

Exploration Stream

The Exploration stream generates opportunities for Canada to build strength in high-risk, high-reward and interdisciplinary research. This competition takes place annually.

  • The fund provides up to $100k in direct research costs per year for up to 2 years; Proposals must include a minimum of two applicants.

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Transformation Stream

The Transformation stream provides large-scale support for Canada to build strength and leadership in interdisciplinary and transformative research. The competition takes place every two years.

  • The competition provides between $1.6M and $3.2M in direct research costs per year for up to 6 years; proposals must include minimum 5 team members, including one early-career researcher

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International Stream

The International stream enhances opportunities for Canadian researchers to participate in research with international partners

  • These competitions occur via joint funding calls with international agencies on topics of international relevance, as well as through eligible and funded Horizon Europe calls.

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Special Calls

Special calls are targeted to support emerging research as needed. Calls for the following topics have launched in recent years:

2020: Addressing COVID-19 challenges

2021: Innovative approaches to research in the pandemic context (up to $200k in direct research costs for 1 year; single applicant or team)

2022: Research for post-pandemic recovery (up to $200k in direct research costs per year for up to 2 years; minimum 2 applicants)

The NFRF program has five broad selection criteria for the evaluation of applications. The weighting and definition of each criterion, and the elements considered for each, vary between competition streams and stages to reflect their unique objectives.

  1. High risk relates to the approach to the problem.
  2. High reward relates to the potential outcomes and impacts of the research project.
  3. Interdisciplinarity relates to the degree to which multiple disciplines are integrated in the definition of the research problem and in the design and execution of the research project.
  4. Feasibility considers the ability to execute the planned activities.
  5. Equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) - renamed EDI in Research Practice (EDI-RP) for the Exploration stream - and support for early career researchers (ECRs) consider the research team’s commitment to fostering EDI in the research environment, as well as support of ECRs.

The NFRF is administered by the Tri-agency Institutional Programs Secretariat, which is housed within the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), on behalf of Canada’s three research granting agencies: the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and SSHRC. 

Agency Website

SPARC provides strategic support services and resources for applicants of UBC-led proposals, including program outreach, Test Your Concept sessions, project and proposal development, proposal review, in-person and virtual consultations, and workshops on competition-specific topics. SPARC also provides resources and sample grants to the UBC community for NFRF programs (CWL required).

SPARC Resources 


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