Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Pre-announcement: Design Exchange Partnerships: design the green transition – round 3

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

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

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

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

The full economic cost of your project can be up to £62,500 for six months or £125,000 for 12 months, plus 5% – 10% contribution from the non-academic partner organisation. AHRC will fund 80% of the full economic cost.

This is a pre-announcement and the information may change. The funding opportunity will open on 2 May 2024. More information will be available on this page then.

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 proposals 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 UK Research and Innovation 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 proposal and throughout the course of the award, if successful.

Non-academic partners must be either a:

  • micro or small and medium-sized enterprise-sized, 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 associates, supervisors 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.

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:

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

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

  • more-than- human, 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 proposals 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.

We 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 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 proposals 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 proposals 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

We are running this funding opportunity on the new UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Funding Service. 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.

We will publish full details on how to apply when the funding opportunity opens.

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

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 Design Exchange Partnerships | Future Observatory.

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

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 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 the AI and Design team email:

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 out 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, please contact the AI and Design team 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

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, how DEPs fit into the overall ‘Future Observatory: design the green transition’ programme and inspiration about interpreting the theme.

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 guidance and inspiration about interpreting the theme
  • ask questions

Register for the webinar.

A recording will be available after the event.


  • 25 March 2024
    Webinar details and registration link added under Additional info section.

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