Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Creative Industries Clusters programme (invite only)

Apply for funding to deliver a new Creative Industries Cluster as part of the second wave of this successful AHRC programme. This funding opportunity is for invited applicants only.

Each cluster will:

  • address a distinct and measurable challenge for the creative industries within a specific geography or region
  • focus on the creation of products, services, and experiences and have significant potential commercial impact

AHRC will fund 80% of the full economic cost (FEC).

The funding will last for five years.

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

An open opportunity will launch in spring 2025.

Who can apply

Before applying for funding, check the Eligibility of your organisation.

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

For full details, visit Eligibility as an individual.

Who is eligible to apply

An open opportunity will launch in spring 2025.

You can only apply for this funding opportunity if we have invited you to do so following pre-qualification.

Your proposal must include a project lead and at least one project co-lead. Each team member must contribute to:

  • the development of the research proposal
  • project leadership and management
  • joint publication of authored research

Project leads must be actively engaged in postdoctoral research and be of postdoctoral standing. This means you must have a doctorate or can demonstrate in your application that you have equivalent research experience or training. You must have a level of skills, knowledge and experience that is appropriate to your proposed project.

You must be either:

  • employed by the research organisation submitting the proposal
  • have an existing written formal arrangement with the research organisation confirming that you will be able to carry out the research as if you were an employee
  • scheduled to move to the research organisation before the proposed start date of the grant

Project co-leads

Project co-leads are supported by this funding opportunity and includes international co-leads as per the guidance below.

Other roles

Other roles that are supported by this funding opportunity are listed in the ‘How to apply’ section below.

For more information on eligibility, please read the AHRC research funding guide.

Who is not eligible to apply

This funding opportunity cannot be used to fund PhD study.

International researchers

We also encourage international researchers to participate as project co-leads. See sections two and three of the AHRC research funding guide for full details on eligibility of researchers, organisations and costs.

Recipients of research council fellowships, who are initially supported as postdoctoral research assistants on research grants, are eligible to apply for new research grants but must complete their duties on the original grant before starting the new award.

Costs associated with international co-leads will be funded at 100% FEC but must not exceed 30% of the total project costs. Please refer to sections two and three of the AHRC research funding guide for details on eligibility of such costs.

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.

What we're looking for


AHRC Creative Industries Clusters bring together universities, businesses, local and regional policymakers and private funders to drive research, innovation and growth in the creative industries. Led by UK universities, the clusters create research and development (R&D) driven commercial opportunities, strengthen regional capabilities and deliver real world impacts. They are a proven route to co-investment, leverage and the creation of jobs, skills, products and experiences that bring economic, social and cultural benefits to regions and the UK.


We are inviting proposals to establish two new Creative Industries Clusters (Clusters) that will seek to address gaps in the reach and coverage of the Wave 1 Creative Industries Cluster programme (CICP1).

The focus of Wave 2 Creative Industries Cluster programme (CICP2) will be to:

  • broaden the geographical reach of the Clusters programme enabling new regions to gain from the benefits of hosting a Creative Industries Cluster, expand the cluster model into sub-sectors not addressed in CICP1 or both
  • contribute to delivery of the UK’s Creative industries sector vision objectives (growth, skills and wider impact)
  • directly address known sector challenges as part of their work including, but not limited to:
    • skills and talent development
    • equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI)
    • intellectual property (IP)
    • business growth
    • environmental sustainability

Core cluster objectives

Each Cluster will be required to meet the following set of core objectives:

  • generate economic growth and social and cultural benefits, including protecting existing and creating new jobs within the sector
  • create an ecosystem for new and experimental creative content, products, services and experiences
  • generate long-term strategic applied research partnerships between creative enterprises, higher education institutions (HEI’s) and other relevant sectoral or local stakeholders
  • improve creative businesses’ access to the skills, knowledge and expertise they require to develop new innovative products and services, including through training and skills development
  • address key place-based or sector issues through applied research programme
  • address key EDI challenges for the creative sector, through applied research programmes
  • ensure activities or approaches are working toward or will have a positive environmental or sustainable impact

Key requirements and expectations

Core characteristics

Each Cluster must:

