Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Digital Economy: Sustainable Digital Society

The Digital Economy Theme is led by EPSRC, in close collaboration with AHRC, ESRC, and Innovate UK.

We are investing up to £5 million (at 80% full economic cost) of EPSRC funding to support around six sociotechnical, interdisciplinary, co-created, novel research projects.

The projects should explore user-focused, transformational digital technologies and services to achieve a sustainable digital society.

The Digital Economy Theme welcomes multi-disciplinary research that spans the whole of the remit of UK Research and Innovation. The research must be at least 50% within EPSRC’s remit to qualify for funding.

What we’re looking for

This call focuses on environmental sustainability. It is recognised that social and economic sustainability are interconnected with environmental sustainability, therefore exploration of these aspects of sustainability is acceptable and welcomed, provided environmental sustainability is the primary focus.

In addition to research projects addressing key research challenges within the Sustainable Digital Society space,  we expect projects to consider how to undertake the research itself in an environmentally sustainable manner by adopting research and innovation practices that seek to protect/enhance the environment as far as possible.

This is a pilot for EPSRC, and we are interested in finding out what can be achieved within grants to promote environmentally sustainable research practices, whilst still ensuring high quality research outcomes.

How to apply

There is a compulsory Intent to Submit for this call to enable EPSRC to assess demand. Applicants must complete the online Intent to Submit SmartSurvey form by 16:00 on 3 September 2020 to be eligible for the call.

Applicants will be required to provide Investigator details and a short summary of the intended proposal. We will not publish any information submitted through this stage; it is for internal use only.

On successful submission of an Intent to Submit, you will receive an email from to confirm that this has been received by EPSRC. This will include a copy of your submission attached as a PDF document for your records. Please check that this email has not been stopped by any spam filters.

We will not be providing feedback on all Intent to Submit submissions received – we will only provide feedback in exceptional circumstances and if resources allow. Therefore, please continue your full proposal application in accordance with the deadline for full proposals of Thursday 01 October 2020 at 16:00.

We will only accept full proposal submissions from Principal Investigators who have submitted an Intent to Submit. Applicants will not be held to the details of the Intent to Submit in the full proposal (aside from the details of the Principal Investigator). Co-Investigators, researchers and project partners can be added to a full proposal, even if they were not included at the Intent to Submit stage. However, applicants must ensure that any single Investigator appears on only one proposal, either as a Principal Investigator or Co-Investigator.

Full proposals received must be at least 50% within EPSRC’s remit and deemed to be within the aim and scope of the call to undergo postal peer review, followed by prioritisation at a panel (if reviews are sufficiently supportive), resulting in a rank-ordered list. Full proposals received that are not at least 50% within EPSRC’s remit and/or are not deemed to be within the aim and scope of the call will be rejected prior to postal peer review.

This call is related to a virtual workshop that the Digital Economy Theme held in June 2020, “Identifying Challenges for a Sustainable Digital Society”, which aimed to identify future research challenges that should be addressed in the Sustainable Digital Society space.

Please note that for proposals seeking to address the social, economic, cultural, environmental and/or longer-term health impacts of COVID-19, there is currently a UKRI open call that may be more suitable.

The UKRI open call supports research and innovation which will deliver impact within 12-18 months. We advise applicants to seriously consider whether the UKRI open call may be more appropriate for their proposed research.

Please note that you must read the full call document for guidance before submitting your proposal.

Key Dates

Activity Date
Call launches and opens in the Joint Electronic Submission system (Je-S) 30 July 2020
Compulsory Intent to Submit closing date 3 September 2020 at 16:00
Full proposals closing date 1 October 2020 at 16:00
Prioritisation panel To be confirmed
Decision By 31 March 2021


For help required related to the Je-S system please contact the Je-S Helpdesk:

  • +44 (0) 1793 444164 – please refer to the Je-S homepage for telephone line opening hours.

For specific advice about the call, please contact:

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