Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: FMRI: Accelerating adoption of marine sensor innovation

Start application

Apply for funding to enhance existing technology readiness level (TRL) 7 to 9 marine biogeochemical sensors, and collaborate with the National Oceanography Centre to integrate and validate these with autonomous underwater platforms from the National Marine Equipment Pool.

You must be based at a UK research organisation eligible for Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) funding.

We will award 100% of the full economic cost of your project, capital only. Projects can range in size up to £800,000 maximum per project.

Projects can last for up to 18 months.

Projects must start by 15 August 2024.

Who can apply

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.

Who is eligible to apply

Before applying for funding, check the following:

Project leads and co-leads must meet our standard eligibility criteria.

This funding opportunity is open to research groups and individuals. We:

  • encourage research collaborations with other UK organisations
  • encourage applications from diverse groups of researchers
  • welcome applications from individuals at any career stage, subject to NERC eligibility criteria

Individuals may be involved in no more than two applications submitted to this funding opportunity. Only one of these applications can be as the project lead. Additional applications from the same project lead will automatically be rejected.

Who is not eligible to apply

The following are not eligible to apply:

  • businesses are not eligible applicant organisations as part of this funding opportunity, they should be listed as project partners
  • international project co-leads are not permitted as part of this funding opportunity. International collaborators can be listed as project partners

International applicants

Note this funding opportunity does not come under the UKRI and Research Council of Norway Money Follows Cooperation agreement or enable International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) collaboration.

Project partners

You should include all UK partners not based at approved organisations or international collaborators as project partners. This includes organisations from the business or financial sectors.

Project partners fund their own involvement.

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 and NERC’s diversity and inclusion action plan.

What we're looking for


This funding opportunity is part of Future Marine Research Infrastructure (FMRI) programme.

Through this funding opportunity NERC aims to de-risk the rapid integration and deployment of sensors into marine autonomous platforms for future marine research. The sensors should focus on biogeochemical essential ocean variables, such as oxygen and nitrogen concentration, pH, and Chlorophyll a concentration (for further details, see Supporting Links in the ‘Additional Information’ section).

This funding opportunity will support the later stages of marine sensor development and bridge the gap between ‘prototype’ and ‘successful product with potential for commercial deployment’. The result will be novel marine sensor capabilities that have been proven in their operating environment and are ready to be included in future national research infrastructure. This will enhance UK’s marine research capability by demonstrating the advanced abilities of autonomous research infrastructure.

The objectives of the funding opportunity are to:

  • support up to four, two-year projects to develop biogeochemical sensors for integration into autonomous platforms available within the UK’s National Marine Equipment Pool
  • develop autonomous research infrastructure that enables novel approaches to addressing current and future scientific priorities
  • accelerate the adoption of innovative measurement systems and enhance best practice methodologies for the integration and use of novel sensors across a range of autonomous platforms


For this funding opportunity we are offering funding for the creation of a capital asset.

Projects must focus on the delivery of world leading transformational innovation into the enhancement or adaptation for marine use of existing, high-TRL (expected TRL 7 to 9 classification provided in the ‘Additional information’ section) biogeochemical sensors, integration with autonomous underwater platforms from the National Marine Equipment Pool (NMEP), and a real-world validation trial.

Awarded projects will be required to:

  • collaborate with National Oceanography Centre (NOC) on the integration to NMEP autonomous underwater platforms
  • collaborate with each other during the delivery of a coordinated field-trial

Applications should:

  • create new or build upon existing sensors to increase the capability of biogeochemical sensors available to scientists. It is expected that developed sensors will in future be part of the NMEP and should be of a standard to be reliably operated by National Marine Facilities technicians
  • enhance the TRL of the proposed sensors to levels 7 to 9 (TRL 7 to 9, TRL classification provided in the ‘Additional information’). Applications with TRL 7 need to demonstrate the feasibility and plan to exceed TRL 7 after the field-trials. All applications will be assessed by an independent panel and applications for TRL 7 will be rejected if the panel determines that there is no potential for achieving levels 8 to 9. In the final trial, sensors should provide co-sampling alongside ship sensors, or other sensors, for data validation
  • provide evidence that autonomous platforms can support high quality marine observations
  • build best-practice and workforce skills in marine sensor development, integration and scientific utilisation
  • where possible, include industry partnership that offers the potential for commercial procurement of the demonstrated technology

