Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Prosperity Partnerships: early-stage collaborations (pilot)

Apply for funding to support ambitious early-stage research collaborations on their way to becoming strategic partnerships.

Proposals will:

  • be business-led but co-created and co-delivered by the industrial and academic partners
  • address research areas and challenges based on EPSRC’s strategic delivery plan

We encourage involvement by micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SME).

Industry cash contribution will at least match the amount funded by EPSRC

The full economic cost of your project can be up to £750,000. EPSRC will fund 80% of the full economic cost. Maximum funding duration is 3 years.

Who can apply

Business organisations

Businesses can partner or lead on proposals. They may act as the ‘business lead’ if they are:

  • a UK-based business or have UK-based research activity
  • a business in the private sector driven by profit, or from an organisation with a commercial arm which generates independent revenue, these include Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, National Physical Laboratory and others
  • able to contribute to the UK national prosperity through increasing their investment in research and development activities and subsequent product, service, or technology development in the UK

Businesses or organisations funded by government are not eligible as business lead.

Proposals must be co-created with all the partners involved and show evidence of their involvement.

Businesses may be involved in more than 1 bid either as lead or as a partner. They are required to declare, as part of their applications, that they will commit the stated resources to all successful proposals they are involved in.

We use the European Commission definition of SME and encourage SME participation. Check the definitions of SME.

Academic organisations

Research organisations can act as ‘academic lead’ if they are eligible to receive research council funding:

  • UK higher education institutions
  • research council institutes
  • UK Research and Innovation-approved independent research organisations
  • public sector research establishments (PSRE)
  • NHS bodies with research capacity

Check if your institution is eligible for research and innovation funding.

Research organisations may be involved in more than 1 bid either as lead or as a partner. They are required to declare, as part of their applications, that they will commit the stated resources to all successful proposals they are involved in.

Proposals will be submitted by the academic lead via the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system.

Principal investigators

This programme has a ‘business principal investigator’ as well as an ‘academic principal investigator’. Only 1 principal investigator may be added in Je-S, so the academic will be the principal investigator in Je-S, but you must indicate who the business principal investigator will be in your application. All assessment stages will consider both principal investigators.

Check if you’re eligible for EPSRC funding as an investigator.

The suitability of both the business and academic principal investigator to lead their programme will be 1 of the criteria at the assessment stage.

Anyone currently restricted under the EPSRC repeatedly unsuccessful applicants’ policy will be able to submit only 1 full proposal (as principal investigator or co-investigator) during the 12-month restricted period.

What we're looking for

Prosperity Partnerships: early-stage collaborations

This funding opportunity is a pilot aimed at supporting ambitious early-stage academic-business research collaborations. These will be promising emerging partnerships which are on the way towards becoming strategic partnerships.

A strategic partnership in this context is one which is well-established, trusted, and built on a track record of significant, regular, collaborative research projects which the academic and business partners have developed and completed together. The strategic partnership will be recognised by both parties, have a clear trajectory for future collaborative work, and may involve the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) or collaboration agreement.

This early-stage collaborations pilot will complement the main Prosperity Partnerships funding opportunity. Where the flagship Prosperity Partnerships scheme is aimed at well-established and strategic partnerships, this strand is for partnerships which are at an earlier stage of their collaborative relationship.

For this opportunity, EPSRC expects the collaborative relationship between the academic and industrial partners will be pre-existing, operating for about a year at least, and certainly less than 5 years. This will not be the partners’ first collaboration, nor the continuation of a strategic partnership.

This opportunity looks to increase the support of these earlier-stage relationships to encourage business investment in discovery science as part of the partners’ long-term strategies.

We are also trialling a swifter process with this pilot to shorten the time between application and decision. There will be no separate postal peer review stage. We will not be providing feedback to unsuccessful applicants. There will be an opportunity to respond to panel feedback and queries during the interview, for those applicants that reach that stage.

We encourage SME involvement. This could be alone, as part of a consortium, or as part of the supply chain of a larger company

Studentships are not permissible for this funding opportunity.

Based on our experience with the flagship Prosperity Partnerships scheme we expect this funding opportunity to be highly competitive.

