Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: India-UK research into creative industries and cultural heritage

Apply for funding to build India-UK research collaborations within the fields of creative industries and cultural heritage. Projects will demonstrate the value of the creative, cultural and heritage sectors to both countries.

You must be based at a UK research organisation eligible for UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) funding.

The full economic cost (FEC) of your project can be up to £400,000. AHRC will fund:

  • 80% FEC for UK-based researchers
  • 100% FEC for eligible international co-investigators

The maximum duration is three years.

Projects must start on 1 February 2024.

Who can apply

Before applying for funding, check the following:

Who is eligible to apply

To be eligible to apply for this funding opportunity you must be at an eligible research organisation.

This is any UK higher education institution that receives grant funding from one of the UK higher education funding bodies, or a UKRI-recognised research institute or organisation.

See AHRC’s funding guide for further information on institutional and individual contractual eligibility requirements for investigators.

Your application must:

  • be collaborative between India and the UK
  • include researchers and wider partners from both India and the UK
  • focus on one or more of the areas listed under ‘what we’re looking for’

International applicants

AHRC’s international co-investigator policy applies to this funding opportunity. If you are a researcher based in India, you can be named as an international co-investigator if you meet the eligibility criteria for international co-investigators. See AHRC’s funding guide for further information.

Your application must be submitted by a UK-based researcher. We expect the design of the research project, plans for delivery, and dissemination are all co-designed and delivered equitably between researchers and partners from both India and the UK.

Co-investigators from other countries outside of the UK and India can also be included where:

  • there is clear benefit to the project
  • the total cost for international co-investigators is not more than 50% of the total grant cost

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

Scope

AHRC, working with UKRI India, the British Council and partners in India, is seeking to build India-UK research and innovation collaborations within the fields of creative industries and cultural heritage. Projects funded under this funding opportunity will demonstrate the value of the creative, cultural and heritage sectors to both countries.

The funding opportunity reflects AHRC’s strategic prioritisation of India as a partner country and seeks to create a platform for long-term collaboration between researchers and partners from India and the UK. It builds on a series of scoping and engagement activities that took place in 2021 to 2022, taking forward some of the key recommendations and findings from this activity. It is being delivered by AHRC and informed by consultation with partners including British Council India and the Indian Council of Historical Research.

There is increasing recognition in both India and the UK of the potential for the creative industries to foster prosperous and empowered communities. Culture and creative economy are explicitly referenced in the India-UK Roadmap 2030 agreed between the two governments in May 2021 (section five of the India-UK Roadmap) as a means of enhancing people to people connections and generating livelihoods.

This funding opportunity aims to support partnerships that will catalyse new research and innovation across a range of sectors. It acknowledges the different areas of strength and innovation in each country, and the mutual benefit of enhanced collaboration. The importance of cultural heritage to both countries, including connected histories, memories, and communities, provides common ground for heritage research collaboration. This will advance innovation in the field and seek to better understand future challenges.

Projects funded through this funding opportunity can address a wide range of research areas both within and across creative industries and cultural heritage, bringing connections between the two fields to fruition.

Your application should provide clear pathways to a variety of innovative impacts and outcomes, which can include new methodologies and creative outputs as well as written publications. It should also reflect the specific added value of India-UK collaboration in the relevant area. We are open to innovative and creative methods for reaching and demonstrating the project’s outcomes, that are suited to the intended beneficiaries of the research.

Duration

The maximum duration of each award is 36 months.

Projects must start on 1 February 2024.

We expect to support up to 10 awards through this funding opportunity. Throughout their duration, the cohort of project teams will be convened at intervals during the period of delivery. Teams are expected to undertake knowledge exchange activities on an ongoing basis in order to share findings and encourage best practice.

Funding available

The FEC of your project can be up to £400,000

AHRC will fund:

  • 80% FEC for UK-based researchers and activity
  • 100% FEC for eligible international co-investigator costs. Given the international focus of this funding opportunity and emphasis on equitable partnerships and collaboration, AHRC’s standard 30% cap on international co-investigator costs may be exceeded up to a maximum of 50% of total grant costs

The justification of resources in your application should include individual figures for the total amount of international costs and total costs for UK-based researchers and activity.

Within the £400,000 maximum budget you must include an amount of £10,000 under other directly incurred UK costs to cover cohort building and knowledge exchange activities. There is no need to specify what this will cover at the application stage. The use of this funding will be determined in consultation with AHRC.

