Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Establish a flagship UK national clean maritime research hub

Apply for funding to establish a flagship UK national clean maritime research hub to develop critical mass and address fundamental research challenges in clean maritime.

EPSRC and DfT will fund up to £7.4 million, at 80% of the full economic cost of the hub, with a fixed start date of 1 September 2023 and duration of 43 months.

You must:

  • build a co-created interdisciplinary research consortium
  • form project partner collaborations with academia, industry, policymakers and the third sector
  • demonstrate at least £2 million of matched funding from project partners at application stage and a plan to increase this to £10 million by the end of the hub

Who can apply

Standard EPSRC eligibility rules apply. Research grants are open to:

  • UK higher education institutions
  • research council institutes
  • UK Research and Innovation-approved independent research organisations
  • eligible public sector research establishments
  • eligible research and technology organisations
  • NHS bodies with research capacity

Check if your institution is eligible for funding.

We also welcome research technical professionals and professional research and investment strategy managers as co-investigators.

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

  • are employed at the submitting research organisation at a level equivalent to lecturer or above
  • hold a fixed-term contract that extends beyond the duration of the proposed 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.

Submissions to this funding opportunity will count towards the EPSRC repeatedly unsuccessful applicants policy.

What we're looking for


The successful applicant will lead the establishment and delivery of a flagship UK national clean maritime research hub, made up of a consortium of research organisations.

The UK government has set a 2050 net zero target across the economy. Decarbonising the maritime sector is vital to achieving this, with domestic shipping alone emitting more greenhouse gas emissions than buses and rail combined. The transition to net zero also represents a crucial opportunity to bring economic benefits to industries and local communities across the UK.

In March 2022, DfT launched the UK Shipping Office for Reducing Emissions (UK SHORE) programme, which is delivering a suite of interventions aimed at addressing different barriers to maritime decarbonisation across a range of technology-readiness levels (TRL).

As part of this, EPSRC is partnering with UK SHORE to invest £7.4 million to support the establishment of a single flagship UK national clean maritime research hub. The successful applicant will establish a hub made up of an interdisciplinary consortium of leading UK research organisations, such as universities, to address low TRL research challenges in clean maritime. This will build the UK’s capacity and research critical mass in maritime decarbonisation.

The opportunity will directly deliver against UK SHORE’s objectives and EPSRC’s Engineering Net Zero priority ambitions, by taking a systems approach to supporting the development and implementation of clean maritime solutions. The hub will address research challenges in:

  • low and zero-emission fuels, energy sources and vessel technologies for the maritime sector
  • land side infrastructure required to enable the uptake of low and zero-emission fuels, energy sources and vessel technologies by the maritime sector
  • the role of energy efficiency solutions in facilitating the uptake of low and zero-emission fuels, energy sources and vessel technologies by the maritime sector

It is fundamental to the success of the hub that it provides a focus for the UK clean maritime community. The hub should work in close partnership with businesses, government departments, the third sector and civic organisations throughout the UK to tackle research challenges, drive the transfer of knowledge and raise match-funding. The hub should be co-delivered with stakeholders and users to address critical issues where further research and innovation is required.

This funding opportunity is separate to and distinct from the EPSRC-DfT ‘Net Zero Transport for a Resilient Future hub’, which is focusing on climate adaption and mitigation solutions for the transport system across different modes.


As part of its activities, the hub should expect to:

  • conduct research that supports the sector to develop clean maritime solutions
  • facilitate academic, industrial, and civic stakeholder knowledge exchange and networking
  • support capacity building and skills development in the clean maritime research community across all career stages
  • deliver papers with policy recommendations for the clean maritime sector for DfT and wider UK government to consider
  • support a flexible fund focusing on fundamental and applied research, networking, and engagement

Research activities

The hub’s core focus should be the delivery of a series of research work-packages led by academics. The research should focus on the fundamental science research needs of the maritime sector aimed at enabling the sector to develop and commercialise clean maritime solutions in the long term.

This hub will discover and develop cross-cutting solutions related to the following cross-sector research challenges:

  • low and zero-emission fuels, energy sources and vessel technologies for maritime. Examples include, but are not limited to, research challenges such as:
    • optimum use of low-emission hydrogen, hydrogen derived fuels, electrofuels, synthetic fuels and nuclear
    • optimum use of transition fuels
    • vessel propulsion and auxiliary engines, for example battery, fuel cell and internal combustions
    • improved resistance, hydrodynamic and propulsion systems
    • low carbon energy storage and management
    • enabling technologies such as motors, drives, sensors, and power electronics
    • refit of existing vessels with green maritime propulsion
    • novel sources of low-contention organic carbon for maritime fuel production, including algal aquaculture
  • land-side infrastructure to support the uptake of low and zero-emission fuels, energy sources and vessel technologies by the maritime sector. Examples include, but are not limited to, research challenges such as:
    • transportation, storage, shoreside fuelling and bunkering of alternative maritime fuels
    • systems thinking about the demand for alternative fuels and the interaction with the wider energy system and other modes
    • charging infrastructure and management
    • shoreside power solutions, such as enabling docked vessels to turn off their conventional power supply for ancillary systems
    • physical connections to shoreside power or alternative fuels, including fuelling lines
    • shoreside renewable energy generation at the port to supply vessels
    • circular design in maintenance and operation that may allow us to adapt existing assets to future needs
    • low carbon fuel production
  • the role of energy efficiency solutions in facilitating the uptake of low and zero-emission fuels, energy sources and vessel technologies. Examples include, but are not limited to, research challenges such as:
    • the role of lighter and stronger materials in reducing energy demand
    • adapting operating patterns or models to change and to facilitate use of future fuels and energy
    • reducing emissions in the construction of ships and boats through improved manufacturing and design
    • hydrodynamically efficient vessels
    • reducing lifecycle emissions, identifying best practice, and supporting performance improvement, including Whole-Life Carbon Assessment (WLCA)

