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Get funding for ideas that address COVID-19

Proposals are invited for short-term projects addressing and mitigating the health, social, economic, cultural and environmental impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Researchers holding existing UKRI standard grants should in the first instance consider whether they could repurpose that funding to address the objectives of this call. You can apply to switch your existing funding here. Repurposing your existing grant is the quickest way to start the research.

Companies and organisations being funded by Innovate UK, who wish to re-purpose their grant for Covid-19 purposes, should approach their Monitoring Officer in the first instance; and progress any requests through the Project Change Request (PCR) system.

Proposals are invited for short-term projects addressing and mitigating the health, social, economic, cultural and environmental impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak.

  • Project length: Up to 18 months
  • Closing date: none - apply at any time
  • Funding: 80% of the full economic cost (fEC) for Research Council funding. For Innovate UK funding, State Aid rules apply. Please see guidance here.
  • Award range: There is no specific budget for this call. We are interested in funding research of any scale that can demonstrate it will deliver impact in the project length.

UKRI will support excellent proposals up to 18 months duration which meet at least one of the following:

  • new research or innovation with a clear impact pathway that has the potential (within the period of the grant) to deliver a significant contribution to the understanding of, and response to, the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts.
  • supports the manufacture and/or wide scale adoption of an intervention with significant potential
  • gathers critical data and resources quickly for future research use

If a grant is awarded, we will provide funding at 80% of the fEC or in line with Innovate UK’s Funding Rules.

See the list of COVID-19 research currently funded by UKRI.

See the research questions which we are particularly interested in seeing addressed.


Proposals will be accepted from anyone who is normally eligible to apply for UKRI funding. This includes any company or SME that would normally be eligible for Innovate UK grant support. You will need to show that you can start work within 4 weeks of the funding being confirmed.

Researchers holding existing UKRI standard grants can apply to switch their funding to address the objectives of this call.

An individual or business can be PI/Lead on only one bid at any one time. You may support others as co-investigator, as long as you have the capacity/bandwidth to do so without detriment to the project you lead.

You may be asked to become part of wider consortia or join with already existing efforts.

If you intend to work with international Co-Investigators:

International co-investigators from any country are eligible to receive funding from grants issued by UKRI Councils for this call. Please note: International Co-Investigators are not eligible to receive funding from Innovate UK grants in this competition.

Proposals should explain the inclusion of international Co-Investigators (Co-Is), detailing the skills expertise, or access to resources and contexts, that they will contribute to the project. The grant will cover 100% of the direct costs for international Co-Is. Funding requested for international Co-Is must not exceed 30% of the proposal’s full economic cost. More than one international Co-Investigator may be included, provided the total funding cap is not exceeded.

Salary costs are not normally eligible costs. Exceptions may be requested and justification should be provided to explain why these costs cannot be covered through other sources. We recognise that this is a particular issue for international co-Is from Low and Middle Income countries (LMICs) and requests for exceptions will be considered in this context.

Overheads (estate or indirect costs) are not eligible costs. However, where research is being undertaken by a Co-I based in a LMIC, a contribution towards overheads will be considered, where it can be shown that it will assist in developing research capacity (calculated as 20% of the overseas organisations’ directly incurred costs).

Funding for Japan-based Co-Investigators – the Japan Science and Technology funding agency (JST) is offering to fund Japan-based researchers who are collaborating with, or intend to collaborate with UK based researchers in receipt of UKRI funding to work on Covid-19. For further information on funding available, please visit the JST J-Rapid webpage.

Funding for UK-Switzerland cooperation – in addition to the provision for International Co-investigators in the UKRI call, applicants are advised that there is a reciprocal opportunity to collaborate with Swiss researchers through the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). The SNSF “National Research Programme 78 – Covid-19” call, which closes on May 25th, is also open to international co-investigators. UK-based co-applicants can receive funding from SNSF as part of a Swiss-led research proposal. For further information, please visit the SNSF NRP 78 webpage.

