2024 NordForsk-led International Joint Initiative on Sustainable Development of the Arctic

Note: For information about the call, see Sustainable Development of the Arctic: Call for pre-proposals on NordForsk’s website.

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Competition updates

It is important to read all material related to the competition, to ensure your submission is complete.

Consult this section regularly for updates on the 2024 NordForsk-led International Joint Initiative on Sustainable Development of the Arctic.


A recording of the webinar held by NordForsk on March 19, 2024, outlining the themes of the call and the NordForsk application process, can be found here.

Applicants and research administrators are encouraged to attend a webinar to learn more about the 2024 NordForsk-led International Joint Initiative on Sustainable Development of the Arctic competition and application process. The webinar will focus specifically on the NFRF requirements and process. The webinar will be recorded, and the presentations made available following the session. Contact your institution’s research grants office for more information.

For applicants and research administrators:
Date Time (eastern) Language
April 24, 2024 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Bilingual

Join webinar


Proposals must meet the requirements as set out in the NordForsk call document.

A minimum of three Nordic countries must be represented on the research team. To be eligible to receive funding from the New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF), the research team must also include at least one member who is eligible to apply to NFRF. Research teams must submit an application through the NordForsk Application Portal.

Research teams seeking funding from NFRF will also have to complete a registration and application in the Convergence Portal. If the research team has more than one NFRF-eligible researcher on it, one must be selected as the nominated principal investigator (NPI) and will be responsible for initiating the application in the Convergence Portal; the others may be co-principal investigators (co-PIs) or co-applicants, depending on their role.

The Canada-based research team may include individuals who are not eligible to apply directly to NFRF as co-PIs and/or co-applicants.

NFRF will only fund Indigenous co-developed co-led projects. All projects are required to partner with a participating community or communities in the co-creation, implementation and ownership of the research and outcomes, and to develop approaches related to knowledge mobilization and community uptake. To reflect this, the Canada-based team must have a minimum of two co-PIs, including the NPI and a co-PI who is a representative of the community or region where the research will take place and/or the community that has requested and will benefit from the research findings.

Nominated co-principal investigator

The NPI’s primary affiliation must be with a Canadian institution currently holding full institutional eligibility with one of the federal research funding agencies. See the list of eligible institutions for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) or Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) (the agencies).

The NPI is responsible for:

  • co-directing and coordinating the Canada-based proposed research activities in conjunction with the co-PIs;
  • initiating the registration and full application and submitting them through the research administrator at their institution;
  • assuming administrative and financial responsibility for the NFRF grant; and
  • receiving all related correspondence from the research funding agencies related to the NFRF grant.

The NPI must be considered an independent researcher at their primary affiliation. A primary affiliation is defined as the primary organization at which an individual is employed, appointed or conducts research.

An independent researcher is an individual who:

  • engages in research-related activities that are not under the direction of another individual; and
  • has an academic or research appointment that:
    • commences by the full application deadline;
    • allows the individual to pursue the proposed research project, engage in independent research activities for the entire duration of the funding, supervise trainees (if applicable, as per the institution’s policy), and publish the research results; and
    • obliges the individual to comply with institutional policies on the conduct of research, supervision of trainees (if applicable) and employment conditions of staff who are paid using tri-agency funding.

Individuals who are full-time or part-time students, postdoctoral fellows or research associates are not eligible to apply as NPIs, regardless of whether they also meet the definition of an independent researcher.

If the NPI’s primary affiliation is not on SSHRC’s list of eligible institutions, the institution may be required to sign the Agreement on the Administration of Agency Grants and Awards by Research Institutions with SSHRC, for this program only, before receiving agency funds. Agency staff will contact applicants’ institutions to initiate this process, as appropriate.

Co-principal investigators and co-applicants in Canada

The definitions and rules that follow apply only to the Canada-based members of the project team. It is understood that the research teams of the full project will include individuals from other countries.

Co-PIs share responsibility with the NPI for directing the proposed project. Co-applicants contribute to executing the research project. NFRF funds may support the research activities of both co-PIs and co-applicants.

Policy-makers, educators, decision-makers, health-care administrators, Indigenous Elders, Indigenous Knowledge Keepers, patients, community leaders, individuals working for a charity, and a range of other individuals can be co-PIs and co-applicants whose research activities can be supported by NFRF funds. Researchers and professors must be considered independent researchers to be eligible as an NFRF-supported co-PI or a co-applicant.

The NFRF-supported co-PIs and co-applicants’ affiliation may be with a Canadian postsecondary institution, with a Canadian institution or organization that does not have full institutional eligibility with one of the three federal funding agencies, or not affiliated to any organization. However, it may not be a federal, provincial, territorial or municipal government department or a for-profit organization. Individuals whose primary affiliation is with an Indigenous government are eligible to be NFRF-supported co-PIs, co-applicants or collaborators. For all team members, eligible expenses are limited to those related to the execution of the project that are not within the mandate of the individual’s organization of employment.

As per the tri-agency policy on the use of funds for federal government employees applying to funding agency programs, a federal government employee who is formally affiliated with a Canadian academic institution as an adjunct professor is eligible to be a collaborator. In cases where students registered at the academic institution and formally supervised by the adjunct professor will be participating in the research project, the adjunct professor is eligible to be a co-applicant. In such cases, the use of funds is limited to salaries or stipends and travel costs for the students under the adjunct professor’s supervision. Adjunct professors are also eligible to be co-PIs or co-applicants in exceptional cases where their planned contributions to the project do not fall within the mandate of their federal organization and will not be performed within their employer’s facilities or with their employer’s resources.

Individuals indirectly employed by a federal, provincial or municipal government (e.g., employees in police services, education or health care) are eligible to be co-applicants.

Students, postdoctoral fellows and research associates are not eligible to participate as an NFRF-supported co-PI or co-applicant.

Collaborators in Canada

Collaborators contribute to executing research activities. Their research activities are not eligible to be supported by NFRF funds.

Collaborators do not need to be affiliated with an eligible institution. Collaborators may include individuals affiliated with a federal, provincial, territorial or municipal government department. Any individual who will contribute to the project is eligible to be a collaborator.

Anyone affiliated with a for-profit organization is not eligible to participate in any role in a proposal to this call.

Any individual whose contributions to the project will be supervised by the NPI, co-PI, co-applicant and/or another collaborator cannot be considered a collaborator.

Early career researchers

For the members of the research team in Canada, an early career researcher (ECR) is a researcher within five years from the start date of their first research-related appointment, minus the length of any eligible delays in research (e.g., illness, maternity, parental leave) as of the first of the month in which the competition is launched (March 1, 2024, for this competition), where:

  • “research-related appointments” are defined as those where an individual has the autonomy to conduct research independently;
  • all eligible leaves (e.g., maternity, parental, medical, bereavement) are credited at twice the amount of time taken; and
  • professional leaves (e.g., training, sabbatical, administrative) are not credited.

Research interruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic (e.g., closures) are recognized as, and may be counted as, an eligible delay (credited at twice the amount of time) beginning March 1, 2020.

If a first academic appointment was a part-time appointment/position, years of experience are counted at 50%, until the researcher’s appointment to a full-time academic position.

All applications are encouraged to meaningfully integrate ECRs into the project team.

Value and duration

The maximum budget for the direct costs of the research project is C$800,000 per year, for four years. Grantees will have four years to complete their projects and spend grant funds. Applicants may, in addition, request up to 25% of the value of the direct costs of research to cover indirect costs and include this in their total funding request, for a maximum grant value of C$1,000,000 per year. Indirect costs funding must be used only to pay for eligible expenses as outlined on the Research Support Fund website. The indirect costs component of each NFRF award is included in the award value; it is not in addition to it.

Application and review process

To apply for funding from NFRF, Canadian research team members must submit a registration form by May 30, 2024. This is a mandatory step in the application process.

Applicants must complete the registration form and application using the Convergence Portal, following the accompanying registration and application submission guides.

Registrations and applications are submitted to the research administrator (research grants office [RGO] or equivalent) of the NPI’s primary affiliation. Research administrators are free to set their own internal deadlines. The RGO must submit any applications through the Convergence Portal before the applicable deadlines.

The registration and application processes through the Convergence Portal do not replace the NordForsk-led review process. The registration step is required to assess the eligibility of the Canada-based research team to receive funding from NFRF. Applications will be reviewed to ensure that proposals meet the requirements for the research activity that will take place in Canada:

  • research conducted in Canada must be co-developed and co-led with Indigenous communities; and
  • projects must have integrated equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in the research design.


Indigenous research

SSHRC’s Indigenous Research Statement of Principles and Guidelines for the Merit Review of Indigenous Research should be used as references for researchers preparing applications related to or involving Indigenous research. The guidelines are provided to merit reviewers to help build understanding of Indigenous research and research-related activities, and to assist committee members in interpreting the specific evaluation criteria in the context of Indigenous research. The guidelines may also be of use to external assessors, postsecondary institutions and partner organizations that support Indigenous research. To demonstrate co-leadership and co-development, it is a requirement that a co-PI be a representative of the community or organization, or a member of the community or region where the research will take place and/or the community that has requested and will benefit from the research findings. Given the call’s focus on the Arctic, research team members, institutions, and merit reviewers are encouraged to also consider the Government of Canada’s Inuit Nunangat Policy, specifically the guidance around research; and the Council of Canadian Academies’ expert panel report Northern Research Leadership and Equity.

