Your project should be excellent novel research into the development of novel manufacturing instrumentation to improve existing processes and develop new capabilities.
You must develop novel manufacturing research techniques to the point that they can be incorporated into or form the basis of new laboratory-standard instruments. These instruments should be capable of supporting research into novel manufacturing and further development into industry-standard machines.
This funding opportunity will not fund off-the-shelf equipment.
Your research should aim to develop world-class research platforms organised around unique research instrumentation and infrastructure.
Your project must achieve one or more of the objectives of this call:
- to grow the UK research base in important areas of strength or opportunity where the UK is, or has the potential to be, an international leader
- to deliver advanced technology with the potential for innovation and growth
- to develop the UK supply chain in advanced instrumentation and research equipment.
Your research outputs will be bespoke equipment, which could be:
- an instrument based on existing equipment customised beyond the original specification and modified to suit novel research requirements
- an entirely new instrument based on fundamental research
- a combination of the two.
The instrument developed must offer a unique capability that has the potential to support the:
- UK manufacturing research base
- UK supply chain
- the development of future commercial markets in emerging technology areas.
One characteristic feature of world class manufacturing research facilities is their unique experimental capability. In developing such equipment through this call, EPSRC hopes to help place UK research institutes at the forefront of global manufacturing research.
Areas in scope
The research proposal must address one or more of the following areas.
The development of a novel piece of instrumentation to create a novel product or to improve the creation of an existing product. For example, by making the process:
- more resource efficient, capable or suitable for a wider range of materials or intended end uses or supply chains.
Development of novel handling processes to allow the faster throughput of materials, ease the use of difficult-to-handle materials and increase the operating range of machinery. For example, through:
- being able to handle larger samples
- being able to work on multiple samples simultaneously
- overcoming accessibility issues.
Design and development of novel instrumentation to improve the speed and accuracy of measurement of equipment, the workpiece or both.
Examples of research in and out of scope
An example of research that may be considered within the scope of this call is the upgrading and development of existing equipment.
For example, this could be through the combination of two or more pieces of existing equipment to expand their present capability or enhancement through improved process control, systems or image analysis. In this case, the enhancement of existing equipment should exceed the current state of the art and availability.
Research not within the scope of this call includes the purchase and use of standard (in other words, off-the-shelf) equipment for manufacturing research (such as manufacturing and assessment of materials).
Manufacturing sustainability statement
The Manufacturing the Future (MtF) theme recognises the importance of considering the sustainability of manufacturing research across the breadth of the manufacturing portfolio.
You must outline your consideration of environmental sustainability relating to the research you will conduct. There is not an expectation that these projects will be focused on researching sustainability in and of itself, but to ensure that applicants have considered the wider implications of the research being conducted, prior to application.
This requirement will be in the form of an additional document, but it will not form part of the assessment made by peer review.
The statement should demonstrate and address:
- considerations made to the wider environmental sustainability of your approach. For example, where appropriate, have any life cycle assessments been conducted? Is the research method energy and waste efficient?
- does the research have potential for positive improvements in environmental sustainability for the manufacturing sector?
- if (and how) the research may contribute to national and global sustainability priorities, for example Net Zero commitment, Paris Agreement, Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy
- how will you ensure the research does not have unnecessary negative environmental impacts? If potential negative environmental impacts are identified, what is being done to minimise and mitigate against these?
There is up to £10 million available through this call for projects expected to be up to three years in duration.
We anticipate that proposals may be small or large scale and do not have to be at the top end of either the time or cost spectrum to be considered.
We do not anticipate that the equipment developed within this call would initially be made available for wider use by other research groups. However, we do encourage you to consider opportunities for open access and wider use.
Due to the nature of the call, equipment over £10,000 in value (including VAT) is available through this call. Smaller items of equipment (individually under £10,000) should be in the ‘directly incurred – other costs’ heading.
We do not expect you to request single items of equipment worth more than £400,000.
The EPSRC contribution for equipment funded from the EPSRC world class labs budget is 80%. This increased from 50% on 1 April 2021. For equipment funded from other sources, such as the Strategic Priorities Fund, the required contribution will remain at 50%.
If a proposal is based entirely around the development of a novel instrument, the costs of the equipment required to develop the instrument can be funded at 100%. To qualify as instrument development, the following additional rules apply:
- the equipment must be entirely novel
- the equipment must be designed, fabricated, and tested in the institution or institutions holding the grant, rather than being built by an external manufacturer to a specification defined by the PI and co-workers
- the focus of the project should be entirely on the design, development and testing of the instrumentation rather than the application of the developed instrument to a range of problems.
Depending on the focus of the work proposed, some proposals produced in response to this call may be considered as instrument development, provided they fulfil all the relevant criteria.
A decision on whether a proposal qualifies as instrument development will be made on submission of the proposal before postal peer review. This decision will be final and communicated to the PI.
Being classed as instrument development will not be seen as an advantage at the funding panel.
Read more information on EPSRC equipment funding.
EPSRC is fully committed to develop and promote responsible innovation. Research has the ability to not only produce understanding, knowledge and value, but also:
- unintended consequences
- ethical dilemmas
- unexpected social transformations.
We recognise that we have a duty of care to promote approaches to responsible innovation that will initiate ongoing reflection about the potential ethical and societal implications of the research that we sponsor. We encourage our research community to do likewise.
Therefore applicants are expected to work within the EPSRC framework for responsible innovation given on the EPSRC website.
Read the EPSRC framework for responsible innovation.
Applicants planning to include international collaborators on their proposal should visit Trusted Research for information and advice on how to get the most out of international collaboration whilst protecting intellectual property, sensitive research and personal information.
Read the Trusted Research guidance (Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure).