Changes to AHRC responsive mode funding opportunities in 2023 - AHRC

Throughout 2023 the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) will be implementing changes to our responsive mode funding opportunities.

AHRC’s current responsive mode opportunities include:

Why we are making these changes

The changes that are being implemented are a direct result of our analysis of these schemes. Feedback from engagement with diverse voices from our community has underlined:

  • the value of responsive mode opportunities
  • the need for such funds to be more flexible and better aligned to the needs of all our researchers and their research ambitions, and we are responding to their challenges

Improvement for our community

The new offering will be better than before, by providing for a wider range of formats of research and provide greater flexibility for research ideas. It will also offer provision for larger and more ambitious projects, which acknowledge the increasing cost of research.

Supporting talent

The changes will help support emerging arts and humanities talent, by offering new and expanded provision for start of career and early career researchers.

The changes will embed the principles of the Researcher Development Concordat and UKRI Technician Commitment.

The new offering will enable greater support for the development of researchers at all career points and throughout their careers, providing a clear pathway of support for research ideas as they develop and expand. It will also offer more experienced researchers greater scope to meet their ambitions.

Improving reach of our funding recipients

These changes will help to increase the breadth of the researchers supported by our funding, such as more career stages, more career paths and more researchers, as well as the types of research organisations in receipt of our funding.

The focus of this change is the mechanism of our grant funding, rather than a fundamental shift in how we operate or in our vision and strategy.

As set out within the commitments in our strategic delivery plan, our funding must:

  • support diversity within the research community
  • enable career development
  • fund the best ideas wherever they are found

We will continue to:

  • fund outstanding research
  • support world-class researchers in the arts and humanities
  • remove barriers to accessing our funding
  • support and provision for research connectivity within the UK and internationally, and to the principles of robust and independent application assessment

Changes to responsive mode opportunities in 2023

There will be 2 new opportunities, launched alongside a revised opportunity, that will meet the needs of the research community in a clearer pathway.

New and continuing opportunities

Curiosity awards

AHRC will launch a new flexible award which funds curiosity-driven research, networking activity and idea generation, which enables the development of further research opportunities and new research agendas. These awards will support teams, networks and solo researchers.

Funding available will be for projects with a total cost between £1 and £100,000.

Catalyst awards

AHRC will launch awards to support researchers without prior experience of leading a significant research project, with the aim of accelerating their trajectory as independent researchers and build leadership experience.

The awards will provide applicants with an opportunity to support their own skill development and the skill development of research staff employed on the award.

Funding available will be for projects with a total cost between £100,000 and £300,000.

Research grants (standard route)

AHRC will increase the upper funding limit from £1 million to £1.5 million (100% FEC) to support more ambitious projects and enhanced team development, as well as accommodate the increased costs of research.

Funding available will be for projects between £300,000 and £1.5 million. The lower funding limit will be increased from £50,000 to £300,000 as the new catalyst and curiosity opportunities offer support to projects below £300,000.

The three new pathways are designed to meet the changing needs of our researchers in a clear and coherent suite of responsive mode opportunities, which means that we will close some of our current opportunities.

Follow-on funding for impact and engagement

At this time this opportunity will remain unchanged, though the work achieved by the new opportunities may lead to a future review.

Opportunities closing

Research grants (early career route)

The core aims and objectives of the existing targeted early career route will transfer to and will be incorporated within the catalyst awards opportunity, offering more flexibility for sole-scholar and collaborative research.

The early career route in its current form will close to applications on 29 March 2023.

Research development and engagement fellowships

The aims and objectives of the existing standard route will be incorporated within the new catalyst awards opportunity.

The aims and objectives of the targeted early career route will be incorporated within the new curiosity awards opportunity.

In its current form, this opportunity will close to applications on 29 March 2023.

Research networking

The aims and objectives of this opportunity will be incorporated within the new curiosity awards opportunity, and in its current form will close to applications on 29 June 2023. All applications received between 1 March and 29 June 2023 will be assessed via an assessment panel rather than peer review and moderation panel.

Development of our new funding opportunities is ongoing, and we look forward to announcing further details in April on the UKRI funding finder and our website.

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

Throughout 2023 AHRC will transition from Je-S to the new UKRI grants system, the Funding Service.

Read more about the new system and how we will transition to the Funding Service.

Details of the transition will be published as and when they are available in the AHRC research funding guide and on the relevant funding opportunity pages of the UKRI funding finder.

This transition is part of UKRI’s Simpler and Better Funding programme, which is creating a single, consistent user-centred Funding Service.

To enable the transition to the Funding Service, there will be a period where we are unable to accept applications. See the ‘Changing always open funding opportunities’ section below for further details.

Making changes to ‘always open’ funding opportunities

Our aim is to make changes to ‘always open’ funding opportunities in a way that gives applicants certainty as to how to apply, how their applications will be processed and how they will be assessed.

‘Always open’ funding opportunities will have a more consistent set of application questions and assessment criteria across and within councils, as part of a harmonised responsive mode. This harmonisation will result in applicants having a new and simplified experience when writing and submitting proposals to UKRI’s funding opportunities.

The introduction of a new grants system presents us with an opportunity to implement changes to funding opportunities at the same time as the transition. This will reduce the number of points at which change is applied and therefore make it easier for our research community to manage.


The changes and system transition will be implemented as follows:

March 2023

On 29 March the following opportunities will close to applications:

  • permanently closing: research grants (early career route)
  • permanently closing: research development and engagement fellowships (both routes)
  • temporarily closing: research grants (standard route)
  • temporarily closing: follow-on funding for impact and engagement

April 2023

During April further details of the new curiosity and catalyst award opportunities will be published.

June 2023

During June the following opportunities will reopen in the Funding Service:

  • opening: research grants (standard route)
  • opening: follow-on funding for impact and engagement

On 29 June the following opportunity will close to applications:

  • permanently closing: research networking

July 2023

During July the following new opportunities will open in the Funding Service:

  • opening: curiosity awards
  • opening: catalyst awards

We will provide at least 8 weeks’ notice when these opportunities will open or reopen in the new Funding Service.

During the transition period, between opportunities being closed and new opportunities launching, we will not be able to accept applications.

We know that research funding proposals take time to complete, and we do not intend to disadvantage applicants. We remain contactable for queries and requests, including those relating to these published deadlines.

When changes are announced there can be an uplift in applications under previous terms being submitted. We are announcing these planned changes now to give researchers the confidence in our ongoing commitment to responsive mode research and so that you can make an informed decision on when to submit.

While some applicants may wish to submit slightly earlier than originally planned, other applicants may wish to wait to apply when opportunities reopen in the new Funding Service.

Further information and contact details

Further information on these changes will be published on this web page, in future editions of the AHRC research funding guide, and within the relevant funding opportunity pages on the UKRI funding finder.

Ask a question about the changes to the opportunities (though note that we won’t have the full details of the new opportunities until April):

Email :

Ask a question about using the Funding Service:


Last updated: 6 March 2023

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