The hub should consider cross-sector synergies. The successful grant will be expected to secure substantial leveraged match funding (financial and in-kind), and routes to accessing continued support throughout the lifetime of the grant should be detailed.

The successful hub will also deliver a flexible fund that can support the aims of the hub and respond to emerging agendas, engagement and networking of stakeholders. The expectation is that some of these small projects will lead to applications for further support from appropriate funding bodies.

Hub expectations

Capacity building and skills

There is an expectation on the hub to deliver skills outputs, support capacity and capability growth in the clean maritime UK research community. The hub should actively support career development across all career stages in the clean maritime sector. A key focus should be on early career researchers, including provision of targeted flexible funding opportunities.

Suggested activities that the hub could include, but are not limited to, running summer schools, secondments between academia, industry and government, policy internships or fellowships, joint conferences and papers.

Knowledge exchange and engagement

A critical feature of the hub will be its ability to tackle the most pressing needs of businesses, UK government departments, and policymakers across the UK to secure both UK commercial advantage and policy objectives. This will ensure effective 2-way engagement, and information and knowledge exchange between all related investments and hubs to accelerate research and development.

The hub will engage across the diverse maritime landscape, including with DfT and the maritime industry, stakeholders and with appropriate bodies. It will facilitate cross sectorial and interdisciplinary networking, knowledge exchange, engagement, and dissemination activities across academic, industrial, and civic stakeholders in the sector, through shared research projects and networking events, such as an annual assembly.

The hub must develop partnerships to tackle cross-sectoral issues, provide research leadership and facilitate the development of the next generation of clean maritime researchers, innovators, policymakers and end-users. The hub is expected to engage proactively with other major complementary investments looking at clean maritime, decarbonisation, transport and energy research and innovation landscape. They are also expected to engage with any relevant research and innovation investments made by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), DfT and other public funders, including innovation investments funded by Innovate UK.

In the hub governance procedures, advice from users must be appropriately used in the hub decision-making strategy to help grow user engagement including securing leveraged funding and increasing the numbers of users involved. To evidence your partnerships, you are asked to include a user engagement strategy in your full proposals.

The hub is expected to take an open and inclusive approach and to grow and evolve over the lifetime of the grant. To reflect this, it is expected that the leadership team should develop a flexible approach to the research agenda and priorities of the programme beyond the first 12 months of the hub to account for changes in the landscape, emerging opportunities, and industrial sector priorities.

Policy partnership

The hub should be viewed as a resource for the maritime sector and policymakers to understand the most effective policy and industry activities to overcome barriers to maritime decarbonisation and take advantage of its opportunities. The hub is expected to demonstrate the UK’s position as a global leader in mitigating climate change and striving toward net zero.

The hub is expected to establish leadership of the research agenda within this area, interfacing with and working in partnership with industry, policymakers, and government departments to deliver the research activities to support the delivery of the clean maritime sector and to provide the research advice and evidence for policy input and development. This includes drawing from and supporting regional innovation and wider policy objectives, as appropriate.

The hub should actively engage regularly with DfT and sector stakeholders to understand policy requirements and respond by developing papers with evidence-based policy recommendations as required on an ongoing basis during the hub’s lifetime. The hub should also support knowledge exchange with relevant stakeholders on a regular basis.

Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • the UK’s competitive advantage globally in the decarbonisation of shipping and clean maritime technologies and how the UK can exploit this
  • integration of infrastructure and supply chain for different maritime fuel solutions
  • green financing for the UK maritime sector to reach net zero by 2050
  • green skills and building capacity
  • current research evidence around fuels in decarbonising shipping, land-side infrastructure to enable supply and integration with wider systems

Matched contributions

Given the commercial interest and needs for this critical area, EPSRC expects the hub to evidence at least £2 million of matched funding (from the private sector and regional and civil bodies) at application stage (at least 20p to every £1 of funding) and rising to at least £10 million of matched funding, over the lifetime of the grant.

To ensure that research outcomes from the hub can be fully exploited by industry and policy at all spatial levels, EPSRC expects to see clear evidence of genuine, substantive partnerships, with co-creation and co-delivery of projects and activities, in addition to financial contributions. The panel will be asked to assess evidence of stakeholder interest and contributions.

Flexible funds

The hub will be expected to provide a flexible funding mechanism, intended to support agile research on emerging topics and to encourage the involvement of the wider community, beyond the core academic members, as partners on such projects. The hub should release these funds annually, to support a full portfolio of research activities throughout the hub’s lifetime, amounting to a maximum fund of £1.3 million grant funding over the hub’s duration.

