Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: AHRC Innovation Scholars secondments in design: second round

Apply for funding to develop your skills and exchange knowledge through the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Innovation Scholars Programme. This AHRC secondment opportunity is focused on design.

You can be at any career stage, but you must be able to undertake research at a postdoctoral level (or equivalent) and be employed in the UK. Either your employer or the hosting organisation must be a research organisation or an independent research organisation. The hosting organisation must be of a different type to your current employer.

The full economic cost of your project can be up to £200,000. We will fund 100% of eligible costs.

Projects must start between April and September 2025 and last between six and 36 months.

Who can apply

This funding opportunity will be running on the new UKRI Funding Service and each applicant will need to register for a profile first.

Before applying for funding, check the following:

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

For full details, visit Eligibility as an individual.

Who is eligible to apply

The seconding organisation (the organisation the secondee is employed at) must lead and submit the application.

The secondee

As a secondee, you must be:

  • a resident in the UK
  • employed by an organisation (seconding organisation) for the duration of the proposed secondment
  • of postdoctoral standing or have equivalent professional experience and be able to undertake research and innovation activities at a postdoctoral level.

There is no minimum period that you must have been employed for prior to applying for an Innovation Scholars secondment.

If your employment contract ends before the planned end date of your project, you should submit a letter of support including a commitment from your current employer that the contract would be extended should you be successful in receiving an AHRC award.

You are eligible if you are employed full-time or part-time, and you can apply for a full-time or part-time secondment.

If you have two jobs or a portfolio of jobs, you will need to specify from which employing organisation you are applying.

A doctoral qualification is not a requirement. However, you must have:

  • relevant experience within your field
  • a desire to proactively engage with design
  • the motivation to work within these AHRC disciplines by undertaking a secondment involving research and innovation in design

You can be at any career stage above doctoral level or have equivalent experience. AHRC Innovation Scholars secondment round one award holders are eligible to apply for a round two award and will be assessed in the same way as other candidates, in line with the UKRI principles of assessment and decision making.

This funding opportunity is broad in its scope and therefore open to candidates from a range of backgrounds, including practice-based research. You can come from any discipline or any sector of the economy, but the proposed secondment must fall within AHRC’s remit.

During the secondment, the secondee will continue to be employed by the seconding organisation.

If you are successful in the application process as the secondee, you must have a collaboration agreement signed by the hosting and seconding organisations. We may request a copy.

International applicants

Visa holders

If you hold a visa to work, that visa must allow you as the secondee to undertake the secondment in the UK for the proposed duration.

It is the responsibility of the secondee to check with their employer that they are eligible to undertake the activity in line with their visa category and conditions.

The sending and receiving organisations

Every application must be submitted as a partnership endeavour, involving both the secondee and a group of at least two organisations, one being the organisation that employs the proposed secondee and the other being the proposed host organisation. AHRC and UKRI will not be facilitating those connections for applicants.

All proposals must include design research collaboration between a research organisation or independent research organisation eligible to receive funding from AHRC, and a UK business, policy, or civil society organisation, that is, between academia and private, public or third sector.

For example, you can apply to be seconded from a business, third or public sector organisation into a university or other eligible research organisation, or vice versa.

Any organisation that is eligible to hold government funding for research and innovation through UKRI is eligible for this funding opportunity. For example, public bodies, charitable organisations, and businesses might become seconding or hosting organisations.  Please see the UKRI eligibility criteria.

Any business applying to be a seconding organisation and send a staff member to a host organisation must be a registered entity (for example, a limited company registered on Company House) because a sole trader from a non-limited company would not be eligible to be seconded. Similarly, a charitable organisation requesting funding must be an incorporated charity. The business must also have a presence in the UK and have a UK bank account. Multinational private sector organisations are eligible if they are businesses registered in the UK, with a UK bank account.

Given the aim to support porosity between academia and non-academic sectors (public, private or third sector), the funding opportunity will not support secondments from a higher education institution to another higher education institution, even if two different academic disciplines are involved.

At least one of the organisations involved in the secondment must undertake design research and innovation as part of their activities. Design does not have to be its sole focus or main focus, but the organisation must have strong capabilities in its sub-disciplines, to ensure that secondees have a supportive environment and networking and peer learning opportunities.

