Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Enhance your career through an architecture or design secondment

Apply for funding to develop your skills and exchange knowledge through the UKRI Innovation Scholars programme. This secondment opportunity is focused on architecture and design.

You must be:

  • a resident in the UK
  • employed by a UK organisation eligible for UKRI funding
  • able to carry out research at a postdoctoral level (or equivalent).

You can be at any stage in your career.

The hosting organisation must be of a different type to your employer.

Either your employer or the hosting organisation must be a research organisation or an independent research organisation.

Your project can cost up to £200,000. We will fund 100% of your eligible salary, travel and subsistence costs.

Your project must run between 3 months and 3 years.

Who can apply

The seconding organisation (the organisation the secondee is employed at) must lead and submit the application.

Secondee eligibility

As a secondee, you must be:

  • a resident in the UK
  • employed by an organisation (seconding organisation) for the duration of the proposed secondment
  • of postdoctoral standing or have equivalent professional experience and be able to undertake research and innovation activities at a postdoctoral level.

A doctoral qualification is not a requirement. However, you must have:

  • relevant experience within your field
  • a desire to proactively engage with architecture and design
  • the motivation to work within these AHRC disciplines by undertaking a secondment involving research and innovation in architecture or design, or both of these disciplines.

You can be at any career stage above doctoral level or have equivalent experience.

This funding opportunity is broad in its scope and therefore open to candidates from a range of backgrounds, including practice-based research. You can come from any discipline and any sector of the economy.

Visa holders

If you are a holder of a visa to work, that visa must allow you as the secondee to undertake the secondment in the UK for the proposed duration of the secondment.

It is the responsibility of the secondee to check with their employer that they are eligible to undertake the activity in line with their visa category and conditions.

If you are successful in the application process as the secondee, you must have a collaboration agreement signed by the hosting and seconding organisations. AHRC might request a copy.

Seconding organisation eligibility

This is the organisation sending the secondee and applying for an Innovation Scholars award.

The secondee’s existing employee relationship can be with a higher education institution or an organisation in the private, public or third sector. Within academic institutions, AHRC will consider postdoctoral researchers, if they have permission from their manager and organisation to apply.

The seconding organisation must:

  • be research and innovation active, having a demonstrable, current and ongoing capacity to undertake research and innovation activity
  • be in a position to support a secondee to apply for a research and innovations secondment project
  • hold a UK bank account
  • lead the application
  • use our Joint Electronic Submissions system (Je-S) for the purpose of submitting the application
  • claim and administer the grant if awarded.

Only the seconding organisation will be eligible to receive funds from the award.

Hosting organisation eligibility

This is the organisation receiving the secondee for the duration of the secondment. It must provide a supportive, accessible and inclusive working environment for the secondee.

The hosting organisation must have a suitable secondment environment in the UK, although UKRI may fund some international travel if it is justified. However, this funding opportunity will not fund international working.

The hosting organisation cannot claim any funds.

Either the hosting organisation or the seconding organisation must be a research organisation or an independent research organisation.

The organisation you are being seconded to must be of a different type to your employer. For example, if 1 of the partners (the seconding or the hosting organisation) is a university, the other must be a non-academic organisation in either private, public or third sector.

The hosting organisation’s secondment must benefit either (or both) architecture and design as per the funding opportunity objectives (see the ‘your proposal’ section below).

At least 1 partner organisation (or a department or team within a partner organisation) must have strong capabilities in design or architecture. This is to ensure that secondees have a supportive environment and networking and peer learning opportunities in these disciplines (and within AHRC’s remit).

The application could propose a placement within 2 or more hosting organisations. In cases where a secondee moves within a consortium of hosting organisations, they should all be different organisation types from the secondee’s employer. For example, a public body and a higher education institution receive a secondee with an existing employee relationship with a private business).

Higher education institution to higher education institution secondments are not permitted under this funding opportunity as they do not meet the requirement for intersectoral mobility.

Organisations that agree to support multiple projects must have the resources to support them all if funded.

The seconding organisation’s proposal must show benefits for the secondee and the hosting organisations, as well as for the disciplines of architecture and design within AHRC’s remit.

See the funding opportunity objectives and success measures in the ‘what we’re looking for’ section and refer to them in the application.


You cannot resubmit a previous UKRI application to this funding opportunity.

What we're looking for

The secondment

The overall purpose of this funding opportunity is to support skills development and knowledge exchange between academia and industry, public and third sector in 2 creative industries disciplines, architecture and design.

