New Innovator in Food & Agriculture Research Award

Open Opportunity

Grants Management Team

Nomination Period Open:
January 13, 2021 at 12:00 pm ET

Nominations Due:
March 10, 2021 at 5:00 pm ET

Nominations must be made by the nominee’s institution. Self-nominations are not accepted.

Nominees invited to submit full proposals:
March 24, 2021 at 12:00 pm ET

Open only to individuals nominated by their institutions.

Full Applications Due:
May 5, 2021 at 5:00 pm ET

Award decisions finalized:
Late Summer

Download the 2021 RFA.

About the New Innovator Award

The New Innovator in Food & Agriculture Research Award provides early-career scientists the investment needed to propel them into successful research careers.

Young faculty in the sciences often struggle to secure grant funding. We established the New Innovator Awards to launch the careers of promising scientists whose research addresses significant food and agriculture challenges. These awards allow the grantees to focus exclusively on research without the pressure of securing additional funding.

We grant New Innovator Awards to  outstanding early career investigators who has been in the tenure-track position no longer than three years. The Award goes to individuals with the creative ideas, skills, knowledge and resources necessary to carry out the proposed research program.

We give preference to individuals who are within eight years of receiving a Ph.D. or equivalent degree. Eligible candidates must also conduct research that aligns with our Challenge Areas.

Individuals with significant research experience prior to obtaining their faculty position are not eligible for this award.

Each applicant can receive from FFAR up to $150,000 per year for a maximum of three years totaling $450,000 investment.

To further support the grantees, and allow them to fully focus on their research, matching funds are not required for this program.

Application Guidelines

Am I eligible to apply?

I Eligible Institutions

  • U.S. Institutions of Higher Education
  • Public/State controlled institutions
  • Private institutions
  • U.S. Nonprofit Research Institutions
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture

In keeping with FFAR goals to reach a diverse and broad range of institutions and individuals who participate in its programs, the following types of higher education institutions are encouraged to apply for FFAR programs:

  • Hispanic-serving Institutions
  • 1890s Land Grant Institutions and other Historically Black Colleges and Universities
  • Tribal Colleges and Universities
  • Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Serving Institutions
  • Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions

Institutions may submit one nominee to the 2021 New Innovator Award program. To coordinate and streamline submission of nominations by each institution, FFAR recommends that the nomination be submitted through the organization’s Office of Sponsored Programs or a similar central office.

II Eligible Individuals

Faculty members at eligible institutions with the creative ideas, skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to carry out the proposed research program as Principal Investigator are invited to work with their institution to develop an application for support. The nominated faculty member must have been hired on or after August 1, 2017 for a tenure-track or equivalent position and may work in any discipline or any department within the institution. Preference will be given to individuals near the onset of their independent research career and who are within eight (8) years of receiving a Ph.D. or equivalent degree. Individuals with significant research experience prior to obtaining their faculty position will not be considered for this award.

FFAR recognizes that agriculture and food sciences are highly complex, requiring individuals from a variety of disciplines to realize the potential in each field or research area. Particularly for early stage investigators, collaborators are often essential for success. While this award is made to an outstanding early career investigator, applicants should include information regarding any essential collaborators and include letters of support from those collaborators. In these letters, the collaborators should comment on the potential of the individual to achieve success.

What do I need to know about this opportunity?
  • Anticipated Award Duration: Up to 36 months
  • Amount per Award: Up to $150,000/year for up to three years. Matching funds are NOT required; however, matching is encouraged to broaden the scope of the program, and, if available, should be reflected in the budget. Lack of matching funds will not influence the review of the application.
    • FFAR will award each applicant up to $150,000 per year for up to 36 months. Applicants may ask for a longer duration, provided the total funds do not exceed $450,000.
    • Indirect costs are limited to 10% of the total award, including subcontracts, if applicable. Unrecovered indirect cost is not permitted. Construction and renovation costs are not allowed. Salaries of principal investigators are allowed for time not covered by institutional or other grant funds and effort should be commensurate with the research proposed.
  • Estimated Number of Awards: Up to ten (10) awards. The actual number of awards will depend on the quality and budgets of successful proposals. FFAR reserves the right to negotiate all or none of the applications received for funding consideration under this opportunity.
  • Anticipated Award Date: Late summer 2021.
What do I include in my application?