The application should be submitted by the seconding organisation, which should be the secondee’s current employer.

Each organisation submitting the secondment application to AHRC must:

  • have a demonstrable, current, and ongoing capability to undertake high quality research and innovation activity. In other words, be research and innovation active
  • support a secondee to plan and deliver their secondment
  • lead the application and submit it using the Funding Service
  • hold a UK bank account and be eligible for UKRI funding

Only the seconding organisation will be eligible to receive funds from the award.

Applications must include one or more partner host institution based in the UK. For applications submitted by an academic organisation this should be a non-academic organisation (such as a UK private, public or third sector) and for applications submitted by a non-academic organisation this should be an academic partner (for example, a university or other eligible research organisation).

Applicants may also be seconded to a consortium of partner hosts provided they are of a different type to the sending organisation. There is no maximum number of hosts, however, you must have a collaboration agreement in place before the funding is awarded. AHRC might request a copy of your agreement. When considering the format of such an agreement and process, please refer to the Lambert toolkit recommended by the government.

Every partner organisation must justify why they are part of the proposal in their letter of support, and the lead applicant must make a case in their application to support the involvement of each of the hosts. We have allowed multiple hosts to not restrict the creativity of the projects and to allow a diverse range of people to apply.

Research organisations, universities and academic institutions undertaking non-economic activity as part of this opportunity can claim up to 100% of the total eligible project costs.

We encourage the host organisations to grant the secondees access to all relevant facilities and systems for the duration of their secondments.

If the applicant is not a research organisation or an independent research organisation, the subsidy control regime which ensures compliance with UK international trade commitments might apply. This will be based on the type of research or innovation undertaken and the size of business or commercial entity involved in the application. Please see relevant information:

We are unable to award grant funding to organisations meeting the condition known as undertakings in difficulty.

If you are uncertain if subsidy control, state aid guidance or the undertakings in difficulty apply to your secondment application, contact us for advice.


You cannot resubmit a previous UKRI application to this funding opportunity unless it has been substantially updated following assessment.

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 AHRC’s equality, diversity and inclusion policy.

What we're looking for

This funding opportunity is part of UKRI’s Innovation Scholars Programme. It is a people-focused opportunity, and the main objectives of the programme are to increase porosity between academia and other sectors.

For this AHRC opportunity, the aim is to enhance the skills and careers of individuals in design research and innovation. This will be achieved through funding individual secondments, with networking events for the secondees. It is a requirement for each secondee to work on a tailor-made research and innovation project or set of activities. Therefore, this opportunity is not suitable for projects which are an income-generating standard service provision or where a secondee covers standard duties of one of the host organisation’s staff members.

You must have a desire to proactively engage with design and the motivation to work within it. Interdisciplinary secondment proposals as well as practice-based ones will be welcomed.

Your secondment is expected to:

  • boost your skills, knowledge, networking opportunities and therefore career development
  • intensify knowledge exchange and create porosity between different sectors, resulting in innovative outputs
  • bring benefits to your host organisation
  • add value to the design sector and the UK economy

Projects can last between six months and 36 months and can be full or part-time, or hybrid (a combination of part-time and full-time).

If your secondment application is successful, during your secondment, you must work on a research and innovation activity in areas of design which fall primarily within AHRC’s remit. Your project must produce outcomes of relevance to those disciplines, for example, by using design approaches to address challenges within the secondment (host) environment.

Test for public funding

You must clearly articulate the benefits on both sides of the secondment, yours as the secondee and the organisation you apply to be seconded into.

If the project could be achieved by paying for a service or by consultancy or a contract, it may fail the test for public funding.


The secondment could cover any sub-discipline, interest or topic provided it is within AHRC’s design remit.

Design is a discipline that applies user, customer, citizen or community-centred approaches to creativity and invention to ensure more successful outcomes.  These may include the built environment, physical products, digital or other services, and systems that underpin how we live. Success in this context may mean economic, social or environmental, or a combination of all three.


We include the following sub-disciplines within disciplines of design:

  • architecture history, theory and practice
  • design history, theory and practice
  • digital art and design
  • product design

Potential research areas

Potential research areas (aligned to contemporary challenges) which applicants and their organisations could consider, but are not limited to, are:

  • design and the built environment
  • design and technology, including artificial intelligence
  • design and commercialisation
  • design for wellbeing, including post-COVID-19 recovery

Interdisciplinarity and transdisciplinary

We recognise that design is an interdisciplinary field and so welcome interdisciplinary applications combining the arts and humanities with other research fields and approaches, but your proposal must be primarily arts and humanities, including areas within AHRC’s remit.

