Terms of Reference

Please note that the deadline for the Terra Nova Innovator Award is scheduled for Monday, June 3, 2024 at 5:00 PM

The terms of reference has been updated so please review the following material carefully.  Submissions that do not follow the new format will be returned to the applicant.

The Terra Nova Innovator Award (TNIA) recognizes and supports outstanding early career faculty members whose research is particularly innovative and whose specific proposal has real potential to make a significant impact on society.

The TNIA reflects a shared commitment by Suncor and Memorial University of Newfoundland to enable exceptional early career faculty to be adventurous in their research, to explore novel ideas, and to be creative in the way they investigate important research issues. Although the award is sponsored by Suncor, it is not meant to honour just those performing research in the oil and gas industry. The TNIA is open to the entire Memorial academic community and will be bestowed upon individuals who are proposing new transformative research initiatives that push the boundaries beyond what they would normally undertake through conventional funding mechanisms.

By sponsoring the TNIA, Suncor is working towards addressing their purpose which is to provide trusted energy that enhances people’s lives, while caring for each other and the earth. Innovative research that delves into all industries and areas that can enhance the quality of life for everyone on earth is important. Suncor strives to find innovative solutions that solve problems and to go about them in a way that cares for both people and the planet.

Suncor’s values guide them in fulfilling their purpose and represent who they are, and who they aspire to be. They value safety above all else, they are stronger together, they live operational discipline as their foundation, they grow through curiosity and lifelong learning, and they act with integrity in everything they do.

In 2021, as a commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion, Suncor requested that a blind review be conducted by the adjudication committee as a means to reduce unconscious bias in the awardee selection.  The TNIA selection committee overwhelmingly supported the blind review and was pleased with the process, as was Suncor.  As a result, Memorial University is incorporating the practice of blind reviewing into the terms of reference and, as outlined below, the applicant must take appropriate steps to redact identifying information from the materials that are required for submission. 

In keeping with the values of both Suncor and Memorial University the TNIA selection committee seeks projects that marry innovative designs, methodologies and/or technologies to important research challenges, opportunities, and concepts. While the research achievements and relevant expertise of the applicants are important considerations in the overall adjudication process, the TNIA is, first and foremost, a proposal-based award in which innovative, original and potentially high-impact submissions will be rewarded.

Up to $50,000 is available annually for this competition. One or more awards may be made each year. The dollar value of each award will be established by the selection committee based on the budget justification submitted with each successful proposal.

AWARD DEADLINE:         June 3, 2024

Please note - If the deadline happens to fall on a weekend or holiday, applications will be accepted on the first working day following the June deadline.


  • Faculty members in tenured or tenure-track positions (or in the case of the Marine Institute, a permanent or contractual appointment) across all disciplines.
  • Applicants must have received their first university faculty-level appointment not more than 10 years prior to the competition deadline.


  • The award is not intended to sustain multi-year research. It is offered in support of research activities that achieve a specific deliverable over a period of one year to eighteen months.
  • Capital or operating expenses that further the innovative work proposed are eligible for support.
  • It is expected that the recipient will spend the funds as indicated in the budget provided with their application as well as in accordance with Memorial’s policies and procedures; however, unique opportunities that arise following submission of an approved budget may be considered, with consent from the Office of the Vice-President (Research).
  • Award recipients will be expected to provide Memorial University with a summary of how the funds were spent and the status of their research within two years of the date of award including how the project contributed to a specific area of society or to society at large. Excerpts from this summary will be shared with Suncor.
  • Recipients must agree to the publication of the award and their project work. Recipients must also acknowledge the Terra Nova development, which is operated by Suncor, and Memorial in any publication that results from the work supported.


Applications are to be submitted electronically by June 3rd. to researchawards@mun.ca. Receipt of the application materials will be confirmed by email.

As the adjudication of this award is conducted blindly, nominees must redact all identifying information from their submission materials.  This includes:

  • Candidate’s name
  • Pronouns (he/she, his, her) referring to the candidate
  • Departments and supervisors of the candidate as well as the institution where the candidate received their undergraduate degree
  • Names of students supervised and reference to a student’s degree
  • Authors of publications – some of the references in the proposal are permitted as long as the publications are relevant to the award proposal. They should not contain the name of the applicant nor should names appear on a CV
  • Hosts of invited talks – names of professors and departments are to be deleted (naming of institutions is allowed)
  • Teaching experience referring to particular courses
  • Anything referring to ethnicity or religion

Package must include:

  • A lay summary of the proposed research, no more than 200 words in length, which is suitable for use in the general media;
  • An abstract not exceeding 250 words which gives a brief summary of the proposal;
  • A detailed description of the nature of the project being pursued (maximum 4 pages);
  • A statement explaining how the proposed research is innovative, will advance economic prosperity, improve social well-being and environmental performance, and the potential impact it could have to your field of study, other disciplines, industry, government or society. This statement should also include information on the influence this funding could have to your research program (maximum 1 page);
  • An outline of the need for assistance, with a detailed budget (maximum 2 pages);
  • Justification for the budget (maximum 1 page);
  • Timelines for the project and expected outcomes as they relate to the project (maximum 1 page);
  • A curriculum vitae using Memorial?s online template;
  • Written support from the candidate's head of department and faculty dean/director. This document will include a description of the quality, innovation and potential impact of the proposed research (maximum 2 pages);
  • One letter of recommendation from a colleague highlighting the degree of innovation of the project from a disciplinary perspective (maximum 2 pages); and,
  • A statement by the applicant that, if awarded, they accept the terms of award as stated in this program description.

Please note, all applications must be complete when submitted and only the information listed above will be considered by the selection committee.

Instructions for preparing and formatting the required documents:

  • Use a font size of 12 point, black type;
  • All materials should be single-spaced;
  • No condensed/narrow fonts, type, or spacing;
  • Insert a margin of 2 cm (3/4 inch) - minimum - around the page;
  • Indicate the section title (e.g., Lay Summary of the Proposed Research) at the top of each page. Indicate the page number clearly at the bottom of each page;
  • Observe page limitations indicated above; and,
  • Use only letter size (21.25 X 27.5 cm / 8.5" X 11") white paper/background for all attachments.


Selection will be based on:

  1. Degree of innovation of the research*;
  2. Quality of the proposal;
  3. Expected impact of the project;
  4. The impact associated with the receipt of TNIA funding to your research program (e.g. future funding opportunities, enriched training environment;
  5. Appropriateness and realism of project timeline and budget;
  6. Overall research promise of the individual; and,
  7. Degree to which the proposal aligns with the values of Suncor and Memorial University

* The degree of innovation is assessed on originality, uniqueness, and the creativity of the proposed research. A research project will not be considered innovative if it represents the next logical step or continuation of a previous project or an incremental advance upon published data and/or existing knowledge.

Selection will be made by a committee of the Vice-President (Research) or delegate, at least three other individuals appointed by the Vice-President (Research), and a representative of Suncor. The selection committee has the authority to choose numerous award recipients and to determine the dollar value of the award that each successful applicant is to receive.

Access to Information and Protection of Privacy

The information on this form is collected under the authority of the Memorial University Act (RSNL 1990 Chapter M-7) and is needed for and will be used to assess your application for the Terra Nova Innovator Award. If you have any questions about the collection and use of this information, contact Tina Winsor at tinaw@mun.ca.

Revised April 2024