Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Enhance the impact of environmental sciences research

Apply for funding to enhance the impact of research in the environmental sciences.

NERC knowledge exchange fellowships help you and your stakeholders to share knowledge.

To apply, you must be based at an institution eligible for UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) funding. We welcome researchers at all career stages.

Your project must focus on the ambitions set out in NERC’s strategic delivery plan and NERC remit areas from UKRI’s strategy plan.

Fellowship will cover up to 100% of your salary. You would receive up to £40,000 for direct costs, including travel.

Who can apply

You can hold a position where you would be eligible to apply as a principal or co-investigator for a grant. You would generally be expected to apply for the knowledge exchange fellowship for a percentage of your full-time equivalent only.

You can be at an earlier career stage and not yet be eligible as a principal or co-investigator for NERC grants, but may apply for up to 100% of your time through this fellowship.

You do not need a PhD. However, current PhD students are expected to have submitted their thesis before taking up the fellowship.

Co-investigators cannot be requested.

International co-investigator agreements

The international co-investigator agreements with the International Institute of Advanced System Analysis and Norway do not apply to this funding opportunity.

NERC research and fellowship grants for all schemes may be held at:

  • approved UK higher education institutions
  • approved research council institutes
  • independent research organisations and Catapult centres
  • public sector research establishments

Check your organisation is eligible for funding.

Prospective applicants unsure of their eligibility status should contact to confirm before they apply.

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI)

NERC is committed to creating and sustaining a positive, fair and inclusive environment for our research community to ensure that all candidates feel welcomed, included and valued.

We will seek to go beyond our statutory duties and be a beacon for diversity across the environmental science community. Achieving a high level of diversity within the NERC community provides an excellent foundation and environment for research and innovation priorities to flourish.

NERC therefore encourages applications from all individuals who meet the eligibility criteria from all backgrounds.

We warmly welcome applications from individuals who may have undertaken non-standard or non-typical academic routes prior to application.

When considering your application, your career track record (including publication rate and volume), career breaks and part-time working will be taken into account specifically in the assessment process. More details can be found in ‘how we will assess your application’.

Knowledge exchange job share

To enable as diverse a range of applicants as possible, joint applications as job share are welcome.

A job share is an arrangement whereby two applicants share duties and responsibilities on one application. You do not need the same level of expertise, but both partners should be capable of taking responsibility for the whole application. You must be able to demonstrate why you and the proposed application would not be better served by two separate fellowships.

We recommend that you contact the fellowship team before applying on a job share basis.

Each job share applicant will be required to submit an application.

You should identify in your project title that you will be part of a job share application, for example: ‘Job share: knowledge exchange NERC application’.

You should submit identical document attachments (your case for support, justification for resources and so on).

What we're looking for

NERC knowledge exchange fellowships enable the sharing, flow and translation of knowledge and expertise between:

  • NERC-remit researchers
  • their stakeholders, partners and user communities, as relevant

You propose your own programme of work in any area across the NERC remit.

What you need to focus on

You should shape your proposals to address the ambitions set out in NERC’s strategic delivery plan and NERC remit areas from UKRI’s strategy plan.

Your application should focus on accelerating and amplifying impact throughout the cycle of research. To do this, you should engage and work with a range of stakeholders, partners and user communities.

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) definition of impact is an effect on, change or benefit, beyond academia, to one or more of:

  • the economy
  • society
  • culture
  • public policy or services
  • health
  • the environment
  • or quality of life

A knowledge exchange fellowship may include working with and engaging stakeholders, partners and user communities (including business, non-governmental organisations, policy makers, public) to:

  • strengthening existing partnerships
  • developing new relationships that lead to collaborative projects
  • identification of knowledge needs
  • developing new market opportunities for the exploitation of research outcomes
  • providing briefings and reports 


Knowledge exchange fellowships cover up to 100% of your salary on a pro-rata basis.

Funded costs include:

  • superannuation
  • National Insurance
  • specific allowances
  • up to £40,000 for travel and other associated work plan costs

The fellowships cover direct costs only and do not include overheads. There is no budget limit for salary costs.

You can apply for travel and subsistence costs for stakeholders to attend meetings or events. However, you cannot pay them to attend (meeting attendance fees).

It is not expected that knowledge exchange fellowships will require NERC facilities. If you wishes to use a NERC service or facility, you should contact the NERC fellowships team to discuss before submitting an application, in addition to following the usual facilities requirements.

Fellowships can last up to three years.

You can work anywhere between 20% and 100% of your time on a work plan of your own choosing to generate impact from NERC remit research.

How to apply

Applications must be submitted using the research councils’ Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system.

Submitting your application

Before starting an application, you will need to log in or create an account in Je-S.

When applying:

  1. Select ‘documents’, then ‘new document’.
  2. Select ‘call search’.
  3. To find the opportunity, search for: ‘Knowledge Exchange Fellowships (KE JUNE23)’.