Practice-based secondment proposals are also welcome.

Please note that AHRC’s discipline of design may overlap with other Research Councils, for example the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

If you would like to check that your application falls within AHRC’s remit, submit a remit query before applying for an Innovation Scholars secondment. Please use the remit query form.


Your secondment proposal must address the objectives of this funding opportunity and demonstrate how it will achieve the success measures listed below. Please refer to these in your application.

Objective 1: Create porosity between sectors

Create porosity between sectors by enabling career mobility, facilitated through bi-directional movement of people between sectors. This will create opportunities for the secondee and the hosting organisations.

The secondment involves:

  • an organisation undertaking design research or innovation as either a seconding organisation (applicant or lead) or a hosting organisation (partner)
  • academic and non-higher education institution staff helping an individual during a secondment focused on research or innovation

The secondee is supported to undertake research and innovation and to actively engage in the new environment at the hosting organisation.

Objective 2: Boost the skills, knowledge, networking opportunities and therefore career development of secondees

The secondee:

  • enhances their skills and knowledge or develops new skills and knowledge
  • explores potential new career paths and gains experience to develop their career
  • participates in networking or cohort events organised by AHRC and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and makes connections to other secondees, sharing ideas and creating a community of scholars and innovators working in design

Objective 3: Intensify knowledge exchange between different sectors, resulting in innovative outputs

The secondee works on a project or activities that contribute towards solving real-world challenges within the host organisation environment.

The secondment results in at least one innovative output. This could be a:

  • process
  • service
  • product
  • training resource
  • research paper
  • public engagement event

The innovative aspect should be evidenced by applicants in reporting.

Objective 4: Add value to the design sector and the UK economy

The secondment:

  • benefits design as a research field
  • brings wider benefits or impact

Wider benefits might be social, cultural, environmental or economic. For example, the secondment results in:

  • increased productivity
  • improved ways of working
  • enhanced public engagement with research
  • contributed efforts towards a greener economy
  • added value by supporting levelling up activity across the UK or post-pandemic recovery of creative industries through innovative research in design

The secondee gains interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary skills, academic or professional, allowing for permeability between disciplines as well as sectors.

For more information on the background of this funding opportunity, go to the Additional information section.


The duration of this award is six to 36 months. Projects must start between April and September 2025.


This opportunity is designed to immerse you in your host environment.

While some projects may have an element that is undertaken remotely, we expect projects to take place in a host environment location, for example, an office, studio, an archaeological site or museum. You should justify the work and the proposed way of working for the secondment.

In exceptional circumstances, AHRC may allow you to spend part of your secondment at your seconding organisation (your employer), but your application would have to highlight the benefits of such an arrangement. If you are spending some of the secondment in the same environment you currently work in, you would need to clearly explain how you meet the ‘increasing porosity’ and ‘working across sectors’ objectives of this funding opportunity.

Funding available

The full economic cost (FEC) of your project can be up to £200,00 per person.

During the secondment, the secondee will continue to be employed by the seconding organisation.

What we will fund

We will only fund the secondee’s:

  • direct, replacement salary costs (buying out time of a current employee for the purpose of the secondment)
  • national insurance
  • superannuation (not including bonuses or awards)
  • travel and subsistence costs related to the secondment, including accommodation when staying away from home during short periods

We will fund 100% of the above costs.

No other costs can be claimed as part of the funding opportunity. The seconding organisation and the hosting organisation are responsible for all other costs, as applicable.

Please note that apart from staff and travel and subsistence, the application form will contain fund headings applicable to other UKRI opportunities and you should leave these boxes blank.

Supporting skills and talent

This opportunity is focused on supporting individuals to develop their skills, talent and careers. We encourage you to follow the principles of the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers and the Technician Commitment.

International collaboration

If your application includes international project partners or collaborators, visit Trusted Research for more information on effective international collaboration.

Find out about getting funding for international collaboration.

