Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Pre-announcement: Develop interdisciplinary research proposals to tackle epidemic threats

Apply for seed funding to build interdisciplinary teams and develop research ideas to tackle epidemic diseases of humans, animals and plants.

You must be a researcher employed by a research organisation eligible to apply for UKRI funding.

Your team will bring new perspectives crossing Councils’ remits to understand infectious disease threats.

The full economic cost (FEC) of your project can be up to £125,000. UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) will fund at 80% of the FEC.

The duration of this award will be fixed at nine months.

This is a pre-announcement and the information may change.

The funding opportunity will open October 2023. More information will be available on this page then.

Who can apply

Before applying for funding, check the Eligibility of your organisation.

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

  • project lead can be from any discipline
  • project co-lead eligibility will be confirmed in the full announcement for this opportunity

International applicants

International project co-leads are allowed if they provide expertise or access to facilities or resources not available in the UK.

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


This funding opportunity is phase one of a flagship investment to better prepare for future epidemics as part of the UKRI Tackling infections strategic theme.


Interdisciplinary epidemic preparedness flagship

The initiative is an interdisciplinary opportunity to better understand, predict and prevent (re-)emergence of infectious human, animal, and plant diseases of epidemic potential. It aims to improve epidemic preparedness by supporting interdisciplinary research that will improve our understanding of these infectious disease threats, through building and expanding interdisciplinary research capacity. This initiative will have two phases:

  • phase one seed funding to develop interdisciplinary research teams and research questions that will bring new perspectives and approaches to epidemic preparedness research, drawing on a range of disciplines from across the remits of the research councils. We anticipate teams will subsequently seek phase two funding (or other funding opportunities)
  • phase two programmatic awards will address research questions. We anticipate providing opportunities for award holders to network and share insights and best practice to help build an interdisciplinary research community better prepared to address future threats

Receipt of seed funding through phase one is not a requirement to apply for phase two programmatic funding.

Phase one seed funding

We will provide seed funding to build interdisciplinary research teams to develop research ideas in epidemic preparedness for infectious human, animal and plant diseases.

Interdisciplinary teams will include researchers that cross the remits of the UKRI research councils, to bring fresh perspectives to our understanding of (re-)emerging human, animal or plant infectious diseases with epidemic potential. Working together with end users and stakeholders is encouraged. It is intended that the research ideas developed will enable better prediction as to the nature of future threats and how to control them and unlock new research opportunities, approaches and methods that would otherwise not emerge from established disciplinary thinking.

We anticipate that the research teams may evolve over the duration of the seed funding, towards a final team that will seek phase two (or other) funding, and should include:

  • academics from a range of disciplines across research council remits
  • project co-leads or project partners such as:
    • members of the business community
    • policymakers in the public, private and third sectors
    • representatives from civil society
    • people with lived experience

Pathogens (for example, bacterial, viral, parasitic, fungal) within all reservoirs are within the scope of this funding opportunity, providing they have epidemic potential, including but not exclusive to:

  • humans
  • animals (farmed, companion and wild)
  • plants (crops and wild)
  • natural environments
  • animal-human-environment interface

The seed funding through phase one is anticipated to support the following kinds of activity and the resources needed to undertake them, for example:

  • evidence gathering and synthesis, strategic reviews and research needs or impact assessments
  • identifying novel data sets and resources for future research in the area
  • planning and hosting of workshops and meetings
  • building appropriate research strategies, plans and proposals, embedding a One Health approach if appropriate
  • bringing together working partnerships, collaborations and management mechanisms, including co-development or co-creation with affected or at risk communities
  • developing leadership teams and management or operational structures
  • negotiations with host institutions and partner funders (if appropriate)
  • developing communications, stakeholder engagement and knowledge exchange strategies
  • small, short-term feasibility studies to demonstrate viability of approach where this is necessary and adds value

Substantive research will not be supported through phase one. Research proposals developed during phase one can be submitted to phase two of this programme (or other funding opportunities), which will coincide with conclusion of phase one.

Phases one and two of this flagship investment are aimed at projects focusing on pathogens that are considered a significant threat now or in the future to human, animal and or plant health. You will be expected to justify the epidemic potential of the pathogen(s) included in your proposal. The intention is to support a portfolio of research across a range of pathogens and hosts. Applications are particularly encouraged that expect to yield insights applicable to more than one pathogen.