Applications are encouraged to:

  • represent a consortium of academic organisations jointly leading on this opportunity. The collaboration must show a clear and joint strategy for delivering the vision and fostering the growth and maturation of collaboration during the funding period. Successful applications should demonstrate how the project benefits from the collaboration with justification of the structure, providing a clear case for the consortium size. Please see Consortium section for detailed information
  • include non-academic organisations as appropriate (such as industry and public sector organisations) as project partners. Applicants need to demonstrate that there is significant value added from the inclusion of a project partner, such as potential for commercialisation of developed sensors. See Project partners section for detailed information and criteria

Technical considerations

The National Marine Equipment Pool (NMEP), based at National Oceanography Centre (NOC), will provide access to autonomous platforms. Successful applicants will collaborate with NOC on technical aspects enabling the integration of sensors into operational platforms. In the first instance, principal investigators should approach the FMRI programme director, Kristian Thaller (email:, for queries about the sensor integration and fieldwork, or FMRI related.

Once full applications have been assessed, the project leads (previously principal investigators) of the applications recommended for funding will be invited to work together with National Marine Facilities to develop a final version of the Accelerating Adoption of Sensor Innovation trials plan.

Proposed sensors must:

  • fill a capability gap by providing scientists access to biogeochemical sensors compatible with autonomous underwater platforms in the NMEP
  • be able to be integrated with one or more of the following platforms available through the NMEP: Autosub Long Range, Konsberg Seaglider and Teledyne Slocum Glider. These autonomous platforms within the NMEP are made available to NERC community. Other platforms will be considered if they can demonstrate feasible adoption of the sensor into the NMEP on the completion of the project
  • output an RS232 data stream. Exceptions may be considered if the integration effort is assessed as viable within the time and budget constraints
  • provide standardised descriptors in machine readable format
  • be robust and reliable, able to be operated by National Marine Facilities technicians

Field trial

NOC will facilitate a field trial in which all funded capabilities will be demonstrated, and the technologies validated.

Funding for the use of NERC’s marine facilities and ships will be NERC’s responsibility and the applicants will not be required to include the funding in their costs, but will be required to submit the Autonomous Deployment Forms (ADFs) to the Marine Facilities Planning website detailing the Marine Autonomous and Robotics systems (MARS) platforms requirements for their application.

The details outlining applications for the use of NERC’s ships and MARS platforms in the NMEP are provided in the section, ‘Services and facilities, NERC marine facilities’.

Projects must collaborate with the NOC and each other to develop a trial that:

  • validates the performance of the developed sensor
  • demonstrates the success of the platform integration and provides insight into any limitations of the developed system
  • enables integration of the sensor into the National Marine Equipment Pool


Grant holders will be required to report on the progress of the sensor development to NERC annually through ResearchFish in line with standard UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) grant terms and conditions.

This project is part of the Future Marine Research Infrastructure (FMRI) programme and short progress updates will be required to report to the FMRI Programme Office every six months from the start of the grant.

Successful applicants will be expected to respond to other reporting requirements when requested.


The duration of this award is a maximum of 18 months.

All projects must start by 15 August 2024.

Funding available

The full economic cost (FEC) of your funded project can be up to £800,000 (including VAT).

It is expected that activities are primarily focused on the development and integration of sensors for use in underwater autonomous platforms. As a result of this focus on sensors and integration, all costs are expected to be capitalisable.

When developing a capital asset, we deem all development costs that are directly attributable to the creation, production, and preparation of the asset, and effort to bring it into working condition as capitalisable. This includes:

  • equipment costs and development costs directly associated with asset creation, and those of the component pieces that may go into the asset. This may include costs for transport, delivery, installation, testing, benchmarking and verification against existing assets or data sets, in order for it to become operational
  • labour costs (for staff working on the technical aspects) can be capitalised to get the asset into a usable state. It does not matter who provides the labour
  • full staff costs where staff are significantly working on delivering an asset, including for staff recruited to a new role directly associated with the technical development of the asset. This includes direct costs, that is cash staff costs (salary, NI, pension), and any indirect costs and overheads costs for staff directly associated with technical development of the asset (Indirect and Estates costs under FEC terminology)
  • where staff work on multiple projects, only the proportion of the full staff costs associated with the hours working technically on the asset development to get it operational (that is to a useable state) will be funded
  • fees to register a legal right, and amortisation of patents or licences used to generate the asset
  • estates or infrastructure upgrades needed to make the equipment a usable asset

We will fund 100% of the FEC for capital equipment, and associated costs (see ‘What we will fund’).