Impacts in LMICs

Proposals addressing and mitigating the health, social, economic, cultural and environmental impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak in Low and Middle Income Countries should apply to the GCRF/Newton Fund Agile Response Call.

Health impacts

For proposals, seeking funding, that are projected to lead to UK, and potentially international, clinical or public health benefits, it is expected that applicants will submit to the joint UKRI/DHSC COVID-19 Rapid Response Rolling Call.

We recognise that there may be health related proposals that fall outside the scope of the UKRI/DHSC rolling call, as either they are bringing beyond biomedical expertise to bear or as they are looking at non-acute health conditions that will manifest over longer than a 12-month period and whose study needs to commence within the pandemic context e.g. for data and sample collection. These proposals are eligible for this UKRI open call – proposers should select the most appropriate lead council. As with other (non-health) proposals in the UKRI open call, these proposals can request up to 18 months of funding. Please also refer to ESRC for further relevant information.

The MRC would only exceptionally expect to see submissions made to it as Lead Council via the UKRI rolling call, where there is an urgency to start and where targeted health conditions will manifest over longer than a 12-month period. Applications with potential health impacts beyond 18 months are expected to seek standard MRC response mode funding support.

Resubmissions

Applications previously submitted to the DHSC/UKRI initiative’s earlier calls cannot be resubmitted to either the DHSC/UKRI rolling call or this UKRI open call. Applications previously submitted to any other Innovate UK competition cannot be resubmitted to this UKRI open call.

Proposals submitted to this call that are unsuccessful cannot be resubmitted to this call unless invited to do so.

You will need to show why it is not possible to resource the work by repurposing existing funds you may have available.

We have developed a list of research questions which are particularly interested in seeing addressed, you can find these here. These will be regularly updated. We will be taking a portfolio approach to funding of projects, and reserve the right to prioritise areas of research as the portfolio develops.

Proposals should:

  • describe the approach you will take and put it in the context of the national response to COVID-19. International collaboration is permitted, so long as the research is of relevance to the UK
  • explain the level of urgency, and why the activity is important now
  • demonstrate that the proposal has the necessary critical mass to make a difference. Where relevant, demonstrate the strength of links to relevant decision makers.
  • demonstrate a clear route to impact within the timescale of the project.
  • confirm whether the research requires any access to the health and care system and if so describe how you will comply with the newly established NIHR single, national process for prioritisation of COVID-19 research studies (see Additional information).
  • give an estimate of the resources required (within 10%)
  • as part of the submission, the proposal may include requests for access to UKRI experimental, analytical or computational capabilities that are currently operational. Further information is available here.
  • name the team that will run this and describe their ability and capacity to deliver.
  • UKRI can help provide access to pooled research staff from UK facilities, including research software engineering support and staff data scientists. Indicate on the form if help assembling the team is needed.
  • provide evidence that the host institution or business supports the proposal and that the research can be carried out under present institutional or business restriction.

We have developed a list of research questions which we are particularly interested in seeing addressed. These will be regularly updated.

Getting approval from your host institution, company or organisation

You need approval to confirm that the work is achievable under whatever constraints are currently in place in your department/university/company, and that they are content for you to focus on this work under 80%fEC funding. The approval can be from whoever has authority to give such assurance whether that is your department head, university research office or pro-VCs office.

Please note that we would like to see evidence that work could begin within four weeks of confirmation of funding.

Data and software sharing and open access requirements.

Data produced as a result of this funding will need to be shared in line with the Joint statement on sharing research data and findings relevant to the novel coronavirus (nCoV) outbreak, to which UKRI is a signatory.

Software, such as analysis scripts, spreadsheets, or modelling codes, created as part of the work under this funding should be similarly shared.

Examples of suitable data depositories include:

Covid-19 Data Portal

The COVID-19 Data Portal was launched in April 2020 to bring together relevant datasets for sharing and analysis in an effort to accelerate coronavirus research. It enables researchers to upload, access and analyse COVID-19 related reference data and specialist datasets as part of the wider European COVID-19 Data Platform.

