2022 Special Call – Research for Postpandemic Recovery: Competition Overview


Notice of intent to apply deadline April 26, 2022, 8 p.m. (eastern)
Full application deadline August 9, 2022, 8 p.m. (eastern)
Value Up to $250,000 per year (including indirect costs)
Supplemental funding Projects awarded funding through this Special Call may be eligible for supplemental funding from one or more partner organizations.
Duration Two years
Competition budget $24 million
Number of grants A minimum of 48
A proportion of awards equal to the proportion of applications received from early career researchers will be reserved for them.
Results announced January 2023
Grant start date February 2023
How to apply

All applicants must complete the notice of intent to apply (NOI) and submit a full application.

See the Notice of Intent to Apply Guide and the Full Application Guide for more information. Other useful resources to assist in the completion of your application include Best Practices in Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in Research and the evaluation matrices.

For more information See Frequently Asked Questions or email NFRF-FNFR@chairs-chaires.gc.ca

Consult this section regularly for updates on the 2022 Special Call competition, including information about webinars. Read all current competition material to ensure your submission is complete.


Applicants and research administrators are encouraged to attend the webinars to learn more about the competition and the overall application process. Webinars will be recorded and the presentations made available following the sessions. Please contact your institution’s research grants office for more information.

Date Time Language
March 1, 2022 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. (eastern) French

Join webinar

March 1, 2022 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. (eastern) English

Join webinar

The COVID-19 pandemic has had differential impacts on individuals, communities, and countries, intensifying the inequalities that existed before this crisis. Globally, numerous voices have been advocating for “building back better” rather than a return to the status quo as the world emerges from this pandemic.

In November 2020, the United Nations released the UN Research Roadmap for the COVID-19 Recovery which encourages “targeted research for data-driven responses that focus particularly on the needs of people being left behind.” The Roadmap is built on the premise that innovative and interdisciplinary solutions are needed to account for the interdependence of people and recovery efforts.

The goal of this Special Call is to mobilize Canadian-led research efforts in support of a more equitable, sustainable and resilient postpandemic reality. It will support a diverse portfolio of projects that directly address one or more of the research priorities outlined in the Roadmap, including any of the UN’s priorities and subpriorities, including but not limited to the “quick-win”, “best-buy” and “game-changer” priorities.

By funding research that directly responds to the UN Roadmap, NFRF will be part of a cohesive international research effort to address global socio-economic inequities that have been heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

[The] UN Research Roadmap for the COVID-19 Recovery provides a framework for leveraging the power of science in support of a better socio-economic recovery and a more equitable, resilient and sustainable future.

Science represents the world’s best chance for recovering better from the COVID-19 crisis. As societies face the difficult task of implementing recovery strategies with limited time and resources, they have a choice between business as usual and transformative changes. Transformation offers better prospects, but it will require ingenuity and research from the full range of disciplines.

The Roadmap outlines a set of 25 research priorities – five priorities for each of the five pillars of the UN’s socio-economic recovery framework – as well as numerous sub-priorities.... These five pillars are further connected by an imperative to embed the dual objectives of gender equity and environmental sustainability into all recovery efforts.

By addressing the priorities articulated in the Roadmap, the research community can inform solutions to the socio-economic consequences of the COVID-19 crisis and guide the design and implementation of recovery efforts that can accelerate progress towards the [UN’s Sustainable Development Goals].

Project grantees will be expected to attend a forum at the mid-term and conclusion of the grant period to showcase their findings and highlight lessons learned. It is expected that policy- makers from government departments at the municipal, provincial and federal levels, as well as interested non-government organizations, will attend these forums. These are intended to enable knowledge mobilization and cross-project learning, and may also be a springboard for new research collaborations.

The maximum budget for the direct costs of the research project is $200,000 per year, for up to two years. Awards are for two-year grants and are eligible for an automatic one-year extension. Grantees will have three 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. 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.

Supplemental funding

Projects awarded funding through the NFRF 2022 Special Call may be eligible for supplemental funding from one or more partner organizations for this funding opportunity.

All applications will be assessed according to the merit-review process for the 2022 Special Call. All proposed projects must be fully executable within the NFRF budget.

To be considered for supplemental funds, applicants must consent to their application being shared on their enrolment form on the Convergence Portal.