We will do this through funding individual secondments focused on research and innovation, and with a complementary series of networking events.

Your secondment can be:

  • from 3 months to 36 months in duration
  • full-time, part-time or hybrid (a combination of full-time and part-time).

The secondment time can be used flexibly, and we expect the secondment’s duration and format to be justified and achievable.

As a secondee, you must:

  • start your secondment between 1 January and 31 December 2023
  • work on a research and innovation activity in architecture or design and within AHRC’s remit
  • engage in cohort networking activities organised by AHRC to bring all secondees together
  • engage in the monitoring processes throughout the secondment as well as after it is completed by submitting an initial, interim and final report to AHRC.

Your work must benefit the architecture or design disciplines (for example, address challenges within the hosting environment). However, you do not have to have a background in architecture or design to apply.

We also welcome interdisciplinary applications.

Part of the secondment must be based in an organisation in the UK. We are open to remote working as long as it is not international activity (see the ‘who can apply’ section above).

At least 1 of the organisations involved must:

  • be a research organisation or an independent research organisation
  • undertake architecture or design research and innovation as part of their activities
  • have strong capabilities in either (or both) design and architecture, to ensure that secondees have a supportive environment and networking or peer learning opportunities in these 2 AHRC disciplines.

AHRC’s remit in architecture includes the design, technique, theory, history, social and cultural context of building.

Design is a discipline which aims to re-centre the human experience of technical, scientific and creative innovation by ensuring inclusive and accessible communication, participatory and collaborative methodologies, and iterative and cyclical processes.


AHRC includes the following sub-disciplines within disciplines of architecture and design:

  • artificial intelligence-assisted architecture
  • community and social architecture
  • environmental architecture
  • history of architecture
  • practice-led architectural and design research
  • design as a creative industry
  • history of design
  • design of symbols (for example, logos and graphics)
  • design of products (for example, tools and furniture)
  • design of interactions (for example, services)
  • design of systems (for example, organisations and ecosystems).

The secondment could cover any sub-discipline, interest or topic as long as it is within the above architecture and design remit.

AHRC recognises that architecture and design are interdisciplinary fields. We welcome interdisciplinary applications combining the arts and humanities with other research fields and approaches. Practice-based secondment proposals are also welcome.

Potential research areas

Potential research areas (aligned to contemporary challenges) which applicants and their organisations could consider are:

  • architecture and design supporting communities, place-making or levelling up
  • architecture and design for the environment or adapting to and minimising climate change, green design or net zero
  • architecture and design for wellbeing and good health, including post-COVID-19 recovery.

AHRC’s disciplines of architecture and design may overlap with the remits of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Council (EPSRC).

Check if your application is in remit

If you would like to check that your application falls within AHRC’s remit, you can submit a remit query before applying for an Innovation Scholars secondment.

Check your proposal is suitable for AHRC funding.

Secondment costs

The seconding organisation can apply for a grant of up to £200,000 per secondment. There is no minimum request for funding.

During the secondment, the secondee will continue to be employed by the seconding organisation.

UKRI will only fund the secondee’s:

  • direct, replacement salary costs (buying out time of a current employee for the purpose of the secondment)
  • national insurance
  • superannuation (not including bonuses or awards)
  • travel and subsistence costs related to the secondment, including accommodation when staying away from home during short periods or if a longer-term relocation is required.

We will fund 100% of the above costs.

The seconding organisation and the hosting organisation are responsible for all other costs, as applicable.

Research organisations, universities and academic institutions undertaking non-economic activity as part of this activity can claim up to 100% of the total eligible project costs.

If the applicant is not a research organisation or an independent research organisation, the subsidy control regime which ensures compliance with UK international trade commitments might apply.

This will be based on the type of research or innovation undertaken and the size of business or commercial entity involved in the application.

State aid regulations might also apply. See:

We are unable to award grant funding to organisations meeting the condition known as undertakings in difficulty.

If you are uncertain if subsidy control, state aid guidance or the undertakings in difficulty apply to your secondment application, contact us for advice.

For further information, see the finances part of the ‘How to apply’ section and our Je-S guidance (PDF, 730KB).


Your secondment proposal must address the objectives of this funding opportunity and demonstrate how it will achieve the success measures listed below. Please refer to these in your application.

Create porosity between sectors

Create porosity between sectors by enabling career mobility, facilitated through bi-directional movement of people between sectors. This will create opportunities for the secondee and the hosting organisations.