How to apply

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

Only the lead organisation, that is the organisation employing the candidate for a secondee, can submit an application to UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

If you have not used the Funding Service before you will need to create an account. Please consider that registration can take up to 15 working days. You cannot apply as lead applicant if your organisation is not registered.

If the lead organisation, that is the organisation employing the candidate for a secondee, is not listed as an eligible organisation on our website, please email with the organisation’s name and address (including a confirmation that it is based in the UK), and the opportunity name ‘AHRC Innovation Scholars’ in the email title to register.

Once your account on the Funding Service has been created, you must complete the financial information spreadsheet available to download under ‘Additional Information’ on the UKRI funding finder opportunity page and email it to

You must populate and return it at your earliest convenience to avoid delays in processing your application. The information in the spreadsheet is only required from applicant organisations which are not already on the UKRI list of eligible organisations, for example some private and third sector organisations.

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

To apply:

  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
  3. 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 Funding Service. All questions and assessment criteria are listed in the ‘How to apply’ section on this funding finder page.
  4. Allow enough time to check your application in ‘read-only’ view.
  5. If you work at a university, send the completed application to your research office for checking. They will return it to you if it needs editing.
  6. Your research office will submit the completed and checked application to UKRI.
  7. If you apply from an organisation that doesn’t have a research office, you must submit the application yourself.

Please contact us for advice if needed.

Watch our research office webinars about the new Funding Service.


We must receive your application by 4.00pm UK time on 30 April 2024.

You will not be able to apply after this time.

Make sure you are aware of and follow any internal institutional deadlines.

Personal data

Processing personal data

AHRC, as part of UKRI, will need to collect some personal information to manage your 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

AHRC, as part of UKRI, will publish the outcomes of this funding opportunity on the AHRC panel outcomes and attendance list.

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:

  • context
  • the challenge the project addresses
  • aims and objectives
  • potential applications and benefits

Core team

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

  • project lead (PL)

Only list one individual as project lead.

Find out more about UKRI’s new grant roles.

Core questions


Word count: 500

What are you hoping to achieve with your proposed work?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Explain how your proposed work:

  • 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 of its focus
  • is timely given current trends, context, and needs
  • impacts world-leading research, society, the economy, or the environment
  • will increase porosity between sectors and intensify knowledge exchange

Within the Vision section we also expect you to:

  • list the objectives of your secondment, and associated success measures
  • detail at least one potential innovative output expected from the secondment. This output could be a new process, service, product, training resource, publication, or a public engagement activity
  • identify the potential direct or indirect benefits to the host organisation
  • identify how your secondment will add value to the design sector and wider society, for example through improved ways of working, enhanced public engagement with research, supporting levelling up activity


Word count: 2,500

How are you going to deliver your proposed work?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Explain how your approach:

  • is effective and appropriate to achieve your objectives
  • is feasible, and comprehensively identifies any risks to delivery and how you will manage them
  • uses a clear and transparent methodology (if applicable)
  • summarises the previous work and describes how you will build on and progress this work (if applicable)
  • will maximise translation of outputs into outcomes and impacts
  • demonstrates how your research environment will contribute to the success of the work (in terms of place, location, and relevance to the project)

Within the Approach section we also expect you to:

  • demonstrate that both your host organisation and your employing organisation will protect your time commitment to the secondment
  • demonstrate access to the appropriate expertise, support, services, facilities, infrastructure, or equipment at the host organisation to deliver the proposal
  • provide a project schedule including milestones and timelines in the form of a Gantt chart or similar

In this section you can include embedded images. Follow the guidance and principles below.

You must:

  • 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)

Files must be:

  • in JPEG, JPG, JPE, JFI, JIF, JFIF, PNG, GIF, BMP or WEBP format
  • smaller than 8MB

Host’s organisation suitability

Provide details of support from your host organisation.

Provide, as an attachment, a two-page statement of support from your host organisation and type ‘attachment supplied’ into the text box when submitting the file.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

The two-page statement of support from your host organisation should demonstrate:

  • their suitability as a host for your proposed project
  • their commitment to helping you realise your full potential during the secondment
  • the feasibility of the research questions taking into consideration the context of the organisations involved or the broader sector or community, or both
  • what match funding and in-kind or direct support will be provided to support your secondment activity

The assessment panel will be looking for a strong statement of commitment from your host organisation.

