New Frontiers in Research Fund – Exploration: Frequently Asked Questions

Last updated on April 25, 2019

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Refer to the funding opportunity description for information on the objectives, eligibility requirements, the review process, as well as a definition of early career researchers, independent researcher and other terms.

Funding Opportunity

  • What is the intent of the NFRF–Exploration stream? Added February 9, 2019

    The intent of the NFRF-Exploration stream is to provide funding for projects that are not easily funded through existing funding opportunities – projects that are high risk/high-reward and interdisciplinary

  • Are there more grants/competitions coming with this stream? Updated February 9, 2019

    The inaugural competition is the first of a series of New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF) calls that the Canada Research Coordinating Committee (CRCC) will launch over the coming year. These calls will unfold in phases to bolster interdisciplinary, high-risk and high-reward research, and international collaboration to strengthen the Canadian research ecosystem and support researchers at all career levels.

  • The inaugural competition is only open to early career researchers (ECRs). Does this mean this will be the case for all the dedicated funds, or will more established researchers get the opportunity to apply?

    There will be opportunities for more established researchers. Please watch for upcoming announcements regarding future calls over the coming year.

  • How will you ensure fairness across the agencies and the representation of their research in the competition results?

    The multidisciplinary review panel will be composed of members whose research falls across agencies. The top-ranked applications will be selected based on the number of grants available, regardless of the agency that they might fall under.


  • Can I use this grant to expand on activities undertaken for another grant? Updated February 9, 2019

    Yes, you may – keeping in mind the objectives of this program to fund high-risk, high-reward, and interdisciplinary research not easily support by traditional tri-agency funding. Also, overlapping funds will not be permitted.

  • Can we propose a project that is partially funded by another government department?

    Yes, but not if the project is a part of a separate government contract. Applicants can bring funds from other sources to the project, but there should be no duplication of funding or expenses.

  • Can I apply as the principal investigator to this funding opportunity as an unaffiliated researcher? Can I do so if an institution agrees to sign on and administer this on my behalf?

    To be eligible to apply to this funding opportunity as the principal investigator, you must be an independent researcher at an eligible institution. Therefore, if an eligible institution is willing to offer you an independent researcher position that isn’t conditional upon you obtaining the grant, you may apply.

  • Can I apply if I am currently on leave?

    Yes, as long as you still fit within the ECR eligibility criteria and the institution supports your application and forwards it to the agency at the full application stage.

  • Can I apply if I am currently unemployed/in between jobs? Updated February 9, 2019

    No. You need to be employed at an eligible institution.

  • Can the nominated principal investigator be from a postsecondary institution outside of Canada? Added January 9, 2019

    No, the nominated principal investigator’s primary affiliation must be with a Canadian postsecondary institution that currently holds full institutional eligibility with one of the three granting agencies. Refer to Eligibility in the funding opportunity description for details.

  • Can the co-principal investigator be from an institution outside of Canada? Updated February 9, 2019

    Yes; however, if they are from a postsecondary institution they must also meet the ECR requirement. Refer to Eligibility sections for co-principal investigators and co-applicants for details.

  • What is your policy on multiple applications? Added January 9, 2019

    Individuals cannot submit two applications for the NFRF-Exploration, nor can they apply for the fund if they hold a NFRF–Exploration award. Additionally, applications cannot be made for the same or very similar research simultaneously to two different funding opportunities, including to funding opportunities at different agencies. If an application was unsuccessful in another funding opportunity, it may be submitted to the New Frontiers in Research Fund – Exploration competition if it meets all the eligibility requirements.

  • Can a nominated principal investigator, co-principal investigator or co-applicant whose primary affiliation is with an eligible Canadian college receive salary support from this grant? Added January 11, 2019

    NFRF grant funds may only be used for the eligible salary expenses for staff and students at eligible Canadian colleges that are listed in the Compensation-related expenses section of the financial administration guide for the College and Community Innovation Program.

  • If a researcher’s salary is paid from a Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF) grant, can they apply for a NFRF grant and still hold the CFREF salary support? Added January 11, 2019

    A researcher can only be a collaborator on a successful NFRF grant for their salary to continue to be paid from CFREF grant funds. If they were to apply as a nominated principal investigator, co-principal investigator or co-applicant and the NFRF application is successful, their salary would have to be paid from another source once the NFRF grant funding starts.

