Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Host collections as part of our heritage science infrastructure

Apply for funding to host scientific reference collections as part of the Research Infrastructure for Conservation and Heritage Science (RICHeS).
You must be based at a UK research organisation eligible for AHRC funding. Your organisation must have objects, records or data of relevance to heritage science research. You must be prepared to extend access to collections or data to UK-based and international users.
The cost of your grant can be up to £0.5 million. We will fund 100% of the full economic cost (FEC) of equipment and facilities, and 80% of additional staff posts.

Who can apply

Before applying for funding, check the following:

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has introduced new role types for funding opportunities being run on UKRI’s new Funding Service from 22 May 2023.

For full details, visit Eligibility as an individual.

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 and AHRC’s equality, diversity and inclusion policy.

What we're looking for


This funding will enable you to purchase or build systems and upgrade facilities, and it will supply ongoing funding to recruit and retain staff, to enable access to scientific reference collections and data.

The RICHeS programme is designed to maximise the research, development and innovation potential of UK heritage science by delivering a generational step-change in sector effectiveness, efficiency and excellence. Specifically, it will:

  • catalyse the development of an informed, collaborative and innovative UK heritage science community
  • ensure that the heritage science sector has the capability and the capacity to meet user demand and deliver world-class scientific excellence
  • ensure that heritage science equipment, expertise, resources and research data are findable and accessible to users, available to external stakeholders, and capable of being leveraged by a range of partners

This funding will contribute to these objectives by enabling access to collections of objects, samples, records and data for a wide range of users, to catalyse new collaborative research projects and amplify the impact of heritage science research. In building this infrastructure, you may wish to consider:

  • how you and your research partners will identify and manage unmet demand for your collections and data
  • how you could go beyond your existing networks to make potential users aware of the collections and data you offer. You may wish to refer to the RICHeS Infrastructure Headquarters, and international networks such as the European Research Infrastructure for Heritage Science
  • how your collections and data, and the research you undertake, will benefit wider stakeholders, including the wider heritage sector, other areas of science, and the general public
  • in the longer-term, how you wish to continue to grow your research capacity, including any future infrastructure funding requirements that AHRC could address

Your institution will form part of a national infrastructure for heritage science and conservation research, supported by a coordinating hub (the RICHeS Infrastructure Headquarters), and a new Digital Research service. Therefore, we encourage you to consider where your organisation’s research strengths and existing capabilities are positioned, as part of the UK’s heritage science research capability, and how this capability expansion will enhance and broaden your value as part of a national research infrastructure.

Users of your reference collections and data will be able to bid for funding to support the costs associated with accessing the infrastructure, including travel and subsistence, lab costs and consumables, and insurance for moving objects or equipment. Your institution will receive applications from users bidding for this funding, and you will be asked to comment on the feasibility of the proposed research, and its appropriateness for your facilities, collections and expertise. Your recommendations will inform funding decisions made by the RICHeS Infrastructure Headquarters. We encourage you to consider, as part of your application, how you will manage demand internally and ensure that external users wishing to access the facility are appropriately supported.

For more information on the background of this opportunity, go to the Additional information section.


The duration of this award is up to two years. Projects can start from September 2024.

Once the facilities have been established, we will give you an annual grant to support the total cost of recruiting and retaining additional staff capacity (up to 1.0FTE per grant), to enable access to the facilities for external users. You will report semi-annually to the RICHeS Infrastructure Headquarters, and you will contribute to project-level reporting to the RICHeS Project Board.

Funding available

To purchase or build systems and upgrade facilities, the full economic cost of your project can be up to £500,000. We will fund 100% of the full economic cost (FEC). Indexation (inflation adjustment) will not be added to these grants.

To recruit and retain additional staff capacity (up to 1.0FTE per grant), the FEC of your project can be up to £120,000 per year. We will fund 80% of the FEC.

What we will fund

The equipment funding will cover capital and capitalisable costs only. These include:

  • purchase, delivery and installation of, or costs associated with building, systems and facilities to make scientific reference collections and data more accessible
  • peripherals such as IT equipment and software, where not already present
  • staff costs associated with building, installing and setting up the systems and facilities
  • service and maintenance of these facilities and systems to improve and extend its usable life
  • services and materials to enable an expansion or refit of space to host facilities

The ongoing funding for staff will include:

  • salary
  • on-costs including pension contribution
  • estates and overheads

What we will not fund

  • original research that is not directly related to building the infrastructure
  • substantial digitisation of collections. Except where this is required to develop or test part of the infrastructure
  • training programmes. Except for technical staff in order to enable access to the infrastructure
  • studentships or postdoctoral research associates

This is a capital funding opportunity, and all costs associated with the equipment and facilities must be capitalisable.

