Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: EPSRC network grant, May 2023: responsive mode

Network grants are for researchers at eligible research organisations.

We will support costs of building interdisciplinary research communities

We will award 80% of the full economic cost (FEC) of the project.

Who can apply

Before applying for funding, check the following:

Who is eligible to apply

EPSRC standard eligibility rules apply. For full details, visit EPSRC’s eligibility page.

International applicants

Under the UKRI and Research Council of Norway Money Follows Cooperation agreement a project co-lead (international) (previously co-investigator) can be based in a Norwegian institution.

Resubmissions

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

Find out more about EPSRC’s resubmissions policy.

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

Aim

We are committed to the continued support of excellent discovery led research as detailed in EPSRC’s strategic delivery plan 2022 to 2025.

Network grants aim to develop new interdisciplinary research communities and topics by supporting interaction between researchers and relevant science, technology and industrial groups.

This could be by:

  • transfer of experimental techniques, models and scientific insights
  • promotion of mobility between academe, universities and industry

We expect networks to lead to new collaborative multidisciplinary research proposals in areas we support. Some may develop into virtual centres of excellence.

They should:

  • be a new collaboration
  • aim to form a new interdisciplinary research community and identify new interdisciplinary research topics
  • involve a group with a range of expertise and experience
  • be based in the UK but may include collaboration with overseas partners
  • demonstrate the added value EPSRC funding would bring

We will prioritise interdisciplinary proposals and those that involve industrial or other users in any field of research relevant to our remit.

We particularly encourage involvement of small and medium-sized enterprises.

Scope

You can apply for a network grant in any field of research relevant to our remit. We support high quality research in:

  • artificial intelligence (AI)
  • digital security and resilience
  • energy and decarbonisation
  • engineering
  • healthcare technologies
  • information and communication technologies (ICT)
  • manufacturing and the circular economy
  • mathematical sciences
  • physical sciences and advanced materials
  • quantum technologies

Find out more about our research areas and themes.

The majority of your research must fall within our remit.

EPSRC will work with other research councils to ensure that applications close to remit boundaries are assessed by the most appropriate lead council. We encourage you to contact us first to discuss your proposal if you believe your research may cross research council boundaries.

See our remit query form.

Duration

Network grants are expected to last for no longer than three years.

Funding available

There is no limit on the value of the grant.

We will fund 80% FEC of your project.

What we will fund

Network grants do not fund research. Activities supported include:

  • salary costs for time spent on setting up and managing the network
  • travel and subsistence, including for members to meet to exchange ideas and expertise and to visit each other’s laboratories. Industrial collaborators should meet their own costs where possible
  • workshops
  • administrative support to help coordinate the network
  • communication costs and costs for additional equipment such as personal computers and web servers

Supporting skills and talent

We encourage you to follow the principles of the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers and the Technician Commitment.

International collaboration

If your application includes international applicants, project partners or collaborators, visit Trusted Research for more information on effective international collaboration.

How to apply

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Funding Service

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

If you do not already have an account with the UKRI Funding Service, you will be able to create one by selecting the ‘start application’ button at the start of this page. Creating an account is a two minute process requiring you to verify your email address and set a password.

Research offices that have not already received an invitation to open an account should email support@funding-service.ukri.org

Watch our research office webinars about the new UKRI Funding Service.

Submitting your application

Collaborative applications should be prepared and submitted by the lead research organisation through a single application on the Funding Service. The content of the application should be co-created with input from all investigators and project partners and should represent the proposed work of the entire consortium. However, you should only add a single project lead (previously principal investigator) to the application.

To apply:

  1. Select the ‘Start application’ button at the start of this page.
  2. This will open the ‘Sign in’ page of UKRI’s Funding Service. If you do not already have an account, you’ll be able to create one. This is a two minute process requiring you to verify your email address and set a password.
  3. Start answering the questions detailed in this section of ‘How to apply’. You can save your work and come back to it later. You can also work ‘offline’, copying and pasting into the text boxes provided for your answers.
  4. Once complete, use the service to send your application to your research office for review. They’ll check it and return it to you if it needs editing.
  5. Once happy, your research office will submit it to UKRI for assessment. Only they can do this.

EPSRC, as part of UKRI, will need to collect some personal information to manage your funding service account and the registration of your funding applications.

We will handle personal data in line with UK data protection legislation and manage it securely. For more information, including how to exercise your rights, read our privacy notice.

EPSRC will publish the outcomes of this funding opportunity.

If your application is successful, some personal information will be published via the UKRI Gateway to Research.

Deadline

The closing date for the first responsive mode round on the Funding Service will be 28 September 2023 at 4pm.

We must receive your application by this date. You should ensure that you are aware of and follow any internal institutional submission deadlines that may be in place.