Health data gateway

The Health Data Research Innovation Gateway is a portal to find and request access to UK health datasets controlled by members of the UK Health Data Research Alliance. Launched in January 2020, the first phase of the Gateway provides detailed descriptions (metadata) of these datasets, which researchers can search, browse and request access to health data. It does not hold or store any patient or health data. It aims to increase transparency around accessible datasets and processes associated with their access.

UK Data Service

OpenAIRE

Software, analysis scripts and modelling codes should be made available through a version control service such as Github or Gitlab.

Innovate UK Funding

Applications requesting Innovate UK funding must comply with Innovate UK terms and conditions. General information may be found here. Innovate UK is unable to fund applications that do not fully comply with State Aid Law – any projects that are invited forward for more detailed consideration by Innovate UK will have to provide further information to demonstrate that they meet State Aid requirements. Applications previously submitted to any other Innovate UK competition cannot be resubmitted to this UKRI open call.

Covid-19 Ethics Support for Researchers and Innovators

UKRI remains committed to supporting ethical research and responsible innovation during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Guidance and resources for researchers are available here.

Proposals that are out of scope

These include:

  • funding to directly mitigate the effects of the pandemic on specific institutions and businesses
  • proposals more appropriate to other existing funding calls and /or other research funders
    • UKRI will act to transfer proposals to appropriate other calls that are open, so do submit here if you are unsure.
    • longer term research proposals that address the COVID-19 emergency or future pandemics that don't meet the urgency guidelines should be submitted through normal responsive mode.

To apply you need to:

  1. Fill in the application form (Word, 66KB)

    All proposals must utilise the provided form and be accompanied by:

    • The regulatory requirements annex that forms part of the application form.
    • A CV for the Principal Investigator and any Co-Investigators. Each CV to provide relevant key publications/outputs and grants and other relevant information indicating their suitability to lead/support the research as described in the application (no more than 1xA4 page per CV using Arial 11 point. These can be inserted into the form as a pdf).
    • An optional document of supporting figures, GANTT chart and/or data tables (no more than 1xA4 page). If this is included, applications must be collated into a single pdf in the following order - Form plus Annex, Document of supporting figures, GANTT chart and/or data tables
  2. Email your single PDF to CV19researchinnovation@ukri.org

Receipt will be acknowledged within 48 hours and in most circumstances PIs will have an initial response on the proposal within 10 days.

Proposals should be sent through this route for any research or innovation relevant to the above regardless of funding Council or whether relevant to multiple Councils.

Information relating to proposals may be shared, on a confidential basis, across UKRI councils, and with other organisations to support the national and international coordination of research to combat COVID-19 and to seek funding contributions from third parties.

Given the rapid developments in this and other funding calls addressing CV19, we are constantly reviewing our processes to ensure we are reducing bureaucracy and keeping things as simple as possible. In light of this we have simplified the application form, removing the need for detailed financial information at the first stage. Please also ensure you set out clearly answers to all questions asked on the form, as incomplete proposals will be rejected.

The proposal will be reviewed by one or more of the UKRI councils. Peer reviewers may be asked to comment on proposals.

You may be asked for more information before a grant is confirmed.

Additional information on councils’ priorities in this area can be found on their websites.

UKRI will endeavour to support a balanced portfolio of activity under this call. Details of supported projects will be published on this site as they are awarded.

DHSC prioritisation of COVID-19 research studies

Any research that requires access to the UK health and care system must follow guidance issued by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) to get their study nationally supported as high priority COVID-19 Urgent Public Health Research. See the NIHR guidance.

This will include research that would normally need NHS R&D approval, including where access to patients, data or health and care staff would be required.

Given the urgency of the current situation UKRI are committed to a principle of parallel processing. We encourage requests to UKRI to be submitted in parallel to requests for access to the UK health and care system through the NIHR portal. However, we are aware that you may need evidence of the approval of funding before the NIHR makes their decision on access. We will therefore endeavour to make decisions as quickly as possible.

If approval is received through NIHR and a study is nationally recognised, evidence of this must be provided to UKRI.