Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Build a network to promote academic engagement with Catapults

Apply for funding to build a network that will:

  • encourage engagement between academia and the Catapult centres
  • deliver the Researchers in Residence (RiR) awards.

Your network will need to:

  • promote mobility
  • support knowledge exchange activities.

You must:

  • be a UK resident
  • be based at an eligible research organisation
  • have experience of running large centres or networks.

One network will be funded by this opportunity. The full economic cost of your network can be up to £2.35 million. We will provide:

  • up to £500,000 to fund the network management (at 80% of the full economic cost)
  • £1.85 million for the funding of RiR awards (at 100% of the full economic cost).
    We will fund your network for four years.

Update, 22 October 2021: we’ve updated the ‘What we’re looking for’ guidance to clarify:

  • the network will administer the RiR award funding on UKRI’s behalf
  • one network will be funded, covering all three thematic areas.

Who can apply

We encourage submissions from cross-UKRI multidisciplinary academic-led teams with the necessary knowledge exchange experience and proven skills to lead and manage the Network Plus. Experience of successfully running large networks or centres is essential.

The multidisciplinary team should also include appropriate expertise in:

  • knowledge exchange or knowledge transfer
  • brokerage and inclusive community building
  • non-academic programme or project management, including experience of administering funds and light touch peer review
  • experience delivering impact from research.

The principal investigator of the proposal should have:

  • strong experience of leading knowledge exchange activities
  • a collaborative mindset
  • excellent research and impact leadership and management abilities.

A track record of working with the Catapults is also desirable. Leading the network, they will be expected to work practically to encourage the various stakeholders to share their knowledge and work together.

Standard UKRI eligibility rules apply.

Research grants are open to:

  • UK higher education institutions
  • research council institutes
  • UKRI-approved independent research organisations
  • eligible public sector research establishments
  • NHS bodies with research capacity.

Read the guidance on institutional eligibility.

You can apply if you are resident in the UK and meet at least one of the bullets below:

  • are employed at the submitting research organisation at a level equivalent to lecturer or above
  • hold a fixed-term contract that extends beyond the duration of the proposed project, and the host research organisation is prepared to give you all the support normal for a permanent employee
  • hold a UKRI or Royal Society fellowship aimed at later career stages
  • hold fellowships under other schemes (please contact us to check eligibility, which is considered on a case-by-case basis).

The team

The principal investigator and co-investigator team should exhibit the following skills and capability:

  • cross-UKRI multidisciplinary backgrounds or a track record that displays a strong commitment to interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral approaches to research
  • experience of successfully running large networks or centres
  • knowledge exchange or knowledge transfer expertise
  • brokerage and inclusive community building expertise
    a track record of engaging collaboratively with industry and academic partners and strong existing networks within the thematic areas is desirable
  • non-academic programme or project management, including experience of administering funds and light touch peer review
  • experience delivering impact from research
  • an understanding of the needs and demands of the thematic areas, including a clear vision of how they will use the network to drive collaboration within the thematic areas
  • a commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion and the ability to ensure diversity in those who engage with both the development and delivery of the Network Plus
  • familiarity with UKRI’s mission, and with the broader funding and policy landscape in the UK.

EPSRC are delivering this funding on behalf of UKRI, other councils were involved in the development of the opportunity and will be involved in the assessment and monitoring.

The background of the applicant team and activities of the network should therefore span the UKRI remit.

Submissions to this opportunity will count towards the EPSRC Repeatedly Unsuccessful Applicants Policy.

What we're looking for

Building on from the successful pilot of the Researchers in Residence (RiR) scheme (see Connected Places and Digital Catapult websites for examples of outcomes), UKRI are looking to continue support of academic-Catapult interaction through the awarding of a single Network Plus grant, of initial four year duration.

This Network Plus will provide bridge funding to both stimulate and encourage two-way engagement between academia and the Catapult centres, including delivery of the Researcher in Residence awards.


The Network Plus will be expected to:

  • stimulate and enable Catapult-academic interactions across UKRI remit and Catapult sectors
  • provide administration of UKRI’s flagship ‘Researchers in Residence’ (RiR) secondment mechanism and delivery of core ring fenced funding
  • support collaborative working across the career stages, especially at earlier career stages, to broker relationships with key stakeholders (particularly engaging closely with the Catapult network)
  • enhance knowledge exchange and academic-industry co-creation and promote mobility between academia and the Catapult centres
  • pilot new and risky ideas and approaches to support knowledge exchange with a focus on the thematic areas
  • shape understanding of best practice in research and innovation in the thematic areas.

The majority of the allocated funding must be dedicated to support of the flagship RiR scheme and mobility and knowledge exchange activities designed to stimulate academic-Catapult engagement.

The Researchers in Residence awards, to be administered by the Network Plus

The Researchers in Residence (RiR) awards are designed to enable secondments for academic staff to spend time working in Catapult centres.

For more information on outputs of the pilot RiR scheme, visit Connected Places and Digital Catapult.

It will be the responsibility of the Network Plus to deliver flexible funding to enable academic-Catapult interaction, and to build communities around the identified thematic areas, engaging individuals at all career stages, especially at earlier career stages.

The RiR projects initiated should have a cross or multi-sector, cross-council remit and multidisciplinary spread. The initial ring-fenced UKRI funding is to cover RiR awards which will build on from the framework implemented for the pilot RiR awards:

  • up to £50,000 awards at 100% full economic cost
  • flexible award duration of one to four years.
  • eligibility based on UKRI principal investigator eligibility

RiR award covers only salary costs for the visit of each RiR, travel and subsistence for visits, and any consumables used at the Catapult.

Any additional funding secured by the Network Plus would have flexibility to go outside the above framework.

RiR award themes

Each Researcher in Residence award funded by the network will have to align to at least one of the following three thematic areas:

  • ‘net zero’ carbon emissions
  • healthcare and wellbeing
  • resilience.

Overall, the activities of the Network Plus, including the portfolio of RiR awards administered by the network, should cover all three themes.

Net zero

To meet the government’s target of net zero by 2050 will require transformation across many areas, through:

  • advances in technologies
  • new approaches to accelerate their deployment
  • introduction of new service and business models
  • enhanced market and consumer focus
  • new policy and regulations to encourage transformation.

The combined capabilities of the Catapults across multiple sectors creates a unique opportunity to enable a ‘whole systems approach’ to energy generation, management, distribution and use to help the UK achieve its clean growth ambitions. As well as driving development of innovative capabilities, the Catapult network’s work recognises a decarbonisation strategy that will depend on:

  • geography
  • building types
  • energy infrastructure
  • energy demand
  • resources
  • urban growth plans.

Healthcare and wellbeing

Early diagnosis and intervention, advanced personalised therapies and the integration of digital technologies are key enablers of cost-effective healthcare and wellbeing to support a growing and ageing population.

The Catapult network is energising healthcare and wellbeing through breakthrough capabilities, increasing the flow of innovative medicines, and seeks to do more in diagnostics and digital therapeutics products. Catapults also work strategically with the UK health, wellbeing, social care and regulatory systems to channel UK innovators into a supply chain of new approaches, capabilities and models that can help manage costs and optimise outcomes.


Within an increasingly interconnected, complex and rapidly changing world, resilience is a measure of robustness to environmental, political, societal and technical impacts. A high level of resilience affords a nation with ‘freedom of independent action’ and increased security against these challenges, which has been highlighted by recent events and current affairs.

Increasing national and global resilience is both necessary and offers tremendous opportunities to capitalise on changing global conditions. The combination of expertise in UK academia and the Catapult network can be used to drive the UK towards the required advances to ensure a secure, resilient future.

Through this opportunity, we are looking to support a Network Plus which will enable researchers to exploit their research outcomes and develop the beginning of the pipeline through to impact in emergent and rapidly developing new science areas, ultimately decreasing the timescales between discovery research and delivery of economic impact and social prosperity.

Funding available

A single Network Plus will be supported, with an award value of £2.35 million for a duration of four years. Of this fund, up to £500,000 (at 80% full economic cost, funded as directly incurred and directly allocated costs) is allocated for network management and coordination and £1.85 million (at 100% full economic cost, funded as exceptions) for the RiR awards. Any deviation from these ratios must be fully justified.

Funding requested under the directly allocated cost heading may include investigators’ salaries. The principal investigator and co-investigators can request funds to cover their salary costs for the time spent on setting up and leading the Network Plus.

Funding requested under the ‘directly incurred’ cost heading may include:

  • people mobility and knowledge exchange
  • administrative support
  • organisation of activities
  • other eligible costs.

People mobility and knowledge exchange

The majority of funds should be used to facilitate two-way secondments to stimulate academic-Catapult interactions. The scope of these secondments could cover:

  • accelerating impact from UKRI investments, for example, supporting the:
    • exploration of commercial opportunities deriving from UKRI funded research
    • development of new products, services and processes through the co-creation of new ideas
    • translation of research outputs (for example, data and models) to increase the effectiveness of Catapults, public services and policy, or enhancing quality of life and health
  • providing or generating information based on previous UKRI investments to support Catapult capabilities, for example, supporting:
    • the identification of policy, services or process needs in emerging technologies or within the Catapult
    • finding commercial opportunities for new technology and ideas
    • developing knowledge and skills gaps identified through engagement with industry.