Business-led, co-created, co-delivered

EPSRC Prosperity Partnerships funding opportunities aim to fund business-led research that arises from an industrial need, with the work being co-delivered between the business and academic partners. The opportunity is aimed at supporting excellent, world-leading fundamental research which has clear benefit to the businesses involved, resulting in accelerated impact arising from the new knowledge, innovations, or technologies.

Co-creation of the research programme is essential. EPSRC expects programmes funded through this opportunity to:

  • drive forward shared research challenges
  • demonstrate impact beyond the partners
  • provide benefits to the businesses involved

The Prosperity Partnerships: early-stage collaborations programme should contribute positively to the path towards an overall strategic partnership between the parties. We expect you will have a pre-existing framework, agreement or MoU in place between the parties.

It should be clear that both the business and academic researchers are making distinct intellectual contributions to the partnership.

Where an individual is discharging responsibilities within both a business and a research organisation (for example, because of being involved in university spinouts) clarity on separation of duties and managing conflicts of interest is essential.

If the proposal is deemed appropriate for EPSRC support, a collaboration agreement will be required before the funding can proceed.

Strategic considerations

The research challenges to be addressed in your Prosperity Partnerships: early-stage collaboration should:

  • be relevant to stimulating innovation aimed at tackling major problems faced by the UK and the world
  • drive capability in key technologies and scientific advancements

EPSRC recognises that the specific outcomes will be unique to each project, but you should consider how they may:

  • deliver new or improved products or services
  • drive efficiencies or cost reductions
  • enable expansion to new sectors or markets while also jointly authoring high-impact publications

Ultimately, the project should be providing economic impact and prosperity which wouldn’t exist without the partnership.


EPSRC seeks to foster greater collaboration and networking between researchers, business, and civic bodies to deliver research and skills outcomes vital to the long-term prosperity of communities and regions of the UK. We believe that flagship investments and partnerships such as those funded through Prosperity Partnerships funding opportunities can have significant positive effects on places.

This is not an assessment criterion; EPSRC is encouraging you to address, where appropriate, how your partnership might contribute to local or place-based ambitions and impacts to further enhance the excellence and the impact of your programme.

We encourage applications to articulate, where appropriate, how their partnership aligns and supports both industrial and civic ambitions or priorities. Demonstrative examples could include, but are not restricted to:

  • links with regional or local policies, economic strategies, or plans through engagement with local partners and stakeholders
  • involvement or alignment with parallel, wider local or regional investments, for example city deals, regional growth deals, Strength in Places Programmes, innovation centres, etc.
  • delivering on local needs. For example, the project has been informed by local socio-economic conditions and challenges
  • fit to a local or regional cluster, network, or programme of activities

Where applicable, you are also asked to demonstrate what place-based outcomes might be expected to arise from your project, both in the short and longer term. These may include (but are not restricted to):

  • contributing to cluster development through knowledge diffusion, supply chain development, SME growth or generation, or growth of spin outs, and so on
  • driving local and regional economic growth, skills development, job creation or retention
  • catalysing critical mass activities or pioneering new markets leading to increase private investment, including foreign direct investment, in a specific place

Examples (non-exhaustive) of stakeholders we consider in having a place-based or local civic role:

  • enterprise, development, or skills bodies (such as local enterprise partnerships or devolved equivalents)
  • local authorities, councils, or combined authorities
  • devolved administrations and their agencies
  • regional or local industrial bodies
  • local NHS trusts

You are asked to clearly indicate in your case for support if your project has place-based context or outcomes.

Responsible innovation

You are expected to work within the EPSRC framework for responsible innovation.

You should consider and implement plans for responsible innovation throughout the research project, and include details of these plans in the application, including specific actions that will be taken.

International collaboration

If you are planning to include international collaborators on your proposal you should visit Trusted Research for guidance on getting the most out of international collaboration while protecting intellectual property, sensitive research and personal information.

Equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI)

Through productive collaborative partnerships the long-term strength of the UK research and talent pipelines can be enhanced, and to do so effectively all available talent must be harnessed. EPSRC expects equality and diversity to be integral at all levels of research practices as a part of our funding portfolio.

One common approach is to reference institutional strategies and policies related to EDI and indicate that the project would be delivered in alignment with these activities. While these activities are important context, EPSRC is looking to understand the specific approach and activities of the projects in relation to management and decision-making processes.

We are committed to supporting the research community, offering a range of flexible options which allow you to design a package that fits your research goals, career, and personal circumstances. Therefore, these aspects should be strongly ingrained into the projects proposed for this opportunity.

