Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Design Exchange Partnerships: design the green transition round three

Start application

Apply for funding to develop design-led solutions around the theme of more-than-human design.

More-than-human design refers to the idea of designing for impact beyond humans. It promotes the idea that, to explore the future we face, we also need to consider the non-human centred world view.

We welcome broad interpretations of the theme of more-than-human, including but not limited to one or more of the following areas:

  • the natural world
  • materials
  • health and wellbeing
  • urban environments
  • technology and artificial intelligence (AI)

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

Each project must involve:

  • one early career arts and humanities design research associate (including those undertaking doctoral studies in an arts and humanities design-led discipline). For this funding opportunity we are taking a flexible approach to defining early career and will accept applications including research associates at other career stages who can justify the value of this project to their own development. This position is open to job share arrangements
  • at least one academic supervisor who will be named as project lead for the purposes of administering the award
  • at least one non-academic organisation with a specific challenge relevant to the overarching theme of Design the Green Transition, which can be addressed through the ongoing application of design-led research carried out by the research associate

The research associate and supervisor must be based at a UK research organisation that is eligible for UKRI funding.

While the supervisor will have oversight of the project and will be the project lead for the purposes of administering the award, we expect the majority of intellectual leadership to come from the research associate. This must be demonstrated in the application and throughout the course of the award, if successful.

Non-academic partners must be either a:

  • micro or small and medium-sized enterprise, UK registered business, charity or not-for-profit
  • similarly sized department of a public sector organisation

Part-time applicants (minimum of 0.6 full-time equivalent) are welcome.

Job share applications for the research associate will be considered, provided:

  • both candidates can demonstrate a suitable arts and humanities-led design research background
  • both associates participate to an equal extent in all aspects of the project
  • clear and robust handover and communication arrangements are in place

The lead research organisation may make a total of two applications for this programme, but each application must be substantively different in both partnership team and project objectives.

The named research associate(s), supervisor(s) and non-academic partner may participate in only one application for this programme.

Who is not eligible to apply

Subcontractors are not eligible for this funding opportunity.

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


Design Exchange Partnerships (DEPs) are three-way collaborative projects which seek to demonstrate tangible impact on local communities by stimulating the real-world application of high-quality arts and humanities-led design research to address challenges related to achieving green transition goals. DEPs aim to:

  • stimulate strategic partnerships that support career development and the development of hybrid skills
  • increase the diversity of voices and actors consulted in and contributing to addressing the climate crisis
  • enable the development of new products and services that have a positive impact in the real-world

For this round, we are focusing on the theme of more-than-human to develop solutions to address the UK’s green transition. While design is being used to transform the planet, often to great benefit, the consequences of design are not always positive for the environment.

Design has long been ‘human centred’ by definition, serving the needs of people, businesses and societies. But human centrism has come at a great environmental cost, in externalising the effects of extractivism or pollution on natural ecosystems and other species. One of the challenges of design in the 21st century is to move beyond exclusively human interests and factor in non-human perspectives. More-than-human design understands the interdependence of all human activities on the health of natural systems. It seeks not just to reduce its impact on the biosphere but to support and regenerate landscapes and biodiversity.

We welcome broad interpretations of the theme of more-than-human, including but not limited to one or more of the following areas:

  • the natural world
  • materials
  • health and wellbeing
  • urban environments
  • technology and AI

Projects may focus on any challenges or areas that will support progress towards green transition goals, including but not limited to any combination of:

  • green initiatives and policies, such as improving the design and delivery of green policies and initiatives to more effectively support behaviour change
  • technical, such as design and testing of new prototypes or other interventions that advance technology readiness levels (TRLs)
  • economic or commercial, such as design of new business models or interventions that advance market readiness levels (MRLs)
  • structural, such as infrastructure planning and decarbonisation provision

Find out more about TRLs and MRLs from Innovate UK.

We welcome applications for, and will support a diverse portfolio showcasing, a range of different types of design intervention, from product or service level innovation through to strategic, systems-level design thinking. Browse examples of previously awarded DEP projects.

The project should demonstrate human-centred design research processes and thinking. You can include activities to:

  • develop high-value innovation opportunities and define what makes a desirable, fit-for-purpose solution
  • create ideas for new or significantly improved products or services
  • test and improve ideas by using fast, low-cost visuals, prototypes or simulations
  • clearly communicate ideas ready for further investment, and research and development activity
  • understand human motivations and behaviour through, for example, observation, interviews, role-play and workshops

Projects should demonstrate clear pathways to measurable outcomes of benefit to all partners both within the project period and beyond.

