Latest information and updates about COVID-19 (coronavirus) from McMaster University
Skip to McMaster Navigation Skip to Site Navigation Skip to main content
McMaster Logo McMaster logo

New Frontiers in Research Fund – Exploration 2020

Research Admin Offices:


Funding Type:



Applications can be for up to $125,000 per year (including 25% indirect costs), for 2 years. A minimum of 100 grants will be awarded.


  • Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities



Internal Deadline:


Sponsor Deadline:



The Tri-Agency Institutional Programs Secretariat (TIPS) has launched the 2020 Exploration stream competition of the New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF) Program. All competition documents are available on the TIPS website, and the Convergence Portal is open.

The goal of the Exploration stream is to inspire high-risk, high-reward and interdisciplinary research.

Exploration grants support research that pushes boundaries into exciting new areas. Researchers are encouraged to think “outside of the box,” undertake research that would defy current paradigms, and bring disciplines together in unexpected ways and from bold, innovative perspectives. With the Exploration stream, there is recognition that innovation often carries risk; proposals for high-risk research projects that have the potential to deliver game-changing impacts are strongly encouraged.Exploration stream grants support projects that:

  • bring disciplines together beyond traditional disciplinary or common interdisciplinary approaches;
  • propose to explore something new, which might fail; and
  • have the potential for significant impact

Exploration grants support research with a range of impacts, some of which might be social, cultural, economic, health-related or technological. This list is not exhaustive; other types of impacts are also recognized. Diversity of perspectives is important, and the fund encourages research proposals led from any discipline, from those in the social sciences and humanities, to health, the natural sciences and engineering.

To better promote ground-breaking and interdisciplinary research, the New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF) has a mandate to explore innovative merit review processes, and the flexibility for competition parameters and processes to evolve from one competition to the next. The 2020 Exploration competition merit review processes differ from those of previous Exploration competitions, and include elements distinct from those used in flagship tri-agency programs.

Additional Program Information:

Exploration grants support projects that are high risk, high reward and interdisciplinary. They may involve disciplines, thematic areas, approaches or subject areas eligible for funding across the three agencies. Eligible projects include those with specific short-to-medium-term objectives, as well as discrete phases in longer-range research programs.

To meet the minimum requirement to be considered interdisciplinary, a proposed research project must include elements from at least two different disciplines (as defined by a group-level classification based on the Canadian Research and Development Classification). Projects that incorporate two disciplines with a long and established tradition of working together (e.g., biology and chemistry or psychology and education) may satisfy the above requirement but not meet the expectations of the program. The onus is on the applicant to explain the novelty of the interdisciplinary approach to justify the fit to program.


To encourage projects that push the boundaries in terms of interdisciplinarity, 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 up to one co-PI and any number of co-applicants and/or collaborators.

To ensure that Exploration grants support high-risk, high-reward projects across the broadest spectrum of disciplines, individuals can participate in only one Exploration stream application or grant at one time as either an NPI, co-PI or co-applicant. These restrictions do not apply to collaborators. These restrictions also do not apply to the NFRF Transformation and International streams. An individual may simultaneously apply as or be an award holder as an NPI, co-PI or co-applicant for grants under separate streams (Exploration, Transformation and International).

Application/Nomination Process:

Applicants must complete both the NOI and application using the Convergence Portal, following the accompanying instructions.

If you plan to apply, please contact the Research Office for Administration, Development and Support (ROADS), Nathan Coschi, Senior Advisor, Development, at 


Internal Notify ROADS of Intent

Draft Notice of Intent

Final Notice of Intent

Draft Application

Final Draft Application

14 July

28 July

11 August

15 September

13 October


NFRF – Exploration 2020 – Webinar

  • July 7th – 2020 Exploration NOI – English
  • 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Eastern Time
  • Meeting link – Event password: SWrPUuX93C8


Nathan Coschi