Our pathway for change

The Simpler and Better Funding (SBF) programme will deliver a single, consistent, user-centred service that reduces the burden of finding, applying for and managing research funding for all users.

Research councils are planning to transition different funding types onto the new Funding Service in 2023. This planning includes how councils will transition open responsive mode opportunities. You can find out more about council changes in the ‘Transitioning different funding types’ section.

Piloting funding opportunities in the new service

The SBF programme works with each research council to launch pilots on the new platform. We continue to run pilots in the new service to test how different funding types and new, improved functionality and processes work.

These pilots on the Funding Service run in parallel to most opportunities which have continued to be run using UKRI’s current online systems for managing funding, including the Joint Electronic Submissions (Je-S) system. All pilot opportunities and information about how to apply on the Funding Service are published on the Funding Finder.

So far, we have launched 14 pilots on the service. 12 of these have successfully run on the service and 2 are currently open for applications:

Coming soon: NERC highlight topics.

Transition from the Joint Electronic Submissions (Je-S) system to the new UKRI Funding Service

From January 2024, research council opportunities will be launched and managed in the new UKRI Funding Service. Therefore, during 2023 you will see an increasing number of opportunities on the Funding Service so that by the end of the year, all opportunities which would previously have run on Je-S will be offered on the Funding Service.

Timeline:

  • funding opportunities for all 7 research councils will launch in the new service in increasing numbers through 2023
  • by December 2023 all live grants will have migrated onto the new service
  • at the same time as we deliver the service, we will also be continuously enhancing it to ensure a consistent, simpler, and better funding service for all

We will continue to give researchers and research organisations updated information in advance of changes to help them plan for transition to the Funding Service.

Integration with Innovate UK and Research England

We will integrate Research England’s funding processes into the new service and work with Innovate UK to support applications to Innovate UK opportunities.

Improvement through iteration

We are developing the Funding Service in an agile way, we will gradually introduce functionality and pilot new features and different funding types. After testing and user feedback, we continuously refine and enhance everything we do.

We are building core capability first and continuously developing it to address any issues and enhance the service we provide. As we develop the core capability and launch opportunities, users will see a steady improvement in functionality and quality of experience, even if the initial experience is not ideal.

Ultimately, the Funding Service will offer a simpler and better experience for all our users, operating a funding process which is supported by more consistent and robust policies and guidance.

Improvements in the Funding Service

The Funding Service will make a positive difference to the research community. It will address many of the issues of complexity and unnecessary bureaucracy recognised by researchers, and which have been identified in various reviews of research funding such as the independent review into research bureaucracy. For example, some of the improvements our users will get include:

  • a single front door: each opportunity made available through the same site and approached in consistent ways
  • a clearer layout for applications, structured around questions that relate to the criteria used for deciding on an application
  • an application process that asks only for the information we need to decide on an application
  • an application process that asks for information once and uses this information again if needed later in the grant funding journey
  • more consistent guidance to help applicants at the point of the process where that guidance applies
  • an easier review process as the application questions link more directly to assessment criteria
  • greater consistency across UKRI opportunities with standardised application questions and assessment criteria

We have already improved some areas in response to user feedback, including:

  • enhancing the organisation search facility when inviting other collaborators
  • better visibility of expert review status and statistics
  • additional features added to the rich text editor when writing an application
  • improvements to how users can view an application, so that they can see the full question asked and the guidance that supports it

Transitioning different funding types

In 2023, we will still run opportunities in the Joint Electronic Submissions (Je-S) system while simultaneously running increasing numbers of opportunities on the new Funding Service. This will allow us to work with councils to test the core capability of the service and refine standard templates and questions.

Research councils are planning the transition of different funding types during 2023, and you can expect to receive further information from councils in the new year.

Each type of funding opportunity will have its own timeline for the transition to the Funding Service. As a result, the number of opportunities requiring applications using the Funding Service will increase over time. This will be made clear in published information on the UKRI Funding Finder in advance of any changes.

The Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council run open-ended responsive mode opportunities which will need to stop accepting applications in Je-S during the first half of 2023.

We are planning to manage a coordinated transition where applications to current responsive mode opportunities on Je-S can successfully conclude and applications to new responsive mode opportunities can be invited on the Funding Service, while ensuring that everything is in place to operate these opportunities successfully.

Councils will announce plans on how they will transition to the new Funding Service for their opportunities in advance of any change, so that potential applicants and their organisations understand and can plan for a transition of an opportunity.

Find out more about the councils’ transition plans.

Registering and applying on the Funding Service

If you have not used the Funding Service before, the first step is to create an account by following the ‘Apply now’ button located on the page where that opportunity is listed. The process is straightforward and quick, helping you to get started on your application as soon as possible.

Find out more about registering and applying on the Funding Service.

Accessibility

As part of UKRI’s commitment to making the new Funding Service accessible, we are building it in accordance with the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018. We carry out accessibility testing with the Digital Accessibility Centre. User testing is carried out by their team, all of whom have disabilities and all of whom have experienced first-hand the barriers that an inaccessible website places between them and independence.

We have also conducted a survey with the National Association of Disabled Staff Network, and we are using the findings to inform the design of the new Funding Service.

Read the UKRI Funding Service accessibility statement.

Contact details

Contact us with any questions

Email: sbf@ukri.org

Ask a question about using the Funding Service

Email: support@funding-service.ukri.org

Last updated: 8 December 2022

This is the integrated website of the seven research councils, Research England and Innovate UK.
Let us know if you have feedback or would like to help us test new developments.