  • work within an existing place-based creative industries ecosystem as defined or evidenced, for example, by the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre (PEC)
  • be hosted by an HEI working in partnership with at least one other HEI or an independent research organisation
  • have industry partners integrated throughout the whole programme, from governance to delivery
  • be led by industry need, responding to opportunities and challenges within the geography they intend to serve
  • have a realistic and deliverable plan to secure co-investment and leverage from industry and other sources
  • have the infrastructural and resourcing, including staff capability, to deliver a large-scale collaborative R&D programme
  • provide flexible means for managing and supporting devolved funding of R&D activities to creative industries partners
  • be highly interdisciplinary collaborating across disciplines, departments and institutions
  • in collaboration with industry, have designed an ambitious and innovative collaborative R&D programme that:
    • is focused on delivering challenge-led innovation that combines research capabilities with industry need and includes a strong presence from the arts and humanities
    • is flexible and responsive, and embeds continuous improvement
    • proposes a strong and sustainable model of collaboration, fully integrated with industry and other relevant stakeholders (local and regional policy makers, private funders and investors and other sector and skills bodies)
    • has a clear shared vision and strategy for delivering economic growth and will generate positive legacy opportunities
  • establish a robust management and governance structure that:
    • has clear buy-in from senior HEI leadership and equivalent senior leaders from industry and other partners
    • addresses risk and responsible research and innovation including ethical approaches to innovation
    • ensures EDI is embedded across all aspects of their programme including management and delivery
  • have plans for:
    • monitoring and evaluating the performance and impact of the cluster, including the leveraged funding committed within the bid
    • building productive partnerships to support access to finance and routes to market for the collaborative R&D projects
    • developing relevant links beyond the partnership members to other organisations and clusters of activity both in the UK and internationally that are relevant to the partnership’s work
    • building and delivering a digital presence that will match the ambition of the cluster’s activities
    • recording, publishing, and communicating on best practice emerging from cluster activities, to support other such activities


The duration of this award is five years.

Projects must start by 1 February 2025.

Funding available

The total fund available is £13,500,000.

AHRC will contribute funding of up to £6,750,000 per application.

Devolved funding

Clusters must be highly collaborative, integrating HEI and creative industry partners on an equal basis. AHRC expects to see funding awarded to creative industry partners balanced against an appropriate co-investment from that partner (financial or otherwise) to demonstrate commitment to the project.

AHRC also expects clusters to provide flexible means of devolving funding for innovative R&D activities. This funding strand can support the participation of micro-businesses and small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). A maximum of 30% of the total budget can be devolved and will be funded at 100% of the FEC, other (non exceptions) costs will be funded at 80% FEC in line with standard UKRI terms and conditions.

Activities supported via devolved funding must be entirely related to supporting and delivering R&D that contributes to the aims of the cluster. Funding should not support core business or overhead costs. The host HEI is responsible for ensuring that funding adheres to UK government’s subsidy control regime.

You should provide evidence that all expenditure represents value for money and can be supported by an audit trail. You should also ensure that, where relevant, you have given due consideration to the risks, as well as the opportunities, of supporting small and micro businesses.

Clusters must be aware of the needs of collaborating industry partners when establishing payment and contracting mechanisms including the cash flow requirements of SMEs and micro-businesses.

Funding profiling

We will work with the successful bidders to determine profiling. Continuation of funding will be subject to a mid-term review to assess progress and performance against agreed key performance indicators (KPIs) and objectives.

Co-investment and leverage

AHRC’s working definitions for co-investment and leverage are outlined below:

  • co-investment is any funding secured as part of your application, also called match or pledged
  • leverage is any funding attracted to the programme and connected activities that can reasonably be attributed to AHRC’s original funding

Acceptable sources of co-investment and leverage funding include:

  • cash, capital or in-kind contributions from application partners, including HEI’s, that is specifically aimed at supporting the objectives of the cluster
  • cash or capital funding secured specifically by the applicant from other sources, to support activity within the partnership that has not already been allocated for other purposes

Unacceptable sources of co-investment and leverage funding include:

  • funding that has already been committed prior to the commencement of the award
  • funding that is not specifically aimed at supporting the objectives of the cluster (for example, R&D that is aligned with project aims, but would have happened anyway, or institutional commitment to related facilities, functions, or activities that are planned or implemented prior to the commencement of the award)
  • a HEI’s 20% contribution to FEC

These sources must be able to be supported by an appropriate audit trail or evidence.
Clusters will be expected to leverage a minimum additional 50% of the total AHRC contribution from HEIs or partner organisations over the period of the award.

