Pre-announcement: High-risk speculative research ideas in engineering and ICT

Apply for funding for new research ideas that are speculative, high risk, with potential for a high reward.

Your idea for a project must be within the remit of EPSRC’s:

  • engineering theme
  • information and communication technologies (ICT) theme.

You must be:

  • a UK resident
  • based at an eligible research organisation.

The full economic cost of your project can be up to £250,000. EPSRC will fund 80% of the full economic cost.

Your project can last up to two years.

This opportunity is part of the EPSRC New Horizons pilot scheme.

This is a pre-announcement. This guidance gives all the information available so far. We will update it with the full details by the opening date.

Who can apply

The New Horizons funding opportunity will be limited to one submission per applicant as principal investigator or co-investigator.

Standard EPSRC eligibility rules apply.

Research grants are open to:

  • UK higher education institutions
  • research council institutes
  • UKRI-approved independent research organisations
  • eligible public sector research establishments
  • NHS bodies with research capacity.

Check if your institution is eligible for research and innovation funding

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

  • 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.

What we're looking for

This is a pre-announcement notice. The EPSRC New Horizons funding opportunity will open on 9 November 2021, when further guidance and information will be available on this page.

The EPSRC 2019 delivery plan (PDF, 4.31MB) highlighted the desire to continue promoting excellence in research by investing in ways that are optimised to the specific researcher base and research outputs desired. As part of this strategy, EPSRC proposes investing in new approaches to delivery, such as this New Horizons funding opportunity.

New Horizons is a pilot scheme which comprises funding for researcher-led, high-risk research focused on:

  • advancing knowledge
  • securing the pipeline of next-generation innovations.

It will enable funding for completely new ideas, which are essential to future-proof our research base. The first phase of the pilot was held in 2020 with a focus on the mathematical and physical sciences community.

New Horizons: piloting a streamlined application process

In this second phase of the New Horizons scheme, the aims are to:

  • support speculative, high-risk research ideas that could potentially offer high reward, to ensure the continued flow of these types of research projects into the EPSRC portfolio and wider UKRI funding streams
  • trial ways to minimise the bureaucracy of the application process, particularly for the applicant
  • deliver a faster process compared to current standard funding routes, whilst maintaining robust decision making that is proportionate to the level of risk.

The New Horizons funding route is intended to stimulate creativity within the research community to give researchers time and space to test out their speculative ideas.

Proposals are welcome that are considered by EPSRC to be majority within the remit of the:

More information on remit will be provided when the opportunity opens. EPSRC reserves the right to reject proposals that do not fall sufficiently within the scope of the opportunity.

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