This will populate:

  • Council: NERC
  • Document Type: Standard Proposal
  • Scheme: Innovation People
  • Call/Type/Mode: ‘Knowledge Exchange Fellowships (KE JUN23)’

To use the Je-S system, the research organisation must be registered as a Je-S user. Full details are available on the Je-S website.


The knowledge exchange fellowship funding opportunity will close on 14 June 2023 at 4:00pm UK time.

It will not be possible to submit to the funding opportunity after this time.

You should leave enough time for your application to pass through your organisation’s Je-S submission route before this date.

Any application that is incomplete or does not meet NERC’s eligibility criteria or follow NERC’s submission rules (see NERC grants handbook), will be office rejected and will not be considered.


All attachments, with the exception of services, facilities or equipment quotes, submitted through the Je-S system must be completed in single-spaced typescript of minimum font size 11 point (Arial or other sans serif typeface of equivalent size to Arial 11), with margins of at least 2cm.

Please note that Arial narrow, Calibri and Times New Roman are not allowable font types and any proposal which has used either of these font types within their submission will be rejected.

References and footnotes should also be at least 11 point font and should be in the same font type as the rest of the document. Headers and footers should not be used for references or information relating to the scientific case. Applicants referring to websites should note that referees may choose not to use them.

You should ensure that your proposal conforms to all eligibility and submission rules, otherwise your proposal may be rejected without peer review. More details on NERC’s submission rules can be found in:

Please note that on submission to the council, all non-PDF documents are converted to PDF. The use of non-standard fonts may result in errors or font conversion, which could affect the overall length of the document.

Additionally, where non-standard fonts are present, and even if the converted PDF document may look unaffected in the Je-S system, when it is imported into the research councils grants system some information may be removed.

We therefore recommend that where a document contains any non-standard fonts (scientific notation, diagrams and so on), the document should be converted to PDF prior to attaching it to the proposal.

Résumé for Research and Innovation

The Résumé for Research and Innovation (R4RI) is a narrative CV based on the Royal Society’s Resume for Researchers. This funding opportunity is one of a number of pilots of the format across UKRI. If you have any feedback on the format or guidance provided, please email

The R4RI template is designed to allow you to showcase the relevant skills and experience you have. The template encourages applicants to include a wide range of contributions to the research and innovation landscape so that these can be recognised and rewarded as part of the assessment process.

We encourage you to be specific and only highlight outputs that are directly relevant to the funding opportunity being applied for or that provide evidence of your (or your team’s) ability to deliver the proposal.

R4RI is assessed as a whole and therefore it is of no consequence which heading you include a piece of evidence under. The modules are simply designed to help you consider all aspects of your work.

You will not be penalised for leaving sections blank, but it is recommended you carefully consider the breadth of your experience.

The R4RI should be completed as a narrative. Lists should be avoided where possible. The assessment process is not based on metrics (numbers of publications, impact factors or amounts of past funding, for example). Publication references within the application should be provided as Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) wherever possible.

The R4RI template is designed to be used across many different funding opportunities. Therefore, it is important that you carefully read the funding opportunity-specific guidance for details on how it will be assessed.

The ‘additions’ box is included for you to provide additional information, such as details of career breaks, which you feel may give context to the R4RI or wider application. Please note that this is not a requirement and you may leave this box blank if you wish. All comments written here will be seen by panel members and may also be shared with UKRI colleagues for evaluation purposes.

R4RI should be focused and only include information relevant to the funding opportunity.

Further guidance on the use of R4RI.

No associated studentships can be requested under this funding opportunity.

Notes on completing the Je-S form

Fellow details

Knowledge exchange fellowships are awarded 100% of costs with no provision for overheads.


Identify, as relevant, the key stakeholders, partners and user communities you will interact with and will benefit from your programme of work. Identify what impacts this may generate.

You should consider how your project will enhance the impact of the NERC remit science related to the wider community. Think about how you will connect with the most suitable stakeholders to generate impact (as described by the Research Excellence Framework) in terms of either (or both):

  • reach (how widely the impact has been felt)
  • significance (how much difference was made to the beneficiaries)


Tick the ‘exceptions’ box.


These are the only attachments we require.

Case for support

The case for support should be split into two parts.

For the first part of the case for support you should use the R4RI template.

The second part of the case for support should be the body of the fellowship application in which you must outline how you meet the fellowship criteria.

Please pay close attention to the assessment criteria set out in the funding opportunity. Use the case for support to ensure that all elements are addressed in full taking account of information provided elsewhere in the application.

You should use the case for support to describe support from organisations who are offering support in cash or support in kind and who will be engaged in the programme of work

The second part of the case for support should be a maximum of five sides A4.

Justification of resources

Two sides A4 maximum.

Explain why you need funds for activities making reference to your project objectives.

Head of department statement

Two sides A4 maximum.

The head of department of the host institution will be required to demonstrate the availability of structured institutional support, and opportunities for personal development available to the fellow.