All requested costs must be in line with the guidance set out in section three of AHRC’s funding guide, any exceptions are noted in this funding opportunity text. Any costs for co-investigators and partners in India must be delivered in keeping with the 2020 amendments to the Indian Foreign Contribution Regulation Act.

Areas of focus

Projects must:

  • be collaborative between researchers and wider partners in India and the UK
  • demonstrate how they have considered equality, diversity and inclusion both in relation to the composition of the project teams and framing of the research itself
  • focus on the creative industries, cultural heritage or both areas

Your application must focus on one or more of the following areas of focus. The sub-headings under each area are not exhaustive and are intended to be prompts to stimulate research ideas:

1. Creative industries: innovation and sustainability in the creative and cultural sectors

India and the UK both have vibrant communities of creativity and culture, with growing recognition of the importance of the creative industries for wellbeing, social cohesion, employment, and economic growth.

Creative and community designed responses to contemporary challenges can have a powerful impact on individual and collective wellbeing. They can also provide innovative solutions to broad issues of sustainability and (in)equalities.

Projects may focus on areas such as, but not limited to:

  • the role of the creative and performing arts in promoting community cohesion and wellbeing, supporting cultural exchange and facilitating connections with heritage
  • issues facing traditional crafts and textiles in India, such as:
    • the lack of access to new technology and sustainable design practices in parts of the informal and rural economies
    • the threat posed to traditional handicraft skills by new technologies
    • the implications of introducing new practices to the supply chain on employment, especially for women who make up a substantial part of the traditional crafts and textiles workforce
  • the emergence of ‘circular fashion’ in the UK and India, and the implications for India’s vast textiles sector, as well as the potential for traditional crafts and handicrafts to have a role in the move away from fast fashion to ‘slow fashion’
  • challenges presented by the ‘data gap’ across India’s creative industries, particularly in terms of the lack of documentation and recorded data relating to the informal sector. As part of this, consideration of context-specific solutions to enable data collection that can inform decision making processes
  • the role of design in introducing sustainable and community-focused practices to India’s economy, including ‘green innovations’ in the creative industries, and approaches to reuse and repurposing for social wellbeing in both urban and rural contexts
  • digital innovation through India-UK partnerships across the creative industries, including the application of technologies in cultural institutions and small and medium-sized enterprises
  • approaches to collaboration between research and industry that foster innovation and entrepreneurship, including place-based approaches and the role of creative sectors in smart cities, and routes to commercialisation and research translation

Within all of the sub-areas, there are cross-cutting considerations that projects might take into account such as:

  • equality, diversity and inclusion
  • digital methodologies
  • intellectual property rights
  • policy and evidence, where data gaps need to be filled to inform decision making
  • environmental sustainability

In referring to the creative industries, we are applying the definition used by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). This is ‘those industries which have their origin in individual creativity, skill and talent’ and ‘have a potential for wealth and job creation through the generation and exploitation of intellectual property’ (DCMS 2001).

Examples of creative industry sectors include:

  • advertising and marketing
  • architecture
  • crafts
  • design: product, graphic and fashion design
  • fashion and textiles
  • film, television, video, radio and photography
  • IT, software and gaming
  • museums, galleries and libraries
  • performing and visual arts and music
  • publishing

2. Cultural heritage: conserving and curating for the future

India and the UK are home to culturally and historically significant collections through a vibrant sector of galleries, libraries, archives and museums. Heritage sites in both countries are also of global importance, attracting visitors and contributing to a sense of place and identity for local communities.

With advances in technology, environmental instability, urban development, and the significant impacts of COVID-19, there is a need for further research to consider how cultural heritage, both tangible and intangible, is conserved and curated for the future.

Projects may focus on areas such as, but not limited to:

  • protecting forms and formats of cultural heritage outside of large and formally recognised or established heritage sites and museums, and how communities are creating more localised iterations of protecting and interpreting their heritage, both tangible and intangible
  • the importance of digital innovations for the sector and how cultural assets can be conserved and made more widely accessible using processes of digitisation. How there is risk as well as potential in using digital technologies to document histories that are complex, personal, and related to place
  • how cultural institutions and organisations have managed the impacts of COVID-19 and started on pathways to recovery from the pandemic. Additionally, the effects of the pandemic on cultural heritage more broadly and the ways in which it changed people’s connections to their culture and heritage
  • challenges presented by the need for new skills within cultural institutions and organisations and what is needed to address this gap. Research in this area might focus on developing new methods of public engagement, outreach and co-curation
  • the role of heritage in sustainable place-making, including approaches to development and rural and urban challenges
  • as reflected in the India-UK Roadmap, the role of culture and creativity in building connectivity between diaspora communities through mutual learning and creative exchange

