Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Pre-announcement: 3D Nanoscale Metamaterials Hub for a Sustainable Future

Apply for funding to create a research hub focused on developing 3D Nanoscale Metamaterials that support Sustainable Futures. Hubs should aim to deliver a step change in our understanding of how to design and build these materials from end to end, addressing design through to manufacture and translation.

Our primary focus is materials that underpin technology and deliver against national and global environmental challenges.

You must be based at a UK research organisation eligible for Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) funding.

The full economic cost (FEC) of your project can be up to £12.1875 million. EPSRC will fund 80% of the FEC (£9.75 million). £12.1875 million is the 100% FEC figure.

This is a pre-announcement, and the information may change. The funding opportunity will open in August 2024. More information will be available on this page by then.

Who can apply

Before applying for funding, check the Eligibility of your organisation.

EPSRC standard eligibility rules apply. For full details, visit EPSRC’s eligibility page.

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has introduced new role types for funding opportunities being run on the new UKRI Funding Service.

For full details, visit Eligibility as an individual.

International applicants

Under the UKRI and Research Council of Norway Money Follows Cooperation agreement a project co-lead (international) (previously co-investigator) can be based in a Norwegian institution.


We will not accept uninvited resubmissions of projects that have been submitted to UKRI or any other funder.

Find out more about EPSRC’s resubmissions policy.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

We are committed to achieving equality of opportunity for all funding applicants. We encourage applications from a diverse range of researchers.

We support people to work in a way that suits their personal circumstances. This includes:

  • career breaks
  • support for people with caring responsibilities
  • flexible working
  • alternative working patterns

Find out more about equality, diversity and inclusion at UKRI.

What we're looking for

This is a pre-announcement, and the information may change.


Through this funding opportunity, we aim to enable the metamaterials community in delivering impact, though the design and development of 3D metamaterials at the nanoscale. The proposed programme of work should support and underpin technologies and systems that address critical national and global approaches to environmental sustainability.

For this funding opportunity, we define ‘3D nano-scaled metamaterials’ as materials with an engineered three dimensional (3D), submicron-structure that imparts properties markedly different from the properties of the bulk constituents.


This is a preannouncement for funding to create a research hub focused on developing 3D Nanoscale Metamaterials for a Sustainable Future. The hub should cover fundamental materials discovery through to routes to translation and manufacturing, with aims to deliver a step change in our understanding of how to design and build this class of materials from end to end.

It is expected that consideration is taken as to how the materials developed enable technologies and systems that address national and global environmental sustainability challenges.

The hub will feature high quality, multidisciplinary research and strong engagement with end users. The hub will take a national leadership role in the field and in particular, will embed approaches to systems thinking and materials circularity within research streams.

The hub will actively promote equality, diversity and inclusion, and should clearly address needs for industrial engagement and requirements of trusted research.

Stakeholder engagement should be commensurate with development of 3D metamaterials from end-to-end. Including where appropriate, manufacturing and industry stakeholders, translational end users from industry and academia, relevant non-specialist end users, as well as relevant specialists and experts from outside of EPSRC remit.

A 3D Nanoscale Metamaterials Hub for a Sustainable Future will deliver a programme of innovative research in the engineering and physical sciences, related to the challenges in designing, developing, innovating, and translating 3D nano-scaled metamaterials. The primary focus of the investment will be on the development and progression of 3D metamaterials science and engineering, complementing and refreshing our existing portfolio in the metamaterials space.

While it is expected that the bulk of the hub’s focus will be on the design, development, and scaling of 3D-metamaterials, secondary impacts are expected through the exploitation of translational opportunities that originate from the hub’s work in end-to-end design, including aspects of manufacture and scale-up. This would include collaborating or innovating in the broader areas of nano-scaled materials or metamaterials scale-up and manufacturing.

What is a hub?

Hubs are expected to deliver:

  • high quality, multidisciplinary research
  • a strong ethos of skills development for staff
  • efficient management of hub operations
  • a clear path to realising impact

The hub (or centre) will be a leader within the landscape, driving forward the national metamaterials research agenda in their area and connecting with other players in the community, including users, policymakers, and other public investments (for example Catapults, other hubs and EPSRC investments).

All investments should be structured to best support delivery of the proposed programme of work, accounting for expertise, collaboration, management, and infrastructure.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

As leaders in the community, hubs will be expected to embed equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in all their activities throughout the lifetime of the hub. If funded, this will include identifying the specific EDI challenges and barriers in their own environment and developing a strategy to address these, with reference to our published expectations for EDI.