You will be expected to provide tangible details about the scale and sources of co-investment, along with a coherent strategy for using AHRC funding to obtain further leverage throughout the life of the project. You will be required to have achieved at least 30% towards the overall 50% committed leverage funding by the mid-term of your grant. Continuation of funding for the final two and a half years of the programme will be dependent on achieving this leverage funding.

Please note that based on our experience from CICP1 we expect all clusters to significantly exceed this target.

What we will fund

We will fund up to two new clusters that demonstrate:

  • clearly defined challenges that are also recognised by industry. AHRC recognises that through the process of undertaking R&D activity, the initial challenges identified at the point of application may need further refinement, in consultation with industry, particularly during the first year of the award when exploratory or experimental collaborative work can be conducted
  • a collaborative and cross-disciplinary R&D programme of activities and devolved funding schemes that are centred on a defined sectoral or place-based challenge
  • a programme of R&D activities that will generate business innovation and growth
  • how the programme of activities and funding schemes will create economic growth for example through the development of new products, services or experiences or through the creation or safeguarding of jobs across the sector ecosystem. This could include, but is not limited to:
    • creative research that prototypes and explores experiences with audiences and users
    • creation of multidisciplinary research capabilities that can respond to creative industry needs and challenges for example, exploration of new business models and intellectual property (IP) strategies within the context of specific new products, services or experiences
    • experimental studios or labs to explore new products, services, and experiences
    • support for access to finance and routes to market for the commercialisation of products and services
    • training and development opportunities through apprenticeships, placements, secondments and staff exchanges, as well as continuing professional development, entrepreneurial or skills programmes that support pipelines for talent
    • co-working, shared networking space and facilities
    • providing opportunities for networking and making connections to grow the regional sector infrastructure this could include events, showcases and interactive demonstrations
  • a well designed and impactful EDI framework that speaks to sector specific challenges as well as demonstrating excellent practice in approaches to management, governance and delivery
  • how your activities and delivery programme support environmental sustainability approaches and practices

Clusters should include a flexible approach to funding to allow them to be responsive to new opportunities and change during the lifetime of the programme. This is not to be considered contingency funding, but rather to enable a programme of this breadth and scale to be responsive to market and technology change and to respond to the success or failure of specific activity.

Where appropriate funding can be used to support capital projects that are necessary and aligned to the clusters aim. This must be clearly explained in your resources and cost justification.

What we will not fund

AHRC will not fund purely theoretical research, critical studies or historical analysis except where a strong case can be made that it is a central component of the innovation required to solve the challenges identified by the cluster.

Funding for PhD studentships is not permitted. Clusters are encouraged to offer placements or projects to PhD students funded through existing UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) schemes.

Cluster co-ordination

Working with AHRC

The CICP2 cohort will be managed by AHRC. They will be expected to work collaboratively together as part of a cohort, sharing expertise, experience and opportunities. There will be numerous opportunities to participate in key events, showcases and briefings and to champion the programme for, and with, AHRC. You should expect high levels of AHRC engagement throughout the programme.

Working with the co-ordination hub

Additional support will be provided by a co-ordination hub currently under development. This will build on AHRC’s standard investment management provision, to offer ecosystem support that might include communications and engagement activity, evidence and analysis, and business development support. All clusters will be expected to work closely with the hub once established.

Communications, engagement and branding

A condition of the award is that clusters should adhere to AHRC and UKRI branding and communications principles and guidelines. There is an expectation that each cluster will be part of a collective CICP2 brand as well as having its own local identity, as seen in CICP1. Early consideration to marketing and communications should be included as part of the application. Plans for public engagement, regional community impact, and UK-wide engagement in your specialist areas will also form part of the assessment.

It is expected that clusters will allocate appropriate resourcing to support communications and outreach activities.