The secondment involves:

  • an organisation undertaking architecture or design research or innovation as either a seconding organisation (applicant or lead) or a hosting organisation (partner)
  • academic and non-higher education institution staff helping an individual during a secondment focused on research or innovation.

The secondee is supported to undertake research and innovation and to actively engage in the new environment at the hosting organisation.

Boost the skills, knowledge, networking opportunities and therefore career development of secondees

The secondee:

  • enhances their skills and knowledge or they have developed new skills and knowledge
  • explores potential new career paths and gains experience to develop their career
  • participates in networking or cohort events organised by AHRC and UKRI and makes connections to other secondees, sharing ideas and creating a community of scholars and innovators working in architecture and design.

Intensify knowledge exchange between different sectors, resulting in innovative outputs

The secondee works on a project or activities that contribute towards solving real-world challenges within the hosting organisation environment.

The secondment results in at least 1 innovative output. This could be a:

  • process
  • service
  • product
  • training resource
  • research paper
  • public engagement event.

The innovative aspect should be evidenced by applicants in reporting.

Add value to the architecture and design sectors and the UK economy

The secondment:

  • benefits architecture or design as a research field
  • brings wider benefits or impact.

Wider benefits might be social, cultural, environmental or economic. For example, the secondments result in:

  • increased productivity
  • improved ways of working
  • enhanced public engagement with research
  • contributed efforts towards a greener economy
  • added value by supporting levelling up activity across the UK or post-pandemic recovery of creative industries through innovative research in design or architecture.

The secondee gains interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary skills, academic or professional, allowing for permeability between disciplines as well as sectors.

Test for public funding

You must clearly articulate the benefits on both sides of the secondment (yours as the secondee and the organisation’s you apply to be seconded into).

If the project could be achieved by paying for a service or by consultancy or a contract, it may fail the test for public funding.


The nature of design and architecture research and innovation might require the use of human subjects or their data.

Where you intend to use human participants, you will need to demonstrate that it is ethically justifiable to involve them in your project. This will require a consideration of the potential benefits to the individual or society offset against any risks.

Your project may not involve people directly but may involve the use of personal data. You should consider carefully how their data will be stored and protected.

If the data is anonymised, consider whether your analyses may lead to re-identification of an individual.

Various levels of ethical approval are required depending on the type of secondment project. As an Innovation Scholars scheme applicant, you should familiarise yourself with your seconding and hosting organisations’ guidance and gain the relevant ethics approvals.

How to apply

Your proposal must be submitted by the seconding organisation (the normal employer of the secondee) through the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system.

When applying, select:

  • council: AHRC
  • document type: standard proposal
  • scheme: development grants
  • call/type/mode: Innovation Scholars secondments 26 May 2022.

Due to the nature of the secondment activities, it is expected that the seconding and hosting organisations and the proposed secondee will collaborate closely:

  • on the preparation of the proposal prior to its submission
  • throughout the lifetime of each secondment.

You must include details of both organisations’ contributions in your application, including any direct financial support and in-kind support to the project.

At least 1 individual from each organisation involved must be named on the Je-S form, with the hosting organisation and contact listed as a project partner (see the ‘Je-S form: applicants’ section below).

If you work in a business or other organisation needing support in registering on the Je-S system, contact the Je-S help desk (see the ‘contact details’ section).

What you must submit

The application is split into 5 sections:

  • Je-S form
  • case for support
  • CV for the secondee
  • project partner (hosting organisation).

Je-S form


In the application documents, the secondee must be named as the principal investigator or as named research staff.

If the lead applicant or principal investigator is the secondee, they should be the only person listed on the proposal under the ‘staff’ heading.

If the lead applicant or principal investigator is not the secondee, then the secondee should be listed as ‘research staff’.

Only the secondee’s salary can be claimed.

Further information on how to do this is available in our Je-S guidance (PDF, 730KB).


Describe your proposed activity in simple terms in a way that could be publicised to a general audience.

If awarded, this content will be made publicly available, and applicants are responsible for ensuring that the content is suitable for publication.

Financial resources

The only costs that should be included are:

  • the replacement salary costs of the secondee incurred by the secondment activities
  • the travel and subsistence that they will incur by undertaking the secondment.

These costs will be received by the seconding organisation, which must be the normal employer of the secondee.

If the seconding organisation is registered on Je-S (independent research organisations and universities), they should put their costs into the Je-S form.