  • Can I pay for a collaborator’s travel? Added February 9, 2019

    No. As per the definition of collaborators, they do not have access to grant funds and must cover all of their project-related expenses.

  • Can a postdoctoral fellow be a collaborator? Added February 9, 2019

    Postdoctoral fellows cannot be collaborators if they are under the supervision of another team member (nominated principal investigator, co-principal investigator, co-applicant or another collaborator). If they are not supervised by another team member and are contributing to the project, they may be listed as collaborators. Please note that collaborators have no access to grant funds and must independently cover their project-related expenses.

Early Career Researchers

  • Will there be additional feedback for early career researchers to assist them with future applications? Updated February 9, 2019

    Review ratings will be available for all applicants; however, only top submissions will be subject to a panel discussion. The availability of comments will be dependent on the panel discussion.

  • How will you verify the status of the early career researchers? Will we be expected to provide proof?

    The Research Grants Office (RGO) of the nominated principal investigator's primary affiliation will confirm the ECR status of the nominated principal investigator and of the co-principal investigator (if applicable). At any point in time, staff may request additional information to verify an applicant's ECR status.

  • How will my past period of leave (parental/medical/etc.) affect my eligibility as an early career researcher for this funding opportunity? Updated on December 21, 2018

    All justified leaves that occurred after your first academic appointment will be considered, as long as they have adhered to the requirements of your institution. In most cases, the time that was spent on leave will be deducted from your career duration. In the case of parental or maternity leave, the amount of time deducted will be doubled in order to prolong your eligibility period as an ECR.

    As an example, if your first academic appointment was on September 1, 2012, and in 2014 you went on maternity leave for a year, the calculation for ECR eligibility would be:

    Time between September 1, 2012, and January 1, 2019 (date used for calculating ECR eligibility) is equal to six years and four months


    12 months of maternity leave, multiplied by two (parental/maternity leave is calculated as twice as long as its duration)

    Which is less than five years.

    The maximum allowable duration to have ECR status since your first academic appointment is five years, therefore, you are eligible to apply to this funding opportunity as an ECR.

  • What is considered an academic appointment? Added January 9, 2019

    An academic appointment is one in which an individual holds a position at a postsecondary institution (either in Canada or international) that allows them to be an independent researcher. It does not include positions where the individual is under the supervision of another person. This definition includes part-time positions, contract positions, adjuncts and sessional instructors.

  • Is a postdoctoral fellowship considered an academic appointment? Added January 9, 2019

    No. While it may be the policy of certain institutions to consider postdoctoral fellowships an academic appointment, for the purpose of this funding opportunity, an academic appointment is defined as an independent researcher position at a postsecondary institution.

  • Will administrative leave be considered  in the calculation to determine the eligibility of an ECR? Added January 9, 2019

    Administrative leave will not be considered in the calculation to determine the eligibility of an ECR. For the purpose of this funding opportunity, we will consider the following types of leave: maternity or parental, extended sick leave, clinical training, and family care.

  • What is considered a part-time appointment? Added January 9, 2019

    The Tri-agency Institutional Programs Secretariat (TIPS) defers to institutional policy on what is considered a part-time appointment. Please contact the institution where the appointment is or was held to confirm whether it was part time or full time.

Notice of Intent to Apply

  • What happens if I miss the registration deadline? Can I still apply to the full application?

    No. You will have to wait for the next funding opportunity for which you are eligible.

  • I can't find my discipline in the form. What should I do?

    Select whichever one(s) are closest.  

    The draft Canadian Research and Development Classification (CRDC) is in its final phase of validation. To ensure that the CRDC represents the Canadian research landscape, we invite you to submit any comments on the proposed CRDC. Comments can be submitted to R&

  • I am the nominated principal investigator and I want to submit my notice of intent to apply (NOI), but my co-applicant has not accepted their invitation. Can I still submit?

    Yes, you may still submit your NOI without your co-applicant having accepted their invitation; however, you will not be able to do so at the application stage. Either they will need to accept the invitation and complete certain required information, or you will need to remove them from the application before submitting.

  • Is there a limit on how many applications can come from one institution?

    No, there are no limits to the number of applications from one institution.

