2024 NSFC Original Exploration Program

2024 NSFC Original Exploration Program

Jan 31, 2024
The Official Announcement in Chinese

National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC)



To enhance original innovation capabilities, NSFC actively explores the establishment of an unconventional mechanism for original basic research projects and thus established the Original Exploration Plan Program (also referred to as Original Program). This program encourages researchers to propose original ideas, conduct exploratory research studies, including proposing new theories, new methodologies, or revealing new laws, aiming to produce leading achievements and major breakthroughs.

For more information, please refer to the official announcement.

This program can be applied in two ways:

  • Through Recommendations:

The applicant can propose research topics/areas based on their research interests.  Each application should be recommended by two experts who hold professors or equivalent titles and are influential in the research field, or by two NSFC staff members (one Program Director and one responsible person of (any) division). Referees who are not responsible persons of (any) division can only recommend one application per year per person.

The project term is one to three years. The funding amount is up to 1,000,000 RMB/per year.

  • Through Specific Program Guides:

NSFC will publish specific programs’ guides throughout the year. Applicants can submit applications later based on the respective guide. More information about each specific program will be stated in the guides. No recommendation is needed.


Eligibility Requirements:

  • Each applicant can only apply for one Original Exploration Program per year (including pre-application).
  • Before getting awarded, applications to this program are NOT counted toward NSFC's requirement on the allowed number of applications/projects by the PI (2 projects in total). Once getting awarded, it will be counted (except for projects with a funding period of one year or less)



  • PIs need to submit a letter of intent (LOI) first. The LOI should elaborate on the originality, scientific nature, and potential impact of the proposed idea within 2000 words.
  • NSFC will conduct an initial review on the LOI. PIs can submit a complete application once they pass the initial review.


Important Dates:

  • Apply through Recommendations: PI can submit LOI after February 1, 2024 through the end of the year.
  • Apply through Call for Applications: Please refer to the due date given by each program’s guide that will release throughout 2024.
  • Please notify us at shanghai.researchgrants@nyu.edu if you intend to apply.