Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Pre-announcement: Lead energy demand research as the Energy Demand Champion

Apply for funding to become the ‘Energy Demand Champion’ and lead the next stage of energy demand research in the UK.

You must be a UK resident based at an eligible research organisation.

You can be from any discipline and should have a:

  • background in research, industry or policy
  • clear understanding of the interdisciplinary nature of UK energy demand research.

In the role, you will:

  • develop a consortium that will apply for the upcoming funding opportunity for a new energy demand centre
  • lead the new energy demand centre, if successful.

The full economic cost of the role can be up to £312,500. We’ll fund 80% of the full economic cost of the role over a period of 10 months until April 2023.

This is a pre-announcement. This guidance gives all the funding opportunity information available so far. Full guidance will be available when the opportunity opens in January 2022

Who can apply

For this funding opportunity, standard UKRI research council eligibility rules apply. These relate to the status of the organisation and the employment status of individuals applying.

Investigators from eligible UK institutions from all disciplines are welcomed and encouraged to 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.

Applications are also welcome from academics who:

  • job share
  • have a part time contract
  • are currently committed to other large existing grants (for example, centres, hubs, programme grants, centres for doctoral training).

If committed on other large grants, the applicant must have enough time available to fulfil the ‘Energy Demand Champion’ role.

What we're looking for

A reduction in UK energy demand will be critical as the UK increases its dependency on clean energy given realistic future capacity levels. Whole systems approaches will be central to achieving this.

Studies of incremental efficiency improvement and minor behavioural changes will not be sufficient. More transformative change is needed. This changing context for energy requires new interdisciplinary research in:

  • technology
  • business models
  • social change
  • governance.

Energy Demand Champion

To meet the future needs of energy demand, UKRI are wanting to fund a new ‘Energy Demand Champion’ who will:

  • drive forward UKRI’s investment in energy demand research across the technology and policy landscape
  • design and lead the new energy demand centre and the consortium created for stage two of the process, ensuring it delivers across the interdisciplinary UK and international energy demand landscape
  • work closely with EPSRC and ESRC to ensure that the subsequent proposal produced for the new energy demand centre aligns with UKRI priorities
  • meaningfully engage the centre with UKRI investments to further energy demand research
  • be the focal point for early engagement with business and government to ensure the future research agenda is designed around the most pressing needs to facilitate exploitation of outcomes
  • ensure the centre is an ‘equality, diversity and inclusivity’ role model across the energy demand community.

The successful applicant should have a research, industrial or policy background, with a clear grasp of the interdisciplinary research make-up of energy demand research in the UK.

The expectation will be for the champion funded in this grant to develop a suitable team through a consortium to apply for the subsequent energy demand centre funding opportunity, with the champion as the principal investigator.

The timeframe for this Energy Demand Champion grant has rigid ‘start by’ and ‘end by’ dates, due to the nature of this funding. If you consider that your specific circumstances might lead to difficulty in adhering to these dates, please outline a mitigation plan in your proposal, which could include having a ‘co-champion’.


Applications are welcome for ‘co-champions’. In this case, the distinct roles and responsibilities of the two co-champions must be given, for example:

  • ‘co-champion one: strategy’
  • ‘co-champion two: management’

There can be a maximum of two co-champions. One should be listed on the application as ‘principal investigator’ and one as ‘co-investigator.

Co-champions must make clear to the panel how they would effectively work together.

For applications with co-champions, the application must demonstrate that the co-champions jointly fulfil the assessment criteria, which will be published with the full funding opportunity details.

Expectations of the Energy Demand Champion

In more detail, here are our expectations of the champion.

The champion will have a track record of:

  • running a programme of outstanding interdisciplinary research
  • delivering demonstrable impact
  • translating research outputs to users (for example, industry, the innovation infrastructure or government) at both the national and international level.

The Energy Demand Champion will convene the community and ensure business, government and end users are meaningfully engaged in research programmes from the outset to ensure the research is shaped by their needs.

The champion will be expected to ensure that research outcomes are exploited as rapidly and effectively as possible.

It is likely the champion will fully leverage project partner contributions to help partners, including businesses, to meet their energy demand research needs.

The energy demand centre, led by the champion, will facilitate system wide change, as well as facilitating the discovery, development and deployment of energy demand reduction solutions. It is essential that investment in research and demand reduction solutions lead to socially equitable outcomes.

Only the successful champion candidate will be invited to prepare a full application for the new energy demand centre. They will need to submit this application at the end of October 2022.

Funding available

Up to £250,000 is available for this initial stage of the process, which will cover the ten months until April 2023. This provides funding for 80% of the full economic cost of the role.

This can be used to buy-out teaching (if required), fund networking activities, workshops, and administrative support during this period.

How to apply

This is a pre-announcement. Guidance on how to apply will be available on this page when the funding opportunity opens in January 2022.

How we will assess your application

Full guidance and information on the assessment process will be available once the funding opportunity goes live in January 2022.

The Energy Demand Champion will need to be available to start work in June 2022.

This funding opportunity is the first stage of a two-stage process designed to launch the next phase of UKRI investment in energy demand reduction.

Stage one: Energy Demand Champion

This stage is aimed at identifying a leader to drive forward the UKRI flagship investment in energy demand reduction from April 2023.

Stage two: energy demand centre building

This is the invited stage for full proposals describing the future energy demand centre and the consortium of investigators who will achieve this vision.

Contact details

Contact details will be provided once this funding opportunity has opened in January 2022.

Additional info

‘Energy demand reduction’ was identified as one of the top three priorities for the UKRI Energy Programme.

There will be a huge need to reduce energy demand as we increase our dependency on electrification. It is essential that the UK is the leader in understanding the changes in energy demand needed for the transition to a secure and affordable net zero society.

In 2018, EPSRC and ESRC funded the Centre for Research into Energy Demand (CREDS) to address a broad range of issues to transform the energy demand sector.

These cross-cutting issues include:

  • buildings and energy
  • transport and mobility
  • materials and products
  • digital society
  • decarbonisation of heat, fuel and transport poverty
  • decarbonisation of the steel industry.

CREDS are currently a team of over 140 people based in 26 UK organisations.

This funding opportunity will find the next leader to drive world-class research to transform the energy demand landscape and help deliver the changes needed for a net zero society.

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