A single grant will be awarded to the lead research organisation.

Applications that request contributions to an already planned asset, or that will be co-funded by an institute to deliver the requested asset, should not include institute contributions in the total grant value. In such instances, you must clearly state in your answer to the ‘Resources and costs’ section:

  • how much funding has been acquired from elsewhere?
  • how much funding is being requested from NERC?

These applications will require sign off from your institute’s finance director (or equivalent) and if your application is successful then we will request a letter of support.

We reserve the right to work with successful applicants to determine the spend profile.

What we will fund

For this funding opportunity we are offering funding for the creation of a capital asset. Your application must:

  • create new or build upon existing sensors
  • enhance the TRL  of the proposed sensors to level 7 to 9 (TRL classification provided in the ‘Additional information’ section)

Capital costs can include labour and development costs associated with the creation of the asset such as:

  • transport
  • delivery
  • installation
  • biogeochemical sensor development
  • biogeochemical sensor integration to underwater autonomous platforms

These costs must be entered under the equipment fund heading only.

Support from industry partners in the form of expertise (in-kind support) or leveraged funding (financial support) is welcomed as evidence of increased asset impact and reach.

What we will not fund

  • PhD studentship costs
  • staff costs will not be funded on this award after the creation of the asset, such as resourcing related to operation or maintenance
  • incidental costs such as project office support
  • insurance and servicing including warranties
  • user training after the asset’s creation
  • routine replacement and, or, repair of assets, such as:
    • building repairs
    • maintenance
    • scheduled replacement of standard equipment
    • costs related to rent or leasing
    • single-user or single-project equipment
  • new technologies which are unlikely to generate a productive asset
  • applications submitted to other funding opportunities during the same time frame (including all UKRI grant schemes)

Services and facilities

NERC marine facilities

This funding opportunity will require access to Marine Autonomous and Robotics Systems (MARS) platforms in the National Marine Equipment Pool, operated by National Marine Facilities (NMF) at the National Oceanography Centre. A budget of £1m is available for NMF support costs (for example, ship time, technician, marine equipment and autonomous systems costs). These costs do not need to be included within each application budget and will be funded separately by NERC, to allow coordinated collaboration of sensor integration and field demonstration.

Project leads should inform NERC Marine Planning as soon as possible, and by 2 April 2024 at the latest, to advise that an application is being prepared.

NERC will coordinate discussions related to seagoing science delivery ahead of applications being submitted, and will submit an SME to the Marine Facilities Planning website for the shiptime requirements of the sensor demonstration research cruise.

Following initial discussion, project leads must submit Autonomous Deployment Forms (ADFs) to the Marine Facilities Planning website detailing the MARS platform requirements for their application by 11 April 2024. These requests must have been assessed and approved by NMF and NERC Marine Planning ahead of application submission to NERC.

Once the applications have been assessed, the project leads of the applications recommended for funding will be invited to work together with NMF to develop a final version of the sensor demonstration delivery plan. This plan will efficiently accommodate all aims wherever possible within the £1M funding available for NMF support costs.

The final sensors demonstration plan is likely to comprise of a single research cruise in spring-summer 2026 in the NE Atlantic, sailing Southampton to Southampton, and applications should ensure the delivery of science objectives is achievable based on this timeline. There might be a possibility to augment delivery by opportunistic involvement in other scheduled cruises, that will collectively meet the trials requirements of all funded applications. NERC may ask project leads to adjust science plans so that an affordable cruise plan can be agreed, and grants can be awarded.

Other NERC Services and facilities

We are not expecting the use of a facility as part of your application, however you can apply to use a facility or resource in your funding application.