Administrative support

A sufficient level of administrative support should be requested to ensure the coordination, management and smooth running of the Network Plus. Reasonable costs for monitoring and dissemination of the network’s outputs can also be included.

Organisation of activities

Funding can be requested for costs involved in running activities such as:

  • networking events
  • expert working groups
  • debates
  • online discussion forums
  • lectures
  • seminars
  • problem-solving workshops.

Applicants are encouraged to think creatively about the range of activities that could support the delivery of the Network Plus goals.

Other eligible costs

Funding can also be requested for:

  • activities to identify and disseminate key research challenges in the thematic areas, for example horizon-scanning studies
  • activities to facilitate impact and advance policy, such as reports, websites and briefings to highlight outputs and outcomes
  • monitoring, evaluation and communication costs
  • additional equipment such as personal computers and web servers
  • equipment to support networking, events and communication.

It is anticipated that additional ring fenced funding may be added to the Network Plus over time to enable specific activities related to particular research communities, Catapults and sectors. Any new funds that are added would include additional management overheads along with the core funds for knowledge exchange and people mobility activities.

Equipment over £10,000 in value (including VAT) is not available through this opportunity. Smaller items of equipment (individually under £10,000) should be in the ‘directly incurred other costs’ heading.

EPSRC approach to equipment funding.

Once the Network Plus platform is in place, the successful consortium shall be directed to employ a coordinator. This non-academic post will be a joint post across the Network Plus and Catapult network and will act as a bridge between the two organisations.

The coordinator will help coordinate communications and align key messaging, facilitate monitoring and evaluation of the RiR awards and Network Plus operation, assemble the report to UKRI annually as well as search for additional funding opportunities. Additional details around provision of the funding for this coordinator role will be provided to applicants after the EoI submission deadline.

Leverage of additional funding

There is an expectation that the Network Plus team would hunt for additional opportunities and funding to:

  • supplement the initial UKRI investment
  • maximise the impact of the investment
  • enable sustainability of the Network Plus.

As part of the network’s annual reporting process we expect a target key performance indicator for additional funding will be agreed between UKRI and the Network Plus.

It is anticipated that additional funding from UKRI councils, around specific disciplinary areas or regional engagement, will be added to the platform, once it is in place. Note that the addition of further funding lines may also lead to extensions to the Network Plus end date.

When applying for the running of this Network Plus, the applicants should consider how they might adapt to, manage and administer additional funding as time goes on.

Equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI)

Promoting equality, diversity and inclusion is an integral part of UKRI’s vision to deliver new knowledge and an enriched, healthier, more sustainable and resilient society and culture, and to contribute to a prosperous economy. We expect EDI to be embedded in all the activities of the Network Plus, in particular when allocating funding.

How to apply

Applicants should ensure they are aware of and comply with any internal institutional deadlines that may be in place.

Expression of interest

In order to gauge interest and to help with demand management, potential applicants must complete an expression of interest by 16:00 on 16 November 2021 before submission of a full Network Plus proposal.

Submit an expression of interest on Smart Survey.

Full proposals

You should prepare and submit your proposal using the research councils’ Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system.

When adding a new proposal, you should go to documents, select New Document, then select:

  • ‘create new document’
  • council: EPSRC
  • document type: standard proposal
  • scheme: standard
  • ‘Catapult-Academic engagement Network Plus’ on the project details page.

After completing the application, you must ‘submit document’ which will send your application to your host organisation’s administration.

Your host organisation’s administration is required to complete the submission process. Applicants should allow sufficient time for your organisation’s submission process between submitting your proposal to them and the opportunity closing date.
EPSRC must receive your application by 16:00 on 14 December 2021.

As well as the Je-S application form, the following documents must be submitted:

  • case for support, eight pages covering:
    • team vision for the Network Plus
    • track record and expertise of the principal investigator.
    • expertise of the wider team
    • how the applicant team will engage and build networks with the communities that cover the thematic areas
    • how the applicant team will deliver light touch peer review and administer the RiR awards, and cope with potential increases in funding in the lifetime of the network
    • plans for securing additional funds
    • statement on plans for how the Network Plus will enable impact
    • how they expect EDI to be embedded in the activities
  • workplan, one page
  • justification of resources, two pages
  • CVs, up to two A4 sides each only for any named:
    • postdoctoral staff
    • researcher- co-investigators (research assistants who have made a substantial contribution to the proposal and will be employed on the project for a significant amount of time)
    • visiting researchers
  • host organisation letter of support, two pages
  • cover letter, no page limit (optional attachment, not seen by peer review).