  • What is the minimum number of team members for this funding opportunity?

    This information is found in the Funding Opportunity.

  • What is the difference between the Convergence Portal and other application portals? Updated February 9, 2019

    The Convergence Portal was created for this funding opportunity because other systems are configured according to other agencies’ specifications and do not fit well with a tri-council initiative, particularly with regards to data management for an efficient delivery of the NFRF competition.

  • Will the NOI be adjudicated? Added January 11, 2019

    No. The NOI phase is being conducted for administrative purposes. It is mandatory and applicants must complete this phase to proceed to the full application phase taking place in mid-January.

Full Application

  • If I am unsuccessful in this call, can I resubmit to the next? Updated February 9, 2019

    You cannot resubmit the same application; however, if you are still eligible you can reapply to the next competition with a revised application or submit a new application.

  • I am the nominated principal investigator and I am trying to submit my application, but I am being told that one of my co-applicants is on another application. What do I do?

    The co-applicant will need to decide in which application they want to be involved. Should you need to remove a co-applicant, go to the Participants section of your application, click on the down arrow beside their name and select Remove.

  • What if it's not possible to predict the outcomes of this project?

    Although it's impossible to predict all the outcomes of research in a certain area, you should be able to outline some of the basic results that will occur if you attain your objectives.

  • Can I see the reviewer comments for my application? Updated February 9, 2019

    Review ratings will be available for all applicants; however, only top submissions will be subject to a panel discussion. The availability of comments will be dependent on the panel discussion.

  • How will the competition results be communicated to applicants? Updated February 9, 2019

    Funding decisions will be communicated to applicants by early April through Notifications of Decision.

  • How will an RGO know if a nominated principal investigator submitted an NOI? Updated February 9, 2019

    RGOs received a list of applications and nominated principal investigators from their institutions through a SharePoint site

  • When will the full application materials be available? Added January 9, 2019

    The instructions for the full application will be available closer to the deadline date of the NOI. You will be able to begin working on the full application in the Convergence Portal on January 14, 2019.

  • How will indirect costs be calculated? Why are they being done this way? Updated February 9, 2019

    Indirect costs can equal up to 25% of the direct costs of the proposed research. For more information, please refer to the indirect costs section of the Tri-Agency Financial Administration Guide and the Research Support Fund’s list of eligible and ineligible expenditures. TIPS does not require a breakdown of the indirect costs, but they must be included as an amount in the budget table. The nominated principal investigator’s RGO will need to confirm that the indirect costs are appropriate when it forwards the application to TIPS. The amount being claimed is allocated to the nominated principal investigator’s primary affiliation (the host institution) to offset the indirect costs of proposed research. It is not possible to increase the amount of direct costs being requested by reducing the amount of indirect costs.

    Indirect costs are allowed to be charged for the proposed research because:

    • the New Frontiers in Research Fund is not part of the indirect costs calculation made through the Research Support Fund; and
    • to facilitate the transfer of indirect costs from the host institution to the institutions of the co-principal investigator and co-applicants (where applicable).
  • To which institution should the indirect costs go? Updated February 9, 2019

    Indirect costs are incurred where the research is done. Accordingly, indirect costs are expected to be shared among applicants in the same proportion that the grant would be shared (if applicable). Institution of the principal applicant will administer the process

  • Can co-applicants that are not independent researchers (e.g., Indigenous elders, community leaders, etc.) receive a stipend or honorarium? Added January 11, 2019

    Yes, this allowanceis available for non-academic and non-government individuals as per the Other Types of Eligible Compensation-Related Expenses section of the Tri-Agency Financial Administration Guide . This also applies for international co-applicants.

  • What order should be used for the headings in the Proposed Research Project attachment? Added February 9, 2019

    The headings may appear in any order; the order listed in the application instructions is just a suggestion. However, all the headings must be used to facilitate the members’ review of applications. Page limits will be strictly enforced.

  • Does the equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) selection criterion apply to the team,  the project or both? Added February 9, 2019

    The EDI criterion applies to the team. More information on this is in the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion section of the funding opportunity and in the application instructions. Sex- and gender-based analysis (SGBA) applies to the project. More information on this is in the description of SGBA in the Review Process and the application instructions. Assessment of sex- and gender-based approaches is included as part of the Feasibility selection criterion.