Applications should include formal requests for NERC services and facilities (for example, high-performance computing (HPC) or isotope analyses) where relevant. No additional funding is available to cover these costs. Therefore, all costs associated with the use of NERC services and facilities (excluding those related to NMF that are outlined) must be included within:

  • the funding limit of applications
  • the directly incurred other costs of applications

Prior to submitting an application, applicants wishing to use a NERC service or facility must contact the facility to seek agreement that they could provide the service required. Applicants wishing to use most NERC facilities will need to submit a mandatory ‘technical assessment’ with their application. This technical assessment is required for aircraft but not for NERC marine facilities and HPC. For NERC, this means a quote for the work which the facility will provide. See a full list of the facilities requiring this quote. See further information on NERC services and facilities.

For more information, see the NERC research grants and fellowships handbook.

Read the full list of NERC facilities that require a technical assessment.

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.

As one of the funders to sign the , we recognise the value of technical expertise to the UK workforce. To reflect this, we welcome applications from all eligible faculty staff as either project lead or project co-leads.

Postdoctoral research assistants involved in the development of the application can be included as a researcher co-lead.

Responsible research

Through our funding processes, we seek to make a positive contribution to society and the environment. This is not just through research outputs and outcomes but through the way in which research is conducted and facilities managed.

All NERC grant holders are to adopt responsible research practices as set out in the NERC responsible business statement.

Responsible research is defined as reducing harm or enhancing benefit on the environment and society through effective management of research activities and facilities. Specifically, this covers:

  • the natural environment
  • equality, diversity and inclusion

You should consider the responsible research context of your project, not the host institution as a whole. You should take action to enhance your responsible research approach where practical and reasonable.

Research disruption due to COVID-19

We recognise that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused major interruptions and disruptions across our communities. We are committed to ensuring that individual applicants and their wider team, including partners and networks, are not penalised for any disruption to their career, such as:

  • breaks and delays
  • disruptive working patterns and conditions
  • the loss of ongoing work
  • role changes that may have been caused by the pandemic

Reviewers and panel members will be advised to consider the unequal impacts that COVID-19 related disruption might have had on the capability to deliver and career development of those individuals included in the application. They will be asked to consider the capability of the applicant, and their wider team, to deliver the research they are proposing.

Where disruptions have occurred, you can highlight this within your application if you wish, but there is no requirement to detail the specific circumstances that caused the disruption.

How to apply

We are running this funding opportunity on the new UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Funding Service. You cannot apply on the Joint Electronic Submissions (Je-S) system.

The project lead is responsible for completing the application process on the UKRI 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 recording on how to apply for an opportunity in the UKRI Funding Service.

To apply:

Select ‘Start application’ near the beginning of this Funding finder page.

  1. Confirm you are the project lead.
  2. Sign in or create a UKRI Funding Service account. To create an account, select your organisation, verify your email address, and set a password. If your organisation is not listed, email

Allow at least 10 working days for your organisation to be added to the UKRI Funding Service.

  1. Answer questions directly in the text boxes. You can save your answers and come back to complete them or work offline and return to copy and paste your answers. If we need you to upload a document, follow the upload instructions in the UKRI Funding Service. All questions and assessment criteria are listed in the ‘How to apply’ section on this Funding finder page.
  2. Allow enough time to check your application in ‘read-only’ view before sending to your research office.
  3. Send the completed application to your research office for checking. They will return it to you if it needs editing.
  4. Your research office will submit the completed and checked application to UKRI.

Where indicated, you can also demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. You should:

  • use images sparingly and only to convey important information that cannot easily be put into words
  • insert each new image onto a new line
  • provide a descriptive legend for each image immediately underneath it (this counts towards your word limit)
  • ensure that files are smaller than 5MB and in JPEG, JPG, JPE, JFI, JIF, JFIF, PNG, GIF, BMP or WEBP format

Watch our research office webinars about the new UKRI Funding Service.

For more guidance on the UKRI Funding Service, see:


We must receive your application by 2 May 2024 at 4:00pm UK time.

You will not be able to apply after this time. Make sure you are aware of and follow any internal institutional deadlines.

Following the submission of your application to the funding opportunity, your application cannot be changed, and applications will not be returned for amendment. If your application does not follow the guidance, it may be rejected.

Personal data

NERC, as part of UKRI, will need to collect some personal information to manage your UKRI Funding Service account and the registration of your funding applications.

