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New Frontiers in Research Fund Transformation competition is open!

Posted on: Dec 9, 2019

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

Please note that this is a different call from that released in July 2019, as this call focuses on large-scale interdisciplinary research.


The objective of the Transformation stream is 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. 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 that is different from the current state-of-the-art approaches to the issue;
  3. are interdisciplinary, bringing different perspectives to the defined problem; and
  4. 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.

The definition of transformative is linked to the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s proposed definition of convergence research (PDF, 726 KB), where “convergence research is increasingly seen as the way to solve pressing challenges.” It is aligned with the National Science Foundation’s definition of convergence research, focusing on research driven by a specific and compelling problem and deep integration across disciplines. It also has strong parallels to Horizon Europe in its reference to mission-oriented research and innovation with bold and concrete objectives to respond to societal challenges.

Applicants can receive between $2,000,000 to $4,000,000 (max) over six years. This amount should include Indirect Costs of Research (25% of the application budget must be allocated under this item). Direct research costs can be from $1,600,000 to $3,200,000 (max).

If you are considering applying to this program, please contact the ORS at research@concordia.ab.ca. Here are some highlights of this grant. For further information, please consult the New Frontiers in Research Fund Transformation competition website.

To apply for a Transformation grant, an NOI must be submitted by February 18, 2020. This is a mandatory step in the application process. The team must then complete and submit an LOI by April 15, 2020. Selected teams will be invited to complete and submit a full application by November 18, 2020.

Applicants must complete the NOI, LOI and full application using the Convergence Portal following the accompanying NOI, LOI and full application submission guides.

NOIs, LOIs and full applications received after the deadlines or that are incomplete will be withdrawn from the competition. No extensions to the deadlines will be provided. Please note that all NOIs, LOIs and full applications are submitted to the research administrator (research grants office [RGO] or equivalent) of the NPI’s primary affiliation. Research administrators are free to set their own internal deadlines. The RGO must submit it through the Convergence Portal before the relevant deadlines.

Date Milestone
December 5, 2019 Competition launch
Convergence Portal opens for NOI
February 18, 2020 NOI deadline
February 25, 2020 Convergence Portal opens for LOI
April 15, 2020 LOI deadline
June 15, 2020 LOI results released
June 29, 2020 Convergence Portal opens for full applications
November 18, 2020 Full application deadline
February 2021 Award results released
March 2021 Start date of awards

Project Team

To reflect the expertise required to deliver on the ambitious and interdisciplinary nature of the project, 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. Additional details are available in the FAQ.

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.