The Early Researcher Awards (ERA) is a highly competitive grant program that helps exceptional early career researchers build their research teams. Applicants must demonstrate strategic value to Ontario (i.e., economic, social, cultural benefits, knowledge transfer, and/or ability to enhance Ontario’s profile in the global academic community). All research supported by ERA funds must be conducted in Ontario at an eligible institution. ERA funds are to be used over a period of 5 years to fund eligible expenses for a research team of undergraduates, graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, research assistants, associates, and technicians.
Each award to a leading researcher is a maximum of $100,000 and must be matched by an additional $50,000 from the researcher’s institution and/or a partner organization. In addition, up to $40,000 will be provided by the Ministry to the institution for indirect costs. It is important to note that Early Researcher Award (ERA) is not alternative funding, it is complementary to existing funding.
The $100,000 from the ERA and the $50,000 matching contribution will cover the following expenses for undergraduates, graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, research assistants, associates, and technicians carrying out the research in Ontario at an eligible institution:
- salaries and benefits
- essential and reasonable travel and expenses related to conferences, workshops or seminars
- essential and reasonable travel and expenses related directly to offsite research activities
- the amount paid to graduate students and post-doctoral fellows must be in keeping with the levels established by other award programs. Salaries must be commensurate with institutional remuneration scales. Undergraduates, graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, research assistants, associates, and technicians must be based in Ontario.
Round 16/2021 eligible applicants are those who:
- are a full-time faculty member or principal investigator at an eligible research institution; and
- have started their academic career on or after January 1, 2015, *; and
- have completed their first Doctor of Philosophy, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree, Medical Doctor or terminal degree on or after January 1, 2010 *; and
- have not already held an Early Researcher Award; and
- are not a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair
* The dates are subject to extension in case of eligible interruptions. By eligible interruptions, the program means the times that the applicant could not be able to pursue active research, such as parental leave, and required training (i.e. required medical training and fellowships). Research Associate positions and post-doctoral fellowships are not deemed as eligible interruptions. Applicants must provide details in Section 8d of the application to document eligible interruptions. Failure to provide information will result in the application being deemed ineligible.
All applications must be signed by the designated Institutional Authority and submitted by University Research Services. Applications submitted directly to the funding agency will not be accepted.
Three Letters of Reference are required; 2 from arms' length sources. Reference letters MUST be sent to University Research Services for submission to the Ministry. Please view the sample templates in the Useful Links section below to assist with soliciting reference letters and information on submitting the letters to our office.
Round 16/2021 Application Process
Step 1: Notify University Research Services of your intent to apply to Round 16 of the Early Researcher Award Program prior to March 26, 2021, by completing our internal Eligibility Pre-Screening Form to assist our unit in gauging eligibility and coordinating the application process.
Step 2: Acquire necessary research approvals for proposed research, signed internal matching confirmation form from Department Head(s) or equivalent, and solicit letters of support from (1) a former supervisor, mentor, collaborator, or corporate sponsor familiar with your research and (2) two arms-length sources of international stature familiar with your work. [N.B. The Ministry recommends that candidates provide letter writers with a copy of the application so that they can speak directly to all four of the evaluation criteria.]
Step 3: Submit the following draft sections of your application for feedback by May 7, 2021. Be sure to consult the ERA Guidelines, as well as suggestions in the Application Instructions and Tips section of our internal guide (to be circulated soon to prospective applicants).
- Application Form
- Appendix A – completed budget table (included in the application form)
- Appendix B – proposed research (maximum of 5 pages including appendices, excluding references)
- Appendix C – research productivity and recognition - researcher’s full Curriculum Vitae (CV)
- Appendix E – Mitigation Economic and Geopolitical Risk Checklist
Email draft to University Research Services (email@example.com).
Step 4: Make the necessary revisions, obtain all mandatory documents and approvals, complete the TRAQ DSS Form as described in the TRAQ section of our internal guide, and send final version of the completed Application Form, including all Appendices A through E to University Research Services by June 4, 2021 (email electronic copy to firstname.lastname@example.org ). Our office will attach reference letters for Appendix D and obtain electronic institutional signature.
University Research Services collates all material and produces electronic copies of the application package to be delivered to the Ministry by June 11, 2021.
N.B. Feel free to contact URS if you anticipate difficulty with this timetable.