The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) is launching its next call for proposals under its Discovery Frontiers program. This round of funding will focus on Biodiversity and Adaptation of Biosystems.


Global habitats are changing at a faster pace than ever before through climate change, deforestation, ocean acidification, and overfishing. Canada and the world need to better understand natural and managed environments – from genes to ecosystems – and how they respond or adapt to complex changing conditions. To address this, the Discovery Frontiers funding will support a program that will be paradigm-shifting, transdisciplinary in nature, involve international collaboration, and foster new expertise and capacity.

Suitable initiatives include:

  • high risk/high pay-off activities;
  • transformative/disruptive, paradigm-shifting research; new strategies to tackle an important problem of broad interest;
  • research that opens new fields or integrates existing fields in new ways;
  • research that accelerates the establishment of expertise and capacity that is in demand; and
  • research that provides solutions and breaks down barriers at the forefront of significant scientific problems and research questions.


In addition to the usual NSERC eligibility criteria for applicants and co-applicants, each Call for Proposals may identify mandatory eligibility criteria specific to that call. These will be used to screen applications and are pre-requisites for proposals to be accepted, at the Letter of Intent stage, within a specific Discovery Frontiers competition. Discovery Frontiers grants are not tied to the annual Discovery Grants (DG) competition cycle. Grants awarded under the Discovery Frontiers initiative can be held concurrently with an individual or a team DG. A DF grant must add value, building on excellence.

The following criteria will apply to all DF applications:

  • The activity will encompass discovery research and must involve international collaboration; it can involve industrial or receptor sector participation capacity, if appropriate.
  • The activity should encourage collaboration and integration across several disciplines within the natural sciences and engineering (NSE) and may include aspects of social science and health research.
  • The activity will be distinct from, and will not duplicate, what is being done through other existing NSERC programs such as, but not limited to, the Discovery Accelerator Supplements, CREATE, Strategic Partnership Grants for Networks or Networks of Centres of Excellence programs.
  • The proposal should demonstrate that the one-time research contribution has the potential to generate substantial and important advances in knowledge.

There may be additional criteria depending on the goals of a specific Discovery Frontiers competition (e.g. collaborative, multidisciplinary, industrial or receptor sector participation).

Funding Available

  • Maximum amount: $1,000,000/year
  • Fellowship duration: 4 years

Helpful Links


LOI/Full Application:
CURO Internal Deadline for Review Please contact your Research Facilitator.
cuResearch Checklist Deadline
  • April 10, 2017
Submission to sponsor
  • April 17, 2017 (LOI)
  • August 25, 2017 (Full Application, if invited to apply)

Submitting Your Application

  • Applications must be submitted via cuResearch, through which Departmental and Associate Dean’s approval must be provided to complete the online application process.
  • More information on cuResearch can be found here.

Internal Contacts

If you would like assistance with proposal development and/or a substantive review of your proposal, please contact the appropriate Research Facilitator.