Hubs must ensure that they request appropriate resources to develop and deliver their EDI strategy effectively. This must include at least one costed staff post with responsibility for EDI (the hub EDI Lead). The EDI lead should not be the only hub staff member interested in delivering excellent equality, diversity and inclusion within the hub, such considerations should be embedded within the ethos of all its activities.

We do not specify any particular full-time equivalent (FTE), salary level or career stage for this post. Hubs may decide what is most appropriate for their programme, while giving due consideration to flexible working.

Trusted Research and Innovation (TR&I)

UKRI is committed in ensuring that effective international collaboration in research and innovation takes place with integrity and within strong ethical frameworks. Trusted Research and Innovation (TR&I) is a UKRI work programme designed to help protect all those working in our thriving and collaborative international sector by enabling partnerships to be as open as possible, and as secure as necessary. Our TR&I Principles set out UKRI’s expectations of organisations funded by UKRI in relation to due diligence for international collaboration.

As such, applicants for UKRI funding may be asked to demonstrate how their proposed projects will comply with our approach and expectation towards TR&I, identifying potential risks and the relevant controls you will put in place to help proportionately reduce these risks.

See further guidance and information about TR&I, including where you can find additional support.


The duration of this award is a minimum of 36 months, and a maximum of 60.

Funding available

The full economic cost (FEC) of your project can be up to £12.1875 million.

EPSRC will fund 80% of the FEC (£9.75 million). £12.1875 million is the 100% FEC figure

What we will fund

Equipment (up to £400,000 per item)

Quotes for equipment do not need to be included in your application, but please retain quotes for equipment costing more than £138,000 as we may ask for these at post-panel stage before releasing funds.

Learn about EPSRC’s approach to equipment funding.

Flexible funds

Flexible funding can be requested to support delivery of the Hub. These funds must be distributed externally to the grant. There are no specific rules on what flexible funds may be used on, some examples of use are: secondments, feasibility studies, small ‘working with industry’ projects, outreach and engagement, research culture projects.

Flexible funds can be allocated to researchers at any organisation currently eligible for EPSRC funding. You will need to think carefully about how any budget for external distribution will be commissioned, and how you will ensure processes for the allocation of funds are fair and transparent.

Please note that any activities commissioned using the flexible funds will be restricted to our current research organisation eligibility but will not be bound by standard EPSRC investigator eligibility criterion. It is the project lead’s responsibility to ensure ongoing governance to ensure correct usage and accountability of the funds.

We would expect some examples of the types of projects at the application stage, but as research challenges are expected to evolve throughout the hub lifetime it is not expected that opportunities are set. Ideas for flexible funding approaches should be co-created and collaborative in nature.

The sum awarded under the heading of ‘flexible funds’ can include both directly incurred and directly allocated expenditure. These funds must be reported on the final expenditure statement (FES) as awarded on the offer letter and a breakdown of the expenditure must be submitted along with the FES. Flexible funds are funded at 80% FEC by us.

What we will not fund

Proposals where the majority of novelty is aligned to other areas or types of metamaterials such as:

  • metasurfaces
  • 4D metamaterials
  • metafluids
  • 2D metamaterials
  • nanoscale materials that would not be classed as ‘metamaterials’

Proposals must demonstrably lie primarily within the remit of EPSRC and must be within the scope of this funding opportunity. Any proposals that we deem out of remit or scope may be rejected without reference to review.


Studentships are outside the remit of this funding opportunity.

Supporting skills and talent

We encourage you to follow the principles of the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers and the Technician Commitment.

How to apply

We are running this funding opportunity on the new UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Funding Service so please ensure that your organisation is registered. You cannot apply on the Joint Electronic Submissions (Je-S) system. We will publish full details on how to apply when the funding opportunity opens.

The project lead is responsible for completing the application process on the Funding Service, but we expect all team members and project partners to contribute to the application.

Only the lead research organisation can submit an application to UKRI.

Watch our research office webinars about the new Funding Service.

For more guidance on the Funding Service, see:

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

We will publish full details on the assessment process and assessment criteria when the funding opportunity opens in August 2024.

Contact details

Get help with your application

If you have a question and the answers aren’t provided on this page

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Contact details

For help and advice on costings and writing your proposal please contact your research office in the first instance, allowing sufficient time for your organisation’s submission process.

For questions related to this specific funding opportunity please contact

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