You will need to think carefully about how the flexible fund budget will be commissioned via a robust peer review process, which can be allocated to researchers at other universities, and ensure that the allocation of funds must be fair and transparent and within the framework of the UKRI principles of assessment and decision making.

In partnership with the academic and business community, the hub is encouraged to conduct a landscape mapping of research in the clean maritime sector in the first 6 months of the hub, which can be used to identify optimum research areas to focus on via flexible funding.

Please note:

  • the flexible fund will be restricted to EPSRC current research organisation eligibility but will not be bound by standard EPSRC investigator eligibility criterion
  • EPSRC encourages the hub to use its landscape mapping report to inform the use of its flexible fund
  • EPSRC expects some examples of the types of projects at the application stage, but the research challenges should evolve during the course of the hub
  • flexible funds may only be used for activities that may be funded through a standard research grant (for example, not studentships or the kind of student costs that would be funded through a training grant)
  • the flexible fund should be clearly listed under the ‘directly incurred’ headings on the application

Governance and management

EPSRC and DfT appointed project officers will expect to be formal participants on the hub steering board. In addition to a standard hub management board, the hub will be required to establish its own independent advisory board.

The hub advisory board will be required to include appropriate industry and policymaker representation, in addition to independent academics. Advice from end users should be considered in the hub strategy development to grow user engagement, including ongoing development of an effective user engagement strategy.

Capital infrastructure

Eligible equipment costs can be included in hub proposals, in addition to the £7.4 million grant funding available, with the intention of supporting access for the UK clean maritime research community to equipment needed to address the pressing technology needs of the clean maritime sector.

The capital infrastructure could be a single item, or a series of items, that combine to form a single asset. This could include, but is not limited to:

  • cutting-edge technology that enables new research
  • high-specification equipment that improves existing research

Requested capital infrastructure can be between £10,000 to £400,000 in value at 50% full economic cost for a single item, with matched funding, providing there is a sufficient case made for each item and the scale of investment requested. Single items of capital infrastructure over £400,000 are not eligible in this funding opportunity.

Eligible capital equipment does not include equipment that you would expect to find or easily access in a well-funded laboratory. We wish to maximise use of equipment therefore the hub must have in place and justify a mechanism to share the equipment across the hub or nationally as appropriate.

Any capital infrastructure should be received and receipted before March 2025.

Smaller items of equipment (individually under £10,000) should be in the ‘Directly Incurred – Other Costs’ heading.

Read more about EPSRC’s approach to equipment funding.

Contribution to place-based agenda

The UK is one of the world’s leading maritime nations, with a critical shipping industry providing 95% of British imports and exports, a globally significant maritime tourism industry, as well as a large maritime business services sector. The transition to net zero represents a crucial opportunity to bring economic benefits to industries and local communities across the UK, building back better.

The maritime sector is very diverse, with different sub-sectors likely to require different technological solutions. Furthermore, regions and ports across the UK face distinct barriers to maritime decarbonisation based on their geographical location, services, and local communities.

The appropriate solution to different barriers will vary due to geographic location and historical constraint. While it will be impossible for the hub to address all these issues, the hub must consist of institutions from multiple UK regions tackling barriers for a variety of sub-sectors and regions.

The hub must engage in a multi-regional manner with local authority or civic stakeholders in meaningful collaboration. While the hub is expected to be an interdisciplinary multi-institutional consortium, there is no prerequisite for them to be in the same area of the UK as their local authority or civic stakeholder collaborators.

Examples (non-exhaustive) of organisations we consider having a civic role:

  • enterprise, development, or skills bodies (such as local enterprise partnerships or devolved equivalents)
  • local authorities, councils or combined authorities
  • growth, city and region deals
  • devolved administrations and their agencies (noting projects still need to be focused on clusters or geography sub-national level)
  • regional or local industrial bodies

Examples (non-exhaustive) of possible support from civic bodies:

  • involvement in hub governance
  • access to innovation or knowledge exchange activity
  • secondments to or from hub activities or projects
  • supporting or facilitating networking and engagement beyond the consortium
  • supporting policy development and delivery
  • direct adoption of research outputs
  • market assessments
  • infrastructure

We do not consider international bodies to have a civic role. They can however be included as project partners on proposals where it is appropriate to the aims of the scheme and your application.

Monitoring and evaluation

You should ensure that monitoring and evaluation is well-considered from the outset to effectively track the hub’s contribution and impacts across the transportation sector.

The hub will be expected to engage with the monitoring and evaluation regime put in with EPSRC and DfT, including data to assist with supporting the overall evaluation of the government’s investment in maritime decarbonisation through the UK SHORE programme. Detailed guidance will be provided after the awards have been made, and key performance indicators will be agreed with the hub.

The standard expectations for monitoring and evaluation within the hub will include annual reporting requirements, a mid-term review conducted by an independent panel and a post-investment evaluation. There will also be a requirement for the hub to submit a landscape evidence base report at the end of the first year of the investment. A schedule will be agreed upon award.

Equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI)

As leaders in the community, the hub will be expected to embed EDI in all their activities throughout the lifetime of the hub. If funded, this will include identifying the specific EDI challenges and barriers in their own environment and developing a strategy to address these, with reference to EPSRC’s published expectations for EDI and EDI action plan.

