New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF) - Exploration Stream

The objective of the Exploration stream of the NFRF program is to support high-risk, high-reward and interdisciplinary research not easily supported through funding opportunities currently offered by the Tri-Agencies. It seeks to inspire projects that bring together disciplines beyond traditional disciplinary or common interdisciplinary approaches by research teams with the capacity to explore something new that might fail, but has the potential for significant impact.

This year's competition is open to teams composed of established and/or early career researchers. Steps to apply include submitting a mandatory Notice of Intent to apply, and a subsequent full Application.

Exploration grants support research with a range of impacts, some of which might be social, cultural, economic, health-related or technological. This list is not an exhaustive; other types of impacts are also recognized. Diversity of perspectives is important, and the fund encourages research proposals led from any discipline, from those in the social sciences and humanities, to health, and the natural sciences and engineering.

To meet the minimum requirement to be considered interdisciplinary, a proposed 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). 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.

Value and Duration

The maximum budget for the direct costs of the research project is $100,000 per year for up to two years. Western applicants must add 25% of the value of the direct costs of research to cover indirect costs, and include this in the total funding request.

  • Example 1 - If your direct costs of research are $100,000, include an additional $25,000 in indirect costs ($125,000 total - NFRF ceiling)
  • Example 2 - If your direct costs of research are $80,000, include an additional $20,000 in indirect costs ($100,000 total)


To encourage projects that push the boundaries in terms of interdisciplinarity, proposals must be submitted by research teams composed of at least two individuals*. In addition to the Nominated Principal Investigator (NPI-must be an independent researcher), the team must include either a Co-Principal Investigator (Co-PI-must be an independent researcher) or a Co-Applicant. Teams may include up to one Co-PI and any number of Co-Applicants and/or Collaborators.

*In order to submit your Notice of Intent (NOI), you must identify at least one other eligible participant, in addition to yourself. You may add more participants at the Application stage of the competition. Note: Upon submission of the NOI, eligible participants cannot be modified.

Applicants wishing their application to be considered to be led by Early Career Researchers (ECRs), must ensure that both the NPI and Co-PI are eligible ECRs.

Participation limitations: To ensure 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 as either an NPI, Co-PI or Co-Applicant. The above restrictions do not apply to Collaborators. These restrictions also do not apply to the NFRF Transformation and International streams. An individual may simultaneously apply as, or be an award holder as, an NPI, Co-PI or Co-Applicant for grants under separate streams (Exploration, Transformation and International).

Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF) awardees: A researcher who is an NPI, Co-PI or Co-Applicant on a NFRF grant cannot be paid from CFREF grant funds. If a CFREF-funded researcher becomes a grantee or co-grantee of a NFRF grant, they must be paid from another source as of the start date of the NFRF grant.

Application Process & Deadlines (Times listed are EST)

(Check with your department/faculty for additional deadlines)

NOTE ON SUBMISSIONS: Your proposal at each stage of the process below (NOI, Application) does not go directly to the sponsor when you click "submit" in the Convergence Portal. It is routed to Western Research for administrative review and final submission to the sponsor. To ensure we have sufficient time to send the submission at each stage, please adhere to submission deadlines below, including INTERNAL deadlines for the Convergence Portal. Due to high volumes and/or unanticipated technical issues, lack of adherence to these timelines could jeopardize the successful submission of your proposal. (Note: The Portal is only supported by the latest versions of Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Apple Safari, and Mozilla Firefox.)

A. Notice of Intent (NOI) to Apply (required)

  • Wed., August 12, 2020 by/before 5pm - INTERNAL deadline to email a PDF copy of your NOI downloaded from the Convergence Portal (complete PDF drafts accepted) to A ROLA proposal is not required at this stage.
  • Tues., August 18, 2020 by/before 2pm - Sponsor deadline to submit your final, completed NOI in the Convergence Portal.

B. Full Application

  • Mon., September 21, 2020 - Deadline to provide proposal drafts for detailed content review; email proposal attachments/content to
  • Fri., October 9, 2020 by/before 2pm - INTERNAL deadline to submit a ROLA proposal for e-approvals, and to email a complete PDF copy of the Application downloaded from the Convergence Portal (complete PDF drafts accepted) to for administrative review.
  • Tues., October 20, 2020 by/before 2 pm - Sponsor deadline to submit your final, completed Application in the Convergence Portal.



If you have any questions or require additional information, please contact:, the Convergence Portal helpdesk or