Following the review process, NFRF will share the applications for successful projects that meet the criteria set out by the partner organization(s). The partner organization(s) will identify projects that they are willing to support. The process followed at this point will depend on the partner organization (s), but in most cases will require, at minimum, the submission of a revised budget, describing how the supplemental funds will be used and an explanation of how the project will be expanded with additional funding. The supplemental information required will be assessed by the partner organization(s).

If a project is selected for supplemental funding, the partner organization(s) will provide the
supplemental funding directly to the project team according to their own policies, guidelines and processes. The terms and conditions for the management of the supplemental funds and the financial reporting will be determined by the partner organization(s).

A full list of partner organizations and their specific criteria is available here.

Project team

To reflect the interdisciplinary nature of the projects, proposals must be submitted by research teams composed of at least two individuals. In addition to a nominated principal investigator (NPI), the team must include either a co-principal investigator (co-PI) or a co-applicant. Teams may include any number of co-PIs, co-applicants and/or collaborators.

All project teams must include at least one expert in social, economic, or socio-economic research and/or implementation science among the principal investigators (NPI or co-PI) to reflect the socio-economic framework and goals of the UN Roadmap.

Given the global focus of the Roadmap and the need to ensure that all countries are considered in the pandemic recovery, research teams are expected to include international members. The inclusion of team members from lower- middle or lower-income countries is strongly encouraged. Exceptions to this will be considered for projects that address a uniquely Canadian context and provide an appropriate justification.

To ensure that these grants support projects with a diversity of perspectives and aims, individuals may participate in only one application to this competition as either an NPI, co-PI or co-applicant. These restrictions do not apply to collaborators. There are no restrictions to participation for an individual who has applied for, will apply for, or who is a current award holder (as an NPI, co-PI or co-applicant) of any other NFRF grant (Exploration, Transformation, Global Platform, or Special Calls).

Projects are expected to demonstrate community engagement and partnership, as appropriate, to ensure that research findings have tangible outcomes. National, international and cross-sector (private, public or other) collaborations are encouraged to ensure that the most appropriate individuals and/or organizations are involved and that team composition reflects best practices in equity, diversity and inclusion. To support collaborations, funds from Special Call grants can be used to support the research activities of team members within Canada or internationally, except those affiliated with for-profit companies or federal, provincial or municipal governments.

Early career researcher

For a proposal to be considered led by an early career researcher (ECR), the NPI must be an ECR. An 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) as of the first of the month in which the competition is launched (February 1, 2022, 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. More details are available in the Frequently Asked Questions.

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

Nominated principal investigator

The NPI is responsible for:

  • the direction of the project and the coordination of proposed research activities, in conjunction with the co-PI (if applicable);
  • completing the NOI and full application and submitting them through the research administrator at their institution;
  • assuming administrative and financial responsibility for the grant; and
  • receiving all related correspondence from the research funding agencies.

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- 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.

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).

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

Co-PIs share responsibility with the NPI for the direction of the proposed activities and may access grant funds.

Co-applicants contribute to the execution of the research project and may access grant funds.

The eligibility requirements for co-PIs and co-applicants are the same, however, their roles are different: Co-PIs work with the NPI to direct the project, in addition to contributing to its execution, while co-applicants contribute to the execution of the project.

Co-PIs and co-applicants can be practitioners, 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. Researchers and professors must be considered independent researchers to be eligible as a co-PI or a co-applicant.

The co-PIs’ and co-applicants’ affiliation may be with a Canadian postsecondary institution, a Canadian institution or organization that does not have full institutional eligibility with one of the three federal funding agencies, or an international institution outside of Canada. However, it may not be a federal, provincial, territorial or municipal government department or a for-profit organization. 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 whose primary affiliation is with an Indigenous government are eligible to be co-PIs, co-applicants or collaborators.

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 a co-PI or co-applicant.


Collaborators contribute to the execution of research activities but do not have access to grant funds.

Collaborators do not need to be affiliated with an eligible institution. Any individual who will contribute to the project is eligible to be a collaborator.

Collaborators may include individuals affiliated with a federal, provincial, territorial or municipal government department or a for-profit organization. They may also be affiliated with a Canadian or international organization.

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.

Subject matter (fit to program)

These Special Call grants support projects that directly address one or more of the research priorities outlined in the UN Roadmap. Applications must demonstrate how they respond to the priorities laid out in the Roadmap. They may involve disciplines, thematic areas, approaches or subject areas eligible for funding across the three agencies. Eligible projects include short- and medium-term projects, as well as discrete phases of longer-range research programs. All projects are expected to have demonstrable results/impact by the end of the grant period.

