The New Frontiers in Research Fund 2020 Transformation competition is now open

The New Frontiers in Research Fund 2020 Transformation competition is now open

by aanationtalk on December 6, 2019777 Views

2020 Transformation Competition


The Canada Research Coordinating Committee acknowledges the valuable feedback received from the community regarding the Transformation stream framework and extends their thanks to the individuals and groups that participated. The flexibility of the Transformation stream to support projects on any topic of varying scopes and approaches was seen as a key advantage of the funding opportunity.

While recognizing that not all comments could be reflected in adjustments to the framework in order to maintain the objectives of the funding opportunity, the maximum flexibility, and the complementarity with other funding opportunities under the NFRF and across the agencies, all comments were considered. Feedback received contributed directly to the development of the competition documents, by indicating where clarification or more information was needed. The description of the Project team, the Selection Criteria and the Evaluation Matrices have been developed to address the requests for greater clarity about the scope, terminology and the evaluation of proposals.


The objective of the Transformation stream is to support large-scale, Canadian-led interdisciplinary research projects that address a major challenge with the potential to realize real and lasting change. 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, when relevant.

Transformation stream grants will support projects that:

  1. tackle a well-defined problem or challenge;
  2. propose a novel world-leading approach that is different from the current state-of-the-art approaches to the issue;
  3. are interdisciplinary, bringing different perspectives to the defined problem; and
  4. have the potential to be transformative, defined as the potential to create a significant and real change or impact—a noticeable leap or tangible breakthrough rather than an incremental advance.

The definition of transformative is linked to the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s proposed definition of convergence research (PDF, 726 KB), where “convergence research is increasingly seen as the way to solve pressing challenges.” It is aligned with the National Science Foundation’s definition of convergence research, focusing on research driven by a specific and compelling problem and deep integration across disciplines. It also has strong parallels to Horizon Europe in its reference to mission-oriented research and innovation with bold and concrete objectives to respond to societal challenges.

Value and Duration

Transformation grants are valued at between $2,000,000 and $4,000,000 per year (including indirect costs) for up to six years.

The maximum budget for the direct costs of the research project is $3,200,000 per year, and the minimum budget is $1,600,000. Applicants must request a budget (value and duration) commensurate with the objectives of the project. Applicants may also add up to 25% of the value of the direct costs of research to cover indirect costs and include this in the total funding request. This portion of the award must be used only to pay for eligible expenses, as outlined on the Research Support Fund website. The component of each award for indirect costs is included in the award value; it is not in addition to it.

Eligible expenses related to the direct costs of research are outlined in the Tri-Agency Guide on Financial Administration that will be made available in the near future. The objective of Transformation grants is to support projects with strong potential to make significant change. As a result, funds should be used primarily to support research activities and not for the acquisition or maintenance of infrastructure.

Transformation grants are awarded to a nominated principal investigator (NPI) in an eligible institution; they are not institutional grants. Successful applications will be awarded a grant of up to six years. A mid-term review of all funded projects is mandatory to ensure they are on track to meet objectives within the six-year timeframe. If the mid-term review is unsuccessful, grants may be terminated early. Given that research is, by its nature, driven by hypotheses and that outcomes are uncertain, it is understood that approaches, goals and objectives may have to be modified as the project progresses. The mid-term review will evaluate the project’s progress to date and plans for the remaining time, taking this into consideration.

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