You should attach your documents as PDFs to avoid errors. They should be completed in single-spaced Arial 11 font or similar-sized sans serif typeface

Advice on writing proposals

Ethical information

EPSRC will not fund a project if it believes that there are ethical concerns that have been overlooked or not appropriately accounted for. All relevant parts of the ‘ethical information’ section must be completed.

Guidance on completing ethical information on the Je-S form.

EPSRC guidance can be found under ‘additional information’.

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

Any proposals that do not fit the remit of the opportunity will be rejected prior to expert review.

Network Plus full proposals will be assessed against the assessment criteria by an expert interview panel. The principal investigator should attend the interview along with up to two other members of the team. A funding decision is expected by the end of February 2022.

In the event of this opportunity being substantially oversubscribed as to be unmanageable, EPSRC reserve the right to modify the assessment process.

Assessment criteria

Quality and appropriateness of approach (primary):

  • quality of the brokerage offering to effectively connect the Catapults with academia and build inclusive, multidisciplinary and collaborative communities around the three key thematic areas
  • the suitability of the proposed activities
  • appropriate engagement and dissemination plans to accelerate impact and form an agenda for future research and knowledge exchange in the key thematic areas
  • contributes to addressing key UK societal challenges or contributes to future UK economic success related to the key thematic areas
  • supports reasonable risk-taking, fast-failure and continuous improvement.

Applicant and partnerships (secondary)

The ability to deliver the proposed project, making reference to:

  • appropriateness of the range of expertise and skills of the applicant team
  • track record of the principal investigator in leadership and management of complex activities, such as centres or other networks
  • evidence of thought leadership, responding to strategic and policy drivers, across the three key thematic areas
  • ensure the effective use of administrative effort and processes for managing the Network Plus
  • commitment to interdisciplinary working
  • evidence of host institution support, specifically on support given to the applicant team in managing the Network Plus budget, commissioning funds, technology transfer office support and ongoing governance to ensure correct usage and accountability.

Resources and management (secondary)

The effectiveness of the proposed planning and management and whether the requested resources are appropriate and have been fully justified:

  • has resourcing plans that reflect and will meet the stated objectives, actively encouraging flexibility in the allocation of resources as appropriate and having an approach that seeks to ensure maximum engagement of the various research communities, ensuring value for money
  • embeds a consideration of equality, diversity and inclusion, research ethics and responsible innovation (including environmental sustainability) in the management of the award and the delivery of activities
  • utilises approaches that are sector appropriate and support funder priorities as well as complementing and leveraging other sources of impact funding.

Fit to opportunity

To what extent the application meets the aims of the opportunity:

  • potential to stimulate and catalyse Catapult-academic interactions across UKRI remit and Catapult sectors
  • appropriate plans for administration and delivery of funding for the Researcher in Residence scheme
  • potential for collaborative working across the career stages to broker relationships with key stakeholders
  • potential for the network to enhance knowledge exchange and promote mobility between academia and the Catapult centres to advance the UK’s capabilities in the selected thematic areas.


Feedback will be provided to applicants following the expert interview panel.

Contact details

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

Ask a question about this opportunity

Please send any queries to one of the contacts below and also copy in:

Rhys Perry


Ann Chalkley


Get help with Je-S

Any queries regarding the submission of proposals through Je-S should be directed to the Je-S helpdesk.


Telephone: 01793 444164

Opening times: Je-S opening times

Additional info

Annual reporting framework and governance

It is important that the impact, outcomes and stories of successes are collected and disseminated both to users and the public.

With this in mind the Network Plus will be responsible for producing a monitoring and evaluation framework for the programme which will track the outputs, outcomes and impacts of the investment and ensure value for money.

It is expected that in the first three months after funding, the Network Plus will work with UKRI and the Catapults to develop a logic model for this purpose, which will define the KPIs that will be reported on annually, to be signed off by UKRI.

There will be a governance arrangement set up by UKRI which will allow oversight of the investment by UKRI and the Catapult network. The Network Plus will be responsible for the formation of a suitable steering board.

Responsible innovation

EPSRC is fully committed to develop and promote responsible innovation. Research has the ability to not only produce understanding, knowledge and value, but also unintended consequences, questions, ethical dilemmas and, at times, unexpected social transformations.

We recognise that we have a duty of care to promote approaches to responsible innovation that will initiate ongoing reflection about the potential ethical and societal implications of the research that we sponsor and to encourage our research community to do likewise. Therefore applicants are expected to work within the EPSRC Framework for Responsible Innovation.

Applicants planning to include international collaborators on their proposal should visit Trusted Research for guidance on how to get the most out of international collaboration whilst protecting intellectual property, sensitive research and personal information.

Supporting documents

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