In 2023, applicants to the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and other councils will start making applications via the Funding Service rather than via Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system.
We are publishing timelines for the transition to enable applicants and research support staff to plan 2023 submissions.
UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) principles of assessment and decision making will continue to underpin our peer review policies and processes during and after the transition to the Funding Service.
This transition from Je-S to the Funding Service is part of UKRI’s Simpler and Better Funding (SBF) programme, which is creating a single, consistent user-centred Funding Service.
Harmonisation across councils
Core assessment criteria and questions will be more consistent across councils as part of a harmonised responsive mode. This will simplify the submissions process for you to UKRI’s funding opportunities.
Over the transition period and beyond, EPSRC will continue to support the new ideas and transformative technologies that will enable the UK’s creative researchers to deliver world-leading engineering and physical sciences research.
Timeline for changes and the transition
This updated June 2023 briefing provides additional information from March on the following aspects of EPSRC’s transition to the Funding Service:
- launch of EPSRC responsive mode and fellowship opportunities on the Funding Service
- update and change to the timeline for the transition of fellowship opportunities to enable applicants to apply at any point during the year
- update to the transition timeline for Mathematical Sciences Small Grants, which will close to applications on the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system on 5 September 2023
- update on the first outline round on the Funding Service for Strategic Infrastructure (formally strategic equipment) – the first round will open on 10 July 2023 and close on 31 August 2023
EPSRC responsive mode and fellowship opportunities launched on the Funding Service on 23 May 2023.
The opportunities are linked on this page under ‘group one’ and ‘group two’. The opportunities’ web pages give detailed information about how to apply.
The Funding Service is being developed in an iterative way, which means functionality and new features are gradually introduced and refined over time.
This iteration means that timelines may be subject to adjustment, so that councils can utilise new functionality as the Funding Service is being developed.
We will keep you informed if timelines change.
Responsive mode funding opportunities
The following funding opportunities have timelines detailed in this briefing:
- group one opportunities are transitioning in the same way and on the same timeline
- group two opportunities have individual transition timelines due to their assessment stages
EPSRC responsive mode and fellowship applications webinar from 21 June 2023
Group one will form part of a group of opportunities known as ‘responsive mode’ in the Funding Service.
Group one includes:
- EPSRC standard research grant
- EPSRC new investigator award
- EPSRC overseas travel grant
- EPSRC network grant
- EPSRC discipline-hopping in information and communications technologies
- EPSRC working with overseas scientists
Group two includes:
- EPSRC open fellowship
- EPSRC postdoctoral fellowship, including:
- EPSRC synthetic biology postdoctoral fellowship
- Stephen Hawking postdoctoral fellowship
- Strategic Infrastructure Grant
- EPSRC programme grant
- mathematical sciences small grants scheme
In the following section ‘fellowships’ refers to all fellowship opportunity types listed in group two.
The Stephen Hawking postdoctoral fellowship and EPSRC synthetic biology postdoctoral fellowship all come under ‘EPSRC Postdoctoral Fellowship’ in the Funding Service.
Transition of always open opportunities
EPSRC have launched our always open opportunities on the Funding Service as rounds with closing dates.
Je-S was closed to new applications on 30 March 2023 for:
- group one opportunities
- strategic equipment outline applications
- fellowship applications
The Funding Service rounds for group one opportunities will run consecutively. This means that you may continue to apply at a time that suits you.
For programme grants, we will publish timelines at least eight weeks in advance of reopening on the Funding Service.
The transition to the Funding Service will not affect EPSRC budgets, and the commitments made in EPSRC strategic delivery plan for 2023 to 2024 and 2024 to 2025 remain the same. Our internal processing timelines and activities have been planned to ensure that the transition will not impact our strategic commitments.
To find out about harmonised core assessment criteria in the Funding Service, see how applicants use the UKRI Funding Service.
Some opportunities will have additional questions due to their specific requirements, these will align with our current criteria. All assessment criteria will be published on the UKRI funding finder in announcements for each opportunity.
Initially we will ask you to submit a single PDF attachment for the ‘vision’ and ‘approach’ sections of the application. Over time we aim to reduce the number of attachments needed as part of the digital application process.
Applications will go out to review after the round closes on 28 September 2023, and most applicants can expect to receive an outcome in April 2024.
You must allow sufficient time before submission for your proposal to go through your institution’s checking and approval processes. We advise you to ensure your institution knows to expect your application well in advance of the round deadline, as they may have procedures and internal deadlines in place to help them manage submissions.
If you do not submit by the round one deadline you will have to submit your proposal to round two instead, and your proposal will be processed in accordance with that timeline and round funding opportunity criteria.
Timeline for the transition of group one opportunities
- group one opportunities and fellowships closed on Je-S on 30 March 2023 at 4:00pm UK time
- round one for group one opportunities on the Funding Service opened on 23 May 2023 and this round will close on 28 September 2023
- subsequent rounds will follow directly after round one, meaning that you will be able to apply at a time that suits you
- dates for subsequent rounds will be published once they are finalised
- the round-based application system will be reviewed after 12 months
Why are we opening as rounds?
During the first year or more of the Funding Service, the system will continue to develop in response to internal and external user needs.
By opening as rounds, we will be able to accommodate system developments in a way that means applications can be assessed in a batch submitted under the same conditions.
You will be informed of application details and of any relevant system developments in advance of a round opening.
By taking a round-based approach EPSRC will be able to better manage the transition internally, ensuring we continue to deliver a high-quality service.