The hub must ensure that they request appropriate resources to develop and deliver their EDI strategy effectively.

Funding available

DfT and EPSRC will invest up to £7.4 million (80% full economic cost) to fund 1 clean maritime research hub. The full economic cost of your project can be up to £10 million, including indexation.

The hub will be expected to match fund an additional minimum of £10 million (from the private sector, and regional and civic bodies) over the lifetime of the grant.

Eligible costs

The team are expected to request the funding required to achieve the objectives and outcomes they have proposed for the hub. This may include, but is not limited to, funding for:

  • the principal investigator time to lead the hub, and co-investigators to provide the required interdisciplinary inclusive approach
  • staff to support the integration, coordination, knowledge exchange and publication activities of the hub
  • research staff and associated consumables
  • travel and subsistence
  • flexible funding of up to £1.3 million to support agile research on emerging topics and to encourage the involvement of the community beyond the core academic partners
  • supporting impact activities (including stakeholder and user engagement, policy engagement and public engagement)
  • supporting networking and community building activities, to enable engagement and collaboration across key disciplines and sectors, and with policy officials
  • supporting governance, monitoring and evaluation activities
  • capital equipment between £10,000 to £400,000 at 50% full economic cost for a single item, providing there is a sufficient case made for the item and scale of investment

Smaller items of equipment (individually under £10,000) should be in the ‘Directly Incurred – Other Costs’ heading.

Read more about EPSRC’s approach to equipment funding.


Funding is available for up to 43 months. The hub will have a fixed start date of 1 September 2023 and an end date of 31 March 2027. No extension to the start date can be given. Funding is subject to business case approval.

DfT and EPSRC reserve the right to provide additional funding after March 2027 to extend the lifetime of the hub.

Responsible innovation

You are expected to work within the EPSRC framework for responsible innovation.

International collaboration

Applicants planning to include international collaborators on their proposal should visit Trusted Research for guidance on getting the most out of international collaboration while protecting intellectual property, sensitive research, and personal information.

How to apply

You must apply using the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system.

You can find advice on completing your application in:

We recommend you start your application early.

Your host organisation will also be able to provide advice and guidance.

A mandatory expression of interest stage via SmartSurvey, which will close at 4:00pm UK time on 20 March 2023, will need to be completed. This expression of interest will require a list of all principal investigators and co-investigators, their institutions and research areas. Failure to complete the expression of interest will mean any full proposals submitted will automatically be rejected.

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: ‘UK Clean Maritime Hub’.

This will populate:

  • council: EPSRC
  • document type: standard proposal
  • scheme: standard
  • call/type/mode: UK Clean Maritime Hub

Once you have completed your application, make sure you ‘submit document’.

You can save completed details in Je-S at any time and return to continue your application later.


A mandatory expression of interest stage must be completed before it closes at 4:00pm UK time on 20 March 2023.

EPSRC must receive your full application via Je-S by 2 May 2023 at 4:00pm UK time.

You will not be able to apply after this time. Please leave enough time for your proposal to pass through your organisation’s Je-S submission route before this date.

You should ensure you are aware of and follow any internal institutional deadlines that may be in place.


Your application must also include the following attachments.

You should attach your documents as PDFs to avoid errors. They should be completed in single-spaced Arial 11 font or similar-sized sans serif typeface. EPSRC will not accept any other attachment types under this opportunity.

Read our advice on writing proposals for EPSRC funding.

Case for support

The case for support can be up to a maximum of 20 sides of A4:

  • 2 sides of A4 on your track record
  • 10 sides of A4 to address the assessment criteria
  • 4 sides of A4 on the technical annex
  • 4 sides of A4 on the management and governance strategy
Track record

The track record should be 2 sides of A4. It must be based on the leadership team, focused specifically on experience of leading and coordinating complex interdisciplinary programmes in an inclusive way.

Address assessment criteria

Addressing the assessment criteria should be 10 sides of A4. This section should

  • overall vision and ambition for the hub
  • research programme and methodology: this should be focused on high-level objectives, cross-cutting research questions and challenges and is expected to include flexibility to address emerging topics once funded. You should provide an initial plan alongside your approach to developing it as the hub progresses noting expected outputs and deliverables. Technical detail should follow in the 4-page technical annex. This should also include details about how the research programme will be balanced between research carried out within the core of the hub and research facilitated by the agile flexible fund
  • planned coordination and integration activities:
    • strategy and approach for connecting and disseminating outputs and information to the broad and diverse interdisciplinary community, and for coordinating knowledge exchange across other research and innovation investments to identify key challenges and maximise the outcomes of the investment
    • strategy to complement and build on other research hubs and activities taking place across other modes and relevant sectors to maritime
  • collaboration and stakeholder engagement, including how the hub will engage with and deliver to address the needs of stakeholders from across the maritime transportation sector, providing benefits and impact to consumers, government, business (across a range of sector contexts) and other stakeholders. This should include details of the strategy for engaging with stakeholders including relevant government departments and user groups, as well as a user engagement strategy
Technical annex

The technical annex should be 4 sides of A4. This is intended to provide additional information on the research programme (for example, on individual work packages or themes) for the expert reviewers.

