Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: ADR England Research Community Catalysts

Apply for funding to become an ADR England Research Community Catalyst.

ADR UK, in collaboration with other co-funders, is piloting a new approach to encourage the research use of ADR England Flagship data (PDF, 1.5MB) across one of the following three themes:

  • children at risk of poor outcomes
  • youth transitions
  • evaluation

You must be based at a UK research organisation eligible for ESRC funding.

The full economic cost (FEC) of your project will depend on the theme, ranging from a maximum sum of around £670,000 to £970,000. ESRC and co-funders will fund 80% FEC.

Projects must start no later than 31 January 2024 and end by 31 March 2026.

Who can apply

We strongly encourage interested applicants to apply as a small group or consortium to reflect the breadth of tasks and skills required. If applying for more than one theme, please submit one application per theme.

The principal investigator must be based at a UK research organisation eligible for ESRC funding including:

Proposals can also include co-investigators from UK business, policy, or civil society. Given the objectives and assessment criteria, we encourage non-academic co-investigators from a government department or intermediary evidence body. This is not essential; however, it may help to ensure the proposal is able to fulfil the funding opportunities objectives. Only proposals that meet the assessment criteria (see the ‘How we will assess your application’ section) will be considered for funding.

Standard ESRC eligibility rules apply. Please note that ESRC will potentially fully fund (at 100% FEC) costs for UK business, third sector or government body co-investigators as ‘exceptions’. However, the project costs associated with these types of co-investigator contributions must not exceed 30% of the overall cost of the grant (at 100% FEC). Full details can be found in the UK business, third sector and government body co-investigator policy guidance.

Check if you are eligible to apply for research and innovation funding.

Read ESRC’s research funding guide which contains more details on individual and institutional eligibility.

We will be looking for demonstrable knowledge and research capability in the area of focus, together with a proven ability to establish and develop a diverse community around a common purpose. You should also have a commitment to collaborate with a wide range of stakeholders across government, academia and the third sector.

What we're looking for

Specific objectives of this funding opportunity

ADR UK is piloting a new approach to encourage the research use of ADR England flagship datasets (PDF, 1.5MB) in partnership with five co-funders across three themes. ADR England flagship datasets are national administrative datasets with coverage of at least England but potentially other UK nations for example, England and Wales, Great Britain or UK data.

The three community catalyst themes (children at risk of poor outcomes, youth transitions, and evaluation) have been selected to be cross-cutting areas that can use existing ADR England flagship datasets to make a considerable contribution to social science. The themes also offer the opportunity for a collaborative space to open across government departmental and sectoral boundaries and to consider more holistic perspectives on an issue.

It is the shared ambition of all co-funding parties that these awards will develop more self-sustaining, thriving, and well-networked communities of researchers connected with wider stakeholders that have a shared understanding of the gaps and priorities within each theme.

We are offering funding for three community catalyst awards, one for each theme:

  1. ADR England Research Community Catalyst for Children at Risk of Poor Outcomes (co-funded by What Works for Early Intervention & Children’s Social Care)
  2. ADR England Research Community Catalyst for Youth Transitions (co-funded by Youth Futures Foundation and The Centre for Transforming Access and Student Outcomes in Higher Education)
  3. ADR England Research Community Catalyst for Evaluation (co-funded by the Evaluation Task Force and ESRC)

The community catalyst awards share the following objectives. Each objective is expanded upon in both the main funding opportunity specification and each of the three theme-specific annexes. You should read both the main funding opportunity specification and the theme-specific annex to understand the requirements of this funding opportunity.


1. Strategic research leadership

Provide a focal point to consolidate the growing body of knowledge around the use of administrative data for research and inform future developments of the programme. This would include:

  • mapping and consolidating existing research evidence, applications, concepts and case studies
  • coordinating and co-designing a research agenda with key stakeholders that identifies and prioritises research topics using linked administrative data
  • mapping accessible data sources that are required to address the research agenda. Research agendas should build upon government departments’ areas of research interest

2. Build capacity fort academic research using administrative data

Develop awareness of and interest, skills and confidence in using linked administrative data in a diverse network of academic administrative data researchers across institutions, career stages and disciplines. This would include supporting researchers to conduct data analyses using administrative datasets and coordinating the development of a training and resources hub.