Please see EPSRC EDI expectations and the accompanying blog, ‘Expectations for EDI – What should we be doing?’. This resource is designed to help members of the research community learn about and embed EDI practices in their local environment.


Criteria that the business and academic leads should consider before applying:

  • the business and academic partners have a demonstrable, research-based relationship that can be at an early stage, being between about 1 year and less than 5 years in duration, and having had some collaboration activity
  • there are clear plans to evolve this relationship via user-inspired shared research challenges demonstrating they are on the pathway to a strategic partnership
  • both partners are committed to the co-creation of a jointly delivered research programme at technology readiness level (TRL) 1 to 3:
    • basic principles observed
    • technology concept formulated
    • experimental proof of concept
  • the business and academic partners can commit to leveraging EPSRC funding for their Prosperity Partnerships: early-stage collaborations proposal:
    • industry cash contribution must at least match the amount funded by EPSRC, which will be 80% of the grant’s full economic cost (see budget examples document (PDF, 46KB))
    • no UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) public or government funding will be used as leverage
    • please see the ‘Definitive list of eligible cash contributions’ section
    • demonstrate an auditable transfer during the grant duration
  • the business lead is:
    • a business in the private sector driven by profit, or from an organisation with a commercial arm which generates independent revenue
    • in a position to contribute to the nation’s prosperity through increasing their investment in research and development activities and subsequent product development in the UK

The project should address research areas and challenges based on the EPSRC’s strategic delivery plan.

Matched contribution

EPSRC funding is at 80% of full economic costs. In this opportunity, the funding provided by EPSRC must be matched by an industry cash contribution of at least equal value. In-kind contributions will be in addition to this matched component. See examples in the budget examples document (PDF, 46KB).

Please see the ’Definitive list of eligible cash contributions’ section. Any contribution not included in the cash contribution list will count as ‘in-kind’.

Multipartners bid

The combined cash contributions from the business partners must at least match the EPSRC funding requested. It is expected that the majority will come from the business lead and should be around 80% at a minimum. This expectation does not apply to an application from a consortium of SMEs.

Additional project partner contributions are encouraged.

All bids

Cash contributions from all partners can exceed the minimum industry matching contribution. Contributions can include:

  • in-kind contributions, such as data, software, management time, or facilities access are welcome and can help show business commitment to the success of the project. However, they will not count towards the industry matching contributions
  • academic partner’s cash contribution (including the academic lead) does not contribute to the matching figure requirements
  • no UKRI or other UK government money, as part of baseline funding or otherwise, may be used as part of the matching contribution

EPSRC does not mandate a specific audit format for the industry contributions to a project, however, a record must be provided if requested. This must be able to demonstrate a continuous auditable cash transfer, or staff time-record, by the business partner per year in each year of the programme.


In summary, the gross salary for the staff (such as researchers, postdoctoral research associates (PDRA), technicians, and the project manager) can be counted as part-matched funding (that is, including indirect costs such as pension, National Insurance, taxes and so on), but business overheads and profits cannot. The salary of a single member of staff (researcher, PDRA, or project manager) can be covered in partnership by the business lead and EPSRC funds in a ratio that best suits the project.

The appropriateness of the time devoted to the project will be assessed by the expert panel during the initial stage.

Please note that the salaries of business lead investigators must be paid by the business and are ineligible as cash or in-kind contributions.

The following is the definitive list of eligible cash contributions. These are in addition to providing an auditable cash transfer to the academic organisations.

Definitive list of eligible cash contributions

Researchers’ salaries

All or part of the pro rata, gross salary cost associated with researchers employed by universities or businesses (including co-investigators). The expectation is that researchers will work at least 50% of their time on the Prosperity Partnerships.

PDRA salary

All or part of the gross salary cost associated with research associates employed by research organisations to work exclusively on the Prosperity Partnerships. Research associates can also be employed directly by the businesses in the partnership and claim the gross salary as a cash contribution if they are exclusively committed to working on the Prosperity Partnerships.

Professional project managers’ salary

Pro rata gross salary cost of a professional project manager is an eligible cash contribution if they work at least 50% of their time on the Prosperity Partnerships.

Technicians’ salary

Pro rata gross salary costs of technicians are an eligible cash contribution if they work at least 50% of their time on the Prosperity Partnerships.