Named applicant

The project lead must be the named academic supervisor, who must evidence institutional support for the project.

Assessors will need to see evidence of support from all stakeholders in the project, including all higher education institutions and non-academic partners.

Research associate

The application should demonstrate how the research associate will benefit from the project from a skills development perspective. The associate must be named in the application at the time of submission (they cannot be recruited to the project post award) and their research background, interests and qualifications must be central to the project partnership and development.

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


The duration of this award is either six months or 12 months depending on the level of funding.

Projects must start by 1 February 2025. All projects must be concluded no later than 31 January 2026.

Funding available

The full economic cost of your project can be either up to £62,500 for six months or £125,000 for 12 months. You must apply for either six or 12 months duration for your project.

Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) will fund 80% of the full economic cost (FEC).

In addition to the above, the non-academic partner is required to provide a minimum contribution of 10% of the FEC (5% for micro-organisations, defined in the GOV.UK Department for International Trade small and medium-sized enterprises action plan.). Part of this contribution can be in-kind, up to 5% of the FEC.

If you intend to have more than one non-academic partner, each of their contributions individually will need to meet the requirements above and be detailed in your application.

What we will not fund

For this funding opportunity, we are not seeking applications based solely in technical design disciplines such as engineering design and design for manufacture, although creatively-led projects incorporating technical aspects are welcome.

We are not seeking applications aimed at creating visual identity elements, graphics or style guides, unless these are essential to the creation of a new product or service.

Projects that do not engage directly with the theme or seek to develop a generic approach to a wider green transition challenge will be considered outside of the scope of this funding opportunity.

How to apply

The project lead is responsible for completing the application process on the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) 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

Select ‘Start application’ near the beginning of this Funding finder page.

  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.
  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:

  • use images sparingly and only to convey important information that cannot easily be put into words
  • insert each new image onto a new line
  • provide a descriptive legend for each image immediately underneath it (this counts towards your word limit)
  • files must be 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:


We must receive your application by 12 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

Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), as part of UKRI, will need to collect some personal information to manage 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 Design Exchange Partnerships | Future Observatory.

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

Core team

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

  • project lead (PL)
  • project co-lead (UK) (PcL) (if more than one Supervisor)
  • research and innovation associate

Only list one individual as project lead.

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

Application questions


Word limit: 500

What are you hoping to achieve with your proposed work?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Explain how your proposed work:

  • is of excellent quality and importance within or beyond the field(s) or area(s)
  • has the potential to advance current understanding, or generate new knowledge, thinking or discovery within or beyond the field or area
  • 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.

Within the Vision section we also expect you to:

  • identify the potential direct or indirect benefits and who the beneficiaries might be
  • demonstrate how your proposed project will generate measurable environmental and social impacts. Applications may also demonstrate commercial outcomes and impacts, but environmental and social benefits should be foregrounded
  • demonstrate clear relevance and fit to the aims and theme of the DEP programme


Word limit: 1,500

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.

Within the Approach section we also expect you to:

  • demonstrate access to the appropriate services, facilities, infrastructure, or equipment to deliver the application
  • provide a detailed and comprehensive project plan including milestones and timelines in the form of a Gantt chart or similar (please make sure to check sizing and readability of the image using ‘read view’ prior to submission)
  • include a theory of change diagram outlining how the project will impact its beneficiaries and the impact it aims to have (only required for projects with a proposed duration of 12 months) (please make sure to check sizing and readability of the image using ‘read view’ prior to submission)

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.

If references or citations are deemed appropriate, these should be included within the section’s word limit. We would advise you not to include hyperlinks, as assessors are not obliged to access the information they lead to or consider it in their assessment of your application. If you are linking to web resources, to maintain the information’s integrity, include persistent identifiers (such as digital object identifiers) where possible. You must not include links to web resources to extend your application.


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.

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

For full details, see Eligibility as an individual.

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: 1,000

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

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Justify the application’s 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 consumables beyond typical requirements, or that are required in exceptional quantities

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

We do not provide funding for individual items of equipment over £10,000. Please see section three of the AHRC research funding guide for further information.

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 committee 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

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

Word limit: 10

Upload a single PDF containing the letters or emails of support from each partner you named in the Project partners 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’. 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
  • be no more than two sides of 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.