  • The status of my co-applicants is “In Progress”, but they said that they completed everything. What is wrong? Added February 9, 2019

    After your co-applicant or co-principal investigator completes all the sections described in the instructions, they must follow these steps using one of the supported browsers (the latest versions of Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Apple Safari and Mozilla Firefox):

    1. Click on the Confirm and Submit item in the left-hand menu. The Convergence Portal will then confirm that all their required sections have been completed.
    2. Click on the Submit to Applicant button. This will bring up the terms and conditions.
    3. Click on the I Accept button. The screen will state that the application has been successfully submitted, meaning that their section has been successfully submitted to the nominated principal investigator.
    4. Navigate back to the Eligibility Profile section of the application. Their status will now be “Completed”.

    Should following the above steps not resolve the issue, please contact the Online Services Helpdesk.

  • In the Funding Opportunity, it states that the internal review related to the Interdisciplinarity and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion criteria will happen before review by members of the Multidisciplinary Review Panel. I have heard that the internal review is now taking place after review by the Multidisciplinary Review Panel. How is the review going to take place? Updated February 9, 2019

    Initially, the plan was for applications to be reviewed by internal tri-agency expert committees against the EDI and Interdisciplinarity criteria before being sent to the Multidisciplinary Review Panel. Now, all applications will be sent for review by the Multidisciplinary Review Panel prior to the internal review.

    The decision to change the approach was based on a few factors, but with the integrity of the merit review process being the primary consideration. With the extension of the application deadline, there was a need to adjust processes so as not to negatively impact the ability of the Multidisciplinary Review Panel to conduct their review. In addition, it was thought that this approach was advantageous for the inaugural call, in that it would allow all applications to be reviewed by the Multidisciplinary Review Panel. Members of the review panel will also be asked to review and consider the EDI and Interdisciplinarity aspects of the proposals.

  • I have invited my co-applicants to participate in my application through the Convergence Portal, but they haven’t received the email. What do I do? Added February 8, 2019

    The first step is to have your co-applicants verify that the email didn’t end up in their Spam folder. If this doesn’t resolve the issue, you, as the nominated principal investigator, should first navigate to the Participants screen in the Convergence Portal and click on the down arrow in the List of Invitations section and select “Resend Invitation”. You may then try either (or both) of the following options:

    1. Click on the “Resend Invitation” checkbox and then on the “Resend Invitation” button; and/or
    2. Copy the link in the Invitation Code section and send that yourself by email to your co-applicant.

    Should following the above steps not resolve the issue, please contact the Online Services Helpdesk.

Review Process

(Section added February 9, 2019)

  • How are the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), and Interdisciplinarity criteria being assessed? Added February 9, 2019

    Internal committees of experts will determine whether applications meet the EDI and interdisciplinarity criteria, respectively, on a pass/fail basis. The relevant section of the application instructions describes how the EDI and interdisciplinarity criteria are assessed. Note that the evaluation based on these criteria will take place after the multidisciplinary review panel members have completed their assessment. Therefore, all applications will go through review by multidisciplinary panel members. The panel members are not asked to provide a score for these criteria, but they will be asked to consider it in their overall assessment of an application and discuss it during the panel discussion.

  • What parts of the application fall under the feasibility criterion? Added February 9, 2019

    The assessment of the feasibility criterion will focus on the following sections of an application:

    • Budget justification attachment
    • Sex- and gender-based analysis  
    • Research team’s biographical information attachment
    • Proposed research section of the proposed research project attachment
    • Literature references attachment

Research Grants Offices Process

Section added February 9, 2019

  • Can I view applications that haven’t been submitted yet? Added February 9, 2019

    Yes, you can view applications that are still in progress for all applications where your institution is the primary affiliation of the nominated principal investigator.

  • Why can’t I find an application from a nominated principal investigator from my institution? Added February 9, 2019

    The list of applications that a research administrator can view is based on the primary affiliation that a nominated principal investigator has selected. Before contacting the Helpdesk, please confirm with the nominated principal investigator that your institution appears in their Eligibility Profile and as the primary affiliation in their User Profile.