Clusters will be expected to work closely with the UKRI Communications team to promote the programme and share impact stories at key moments during the award period. We will also help to promote cluster activities via our own channels.

There are opportunities through CICP2 to develop close collaborative working with other AHRC and UKRI investments such as CoSTAR and the Creative Industries PEC and key partner organisations. Work to define the shape of these relationships will emerge during the development phase.

Public engagement

UKRI and AHRC are committed to breaking down the barriers between research, innovation and society, with the three goals of:

  • building a sense of shared endeavour
  • making sure the benefits of research and innovation are shared widely and supported by collaboration and diverse forms of knowledge
  • creating opportunities for all by inspiring and engaging the next generation

We encourage you to consider opportunities to deliver public engagement, using co-production and collaboration approaches, that are appropriate to your sector and geographic region. Engaging with those that have lived experience and talking to communities whose voices are seldom heard in creative industries R&D has the potential to enrich the research.

Public engagement opportunities might include:

  • audience development
  • user testing
  • consultation with specific demographic groups that might link to your EDI or sustainability frameworks

To help with writing your approach to public engagement we recommend that you contact your public engagement team at the institution where you are based. They can provide invaluable guidance, advice and support for the writing of this section.

Examples of public engagement impacts generated from CICP1 can be found in the Powering the Creative Industries brochure.

For further information about public engagement you can read the AHRC blog and there is a lot of useful information on the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement website.

Monitoring, evaluation and learning

Monitoring of clusters will be in line with AHRC’s standard approach to major investment management.

Clusters should ensure that performance monitoring of activities, outputs, benefits and impacts is well-considered from the outset to effectively track and evidence delivery of the programme objectives. Quarterly reporting of both quantitative and qualitative outputs and outcomes will be required, including performance against critical success measures and benefits as well as financial reporting and lessons learned. This will be discussed and agreed with successful clusters as part of the setting up phase. A standard template will be provided to successful applicants and will include tracking leverage and R&D spend.

Clusters will be asked to provide an annual report. This will provide the opportunity to share updates on the impacts from your cluster and reflect on the activities that have been delivered. AHRC welcomes these reports to be delivered in a non-standard and creative format that can be used for multiple stakeholder engagement and communications opportunities.

A mid programme performance review will be conducted by AHRC for assurance purposes. Continued funding until the end of the programme will be dependent on a successful mid programme review.

Late submission of any of these reporting requirements will result in a suspension of funding until the required report is submitted.

The information provided in the reports will complement the data submitted via the research councils’ outputs and outcomes reporting system, Researchfish.

You are advised that the CICP2 programme will be subject to ad-hoc requests for additional impact stories and other data, that will contribute to showcasing the success of the programme as well as wider AHRC, UKRI and government reporting requirements.

An independent evaluation will be commissioned to evaluate CICP2. It is anticipated that this will commence at the start of the award. There will be an expectation that clusters have appropriate data sharing agreements in place with all partners and any parties supported or engaged with during the entirety of the programme as this will be required by the evaluators to carry out necessary programme analysis.

It is recommended, based on experience and learnings from CICP1, that clusters carry out their own independent evaluation that focusses on their specific activities.

Equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI)

The UKRI Equality, diversity and inclusion strategy 2022-26 promotes the need to foster an inclusive and diverse research and innovation system, ‘by everyone, for everyone’. AHRC recognises that there are many challenges and opportunities for the creative industries in this space. Clusters are expected to pay due regard to EDI across all aspects of their proposal and programme.

While the issues and challenges vary by sub sector there are several challenges pertinent to the creative industries that require consideration.

These include but are not limited to:

  • social mobility and barriers faced by entrants from specific socio-economic backgrounds
  • opportunities for early carer researchers, research technical professionals, inclusive career pathways and entry points
  • diversity in management structures, governance and decision making
  • accountability for embedding EDI considerations and good practice
  • working with diverse stakeholders to explore EDI across the sector particularly with industry partners and policymakers
  • use of data, collection, consistency, monitoring and management, including GDPR compliance
  • diversity of communities that engage with research, development and innovation including through public engagement

You will be required to produce an EDI framework as part of your application that will outline:

  • EDI objectives and deliverables across the programme
  • how you will ensure that you have diverse representation and an inclusive culture across management and delivery teams, including decision making
  • accountability for embedding EDI considerations and good practice
  • due regard for EDI considerations within your monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL) strategies including robust systems to measure EDI outcomes and impact

Our governance

AHRC’s Creative Industries team will deliver the programme and report into the Programme Management Board that will include cross UKRI and cross AHRC representation. The board will be chaired by the senior responsible officer (SRO) and meet every two months.