Software licenses

New software licences needed for the project and their maintenance cost for the duration of the grant. Software licences or intellectual property owned by the business which are already accessible by the partners will apply at marginal cost, not at market rate.

New equipment

Genuine new equipment purchases, please see ‘Equipment’ section. The equipment should be dedicated to the objectives of the Prosperity Partnerships and their utilisation should be critical to deliver the activity.

The access does not have to be restricted to the project members, but EPSRC expects at least 50% of the time to be dedicated to the Prosperity Partnerships project. All equipment should be appropriately justified.

Equipment produced by the business

Equipment produced by the business, but only at the cost of manufacture, not market rate.

Access to equipment and facilities

Access to specific equipment and facilities critical to achieve the outcomes of the project (including access to labs and use of lab equipment). If the facility is based at the academic or business lead, the contribution will be at the internal rate, not market rate.

Facilities refurbishment

Facilities refurbishment can be an eligible research organisation cash contribution if the upgrade will increase the capability of the facilities. This contribution must be justified in addition to any estate costs already factored in.

Business cash donation

Business cash donation which will be provided to the partner universities, for the universities to manage in line with the project objectives.

Funding available

Up to £10 million is available from EPSRC.

Requested funds may include:

  • staff costs
  • equipment and other items required to carry out the project
  • costs related to impact
  • travel and subsistence

ESPRC guidance on equipment funding.

How to apply

Submitting a full proposal application

You should prepare and submit your proposal using the research councils’ Joint electronic Submission system (Je-S). Before starting an application, you will need to log in or create an account in Je-S. For full advice on completing applications, see the Je-S handbook.

When applying:

  1. Select ‘documents’, then ‘new document’.
  2. Select ‘call search’.
  3. To find the opportunity, search for: EPSRC Prosperity Partnerships: Early Stage Collaborations 2023 Pilot.

This will populate:

  • council: EPSRC
  • document type: standard proposal
  • scheme: standard
  • call/type/mode: EPSRC Prosperity Partnerships: Early Stage Collaborations 2023 Pilot

Once you have completed your application, make sure you ‘submit document’.

You can save completed details in Je-S at any time and return to continue your application later.

EPSRC must receive your full application by 9 May 2023 at 4:00pm UK time.

Guidance on the types of support that may be sought, and advice on the completion of the research proposal forms, are given in the EPSRC guidance for applicants, which should be consulted when preparing all proposals.

Guidance on writing an application

The full proposal must include the types of documents outlined below. You should attach your documents as PDFs to avoid errors. They should be completed in single-spaced Arial 11 font or similar-sized sans serif typeface. Font size for references must be no smaller than 8pt. EPSRC will not accept any other attachment types under this opportunity.


Your proposal will include these documents uploaded in Je-S:

  • case for support
  • technical annex (as ‘Additional Document’)
  • justification for resources
  • costings table (as ‘ Additional Document’)
  • workplan
  • CVs
  • project partner letters of support (from contributing organisations named in the Je-S proposal form)

Your proposal may include these documents uploaded in Je-S, if they are required:

  • letters of support (from other partners)
  • equipment quotes
  • technical assessment
  • proposal cover letter

Failure to submit the correct documentation will result in the rejection of your application.

Details about these documents follows.

Case for support

Up to 8 A4 sides as a single document, comprising:

  • up to 1 page on the overall vision, ambition, national or regional importance of the research programme, and a summary of the relationship between the academic and industry partner, including details of how the partnership originated, and a strategic view of how this project will enable the partnership to develop
  • up to 1 page on track record. Provide additional context in relation to the work packages, and why they are the right team for this project. Highlight the relevant skills, expertise, and experience of the applicant and the wider team. Funding history of existing grants and contracts can be used to support this and is not limited to EPSRC-funded activity. Include reference to international standing in the context of the programme. Describe how the partnership will work with the non-academic partners or collaborators to form a coherent team
  • up to 5 pages describing the proposed research, its context, and relevance to the UK. Given the nature of the Prosperity Partnerships programme, context should be given that details the business, academic, UK economic and societal benefits that will be derived. The following headings should be used:
    • background
    • academic and industrial outcomes and benefits
    • research hypothesis and objectives
    • research programme and methodology
  • up to 1 page detailing the operational and strategic aspects of the programme’s management and governance arrangements, including:
    • alignment to any existing governance arrangements for the partnership and the specific governance arrangements for this programme
    • day-to-day management strategy, including project, risk and financial management, and approach to monitoring and evaluation
    • plans for advisory and steering boards, including indicative membership
    • plans for how responsible research and innovation strategy will be implemented
    • plans for how the equality, inclusion and diversity strategy will be implemented

Successful applicants will be expected to hold annual independent steering board meetings with external expert advice.