Projects are required to be interdisciplinary. To be considered interdisciplinary, a proposed research project must combine elements from at least two different disciplines (as defined by a group-level classification based on the Canadian Research and Development Classification). Projects are not required to cross the mandates of more than one federal research funding agency.

Applications must propose an innovative approach to a priority area identified in the UN Roadmap. Applicants will be required to identify the priorities in the Roadmap the proposed project addresses.

Applications for projects that are the same as or similar (in whole or in part) to applications that have been submitted to or funded by any federal research funding agency programs, including other NFRF competitions, are not eligible and should not be submitted.


Grant holders will be expected to report on the use of grant funds on funded activities undertaken during the grant period, and on outcomes. Projects which receive supplementary funds from a partner organization may be required to follow additional reporting requirements.  NPIs of successful applications will be informed of reporting requirements when receiving a notice of award.

To apply for this Special Call grant, NPIs, along with co-PIs and/or co-applicants, must submit a notice of intent (NOI) by April 26, 2022. The research team must then submit a full application by August 9, 2022.
Applicants must complete the NOI and full application using the Convergence Portal, and follow the instructions outlined in the NOI and full application guides.

NOIs and full applications that are received after the deadline, are incomplete, or do not meet the eligibility criteria will be withdrawn from the competition.

All NOIs and full applications are first submitted to the research administrator (research grants office or equivalent) at the NPI’s primary affiliation. The administrator must submit the NOI or full application through the Convergence Portal before the relevant deadline. Research administrators are free to set their own internal deadlines.

Date Milestone
February 15, 2022 Competition launches
Convergence Portal opens for NOIs
April 26, 2022 NOI deadline
May 3, 2022 Convergence Portal opens for full applications
August 9, 2022 Full application deadline
January 2023 Award results released
February 2023 Start date of awards


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.

Gender-based analysis plus

Gender-based analysis plus (GBA+) is an analytical process used to assess the potential impact that identity factors, such as sex, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, age and mental or physical disability, may have on the experience of the individual(s) who will be implicated in and affected by the outcomes of the research project. The purpose of GBA+ is to promote rigorous research that is sensitive to these and other identity factors. GBA+ considerations must be integrated into the design of the project. Applicants and reviewers should refer to Women and Gender Equality Canada’s information on GBA+ as well as the Sex- and Gender-Based Analysis (SGBA) section of CIHR’s website for definitions of sex, gender and GBA+, as well as information on applying GBA+ to the development and assessment of research proposals.

All applications must include a thorough analysis that demonstrates the research design has been informed by an equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) approach, with various identities and intersectionalities taken into consideration.

There is a distinction between GBA+, which is evaluated as part of the feasibility criterion, and the EDI criterion, which focuses on EDI practices in the research team.

Selection criteria

There are five selection criteria for funding opportunities offered under the NFRF program. The weightings and application of the criteria vary between NFRF streams (Exploration, Transformation, International and Special Calls) to reflect the goals of each. An overview of the criteria as they apply to the evaluation of proposals submitted to this funding opportunity follows. The elements considered under each criterion are outlined in more detail in the evaluation matrices.

Interdisciplinarity/Fit to program

Applications must clearly demonstrate how they respond to one or more priorities identified in the UN Roadmap.

Research teams must include at least one expert in socio/economic/socio-economic and/or implementation science among the principal investigators (NPI or co-PI). Applications must combine elements from at least two different disciplines.

Equity, diversity and inclusion

EDI is a core element of the NFRF program. This criterion addresses EDI in the research team.

Applicants must clearly demonstrate their commitment to EDI in their research teams, 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
  • inclusion

Actions taken are expected to remove barriers and provide opportunities for the meaningful integration of individuals from all groups, including but not limited to women, Indigenous Peoples, members of racialized minorities, persons with disabilities, and members of the LGBTQ2S+ community.

An application must not include any personal information about members of the research team; the focus is on the team’s commitment to EDI, not its EDI profile.

For more information, see NFRF’s Best Practices in Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in Research.

High risk

In the context of this Special Call, high risk refers to the novelty of the proposed approach to addressing one or more of the UN Roadmap priorities. Proposals will have to explain what is innovative about their approach. Proposals should address:

  • how the proposed approach is innovative as it relates to the latest methodologies and techniques;
  • how the approach builds on and benefits from the expertise and perspectives of a wide range of regions, disciplines, and/or sectors of the international team, as appropriate; and
  • why the approach is expected to lead to change.