We will handle personal data in line with UK data protection legislation and manage it securely. For more information, including how to exercise your rights, read our privacy notice.

Publication of outcomes

NERC, as part of UKRI, will publish the outcomes of this funding opportunity on What NERC has funded.

If your application is successful, we will publish some personal information on the UKRI Gateway to Research.


Word count: 550

In plain English, provide a summary we can use to identify the most suitable experts to assess your application.

We may make this summary publicly available on external-facing websites, so make it suitable for a variety of readers, for example:

  • opinion-formers
  • policymakers
  • the public
  • the wider research community

Guidance for writing a summary

Clearly describe your proposed work in terms of:

  • what the proposed asset is and what science questions or challenge the asset addresses
  • potential applications and benefits

Core team

List the key members of your team and assign them roles from the following:

  • project lead (PL)
  • project co-lead (UK) (PcL)
  • specialist
  • grant manager
  • professional enabling staff
  • research and innovation associate
  • technician
  • researcher co-lead (RcL)

Only list one individual as project lead.

The project lead is responsible for setting up and completing the application process on the UKRI Funding Service.

Find out more about UKRI’s core team roles in funding applications.

Application questions


Word limit: 1,000

What is the proposed sensor, why is it needed, and why should UKRI support it?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Explain how your proposed work:

  • is timely, given current trends and context, particularly in the context of this funding opportunity
  • meets community demand
  • enhances and complements existing research capability at a local, regional, or national scale

Within the Purpose section we also expect you to:

  • give the title, manufacturer and model (where applicable) of any proposed equipment
  • highlight the main science questions that the proposed sensor will address or enable, and indicate how the asset will address them


Word limit: 1,000

What are you hoping to achieve with your proposed sensor?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Explain how your proposed asset:

  • is of excellent quality and importance within or beyond the field(s) or area(s)
  • has the potential to advance current understanding, or generate new knowledge, thinking or discovery within or beyond the field or area
  • is timely given current trends, context, and needs
  • impacts world-leading research, society, the economy, or the environment

Within the Vision section we also expect you to:

  • identify the potential direct or indirect benefits and who the beneficiaries might be
  • explain any wider impacts that you project will generate

You may demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. Further details are provided in the UKRI Funding Service.


Word limit: 2,000

What are your plans to manage the creation of and delivery of the sensor?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Explain how you have designed your approach so that it:

  • is effective and appropriate to achieve the objectives of this funding opportunity, making reference to the Technical considerations under ‘What we are looking for’
  • is feasible, comprehensively identifying any risks to delivery and how they will be managed
  • uses a clearly written and transparent methodology (if applicable)
  • will maximise translation of outputs into outcomes and impacts
  • describes how your, and if applicable your team’s, research environment (in terms of the place and relevance to the project) will contribute to the success of the work

Within the Approach section we also expect you to:

  • demonstrate access to the appropriate services and partners needed, to deliver the proposed work
  • provide a detailed and comprehensive project plan for how you will develop and deliver the sensor, including milestones and timelines in the form of a Gantt chart or similar

You may demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. Further details are provided in the ‘How to apply’ section.

Applicant and team capability to deliver

Word limit: 1,500

Why are you the right individual or team to successfully deliver the proposed work?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Evidence of how you, and if relevant your team, have:

  • the relevant experience (appropriate to career stage) to deliver the proposed work
  • the right balance of skills and expertise to cover the proposed work
  • the appropriate leadership and management skills to deliver the work and your approach
  • contributed to developing a positive research environment and wider community

You may demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. Further details are provided in the ‘How to apply’ section.

The word limit for this section is 1,500 words: 1,000 words to be used for R4RI modules and, if necessary, a further 500 words for Additions.

Use the Résumé for Research and Innovation (R4RI) format to showcase the range of relevant skills you and, if relevant, your team (project and project co-leads, researchers, technicians, specialists, partners and so on) have and how this will help deliver the proposed work. You can include individuals’ specific achievements but only choose past contributions that best evidence their ability to deliver this work.