Technical annex

A single document comprising up to 1 page per major research challenge (in other words, 1 page per work package), to be attached as an ‘Additional Document’ type in Je-S. The technical support annex provides additional information on the research specifically for the expert reviewers.

Justification for resources

Up to 2 pages. The document should provide context to the contributions outlined in the costings table and a clear narrative description of the need for the resources requested.

You will be aware of the requirement that you will match the funded value of the grant (80% of the full economic cost) with a cash contribution. This matching contribution must be in the form of an auditable transfer of funds from the business partners to the academic partners or salary costs of business partner employees working full time (for a reasonable period of the project) and making contributions to the research effort or project management and new activities funded by a partner university.

The justification for resources should clearly outline the following:

Business lead cash and in-kind contribution

An explanation of the direct ‘cash’ and in-kind contributions made by the lead business. This must articulate how the provided resources will be used to add benefit.

These should be confirmed by a detailed project partner letter of support. This section should include detailed information of the time the business investigators (including the business principal investigator) will spend on the programme including costings. Allocation of EPSRC funds received through other sources (for example ICASE studentships) to the proposed programme does not count towards the business offer.

Academic lead cash and in-kind contribution

An explanation of the direct ‘cash’ and in-kind contributions made to the proposed programme by the universities involved in the programme, this must articulate how the provided resources will be used to add benefit. These should be confirmed by a detailed project partner letter of support from each institution.

Note that the contribution of 20% of full economic cost was considered in designing this funding mechanism, the offer detailed must be in addition to the 20%. Academic university researcher and investigator time, unless wholly covered by the university, should not be detailed here. Similarly, allocation of EPSRC funds received through other sources to the proposed programme does not count towards the university offer.

Other project partners’ cash and in-kind contributions (if applicable)

As above for all other business and academic project partners.

Resources requested from EPSRC

This section should account for and justify the resources requested from EPSRC including the percentage of academic time dedicated to managing the project and the time the academic principal and co-investigators will dedicate to the project. Describe the role of each of the co-investigators.

See our guidance for writing the justification of resources document.

Costings table

Up to 2 pages.

You should use the costings table template (DOCX, 55KB). The table should provide a clear summary of funding requested and all contributions, broken down by the headings provided. When submitting through Je-S, select ‘Additional Attachment’ as the attachment type.


Up to 1 page. The work programme should be a comprehensive plan for the duration of the programme, illustrated with a simple diagrammatic work plan, such as a programme evaluation and review technique (PERT) or Gantt chart. Please reference appropriate milestones for when important decisions on the direction of the research will be taken, key performance indicators (KPI), and the identified monitoring and evaluation framework.


Up to 2 sides of A4 each for named:

  • postdoctoral staff, researcher co-investigators (research assistants who have made a substantial contribution to the proposal and will be employed on the project for a significant amount of time)
  • visiting researchers

Up to 2 sides of A4 for each of the business and academic lead principal investigators. This should convey your ability to lead a programme of this size and with this number of stakeholders. Please include only information relevant to your application.

Project partner letters of support

No page limit. Do not merge project partner letters as 1 PDF but upload as single, separate PDFs. A letter of support must be provided by each project partner named in the Je-S proposal form.

Project partner letters of support should be competitive statements from senior management of the businesses and universities involved, describing how this partnership originated and how they see this partnership play a role in the project and how the proposed investment will be used. For example, the business might comment on the potential to become a strategic relationship because of their aspiration to develop certain technology, or move into a particular market, and then explain how the partnership will catalyse this and how their contribution will achieve this. The university will state how it will contribute to this vision in a co-created way, and how it sees the partnership developing.

Any partners who are leading or contributing to more than 1 bid must also declare their commitment to fully support all successful proposals in which they are involved.