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.

How to apply

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

The project lead is responsible for completing the application process on the Funding Service, but we expect all team members and project partners to contribute to the application.

Only the lead research organisation can submit an application to UKRI.

To apply:

  1. Select ‘Start application’ near the beginning of this page.
  2. Confirm you are the project lead.
  3. Sign in or create a UKRI Funding Service account. To create an account, select your organisation, verify your email address, and set a password. If your organisation is not listed, email
  4. Answer questions directly in the text boxes. You can save your answers and come back to them, or work offline and return to copy and paste your answers. All questions and assessment criteria are listed in the ‘How to apply’ section on this Funding finder page.
  5. Send the completed application to your research office for checking. They will return it to you if it needs editing.
  6. Your research office will submit the completed and checked application to UKRI.

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

As citations can be integral to an application, you should balance their inclusion and the benefit they provide against the inclusion of other parts of your answer to each question. Bear in mind that citations, associated reference lists or bibliographies, or both, contribute to, and are included in, the word count of the relevant section.

You should complete the Intention to Submit form ahead of submitting your application through the Funding Service. This must be submitted by 24 August 4:00pm UK time. This survey submission will be used by AHRC to facilitate conversations between potential applicants and support a portfolio approach to assessment.


We must receive your application by 17 October 2023 at 4:00pm UK time.

You will not be able to apply after this time.

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

Processing personal data

AHRC, as part of UKRI, will need to collect some personal information to manage your UKRI 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.

Outcomes publication

AHRC will publish the outcomes of this funding opportunity via the UKRI website and social media channels in August 2024. Additionally, all funding outcomes are published on the UKRI website, with further details on funded projects available at the Gateway to Research website.

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

UKRI Funding Service: section guidance

Section: Purpose

Question: Why is the proposed capacity needed?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Explain how the proposed infrastructure:

  • is timely, given current trends and context
  • meets the evidenced needs of clearly identified user groups
  • will have a measurable impact beyond the immediate team

Word count: 500

Section: Vision

Question: What are you hoping to achieve with the proposed infrastructure?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

In your uploaded Vision and Approach document, explain how the proposed infrastructure will:

  • enable high quality and important research
  • meet the strategic aims of the RICHeS programme
  • offer training opportunities
  • enhance and complement the existing landscape
  • be of international importance (if applicable)

Word count: 500

Section: Approach

Question: What are your plans to manage the proposed infrastructure?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

We expect you to show how your approach includes:

A credible management plan including strategic and operational matters (proportionate to the scale and complexity of the activity)

Details of governance (proportionate to the scale and complexity of the activity)

Feasibility of the project plan including a work plan (Gantt chart), milestones and deliverables

Identification of risks and appropriate mitigations

Plans for support and maintenance of the proposed infrastructure

Details of access and usage particularly where a culture of equipment sharing may extend use

Training and development of staff

A description of the working environment

Plans for sustainability and legacy beyond the end of UKRI funding – these could include cost recovery models, securing additional funding, development or expansion after the initial period of funding

Word count 2,500

Section: Applicant and team capability to deliver

Question: Why are you the right individual or team to procure and manage the proposed infrastructure?

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

The appropriate leadership and management skills and your approach to develop others

Contributed to developing the positive research environment and wider community

The word count for this section is 1.500 words, 1,000 words to be used for R4RI modules and, if necessary, a further 500 words for Additions.

Use the Résumé for Research and Innovation (R4RI) format to showcase the range of relevant skills you, and if relevant, your team (investigators 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 below. You should use each heading once and include a response for the whole team, see the. 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 you can use it to describe 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 section as a narrative. Do not format like a CV.

Word count: 1,500

Section: Resources and cost justification

Question: What will you need to procure and manage the proposed infrastructure and how much will it cost?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Justify the application’s more costly resources, in particular:

Project staff

Any equipment that will cost more than £10,000

Any consumables beyond typical requirements, or that are required in exceptional quantities

All facilities and infrastructure costs

All resources that have been costed as ‘Exceptions’

Assessors are not looking for detailed costs or a line-by-line breakdown of all project resources. Overall, they want to be assured that:

All resources are appropriate

The project will make optimal use of resources to achieve its outcomes

Word count: 1,000

Section: Project Partners

Provide details of any project partners’ contributions, and letters or emails of support from each named partner.

What the assessors are looking for 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.

Download and complete the form. Then copy and paste the table within in to the text box below.

Include letters or emails of support from each partner in a single PDF.

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 they bring to the project

The Funding Service will provide document upload details when you apply. If you do not have any project partners, you will be able to indicate this in the Funding Service.

Ensure you have prior agreement from project partners so that if you are offered funding, they will support your project as indicated in the template.