3. Develop a diverse administrative data research community

To form, facilitate and empower a diverse community of data and research users to build meaningful and sustainable relationships around a shared sense of purpose. The community will come together to exchange knowledge and stimulate opportunities for collaboration. If such a community already exists, then to build upon this foundation.

Stakeholders include policymakers, decision-makers, data users, data owners, practitioners, researchers and others across academia, central and local government, parliament and the third sector (including advocacy groups, non-governmental organisations, charities, etc.). Other priority stakeholders are included in the theme-specific annexes.

4. Address research priorities

Via a delegated research budget as part of this award, provide opportunities for others to conduct small-scale research during the lifetime of this award. This research will increase the use of ADR England linked administrative data via ADR UK trusted research environments, with the aim of creating impactful case studies. This is to address gaps in the research agenda as well as contribute to the capacity building and community development objectives of this opportunity. Due to the different amounts of co-funding and interests of the co-funders, we are trialling two different modes for allocating this delegated research budget.

  1. The Children at Risk of Poor Outcomes, and the Youth Transitions Community Catalysts will fund ‘embedded fellowships’ supervised by their team to address research priorities.
  2. The Evaluation Community Catalyst will manage a ‘test and trial fund’ to support demonstration projects and use cases to address public policy evaluation challenges.


The total funds available for each award, stipulated in the table below, are broken down into a maximum sum for the community catalyst core grant and a maximum sum for the delegated research budget. All figures are at 100% FEC (unindexed) and inclusive of co-funding.

Table 1: maximum sum available by theme (100% FEC – unindexed)

Children at risk of poor outcomes Youth transitions Evaluation
Total funds available £732,092 £672,085 £972,122
Community catalyst core grant £552,069 £552,069 £675,085
Delegated research budget £180,023 £120,015 £297,037

Please refer to the main funding opportunity specification for a breakdown and detailed description of the:

  • community catalyst core grant
  • delegated research budget

Outputs and milestones

Given the long-term and ambitious objectives of this funding opportunity, the community catalysts will need to formulate plans to ensure their proposals are deliverable given the time frames and budget. Specific milestones and baseline delivery dates will be approved once the awards have started and following a period of consultation with the steering group (see ‘governance and reporting’). Please see the main funding opportunity specification for the list of priority outputs and milestones.

Governance and reporting

There are two main levels of governance for all ADR England Research Community Catalysts. A monitoring and evaluation group that all members will attend, and a steering group specific to each theme:

1. Monitoring and evaluation group

The monitoring and evaluation group, chaired by ADR UK, will meet every six months and bring together all co-funders and grant holders from all themes plus a couple of key strategic and cross-cutting stakeholders. The three community catalysts will be required to submit a light-touch reporting template to allow the group to hold the awards to account on behalf of all funders (more details provided below under ‘measures of success’). The group will also evaluate the overall effectiveness of the community catalysts in meeting their objectives and support their success by:

  • addressing cross-cutting issues
  • maximising the potential overlap between themes
  • identifying future opportunities, for example, for wider strategic alignment with external activity

2. Community catalysts steering group

Each community catalyst will chair and administer a steering group that will comprise key strategic stakeholders in the sector identified by the co-funders (membership can be influenced by the grant holder too).

The steering group will provide access to senior practice, policy and third sector partners and ensure the community catalysts remain well-aligned with the policy and practice priorities and developments. It is also anticipated that the membership of the steering groups will include third sector stakeholders or advocacy groups to provide a mechanism for public engagement.

These steering groups will be convened two to four times per year and are a key vehicle for the community catalyst teams to consult on the development and delivery of their work plan throughout the award and to embed into the specific context of the theme.

Measures of success

Light touch reporting for all community catalysts will be via the monitoring and evaluation group set out in the ‘governance and reporting’ section. The following measures of success will be monitored during and at the end of the award and grant holders are expected to be able to provide evidence against their progress:

  • growth in the number of academic researchers who have the skills to use the data
  • durable training and capacity building tools and resources for future use evidence of, or interest, from stakeholders in research co-funding, research collaborations or funding opportunities
  • evidence of effective or appropriate collaboration with policy and third sector or public stakeholders

Other relevant key performance indicators that community catalysts will be periodically invited to contribute evidence to, as part of ADR UK’s reporting to its Programme Delivery Board may include:

  • case studies aligned to government or public service need
  • ADR UK-led (funded) stakeholder engagement events
  • academics attending training events organised (funded) by ADR UK to increase knowledge of how to analyse relevant data sources
  • evidence that ADR UK-funded research has influenced government or public policy
  • Whitehall departments, devolved governments, public service or policy organisations engaged with ADR UK research
  • evidence that ADR UK influenced policy has led to positive outcomes for UK citizens

Please read the main funding opportunity specification and the theme-specific annex to understand the full requirements of this funding opportunity.

