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
Overall, the activities of the Network Plus, including the portfolio of RiR awards administered by the network, should cover all three themes.
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:
- building types
- energy infrastructure
- energy demand
- 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.
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.
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
- online discussion forums
- 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.