High reward

High reward is defined as the potential for impact. Applications must explain the anticipated change or impact that is likely to result and its significance. High reward can be defined by elements such as, but not limited to:

  • having an economic, scientific, artistic, cultural, social, technological or health impact;
  • impacting and/or affecting large communities, or unique communities or subpopulations with the potential to provide lessons for other contexts; and/or
  • contributing to progress toward the achievement of the UN’s sustainable development goals by significantly advancing current knowledge, methods and/or technologies, and positioning them for uptake.


Feasibility considers the project plan and the research team’s ability to execute the activities. It includes elements such as the:

  • research challenge or priority being addressed;
  • knowledge, expertise and capacity of the research team;
  • current research in the field;
  • work plan and timeline;
  • plan for research uptake;
  • proposed approach, including GBA+ considerations, where appropriate;
  • project’s engagement and reciprocity with Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island (First Nations, Inuit and/or Métis communities) and beyond, where appropriate; and
  • suitability of the research environment.

Competition stages

NOIs will be used for administrative purposes to identify external reviewers and compose the multidisciplinary/multisectoral review panel.

Full applications will be reviewed by external reviewers and members of the multidisciplinary/multisectoral review panel, taking into account the external reviewers’ input.

Internal review

Any NOIs or full applications that do not meet the program’s eligibility requirements and application guidelines will be withdrawn from the competition. Individuals who are team members on more than one application will be removed from all applications.

External review

External reviewers with relevant subject matter expertise will evaluate applications in accordance with the highrisk, highreward, and feasibility selection criteria.

Multidisciplinary/multisectoral review panel

A multidisciplinary/multisectoral review panel composed of national and international members with broad expertise will evaluate the applications. To uphold the program’s commitment to EDI and to ensure the highest quality of review, members of the panel will be diverse, taking into consideration the:

  • area of expertise;
  • sector;
  • ability to review applications in either official language;
  • representation from the four designated groups (women, Indigenous Peoples, racialized minorities and persons with disabilities);
  • regional representation;
  • institution size; 
  • career stage;
  • knowledge of best practices regarding EDI; and
  • experience in Indigenous research.

Review process—full application

A minimum of two external reviewers will be recruited to evaluate each full application. Reviewers will be asked to comment on the high risk, high reward and feasibility criteria. The external reviewers will have access to the summary from the NOI, and to the GBA+ section, the research proposal and budget justification from the full application.

Each application will be assigned to three members of the multidisciplinary/multisectoral review panel. The review panel will be multidisciplinary and multisectoral, reflecting the range of disciplines in submitted proposals.

Members will have access to the entire application, in addition to the external reviewer reports. The members will assess proposals against the following selection criteria, using the evaluation matrices as a guide:

  • EDI (pass/fail)
  • Interdisciplinarity/fit to program (pass/fail)
  • high risk (30%)
  • high reward (40%)
  • feasibility (30%)

Members’ ratings for the high risk, high reward and feasibility criteria will determine an overall score for each application. The review panel will meet virtually to discuss the applications. In the event of a high volume of applications, members’ ratings may be used to identify those that will be discussed at the meeting. An application with an overall rating of fail for either the EDI or interdisciplinarity/fit to program criteria is not considered fundable. The multidisciplinary/multisectoral review committee will make a final recommendation on applications for funding to the NFRF 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 Canada, and Health Canada. The NFRF Steering Committee makes decisions regarding which applications to fund based on the review panel’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.

Communication of results

Applicants will be informed of competition results via the Convergence Portal. In addition to the notice of decision, all applicants will be provided a summary of the evaluation of their application (ratings by criterion). For more details about the review process, see the Reviewer Manual.

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, please 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 towards 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 whether to allow such a transfer. See the Frequently Asked Questions for more information about grant transfers.

Residual balances

All grants paid have a primary holder, namely, the person whose name appears on the notice of award.

Any NFRF funds remaining at the end of the authority to use funds period must be returned to SSHRC. Cheques returning unspent funds to SSHRC must be payable to the Receiver General and accompanied by a signed Form 300, indicating an unspent balance in the same amount as the refund.

Terms and conditions

The agencies reserve the right to:

  • determine the eligibility of applications, based on the information included;
  • interpret the regulations and policies governing their funding opportunities;
  • apply conditions to individual grants; and
  • alter, without advance notice, the terms and conditions of grant awards, with any and all major changes in regulations being announced promptly.

For more information, contact: NFRF-FNFR@chairs-chaires.gc.ca

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