New Frontiers in Research Fund


The objective of the inaugural competition of the New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF) is to generate opportunities for early career researchers (ECRs) to conduct high-risk, high-reward and interdisciplinary research not available through funding opportunities currently offered by the Tri-Council agencies (CIHR, NSERC, and SSHRC). It seeks to inspire highly innovative projects that defy current research paradigms, propose a unique scientific direction, bring disciplines together beyond the traditional disciplinary approaches, and/or use different perspectives to solve existing problems.

Application Process & Deadlines

  • NFRF Workshop: Tuesday, December 18 (details below)
  • NFRF Notice of Intent: due Friday, January 11, 2019 by/before 8 p.m. (forms available December 17, 2018)
  • Application forms available January 14, 2019
  • Research Services deadline for submission of ROLA proposal and a draft application to Thursday, February 7, 2019 by/before 2 p.m.
  • Sponsor's deadline: Thursday, February 14, 2019 by/before 2 p.m.

N.B. Unlike the NOI, when you click 'submit' on the full application it is routed to Research Development & Services for review and final submission to the Tri-agency Institutional Programs Secretariat (TIPS).


Research Western will be holding a workshop for researchers interested in applying to the inaugural competition of the NFRF.

Please RSVP to the workshop here. (Requires Western ID/login.) Information provided will be shared with other attendees to help foster potential collaborations.

  • Date: Tuesday, December 18
  • Time: 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
  • Location: FIMS & Nursing Building, room 1240 **note location change**

The workshop will include an introduction to the NFRF program by Associate Vice-Presidents (Research) Mark Daley and Juan-Luis Suarez; an overview of the program and application process; and an opportunity for attendees to interact with each other and foster potential interdisciplinary collaborations.

List of workshop participants (password-protected)

Presentation slides (password-protected)


Applications may be submitted by an individual researcher or a team of researchers. The principal investigator must be an early career researcher (ECR) and must be affiliated with a Canadian academic institution eligible to receive Tri-Council funding.

Teams may include one co-principal investigator, who must also be an ECR, and any number of co-applicants and/or collaborators, who do not need to be ECRs.

For this inaugural round, individuals can participate in only one application as a PI, Co-PI, or co-applicant. Furthermore, for future Exploration competitions, individuals cannot participate as a nominated principal investigator, co-principal investigator or co-applicant on a proposal if they are already a grantee or co-grantee of an Exploration award.

Early Career Researchers: Definitions and Eligibility

For the purposes of this competition, early career researchers are defined as individuals who have five years or less experience since their first academic appointment as of January 1, 2019, with the exception of career interruptions.

  • For maternity or parental leave, the five-year window is extended by an amount equal to twice the time interruption taken.
  • For first academic appointments which were a part-time position, the years of experience will be counted at 50% until the time of an appointment ot a full-time position.

For assistance or questions in determining your eligibility, please contact

Subject Matter

Projects must be innovative in nature and use unconventional approaches or ideas to achieve high-risk and high-reward interdisciplinary research.

Projects must be interdisciplinary. The nominated principal investigator and team members (if applicable) can be from any discipline, but 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).

Projects are not eligible if they:

  • focus solely on research within a single discipline;
  • propose research that is the obvious next step;
  • would likely be funded through another program offered at one of the three agencies;
  • have not taken into consideration sex- and gender-based analaysis (if applicable); or
  • do not support equity, diversity and inclusion in their team and training environment.


Projects may range in value and duration, up to $250,000 for two years ($200,000 direct research costs + $50,000 indirect costs; maximum $125,000/year total).

Evaluation Criteria

Proposals will be evaluated on the following criteria, detailed on the NFRF website:

  • Interdisciplinarity
  • Equity, diversity & inclusion
  • High-risk
  • High-reward
  • Feasibility

Documents and Resources


For more information or questions regarding the New Frontiers in Research Program, contact or Carolyn Paterson (, ext. 82262).