Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Develop sustainable cities and urban environments across Europe

Apply for funding to address key urban challenges facing cities in the transition to a more sustainable economy.

Projects must include an applicant based at a UK research organisation eligible for UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) funding and a business eligible for funding by Innovate UK.

The research element must be social science led, and inclusion of arts and humanities and engineering researchers is strongly encouraged.

UK funding is only available for topics under the ‘15-minute city’ thematic area.

We aim to support eight to 10 projects. The full economic cost of the UK part of the project can be up to £415,000. ESRC, AHRC and EPSRC will typically fund 80% of the full economic cost.

Funding is available for three years.

Who can apply

This funding opportunity has been co-created with the Driving Urban Transitions (DUT) partnership, which is co-funded with Horizon Europe.

The UK element of the transnational project must include an applicant who is based at a UK research organisation eligible for UKRI funding, as well as a UK business which is eligible for funding by Innovate UK.

It is possible for the UK consortium to be led by either a UK research organisation or a UK business.

Eligible research organisations include:

  • higher education institutions that are directly funded for research by Research England, Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, Scottish Funding Council or Northern Ireland’s Department for the Economy
  • independent research organisations that have received recognition to apply to the research councils
  • research council institutes.

Check if you are eligible for research and innovation funding.

For the collaboration partners seeking Innovate UK funding to develop or demonstrate innovation solutions, including the mandatory business component of any project, read Innovate UK’s guidance for applicants.

The lead research organisation involved in a project must be UK based, however, international research organisations (outside of the countries participating in this opportunity) are eligible to be involved as additional partners.

Read ESRC’s international co-investigator policy guidance.

All eligibility requirements can be found in the UK annex (PDF, 205KB).

Project teams

Project teams must include partners from at least three different countries who are participating in the funding opportunity. At least two of these must be countries that are EU member states or associated to Horizon Europe.

Read further information on which countries and funding agencies are participating in this opportunity on the DUT website.

Individuals can only be involved as the lead for their organisation in two applications to this opportunity and may only be the main applicant for a consortium once.

All project teams must include at least one urban government authority. This can be in a funded or unfunded capacity.

What we're looking for

The Driving Urban Transitions (DUT) partnership focuses on three critical urban sectors (and their interrelationships) which are laid out in its roadmap as Transition Pathways (TP). The basis of the opportunity topics are these three TPs, with several topics defined under each pathway.

UK funding will only be available for the opportunity topics within the ‘15-minute city’ transition pathway.

The 15-minute city (15mC) transition pathway fosters sustainable urban mobility transitions by improving accessibility and connectivity, starting from the neighbourhood level.

The concept of the 15mC is based on the idea that city dwellers should be able to cover the vast majority of their daily needs within a 15-minute radius, by walking and cycling, while connecting to further districts and travelling larger distances by other forms of sustainable transport.

The 15mC seeks to establish integrated and mixed-used neighbourhoods at large, which are key to reduce greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions in the transport and logistic sector and adapt urban environments to the challenges of climate change. Thus, the 15mC wants to account for the diversity of contemporary lifestyles and boost climate-neutral, liveable and inclusive cities.

The 15mC objective is to facilitate analysis, elaboration, experimenting and testing of innovations for 15-minute cities in co-creative settings, bringing these together in a 15mC innovation portfolio of 50+ experiences and practices, recognising different urban contexts and focusing on transferability.

The three topics within this pathway are:

  • 15mC topic one: strengthen the mix of urban functions and services
  • 15mC topic two: foster sustainable options for personal mobility and logistics in urban outskirts (and beyond)
  • 15mC topic three: reimagine urban public spaces and streets for vibrant, sustainable neighbourhoods.

Read the full topic descriptions on the DUT website.

The UK research part of the project must be social science led (at least 50% within ESRC’s remit). However, we strongly encourage the inclusion of arts and humanities and engineering and physical science researchers in projects.

Funding available

We aim to support eight to 10 projects. The full economic cost of the UK part of the project can be up to £415,000. ESRC, AHRC and EPSRC will typically fund 80% of the full economic cost.

Funding is available for additional eligible collaborators, including other research entities such as not for profit or public sector organisations. The inclusion of such collaborators is not mandatory for the UK but is strongly encouraged.

Read Innovate UK’s costs guidance for non-academic organisations.

Depending upon the size of the business, or the nature of the organisation (third sector or local authority), and the closeness to market of the activity, the percentage of total costs eligible for Innovate UK funding will vary.

Read more about Innovate UK’s funding rules.

At least:

  • 40% of the UK overall budget per project must be spent by academic partners
  • 30% of the UK overall budget per project must be spent by business partners.

In addition, up to 30% can be spent by additional eligible collaborators including other research entities such as not for profit, or public sector organisations.

How to apply

Full information on the submission process can be found on the Driving Urban Transitions (DUT) website.

We recommend you start your application early and that you check any eligibility queries with the UK contact points.

Your host organisation will also be able to provide advice and guidance.


The DUT partnership must receive the joint project outline application by 21 November 2022 at midday UK time.

The deadline for full stage proposals is 3 May 2023.

You will not be able to apply after this time. Please leave enough time for your proposal to pass through your organisation’s submission route before this date.

You should ensure you are aware of and follow any internal institutional deadlines that may be in place.


As a UK applicant, your application must also include the following attachment:

Contact details

Get help with developing your proposal

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.

UK national contact point (for UK specific enquiries)

General enquiries


Research or innovation queries within the remit of a single UK funder

Dawn Greenberg, AHRC


Ajinkya Rao, EPSRC


Maria Calderon Munoz, EPSRC


Kim Fuggle and Ben Miller, ESRC


James Taplin, Innovate UK


Nic Wallet, Innovate UK


General enquiries for Driving Urban Transitions (DUT)


Additional info


The UK funders hosted a webinar on 13 October to specifically provide further information on the UK eligibility requirements.

View the webinar recording via Zoom. The password for access is T93ND.+o

To receive the webinar slide deck and a frequently asked questions document, contact


To facilitate the process of forming research consortia, the partnership is offering a matchmaking tool which is available on the DUT website.

See the DUT matchmaking tool.

This tool can be used by projects looking for partners and partners looking for projects.

Supporting documents

UK annex (PDF, 205KB)

UK expenditure and additional information form (XLSX, 22KB)

Equality impact assessment form (PDF, 142KB)

This is the website for UKRI: our seven research councils, Research England and Innovate UK. Let us know if you have feedback or would like to help improve our online products and services.