The subsequent responsive mode round on the Funding Service will open on 2 October 2023.

We will not be returning applications for amendment. If an application is withdrawn prior to peer review or office rejected due to substantive errors in the application, it cannot be resubmitted to the same round.

UKRI Funding Service: section guidance

Summary

Word count: 550

In plain English, provide a summary that can be sent to potential reviewers to determine if your proposal is within their field of expertise.

This summary may be made publicly available on external facing websites, so ensure it can be understood by a variety of readers, for example:

  • opinion formers
  • policymakers
  • the general public
  • the wider research community
Guidance for writing a summary

Succinctly describe your proposed work in terms of:

  • its context
  • the challenge the project addresses and how it will be applied to this
  • its aims and objectives
  • its potential applications and benefits

Applicants

List the key members of your team and assign them roles from the following:

  • project lead (PL)
  • project co-lead (UK) (PcL)
  • project co-lead (international) (PcL (I))
  • specialist
  • grant manager
  • professional enabling staff
  • research and innovation associate
  • technician
  • visiting researcher
  • researcher co-lead

You can only list one project lead.

We would normally expect no more than one project co-lead on a network application who will assist in the management of the network.

The project co-lead (international) (PcL (I)) role should only be used for applications making use of the UKRI-RCN Money Follows Cooperation agreement or the UKRI-IIASA agreement. EPSRC does not otherwise accept project co-lead (international) applicants.

Find out about UKRI’s new grant roles.

1 Section: EPSRC theme area alignment

Word count: 1

Question: Select the primary EPSRC thematic area your application most closely aligns to.

In the text box, copy the letter corresponding to your selected theme:

A. artificial intelligence (AI)

B. digital security and resilience

C. energy and decarbonisation

D. engineering

E. healthcare technologies

F. information and communication technologies (ICT)

G. manufacturing

H. mathematical sciences

I. physical sciences and advanced materials

J. quantum technologies

Additional guidance:

This is for administrative purposes to help the initial application processing. We will check your choice and make a final decision on which theme will lead the peer review of your application.

2 Section: Vision and Approach

You should upload the Vision and Approach document as a six page PDF, plus an additional page for a diagrammatic workplan. The document must have single line spacing, margins of at least 2cm and be typed using Arial 11pt, or another ‘sans serif’ font with an equivalent size to Arial 11pt.

Question: What are you hoping to achieve with and how will you deliver your proposed work?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

For the Vision, explain how your proposed work:

  • is of excellent quality and importance within or beyond the field(s) or area(s)
  • has the potential to advance current understanding, generates new knowledge, thinking or discovery within or beyond the field or area
  • is timely given current trends, context and needs
  • impacts world-leading research, society, the economy or the environment

Within the Vision section we also expect you to:

  • identify the potential direct or indirect benefits and who the beneficiaries might be

For the Approach, explain how you have designed your work so that it:

  • is effective and appropriate to achieve your objectives
  • is feasible, and comprehensively identifies any risks to delivery and how they will be managed
  • if applicable, uses a clear and transparent methodology
  • if applicable, summarises the previous work and describes how this will be built upon and progressed
  • will maximise translation of outputs into outcomes and impacts
  • describes how your, and if applicable your team’s, research environment (in terms of the place, its location, and relevance to the project) will contribute to the success of the work

Within the Approach section we also expect you to:

  • demonstrate access to the appropriate services, facilities, infrastructure, or equipment to deliver the proposal
  • provide a project plan including milestones and timelines

3 Section: Applicant and team capability to deliver

Word count: 1,500 (1,000 words to be used for R4RI modules and, if necessary, a further 500 words for Additions)

Question: Why are you the right individual or team to successfully deliver the proposed work?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Evidence of how you, and if relevant your team, have:

  • the relevant experience (appropriate to career stage) to deliver the proposed work
  • the right balance of skills and expertise to cover the proposed work
  • the appropriate leadership and management skills to deliver the work and your approach to develop others
  • contributed to developing a positive research environment and wider community

Use the Résumé for Research and Innovation (R4RI) format to showcase the range of relevant skills you, and if relevant your team (project lead and project co-lead, researchers, other (technical) staff for example research software engineers, data scientists and so on, and partners), have and how this will help to deliver the proposed work. You can include individuals’ specific achievements but only choose past contributions that best evidence their ability to deliver this work.