Themes could include, but are not limited to:

  • understanding the impacts of and interplay between biological, physiological, cultural, environmental, political, legal and socioeconomic factors affecting infectious disease (re-)emergence, transmission and epidemiology
  • understanding factors contributing to spill over and risk pathways
  • developing and evaluating multifaceted evidence-based non-pharmacological (including animal and plants) disease control interventions (for example public health interventions, biosecurity strategies) to prevent infection and interrupt transmission
  • developing multiparameter models for comparing the impact of prevention strategies and assessing their cost-effectiveness including gaining deeper understanding of factors affecting disease outbreak
  • lessons learned from previous outbreaks to inform prediction and prevention activities

For more information on the background of this funding opportunity, go to the Additional information section.


The duration of this award is fixed at nine months. Awards will have a fixed start date.

Funding available

The FEC of your project can be up to £125,000.

UKRI will fund 80% of the FEC.

We expect to fund up to 15 proposals.

What we will fund

  • interdisciplinary proposals that have been co-developed
  • international collaborations where suitable collaborators in the UK do not exist or where this adds significant value

What we will not fund

  • research
  • siloed projects that lack interdisciplinary integration, perspectives or approaches
  • projects that do not embed the research and innovation community in the process
  • product development costs
  • development or clinical evaluation of new medical interventions including diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines
  • projects related to antimicrobial resistance
  • surveillance, or human-to-human transmission (post disease emergence), except as a component of a wider holistic programme
  • fees or stipends for postgraduate studentships

International collaboration

If your application includes international applicants, project partners or collaborators, visit UKRI’s trusted research and innovation for more information on effective international collaboration.

Find out about getting funding for international collaboration.

How to apply

We are running this funding opportunity on the new UKRI Funding Service. You cannot apply on the Joint Electronic Submissions (Je-S) system.

Full details on how to apply will be published when the opportunity opens.

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

We will assess your application using the following process.

All UKRI councils will be involved in agreeing the review process and subsequently selecting reviewers, to reflect the interdisciplinary nature of this funding opportunity.


We will invite a panel of interdisciplinary experts to review and score your application against the specified criteria for this funding opportunity and rank it alongside other applications after which the panel will make a funding recommendation.

All UKRI councils will be involved in making the final funding decision.

Principles of assessment

We support the San Francisco declaration on research assessment (DORA) and recognise the relationship between research assessment and research integrity.

Find out about the UKRI Principles of Assessment and Decision Making.

We reserve the right to modify the assessment process as needed.

Assessment criteria

The criteria we will assess your application against are:

  • Vision
  • Approach
  • Applicant and team capability to deliver
  • Ethics and responsible research and innovation
  • Resource and cost justification
  • Equality, diversity and inclusion
  • Interdisciplinarity

Further details of assessment questions and criteria will be published when the opportunity opens.

Contact details

Get help with your application

For help on costings and writing your application, contact your research office. Allow enough time for your organisation’s submission process.

Ask about this funding opportunity


We aim to respond to emails within two working days.

Phone: 01793 547490

Our phone lines are open:

  • Monday to Thursday 8:30am to 5:00pm
  • Friday 8:30am to 4:30pm

Sensitive information

If you or a core team member need to tell us something you wish to remain confidential, email the Funding Service helpdesk on

Include in the subject line: the funding opportunity title; sensitive information; your UKRI 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


This funding opportunity is part of the Tackling infections strategic theme, one of five strategic themes included in the UKRI strategy 2022 to 2027: transforming tomorrow together.

The opportunity has been developed including insights from an international workshop held by UKRI in partnership with the Academy of Medical Sciences and InterAcademy Partnership, ‘Interdisciplinary research in epidemic preparedness and response’.

Webinar for potential applicants

We will hold a webinar in October 2023. This will provide more information about the funding opportunity and a chance to ask questions.

We will also hold two virtual networking events in early November 2023. This will provide a live virtual space to facilitate active networking and provide information about individuals’ skills and expertise (both offered and wanted) to aid collaboration and development of research teams. Further information will be available when the opportunity opens.

Research disruption due to COVID-19

We recognise that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused major interruptions and disruptions across our communities. We are committed to ensuring that individual applicants and their wider team, including partners and networks, are not penalised for any disruption to their career, 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 capability to deliver and career development of those individuals included in the application. They will be asked to consider the capability of you and your wider team to deliver the research you 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


  • 2 August 2023
    Opening date in the alert box amended to October 2023

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