Training and development

Word limit: 500

Only required for projects applying for 12 months funding.

Provide details of training and development support.

You only need to complete this section if you are applying for a proposed duration of 12 months. If you are not, enter ‘N/A’ in the text box, mark this section as complete and move to the next question.

Explain how your proposed work:

  • supports the provision of training and development opportunities for the research associate
  • supports the provision of training and development opportunities for the non-academic partner

Public Engagement

Word limit: 1,000

Only required for projects applying for 12 months’ funding.

Provide details of plans for public engagement.

You only need to complete this section if you are applying for a proposed duration of 12 months. If you are not, enter ‘N/A’ in the text box, mark this section as complete and move to the next question.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Explain how your proposed work:

  • demonstrates quality and appropriateness of plans for public engagement with research, including equitable partnerships with clearly targeted public audiences that bring public partners into the research process through innovative public engagement methods and strategies
  • will measure the impact of the success of applying design research and innovation to diverse sectors of industry and the public sector
  • supports the next generation (of researchers) so they become more adept at engaging with green transition challenges

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

We will assess your application using the following process.


We will invite experts to collectively review your application against the criteria and rank it alongside other applications after which the panel will make a funding recommendation.

All other assessment criteria being equal, Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) will take funding decisions to ensure a balanced and representative portfolio of projects.


You should expect to receive notification of a decision by 20 December 2024, with project start dates no later than 1 February 2025.


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

The assessment areas we will use are:

  • Vision
  • Approach
  • Applicant and team capability to deliver
  • Resources and cost justification
  • Ethics and Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI)
  • Training and development
  • Public engagement

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

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 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 application 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 the AI and Design team, email

Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) will not be able to provide our usual levels of service if applications and associated questions are only submitted at or close to the closing date of this opportunity and we will not extend deadlines to account for issues which arise. Therefore, applicants are strongly encouraged to raise any queries with us at least five working days in advance of the closing date a to ensure we can provide a timely response.

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.

Find more 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


The UK government has now set in law the world’s most ambitious climate change target, cutting emissions by 78% by 2035 compared to 1990 levels. It aims to bring the UK more than three-quarters of the way to net zero plus by 2050.

Realising this ambition requires targeted innovation across a multidisciplinary sectorial spectrum. There is a growing recognition of the role of design-led solutions and the role of design researchers as facilitators of the necessary multi and interdisciplinary innovation.

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)’s current priority of building a sustainable, productive net zero economy provides an opportunity to both inform research in this area and to demonstrate the value of design research in driving innovation to support progress towards green transition goals.

Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) is seeking to explore the potential of design thought leadership for the green transition through the establishment of a national Design Exchange Partnerships (DEPs) network.

The challenges presented in making progress towards green transition goals impact the day-to-day lives of people and communities across the UK. We actively encourage DEP applications that seek to demonstrate tangible impact on these local communities. In particular, we are keen to see this in places where investment can make the biggest difference to everyday life.

Future Observatory

Future Observatory is a new national programme of research, debate and training to show how design research can drive Britain’s future prosperity.

With a dedicated team and using the Design Museum as its hub, the programme brings design researchers together with the partners who can help them have an impact on achieving the nation’s environmental goals. Using design as its engine, this major programme aims to set the agenda for social and technological change in Britain.

Future Observatory will act as the engagement hub for DEPs, providing opportunities for showcasing research, running events for award holders as well as networking opportunities and the chance to help shape the conversation around the UK’s green transition.

Webinar for potential applicants

Programme launch workshop (2 May 2024) 

This will provide an opportunity to hear more from AHRC and Future Observatory, the aims of the scheme, and how DEPs fit into the overall ‘Future Observatory: Design the Green Transition’ programme.

You will be able to:

  • identify whether the scheme is a good fit for your project or partnership
  • hear more about the opportunities of academic, industry or public sector collaborations
  • receive in-depth guidance on the application process
  • ask questions

Watch workshop recording on Zoom (passcode: #87Mn*g?)

Application development surgeries (3 and 4 July 2024)

Delivered by AHRC and Future Observatory, these 15-minute sessions will provide an opportunity for you to talk through your proposed project and partnership and receive pre-application feedback and suggestions, they do not form part of the assessment process. Please register for an application development surgery on Eventbrite. Sessions will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.


  • 20 May 2024
    Workshop recording link added to the 'Additional info' section.

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