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Get funding for ideas that address COVID-19

Please note: This programme is under regular review. On Friday 31st July the application process will change. Applications to the research councils will be via the Joint Electronic Submission (JeS) system. Applications to Innovate UK will be via one of the three strands on the Innovation Funding Service (IFS). 

Details are provided in the Additional Information section below. Please read this now and check whether a preparatory action is needed to ensure you are able to submit proposals from 31st July.

Please check this site regularly before submitting an application.

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: Grants will be awarded at 80% of the full economic cost (fEC) for Research Council funding, or in line with Innovate UK's funding rules. 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.

We will support excellent proposals up to 18 months duration, in any subject area within UKRI's remit, 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

Following the strong response to the call, UKRI is now focusing its funding for new research proposals in the areas of the portfolio not previously funded.

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

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


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. Usual research council or Innovate UK funding rules will apply. Research and Technology Organisations (RTOs) can lead applications for Innovate UK grants, but they must collaborate with at least two businesses of any size. Academic institutions cannot lead an application to Innovate UK, but may participate in collaborations.

Exceptionally, proposals will also be accepted from Public Sector Research Establishments (PSREs). Providing this opportunity to PSREs addresses the Nurse Review’s principle of ‘investing in excellence, wherever it is found’. UKRI have developed this initial list of PSREs that could be eligible to apply for Research Council grants (at 80% fEC) through this fund. This list is not exhaustive.

PSREs will need to complete the appropriate eligibility form to evidence they have the capacity and capability required by UKRI. Instructions on how to apply for eligibility and a list of PSREs which are already eligible can be found at: https://www.ukri.org/funding/how-to-apply/eligibility/

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.

Working with international co-investigators

For more details please see the 'Additional information' section below.

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 we are particularly interested in seeing addressed. 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.

Data and software sharing and open access requirements

For more details please see the 'Additional information' section below.

Innovate UK Funding

Applications to Innovate UK should be business-led or collaborations with a business (or businesses). Innovate UK’s assessment of applications will include evaluation of potential routes to market that will enable the proposed solution to achieve the desired impact upon the effects of the pandemic and result in beneficial impact upon the growth of the businesses involved.

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.

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.

Please note that the application route and form will change from Friday 31st July. Please see Additional Information for details.

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. Before Friday 31st July, email your single PDF to CV19researchinnovation@ukri.org.Thereafter the application process will change.

We will acknowledge receipt of your proposal within two working days. Our panels meet every 4-6 weeks and we will respond on that timescale, unless there is a case for an urgent review.

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.

US COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium applicants: If an applicant wishes to access HPC resources from the US COVID-19 Consortium (as per the additional details section below), they should produce a supplementary document following the guidance to provide additional information (Word, 60KB), and submit it as a separate PDF along with their applicant as above. We ask that applicants state that they are applying for time to the consortium in their application email.

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.

Assessment of applications to Innovate UK will include evaluation of potential routes to market that will enable the proposed solution to achieve the desired impact upon the effects of the pandemic and result in beneficial impact upon the growth of the businesses involved.

The application process for this call is changing. From Friday 31st July, applications to this open call will need to be submitted via online submission systems. For academic-led proposals the updated application form should still be completed and uploaded upon application. The updated form will be available at least a week before the switch date.

  • For applications to the research councils, bids must be led by an eligible research organisation or Public Sector Research Establishment (PSRE). Proposals will be submitted via Je-S.
    • All applicants (Principal Investigators and Co-Investigators) will need to hold registered level Je-S accounts. If you are not already registered, please ensure that sufficient time is allowed for this process before completing your proposal. More information on how to create a registered Je-S account can be found here: https://je-s.rcuk.ac.uk/Handbook/pages/SettingupaJeSaccount/SettingupaJeSaccount.htm
    • Users will need to select the account type 'An Applicant on a Standard or Outline Proposal'. This account type will require verification from the nominated organisation. Users will receive an e-mail from Je-S saying the account is being verified and a further e-mail to confirm if the account has been accepted or declined when your organisation has verified your details.
    • Please note that the call is being ‘hosted’ on the JeS system by EPSRC on behalf of all the research councils (i.e. AHRC, BBSRC, ESRC, EPSRC, MRC, NERC, STFC). It may therefore be branded with EPSRC logo in various places. This is unavoidable because of legacy systems. The call does however remain a cross-UKRI programme and proposals within the remits of any of the research councils can be submitted. Your proposal will continue to be reviewed and assessed by the most relevant council(s).
    • Detailed instructions on how to submit an application to JeS will be available here a week before we go live.
  • For applications to Innovate UK, bids must be business-led or collaborations with a business (or businesses). Proposals will be submitted via IFS (Innovation Funding Service) following one of three links that will be available from this website. The three links will each relate to one of the three different State Aids regimens available (de minimis, EU Temporary Framework, Article 25). Companies will need to decide under which State Aid route to apply, select the appropriate link and complete their applications in IFS in line with the guidance. A company may only apply under ONE of these state aid frameworks (only use one of the links) and may only apply once to this competition for any given innovation project. Re-submissions are not accepted.
    • 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.
    • Innovate UK’s assessment of applications will include evaluation of potential routes to market that will enable the proposed solution to achieve the desired impact upon the effects of the pandemic and result in beneficial impact upon the growth of the businesses involved.

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.

Working 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.

Any academic researcher (i.e. those holding a PhD or equivalent qualification, or higher) from an established international research organisation of comparable standing to a UK research organisation will be eligible to act as a co-investigator.

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).

If working with international co-investigators, it is the responsibility of the UK institution to undertake any due diligence that may be necessary, and to ensure appropriate collaboration agreements are in place as required. Applicants are requested to provide assurance in the letter of support that the necessary due diligence has or will shortly be undertaken to enable work to start without delay, should funding be approved.

Global Talent Visa and COVID-19 research

International academics and researchers wishing to work on UK-based COVID-19 research projects funded by UKRI or other endorsed funders can apply for a Global Talent visa under relaxed criteria until 31 January 2021. Find out more

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.

US COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium

UK researchers can apply for access to the High Performance Computing (HPC) Consortium, including some of the world's leading HPC systems, for computational time to support their research into COVID-19. Information on the systems available can be found on the consortium website. In particular, applicants to the UKRI COVID-19 call can apply by producing a supplementary document to their UKRI applicant (see the 'How to apply' section above for more details). UK researchers who are not applying for funding from the COVID-19 call can apply to the consortium directly by submitting a proposal.