The purpose of the New Investigator Award (NIA) scheme is to address a gap which has been identified in the funding landscape and support researchers in their transition to an independent research career. The aim of the scheme is to support them in establishing a research group and developing their own research vision.
This is one of a number of options offered by EPSRC for researchers seeking to establish their career, including fellowships, managed calls, and responsive mode.
The decision of which scheme to apply for is for individuals to make in consultation with their research offices. EPSRC cannot advise on which scheme is likely to be suitable.
Where candidates are unclear on their eligibility for a particular scheme after consulting the guidance, frequently asked questions, and their research office, then they can contact EPSRC for advice.
Who the scheme is for
The NIA scheme aims to support individuals who hold an eligible academic position (lectureship or equivalent) and have not previously led an academic research group or been the recipient of a significant grant.
A significant grant is usually defined as including more than six months of postdoctoral research assistant (PDRA) time, capital equipment in excess of £20,000, or in excess of £100,000 full economic costing on one individual grant.
Multiple periods of PDRA supervision are likely to be considered holistically in terms of the skills the candidate has had the opportunity to develop, to avoid duplicating the aims of the NIA.
NIA provide foundational funds to initiate a research group. This should be coupled with sufficient provision from their host institution to ensure a boost to career development, and the underpinning support to establish the applicant within their research field and develop their independent research vision.
A NIA is not intended to be an alternative to a fellowship, standard mode grant or other similar funding mechanism.
NIA applicants are also encouraged to apply to become an EPSRC Peer Review College member. This will help applicants build an in-depth knowledge of our peer review processes and principles, helping you to further increase your knowledge of reviewing and proposal writing. You will be a part of the decision-making process and get a broad view of the novel ideas coming through the funding pipeline in your area.
How applications are processed
The scheme follows the current UKRI Funding Service timelines and dates. The NIA scheme can only be applied to once, whether previous applications were successful or not, except when permission to resubmit an application is invited after peer review.
Proposals are considered in competition with other NIAs at standard research prioritisation panels.
What projects are suitable for a NIA
Projects should be self-contained and comprise a single research vision with clearly defined objectives and outcomes. The duration of the project should be appropriate to deliver these, typically one to three years.
Complex, multifaceted research projects with many objectives are not appropriate for this scheme.
As with all EPSRC grants, applicants should request the appropriate suite of resources to carry out the proposed research. Requests for resources should be clearly articulated in the appropriate section of the grant application to UKRI Funding Service.
Under the NIA scheme, funding is typically sought for 10% to 20% of the project lead’s time. Those who are seeking to substantially exceed this should consider other funding mechanisms. We understand that in some research areas it might be more appropriate to request up to 35%, however anything above this would be more appropriate in standard mode.
The NIA expectations statement (at the end of this guidance) gives some guidelines for applicants to consider during the initial formulation of their proposals, with regards to the expected scope and features of their application.