The Creative Industries Advisory Group (CIAG) will work alongside the Programme Board and Programme Team to provide strategic input to the programme, providing advice and connections with the Creative Industries Council.

Close links will be made to the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre, the CoSTAR delivery and governance teams and other relevant stakeholders such as Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) and Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) to promote the programme, encourage collaboration, explore wider research questions, develop and inform policy as appropriate.

Cluster steering board

Clusters must ensure they have a robust governance structure in place which all partners are integrated within and committed to. They will be required to have a Steering Board to oversee strategy and direction, provide developmental support, constructive challenge on process and practice, manage risks and monitor delivery against KPIs. Clusters must ensure that they have appropriate, diverse and inclusive membership to perform these responsibilities.

The memberships will be reviewed by the AHRC and should include senior managers from the HEI partners (for example, pro-vice-chancellor level), senior level representation from the relevant creative industry partners and representatives from external stakeholders such as relevant local or regional organisations and sector bodies. The Steering Board will also include a representative from the AHRC.

Environmental sustainability

The UKRI Environmental Sustainability Strategy sets out our public commitment to reach net zero carbon operations by 2040, from a 2017 to 2018 baseline. The strategy also sets out a commitment to integrate environmental sustainability criteria into all investment decisions.

To compliment this commitment, UKRI has recently signed up to the cross-sector concordat for the environmental sustainability of research and innovation practice.

In 2023 the Creative Industries Council published the Creative Climate Charter outlining eight principles for how the UK’s creative sector can use its “collective imagination, economic influence and leadership” to reduce its environmental impact and tackle the climate crisis.

Evidence from CICP1 indicates that environmental sustainability is considered of significant importance within the sector and benefits and impacts have been realised from the activities of CICP1. Taking the above policies into consideration, clusters will be expected to demonstrate how their activities are working toward or will have positive environmental impact through an environmental sustainability statement and an action plan.

Supporting skills and talent

In line with the Creative industries sector vision, you will be expected to demonstrate how you will develop opportunities to address known sectoral skills gaps as well as support talent development across all aspects of your programmes. AHRC recognises the close connection between EDI and skills and talent and encourages clusters to consider how their activities can support the intersectionality of these challenges.

Activities to support this can include, but are not limited to:

  • HEI to industry or industry to HEI secondments
  • industry or business management training
  • sector specific up-skilling or training workshops
  • fellowships
  • new course modules or new degree courses, for example for continuous professional development (CPD)
  • mentoring
  • postgraduate training
  • work placements and paid internships

We encourage you to follow the principles of the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers and the Technician Commitment.

International collaboration

AHRC encourages clusters to consider international collaboration where you expect it to support business growth that will maximise the UK’s global standing. This work must be relevant, deliverable and will add value to the cluster’s programme and aim.

Trusted Research and Innovation (TR&I)

UKRI is committed in ensuring that effective international collaboration in research and innovation takes place with integrity and within strong ethical frameworks. Trusted Research and Innovation (TR&I) is a UKRI work programme designed to help protect all those working in our thriving and collaborative international sector by enabling partnerships to be as open as possible, and as secure as necessary. Our TR&I Principles set out UKRI’s expectations of organisations funded by UKRI in relation to due diligence for international collaboration.

As such, applicants for UKRI funding may be asked to demonstrate how their proposed projects will comply with our approach and expectation towards TR&I, identifying potential risks and the relevant controls you will put in place to help proportionately reduce these risks.

See further guidance and information about TR&I – including where you can find additional support.

How to apply

We are running this funding opportunity on the new UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Funding Service so please ensure that your organisation is registered. You cannot apply on the Joint Electronic Submissions (Je-S) system.

