New Frontiers in Research Fund - Transformation Stream

Lawson Hall


The Transformation stream is designed to support large-scale, Canadian-led interdisciplinary research projects that address a major challenge with the potential to realize real and lasting change (high reward). 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 where relevant.

The Transformation stream grants will support projects that:

  • tackle a well-defined problem or challenge;
  • propose a novel world-leading approach that is different from the current state-of-the-art approaches to the issue;
  • are interdisciplinary, bringing different perspectives to the defined problem; and
  • 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 versus an incremental advance.

Internal Processes

Our experience with programs of this scale suggests that the Transformation stream will be extremely competitive, with high standards for excellence. Proposals of this scale require significant time, effort and resources from the institution, the Faculty(ies), and the project teams. Due to the high volume of interest in this program, Western Research is implementing mandatory deadlines and stages to enable us to support proposal development and allocate resources.

  • Expression of Interest: A mandatory expression of interest must be submitted by January 8, 2020 to enable us to identify potential Transformation projects, provide adequate oversight and support, and allocate resources. Expressions of interest can be submitted to and must include the PI(s), project title, a short (~250 word) description of the challenge and proposed approach, and a description of the co-applicants, collaborators, and/or partners involved.
  • Draft Notices of Intent: Drafts of the NFRF Notice of Intent attachment(s) must be submitted to Western Research ( by January 21, 2020.
  • "Pitch Your Proposal" Event: A mandatory “Pitch Your Proposal” event will be held January 22, 2020 from 1:30 – 3:00 (location TBA). The event will be open to the campus community and we encourage all those interested to attend. Project leaders, or a designate from their team, will provide a brief presentation summarizing the proposed project and how it addresses the Transformation stream criteria. Details of the event and presentation format will be provided to team leaders following submission of their expression of interest.

To maximize the impact of available human and financial resources, only a select number of projects which are most closely aligned with the goals and assessment criteria of the Transformation program will be eligible to receive institutional support. Strategic decisions regarding support will be made based on the submitted draft Notices of Intent and team pitches.

Further details can be found in the Western Guidelines for the 2020 Transformation stream (Western ID/password required).

Value and Duration

Transformation stream grants can request between $1.6M and $3.2M per year in direct research costs (plus 25% indirect costs), for up to six years. Grants will be awarded for three years initially, with a grant for the remaining three years dependent on a successful mid-term review of progress.

Merit Indicators

The New Frontiers in Research Fund has posted list of Merit Indicators to be used in evaluation of applications, which we recommend project leaders consult in developing a potential Transformation Project.


The timelines are:

  • Internal Expressions of Interest: January 8, 2020
  • Draft Notices of Intent: January 21, 2020
  • "Pitch Your Proposal" Event: January 22, 2020
  • Notices of Intent: February 18, 2020
  • Letters of Intent: April 15, 2020
  • Full Applications (by invitation only): November 18, 2020

The content of the NOI, LOI, and full application can be found in the competition guidelines.


Given the strategic nature and high value of this program, if you have a potential project/team and are considering applying for a Transformation stream grant, we encourage you to contact Western Research as early as possible. Research Western wants to engage early with interested teams, and can set up meetings and facilitate workshops to discuss potential proposals.

Documents and Resources


For more information on the NFRF Transformation stream, or to discuss a potential project, contact Carolyn Paterson, Senior Research Development Officer (ext. 82262)