  • How do I return an application to the nominated principal investigator? Added February 9, 2019

    If the status of the application is:

    • in progress, there is no need to return it as the nominated principal investigator has not yet submitted it;
    • received by administrator,  the Research Grants Office must contact the Helpdesk; or
    • received by agency, it can no longer be returned as the Research Grants Office has already forwarded it to the Tri-agency Institutional Programs Secretariat.
  • How do I confirm that a co-principal investigator from a different institution is an early career researcher (ECR)? Added February 9, 2019

    There is no prescribed method for doing so; however, options include:

    • contacting the co-principal investigator to obtain the necessary information from them; or
    • contacting the co-principal investigator’s Research Grants Office to request their confirmation of the individual’s ECR status.
  • How do I know how much the nominated principal investigator should be requesting to cover indirect costs? Added February 9, 2019

    For help on the issue of indirect costs, please contact your institution’s primary contact for the Research Support Fund.

  • In the Convergence Portal, the Terms and Conditions for Research Administrators states that, “prior to submission of the application, the institution has obtained written approval from any other institutions involved in the application process.” What do we need to do? Added February 9, 2019

    The same Terms and Conditions are used in the Research Portal. There is currently no formal mechanism for notifying institutions  if any of their employees are co-principal investigators or co-applicants in an application; therefore, a nominated principal investigator’s Research Grants Office is responsible for informing the institutions. The RGO must receive written confirmation from the institutions that it is acceptable for their employees to participate in the application. The Tri-agency Institutional Programs Secretariat will not be requesting copies of the written approval.


Section added April 25, 2019

  • If there are any outstanding funds (direct and/or indirect) remaining at the end of the grant period, will I be able to transfer them to my institution’s General Research Fund (GRF)? Added April 25, 2019

    No, unused funds at the end of the grant must be returned. If the funds were disbursed within the same fiscal year, they can be returned directly to SSHRC. Otherwise, the funds must be returned to SSHRC with a cheque payable to the Receiver General of Canada. Contact program staff for more details, if this situation applies to you.

    Please note that unused funds from the first year of the grant are carried over automatically to the second year.

  • Does the nominated principal investigator also have access to the funds to support the indirect costs of research? Added April 25, 2019

    No, the nominated principal investigator, the co-principal investigator and co-applicants only have authority to expend the funds supporting the direct costs of research. The host institution has authority to expend the funds for the indirect costs. It is expected that the host institution may distribute a portion of these costs to the institutions of the co-principal investigator and/or co-applicants.

  • What is required in terms of the provision of annual financial reports? Added April 25, 2019

    The Statement of Account Form (Form 300) is to be used to report the annual financial expenditures for NFRF grants. Two accounts must be created at the host institution for each grant: one account to track expenditures related to the direct costs of research and another to track expenditures related to the indirect costs of research. The indirect funds received for a NFRF grant must not be transferred to the Research Support Fund (RSF) account at the institution.

  • How will expenditures for indirect funds be reported? What level of detail is required? Added April 25, 2019

    Only one Statement of Account Form (Form 300) per grant is required to report expenditures. The expenditures of indirect funds, therefore, must be included. This is to be captured on line item 11 (Other Expenditures) as a single value. A breakdown of expenditures is not required for indirect costs. It is expected that the expenditure of indirect funds will be proportional to the expenditure of direct research funds, as reflected in the application.

    For example, if a nominated principal investigator was awarded $100,000 for direct costs and $25,000 for indirect costs in Year 1 and he or she had only spent $50,000 for direct costs, the amount charged for indirect costs would be: ($25,000/$100,000) x $50,000 = $12,500.

  • How do I add co-applicants? Added April 25, 2019

    Send program staff an email, copying the individuals you wish to add and providing an explanation for their inclusion in the project. The potential co-applicants will also need to complete an eligibility questionnaire (which staff will send to them) and create a complete user profile in the Convergence Portal. The request will be reviewed and a decision made regarding the inclusion of additional participants.

  • How do I add collaborators? Added April 25, 2019

    Send program staff an email, copying the individuals you wish to add and providing an explanation for their inclusion in the project, along with the following information: first name, family name, position or role, department (optional), organization and country of the organization. The request will be reviewed and a decision made regarding the inclusion of additional participants.


  • How can I provide feedback about this funding opportunity?

    We value our community feedback as it will help us shape future competitions. You may direct your feedback to

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