New Innovator in Food & Agriculture Research Award

Open Opportunity

Grants Management Team

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Applications are under review.

Nomination Period Open:
January 12, 2022 at 12:00 pm ET

Nominations Due:
February 23, 2022 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 9, 2022 at 5:00 pm ET

Open only to individuals nominated by their institutions.

Full Applications Due:
May 4, 2022 at 5:00 pm ET

Download the 2022 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 have 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 highly 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 2022 New Innovator Award program.

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, 2018 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 from the applicant, as they are provided by FFAR. However, additional matching is always 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.
    • 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.
  • Anticipated 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: Fall 2022
What do I include in my application?

Application Components

Nomination Application

  • Nomination letter on institution letterhead, signed by Authorized Organizational Representative. The Nomination letter must be submitted by the nominee through FFAR’s Grants Portal.
  • General Information
  • Nominee’s Name
    • Nominee’s date of appointment to tenure-track or equivalent position (must be on or after 8/01/2018)
    • Nominator Contact Information
    • Nominee Contact Information
    • FFAR Challenge Area to which the nominee will submit the application
    • Nominee’s research program overview (300-word limit)
  • Justification for the nomination must address all points below:
  • Explain how this individual is outstanding in their 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)

Full Proposal


  • Program Title
  • FFAR Challenge Area
  • Proposed Budget
  • Budget Justification
  • Program Duration
  • Stakeholder groups to be served by this program
  • Key Personnel
  • Public Abstract (500-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. The application should focus on the overarching goals of the research program and address the review criteria. It is not necessary to provide the proposed research as a series of specific aims. Do not provide a detailed experimental plan. Preliminary data are allowed but not required. This section should include the following:

  • Program description: 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 can be performed in a robust and rigorous manner, including addressing risks and challenges.

  • Innovativeness: 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: 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: Why is the planned program fundamental to building your research career?
    • Data Management Plan
    • Facilities, Equipment and other Resources
    • 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
  1. Required Attachments
    • Budget Form
    • PI and Key Personnel Biosketch: Three-page limit per individual listed as PI or key personnel in the program (see Biosketch Guidelines).
    • References Cited
  2. Optional attachments to support Research Program description – this section should not be used to circumvent the page limit for the Research Program Plan Section.
    • 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.
How do I apply?

Applications must be submitted by the deadline date. Click here to access a new application. Once an application is created, you can access it anytime through FFAR’s online Grant Management System. Applications submitted outside of this System will not be considered.

If you are a new user, register for an account by clicking “Create Account” button located under the email address field on the left side of the home page. Once you log in, you may begin working on your application. Please be sure to save your work often by clicking on “Save and Finish Later”. To access a saved application, please do so through your Grant Management Account.

Nominators, please be prepared to write a letter on institutional letterhead with the nominee’s name, department, institution, title, start date of current position, date they received their Ph.D., and justification for the nomination addressing all points provided in the Application Components section.

FFAR will review nominations against eligibility criteria. Only those meeting these criteria will be invited to submit full applications. Email invitations will be sent to those eligible by March 9, 2022.

Whom do I contact for assistance?

All Scientific and Grants questions must be emailed to

FFAR only accepts 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 FFAR receives and the complexity of the questions asked. Please note that we do not monitor this mailbox on evenings, weekends, or federal holidays.

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