The round-based approach will be reviewed after one year, and EPSRC, along with other councils, will decide whether to move back to an always open format or continue with some form of round-based application system. The approach is therefore likely to change once the new Funding Service is established.
Transition of group two opportunities and fellowships
Je-S was closed to new fellowship applications on 30 March 2023 at 4:00pm UK time.
Fellowships will reopen for three consecutive rounds over the first year (rather than the two rounds originally proposed in March 2023), so applicants will be able to apply at a time that suits them.
The first round will close on 28 September 2023, the second round will open on 2 October 2023 and close in April 2024, and the third round will open in April 2024 and close in July 2024.
EPSRC fellowships will therefore be open to applications throughout the year. Full details about how to apply to the first round are given in the EPSRC fellowship funding opportunities.
To reflect Funding Service functionality, we have updated the guidance for postdoctoral and open fellowships.
Applications will be assessed at a prioritisation panel and, if successful, will be invited to interview.
Applicants to the first round will find out if they have been invited to interview in April 2024. These applicants will be interviewed soon after and have a decision communicated to them in May 2024.
We will review the round-based fellowship pattern after the first year. EPSRC remains committed to supporting the best researchers throughout their career journey.
The strategic infrastructure opportunity is taking a phased transition approach to onboarding to the Funding Service.
The opportunity name will change from ‘strategic equipment’ to ‘strategic infrastructure’ to integrate both the capital and digital investments that can be requested through this opportunity. The new name better indicates that both equipment and resources can be requested.
The first strategic infrastructure opportunity (outline stage) will go live on 10 July 2023 and close on 31 August 2023. To help applicants prepare, we’ve published a pre-announcement for the first strategic infrastructure opportunity.
Je-S will close to new programme grant outlines on 13 July 2023 at 4:00pm UK time.
Outlines submitted in Je-S before 4:00pm UK time on 13 July 2023 can expect to be assessed at an outline panel in September 2023.
If successful at the March or the September outline meetings, you can expect to submit a full proposal via the Funding Service. Those applicants invited to the full proposal stage will be guided through the transition process by their programme grant contact at EPSRC.
Programme grants will fully reopen (outlines and full stage assessments) in the Funding Service. A timeline for their reopening will be published at least eight weeks in advance.
As part of the Funding Service transition, we are reviewing the way we assess programme grants. This will not impact on programme grants in progress, and any changes will be implemented at the time programme grants fully reopen on the Funding Service.
In the first instance potential applicants should continue to contact the programme grant contact in the theme they wish to apply to, to discuss their interest and suitability in applying for a programme grant.
Mathematical sciences small grants
Je-S will close to new mathematical sciences small grant applications on 5 September 2023. Applications submitted prior to the September deadline will be assessed at an October panel.
The opportunity will transition to the Funding Service in autumn 2023, reopening in November 2023. The first round of applications will close in early 2024.
To give applicants time to prepare, we will release a pre-announcement in advance on the UKRI funding finder.
Opportunities with closing dates
For EPSRC opportunities with closing dates, applications will either be made via Je-S or the Funding Service.
This will be made clear in published information on the UKRI funding finder.
Certain EPSRC opportunities with closing dates will be launched on the Funding Service through 2023.
Principles for the EPSRC transition
EPSRC is committed to giving researchers and research organisations the information they need to plan for the transition to the Funding Service. This includes timelines setting out our approach to closing opportunities in Je-S and reopening them in the Funding Service.
EPSRC is dedicated to ensuring fairness and to understanding the equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) impacts of the transition on our research community.
EPSRC will therefore aim to:
- minimise disruption for applicants
- provide at least eight weeks’ notice in advance (excluding major bank holidays and major holiday periods) of a funding opportunity’s closing date on Je-S and opening date on the Funding Service
- uphold the commitments laid out in our strategic delivery plan
- publish EDI impact assessments about the transition and for all advertised funding opportunities on the funding finder, in line with EPSRC policy
Equality impact assessment for transitioning opportunities
EPSRC has conducted an equality impact assessment for transitioning always open opportunities.
We have undertaken mitigation work when planning our timelines because of this, and have taken the following actions as a result:
- we have avoided placing key transition deadlines or dates on major public holidays, religious festivals and school holidays
- we have committed to giving you at least eight weeks’ notice in advance of a funding opportunity’s closing date on Je-S and opening date on the Funding Service (excluding major public or school holiday periods) to enable you to prepare for the transition
- we will continue to review our mitigations and take actions to reduce any disadvantages brought by our approach to transition to the Funding Service
How we will keep you informed
EPSRC is working with the UKRI Simpler and Better Funding (SBF) programme, along with the other research councils, to ensure that we are delivering a coordinated approach to the transition and our communications.
We will use our existing regular communications with the research community to provide updates, including:
- UKRI web pages
- EPSRC research community update – sign up for EPSRC research community updates
- strategic partner quarterly briefings
- SBF newsletter – sign up for Simpler and Better Funding programme updates
- SBF webinar recordings
There was a webinar for applicants to responsive mode and fellowship opportunities on 21 June. A recording will be available on this page over the coming weeks.
Find out more about the SBF programme and our pathway for change.
UKRI is working closely with university research support services to ensure that they are informed and can support you.
Ask a question about the SBF programme
If you would like to ask a question about the UKRI SBF programme, please contact:
Telephone: 01793 547490
Last updated: 16 August 2023