Complete this section using the R4RI module headings listed. Use each heading once and include a response for the whole team, see the UKRI guidance on R4RI. You should consider how to balance your answer, and emphasise where appropriate the key skills each team member brings:

  • contributions to the generation of new ideas, tools, methodologies, or knowledge
  • the development of others and maintenance of effective working relationships
  • contributions to the wider research and innovation community
  • contributions to broader research or innovation users and audiences and towards wider societal benefit

Please include affiliations for all team members included in this application.


Provide any further details relevant to your application. This section is optional and can be up to 500 words. You should not use it to describe additional skills, experiences, or outputs, but you can use it to describe any factors that provide context for the rest of your R4RI (for example, details of career breaks if you wish to disclose them).

Complete this as a narrative. Do not format it like a CV.

UKRI has introduced new role types for funding opportunities being run on the UKRI Funding Service.

For full details, see Eligibility as an individual.

Ethics and responsible research and innovation (RRI)

Word count: 500

What are the ethical or RRI implications and issues relating to the proposed work? If you do not think that the proposed work raises any ethical or RRI issues, explain why.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Demonstrate that you have identified and evaluated:

  • the relevant ethical or responsible research and innovation considerations
  • how you will manage these considerations
  • consideration for preventing environmental harm and enhancing environmental benefit in line with NERC’s responsible business statement

You may demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. Further details are provided in the UKRI Funding Service.

Project partners

Provide details about any project partners’ contributions if applicable.

Add details about any project partners’ contributions. If there are no project partners, you can indicate this on the UKRI Funding Service.

A project partner is a collaborating organisation who will have an integral role in the proposed research. This may include direct (cash) or indirect (in-kind) contributions such as expertise, staff time or use of facilities.

Add the following project partner details:

  • organisation name and address (searchable via a drop-down list or enter the organisation’s details manually, as applicable)
  • project partner contact name and email address
  • type of contribution (direct or in-direct) and its monetary value

If a detail is entered incorrectly and you have saved the entry, remove the specific project partner record and re-add it with the correct information.

For audit purposes, UKRI requires formal collaboration agreements to be put in place if an award is made.


Word limit: 250

Does your proposed research require the support and use of a facility?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

If you will need to use a facility, follow your proposed facility’s normal access request procedures. Ensure you have prior agreement so that if you are offered funding, they will support the use of their facility on your project.

For each requested facility you will need to provide the:

  • name of facility, copied and pasted from the facility information list (DOCX, 37KB)
  • proposed usage or costs, or costs per unit where indicated on the facility information list
  • confirmation you have their agreement where required

If you have to attach a facility form, then upload it as a PDF. If you need to upload multiple forms, then combine them into a single PDF.

If you do not need to use a facility, simply add ‘N/A’ into the text box, mark this section as complete and move to the next section.

Upload guidance

Upload a single PDF containing facility forms ensuring it is no larger than 8MB, if applicable.

For the file name, use the unique UKRI Funding Service number the system gives to your application when you create an application, immediately followed by the words ‘facility forms’. Then use the ‘upload’ button.

Unless specifically requested, do not include any personal data within the attachment.

Once you have uploaded, mark this section as complete and move to the next one.


Word limit: 1,000

List the references you have used to support your application.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Include all references in this section, not in the rest of the application questions.

You should not include any other information in this section.

We advise you not to include hyperlinks, as assessors are not obliged to access the information they lead to or consider it in their assessment of your application.

If linking to web resources, to maintain the information’s integrity, include persistent identifiers (such as digital object identifiers) where possible.

You must not include links to web resources to extend your application.

Resources and cost justification

Word limit: 2,000

What will you need to deliver your asset and how much will it cost?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Guidance on using the costs table

Only capitalisable costs can be requested via this funding opportunity. In the costs table:

  • set the salary costs for any member of the team, including the project lead, to £0 and % FTE as appropriate
  • include the total value of the requested assets under the ‘Exceptions header, equipment’, enabling funding at 100% FEC from NERC
  • leave all other cost headings blank

Using the text box, demonstrate how the resources you are requesting:

  • are comprehensive, appropriate, and justified
  • represent the optimal use of resources to achieve the intended outcomes
  • maximise potential outcomes and impacts

List the requested asset and equipment costs broken down in components ensuring you also state:

  • if applicable, how much additional funding the host organisation or project partner is providing, and the total funding requested from NERC
  • a brief justification of labour costs, if applicable, and why they are required and cannot be met elsewhere
  • a brief justification of any other costs required for the generation of the asset

Ensure that you have not requested any ineligible costs, including servicing, warranty and or maintenance costs, as per the ‘What we will not fund’ section of the announcement of opportunity.

