To reflect the expertise required to deliver on the ambitious and interdisciplinary nature of the project, proposals must be submitted by teams. Teams must include a nominated principal investigator (NPI) and may include co-principal investigators, co-applicants and/or collaborators. Individuals who are not academic researchers are eligible for all roles except NPI. At the notice of intent to apply (NOI) stage, a minimum of five confirmed members (NPI, co-principal investigators and co-applicants but not collaborators) is required. Additional members can be added at each stage of the competition process and throughout the term of the grant. All core members of the team are expected to be confirmed when the letter of intent to apply (LOI) is submitted.
The appropriate team size and composition will depend on the requirements of the proposed project. The NPI and team members can be from any discipline(s). The NPI should be the most appropriate Canadian researcher to lead an interdisciplinary project of this scale which requires integration and coordination beyond usual disciplinary perspectives. Team members may be from any sector to ensure that all required sectors and disciplines are represented in the team and to provide an integrated interdisciplinary – and if applicable intersectoral – approach to the project. The focus should be on assembling a coherent team of experts to execute the project rather than on establishing a network.
National, international and cross-sector (private, public or other) collaborations are encouraged, as needed, 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 Transformation grants can be transferred to any organization within Canada or internationally except for-profit companies or federal, provincial or municipal governments.
Early career researchers (ECRs) must be included as confirmed members in all teams. For competitions under the Transformation stream, ECRs are defined as individuals who have five years’ or less experience since their first academic appointment as of the first of the month of the competition launch (December 2019 for this competition) with the exception of career interruptions (e.g., maternity or parental leave, extended sick leave, clinical training and family care) that occurred after their appointment. Part-time positions are taken into consideration. If a first academic appointment was part-time, the years of experience following it are counted at 50% until the time of an appointment to a full-time academic position. For all leaves except professional leaves (such as training-related, sabbatical, and administrative-related leaves), the five-year window is extended by twice the time interruption taken. Additional details are available in the FAQ.
To ensure that teams awarded a Transformation grant have sufficient time to dedicate to the project, award holders may serve as an NPI or co-principal investigator on only one Transformation grant. It is therefore recommended that individuals limit their participation as an NPI or co-principal investigator to a single application. An individual’s status as an applicant or grantee of other NFRF competitions (Exploration or International) does not affect their eligibility for the Transformation stream.
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:
- tackle a well-defined problem or challenge;
- propose a novel world-leading approach that is different from the current state-of-the-art approaches to the issue;
- are interdisciplinary, bringing different perspectives to the defined problem; and
- 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.