Please ensure there is sufficient detail to allow peer review to assess the quality and ambitious nature of the research. There are no stipulations about the format of the technical annex, but it should complement the other sections of the case for support, primarily the section on research programme and methodology.

Management and governance strategy

The management and governance strategy should be 4 sides of A4. This should not focus specifically on the principal investigator but should demonstrate the strategy and track record across the proposed management team.

It must include:

  • demonstration of how the proposed management structure and the team composition will enable you to manage an inclusive interdisciplinary hub
  • a monitoring strategy, which includes a logic model detailing the outputs and outcomes to be delivered by the investment made through the hub. This should clearly articulate outcomes achievable within the hub lifetime and those that the hub investment will enable in the longer term
  • baseline key performance indicators should be defined for measuring the success of the hub in progressing towards these outcomes, with a plan for:
    • monitoring and the major decision points identified, and how these will be used to reassess the direction of the hub
    • engaging in the required monitoring and evaluation activities for the hub and how the hub will support UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) in these activities
  • how equality, diversity and inclusion is embedded within the hub and how the core leadership team will embed equality, diversity, and inclusion into all activities
  • a day-to-day management strategy for ensuring individual research, coordination and integration activities meet the overall vision for the hub, and for use of resources
  • details of the strategy and planned governance of the allocation and management of flexible funding including consideration of appropriate equality, diversity, and inclusion considerations
  • the planned governance and advisory board structures of the hub and how inclusivity will be built into stakeholder engagement

User engagement strategy

The user engagement strategy can be up to 2 sides of A4. You must add this attachment under ‘additional documents’ in Je-S.

This strategy should describe how the coordinators will support the delivery of actionable solutions. The vision and programme for the hub must be designed and delivered in partnership with relevant users, including industry and government (UK and devolved as appropriate), regional or other local stakeholders.

Coordinators are required to provide details of the strategy for engaging with potential users of the research funded in the hub (resources for impact activities can be requested and must be justified in the application). This strategy should be reviewed and updated regularly as part of the formal management of the grant.

The strategy should cover how the coordinators will:

  • form new collaborations with users, including policy officials, industry and the third sector, throughout the hubs lifetime
  • attract additional co-funding (both direct and in kind) from new and existing project partners to reach a level similar to the EPSRC contribution
  • prioritise co-creation and co-delivery of projects with project partners from relevant industries, ensuring that user needs are forefront throughout the development and delivery of hub research and activities
  • make best use of the financial, in-kind, and intellectual contributions of project partners to meet the needs and objectives of the hub
  • foster genuine and committed engagement with project partners, where project partners are a core part of the delivery team and develop strong relationships with the hub
  • determine the success of the strategy in delivering value to users and by what metrics and key performance indicators that are tracked throughout the hub’s lifetime
  • coordinate and engage the wider hydrogen community, with detail on how the hub would identify and exploit potential opportunities to work with other existing UKRI investments, where appropriate, to maximise engagement and impact

While applicants need to consider this strategy in their full proposal, UKRI recognises that flexibility is needed given the dynamic nature of this field and the programme.

You should therefore provide an initial plan alongside your approach to developing it as the hub progresses.

The work plan

The work plan can be up to 2 sides of A4.

It is not expected that this will be a Gantt chart for the full duration of the hub. It is expected that the work plan includes a comprehensive plan for at least the first 12 months, which relates to the management strategy to give appropriate milestones for when important decisions on the further direction of the hub will be taken.

The hub is encouraged to retain flexibility in the work plan to respond to emerging priorities and opportunities.

Justification of resources

The justification of resources can be up to 2 sides of A4.

It should include a narrative description of the need for the resources requested. Please ensure you justify all the resources you request.

Equipment quotations

Quotes for equipment above £25,000 (no page limit)


CVs (up to 2 A4 sides each) for named:

  • postdoctoral staff, researcher co-investigators (research assistants who have made a substantial contribution to the proposal and will be employed on the project for a significant amount of time)
  • visiting researchers
  • professional research investment and strategy managers (PRISMS)

Project partner letters of support

This is an optional attachment, as information is required from all project partners in the Je-S form itself. There is no page limit.

You may include letters if inclusion of a partner is integral to your plans and the letter is necessary to demonstrate the project partner’s commitment to delivering the aims of the proposal.

If included, project partner letters of support must be signed, dated (no more than 6 months before the opportunity closing date) and on letterheaded paper.

DfT are unable to supply any project partner letters of support for this opportunity as they are a funder. Any letters of support supplied will be removed at submission.

EPSRC guidance on project partners letter of support

Host organisation letter of support

The host organisation letter of support can be up to 2 sides of A4 per institution.

There should be 1 statement for each host organisation involved (each 2 pages maximum), all attached as 1 document. For co-investigators from other institutions, a host organisation statement is required from all institutions involved.

Letters should include the institution’s commitment to the hub for the lifetime of the award, and the alignment of the hub’s proposed vision to the institution’s strategy.

The statement should:

  • be on headed paper
  • be signed
  • be dated within 6 months of submission
  • state clearly the position held by the author

Civic-partner letter of support

A letter of support from a civic partner is mandatory. The letter should evidence co-creation with the university partners and explain the relevance of the bid to the civic strategy and ambitions. Letters from civic bodies must also provide a forward look that illustrates how their future planned activity will complement the hub, providing detail on any contribution being made to the hub itself.