Within all of the sub-areas, there are cross-cutting considerations that projects might take into account such as:

  • equality, diversity and inclusion
  • the importance of languages and how vernacular sources are used and conserved
  • geographies of cultural heritage, reaching those not formally or often recognised
  • community engagement
  • digital methodologies
  • environmental sustainability

Project partners and collaboration

We are looking to fund projects that are highly collaborative in nature, including researchers from both India and the UK, and also wider project partners from outside of academia. The nature of this collaboration should be balanced and appropriate to the aims of the project, demonstrating the added value of India-UK collaboration.

Your application must demonstrate how the project team will ensure an equitable and inclusive approach to all partnerships, including how project partners will be directly involved before, during and after the project’s lifetime.

Collaboration with non-higher education institution partners is required and must be appropriate to the aims of the project. You are strongly encouraged to read UKRI’s guidance on co-production in research. Co-design of research, delivery and dissemination with project partners should be evident throughout the project.

See AHRC’s funding guide for information on including project partners and sub-contractors and associated contributions and costs in your application. Eligible costs for partners and sub-contractors in India can be paid at 100% if counted as part of research costs linked to an international co-investigator.

International collaboration

International collaboration between partners in India and the UK is compulsory for this funding opportunity. Visit Trusted Research for more information on effective international collaboration.

You should also take note of UKRI’s guidance on undertaking research in a global setting.

How to apply

UKRI Funding Service

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

If you do not already have an account with the UKRI Funding Service, you will be able to create one by selecting the ‘start application’ button at the start of this page. Creating an account is a two-minute process requiring you to verify your email address and set a password.

If you are a member of an organisation with a research office that we do not have contact details for, we will contact them to enable administrator access. This provides:

  • oversight of every UKRI Funding Service application opened on behalf of your organisation
  • the ability to review and submit applications

Research offices that have not already received an invitation to open an account should email support@funding-service.ukri.org

To find out more about the role of research office professionals in the application process, watch a recording of a recent research office webinar on YouTube.

Submitting your application

Your application should be prepared and submitted by the lead research organisation but should be co-created with input from all investigators and project partners. It should represent the proposed work of the entire consortia.

To apply:

  1. Select the ‘Start application’ button at the start of this page.
  2. This will open the ‘Sign in’ page of UKRI’s Funding Service. If you do not already have an account, you’ll be able to create one. This is a two-minute process requiring you to verify your email address and set a password.
  3. Start answering the questions detailed in this section of ‘How to apply’. You can save your work and come back to it later. You can also work ‘offline’, copying and pasting into the text boxes provided for your answers.
  4. Once complete, use the service to send your application to your research office for review. They’ll check it and return it to you if it needs editing.
  5. Once happy, your research office will submit it to UKRI for assessment. Only they can do this.

As citations can be integral to a case for support, 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.

Deadline

AHRC must receive your application by 8 June 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.

General text on processing personal data

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

General text on outcomes publication

AHRC, as part of UKRI, will publish the outcomes of this funding opportunity at board and panel outcomes – AHRC.

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

UKRI Funding Service: section guidance

Summary

In plain English, provide a summary that can be sent to potential reviewers to determine if your proposal is within their field of expertise.

This summary may be made publicly available on external facing websites, so please ensure it can be understood by a variety of readers, for example:

  • opinion-formers
  • policymakers
  • the general public
  • the wider research community
Guidance for writing a summary

Succinctly describe your proposed work in terms of:

  • its context
  • the challenge the project addresses and how it will be applied to this
  • its aims and objectives
  • its potential applications and benefits

Word count: 500

Applicants

List the key members of your team and assign them roles, for example:

  • principal investigator
  • co-investigator
  • researcher
  • technician

You should only list one individual as principal investigator.