If the seconding organisation is not registered on Je-S (businesses and other non-independent research organisations), they should:

  • fill in the finance spreadsheet provided, instead of the finance section of the Je-S form
  • upload this spreadsheet with their application using the ‘other’ attachment type on Je-S.

Further information regarding this is in our Je-S guidance (PDF, 730KB).

Project partner (hosting organisation)

The hosting organisations (places where the secondee will be seconded) should be listed as a project partner. They should be the only project partners listed.

If the secondment involves the secondee moving between 2 or more hosting organisations, please list all of these organisations on Je-S.

The organisation and contact name of the partner must be provided.

You must provide a letter of support from your project partners and upload it on Je-S as part of the application process. The letter should be a maximum of 2 A4 pages, in a sans serif font with a size equal to or greater than 11pt.

If you are successful and you are awarded an Innovation Scholars grant, you must also have a collaboration agreement between the parties.

Other questions

The questions relating to ethics and the use of tissue and animals at the end of the Je-S form must be answered.

Case for support

Your case for support document must be prepared in a sans serif font with a size equal to or greater than 11pt. The margins should be no less than 2cm all around the page.

You have up to 4 pages of A4 to provide information under the following 5 headings.

The focus of the secondees’ research and innovation activity

Outline the proposed work and how it will contribute to the funding opportunity objectives:

  • describe the vision and aims of the proposed work (what research questions you will address during the secondment)
  • explain the disciplinary focus of the secondment, including any real-life challenges that the project will aim to solve (this should be explained in the context of the secondee’s expertise, and the organisations involved or the broader sector or community)
  • clearly state how you will meet the 4 objectives.

This is where you should highlight your suitability, including evidence of the following:

  • capability of the secondee to effectively undertake and deliver against the vision and aims of the activity and realise the desired outcomes and impacts
  • knowledge, skills and expertise that will be gained by the secondee and how their participation in the secondment will aid them in their career.

Highlight the suitability of the environment of the hosting organisation, including evidence of the following:

  • suitability of the hosting organisation environment for the undertaking of the proposed activity
  • appropriate support for the secondee in the hosting environment with respect to delivery of the vision and outcome of the activity.

This should be written with reference to the equality impact assessment (DOCX, 58KB) for the funding opportunity.


Highlight the benefits the project will have to participants and the broader impact:

  • demonstrate impact in terms of the benefit to the secondee and organisations involved in the secondment (as a minimum, there must be a benefit to both the secondee and hosting organisation)
  • articulate wider benefits that might be realised, these should be specific, realistic and discussed in the context of the hosting organisation and its strategy.


Highlight the resources, plan, timeline, costs, risks and mitigation:

  • the appropriateness (justification) of the resources requested (in-kind or direct support from participating organisations will only be taken into consideration if they are clearly articulated in the letter of support)
  • the plan for achieving the vision and objectives of the activity, including the work that will be undertaken, approach and methodology, and the timeline (or milestones) for completion of tasks or work packages
  • management and monitoring arrangements
  • an outline of any risks and a plan for how they will be managed.

CV for secondee

A CV of a maximum of 3 A4 pages must be submitted for the secondee only. You must use the narrative CV template (DOCX, 101KB), which includes guidance.

This template is a change from the standard AHRC CV format in line with our efforts to make the research and development ecosystem more inclusive by using a narrative CV format.

A CV which simply lists past positions, publications and funding will not adequately support an application.

Project partner (hosting organisation)

The organisation receiving the secondee will not receive funding and must be listed on Je-S as a project partner.

A letter of support of a maximum of 2 A4 pages, in font size 11, from your project partners must be uploaded with your application.

In your project partner letter of support, you must:

  • confirm the organisation’s commitment to the proposed project
  • articulate the benefits of the collaboration, its relevance and potential impact
  • identify the value, relevance and possible benefits of the proposed work to the partner
  • specify the period of support, the full nature of the collaboration and support and how the partner will provide added value
    • where relevant to the project, details should be provided of the projected market size, customers and sales and how the organisation will commercialise the technology beyond the project
  • list all project partner contributions, whether in cash or in kind (these should be entered on the Je-S form).

Applications will be rejected if project partner letters of support merely indicate that an organisation is interested in the research and do not indicate a firm commitment to hosting the secondment.

See the AHRC research funding guide (pages 61-62) for more information about letters of support.