The project 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

You will receive an email with an application link to start your application on the 1 July 2024

  1. Confirm you are the project lead.
  2. 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
    Please allow at least 10 working days for your organisation to be added to the Funding Service. We strongly suggest that if you are asking UKRI to add your organisation to the Funding Service to enable you to apply to this funding opportunity, you also create an organisation Administration Account. This will be needed to allow the acceptance and management of any grant that might be offered to you.
  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 before sending to your research office.
  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.

Where indicated, you can also demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. 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)
  • ensure files are smaller than 5MB and in JPEG, JPG, JPE, JFI, JIF, JFIF, PNG, GIF, BMP or WEBP format

Watch our research office webinars about the new Funding Service.

For more guidance on the Funding Service, see:


Applications should be self-contained, and hyperlinks should only be used to provide links directly to reference information. To ensure the information’s integrity is maintained, where possible, persistent identifiers such as digital object identifiers should be used. Assessors are not required to access links to carry out assessment or recommend a funding decision. You should use your discretion when including references and prioritise those most pertinent to the application.

References should be included in the appropriate question section of the application and be easily identifiable by the assessors, for example (Smith, Research Paper, 2019).

You must not include links to web resources to extend your application.


AHRC must receive your application by 10 September 2024 at 4:00pm UK time.

You will not be able to apply after this time.

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

Following the submission of your application to the funding opportunity, your application cannot be changed, and applications will not be returned for amendment. If your application does not follow the guidance, it may be rejected.

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 at AHRC board and panel outcomes.

If your application is successful, we will publish some personal information on the UKRI Gateway to Research.


Word limit: 550

In plain English, provide a summary we can use to identify the most suitable experts to assess your application.

We usually make this summary publicly available on external-facing websites, therefore do not include any confidential or sensitive information. 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 including programme partners
  • the challenge the programme addresses
  • aims and objectives
  • potential applications and benefits

Core team

Clusters must have robust management and operational structures.

You should not underestimate the resources required to manage and deliver a multifaceted and multi-partner programme of this scale.

You are encouraged to carefully consider the appropriate management and operational support required, and to covering the costs associated with this either through the main award or from other sources of funding. As well as appropriate research staff you should also identify programme management and operational staff and functions for example finance, communications, and events. Additional roles could also include producer or industry focused roles appropriate to the cluster sector or geography. Clusters are encouraged to be innovative in staffing functions across the partnership.

A maximum of 30% of the total award from AHRC can be used to cover the costs of management and operational staff.

Please submit a staffing structure, listing the key members of your team and assign them roles from the following:

  • project lead (PL)
  • project co-lead (UK) (PcL)
  • project co-lead (international) (PcL (I))
  • specialist – this could include industry experts
  • professional enabling staff
  • research and innovation associate
  • technician

Only list one individual as project lead.

Find out more about UKRI’s core team roles in funding applications.

Application questions

Discipline classification – primary

Word limit: 5

Please provide the primary research area of your proposal.

You must select from one of these research disciplines.

This information will be used for the purposes of processing your proposal and in the selection of appropriate assessors. The research disciplines are:

  • archaeology
  • area studies
  • classics
  • cultural and museum studies
  • dance
  • design
  • development studies
  • drama and theatre studies
  • education
  • history
  • human geography
  • information and communication technologies
  • languages and literature
  • law and legal studies
  • library and information studies
  • linguistics
  • media
  • music
  • philosophy
  • political science and international studies
  • social anthropology
  • theology, divinity and religion
  • visual arts

Discipline classification – secondary

Word limit: 50

Please describe, using keywords, the research area of your proposal and where relevant the approach, time period or geographical area.

This will further help with the selection of appropriate assessors.


Word limit: 1,000

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 fields or areas
  • has the potential to advance current understanding, or generate new knowledge, thinking or discovery within or beyond the field or area
  • is timely given current trends, context, and needs
  • impacts world-leading research, society, the economy, or the environment

You may demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. Further details are provided in the Funding Service.

References may be included within this section.


Word limit: 7,500

How are you going to deliver your proposed work?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Explain how you have designed your approach so that it:

  • is effective and appropriate to achieve your objectives
  • is feasible, and comprehensively identifies any risks to delivery and how they will be managed
  • uses a clearly written and transparent methodology (if applicable)
  • summarises the previous work and describes how this will be built upon and progressed (if applicable)
  • will maximise translation of outputs into outcomes and impacts
  • describes how your, and if applicable your team’s, research environment (in terms of the place and relevance to the project) will contribute to the success of the work

You may demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. Further details are provided in the Funding Service.

