Before applying for funding, check the Eligibility of your organisation.
UKRI has introduced new role types for funding opportunities being run on the new UKRI Funding Service.
For full details, visit Eligibility as an individual.
Who is eligible to apply
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 information’ 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 from each institution. Full details are provided in the ‘Additional information’ section. Please ensure you notify your host organisation of your intention to apply and allow time for internal shortlisting processes.
Who is not eligible to apply
If you have already achieved research or innovation independence (for example, by securing funding aimed at this career stage, or by already managing your own significant programme of work within a business), you should not apply.
Senior academics and innovators are not permitted to apply.
How you spend your time
If you are hosted by an academic organisation, you 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. If you hold substantial ongoing research commitments as a result of participation in other grants, you must relinquish these in order to hold a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowships award.
If you are hosted by a non-academic organisation, you can come from commercial organisations of any size, in any sector or region. Reduced-hours fellowships are available to you if you are hosted by a non-academic organisation. This enables you to spend up to 40% of your time (not funded by UKRI) on other activities within the organisation in order to enhance your 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 Leader Fellowship 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 the application caps for academic host organisations in the ‘Additional information’ 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
For round seven of the Future Leaders Fellowships scheme, host organisations were asked to provide statements describing the inclusive process they used to select their chosen candidates. These statements contributed to an external review undertaken by the Careers Research and Advisory Centre (CRAC) titled Inclusive selection and support for the Future Leaders Fellowships scheme – Investigation of current practice and identification of good practice examples.
The UKRI response (PDF, 200KB) to this report includes the implementation of a pilot, where academic host organisations wishing to submit applications to round nine of the Future Leaders Fellowships scheme must complete diversity monitoring templates to provide anonymised information on the number of prospective applicants by sex and gender, ethnicity, disability, and broad disciplinary groupings. Hosts will also be asked to highlight any updates to their inclusive selection statements. Further details of this requirement and questions to consider for updates to inclusive selection statements are contained within the UKRI response which can be found in the ‘Additional information’ section.
Information provided will not be used in the assessment or outcome of this funding opportunity.
Full proposals submitted by host organisations that have not reported on this process will be rejected prior to peer review.
The information hosts will be asked to provide is included within the UKRI response to the CRAC report. Details on how to submit this information 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). 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. If you wish to apply for a Future Leaders Fellowships hosted within a Catapult should contact the team at firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.
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.