Section: vision

Question: what are you hoping to achieve with your proposed work?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Explain how your proposed work:

  • is of excellent quality and importance within or beyond the fields or areas
  • has the potential to advance current understanding, generates new knowledge, thinking or discovery within or beyond the field or area
  • is timely given current trends, context and needs
  • impacts world-leading research, society, the economy or the environment
  • focuses on either creative industries or cultural heritage, or both

Within the ‘vision’ section we also expect you to:

  • identify the potential direct or indirect benefits and who the beneficiaries might be

Word count: 750

Section: approach

Question: how are you going to deliver your proposed work?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Explain how you have designed your approach so that it:

  • is effective and appropriate to achieve your objectives
  • is feasible, and comprehensively identifies any risks to delivery and how they will be managed
  • if applicable, uses a clear and transparent methodology
  • if applicable, summarises the previous work and describes how this will be built upon and progressed
  • will maximise translation of outputs into outcomes and impacts
  • describes how your, and if applicable your team’s, research environment (in terms of the place, its location, and relevance to the project) will contribute to the success of the work
  • is collaborative between India and the UK and includes engagement with partners beyond the academic sector
  • considers equality, diversity and inclusion both in relation to the composition of the project team and framing of the research itself

Within the ‘approach’ section we also expect you to:

  • demonstrate how international collaboration adds value to the research proposed
  • provide a detailed and comprehensive project plan including milestones and timelines. This must be in the form of a Gantt chart or similar (mandatory additional one-page A4 attachment)

Word count 2,500

Section: data management plan (DMP)

Question: how will you manage and share data collected or acquired through the proposed research?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Provide a DMP that outlines your project’s approach to managing data.

You must follow AHRC’s guidance on writing a DMP, which can be found in AHRC’s funding guide. Following AHRC’s DMP guidance, your DMP should describe:

  • how your approach to managing data is appropriate for the research project being proposed
  • how the DMP will enable the project’s data creation, outputs and storage needs
  • how the plan for data is feasible, sensible, appropriate and valid

Word count: 1,000

Section: applicant and team capability to deliver

Question: why are you the right individual or team to successfully deliver the proposed work?

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 to cover the proposed work
  • the appropriate leadership and management skills to deliver the work and your approach to develop others

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. You should use each heading once and include a response for the whole team, see the UKRI guidance on R4RI. You can enter ‘N/A’ for any you think irrelevant, and will not be penalised for doing so, but it is recommended that you carefully consider the breadth of your experience.

The R4RI module headings are:

  • 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 (you can use this heading to provide information which provides context to the wider application, such as detail of career breaks. It is not a requirement)

You should complete this as a narrative and you should avoid CV type format.

Word count: 2,000

Section: project partners: contributions

Question: provide details about any project partners’ contributions using the template provided.

What the assessors are looking for in 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.

If you do have project partners, download and complete the project partner contributions template (DOCX, 52KB) then copy and paste the table within it into the text box.

Ensure you have obtained prior agreement from project partners that, should you be offered funding, they will support your project as indicated in the template.

Word count: 500

Section: project partners: letters (or emails) of support

Question: upload a single PDF containing the letters or emails of support from each partner you named in the table in the previous ‘contributions’ section.

What the assessors are looking for in 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.

If you have named project partners in the previous ‘contributions’ section, enter the words ‘attachment supplied’ in the text box.

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 that they bring to the project
  • please refer to AHRC’s funding guide for more guidance
  • be no more than two sides of A4

Please do not provide letters of support from host and UK co-investigator’s research organisations.

Unless specifically requested, please do not include any personal data within the attachment.

Upload details are provided within the service on the actual application.

For audit purposes, UKRI requires formal collaboration agreements to be put in place if an award is made.

Word count: 5

Section: international co-investigator letter (or email) of support

Question: upload a single PDF containing letters of support from the head of department for each international co-investigator

What the assessors are looking for in your response

If you have named international co-investigators in the applicants section, enter the words ‘attachment supplied’ in the text box.

Each letter you provide should:

  • state how they will deliver the project’s objectives
  • describe how their institution will support them during the lifetime of the project
  • provide assurances that their contract will be in place for the duration of the project
  • be no more than two sides of A4

Unless specifically requested, please do not include any personal data within the attachment.

Upload details are provided within the service on the actual application.

For audit purposes, UKRI requires formal collaboration agreements to be put in place if an award is made.

Word count: 5

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

Using the text box, demonstrate that you have identified and evaluated the relevant ethical or responsible research and innovation considerations, and how you will manage them.

Word count: 500

Section: resources and cost justification

Question: what will you need to deliver your proposed work and how much will it cost?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Download and complete the full economic costings template (DOCX, 66KB) and then upload it as explained.