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 project co-leads’ research organisations.

Word count: 1,500

Section: Ethics and Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI)

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

Demonstrate that you have identified and evaluated:

  • the relevant ethical or responsible research and innovation considerations
  • how you will manage these considerations

If you are collecting or using data, identify:

  • any legal and ethical considerations of collecting, releasing or storing the data including consent, confidentiality, anonymisation, security and other ethical considerations and, in particular, strategies to not preclude further reuse of data formal information standards with which your study will comply

Word count: 1,000

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

We will assess your application using the following process.


We will invite experts to collectively review your application against the criteria and rank it alongside other applications, after which the panel will make a funding recommendation.

AHRC will make the final funding decision.

Find out more about AHRC’s assessment process.


We aim to complete the assessment process within four months of receiving your application.


We will give feedback with the outcome of your application.

Assessment criteria

What we are looking for

The criteria we will assess your application against are:

  • Purpose
  • Vision
  • Approach
  • Applicant and team capability to deliver
  • Resources and cost justification
  • Ethics and Responsible Research and Innovation (where applicable)

Find details of assessment questions and criteria under the ‘Application questions’ heading in the How to apply section.

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 and help applying through the UKRI Funding Service


Phone: 01793 547490

Our phone lines are open Monday-Thursday 8:30am to 5:00pm and Friday 8:30am to 4:30pm

Sensitive information

If you, or a key team member, need to tell us something you wish to remain confidential, email

Include ‘Sensitive information: [Develop Digital Research Services for Heritage Science Research]’ in the subject line.

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.

Additional info


RICHeS is the Research Infrastructure for Conservation and Heritage Science. With a programme team based at Daresbury Campus, RICHeS will be a distributed, national capability, providing national and international access to facilities, resources and expertise for conservation and heritage science.

RICHeS will be built over five years, through an investment of £80 million, comprising £59.5 million from UKRI’s Infrastructure Fund, £17.7 million from AHRC’s WCL baseline and £2.8 million from third parties. It will build on and enhance heritage science capability in universities, galleries, libraries, archives, and museums, and in multidisciplinary national scientific facilities such as Diamond Light Source and the National Environmental Isotope Facility.

Access to Facilities and Equipment

Recipients of RICHeS funding are expected to enable, extend and monitor access to facilities, equipment and collections supported through the programme. You should set out the type and level of access, as well as a description of the external users who will access facilities, equipment and collections.

RICHeS Infrastructure Headquarters will undertake monitoring of access levels and external users and provide support and guidance to ensure funded projects provide access to external users.

We recognise that there are costs associated with accessing equipment, facilities, collections and expertise, for both the user and provider.

RICHeS will provide an Access Fund to enable researchers, institutions and other users to access RICHeS funded equipment (including mobile equipment), facilities, collections, and expertise, where no other source of funding exists. This will enable collaborative multi and interdisciplinary research between organisations and institutions holding collections, equipment and expertise.

The Access Fund will be eligible for researchers and institutions who wish to access heritage science and conservation research equipment, collections and facilities. Applications will be made by providers, following full discussions with users about need, costs, timings, feasibility and impact.

The Access Fund will cover costs including lab or bench costs and consumables, transport and insurance of objects, staff time to enable and support access to equipment, and data processing and analysis time,

Funding will be made through a competitive grant scheme. Applications will be checked for eligibility and completeness by IHQ staff and reviewed by an assessment panel.
Further details will be published in 2024.

Webinar for potential applicants

We held a webinar on 8 August 2023 at 1:00pm UK time. This provided more information about the opportunity and a chance to ask questions.

Watch a recording of the webinar

Passcode: +C0iyTLG

RICHeS general webinar

Watch a recording of the webinar

Passcode: ^i9=0H8*

Research disruption due to COVID-19

We recognise that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused major interruptions and disruptions across our communities. We are committed to ensuring that individual applicants and their wider team, including partners and networks, are not penalised for any disruption to their career, such as:

  • breaks and delays
  • disruptive working patterns and conditions
  • the loss of ongoing work
  • role changes that may have been caused by the pandemic

Reviewers and panel members will be advised to consider the unequal impacts that COVID-19 related disruption might have had on the capability to deliver and career development of those individuals included in the application. They will be asked to consider the capability of the applicant and their wider team to deliver the research they are proposing.

Where disruptions have occurred, you can highlight this within your application if you wish, but there is no requirement to detail the specific circumstances that caused the disruption.

Supporting documents

Equality impact assessment (PDF, 230KB)


  • 17 August 2023
    Webinar recordings added
  • 25 July 2023
    The figure for the full economic cost of your project has been updated from £50,000 per year to £120,000 per year in the 'What we're looking for' section. We will fund 80% of the full economic cost.

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