Transformation Stream Framework

The Canada Research Coordinating Committee (CRCC) has established the parameters of the Transformation stream, including the objectives, selection criteria and review process. The CRCC is releasing the framework in advance of the launch of a competition (anticipated in October) to give stakeholders the opportunity to provide feedback. Comments, suggestions and questions received by August 1, 2019, will be considered in the preparation of competition documents. Stakeholders can send their feedback to .


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:

These elements are further described under Transformation project characteristics.

Teams and international collaboration

The composition of the team should reflect the need of expertise to deliver on the ambitious and interdisciplinary nature of the project. Teams, including collaborating partners, could include expertise from different institutions and sectors across Canada and internationally, as needed, to increase the expertise of the team and secure access to infrastructure. In order to support essential international partnerships, transfers of NFRF funds from the nominated principal investigator’s institution to international co-applicants will be permitted.

Early career researchers and equity, diversity and inclusion

Equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) is a core element of NFRF. EDI will be reviewed both at the project management level and at the research level.  As such, the project should include meaningful engagement and follow best practices for recruitment, training and inclusion. Gender-Based Analysis Plus (GBA+) must be considered and inform the research design; in cases where applicants feel it does not apply, a clear justification must be provided.

Support to early career researchers (ECRs) is required. ECRs should be meaningfully integrated in the project team, with concrete measures put in place to support the ECRs’ integration and leadership development.

Timing and budget

Timing: Transformation stream competitions are expected to be held every 2 years.

Budget: The planned budget for the inaugural Transformation competition is $144 million over 6 years.

Value and duration

Value: Up to $4 million per year, including indirect costs.

Duration: Up to six years. Successful applications will be awarded up to a 3-year grant initially. A mid-term review is mandatory to ensure projects are on track and meeting objectives. Following a successful mid-term review, a second (and final) grant for the remaining duration (maximum of three years) will be awarded. 

A 3-stage process for the Transformation competition is proposed, as outlined below under Proposed competition stages and review process.

Transformation project characteristics

Proposals will have to respond successfully to the 4 required aspects (well-defined problem or challenge; a novel world-leading approach; interdisciplinarity; and be transformative, creating a significant and real change or impact). The following questions are proposed to address the requirements:

Proposed Competition Stages and Review Process

There are 3 proposed stages for the Transformation competition.

Stage Notification of Intent to Apply (NOI)

Registration (required)

To inform member/reviewer recruitment

Focus of content / review Basic demographic information
Required information / format
  • Information about the team (as collected through the Convergence Portal)
  • Fields of research (up to 10)
  • Short summary of proposal (2 pages):
    • Outline of challenge (1 page)
    • Overview of approach and potential change(s) (1 page)
  • Suggested external reviewers
Number of NOIs expected Unknown
Adjudication process None
Criteria N/A
Outcome All teams that submit an eligible NOI will be able to complete an LOI.
Stage Letter of Intent (LOI)
Purpose Identify proposals to invite to submit a full application
Focus of content / review High reward—potential for change, need and timeliness
Required information / format All team members must complete registration in the Convergence Portal (confirmation of commitment)
  • Summary of proposal, including the following information (10 pages, including diagrams and illustrations):
    • Novelty of approach (high risk)
    • Interdisciplinarity
    • Feasibility
      • Approach to challenge
      • Why it is anticipated that this approach will succeed
      • GBA+ considerations (or justification where absent)
      • Strength of the research team (expertise)
      • Access to infrastructure
      • Data management plan
    • Anticipated transformation/change (high reward)
      • Significance of the change
      • Short-term and long-term benefits
      • Likelihood of change
    • References
  • EDI environment/approach/commitment (2 pages)
Number of LOIs expected Approximately 100
Adjudication process Review by multidisciplinary/multisectoral review panel (including a significant number of non-academic members)
Criteria EDI and ECR Pass/Fail
Interdisciplinarity Pass/Fail
High Reward 60%
Feasibility 20%
High Risk 20%
Outcome Between 20 and 30 applications will be invited to submit a full application.
Stage Full Application
Purpose Identify applications for funding
Focus of content / review

Two Phases:

Phase 1 – Feasibility (likelihood of success)

Phase 2 – High Reward (potential for change)

Required information / format


  • Intro/overview (2 pages):
    • Challenge
    • Approach (novelty/interdisciplinarity)
  • Biographical information about the team (6 pages)
  • Proposal (10 pages, including diagrams and illustrations))
    • Description of activities, approaches, projects
  • Anticipated transformation/change, with concrete objectives and other potential benefits (5 pages)
    • Supporting the next generation of researchers; training
  • Management plan, including the following (4 pages)
    • Governance/management approach
    • Performance management plan
      • Risk assessment and management framework
      • Results framework (outcomes expected and when)
  • References (5 pages)
Number of applications expected Between 20 and 30
Adjudication process Adjudication will take place in two phases:
Phase 1 Phase 2
  • External expert review (5 to 10 reviewers from different disciplines and sectors per application)
  • Review by multidisciplinary review panel (based on application and reports from expert reviewers)
  • Review by a jury composed of academics and non-academics
Criteria Pass/Fail (confirm LOI stage review) EDI and ECR N/A
Pass/Fail (confirm LOI stage review) Interdisciplinarity N/A
25% High Reward 50%
75% Feasibility 50%
N/A High Risk N/A
Outcome Between 10 and 15 applications to proceed to Phase 2. Applications selected to recommend for funding.
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