This funding opportunity only allows for capitalisable costs, input these under the ‘Exceptions’ heading on the UKRI Funding Service.

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

We will assess your application using the following process.

Prior to the assessment stage:

  • we reserve the right to reject applications, without reference to panel assessment, that are deemed to fall outside the remit and scope (including the financial scope) of this funding opportunity

Your application will be assessed by the following process:

  • applications that fit the scope of the funding opportunity will be assessed through a single-stage panel assessment process. This process will make use of an independent expert panel, who will assess applications against the published criteria for this funding opportunity
  • this process will use a multidisciplinary panel with appropriate expertise
  • the panel will provide us with a recommended rank-ordered list of applications

When making the final funding decisions, NERC will consider the recommendations of the panel, along with overall funding opportunity requirements and the available budget.


We aim to complete the assessment process within three months of the funding opportunity closing date.


If your application was discussed by a panel, we will give feedback with the outcome of your application.

Principles of assessment

We support the San Francisco declaration on research assessment and recognise the relationship between research assessment and research integrity.

Find out about the UKRI principles of assessment and decision making.

We reserve the right to modify the assessment process as needed.

Assessment criteria

The criteria against which your application will be assessed are:

  • purpose
  • vision
  • approach
  • applicant and team capability to deliver
  • ethics and responsible research and innovation (RRI)

Find details of assessment questions and criteria under the ‘Application questions’ heading in the ‘How to apply’ section.

Contact details

Get help with your application

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

IMPORTANT NOTE: The Helpdesk is committed to helping users of the UKRI Funding Service as effectively and as quickly as possible. In order to manage cases at peak volume times, the Helpdesk will triage and prioritise those queries with an imminent funding opportunity deadline or a technical issue. Enquiries raised where information is available on the Funding Finder opportunity page and should be understood early in the application process (for example, regarding eligibility or content/remit of a funding opportunity) will not constitute a priority case and will be addressed as soon as possible.

Contact details

For help and advice on costings and writing your application, 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, contact with ‘Accelerating Adoption of Marine Sensors Innovation’ in the subject heading.

Any queries regarding the system or the submission of applications through the UKRI Funding Service should be directed to the helpdesk.


Phone: 01793 547490

Our phone lines are open:

  • Monday to Thursday 8:30am to 5:00pm
  • Friday 8:30am to 4:30pm

To help us process queries quicker, we request that users highlight the council and funding opportunity name in the subject title of their email query, include the application reference number, and refrain from contacting more than one mailbox at a time.

You can also find information on submitting an application.

Sensitive information

If you or a core team member need to tell us something you wish to remain confidential, email

Include in the subject line: NERC FMRI – Accelerating Adoption of Sensor Innovation; sensitive information; your Funding Service application number.

Typical examples of confidential information include:

  • individual is unavailable until a certain date (for example due to parental leave)
  • declaration of interest
  • additional information about eligibility to apply that would not be appropriately shared in the ‘Applicant and team capability’ section
  • conflict of interest for UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to consider in reviewer or panel participant selection

For information about how UKRI handles personal data, read UKRI’s privacy notice.

Additional info


NERC has a strategic priority to revolutionise UK marine science to take advantage of advances in robotics, autonomy and data connectivity. This priority sits alongside our requirement to support UKRI’s net zero agenda.

NERC has consulted the research community to develop evidence for the delivery of this strategic priority and these community-led recommendations were reported in the Net Zero Oceanographic Capability (NZOC) Summary report. The Future Marine Research Infrastructure (FMRI) programme has been created to take these recommendations forward.

The Future Marine Research Infrastructure programme aims to establish:

  • environmentally and economically sustainable marine research infrastructure for current and future marine research
  • a marine infrastructure portfolio that leads using innovations in measurements and platforms to push the frontiers of marine science
  • outward looking approaches, offering global leadership and collaboration opportunities, and opening access to under-represented groups

The FMRI programme will address the technology roadmap for the rapid adoption of developing platform, sensor, and digital technologies for marine science applications. Supporting the roadmap, this activity will demonstrate how marine science can be an early adopter of emerging measurement technologies enabling new and different science.


