NFRF Transformation Competition 2020

Updated Information

New External Deadlines:

  • From April 15, 2020 to July 15, 2020
  • From November 8, 2020 to TBD


New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF)



For More Information

Consult the 2020 Transformation Competition guidelines


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.


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.

The NPI must be considered an independent researcher at their primary affiliation –which is defined as the primary organization where the NPI is employed or appointed or where they conduct research. University faculty participating in a project must identify themselves as "independent researchers" (not "educators"). 

Maximum Project Value

Transformation grants are valued at between $2,000,000 and $4,000,000 per year (including indirect costs) for up to six years. The minimum budget for direct costs of research is $1,600,000 per year and the maximum budget is $3,200,000 per year.

Applicants must request a budget (value and duration) commensurate with the objectives of the project.

Indirect Costs

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 component of each award for indirect costs is included in the award value; it is not in addition to it. 

Project Duration

Up to six years.


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

Internal Deadline

Deadline to register for the January 10 Big Ideas World Café. Registration is required.

Internal Deadline

Big Ideas World Café 

Moderated by Vice-President (Research), the purpose of the workshop is to foster interdisciplinary conversation on "well-defined problems or challenges" to imagine the "novel world-leading approaches" required to solve them. Registration is required.  

To register, propose a "well-defined problem or challenge."  Registration is required.

A summary of the World Café will be provided to all participants.

Internal Deadline

Test Your Big Idea: Teams present draft Notices of Intent to a multi-disciplinary panel on February 12.  Registration is required.  Please register by Friday, February 7.  See "How to Apply" for details.


Internal Deadline

Submit via the Convergence portal complete final draft NOI (for ORS review and submission)

External Deadline

NOI due to sponsor. Please submit your MPDG for grant development funding by February 20. See details in "how to apply."


External Deadline

LOI due to sponsor. LOI internal deadlines will be communicated directly to teams after NOI submission.


External Deadline


Full proposal deadline to sponsor if invited after LOI adjudication processes. Internal deadlines that allow for iterative review will be communicated following the release of LOI results.

How to Apply

  1.  Register by Friday, February 7th for the “Test Your Big Idea” event on Wednesday, February 12th  (9am-12, Robert Whitelaw Room, Library 246A)
  • Each team is required to present their draft NOI and register using this link
  • The “Test your Big Idea” session is not for the purpose of internal adjudication or selection but to help you develop a competitive Letter of Intent (LOI).
  • Please prepare a pitch, no longer than 10 minutes that clearly demonstrates how the application meets two of the competitions major criteria:  high risk and high reward.  
  • As you consider how best to meet the high-reward/high-risk program criteria, please refer to Evaluation matrices
  1. Submit your NOI via the Convergence Portal by 9:00 AM Friday, February 14 (this is a revised deadline to accommodate public holiday on Feb 17).   
    • In order to submit your Notice of Intent (NOI), you must have at least four other eligible participants.  You may add more participants at the next stage of the competition. These participants must accept the invitation to participate and complete their eligibility profile before you can submit the NOI.   University faculty must identify themselves as "independent researchers" (not "educators").
    • As you consider composition of your team, please refer to: Best Practices in Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Guide
    • Each team must include Early Career Researcher(s) (ECR).  Refer to program details for more information.  This requirement can be met after NOI. 
  2. Submit a proposal for a Major Proposal Development Grant (MPDG) by Thurs. Feb. 20.  The Transformation program is complex, fast, and highly competitive and we expect applicants may require additional resources and expertise to develop a competitive LOI.  The ORS will consider matching College contributions to provide support for grant-development.  The usual $5K max. for MPDG funding does not apply to this competition. The new MPDG application form and guidelines will be available by Feb. 3.
For Questions, please contact

For more information, contact:

Office of Research

Ailsa Kay, Manager, Strategic Research Programs
Research Services Office
519-824-4120 x58321

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