You are asked to note how we will treat civic contributions during assessment. See the ‘place’ criterion in the assessment criteria.

Technical assessments for facilities listed as requiring one in the Je-S guidance

There is no page limit for this.

Proposal cover letter

The proposal cover letter is an optional attachment and can be up to 2 sides of A4. This letter will only be seen internally by UKRI. You can express any other information you feel is relevant to your application.

Ethical information

EPSRC will not fund a project if it believes that there are ethical concerns that have been overlooked or not appropriately accounted for. All relevant parts of the ‘ethical information’ section must be completed.

Guidance on completing ethical information on the Je-S form.

EPSRC guidance can be found under ‘additional information’.

Nominating reviewers

As part of the application process, you will be invited to nominate up to 3 potential reviewers who you feel have the expertise to assess your proposal.

Please ensure that any nominations meet the EPSRC policy on conflicts of interest.

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

Stage 1: mandatory expression of interest

A mandatory expression of interest stage must be completed via SmartSurvey before it closes at 4:00pm on 20 March 2023. This expression of interest will require a list of all principal investigators and co-investigators, their institutions and research areas. Failure to complete the expression of interest will mean any full proposals submitted will automatically be rejected.

At the end of the SmartSurvey there is a disclaimer that will allow us to share your details with interested organisations, such as civic bodies, to form wider consortia following the closure of the expression of interest stage. Please provide your consent in the survey if you wish us to broker such relationships and provide initial points of contact between interested parties.

Stage 2: expert panel review and prioritisation

All proposals that meet the eligibility criteria will be sent to external peer reviewers for their comments. When a sufficient number of quality reviewer comments have been received, the principal investigator will be invited to submit a response to the reviewers’ comments, if the application gains enough support.

EPSRC will then convene a prioritisation panel for those competitive applications invited to principal investigator response. The sift panel will rank the proposals based on the assessment criteria using the applications, reviews, and principal investigator responses. EPSRC will decide, based on the advice of the panel, which applications to invite forward to the interview stage.

No feedback will be provided following the sift panel.

Stage 3: interview panel

Successful applicants will be invited to an interview by an independent panel of experts in July 2023. Full details of the interview process will be sent to candidates before the interviews. The interview will assess whether the proposed hub meets the assessment criteria sufficiently. The panel may recommend conditions for EPSRC to impose before funding is awarded. Based on the panel’s recommendations, EPSRC reserves the right to seek further information from the applicants before awarding funding.

Feedback will be provided following interview.

In the event of this opportunity being substantially oversubscribed as to be unmanageable, EPSRC reserve the right to modify the assessment process.

Assessment criteria

Standard criteria

Quality (primary)

The research excellence of the proposal, making reference to:

  • the novelty, relationship to the context, timeliness, and relevance to identified stakeholders
  • the ambition, adventure, transformative aspects, or potential outcomes
  • the suitability of the proposed methodology and the appropriateness of the approach to achieving impact. For multidisciplinary proposals please state which aspects of the proposal you feel qualified to assess
  • overall strategy for the hub, including vision and plans for longer term sustainability
National importance (secondary major)


  • clear alignment and contribution to targets and priorities of the UK government and devolved administrations, as well as more localised, regional bodies such as civic bodies, local authorities or similar
  • evidence of the potential for the proposal to contribute visibly to economic and social impacts in places across the UK
  • contributes to, or helps maintain, the health of other disciplines
  • contributes to addressing key UK societal challenges or contributes to future UK economic success and development of emerging industry
  • meets national needs by establishing and maintaining a unique, world leading research and integration activity
Applicant and partnerships (secondary)

The ability to deliver the proposed project, making reference to:

  • appropriateness of the track record of the applicants
  • balance of skills of the project team, including collaborators
  • ability of the management team to lead or manage a large, complex investment with sufficient support, infrastructure, and resources for the day-to-day running of the hub
Resources and management (secondary)

The effectiveness of the proposed planning and management and whether the requested resources are appropriate and have been fully justified, making reference to:

  • any equipment requested, or the viability of the arrangements described to access equipment needed for this project, and particularly on any university or third-party contribution
  • the effectiveness of the proposed management structure and plans
  • the suitability of the proposed strategy for governance of the programme, including the flexible allocation of funding and inclusion of a broad and diverse community
  • the appropriateness of plans for integrating the views of stakeholders (including government, business and the third sector) as part of governance and advisory structures
  • effectiveness of the proposed monitoring and evaluation arrangements to ensure the overall hub opportunity objectives are met
  • how equality, diversity and inclusion are embedded in the management of the hub and the delivery of activities
  • any resources requested for activities to either increase impact, for public engagement or to support responsible innovation

Opportunity specific criteria

Fit to opportunity (primary)

The alignment of the research programme to the aims and objectives of the opportunity, making reference to:

  • how the new science produced by, or the new understanding gained from the proposed research can only emerge from a close collaboration between researchers from the environmental sciences, social sciences, humanities, and engineering and physical sciences
  • how the applicants will bring disciplines together in an exciting and novel way to ensure the project achieves a result greater than the sum of its parts; evidence of synergy and added value across the programme of work
Fit to place based opportunity (primary)

The ability or potential for the proposed hub to build or strengthen research and innovation activity to benefit the targeted places by:

  • engaging civic stakeholders in meaningful collaboration
  • delivering research and impact activity designed to deliver benefits for local communities and the national landscape


All submissions that meet eligibility criteria will receive postal peer review comments. The interview panel will be invited to provide any further feedback, where appropriate.

