Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Pre-announcement: AHRC responsive mode: Curiosity Award

Flexible awards to fund fundamental research that leads to new research agendas, networking activity and idea generation, which enables the development of further research opportunities and new research agendas.

Awards are available for projects up to £100,000 (full economic cost) and AHRC will fund 80% of this. Funding is available for projects up to five years in duration.

This scheme will launch as consecutive rounds with defined opening and closing dates. Applications may be submitted at any time while a round is open.

This is a pre-announcement for round 1 and information is subject to change.

Who can apply

Before applying for funding, check the following:

UKRI is introducing new role types for opportunities being run on the new Funding Service from 22 May 2023. For full details please visit Eligibility as an individual.

Who is eligible to apply

The principal investigator and any co investigators must be employed and supported by an eligible organisation for at least the duration of the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) support; there is no requirement for a contract be in place at the point of application submission. There is no requirement for a permanent employment contract to apply for funding.

You must have the appropriate skills to lead the project in line with UKRI’s terms & conditions. There are no specific qualification requirements, and the individual does not necessarily need a qualification such as a PhD. During your project, you must be primarily based and permitted to work in the UK.

You do not need to hold an academic research or teaching post to apply; applications are welcomed from investigators working as archivists, curators, librarians, technicians, practitioners, etc.

International applicants

The awards support the inclusion of international co-investigators as per AHRC’s standard policy stated in section 1 of the AHRC research funding guide.

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


Curiosity awards support early-stage ambitious and novel fundamental research which has the potential to act as a springboard towards new and exciting research agendas.

The scheme celebrates the full diversity of the arts and humanities. It is flexible, and applications are welcomed from teams, networks and solo researchers.

Projects can be single discipline, interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary. The majority of the disciplinary focus of the project must fall within the AHRC’s subject remit; see section 7 of the AHRC Research Funding Guide for our remit coverage. Practice-based and practice-led research is supported by this scheme.

Partnerships and collaboration are supported. Where partnerships are already established, you should outline how this funding supports novelty in your collaboration. Applications should articulate how collaborative activity will be conducted, considering good practice in creating equitable partnerships. Further guidance is available in the UKRI Good research resource hub.


The duration of these awards is up to five years.

The project start date must be at least six months from the point of the application submission to AHRC. The earliest permissible start date is 1 March 2024.

Funding available

The full economic cost of your project can be up to £100,000. AHRC will fund 80% of the full economic cost.

What we will fund

The scheme is intentionally flexible. An indicative list of examples of the activities we will fund are provided below. You are encouraged to request and justify costs for activities that best meet the aims of your project. This may include:

  • idea generation
  • seed corn funding
  • high risk / high potential concepts
  • novel research
  • networking activity
  • partnership building
  • knowledge exchange
  • public engagement
  • international collaboration
  • scoping and piloting, for example, early-stage proof of concept for ideas or change of direction
  • pivots in research focus at any career stage
  • mentoring for members of the research team

NB: this is not a prescriptive or exhaustive list.

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.

International collaboration

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

How to apply

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

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

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

To apply:

  1. Select ‘Start application’ near the beginning of this page.
  2. Confirm you are the project lead.
  3. Sign in or create a 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
  4. Answer questions directly in the text boxes. You can save your answers and come back to them or work offline and return to copy and paste your answers. All questions and assessment criteria are listed in the ‘How to apply’ section on this Funding finder page.
  5. 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.

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

Core application questions

The application process across UKRI councils is being streamlined by simplifying and standardising the questions we ask you to explain your ideas. You will be asked to provide information about:

  • the vision of the project
  • the approach to the project
  • the capability of the applicant or applicants and the project team to deliver the project
  • the resources requested to do the project
  • the ethical and responsible research and innovation considerations of the project

Further details of the application questions and what assessors are looking for can be found on the UKRI website: how applicants use the UKRI Funding Service.

Further application form guidance will be published in July 2023.


During the initial phases of the Funding Service, the system will continue to develop in response to internal and external user needs. As an interim measure we will launch AHRC responsive mode funding opportunities as consecutive rounds with defined closing dates. Opening in rounds means we will be able to accommodate system developments and assess applications in a batch submitted under the same conditions.

Applications may be submitted at any time while a round is open; you do not need to wait until the closing date. AHRC will begin to process applications as soon as we receive them, so if an application is submitted early in a round, we may be able to provide you with an earlier decision.

The first round of the Curiosity Awards scheme on the Funding Service will open on 17 July 2023 at 9:00am UK time. The closing date for the first round via the Funding Service will be 19 October 2023 at 4:00pm UK time.

The second round will open at the end of October; details of the dates will be published in July.

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

The proposed start date of your project must be at least six months after the date of your proposal submission.

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.

If your application is successful, some personal information will be published via the UKRI Gateway to Research.

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

We will assess your proposal using the following process.

Peer review

There is no written peer review stage for the Curiosity awards scheme.


Proposals will be assessed by an expert panel against the criteria and each will be graded and ranked alongside other applications after which the panel will make a funding recommendation.

Find out more about AHRC’s assessment process.


We aim to complete the assessment process within five months of receiving your application.


Written feedback will not be provided on individual applications. AHRC may publish separate collated panel feedback, ensuring that individual applicants or their applications cannot be identified.

Principles of assessment

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

Find out about the UKRI Principles of Assessment and Decision Making.

Assessment criteria

Your application will be assessed against criteria that directly relate to the core application questions listed in the ‘How to apply’ section. The assessment criteria for this funding opportunity will be published in July 2023.

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 2 working days.

Phone: 01793 547490

Our phone lines are open:

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

Additional info

Attend a webinar

The launch of the Curiosity and Catalyst Awards schemes is supported by a webinar (two dates available) for prospective applicants and professional research support staff that will present an overview of the schemes, followed by an opportunity to ask questions. The webinars will be recorded, and a copy will be published on this page.

Webinar one: 5 July 2023 at 1pm to 2pm

Register for the webinar on 5 July.

Webinar two : 8 September 2023 at 10:30am to 11:30am

Register for the webinar on 8 September.

Once registered, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about how to join the webinar via Zoom.

Please note that similar webinars are also being provided in July and September to:

  • members of the AHRC Peer Review College (PRC), see the PRC newsletter for details
  • members of the Association of Research Managers and Administrators (ARMA), see ARMA correspondence from ARMA for details

Supporting documents

Information about the UKRI Funding Service

AHRC Research Funding Guide

AHRC policies and standards

UKRI policies and standards

Good research resource hub


  • 7 June 2023
    Webinar details and registration links have been added. See 'Additional info' section.

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