Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: EPSRC programme grant

Programme grants provide flexible funding to world-leading UK research groups addressing significant research challenges.

You must first go through a pre-outline and outline stage before being invited to make a full application.

We will award 80% of the full economic costs of the project, and your organisation(s) must agree to find the balance.

In 2023 UK Research and Innovation will introduce a new grants system, the Funding Service, to replace the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system. This will impact how you apply to responsive mode opportunities. Find out more about the transition timeline and our pathway for change.

Who can apply

Programme grants are open to UK higher education institutions, research council institutes, UKRI-approved independent research organisations, public sector research establishments and NHS bodies with research capacity.

Find out more about institutional eligibility.

You should be part of a team of world-leading researchers working together on a variety of activities focused on a strategic research theme.

You can apply if you are resident in the UK and meet at least one of these criteria:

  • are employed at the submitting research organisation at lecturer level or equivalent
  • hold a fixed-term contract that extends beyond the duration of the proposed research project, and the host research organisation is prepared to give you all the support normal for a permanent employee
  • hold an EPSRC, Royal Society or Royal Academy of Engineering fellowship aimed at later career stages
  • hold fellowships under other schemes (please contact EPSRC to check eligibility, which is considered on a case-by-case basis)

Holders of postdoctoral level fellowships are not eligible to apply for an EPSRC grant.

Clinical applicants must be employed or be on a fixed-term contract longer than the proposed project at an NHS trust, hospital, board, primary care trust or general practice.

Under the UKRI-RCN Money Follows Cooperation Agreement a co-investigator can be based in a Norwegian institution.

Find out more about individual eligibility.

We will not accept uninvited resubmissions of projects that have been submitted to UKRI or any other funder.

Projects invited to submit a full proposal are subject to our policy on repeatedly unsuccessful submissions.

What we're looking for

Programme grants provide flexible funding to world-leading research groups seeking to address significant research challenges across the EPSRC remit. We expect most successful proposals to be interdisciplinary and collaborative, but they can also address key challenges in a single discipline. They are not just large grants, they must be strategic in nature.

We support excellent research in:

  • digital economy
  • energy
  • engineering
  • healthcare technologies (see our dedicated healthcare technologies investigator-led funding opportunity)
  • information and communication technologies
  • manufacturing the future
  • mathematical sciences
  • physical sciences
  • quantum technologies
  • global uncertainties (please speak to us first before considering submitting a pre-outline)
  • living with environmental change (please speak to us first before considering submitting a pre-outline)
  • research infrastructure (please speak to us first before considering submitting a pre-outline)

Find out more about our research areas and themes.

We are looking for proposals that:

  • bring together the best researchers to tackle bigger, more open-ended challenges in a coherent and holistic way
  • build partnerships between universities and promote cross-disciplinary working
  • provide freedom to conduct feasibility studies, cross-fertilise ideas and build up new skill sets
  • create greater visibility nationally and internationally among other researchers and industry
  • help to bring in other researchers, attract more funding and promote UK science
  • allow early career researchers in the team to be given greater independence and responsibility, and promote their career development
  • offer grant holders flexibility to allocate resources between different projects and respond quickly to new challenges

Find out more about the scope.

How to apply

You must first submit a pre-outline and an outline of your project. We will invite full proposals from projects that fit the remit of the scheme and our current priorities.

The application stages for a programme grant are:

  • pre-outline
  • outline
  • invitation to submit a full proposal
  • interview.

Pre-outlines can be submitted at any time via an online form, and we consider them on a rolling basis.

Complete the pre-outline submission form.

The whole process from pre-outline stage to approval of a programme grant can take 12 months or more depending on when you make the pre-outline submission.

Find out more in our programme grant application guidance before applying.

UKRI is implementing a standard method for inputting overseas costs on Je-S from 1 July 2021. This will enhance UKRI’s ability to report on overseas funding to:

  • BEIS
  • the Organisation for Economic Development (OECD)
  • HMG
  • other government departments.

It includes any costs incurred by organisations outside the UK, including:

  • staff salaries
  • travel and subsistence
  • equipment
  • overheads.

The ‘Other-DI Costs’ document is to contain the following data in the description box in this exact format: ‘Organisation; Country; Cost Category; Cost Description’.

For example: ‘University of Nairobi; Kenya; Other Directly Incurred Costs; Subcontracting of the production of samples’.

How we will assess your application

We will discuss your pre-outline submission with you and consider how it fits with our portfolio and strategy and whether it is suitable for a programme grant.

Find out more in our pre-outline discussion questions.

You will then either be advised to consider applying to a different scheme or invited to submit an outline proposal. We hold panels to assess outline proposals three times a year. Find out more about panel meeting dates. The deadlines to meet these panels are in January or February, May and September.

Our external panel includes members from across our remit. It does not assess outline proposals on science but on:

  • suitable and timely vision and demonstrable importance of the proposed research
  • evidence of value of long-term funding and flexibility of resources
  • coherent programme of inter-related projects and other research activities rather than individual project grants
  • ability of team to lead, establish or maintain a unique world-leading research activity
  • appropriate management and monitoring structures.

If you are successful, you will be given 10 weeks to submit a full proposal. Your proposal will be peer reviewed by experts, including where possible at least one nominated by you and one international reviewer. If your proposal receives enough support, it will go to an interview panel.

Find out more about assessment criteria in our programme grant application guidance.

Contact details

Contacts for specific themes

Programme grant scheme owner

Billy McGregor

Mathematical sciences

Billy McGregor

Engineering, energy, and manufacturing and the circular economy

You can contact any of these people.

Judith McCann (manufacturing and the circular economy)

Zoe Brown (engineering)

Healthcare technologies

Kate Porter Goff

Physical sciences

You can contact any of these people.

Talit Ghaffar

Amit Kumar

Paschalia Patsala

Information communication technologies (ICT), quantum technologies, digital security and resilience, and artificial intelligence

Abigail Miller

Ben Scott

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