Complete this section using the R4RI module headings listed. You should use each heading once and include a response for the whole team, see the UKRI guidance on R4RI. You should consider how to balance your answer, and emphasise where appropriate the key skills each team member brings:

  • contributions to the generation of new ideas, tools, methodologies, or knowledge
  • the development of others and maintenance of effective working relationships
  • contributions to the wider research and innovation community
  • contributions to broader research or innovation users and audiences and towards wider societal benefit

Additions: Provide any further details relevant to your application. This section is optional and can be up to 500 words. You should not use it to describe additional skills, experiences or outputs, but any factors that provide context for the rest of your R4RI (for example, details of career breaks if you wish to disclose them).

You should complete this as a narrative and you should avoid CV type format.

4 Section: Added value

Word count: 500

Question: What is the added value that this network will enable that would not be possible otherwise?

What the assessors are looking for:

Using the text box, demonstrate what the network will achieve, considering how it will do the following:

  • create new interdisciplinary research communities and topics
  • provide a critical mass of researchers with a range of expertise and experience
  • promote mobility between academe, universities and industry
  • achieve sustainability beyond the funding requested=

5 Section: References

Word count: 1,000

Question: List the references you have used to support your application.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

You should include all references in this section of the application and not in the rest of the application questions.

You should not include any other information in this section.

We advise you not to include hyperlinks as assessors are not obliged to access the information they lead to or consider it in their assessment of your application. If linking to web resources, to ensure the information’s integrity is maintained include, where possible, persistent identifiers such as digital object identifiers.

You must not include links to web resources in order to extend your application.

6a Section: Project partners: contributions

Word count: 1000

Question: Provide details about any project partners’ contributions using the template provided.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

If you do not have any project partners, simply add ‘N/A’ into the text box, mark this section as complete and move to the next section.

If you do have project partners, download and complete the project partner contributions template (DOCX, 52KB) then copy and paste the table within it into the text box.

Ensure you have obtained prior agreement from project partners that, should you be offered funding, they will support your project as indicated in the template.

A project partner is a collaborating organisation that is contributing to the application and will have an integral role in the proposed research. Project partners cannot normally receive funding directly from the grant. Two exceptions to this are:

  • where a project partner is providing services or equipment that will go through a formal procurement process audited by the host research organisation
  • the project partner can receive small amounts of funding from the grant, such as for travel and subsistence to attend project meetings. These will need to be requested and fully justified in the application

6b Section: Project partners: letters (or emails) of support

Word count: 10

Question: Upload a single PDF containing the letters or emails of support from each partner you named in the table in the previous ‘contributions’ section.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

If you do not have any project partners, simply add ‘N/A’ into the text box, mark this section as complete and move to the next section.

If you have named project partners in the previous ‘contributions’ section, enter the words ‘attachment supplied’ in the text box.

Each letter or email you provide should:

  • confirm the partner’s commitment to the project
  • clearly explain the value, relevance and possible benefits of the work to them
  • describe any additional value that they bring to the project
  • refer to EPSRC’s guidance on project partners letters of support for further information Project partners letter of support – UKRI

Unless specifically requested, do not include any personal data within the attachment. Upload details are provided within the service on the actual application.

For audit purposes, UKRI requires formal collaboration agreements to be put in place if an award is made.

Do not provide letters of support from host and co-project lead research organisations.

7 Section: Facilities

Word count: 250

Question: Does your proposed research require the support and use of a facility?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

If not, enter N/A into the text box, mark this section as complete and move on to the next section.

If you will need to use a facility, you should follow your proposed facility’s normal access request procedures. Where prior agreement is required, ensure you obtain their agreement that, should you be offered funding, they will support the use of their facility on your project.

In the text box, for each requested facility you should provide under the following headings:

  • facility name: the name of facility, copied and pasted from this list (DOCX, 35KB)
  • usage: the proposed usage time or costs, or costs per unit where indicated on that list
  • confirmation you have their agreement where required – copy the following text: ‘I confirm that I have contacted the facility and their agreement that, should you be offered funding, they will support the use of their facility on my project for the usage specified.’

Do not put the facility contact details in your response.

8 Section: Sensitive information

Word count: 10

Question: Is there sensitive information you need to share with UKRI that you do not want shared with assessors?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

If you do not have anything to share, enter ‘N/A’ into the text box, mark this section as complete and move on to the next section.

If you, or a key team member, need to tell us something you wish to remain confidential, enter the words ‘email sent’ in the text box.

Then email the Funding Service helpdesk on support@funding-service.ukri.org. You must include in the subject line: <EPSRC responsive mode, sensitive info, Funding Service application number>.

Typical examples of confidential information include:

  • applicant 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, see UKRI’s privacy notice.

9 Section: Resources and cost justification

Using the costs table within the resources and cost summary, provide details of the total funding required under each fund heading. You should include high-level costs only, not a detailed breakdown of individual items. You should use the textbox for the justification of resources to provide further details on what is being requested and why it is needed to deliver your proposed work.