Application Components

Nomination Application

  • General Information
    • Nominee Name
    • Nominee’s date of appointment to tenure-track or equivalent position (on or after 8/1/2017)
    • Nominator Contact Information
    • Nominee Contact Information
    • FFAR Challenge Area to which the nominee will submit the application
    • Comments on Nominee and Nominee’s research program (300-word limit)
  • Justification for the nomination
    • Explain how this individual is outstanding in his/her field (300-word limit)
    • Explain how this individual was selected for the nomination among, what is likely, many meritorious individuals (300-word limit)
    • Why should this nominee receive the FFAR New Innovator Award? (300-word limit)
    • How would the institution benefit from this nominee receiving the New Innovator Award? (300-word limit)
    • Explain how the institution is and will continue supporting the nominee. (300-word limit)

II. Full Proposal


  • Program Title
  • FFAR Challenge Area
  • Proposed Budget
  • Budget Justification
  • Program Duration
  • Stakeholder groups to be served by this program
  • Geographic locations of applicant organization and research activities
  • Key Personnel
  • Public Abstract (500-word limit)
  • Executive Summary (2,000-word limit)
  • Research Strategy: Describe (1) the significance and potential impact of the program, (2) what makes the approach(es) exceptionally innovative, (3) how will risks and challenges be addressed, and (4) the applicant’s qualifications for this award. The description of the scientific plan should be written at a level appropriate for reviewers who are broadly knowledgeable but may not be directly involved in the proposed area of research. To focus the application on the goals of the New Innovator Award and the review criteria, presenting the proposed research as a series of specific aims is discouraged. Do not provide a detailed experimental plan. Preliminary data are allowed but not required. This section should include the following:
    • Program description (3000 words): Describe the scientific challenge or opportunity that you propose to address, its importance, and how anticipated outcomes would have a major impact on a broad area of research relevant to the FFAR Challenge Area. Provide the scientific context by summarizing the current landscape of the field and how your research, if successful, would extend substantially beyond current boundaries. Describe the overall approach to be taken.
      State prominently that to comply with the RFA, a detailed experimental plan and extensive preliminary data are not being provided. However, this section must be written such that reviewers have a clear sense of what is being proposed to be done and why and are convinced that the research will be performed in a robust and rigorous manner, including addressing risks and challenges.
    • Innovativeness (1000 words): State clearly and concisely what makes your project unusually innovative in the context of the current state-of-the-art of the field. Since the approaches may be highly innovative, and hence risky, what will you do if these approaches are not successful?
    • Investigator qualifications (1000 words): Provide evidence to support your claim of innovativeness and creativity in your prior research. For example, what personal qualities and experiences demonstrate your inclination to question paradigms and work with intellectual uncertainties, develop unique collaborations, integrate diverse sources of information, or develop novel approaches when new challenges or opportunities arise?
    • Suitability for the New Innovator Award program (500 words): Why is the planned program fundamental to building your research career?
  • Goals and objectives (2000 words)

  • Anticipated Outcomes or Outputs (1500 words)

  • Data Management Plan (1500 words)

  • Facilities, Equipment and other Resources (500 words)

  • Organizational Assurances for any type of research involving:

    • Human subjects
    • Vertebrate animals
    • Recombinant DNA
    • National Security implications
    • Hazardous materials
    • Human fetal tissue
    • NEPA review
  • Attachments

    a. Required Attachments

    • Contact Form
    • Budget Form
    • PI and Key Personnel Biosketch: Three-page limit per individual listed as PI or key personnel in the program (see Biosketch Guidelines).
    • Current and Pending Support
    • References Cited

    b. Optional attachments to support Research Program description – this section should not be used to circumvent the page limit for the Research Program Plan Section.

    o Graphics, Figures, Equations, and Tables – The textbox for the Research Program Plan does not support equations, tables, graphics, and figures. Applicants may upload a PDF document with graphics, figures, tables, or a list of equations to support the research program plan. Refer to RFA for page limit.

    • Letters of Support – Applicants may provide letters of institutional, collaborator, or stakeholder support for the proposed program. Please combine all letters of support into a single PDF document before uploading as an attachment.
    • Applicant Feedback on Full Proposal – Applicants may complete a survey giving FFAR feedback on their proposal experience.
How do I apply?

Applications must be submitted through FFAR’s online application Grant Management System. Nominations and applications submitted outside of this System will not be considered. Nominations or applications that are not submitted by the deadline will not be accepted.

If you are a new user, register for an account by clicking the green “Register” button at the top right corner of the Grant Management System home page. You will receive a confirmation email to activate your account. Once you log in, click on the corresponding program to start your application.

Nominators, please be prepared to submit the nominee(s) name, department, institution, title, start date of current position, date Ph.D. or equivalent degree was received, and justification for the nomination.

Once nominations are reviewed by FFAR, only nominated individuals listed as principal investigator and meeting eligibility criteria will be invited to submit full applications. Nominees may submit an application only after receiving an invitation through the Grant Management System. Full proposal application receipt for nominees will be open on March 24, 2021.

Who do I contact for assistance?

Technical Help Contact

Hours of Operation:                6:00 am – 10:00 pm Eastern Time (Monday–Friday)

Telephone: Click here to request a call back


Scientific and Grants Questions Contact:

We only accept scientific, programmatic, and grants inquiries by email. We strive to respond to inquiries within two business days, but our response time depends on the volume of questions we receive and the complexity of the questions asked. Please note that we do not monitor this mailbox on evenings, weekends, or federal holidays.

Subscribe to our newsletter for the latest updates.