New Frontiers in Research Funds (NFRF) – Exploration Grant 2024

Updated Information

Update May 31, 2024

  • Links to the webinars held about the Notice of Interest stage of the competition are now available. Please see under "For More Information."


Tri-Agency Institutional Programs Secretariat (TIPS), on behalf of Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), and Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC)

For More Information

The 2024 Exploration stream competition of the New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF) was launched on April 30th, 2024. All competition information is available on the program website, and the competition can be accessed via the Convergence Portal

The links to the recordings of the Notice of Intent webinar presented on May 22nd can be found below, alongside a link to the slides used during the presentation. The webinar for the Full Application stage will be presented later this fall.

Recordings: English / French

Slides: English / French


The goal of the Exploration stream is to inspire high-risk, high-reward and interdisciplinary research.

Exploration grants support research that pushes boundaries into exciting new areas. Researchers are encouraged to think “outside of the box” and undertake research that would defy current paradigms; brings disciplines together in unexpected ways and from bold, innovative perspectives; and has the potential to be disruptive or deliver game-changing impacts.

Exploration stream grants support projects that:

  • bring disciplines together beyond traditional disciplinary or common interdisciplinary approaches;
  • propose to explore something new, which might fail; and
  • have the potential for significant impact.

Exploration grants support research with a range of impacts — economic, scientific, artistic, cultural, social, technological, environmental or health-related. This list is not 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, the natural sciences and engineering.

Subject matter (fit to program)

Exploration grants support projects that are high risk, high reward and interdisciplinary. They may involve disciplines, thematic areas, approaches or subject areas eligible for funding across the three agencies. Eligible projects include those with specific short-to-medium-term objectives as well as discrete phases in longer-range research programs.

To meet the minimum requirement to be considered interdisciplinary, a proposed research project must combine elements from at least two different disciplines (as defined by a group-level classification based on the Canadian Research and Development Classification). Projects that integrate 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. Interdisciplinarity is evaluated by the multidisciplinary review panel.

The following elements are indicative of projects that do not meet program expectations for high risk and are considered ineligible: research that is the obvious next step; data collection without interpretation of underlying mechanisms or patterns; professional practice or consulting services (contract research); 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; application of existing technology or commercialization of a product/process; routine analyses; and/or acquisition and maintenance of research equipment.

Applications for projects that are the same or similar, in whole or in part, to ones that have been submitted to or funded by other federal research granting agency programs should not be submitted to the NFRF program. Applications for projects the same as or similar to projects that have been unsuccessful in receiving funding from other agency programs may be submitted to the NFRF program in cases where the lack of success is due to the high-risk and/or interdisciplinary nature of the project, rather than limited funds in a highly competitive pool.

Applications not meeting any of the requirements outlined above may be deemed ineligible 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).

Applications for funding the same or very similar research cannot be simultaneously submitted to two different funding opportunities, including to funding opportunities at different agencies.


Research team

To encourage projects that push the boundaries in terms of interdisciplinarity, proposals must be submitted by research teams with at least two individuals. In addition to a nominated principal investigator (NPI), the team must include either a co-principal investigator (co-PI) or a co-applicant. Teams may include one co-PI and any number of co-applicants and/or collaborators.

To ensure that Exploration grants support high-risk, high-reward projects across the broadest spectrum of disciplines, individuals can participate in only one application of the NFRF Exploration grants stream at a time, as either an NPI, co-PI or co-applicant. If an NPI, co-PI or co-applicant also had such a role on a previous Exploration grant-funded project, they must have submitted their final report for the previous project at least one month before the full application deadline for the present Exploration competition. Should the final report not be submitted, they will be removed from the application, and the application may be removed if the research team no longer meets minimum requirements. These restrictions do not apply to collaborators, to the NFRF Transformation and International streams, or to special calls. An individual may simultaneously apply for or be an award holder as NPI, co-PI or co-applicant for grants under separate streams (Exploration, Transformation, International and special calls).

Other research team members, such as trainees (graduate and other students, postdoctoral fellows, etc.) and research personnel (research associates, technicians, etc.), can participate in the project’s research activities but are not invited as participants through the Convergence Portal.

Early career researcher

A proposal is considered to be led by early career researchers (ECRs) if both the NPI and co-PI (if applicable) are ECRs. An ECR is a researcher within five years from the start date of their first research-related appointment, minus the length of any eligible delays in research (e.g., illness, maternity, parental), as of the first day of the month in which the competition is launched (April 30, 2024, for this Exploration competition), where:

  • “research-related appointments” are defined as those where an individual has the autonomy to conduct research independently;
  • all eligible leaves (e.g., maternity, parental, medical, bereavement) are credited at twice the amount of time taken; and
  • professional leaves (e.g., training, sabbatical, administrative) are not credited.

Research interruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic (e.g., closures) are recognized as, and may be counted as, an eligible delay (credited at twice the amount of time) beginning March 1, 2020.

If a first academic appointment was a part-time appointment/position, years of experience are counted at 50%, until the researcher’s appointment to a full-time academic position. More details are available in the Frequently Asked Questions.

Funding Availability

A minimum of $25 million over two years

Maximum Project Value

Up to $125,000 per year (including indirect costs)

Indirect Costs


Project Duration

Up to two years


If College-level review is required, your College will communicate its earlier internal deadlines.

Internal Deadline

Notification of Intent to Apply (NOI)

The Nominated Principal Investigator must submit their NOI through the Convergence PortalPlease note, when the Nominated Principal Investigator submits their NOI in the Convergence Portal, the status will change to 'Received by Administrator.' You must submit a signed OR-5 and a copy of the draft NOI to by the internal NOI deadline in order for RSO to review and formally submit the NOI to the Sponsor. Once RSO submits the NOI, the status will change to 'Received by Agency," which indicates formal submission to the Sponsor. 

The NOI, reviewed and submitted by RSO, is mandatory to progress to the next stage.  A complete, signed OR-5 form is required at this stage to verify eligibility, etc.. Please estimate the maximum budget, including 25% indirect costs, on your OR-5 form, and it can be updated at the Full Application stage when finalized.

External Deadline


The RSO will submit the completed NOI directly through the Convergence Portal on behalf of the research team. 

Please Note: Once an NOI has been submitted by RSO, the NPI, co-principal investigator and/or co-applicants may not remove themselves from the project to join a different project within the Exploration stream.

Internal Deadline

Full Application

NOIs are not adjudicated, so all teams can proceed with Full Application. The Nominated Principal Investigator must submit their completed Full Application in the Convergence Portal and notify

External Deadline

Full Application

The RSO will submit the completed Full Application directly through the Convergence Portal on behalf of the research team. 

How to Apply

To apply for this Exploration grant, an NPI must submit a notice of intent to apply (NOI) by the listed deadlines. Co-PIs and co-applicants must have accepted their invitations to participate through the Portal prior to the submission of the NOI. The research team must then submit a full application by the listed deadline.

Applicants must complete the NOI and full application using the Convergence Portal and follow the instructions outlined in the NOI and full application guides.

NOIs and full applications received after the deadlines or that are incomplete will be removed from the competition.

All NOIs and full applications are first submitted to the research administrator (research grants office or equivalent) at the NPI’s primary affiliation. The administrator must submit the NOI or full application through the Convergence Portal before the relevant deadline.

For Questions, please contact

For more information, contact:

Office of Research

Rachel Lee, Senior Grants and Contracts Specialist
Research Services Office

Alert Classifications
Funding Opportunities and Sponsor News

Health and Life Sciences
Information and Communications Technology
Physical Sciences and Engineering
Social Sciences