Any cash or in-kind contributions from the seconding or hosting organisations must be detailed in the statement of support. These could include:

  • the costs incurred by the hosting organisation in hosting the secondee, including any workplace training which may be required
  • any project and activity costs including equipment and consumables
  • any other costs to the seconding organisation including indirect and overhead costs
  • any costs associated with the seconding organisation’s commitment to the secondee as an employee, for example mentoring

We encourage the host organisations to grant the secondees access to all relevant facilities and systems for the duration of their secondments.

Career progression

Word count: 1,000

Why is the proposed work, the environment it will be conducted in and the support provided by the host organisation the right way to develop your career?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

That you have identified:

  • career progression goals appropriate to the secondment opportunity
  • necessary support to enable you to transition, change and grow as an independent leader or researcher and achieve your stated career progression goals, including mentoring where appropriate
  • how the proposed work will provide a feasible and appropriate trajectory for you to acquire additional skills, like leadership, communication and management skills

Within the ‘Career progression’ section, we also:

  • expect you to provide a detailed and comprehensive plan of training and development to support your career advancement
  • do not require you to be explicit about a future career change being the planned outcome of your secondment. If the secondment enables you to make a career move in the future, UKRI and AHRC would regard that as an impact. For example, a project focused on enhancing an academic secondee’s knowledge of innovation in a business environment may result in a de-risking of the business subsequently employing that secondee

Applicant capability to deliver

Word count: 1,500

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

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Evidence of how you have:

  • the relevant experience (appropriate to career stage) to make best use of the benefits presented by this opportunity to develop your career
  • the right balance of skills and aptitude to deliver the proposed work, or feasible plans to develop these
  • contributed to developing a positive research environment in a wider community

The word count 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. You should complete this section as a narrative. Do not format it like a CV.

Use the Résumé for Research and Innovation (R4RI) format to showcase the range of relevant skills you have and how this will help to deliver the proposed work. You can include specific achievements and choose past contributions that best evidence your ability to deliver the proposed work.

Complete this section using the following R4RI module headings. You should use each heading once, see the UKRI guidance on R4RI. You should consider how to balance your answer, and emphasise where appropriate the key skills you bring:

  • 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

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 any factors that provide context for the rest of your R4RI (for example, details of career breaks if you wish to disclose them) and are relevant to your application.

You should complete this section as a narrative. Do not format it like a CV.

In this section you can include embedded images. Follow the guidance and principles below.

You must:

  • 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)

Files must be:

  • in JPEG, JPG, JPE, JFI, JIF, JFIF, PNG, GIF, BMP or WEBP format
  • smaller than 8MB

Resources and cost justification

Word count: 1,000

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

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Justify the application’s resources, in particular:

  • project staff, that is your own replacement salary costs to cover the time you will spend in the hosting organisation or undertaking activities required within the secondment (salary, national insurance, tax and any pension costs)
  • significant travel for field work or collaboration, regular travel between collaborating organisations, travel to conferences and other relevant events

Please only include costs under the headings ‘Staff costs’ and ‘Travel and Subsistence’.

No other costs should be added to your application.

Assessors are not looking for detailed costs or a line-by-line breakdown of all project resources. Overall, they want to be assured that costs:

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

Ethics and responsible research and innovation (RRI)

Word count: 500

What are the ethical or RRI implications and issues relating to the proposed work, or both? 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

If you are collecting or using data, identify:

  • any legal and ethical considerations of collecting, releasing or storing the data including consent, confidentiality, anonymisation, security and other ethical considerations and, in particular, strategies to not preclude further reuse of data
  • formal information standards with which your study will comply

In this section you can include embedded images. Follow the guidance and principles below.

You must:

  • 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)

Files must be:

  • in JPEG, JPG, JPE, JFI, JIF, JFIF, PNG, GIF, BMP or WEBP format
  • smaller than 8MB

Applications from non-eligible organisations

Word count: 10

If you are from a non-eligible organisation please confirm you have emailed the completed financial information spreadsheet to AHRC.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

If your organisation is on the UKRI list of eligible organisations, enter ‘N/A’ within the service.

If your organisation is not on the UKRI list of eligible organisations,  please complete the financial information spreadsheet available to download under ‘Additional Information’ on the UKRI Funding Finder opportunity page and email it to before submitting your application. Please put ‘Innovation Scholars in design’ in the email title. Once this action is completed, enter ‘email sent’ into the text box.