How we will assess your application

Proposals will be assessed equally on:

  • the suitability of the knowledge exchange fellow
  • the potential impact of the proposal
  • the demonstration of diversity, equity and inclusion

Our assessors use the Research Excellence Framework definition of impact quoted in ‘what we’re looking for’.

Assessment criteria

The assessment criteria are equally weighted:

  • suitability of applicant
  • potential impact
  • diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI)

Suitability of applicant

The assessment will look for relevance of your experience to the proposal and your approach:

  • recognised to be of high standard (skills, capabilities, and ambitions) relative to your career stage
  • a broad understanding of the research and innovation landscape and the value of knowledge exchange and translation
  • clear evidence of, or potential for, knowledge exchange, innovation or engagement leadership
  • demonstrate an ability to engage effectively, build partnerships, be a clear communicator, disseminator of knowledge and innovation, or both
  • demonstrate an ability to develop and mature new relationships and influence across multiple disciplines and sectors
  • evidence of using the fellowship for personal development

Potential impact

The assessment will look for alignment of proposal to funding opportunity scope.

Quality and innovation: innovativeness of the programme of work and the scale of the impact.

User engagement: demonstration of ongoing involvement and engagement of users in co-design or to co-deliver.

Efficiency and effective management:

  • outline of work plan exemplifying how the programme will deliver on objectives
  • justification of resources requested, including partner contributions of cash or in kind and leverage
  • evidence of the potential for a lasting legacy and long term sustainability
  • consideration of how the impact will be assessed and recorded
  • demonstrate good governance structures


The assessment will look for evidence that you demonstrate:

  • commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion through the proposed work, in terms of both management (selecting members of any advisory groups, boards or governance structures) and impact (ensuring any outreach is accessible; and involving and engaging with diverse stakeholders).
  • an approach and commitment to championing diversity, equity and inclusion by removing barriers in the research environment and promoting an open and inclusive research community

Application process

Applications will go through a two-stage process:

  • an assessment sift by a panel
  • interview by the same panel

The panel will be composed of members with relevant expertise, ensuring a balance of different perspectives, disciplines, expertise and affiliations, with diversity in mind. These panel members’ expertise can include:

  • knowledge exchange expert
  • environmental science specialism
  • non-academic engagement organisation
  • institutional and cross-disciplinary perspectives
  • public engagement practitioner or expert
  • DEI

You will be given brief feedback from the panel, summarising the reasons why the proposal was unsuccessful in being invited to interview. Feedback will be provided to all those invited to interview after the interview panel.

NERC will use the recommendations of the interview panel along with the overall funding opportunity requirements and the available budget in making the final funding decisions.

COVID-19 impacts

NERC recognises that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused major interruptions and disruptions across our communities. NERC is committed to ensuring that you and your wider team, including partners and networks, are not penalised for any disruption to your careers, such as:

  • breaks and delays
  • disruptive working patterns and conditions
  • the loss of ongoing work
  • role changes that may have been caused by the pandemic

Reviewers and panel members will be advised to consider the unequal impacts that COVID-19 related disruption might have had on the track record and career development of those individuals included in the proposal. They will be asked to consider the capability of the applicant and their wider team to deliver the research they are proposing.

Where disruptions have occurred, you can highlight this within your application, if you wish, but there is no requirement to detail the specific circumstances that caused the disruption.

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.

Ask about this funding opportunity

NERC talent and skills team


Get help with applying through Je-S



01793 444164

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Additional info

Reporting requirements

Successful applicants will be required to report research outcomes on Researchfish in line with standard UKRI terms and conditions. This is required annually and continues for up to five years post grant end.

Successful projects are required to submit a final expenditure statement. NERC reserves the right to make ad hoc requests for other reports as necessary. You should inform NERC when you identify any knowledge needs of stakeholders that have been fed into either (or both):

  • NERC future strategy development
  • funding opportunities (such as highlight topics or the Strategic Priorities Fund ideas process)
  • policy developments
  • innovation or commercialisation outcomes

Visa for international researchers

International researchers and specialists who are named, or have their position listed, on a successful grant may be eligible for the Global Talent visa.

Responsible research

Through our funding processes, we seek to make a positive contribution to society and the environment, not just through research outputs and outcomes but through the way in which research is conducted and facilities managed.

All NERC grant holders are to adopt responsible research practices as set-out in the NERC responsible business statement.

Responsible research is defined as reducing harm or enhancing benefit on the environment and society through effective management of research activities and facilities.

Specifically, this covers:

  • the natural environment
  • the local community
  • diversity, equity and inclusion

Grant holders should consider the responsible research context of their project, not the host institution, and take action to enhance their responsible research approach where practical and reasonable.

When developing proposals, it is important that you ensure your proposals have no links to any organisations engaged in unsafe practice, lobbying activities or modern slavery.

Supporting documents

Resume for researchers CV template (DOCX, 34KB)

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