Program Characteristics


The New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF) is designed to support world-leading innovation and enhance Canada’s competitiveness in the global, knowledge-based economy. The NFRF was designed with unique program characteristics to meet its goals.

International collaborations are an important focus of the fund. They are encouraged for Exploration projects, expected for Transformation projects, and mandatory for International stream projects.

For the Exploration and Transformation streams, international partners not affiliated with a for-profit company or government are eligible as co-principal investigators and/or co-applicants, which makes them eligible to receive funds transferred from the nominated principal investigator. International partners that are affiliated with a for-profit company or government are eligible as collaborators. However, transfers of funds to collaborators are not permitted.

The NFRF program has five broad selection criteria for the evaluation of applications:

  • High risk relates to the approach to the problem.
  • High reward relates to the potential outcomes and impacts of the research project.
  • Interdisciplinarity relates to the degree to which multiple disciplines are integrated in the definition of the research problem and in the design and execution of the research project.
  • Feasibility considers the ability to execute the planned activities.
  • Equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) and support for early career researchers (ECRs) consider the research team’s commitment to fostering EDI in the research environment, as well as support of ECRs.

The weighting and definition of each criterion, and the elements considered for each, may vary between streams and competition stages to reflect their unique objectives.

Further details about the criteria can be found in the information about individual funding opportunities.

To better promote ground-breaking and interdisciplinary research, the NFRF program has a mandate to use innovative merit review processes, including proof-of-concept applications; pass-or-fail assessment; double-blind review; and sandpit for targeted, special calls.


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