Guidance for reviewers

EPSRC peer review process and guidance for reviewers.

EPSRC peer review guidance for standard calls.

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

Neil Bateman, Senior Portfolio Manager (Energy and decarbonisation)


James Tarver, Senior Portfolio Manager (Energy and decarbonisation)


Energy and decarbonisation team Inbox


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01793 444164

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Additional info

This opportunity forms part of the EPSRC engineering net zero strategic theme, detailed in the EPSRC delivery plan, and DfT UK Shipping Office for Reducing Emissions (UK SHORE).

In March 2022, the government allocated £206 million to UK SHORE, a new programme within DfT focused on decarbonising the maritime sector. UK SHORE is delivering a suite of interventions between April 2022 and March 2025 aimed at addressing different barriers across a range of technology-readiness levels.

This opportunity delivers to UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) 2022 to 2027: transforming tomorrow together strategy, to support world-class ideas, advancing the frontiers of human knowledge and innovation by enabling the UK to seize opportunities from emerging research trends, multidisciplinary approaches and new concepts and markets.

This opportunity responds to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals:

  • 7: clean and affordable energy
  • 8: decent work and economic growth
  • 11: sustainable cities and communities
  • 13: climate action
  • 14: life below water

UK SHORE regional networking events

UK SHORE are hosting a number of regional networking events intended to be open to all organisations within each region. The events will provide an opportunity to network and learn more about UK SHORE’s interventions. UK SHORE, Innovate UK, Innovate UK KTN, and EPSRC officials will be in attendance.

Register your interest on the Maritime UK website.


For more information about this funding opportunity, please view the recording of the community webinar and question and answer session held on 27 February 2023 at 12:30pm to 1:30pm UK time.

Watch webinar recording on Zoom (passcode: ?^02KKBi)

Grant additional conditions (GAC)

Grants are awarded under the standard UKRI grant terms and conditions. The following additional grant conditions will also apply.

GAC 1: fixed start date

Notwithstanding RGC 5.2 starting procedures, this grant has a fixed start date of 1 September 2023, no slippage of this date will be permitted. Expenditure may be incurred prior to the start of the grant and be subsequently charged to the grant, provided that it does not precede the date of the offer letter.

GAC 2: publicity and branding

In addition to RGC 12.4 publication and acknowledgement of support, you must make reference to the DfT UK SHORE Programme and UKRI funding and include the logos and relevant branding on all online or printed materials (including press releases, posters, exhibition materials and other publications) related to activities funded by this grant.

GAC 3: Equality, diversity, and inclusion

In addition to RGC 3.4, you are expected to prepare a full equality diversity and inclusion plan for the duration of this grant to demonstrate best practice in equality, diversity, and inclusion throughout the lifetime of this funding award. This must be recorded through the grant reporting process.

GAC 4: community networking expectations

This grant is awarded on the understanding that, in addition to the core research programme, the project will undertake a wider networking role with the research and user community outside its membership. This may involve coordination of activities such as meetings, workshops, or seminars on behalf of us. A dedicated website must be set up within 6 months of the start of the grant and regularly maintained to provide a resource for engagement with the wider community.

This grant is expected to further develop the network including its academic and user (for example, policy, business, nongovernmental organisation) membership throughout the period of funding to maximise its impact on a wide range of disciplines. As part of the grant, networks must identify ambitious ‘real-world’ challenges, which require a multidisciplinary approach and will form an agenda for future research in the area.

GAC 5: user engagement strategy

You must develop and execute a strategy for engaging with potential users of the research funded in the project. This strategy should be reviewed and updated regularly as part of the formal management and reporting process agreed for this grant.

GAC 6: project officer appointment

We will nominate a member of our staff (the project officer) who will be your primary point of contact. The project officer will ensure that the project is being run in accordance with the terms and conditions and in line with financial due diligence. The project officers should have access to all documentation of governance and reporting bodies, in so far as it relates to the administration and application of the grant.

As funding administrators, all UKRI staff have agreed to maintain the confidentiality required by all parties involved in our funded research.

GAC 7: advisory board appointment

This grant must establish and run an independent advisory board, or equivalent body, to oversee the running of the project and provide advice on the strategic direction and activities of the project. The terms of reference and membership of this group (at least 50% independent membership and an independent chair) should be agreed with us.

The project officer will also be expected to attend and participate in advisory board and other appropriate meetings for the duration of the grant.

GAC 8: management structure

You should have established an appropriate management structure with clear lines of responsibility and authority to oversee the day-to-day running of the project. This should be in place within 6 months of the start date of the grant.

The terms of reference and management structure, including the director, co-director and senior investigators must be approved by us and DfT in advance. As must any changes to this structure. The project officer will be our main contact with the project and must receive all meeting minutes of the management committees. We reserve the right to attend any meetings.