Equity, diversity and inclusion in research design

EDI in research design involves designing research so that it takes EDI into account, through approaches such as intersectionality, gender-based analysis plus (GBA+), antiracist approaches and disaggregated data collection. Analysis should include consideration of diversity and identity factors such as age, culture, disability, education, ethnicity, gender expression and gender identity, immigration and newcomer status, Indigenous identity, language, neurodiversity, parental status/responsibility, place of origin, religion, race, sexual orientation and socio-economic status. The purpose of EDI in research design is to promote rigorous research that is sensitive to sex and gender, as well as many other identity factors, such as race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, age, and mental or physical disability. These considerations must be integrated into the research design, when appropriate. Applicants and reviewers should refer to SSHRC’s Guide to Addressing Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Considerations in Partnership Grant Applications, as well as NSERC’s guide on integrating equity, diversity and inclusion considerations in research at each stage of the research process. These are similar to the sex and gender-based analysis (SGBA) / GBA+ guidance health researchers would be familiar with, as described in the SGBA section of CIHR’s website.

The research team must provide a rationale in cases where they believe no aspect of their research may benefit from an analysis to take into consideration sex, gender or other identity factors.

Selection criteria

This section provides an overview of the three selection criteria that will be used to evaluate the eligibility of proposals submitted to the 2024 Nordforsk-led International Initiative on Sustainable Development of the Arctic call to receive NFRF funding.

Equity, diversity and inclusion in research practice and support of early career researchers

EDI in research practice is a core element of NFRF. This criterion also includes consideration of ECRs. Applicants must clearly demonstrate their commitment to EDI in their research practice, including among students, postdoctoral fellows, co-PIs, co-applicants and/or collaborators, as applicable. They must explain what actions they will take, the outcomes expected, and the assessment planned for each of the following three key areas:

  • team composition and recruitment processes;
  • training and development opportunities; and
  • inclusion.

Actions taken are expected to remove barriers and provide opportunities for the meaningful integration of individuals from all groups, including the four designated groups (women, Indigenous Peoples, members of visible minorities, and persons with disabilities). Consideration of other identities, such as LGBTQ2+, is also expected.

An application must not include any personal information about members of the research team (including the number of team members belonging to marginalized groups); the focus is on the team’s commitment to EDI in its research practice, not on the team’s EDI profile.

For more information, see NFRF’s Best practices in equity, diversity and inclusion in research practice and design.

High reward

The evaluation of the potential for high reward will consider the benefits to Canada’s Arctic communities, in terms of project outcomes.


The evaluation of feasibility will consider the proposed project with respect to the approach to co-production with the Indigenous community or communities. The integration of EDI in research design and the budget justification will also be considered. The budget should be limited to research-related expenses for the research team based in Canada.

Competition stages

Registration is only used for administrative purposes, to assess the eligibility of the team to hold an NFRF grant.

The application will be reviewed and evaluated against each criterion by a review panel on a pass/fail basis. Applications that pass all three selection criteria will be considered eligible for funding.

Review process

Any submissions that do not meet the program's eligibility requirements and application guidelines will be removed from the competition.

Members will have access to all information submitted and will assess the proposal according to the following selection criteria:

  • EDI in research practice and support of ECRs (pass/fail)
  • high reward (pass/fail)
  • feasibility (pass/fail)

Applications must pass all three criteria to be deemed eligible. Applications recommended for funding through the NordForsk-led process and deemed eligible for NFRF funding will be recommended to the steering committee.

Steering Committee

The Canada Research Coordinating Committee (CRCC) provides strategic direction and oversight for the NFRF and serves as the high-level steering committee for the fund. As a tri-agency program, program oversight is delegated to the NFRF Steering Committee, which includes the presidents of CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC, and the deputy ministers of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, and Health Canada. The NFRF Steering Committee makes decisions regarding which applications to fund based on the Call Committee’s recommendations. It also ensures the evaluation process is rigorous, objective and transparent, in keeping with the standards of excellence expected by the agencies and consistent with the program’s objectives.

Regulations, policies and related information

All applicants and grant holders must comply with the Regulations Governing Grant Applications and with the regulations set out in the Tri-agency Guide on Financial Administration.

Grant holders must also comply with the Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications (see Open Access overview for more information). Researchers are encouraged to manage, in accordance with both community standards and best practices, data arising from their research (see also the tri-agency policies and guidelines on Research Data Management).

Recipients of funding must comply with SSHRC’s Intellectual Property and Copyright policy.

Use of grant funds

The information below explains to grant holders and research administrators the regulations governing use of NFRF grant funds. These supersede all previous statements on grant regulations.

The NFRF program uses the Tri-agency Guide on Financial Administration as the general guidelines for eligibility of expenses and use of funds related to the direct costs of research. Exceptions to these policies for grants are noted below. If unsure about the eligibility of a particular expense, contact the NFRF team. Rules for the indirect costs portion of the grant can be found on the Research Support Fund website.

