New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF) - Exploration Stream

The goal of the New Frontiers in Research Exploration stream (NFRF-E) 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 the box", undertake research that would defy current paradigms, and bring disciplines together in unexpected ways and from bold, innovative perspectives. 

Exploration stream grants support projects that: i) bring disciplines together beyond traditional disciplinary or common interdisciplinary approaches; ii) propose to explore something new, which might fail, and; iii) 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 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 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.

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 request 25% of the value of the direct costs of research to cover indirect costs, and include this in the total funding request to NFRF-E.

  • Example 1 - If your direct costs of research are $100,000/year, include an additional $25,000/year in indirect costs ($125,000 total - NFRF ceiling)
  • Example 2 - If your direct costs of research are $80,000/year, include an additional $20,000/year in indirect costs ($100,000 total)
Grant start date:  March 31, 2023


To encourage projects that push the boundaries in terms of interdisciplinarity, proposals must be submitted by research teams composed of at least two eligible 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 one co-PI and any number of co-applicants and/or collaborators.

*In order to submit your NOI, the team must include at least 2 participants: the NPI and a co-PI and/or a co-applicant. You may add more team members at the full 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 (if applicable) are eligible ECRs. A proportion of awards equal to the proportion of applications that are led by ECRs will be reserved for these researchers.

Participation limitations: To ensure Exploration grants support high-risk, high-reward projects across the broadest spectrum of disciplines, individuals may participate in ONLY ONE application of the NFRF Exploration stream at a time as either an NPI, Co-PI or Co-Applicant. If an NPI, co-PI or co-applicant also has 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 competition. (The above 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).

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 and also receive NFRF grants to support their research. If a CFREF-funded researcher becomes a grant holder or co-grant holder of a NFRF grant, they must be paid from another source as of the start date of the NFRF grant.

Application Process & Deadlines

(Check with your faculty research office for additional deadlines)

NOTE ON SUBMISSION HANDLING: 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. (Note: The Portal is only supported by the latest versions of Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Apple Safari, and Mozilla Firefox.)

  1. Notice of Intent (NOI) to Apply (required)
    • Tues., June 21, 2022 by/before 5pm - INTERNAL deadline
      • to submit your draft NOI in the Convergence Portal for administrative review. It will be returned to you (if necessary) in the Portal by our office for further editing once we've downloaded a copy.
      • to submit a ROLA proposal for internal approvals (choose Notice of Intent, not Application).
      • Important Note: When initiating the NOI process, be sure to select The University of Western Ontario as the "Administering Institution" for this submission (mandatory field).
    • Tues., June 28, 2022 by/before 2pm - Sponsor deadline to submit your final, completed NOI in the Convergence Portal. Western Research must do the final submission to NFRF.
  2. Full Application
    • Tues., August 30, 2022 by/before 2pm - INTERNAL deadline to i) submit a ROLA proposal for e-approvals, and ii) to submit your application in the Convergence Portal for administrative review.  It will be returned to you (if necessary) in the Portal by our office for further editing once we've downloaded a copy.
    • Tues., September 13, 2022 by/before 2 pm - Sponsor deadline to submit your final, completed Application in the Convergence Portal. Western Research must do the final submisssion to NFRF.



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