Note that the data provided in the financial information spreadsheet does not form part of the assessment process. The information in the spreadsheet is only required from applicant organisations which are not already on the UKRI list of eligible organisations, for example some private and third sector organisations, so UKRI can undertake financial checks. If you have not received the template and are expecting to have to complete it, please email adding ‘Innovation Scholars financial information spreadsheet’ in the title of your email.

Project partners

Word count: 2,000

Provide details of any project partners’ contributions, and letters or emails of support from each named partner (if applicable).

What the assessors are looking for in your response

If you have a host organisation but do not have any project partners, you will be able to indicate this in the Funding Service: simply add ‘N/A’ into the text box, mark this section as complete and move to the next section.

Firstly, download and complete the Project partner contributions template (DOCX, 52KB). Then copy and paste the table within it into the text box.

Secondly, provide a letter or email of support from each partner. Each letter or email you provide should:

  • confirm the partner’s commitment to the project
  • clearly explain the value, relevance, and possible benefits of the work to them
  • describe any additional value that they bring to the project

Save letters or emails of support from each partner in a single PDF no bigger than 8MB.

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

For the file name, use the unique funding service number the system gives you when you create an application, followed by the words ‘Project partner’.

If the attachment does not meet these requirements, the application will be rejected.

The Funding Service will provide document upload details when you apply.

Ensure you have prior agreement from project partners so that, if you are offered funding, they will support your project as indicated in the contributions template.

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

Eligibility as an organisation.

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

We will take the following steps to assess applications.

Application remit checks

We will check if applications:

  • include all the required attachments
  • are within the remit of AHRC
  • are a fit to the scope of the funding opportunity

If your application does not include a sufficient arts and humanities component to be considered within our remit or does not fit our eligibility criteria, it will be immediately rejected. It will not be sent for assessment. No feedback will be provided at this stage.

This funding opportunity has been created to fund activity that would not be possible through other UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) or AHRC mechanisms. If we determine that a project would be better supported through another scheme, the application will be rejected.

Assessment panel

The panel will be drawn from AHRC’s Peer Review College.

If specific expertise beyond the college membership is required, additional experts will be recruited to join the assessment panel.

At the panel stage, the innovation scholars panel assessment criteria and grading scores will be used to assess all applications.

Assessment criteria

The criteria we will assess your application against are:

  • vision of the project
  • approach to the project
  • host organisation’s suitability
  • career progression
  • capability of the applicant to successfully deliver the project
  • resources and costs requested to do the project
  • ethical and responsible research and innovation considerations of the project

You must address all of these criteria in your application. They will all have an equal weight in the assessment process.

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

Funding recommendations

The panel will make funding recommendations to AHRC through a ranked list of the proposals.

We will use this list to fund the projects that have been assessed as best meeting the aims of the funding opportunity within the available budget.

You should hear from us within four to six weeks after the panel meeting. We will contact both successful and unsuccessful applicants.

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.

Contact details

Get help with your application

For help on costings and writing your application, contact your research office. Allow enough time for your organisation’s submission process.

Ask about this funding opportunity


We aim to respond to emails within two working days but in exceptional circumstances this may take longer.

Phone: 01793 547490

Our phone lines are open:

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

Sensitive information

If you or a core team member need to tell us something you wish to remain confidential, email the Funding Service helpdesk on

Include in the subject line: [the funding opportunity title; 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
  • the application is an invited resubmission

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

Additional info


This is the second round of AHRC’s funding opportunity for secondments in design as part of the UKRI Innovation Scholars Programme.

Webinar for potential applicants

We will hold two free webinars on 11 October 2023 at 1:30pm and on 14 February 2024 at 1:30pm UK time. Their content will be the same and will provide more information about the funding opportunity, as well as a chance to ask questions.

Register for the webinar on 14 February 2023.

Watch the 11 October webinar recording on YouTube.

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.

Supporting documents

Equality impact assessment (PDF, 276KB)
Finance form (XLSX, 41KB)


  • 23 October 2023
    11 October webinar recording added under 'Additional info' section.

This is the website for UKRI: our seven research councils, Research England and Innovate UK. Let us know if you have feedback or would like to help improve our online products and services.