Compensation-related expenses

Research expenses

Grant funds must be used to support research activities related to the project. For co-PIs and co-applicants who are not academic researchers, eligible expenses are limited to those related to the project activities that are not within the mandate of the individual’s organization of employment.


The following are eligible salary expenses only for NPIs, co-PIs and co-applicants affiliated with an eligible Canadian college:

  • salary for research activities of a part-time faculty member holding a contract of less than three years with the institution (the total salary support of part-time salary plus NFRF grant salary support cannot exceed that for a full-time faculty member at the institution, when calculated on an annual or hourly basis);
  • salaries and nondiscretionary benefits for technical and professional staff carrying out research and technology, and/or for knowledge transfer personnel (salaries and nondiscretionary benefits for research administrators and business development personnel are not eligible);
  • limited costs toward course load reduction, for replacement of faculty to support faculty members’ involvement in the research project (up to $9,000 per course load reduction per semester per faculty, or the equivalent of 0.1 full-time-equivalent positions); and
  • college student salaries, including nondiscretionary benefits or stipends, to support students’ involvement in the research project.

Termination of a grant

The research funding agencies will terminate a grant when the grantee no longer holds an eligible position at an eligible institution, unless the grant is transferred to an eligible co-PI or co-applicant. It is at the agencies’ sole discretion to allow such a transfer.

Communication of results

Applicants will be informed of competition results from NordForsk. Information regarding the associated NFRF grant will be communicated via the Convergence Portal.

Frequently asked questions

I am working for a federal, provincial, territorial or municipal government department. Am I eligible to apply?

The NFRF-supported co-PIs and co-applicants’ affiliation may not be a federal, provincial, territorial or municipal government department. NFRF funds cannot be used to support the activities of another government department, under the Treasury Board directives that dictate how federal funds can be used. This means there can be no overlap between the mandate of the government and the expertise provided to the project. Contributions to the project would only be possible if they do not fall within the mandate of the governmental organization and will not be performed within the employer’s facilities or with the employer’s resources.

Individuals who are indirectly employed by a federal, provincial or municipal government (e.g., employees in police services, education or health care) are eligible to be co-PIs or co-applicants, with their eligible expenses being limited to those that are related to the execution of the project and are not within the mandate of the individual’s organization of employment.

I am working for an Indigenous government. Am I eligible to apply?

An individual whose primary affiliation is with an Indigenous government is eligible to be a co-PI, co-applicant or collaborator. For those who are co-PIs or co-applicants, eligible expenses are limited to those related to the execution of the project that are not within the mandate of the Indigenous government. The planned contributions to the project should not be performed within the employer’s facilities or with their employer’s resources.

I have close ties to the community but am not Indigenous. Can I be a representative of the community?

It is up to the community to indicate their support of a specific person as their representative. Having strong community ties does not on its own make someone a community or region’s representative.

Can funding be used for research with Indigenous communities outside of Canada?

NFRF funding for this call can be used to support research with Indigenous communities outside of Canada, but in this circumstance only the Canada-based research team could be supported by the funding. NFRF funds could not be used to support the research activities of the Indigenous community outside Canada, since the other funding organizations involved in the call are expected to support the research activities of individuals in their country.

Can I be included on more than one application to this call?

Individuals can participate in only one application as an NFRF-supported nominated principal investigator, co-principal investigator, co-applicant or collaborator in this competition.

Can I be part of this call if I am already a co-principal investigator on another NFRF funding opportunity?

There are no restrictions to participation for an individual who has applied for, will apply for, or is a current award holder (as an NPI, co-PI or co-applicant) for any other NFRF funding opportunity (Exploration, Transformation, International, Global Platform or Special Calls).

If a Canadian team is requesting funds from NFRF but is not the project leader on the NordForsk application, do they still need to submit through the NordForsk application portal?

The Canada-based research team must submit a registration to NFRF by May 30 through the Convergence portal. This is separate from and supplemental to the application that must be submitted to NordForsk by June 4, which must be submitted by the project leader. The Canada-based NPI will have to provide the application number of the NordForsk application in their NFRF registration.

Will the proposal for the fall deadline also be submitted through the NordForsk portal? Or will there be a portion that must also be submitted through Convergence?

As with the pre-proposal/registration stage, for the full application there will be a NFRF component that must be submitted through the Convergence portal, in addition to the application that must be submitted to NordForsk directly. The full application stage will be by invitation only. The registration and application processes through the Convergence Portal do not replace the NordForsk-led review process. For more information, refer to the website for NordForsk’s Sustainable Development of the Arctic call for pre-proposals, as well as the Application and review process section of the NFRF competition literature.

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