This scheme is for early career researchers and innovators who are either:
- are transitioning to or establishing independence
- may be developing their own original and ambitious plans within a commercial setting
You do not need to hold a PhD and there are no eligibility rules based on the number of years since your PhD. However, if you do not hold a PhD, you must be able to demonstrate equivalent research or innovation experience or training.
There are no eligibility rules based on whether you currently hold a permanent or open-ended academic position or job role.
To assess and justify your suitability, go to ‘supporting documents’ in the ‘additional info’ section and read the person specification annex in either the:
- guidance for academic-hosted applicants
- guidance for non-academic-hosted applicants
UKRI cannot confirm eligibility prior to submission.
The fellowship offers flexibility to support outstanding individuals:
- from diverse career backgrounds
- returning from a career break or returning to research or innovation following time in other roles
- wishing to work part-time or in job shares in order to combine the fellowship with personal responsibilities
- coming to the UK from abroad. Researchers and innovators are eligible for a Global Talent visa under the ‘exceptional promise’ category for future research leaders. They must have the support of their host organisation
For applicants based in academia, there is a fixed cap on the number of applicants who can apply. Full details are annexed in the guidance for applicants document. Please ensure you notify your host organisation of your intention to apply, and allow time for internal shortlisting processes.
Who is not eligible
Applicants who have already achieved research or innovation independence (for example, by securing funding aimed at this career stage, or by already managing their own significant programme of work within a business) should not apply.
Senior academics and innovators are not permitted to apply.
How you spend your time
Fellows hosted by an academic organisation may spend up to six hours a week (pro rata for part-time applicants) on other commitments or related activities, provided they enhance career development. Those with substantial ongoing research commitments as a result of participation in other grants must relinquish these in order to hold a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowships award.
Fellows hosted by a non-academic organisation can come from commercial organisations of any size, in any sector or region. Reduced-hours fellowships are available to applicants hosted by a non-academic organisation. This enables fellows to spend up to 40% of their time (not funded by UKRI) on other activities within the organisation in order to enhance their career.
Eligible host organisations
Fellowships must be held at a UK-based organisation currently registered as eligible to apply for funding from the research councils.
Details of individual eligibility and lists of recognised institutes and independent research organisations can be found in our information about eligibility for research funding.
Academic organisations can be:
- any UK higher education institution that receives grant funding from one of the UK higher education funding bodies
- a research institute
- an independent research organisation
Cross sector and organisational links, and research and innovation collaborations in both the UK and internationally, are encouraged.
Number of applications
The Future Leaders Fellowships scheme is highly competitive. Increasing numbers of applications in previous rounds led to the extension of timelines and an increased peer review burden on our research and innovation community. To administrate this funding opportunity in a timely manner, the number of applications which can be submitted by each academic host organisation is capped. Read annex A of the guidance for academic-hosted applicants in the ‘additional info’ section for more information.
It is the academic host organisation’s responsibility to ensure that applicants and research support staff have adequate time to work on their full submissions.
Inclusive selection process
Host organisations must provide a statement describing the inclusive process they have used to select their chosen candidates by completing an online survey before the submission of any full proposals to UKRI. Hosts that provided a statement during round seven should confirm if the original statement still reflects their process, and if not provide an update.
The information submitted will contribute to an external review being undertaken by UKRI which aims to identify and share good practice relating to applicant support and inclusive selection processes. The statement should describe the process used to identify potential candidates. It should not include personal details of potential candidates nor any details that may enable them to be identified.
Full proposals submitted by host organisations that have not reported on this process will be office rejected.
The survey link will be provided ahead of the funding opportunity opening.
For academic applicants, full proposals should highlight the institution’s commitment to the salary of the fellow. It should provide commitment to an open-ended UK-based independent research or innovation position, to be taken up during or on completion of the fellowship in line with organisational employment policies and practices.
Non-academic organisations hosting fellowships should provide an innovation or research environment and must be registered companies (incorporated by either companies house or the charity commission) and public bodies. Fellowships will only be awarded to support research or innovation above and beyond the standard activities of the organisation.
UKRI has published an update on Catapult eligibility for funding. Fellows wishing to apply for a Future Leaders Fellowships hosted within a Catapult should contact the team at firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.