Big ideas

Big ideas is EPSRC’s initiative to collect adventurous and exciting ideas from the wider research community. Big ideas are ambitious and have the ability to transform the research landscape. Not necessarily driven by scale, we are looking for a level of ambition and transformational potential embedded within the idea.

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Big ideas are hard to achieve, require significant support (finance, people, skills) to make them possible and have ground-breaking impacts in all forms. Big ideas also attract public, industry and government enthusiasm and excitement, either by the nature of the science itself or by the potential socio-economic changes it offers for the future.

EPSRC welcomes submissions across all areas of our portfolio.

Why big ideas?

EPSRC is aiming to have a pipeline of ideas at various stages of development, so that when opportunities arise there are potential research concepts developed and ready. The big ideas process is not in itself a call for proposals because there is no dedicated funding aligned to this activity. However, the development of big ideas means that other avenues could be inspired by the idea which could have the potential to be part of the pipeline of ideas.

Submitting a big idea

The big ideas process is designed to support the development of an idea from its original conception into a compelling business case. The initial form has been developed to help you consider the various aspects of a big idea, so you can test its robustness before it is submitted.

To submit an idea, please complete a submission form and email it to us at bigideas@epsrc.ukri.org.

Download the submission form and the big ideas guidance document, which details the information that you need to provide, and answers a number of frequently asked questions.

What happens next?

Submitted ideas are batched for consideration by an internal panel, who check for validity and eligibility, taking into account alignment to EPSRC strategies and the broader strategic context. This internal review takes place three times a year.

Ideas that progress are then considered by EPSRC’s Science, Technology and Engineering Board (SETB), who will select ideas for further development, assessing whether the concept is in line with the aims of big ideas, and providing advice about its further development. This could involve assigning mentors, redirecting an idea towards other funding routes, or encouraging wider links and facilitated discussions to create a compelling case. By maintaining an overview of, and contributing to, the pipeline of ideas to identify strategic opportunities for additional funding streams, SETB provides assurance to support decision making by the executive and by EPSRC’s council.

Please note that once an idea has been submitted you are giving EPSRC permission to develop the idea in any way we see fit. This may include further development by EPSRC staff and inviting other people to lead or be involved in its development. Should this lead to a funding call informed by the idea, submissions to the call will be assessed in open competition.

Contact us about big ideas

Email: bigideas@epsrc.ac.uk

SETB membership

The membership of SETB is drawn from across EPSRC’s stakeholder groups, including both academia and business, and represents a diverse range of expertise and experience in research and innovation.

Find out more about the membership of SETB.

Last updated: 27 June 2022

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