Projects must start no later than 31 January 2024 and end by 31 March 2026.

How to apply

You must apply using the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system.

You can find advice on completing your application in:

We recommend you start your application early.

Your host organisation will also be able to provide advice and guidance.

Submitting your application

Before starting an application, you will need to log in or create an account in Je-S.

All investigators involved in the project need to be registered on Je-S.

Any investigators who do not have a Je-S account must register for one at least seven working days before the opportunity deadline.

When applying:

  1. Select ‘documents’, then ‘new document’.
  2. Select ‘call search’.
  3. To find the opportunity, search for: ADR England Research Community Catalysts.

This will populate:

  • council: ESRC
  • document type: Standard Proposal
  • scheme: Research Grant
  • call/type/mode: ADR England Research Community Catalysts

Once you have completed your application, make sure you ‘submit document’.

You can save completed details in Je-S at any time and return to continue your application later.


ERSC must receive your application by 6 June 2023 at 4:00pm UK time.

You will not be able to apply after this time. Please leave enough time for your proposal to pass through your organisation’s Je-S submission route before this date.

You should ensure you are aware of and follow any internal institutional deadlines that may be in place.


In addition to a completed proposal, your application must include the following attachments:

  • case for support (maximum of six sides of A4)
  • justification for resources (maximum of two sides of A4)
  • applicants’ CVs (maximum of two sides of A4 per applicant)
  • workplan (maximum of two sides of A4)

Optional attachments:

  • letters of support from key partners or stakeholders
  • other annexes (maximum six pages in total)

Attachments should be uploaded in PDF (rather than Microsoft Word) format, to reduce document corruption issues. With the exception of letters of support, attachments should be in font size 11 with 2cm margins (recommended font type is Arial or Garamond).

Case for support

This is the body of your proposal. It must not exceed six sides and must include details on:

  • summary of the proposed work: detailing how you plan to address each of the four objectives for this funding opportunity
  • commitment to, and a plan for collaboration and stakeholder engagement
  • understanding of the specific area of focus or theme and knowledge of relevant barriers and opportunities in the field, including any equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) considerations
  • previous relevant experiences with administrative data and large-scale quantitative methods or evaluation methods or both
  • management and coordination structures, including communication, engagement, event planning and project management support
  • knowledge exchange and impact plans

The case for support should be a self-contained description of the proposed work with relevant background and references and should not depend on additional information such as the inclusion of external links. The assessment panel are advised to base their assessment on the information contained within the application and are under no obligation to access such links (so they should not be used to provide critical information).

Note: please pay close attention to the six assessment criteria (see the ‘How we will assess your application’ section) and use the case for support to ensure that all elements are addressed in full, taking account of information provided elsewhere in your application.

Justification for resources

This is a two-side A4 statement justifying the resources required to undertake the research project. Where you do not provide an explanation for an item that requires justification, it will be cut from any grant made.

Proposals that include co-investigators from the UK business sector or from third sector organisations that engage in economic activity must ensure that the involvement of these organisations complies with state aid legislation.

Proposals that include co-investigators from third sector organisations that are deemed not to engage in economic activity must provide evidence of this status in the justification of resources.

Please refer to the Je-S helptext for further guidance.

Applicant CVs

A CV for each applicant and any other named research staff member or consultant must be included. CVs should include:

  • contact details
  • qualifications
  • relevant academic and professional posts held
  • a list of the most relevant and recent publications
  • a record of research funded by ESRC and other bodies


A detailed workplan should be included as attachment type ‘Other.’ A maximum of two sides of A4 can be used to highlight key milestones for the programme of work. This attachment must not be used to expand on the case for support.

Letters of support

Letters of support are strongly encouraged. They can be used to demonstrate evidence against the assessment criteria. For example, evidence of experiences with stakeholder engagement and collaboration, openness to perspective and ideas, EDI commitment.

