ESRC centres and institutes funding - ESRC


ESRC centres

ESRC offers graduated support to help centres establish a self-sustaining funding model once ESRC funding comes to an end. The graduated centres funding pathway, consisting of three funding models, aims to foster and sustain a larger number of ESRC centres over the longer term.

Further information on each of these phases of ESRC centre funding and support can be found in the ESRC centres policy summary.

Centres competition

This is the flagship funding for ESRC centres. Where budget allocations allow, we aim to run periodic centres competitions (typically every two years) to fund a limited number of centre proposals.

The grants range from £2.5 to £10 million (100% of full economic cost), for a term of up to five years. ESRC will meet 80% of the full economic cost on submitted proposals, following standard funding rules.

For applications we require evidence of long-term commitment to the centre by the host research organisation, including additional financial resources to extend the work programme beyond the 100% full economic cost funding that’s applied for. For the sake of transparency we ask for a minimum 5% over and above 100% full economic cost.

Excellence of the proposal will remain the overriding criterion for funding.

See the 2020 ESRC centre listing.

Centre transition funding

The ESRC centres transition funding provides graduated follow-on funding for centres coming to an end of their ESRC centre funding. It provides a lower level of funding for an additional three to five years, in order to:

  • reduce the ‘cliff-edge’ effects of a sudden drop-off in funding at the end of the centre grant
  • maximise the impact of the research activity and investment to date
  • support centres to become self-sustaining.

The transition funding is supplemented by a commitment from the centre’s host research organisation. Together this provides the centre with funding worth a minimum 45% of the ESRC centre grant for the transition funding period.

Legacy centre status

The ESRC Legacy Centre Status Review is carried out to establish the ongoing excellence and credibility of a former ESRC Centre, to assess potential for continued recognition as an ESRC Centre for a further five-year period.

Centres will typically be invited to apply as their transition funding comes to an end, and they should be largely self-sustaining. Application is by invitation only.

If successful, legacy centre status will enable the centre to continue to brand itself as an ESRC centre, and receive up to £100,000 funding over the five-year period.

The extended period of recognition is intended to:

  • maximise the impact of the research activity and ESRC investment to date, through support for knowledge exchange, user capacity-building and communication activities (for instance research methods and skills training for users)
  • support the centre, through recognition of excellence, in leveraging further funding and supporting the centre’s efforts to ensure the influence and use of its research.

Last updated: 25 March 2022

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