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Early Researcher Award

Award NameEarly Researcher Award
AgencyOntario Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science
ValueUp to $100,000 (Must be matched by an additional $50,000 from the researcher's institution. In addition, up to $40,000 will be provided to the researcher’s Faculty by the Ministry for indirect costs.)
Duration5 years
Faculties submit Internal Notice of Intent to ORS10-24-2022
Three (3) signed letters of reference due to ORS11-14-2022
Complete application due to ORS11-21-2022
Agency deadline (SIRI submits)12-01-2022, by 5:00PM

All materials due to ORS must be submitted via email to Yuwn Forrester (


The Early Researcher Award (ERA) program helps promising, recently-appointed Ontario researchers build their research teams of undergraduates, graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, research assistants, associates, and technicians. The goal of the program is to improve Ontario’s ability to attract and retain the best and brightest research talent. It is is open to all disciplines.  

Applicants are required to undertake annual youth outreach activities that primarily target high-school, middle school and elementary school students. Up to 1% (equivalent to $1,000) of the funding provided by the government may be used for eligible expenses for developing and delivering youth outreach activities, including consumable supplies (e.g., materials for crafts, lab supplies). Funding provided by the institution and/or partner organization may not be used for youth outreach. Activities associated with youth outreach are to be undertaken during each year of the project.


The ERA program is open on a competitive basis to researchers who:  

  • are full-time faculty or principal investigators who, at the application deadline, are based at an eligible institution (see detailed guidelines);  
  • have started their academic career on or after January 1, 2016; and 
  • have completed their first Doctor of Philosophy, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree, Medical Doctor or terminal degree on or after January 1, 2011

Required Materials

New this year, researchers will be required to submit an Internal Notice of Intent to apply and submit the Ontario Research Fund Mitigating Economic and Geopolitical Risk Checklist

Complete applications (due November 21, 2022) consist of the following:

Evaluation Process

Applications will be evaluated based on four weighted criteria:  

  • Excellence of the Researcher (40%) 
  • Quality of the Research (30%) 
  • Development of Research Talent (20%) 
  • Strategic Value to Ontario (10%) 

The applications will be ranked as exceptional, excellent, very strong, strong, moderate, or insufficient on these four weighted criteria.

How to Apply

Faculties will lead the development of nominations, and as such applicants are encouraged to contact their Faculty Research Officers (and/or Directors) regarding application support.  The Strategic and Institutional Research Initiatives (SIRI) Unit at ORS will coordinate submission of the Full Applications, receive reference letters, and will secure any required institutional signatures.  

As well, to help support the nomination development process, the Associate Vice-Presidents Research, through the Research Commons, will coordinate a mentorship program that engages previous York-based ERA and Premier’s Research Excellence Award recipients.  However, mentorship will only be provided on a demand basis at the request of the Faculty, and should target high potential applicants.  If applicants are interested in utilizing this support, Faculty Research Office should contact Abby Vogus at to initiate the process. Further to this, it is suggested that applicants be within the last two years of the program’s eligibility window to be genuinely competitive. 

Finally, please note that all nominations should be directed through Faculties, not Organized Research Units (ORUs), given the Award’s focus on graduate student support. However, ORUs are asked to ensure that their membership is made aware of the Award and to encourage interested members to pursue the opportunity, if applicable. 



Abby Vogus
SIRI Specialist
Office of Research Services

FSc Research Services