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ISCF Transforming Foundation Industries Network Plus

Pre-call announcement

UKRI will shortly be inviting proposals for an Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) Transforming Foundation Industries Network Plus Grant.

The UK’s Foundation Industries (comprised of Glass, Metals, Cement, Ceramics, Bulk Chemicals and Paper), produce 75% of all the materials in our economy and are vital for the UK’s manufacturing and construction industries. Together, the foundation industries are worth £52Bn to the UK economy and produce 28 million tonnes of materials per year, accounting for circa 10% of the UK total CO2 emissions.

Consumption of raw materials and energy use lead to significant operating costs and environmental impact: they operate in an internationally competitive landscape with long investment cycles, and the benefits from innovation are not shared through the supply chain, reducing incentive to invest. The ISCF Transforming Foundation Industries programme will enable transformational change by these industries in how materials are sourced and processed, and the types of products manufactured, making them competitive and helping the UK achieve its ambitious Net Zero targets. The Network Plus investment will provide a new cross-sector and multi-disciplinary academic-led community for the programme that works together to address common challenges and accelerate the development and adoption of new technologies and business models within the Foundation Industries. The investment will draw on a wide range of expertise, knowledge and experience across business and research stakeholders.

The Network Plus will provide academic leadership across the sectors and organise networking activities such as workshops, events and communications, to build sustained engagement and collaboration. We expect the successful grant to play a strategic role in bringing together relevant participants that cross disciplinary boundaries and stakeholder groups (particularly those from business and industry).  In addition, the leadership and management team will also administer a devolved budget for small projects, encouraging applications from both within and beyond the network membership.

It is expected that the network will work collaboratively with existing and new UKRI investments specifically linking with other ISCF and Strategic Priorities Fund (SPF) activities.

The Network Plus will undertake three core activities:

  • Engagement and networking- We would expect that the successful Network Plus would put a strong emphasis on knowledge transfer between the sectors, including proposals to better understand the barriers to implementation of new innovations in an industrial setting. Engagement with business, the private sector and policy makers will be a central part of the network’s ethos and activity; it is expected that a significant level of the funding should be dedicated to boosting engagement across the sectors. 
  • Provide community leadership- It is expected that the Applicants and broader leadership team should have a breadth of expertise that is commensurate with the complexity of this space.  The Applicants will be tasked with contributing to the development of an identity for the Foundation Industries and should be innovative in the approach to setting a clear vision for the strategic contribution of the Network to the broader challenge.
  • Commissioning of small grants through a flexible fund- The network should include a substantial flexible fund for small projects that can be used for organising research activities open to the whole research community and industry throughout the period of the grant. The funding should be structured to provide support for all career stages, with a particular emphasis on Early Career Researchers. By the end of the grant, we would expect that the Network Plus has funded a portfolio of projects that covers the breadth of the remit and industry match funding should be encouraged where relevant.

Throughout the activities of the Network Plus we would expect it to consider equality and diversity issues and reflect different genders and ethnicities as well as representation from different disciplines and organisations, and individuals at varying stages of their career.


Call opens: May 2020

Funding available: Up to £2M (approximately 50% should be allocated to the flexible fund) will be available from UKRI-ISCF for this call, and we expect to fund 1 Network Plus grant.

How to apply: Intent to submit and full proposal.

Assessment process: Proposals shall undergo postal peer review followed by an interview panel.

Intent to submit required by: June 2020

Proposal required by: July 2020

Contacts: Shahidur Chokdar - shahidur.chokdar@epsrc.ukri.org, Rosanna Greenop -rosanna.greenop@epsrc.ukri.org


UKRI anticipate holding a number of webinars for this call late April/early May. More details are to follow with regards to the dates, locations and the expressions of interest process.

The aim of these workshops shall be:

  • Provide information on the background of the Challenge
  • Answer any questions about the scope of the call
  • Provide an opportunity to network between different sectors and disciplines. This should propel discussions for collaborations on submitting a Network Plus Grant.

For more information, please contact Shahidur Chokdar (Shahidur.chokdar@epsrc.ukri.org) or Rosanna Greenop (Rosanna.greenop@epsrc.ukri.org).