Using the text box, demonstrate how the resources you anticipate needing for your proposed work:

  • are comprehensive, appropriate, and justified
  • represent the optimal use of resources to achieve the intended outcomes
  • maximise potential outcomes and impacts

This section should not simply be a list of the resources requested, as this will already be given in the detailed ‘costs’ table. Costings should be justified on the basis of full economic costs (FEC) of the project, not just on the costs expected from UKRI. For some items we do not expect you to justify the monetary value, rather the type of resource, such as amount of time or type of staff requested.

Where you do not provide adequate justification for a resource, we may deduct it from any funding awarded.

You should identify:

  • support for activities to either increase impact, for public engagement, knowledge exchange or to support responsible innovation
  • support for preserving, long-term storage, or sharing of data
  • support from partner organisations and how that enhances value for money
  • individual figures for the total amount of international costs (included at 100% FEC as exceptions) and total amount of costs for UK-based researchers and activity, clearly labelled as UK or international costs accordingly
  • international co-investigator costs that do not exceed up to a maximum of 50% of total grant costs
  • an amount of £10,000 under directly incurred costs as part of the UK costs to cover cohort building activities and knowledge exchange. There is no need to specify or breakdown what this will be used for at the application stage, this will be determined in consultation with AHRC

Word count: 1,000

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

We will assess your application using the following process.

Peer review

We will invite peers to review your application independently, against the specified criteria for this funding opportunity.

Principal investigator response

After peer reviews have been collated, the principal investigator response allows you to correct any factual errors or conceptual misunderstandings, or to respond to any queries highlighted in the comments from the peer reviewers.

It is not intended to be an opportunity to change or reconstitute a proposal in the light of the reviewers’ comments.

You are not obliged to submit a response, but it is recommended that you do so as your responses are forwarded to the moderation panels and are taken into account in the grading and prioritisation of proposals.

You are given 14 days to respond to reviewers’ comments. Please refer to AHRC funding guide.

Panel

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

The panel will aim to recommend a balanced portfolio of awards across the areas of focus for this funding opportunity.

AHRC will make the final funding decision.

Find out more about AHRC’s assessment process.

Timescale

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

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.

We reserve the right to modify the assessment process as needed.

Assessment criteria

Section: vision

Have the applicants demonstrated how the work they are proposing:

  • is of excellent quality and importance within or beyond the fields or areas
  • has the potential to advance current understanding, generates new knowledge, thinking or discovery within or beyond the field or area
  • is timely given current trends, context and needs
  • will impact world-leading research, society, the economy or the environment
  • focuses on creative industries or cultural heritage, or both

Section: approach

Have the applicants demonstrated that they have designed their approach so that it:

  • is effective and appropriate to achieve their objectives
  • is feasible, and comprehensively identifies any risks to delivery and how they will be managed
  • if applicable, uses a clear and transparent methodology
  • if applicable, summarises the previous work and describes how this will be built upon and progressed
  • will maximise translation of outputs into outcomes and impacts
  • describes how their, and if applicable their team’s, research environment (in terms of the place, its location and relevance to the project) will contribute to the success of the proposed work
  • is collaborative between India and the UK and includes engagement with partners beyond the academic sector
  • considers equality, diversity and inclusion both in relation to the composition of the project team and framing of the research itself

Section: data management plan (DMP)

Have the applicants demonstrated in their DMP that:

  • the approach to managing data is appropriate for the research project being proposed
  • the DMP will enable the project’s data creation, outputs and storage needs
  • the plan for data is feasible, sensible, appropriate and valid

Section: applicant and team capability to deliver

Have the applicants provided evidence of how they, and if relevant their team, have:

  • the relevant experience (appropriate to career stage) to deliver the proposed work
  • the right balance of skills and expertise to cover the proposed work
  • the appropriate leadership and management skills to deliver the work and their approach to develop others

Section: ethics and responsible research and innovation (RRI)

Have the applicants identified and evaluated the relevant ethical or RRI considerations, and how they will be managed.

Section: resources and cost justification

Have the applicants demonstrated how the resources they anticipate needing for their proposed work:

  • are comprehensive, appropriate, and justified
  • represent the optimal use of resources to achieve the intended outcomes
  • maximise potential outcomes and impacts

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

Email: support@funding-service.ukri.org

We aim to respond to emails within two working days.

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