Question: What will you need to deliver your proposed work and how much will it cost?

Word count: 1000

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Using the text box, demonstrate how the resources you anticipate needing for your proposed work:

  • are comprehensive, appropriate, and justified
  • represent the optimal use of resources to achieve the intended outcomes
  • maximise potential outcomes and impacts

This resources and cost justification should not simply be a list of the resources requested, as this will already be given in the costs table. Costings should be justified on the basis of full economic costs (FEC) of the project, not just on the costs expected from UKRI. For some items we do not expect you to justify the monetary value, rather the type of resource, such as amount of time or type of staff requested.

Where you do not provide adequate justification for a resource, we may deduct it from any funding awarded.

You should identify:

  • support for activities to either increase impact, for public engagement, knowledge exchange or to support responsible innovation
  • support for access to facilities, infrastructure or procurement of equipment
  • support for preserving, long-term storage, or sharing of data
  • support from your partner organisations and how that enhances value for money

Reviewers and panels may acknowledge the impact of university support but will not consider the level of matched university funding as a factor on which to base funding recommendations.

10 Section: Ethics and responsible research and innovation (RRI)

Word count: 500

Question: What are the ethical or RRI implications and issues relating to the proposed work? If you do not think that the proposed work raises any ethical or RRI issues, explain why.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Using the text box, demonstrate that you have identified and evaluated the relevant ethical or responsible research and innovation considerations, and how you will manage them.

Additional sub-questions (to be answered only if appropriate) will be included in the Funding Service. These will ask about numbers, species/strain and justification about:

  • genetic and biological risk
  • research involving the use of animals
  • conducting research with animal overseas
  • research involving human participation
  • research involving human tissues or biological samples

10a Section: Genetic and biological risk

Word count: 700

Question: Does your proposed research involve any genetic or biological risk?

If not, enter ‘N/A’ into the text box, mark this section as complete and move on to the next section.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

In respect of animals, plants or microbes, are you proposing to:

  • use genetic modification as an experimental tool, like studying gene function in a genetically modified organism
  • release genetically modified organisms
  • ultimately develop commercial and industrial genetically modified outcomes

If yes, provide the name of any required approving body and state if approval is already in place. If it is not, provide an indicative timeframe for obtaining the required approval.

Identify the organism or organisms as a plant, animal or microbe and specify the species and which of the three categories the research relates to.

Identify the genetic and biological risks resulting from the proposed research, their implications and any mitigation you plan on taking. Assessors will want to know you have considered the risks and their implications to justify that any identified risks do not outweigh any benefits of the proposed research.

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

We will assess your application using the following process:

Peer review

We will invite at least three peers to review your application independently, against the published criteria (areas of assessment) for this funding opportunity.

You will not be able to nominate reviewers for your application. Expert reviewers will continue to be selected by EPSRC.

UKRI are monitoring the requirement for applicant nominated reviewers as we review policies and processes as part of the continued development of the new UKRI Funding Service.

You will be able to respond to reviewers’ comments if your application gains enough support.

Panel

If your application gains enough support from reviewers, your application, reviewers’ comments and your response will go to the most appropriate prioritisation panel. Using this information, the panel will score it against our assessment criteria (areas of assessment) and rank it with alongside other applications.

EPSRC responsive mode panels are structured as follows:

  • mathematical sciences
  • information and communication technologies (ICT)
  • engineering
  • physical sciences

Panel membership for each panel is taken from across the disciplines to cover the breadth of proposals considered in each panel.

Areas of assessment

The criteria against which your application will be assessed directly relates to the core responsive mode application questions:

  • vision of the project
  • approach to the project
  • capability of the applicant or applicants and the project team to deliver the project
  • resources requested to do the project
  • ethical and responsible research and innovation considerations of the project
  • added value of the network

Further detail on what the assessors are looking for is available in the questions in the how to apply section.

Timescale

Panels are expected to be held during spring and summer 2024.

Feedback

No further feedback beyond the reviewers’ comments will be provided after the panel.

Principles of assessment

UKRI supports the San Francisco declaration on research assessment (DORA) and recognises the relationship between research assessment and research integrity.

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

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

Email: support@funding-service.ukri.org

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

Additional info

Supporting links

Equality impact assessment (DOCS, 268KB)

Webinar for potential applicants

We will held a webinar at 1:00pm on 21 June 2023. This provided information about the funding opportunity and a chance to ask questions.

Watch a recording of the webinar

Webinar passcode: B7V+gWct

Webinar slides (PDF, 918KB)

Updates

  • 21 December 2023
    Expected panel review timescale added under How we will assess your application.
  • 2 October 2023
    New closing date added.
  • 13 July 2023
    5 Section References: word count updated from 250 to 1,000.

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