This funding opportunity is a part of the FMRI programme, and it will use the integration of high-TRL sensors into autonomous platforms to enhance and demonstrate the advanced capability of autonomous research infrastructure to enable cutting-edge measurements and de-risking a primary part of NERC’s low-carbon vision for future marine research.

This activity will be delivered in collaboration with the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) that has expertise in platform design, sensor integration, command and control software and data management. Data management will be included in this activity and will be led by NOC. This will include all data processing on the platforms for further access and use.

Technology-readiness levels (TRLs) clarification

Technology readiness levels (TRLs) are a type of measurement system used to assess the maturity level of a particular technology. There are nine TRLs, TRL 1 is the lowest and TRL 9 is the highest.

This funding opportunity is specifically to develop high TRL of 7 to 9. Development of lower TRL will not be considered.

See the table for the TRL criteria.

Technology-readiness levels (TRL) clarification (PDF, 110KB)

Supporting links

Essential Ocean Variables – Global Ocean Observing System (

FMRI programme


In line with normal grant processes, a final expenditure statement (FES) will be required three months after the grant end date.

You will be expected to adhere to any specific grant conditions and follow our guidelines for the procurement and management of capital assets as set out in the UKRI Terms and Conditions. Additional terms and conditions apply, refer to Assets section below.

Data management

Data management will be led by National Oceanography Centre, therefore an outline data management plan is not required.

Reporting requirements

Regular monitoring of progress towards the aims and objectives is an important component of this opportunity. Successful applicants will be expected to contribute to the monitoring and reporting requirements when requested.

Successful applicants will be required to report research outcomes on Researchfish in line with standard UKRI terms and conditions. This is required annually and continues for up to five years after the grant ends.


NERC reserves the option to retain the ownership of the developed sensor prototype as part of the NMEP assets.

It is the intent of this funding opportunity that following the successful trial, the applicant (and project partner) will reserve the right to retain ownership of intellectual assets and an opportunity to commercialise the developed sensor, in which case NMEP will have the option to purchase the sensor(s) for future use.

We reserve the right to conduct asset verification, which could include site visits to view the asset. We also reserve the right to request further relevant details with respect to the assets funded at any point.

To encourage equipment sharing, grant holders of equipment must list their asset on the equipment data website. The URL link to the equipment will be requested in the grant reporting.

To encourage best practice, we welcome impact case studies detailing how capital assets have been successfully utilised and shared or used by people outside of the host institute.

We also welcome case studies that demonstrate what actions have been taken to promote sustainable research practices.

You must inform us as soon as possible if, during the lifetime of the asset, the need for the asset diminishes substantially or it is not being used for the purpose for which it was funded.

We reserve the right to withdraw funding or determine the disposal of equipment and to claim the proceeds of any sale if these requirements are not being met.

If the projects will be carried out by multiple research organisations and project partners, the basis of collaboration between the organisations and project partners, including ownership of intellectual property (IP) generated during the project and rights to exploitation, and costs of IP management (this is not an eligible (direct) cost to UKRI), is expected to be set out in a formal collaboration agreement between the research organisations involved.

It is the responsibility of the research organisations to put such an agreement in place before the research begins and within six months of the adoption of funding. The terms of collaboration shall not conflict with NERC-UKRI terms and conditions.

Feedback on application process

To ensure continual improvements and development of best practice, we welcome your feedback on the application process for this funding opportunity. If you would like to provide feedback, then email

Webinar for potential applicants

We held a webinar on 20 March 2024 to provide more information about the funding opportunity and a chance to ask questions.

Webinar recording (YouTube)

Webinar questions and answers (PDF, 129KB)

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Modern slavery is a crime and a violation of fundamental human rights. It takes various forms which deprive a person of their liberty in order to exploit them for personal or commercial gain, such as:

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We are committed to the principles of the Modern Slavery Act 2015, and the abolition of modern slavery and human trafficking.


  • 15 April 2024
    Webinar recording link and webinar questions and answers document added to the 'Additional info' section.

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