GAC 9: project review

In addition to the requirements set out in standard UKRI grant conditions RGC 7.4 research monitoring and evaluation and 7.5 disclosure and inspection, we reserve the right to instigate a review of all or part of the grant at any stage during the lifetime of the award as well as after the grant has finished. A mid-term review of this grant will take place to assess the performance of the grant in line with the peer reviewed body of work, published scheme assessment criteria and key performance indicators or milestones and deliverables.

We will give you due notice of the date of any review and will provide details of the terms of reference and documentation required. Any review will be conducted by an expert panel, which will make recommendations to us for the grant’s future.

GAC 10: progress reports

In addition to the requirements set out in RGC 7.4.3, you are responsible for providing annual progress reports against non-financial performance metrics. A detailed list of performance metrics and instructions for reporting will be agreed with the grant holder upon commencement of the grant.

GAC 11: flexible funds

Notwithstanding standard grant condition RGC 4.4 the sum up to £1.3 million awarded under the heading of ‘Flexible Funds’ can include both directly incurred and directly allocated expenditure. These funds must be reported on the final expenditure statement (FES) as awarded on the offer letter and a breakdown of the expenditure must be submitted along with the FES. If a breakdown of this expenditure is not received the FES will be returned. Standard grant conditions apply to all other funds awarded on this grant.

GAC 12: cost overrun

We will not be responsible for any cost overrun incurred during this grant. You will be required to make up any shortfall from alternative sources.

GAC 13: partner withdrawal

In line with RGC 13.3, if the funding components from DfT is either not agreed or withdrawn after the project has started, we reserve the right to terminate the grant.

GAC 14: collaboration agreements

Where the grant is associated with more than one research organisation or other project partners, a formal collaboration agreement must be in place with the basis of collaboration between the organisations including the following:

  • the process of the flexible allocation of resources throughout the project
  • ownership of intellectual property
  • rights to exploitation

It is your responsibility to put such an agreement in place by 1 December 2023. The terms of collaboration agreements must not conflict with the UKRI terms and conditions.

We must be informed within 3 months of the start of the grant, that the collaboration agreement is in place and has been signed by all partners or the progress made (unless some alternative timeline has been agreed with us beforehand).

If sufficient progress has not been made within 3 months of the start of the grant, we reserve the right the enact RGC 11.1.

Arrangements for collaboration, exploitation or both must not prevent the future progression of research and the dissemination of research results in accordance with academic custom and practice.

GAC 15: co-funding requirement

The total co-funding requirement to be achieved by the end of the grant is as least £10 million. This will be monitored by us throughout the grant.

GAC 16: change of principal investigator

In addition to RGC 7.3, this award is made on condition that any requests to change the grant holder, co-investigator or both will require prior approval from us.

We must be contacted in writing and prior approval sought before this change can be made. To facilitate any changes of this nature the case must be made for why a new principal investigator is required.

Requests for such a change are to be submitted via the grant maintenance facility in Joint Electronic System (Je-S). We will then consider and inform you of their decision.

Responsible innovation

UKRI is fully committed to developing and promoting responsible innovation. Research has the ability to not only produce understanding, knowledge, and value, but also unintended consequences, questions, ethical dilemmas and, at times, unexpected social transformations.

We recognise that we have a duty of care to promote approaches to responsible innovation that will initiate ongoing reflection about the potential ethical and societal implications of the research that we sponsor and to encourage our research community to do likewise. Therefore applicants are expected to work within the EPSRC framework for responsible innovation.

Applicants planning to include international collaborators on their proposal should visit Trusted Research for information and advice on how to get the most out of international collaboration while protecting intellectual property, sensitive research and personal information. Grant holders will be expected to engage with the relevant regulatory bodies where concerns may arise under the National Security and Investment Act. Aspects of bias, privacy, security, and ethics should be considered where appropriate.


UKRI’s environmental sustainability strategy lays out our ambition to actively lead environmental sustainability across our sectors. This includes a vision to ensure that all major investment and funding decisions we make are directly informed by environmental sustainability, recognising environmental benefits as well as potential for environmental harm.

In alignment with this, UKRI is tackling the challenge of environmental sustainability through our ‘building a green future’ strategic theme, which aims to develop whole systems solutions to improve the health of our environment and deliver net zero, securing prosperity across the whole of the UK.

Environmental sustainability is a broad term but may include consideration of such broad areas as:

  • reducing carbon emissions
  • protecting and enhancing the natural environment and biodiversity
  • waste or pollution elimination
  • resource efficiency and a circular economy

EPSRC expects projects to embed careful consideration of environmental sustainability at all stages of the research and innovation process and throughout the lifetime of the project. Projects should ensure that environmental impact and mitigation of the proposed research approaches and hub operations, as well as the associated project outputs and outcomes is considered.

Projects must also seek opportunities to influence others and leave a legacy of environmental sustainability within the broader operations of your academic and industry partners.

Data sharing

The grants will be funded by EPSRC in partnership with DfT.

DfT will have access to the proposal and grant documents for this opportunity. This will include relevant personal data of applicants from grant applications which will be shared with DfT as observers of both the outline and full proposal panels. It will also include grant information shared with DfT as a co-funder, for the purposes of monitoring and evaluating the impact of the programme.

Supporting documents

Equality impact assessment (PDF, 224KB)

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