Organisations registered on Je-S (independent research organisations and universities) should put their costs into the Je-S form as follows:

  • salary costs: replacement salary costs to cover the time the secondee spends in the hosting organisation or undertaking activities required within the secondment (salary, national insurance, tax and any pension costs)
  • travel and subsistence: travel and subsistence costs relating directly to the secondee’s travel to the hosting location will be claimable at 100%.

Salary and travel and subsistence costs should be entered as an exception cost in the ‘other directly incurred costs’ section of the form. Salary costs will be paid at 100%.

All other organisations (businesses and other non-independent research organisations) should fill in the finance spreadsheet template (XLSX, 42KB) provided and upload it to Je-S as a PDF file.

These organisations should not put their finances on the Je-S form as they may be calculated at the incorrect rate.

You can find detailed information on how to enter costs into Je-S in our Je-S guidance (PDF, 730KB).

Costs that cannot be claimed

The only costs that can be claimed are the replacement salary costs for the secondee and travel and subsistence associated with the project.

Any other costs must be met as cash or in-kind contributions from the seconding or hosting organisations.

These include:

  • the costs incurred by the hosting organisation in hosting the secondee, including any workplace training which may be required
  • any project and activity costs including equipment and consumables
  • any other costs to the seconding organisation including indirect and overhead costs
  • any costs associated with the seconding organisation’s commitment to the secondee as an employee.

Recording of in-kind and cash contributions

Contributions to your project should be recorded as accurately as possible in the following ways:

  • the hosting organisation (project partner) should record their contributions in the ‘project partner’ section of the Je-S form (it’s important that these contributions are clearly detailed in your letter of support)
  • the seconding organisation should detail any cash or in-kind contributions it makes under the ‘activity’ section of the case for support document.

How we will assess your application

We will take the following steps to assess applications.

Application remit checks

AHRC will check if applications:

  • include all the required attachments
  • are within the remit of AHRC
  • are a fit to the scope of the funding opportunity.

If your application doesn’t include a sufficient arts and humanities component to be considered within AHRC’s remit or does not fit our eligibility criteria, it will be immediately rejected. It will not be sent for assessment. No feedback will be provided at this stage.

This funding opportunity has been created to fund activity that would not be possible through other UKRI or AHRC mechanisms. If we determine that a project would be better supported through another scheme, the application will be rejected.

Assessment panel

The panel will be drawn from AHRC’s Peer Review College.

If specific expertise beyond the college membership is required, additional experts will be recruited to join the assessment panel.

At the panel stage, the innovation scholars panel assessment criteria and grading scores will be used to assess all applications.

Each application will be assessed based on the following criteria:

  • vision and challenge(s) of proposed work and how it will contribute to the funding opportunity objectives
  • suitability of the secondee, including added value
  • the suitability of the host organisation environment
  • the benefits the project will have to participants and the broader impact

You must address all 4 of them in your case of support. Please see ‘how to apply’ for more details.

Funding recommendations

The panel will make funding recommendations to AHRC through a ranked list of the proposals.

AHRC will use this list to fund the projects that have been assessed as best meeting the aims of the funding opportunity within the available budget.

You should hear from us within 4 to 6 weeks after the panel meeting. We will contact both successful and unsuccessful applicants.

Contact details

Get help with developing your proposal

For help and advice on costings and writing your proposal, please contact your employer in the first instance, allowing sufficient time for internal processing.

Ask a question about this funding opportunity


Include ‘Innovation Scholars secondments in architecture or design’ in the subject line.

We aim to respond to queries as soon as possible.

Get help with applying through Je-S



01793 444164

Opening times

Je-S helpdesk opening times

Additional info


We will be running information webinars on:

  • 31 January 2022 (1 hour)
  • 1 March 2022 (1 hour)
  • 27 April 2022 (1 hour).

Watch the webinar recording from 31 January 2022 on YouTube

Innovation scholars programme

This funding opportunity is part of UKRI’s Innovation Scholars programme. The main objectives of the programme are to:

  • increase porosity between academia and other sectors
  • enhance skills and careers of individuals in research and innovation
  • intensify knowledge exchange resulting in innovative outputs
  • add value to the UK economy.

Supporting documents that you must submit with your application

Narrative CV template (DOCX, 101KB)

For organisations not registered on Je-S: finance spreadsheet template (XLSX, 42KB)

Supplementary information

Additional guidance for applicants (PDF, 265KB)

Je-S guidance (PDF, 730KB)

Equality impact assessment (DOCX, 58KB)

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