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

All proposals submitted to this opportunity will be subject to standard eligibility checks. Once accepted, proposals will be sent to a panel of independent expert reviewers. If demand is high or there are conflicts of interest, additional reviewers may be approached. Applications will be reviewed and scored by at least two reviewers based on the six assessment criteria listed and further detailed in the main funding opportunity specification, in line with the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) principles of assessment and decision making when assessing your proposals.

Applications deemed of sufficient quality and value for money may be invited for interview. The panel will then produce a final ranked list of applications and make funding recommendations for each of the three themes for ratification by ESRC and the relevant co-funder or co-funders.

UKRI supports the San Francisco declaration on research assessment (DORA) and recognise the relationship between research assessment and research integrity.

Funding decisions are expected by late October 2023.

Assessment criteria

All applications will be assessed across the following six criteria:

1. Stakeholder engagement and collaboration

This includes the ability to:

  • successfully establish and develop a diverse community (policy, academia, practice and third sector public) around a common purpose
  • expand and bring in existing networks including from research, and beyond
  • play a strategic role in bringing together stakeholders across disciplinary and sector boundaries and achieve their buy-in

2. Effective communication and openness to perspectives

This includes:

  • experience in engaging with a wide range of stakeholders in accessible and meaningful ways including non-academic audiences
  • strong listening and communication skills including curiosity and openness to perspectives and ideas
  • ability to translate knowledge between different audiences including tailoring the approaches or outputs to encourage greater participation and engagement

3. Research knowledge and expertise

This includes:

  • demonstrable knowledge and research capability in the area of focus including experience with large-scale quantitative research, evaluation methods or both
  • evidence of experience in and strong ideas for developing the skills and capability for researchers
  • sufficient knowledge and understanding of relevant linked administrative data and its potential. Experience working successfully with relevant administrative datasets is desirable
  • appropriate and robust research ideas proposed under objective four (if applicable)

4. Management and coordination

This includes:

  • achievable proposed workplan
  • appropriate balance of expertise
  • sufficient skills and capacity to resource communication, engagement, event planning and project management support

5. Equality and diversity

A commitment to and understanding of the principles of equality, diversity and inclusion in the context of the topic and as an organisation.

6. Value for money

This includes:

  • an affordable proposal with well justified and realistic costs that will be spent on time

Contact details

Get help with developing your proposal

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.

Ask about this funding opportunity

ADR UK Strategic Hub


Include ‘ADR England Research Community Catalysts’ in the subject line.

We aim to respond within three to five working days.

Get help with applying through Je-S



01793 444164

Opening times

Je-S helpdesk opening times

Additional info

Applicant webinars

ADR UK will host an applicant webinar for each of the three themes in April 2023, which will include:

  • more information on the background to this funding opportunity
  • specific objectives of the relevant theme
  • the application process
  • an opportunity to ask questions to ADR UK, ESRC and our co-funders.

You can register for a place at each applicant webinar via Eventbrite:

The webinars will also be recorded for prospective applicants who are unable to attend the session. Please email to request a link.

Pilot: ADR UK funding panel membership: expressions of interest

All ESRC funding decisions are informed by independent experts. ADR UK is piloting a new way of recruiting our panel members and are inviting expressions of interest to join the assessment panel for this funding opportunity. We are looking for panellists with extensive experience in a theme relevant to this funding opportunity, as well as familiarity with relevant datasets.

If you are interested in forming part of the expert panel, please review the opportunity documents. We encourage suitable potential panellists to complete the expression of interest form by 31 March 2023.

ESRC will consider all expressions of interest received as part of this pilot for panel recruitment. Should your expertise match our requirements and you are considered a suitable panelist, we will be in touch with you during the month of April 2023. Please note that submission of an expression of interest does not guarantee a place on the panel and applicants are not eligible to be panellists.

Supporting documents

ADR England Research Community Catalysts: main funding opportunity specification

ADR England Research Community Catalysts: children at risk of poor outcomes annex

ADR England Research Community Catalysts: youth transitions annex

ADR England Research Community Catalysts: evaluation annex

ADR England Research Community Catalysts: Je-S applicant guidance

UK Research and Innovation equality impact assessment form (PDF, 141KB)

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