References may be included within this section.

Please ensure your approach addresses the core characteristics listed in the What we are looking for section.

Additionally, please include your approach to the following, under these headings, within your response:

  • EDI framework
  • sustainability statement and action plan
  • public engagement
  • skills and talent
  • monitoring, evaluation and learning
  • governance plan

Applicant and team capability to deliver

Word limit: 1,650

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

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Evidence of how you, and if relevant your team, have:

  • the relevant experience (appropriate to career stage) to deliver the proposed work
  • the right balance of skills and expertise to cover the proposed work
  • the appropriate leadership and management skills to deliver the work and your approach to develop others
  • contributed to developing a positive research environment and wider community

You may demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. Further details are provided in the Funding Service.

The word count for this section is 1,650 words: 1,150 words to be used for R4RI modules (including references) and, if necessary, a further 500 words for Additions.

Use the Résumé for Research and Innovation (R4RI) format to showcase the range of relevant skills you and, if relevant, your team (project and project co-leads, researchers, technicians, specialists, partners and so on) have and how this will help deliver the proposed work. You can include individuals’ specific achievements but only choose past contributions that best evidence their ability to deliver this work.

Complete this section using the R4RI module headings listed. Use each heading once and include a response for the whole team, see the UKRI guidance on R4RI. You should consider how to balance your answer, and emphasise where appropriate the key skills each team member brings:

  • 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

As a minimum, all named members of the Leadership Team should be discussed within this section of the form.


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 you can use it to describe any factors that provide context for the rest of your R4RI (for example, details of career breaks if you wish to disclose them).

Complete this as a narrative. Do not format it like a CV.

References may be included within this section.

UKRI has introduced new role types for funding opportunities being run on the new Funding Service.

For full details, see Eligibility as an individual.

Your organisation’s support

Word limit: 500

Provide details of support from your research organisation.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Provide a Statement of Support from your research organisation detailing why the proposed work is needed. This should include details of any matched funding that will be provided to support the activity and any additional support that might add value to the work.

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

AHRC recognises that in some instances, this information may be provided by the Research Office, the Technology Transfer Office (TTO) or equivalent, or a combination of both.

You must also include the following details:

  • a significant person’s name and their position, from the TTO or Research Office, or both
  • office address or web link

Upload details are provided within the Funding Service on the actual application.

Project partners

Add details about any project partners’ contributions. If there are no project partners, you can indicate this on the Funding Service.

A project partner is a collaborating organisation who will have an integral role in the proposed research. This may include direct (cash) or indirect (in-kind) contributions such as expertise, staff time or use of facilities.

Add the following project partner details:

  • the organisation name and address (searchable via a drop-down list or enter the organisation’s details manually, as applicable)
  • the project partner contact name and email address
  • the type of contribution (direct or in-direct) and its monetary value

If a detail is entered incorrectly and you have saved the entry, remove the specific project partner record and re-add it with the correct information.

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

Project partners: letters (or emails) of support

Upload a single PDF containing the letters or emails of support from each partner you named in the Project partner section. These should be uploaded in English or Welsh only.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Enter the words ‘attachment supplied’ in the text box, or if you do not have any project partners enter N/A. 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
  • the page limit is two sides A4 per partner

The Funding Service will provide document upload details when you apply. If you do not have any project partners, you will be able to indicate this in the Funding Service.

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

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

Ethics and responsible research and innovation (RRI)

Word limit: 500

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

You may demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. Further details are provided in the Funding Service.

