Council transition to the new Funding Service – ESRC

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) will be removing the currently advertised deadline for applicants to round two of our responsive funding opportunities in order to better support applicants with their submissions throughout 2024.

As the system requires a closing date, this will appear on the funding service approximately 12 months from when this funding opportunity opened.

Applicants should apply when their application is ready for submission and not wait for a closing date.

We will continue to start the assessment process once an application is received, ensuring applicants receive a timely decision. We will commit to holding regular decision points throughout 2024, with the first decisions from round two likely to be made in the autumn of 2024.

Due to the agile development of the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Funding Service, we may need to make changes to these funding opportunities to allow for technical updates or new policies. We will ensure there is always a responsive mode funding opportunity open to which applicants can submit.

If significant updates are required, we will communicate these at least eight weeks before (excluding major bank holidays and major holiday periods) in order to maintain fairness and transparency in our assessment.

From 2023, applicants to ESRC and other councils are applying via the Funding Service rather than via the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system. This is in line with the Simpler and Better Funding (SBF) programme.

We are publishing expected timescales for the transition to enable applicants and research support staff to plan 2024 submissions.

UKRI’s 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.

Transition of ESRC responsive mode opportunities

ESRC has launched our always open opportunities on the UKRI Funding Service as rounds with closing dates.

The Funding Service rounds for opportunities will run consecutively. This means that you may continue to apply at a time that suits you.

ESRC guidance and relevant funding opportunity pages have been updated so applicants can submit their proposals using the Funding Service.

During the initial phases, the Funding Service will continue to develop in response to internal and external user needs. Opening in rounds means we will be able to accommodate system developments and assess applications in a batch submitted under the same conditions.

Applications will not be transferable between rounds.

Round one and two opportunities

Round one of ESRC responsive mode opportunities has now closed. Round two launched on 29 September 2023 and opportunities are live on the Funding Service:

Improvements to responsive mode functionality

Embedded images: round two will include the ability to embed images within the question sets for:

  • vision and approach
  • applicant and team capability to deliver
  • ethical and responsible research and innovation considerations of the project core

This allows for the removal of relevant attachment options.

Project partners: a standalone digital question set has been embedded (which will still include letter of support attachment upload option via a separate question).

Harmonisation across councils

How applicants use the UKRI Funding Service highlights improvements to the way you will interact with UKRI through the new system, including accessing guidance all in one place and only requesting key information when necessary.

The overall processes and principles of our responsive mode opportunities will remain the same, although interactions between applicants, assessors and UKRI through the Funding Service will be a different experience to the previous system.

A standard set of application questions and associated assessment criteria have been agreed across UKRI. This will simplify the submission process for you when applying to UKRI’s funding opportunities. These areas will form the core questions for all other ESRC opportunities:

  • vision of the project
  • approach to the project
  • data management statement
  • the capability of the applicant, or applicant and the team, to deliver the project
  • resources requested to do the project
  • ethical and responsible research and innovation considerations of the project

Appropriate consideration of the management of any data acquired during the proposed research will be assessed alongside the section on approach of the project.

In line with existing guidance applicants should embed a consideration of how their research will achieve impact in their application. This will be assessed in the ‘vision and approach’ and ‘resources and cost justification’ sections.

The ESRC research funding guide for applicants using the UKRI Funding Service is the primary source of ESRC research funding guidance for applicants and research organisations. This guide gives details of the arrangements and procedures for ESRC research grants, together with a summary of application procedures.

Ask a question about the SBF programme

If you would like to ask a question about the UKRI SBF programme, contact:


Telephone: 01793 547490

Last updated: 5 January 2024

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