Quick links


Go back to news

New Frontiers in Research Fund competition is open!

Posted on: Jul 11, 2019

The Office of Research Services invites eligible Faculty Members to submit applications to the New Frontiers in Research Fund competition.


The competition is for applications for high-risk, high-reward, multidisciplinary projects. Please remember that all applications for external funding must be registered at the ORS a minimum of seven working days before the sponsor deadline (not required for LOI or NOI for this competition). Instructions can be found here.


Applications can receive up to $125,000 per year, for two years, including Indirect Costs of Research (25% of the application budget must be allocated under this item). If you are considering applying to this program, please contact the ORS at research@concordia.ab.ca.


Date Milestone
July 3rd, 2019

Competition launch

Convergence Portal open for NOI

August 7, 2019 NOI deadline
August 14, 2019 Convergence Portal opens for LOI
September 4, 2019 LOI deadline
October 31, 2019

LOI results released

Convergence Portal opens for Applications

December 10, 2019 Application deadline
March 31, 2020

Awards results released

Start date of awards


The objective of the Exploration stream of the NFRF program is to support high risk, high reward and interdisciplinary research that is not easily supported through funding opportunities currently offered by the three agencies. It seeks to inspire projects that bring disciplines together beyond traditional disciplinary or common interdisciplinary approaches by research teams with the capacity to explore something new, which might fail but has the potential for significant impact. Exploration grants aim to have a variety of types of impacts, some of which might be social, economic, scientific, artistic or cultural. This is not an exhaustive list; other types of impacts are also recognized.


The maximum budget for the direct costs of the research project is $100,000 per year for up to two years. 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 as outlined on the Research Support Fund website. The indirect costs component of each award is included within the award value; it is not in addition to it.


To encourage projects that push the boundaries in terms of interdisciplinarity, proposals must be submitted by research teams composed of at least two individuals. This minimum applies to all stages of the competition—notice of intent to apply (NOI), letter of intent to apply (LOI) and application. In addition to the nominated principal investigator (NPI), the team must include either a co-principal investigator or a co-applicant. Teams may include up to one co-principal investigator and any number of co-applicants and/or collaborators. The NPI and team members can be from any discipline(s).  

To ensure that Exploration grants support high risk, high reward projects across the broadest spectrum of disciplines, individuals may participate in only one Exploration stream application or grant at one time. Individuals can participate in only one application as either an NPI, a co-principal investigator or a co-applicant. Individuals cannot participate in any of these roles if they are a grantee or co-grantee on an active Exploration grant. These restrictions do not apply to collaborators.

For a proposal to be considered to be led by early career researchers (ECRs), both the NPI and co-principal investigator (if applicable) must be ECR. For competitions under the Exploration 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 in which the competition was launched (July 1, 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 also taken into consideration. For maternity or parental leave, the five-year window is extended by an amount equal to twice the time interruption taken. In the case of a first academic appointment having been a part-time appointment/position, the years of experience following it are counted at 50% until the time of an appointment to a full-time academic position. Additional details are available in the FAQs.


Subject Matter (Fit to Program)

Exploration grants support projects that are high risk, high reward and interdisciplinary. They may involve any disciplines, thematic areas, approaches or subject areas eligible for funding across the tri-agencies.

To meet the minimum requirement to be considered interdisciplinary, the proposed research project must include elements from at least two different disciplines (as defined by a group-level classification based on the Canadian Research and Development Classification). Note that projects that incorporate two disciplines with a long and established tradition of working together (e.g., biology and chemistry or psychology and education) may satisfy the above requirement but not meet the expectations of the program. The onus is on the applicant to explain the novelty of the interdisciplinary approach to justify the fit to program.  

Proposed projects may range from basic research to development. Eligible projects include those with specific short- to medium-term objectives, as well as discrete phases in programs of longer-range research.

The following elements are considered to be indicative of projects that do not meet program expectations with regard to high risk, and are therefore discouraged: research that is the obvious next step; data collection without interpreting underlying mechanisms; professional practice or consulting services (contract research); the set-up and operational management of an institute or a formal or informal group of researchers (network); curriculum development; organization of a conference or workshop; digitization of a collection or creation of a database; the application of existing technology or the commercialization of a product/process; routine analyses; and/or the acquisition and maintenance of scientific equipment.

Applications for projects that are the same or similar, in whole or in part, to ones that have been funded by other agency programs should not be submitted to the NFRF program. Applications for the same or similar projects that have been unsuccessful in other agency programs may be submitted to the NFRF program in cases where the reason for the lack of success is the high risk and/or interdisciplinary nature of the project, rather than limited funds in a highly competitive pool. Exploration grants are intended to fund projects that are not easily funded through existing agency programs. Applications for the same or very similar research cannot be simultaneously submitted to two different funding opportunities, including to funding opportunities at different agencies.

Applications not meeting any of the requirements outlined above may be withdrawn at any point in the competition or have their NFRF grant terminated (with the NPI’s primary affiliation being responsible for reimbursing the total amount of the grant) if terminated at a later date.  

Applicants are strongly encouraged to review the Feedback to Applicants and the Report from the Co-Chairs from the inaugural (2018) Exploration competition for additional tips regarding subject matter and preparation of submissions.