Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research Award

Below is a summary assembled by the Research & Innovation Office (RIO). Please see the full solicitation for complete information about the funding opportunity. Note: as of January 17, 2024, the internal call has been updated to reflect three Challenge Areas (initially it was four, but the Scientific Workforce track has been removed).

Program Summary 

With this program, FFAR intends to support and promote the future generation of exceptionally talented and creative new faculty who are conducting critical and highly innovative research and are establishing research programs that will lead to expanded availability of food and facilitate the global practice of sustainable agriculture as the world’s population grows to more than nine billion people by the year 2050. 

The New Innovator Award seeks to promote career advancement of highly creative and promising new scientists who intend to make a long-term career commitment to research in food and agriculture and bring innovative, ground-breaking research initiatives and thinking to bear on problems facing food and agriculture. Within the scope of the New Innovator Program, investigators will have the freedom to explore new avenues of inquiry that arise during their research. Therefore, FFAR is interested in the program of research to be explored and its impact as opposed to a list of very specific aims.

Per FFAR’s updated Research Strategy for 2024-2028, the foundation is transitioning from Challenge Areas to focus on three high-level priority areas:

  • Cultivating Thriving Production Systems;
  • Sustaining Vibrant Ecosystems;
  • Bolstering Healthy Food Systems


CU Internal Deadline: 11:59pm MT February 5, 2024

Sponsor Nomination Deadline: 3pm MT February 21, 2024

Sponsor Full Proposal Deadline (for nominees only): 3pm MT February 28, 2024

Sponsor Full Application Deadline (by invitation only): 3pm MT April 3, 2024

Internal Application Requirements (all in PDF format)

  • Nominee Justification Letter (from someone other than PI, 300-word limit): Please explain how the nominee is outstanding in her/his field and why the nominee should receive the FFAR New Innovator Award.
  • Research Program (2000-word limit): Describe (1) the scientific challenge or opportunity that you propose to address, its importance, and how anticipated outreach and outcomes would have a major impact on a broad area of research relevant to a FFAR high level priority area, (2) what makes the project exceptionally innovative, and (3) the personal qualities and experiences demonstrating 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.
  • PI Biosketch (5 pages maximum)
  • Budget Overview (up to 1 page): A basic budget outlining project costs is sufficient; detailed OCG budgets are not required.

To access the online application, visit:


  • The nominated faculty member must have been hired on or after August 1, 2020 for a tenure-track or equivalent position and may work in any discipline or any department within the institution.
  • 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.

Limited Submission Guidelines

CU Boulder is invited to nominate one applicant.

Award Information

Award Amount: 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.

Number of Awards: Up to 10

Review Criteria

Innovation and Strategic Impact

  • Does the research program address an important problem or a critical barrier to progress within a FFAR Research Priority Area?
  • Did the applicant identify how FFAR is uniquely positioned to fund this research program?
  • Did the applicant describe what makes the proposed approach(es) exceptionally innovative in the context of the current state-of-the-art of the field?
  • If the program is successful, will it create new paradigms or challenge existing ones in the U.S. and/or global food systems?
  • Will the applicant train the next generation of food and agriculture research scientists, and if so, how?


Note that applicants are asked to focus on the overall program of research. They are not asked to provide a detailed experimental plan or list of aims. The program budget does not need to be associated with specific aims.

  • Are the overarching goals of the proposed research program clear?  
  • Is the overall scientific approach well-reasoned and appropriate?  
  • Did the applicant identify potential risks to successfully complete the research goals and propose to address them?  
  • Is the data and results management plan outlined by the applicant adequate?  

Potential Outcomes and Outreach

  • Does the application adequately discuss the significance of the challenge that is being addressed in the proposal and how the research will contribute to a solution?
  • Has the applicant demonstrated that this research has not been done elsewhere, or that this research accelerates a current research challenge or addresses a challenge in a new or innovative manner?
  • Will the PI share the data and research results with the food and agriculture community? If so, do they also effectively describe how they will share results?  


  • Is the PI well suited to the research program?
  • Does the PI show the potential to have significant impact on their field? Does the PI have the appropriate experience and training?
  • Is the effort committed sufficient to perform the proposed research?
  • Will this research program serve as a platform for a successful scientific career?
  • Will the PI be an inspiring mentor who will attract and motivate students and post-docs in their lab?
  • Does the PI have institutional support to carry out the program being proposed?