Resources and cost justification

Word limit: 2,500

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 more costly resources, in particular:

  • project staff
  • significant travel for field work or collaboration (but not regular travel between collaborating organisations or to conferences)
  • any equipment that will cost more than £10,000
  • any consumables beyond typical requirements, or that are required in exceptional quantities
  • all facilities and infrastructure costs
  • all resources that have been costed as ‘Exceptions’

Assessors are not looking for detailed costs or a line-by-line breakdown of all project resources. Overall, they want you to demonstrate how the resources you anticipate needing for your proposed work:

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

Please note the following:

  • the maximum spend on programme management is 30% of the total AHRC grant
  • the minimum spend on devolved R&D funding is 30% of the total AHRC grant
  • devolved R&D funding to SME’s and micro businesses will be funded at 100% FEC
  • costs associated with international project co-leads will be funded at 100% FEC but must not exceed 30% of the total AHRC grant

Data management and sharing

Word limit: 500

How will you manage and share data collected or acquired through the proposed research?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Provide a data management plan that clearly details how you will comply with UKRI’s published data sharing policy, which includes detailed guidance notes.

Trusted Research and Innovation (TR&I)

Word limit: 100

Does the proposed work involve international collaboration in a sensitive research or technology area?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Demonstrate how your proposed international collaboration relates to Trusted Research and Innovation, including:

  • list the countries your international project co-leads, project partners and visiting researchers, or other collaborators are based in
  • if international collaboration is involved, explain whether this project is relevant to one or more of the 17 areas of the UK National Security and Investment (NSI) Act
  • if one or more of the 17 areas of the UK National Security and Investment (NSI) Act are involved list the areas

If your proposed work does not involve international collaboration, answer ‘n/a’ here.

We may ask you to provide additional information about how your proposed project will comply with our approach and expectation towards TR&I, identifying potential risks and the relevant controls you will put in place to help manage these risks.

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

We will assess your application using the following process.


An expert interview panel will conduct interviews with applicants after which the panel will make a funding recommendation.

We expect interviews to be held in mid-October 2024

AHRC will make the final funding decision and reserves the right to use interview panel recommendations to create a balanced portfolio of funded applications that encompass a range of geographies and research themes.


We aim to issue funding outcomes by the end of November 2024.


We will give feedback with the outcome of your application.

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.

Assessment areas

Note that all elements of your application form will be shared with the assessors.

The assessment areas we will use are:

  • Vision
  • Approach
  • Applicant and team capability
  • Your organisations support
  • Project partners
  • Ethics and responsible research and innovation (RRI)
  • Resources and cost justification
  • Data Management and Sharing

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


Any opportunity for resubmission will be in line with AHRC standard terms and conditions, that means you must be invited to reapply.

Contact details

Get help with your application

If you have a question and the answers aren’t provided on this page

Important note: The Helpdesk is committed to helping users of the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Funding Service as effectively and as quickly as possible. In order to manage cases at peak volume times, the Helpdesk will triage and prioritise those queries with an imminent opportunity deadline or a technical issue. Enquiries raised where information is available on the Funding Finder opportunity page and should be understood early in the application process (for example, regarding eligibility or content/remit of an opportunity) will not constitute a priority case and will be addressed as soon as possible.

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.

For questions related to this specific funding opportunity please contact

Any queries regarding the system or the submission of applications through the Funding Service should be directed to the helpdesk.

Phone: 01793 547490

Our phone lines are open:

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

To help us process queries quicker, we request that users highlight the council and opportunity name in the subject title of their email query, include the application reference number, and refrain from contacting more than one mailbox at a time.

See further information on submitting an application.

Sensitive information

If you or a core team member need to tell us something you wish to remain confidential, email

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 UKRI to consider in reviewer or panel participant selection
  • the application is an invited resubmission

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

Additional info


AHRC Creative Industries Clusters bring together universities, businesses, local and regional policymakers and private funders to drive research, innovation and growth in the creative industries. Led by UK universities, the clusters create research and development (R&D) driven commercial opportunities, strengthen regional capabilities and deliver real world impacts. They are a proven route to co-investment, leverage and the creation of jobs, skills, products and experiences that bring economic, social and cultural benefits to regions and the UK.  Further information on the Wave 1 Creative Industries Cluster programme (CICP1) cohort is available from:

Bristol + Bath Creative R&D
Business of Fashion Textiles & Technology
Creative Informatics
Future Fashion Factory
Future Screens NI
Story Futures
XR Stories

Additional disability and accessibility adjustments

UKRI can offer disability and accessibility support for UKRI applicants and grant holders during the application and assessment process if required.

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.

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