Letters of support (optional)

Up to 3. No page limit. Do not merge letters as 1 PDF but upload as separate PDFs.

You may choose to upload up to 3 additional letters of support from other organisations that are supportive of the proposal.

Equipment quotes

No page limit.

Quotations should be attached for items as appropriate. Please see our website for details.

University contributions to equipment do count as part of a university contribution and should be detailed in the appropriate section of the justification of resources document and the institution’s letter of support.

Please refer to EPSRC’s equipment webpages for information on what can and cannot be applied for.

Technical assessment

No page limit.

For the use of major facilities which are listed as requiring one in the Je-S guidance.

Please see our website for information on accessing facilities and resources.

Proposal cover letter (optional)

No page limit. These will not be seen by panel members. Although EPSRC does not expect confidential information at this stage, project partners can highlight conflicts or information we should be aware of.

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

The EPSRC Prosperity Partnerships: early-stage collaborations assessment will be via:

  • expert shortlisting prioritisation panel
  • interview panel

Expert shortlisting prioritisation panel

The initial peer review will be to decide which applicants should go forward to interview. It will be undertaken by a panel of experts, assembled mainly from academic and business Prosperity Partnerships grant holders. The panel will assess the qualities of the proposal using general EPSRC assessment criteria as well as a number of opportunity-specific assessment criteria:

  • fit to opportunity
  • quality and excellence, importance, timeliness, and feasibility
  • applicants and partnerships

The aim of the shortlisting panel is to identify those projects that best align to the ambitions of this opportunity, ensuring they are appropriate, within EPSRC’s remit, and have clear alignment to EPSRC-UK Research and Innovation strategy. The shortlisting prioritisation panel will make recommendations to EPSRC on which applicants are to be invited to interview.

We expect to hold no more than 36 interviews. Shortlisted applicants will be notified and invited to interview soon after the panel dates.

Due to the nature of this pilot and the expected number of applications, we will not be providing feedback to unsuccessful applicants.

Shortlisted applicants will be able to respond to panel feedback and queries during their interview.

The panel members will use the submitted documents (excluding any cover letter) to assess:

Fit to opportunity

The key difference between this early-stage collaborations opportunity and the main Prosperity Partnerships opportunity is the status of the relationship between the project leads.

EPSRC’s main Prosperity Partnerships opportunity requires ‘a well-established research-based relationship between business and academic lead partners with demonstrable benefits achieved to date’, whereas this early-stage collaborations opportunity is specifically aimed at business-academic partnerships which have not yet progressed to this stage.

For this opportunity, EPSRC expects the lead organisations will have a demonstrable, research-based relationship from about 1 year to less than 5 years in duration, with some collaborative activity. The substance of the relationship is more important than the precise duration.

The collaborative activity may take different forms. For example, the academic and industry leads may have supervised several co-supported studentships or have been key partners in leading a small number of projects.

This project will not be the first collaboration for the applicants, nor will it be the continuation of a long-standing partnership. This proposal will be a significant milestone on the way to them becoming an established, trusted, strategic partnership.

The proposal will:

  • demonstrate the track record of the lead academic partner and the lead non-academic partner working together in a manner which is appropriate for this opportunity
  • explain how this project has the potential to develop the relationship
  • outline the trajectory of future work
  • evidence that at least 50% of the business-led research programme is within EPSRC remit
  • evidence that the business-led research programme is positioned at technology readiness level (TRL) 1 to 3

The vision for the partnership will be demonstrated by the applicants as well as senior individuals at the academic and industry lead organisations, via the case for support and the project partner letters of support.

Applications which do not fit to this opportunity will be rejected.

Quality, excellence, importance, timeliness, and feasibility of proposed research

The research programme’s overall vision should be ambitious, creative, and innovative, and address key shared challenges. The associated work packages should clearly enable a significant step change in knowledge, understanding and technology that will have a major impact on the research base and the business. Evidence of co-creation between the partners is essential. The business vision and ambitions for accelerating impact from the research must be included.

The research programme must clearly state why the challenges are ambitious and why academic-business collaboration is essential for success. You should set the proposed research in context in terms of the current state of knowledge, other work underway in the field and what the partners have achieved working together to date, as appropriate.

The application needs to clearly demonstrate the methodology you are intending to use to attain your objectives, and describe this clearly, explaining how appropriate and feasible this is for the programme of work.

The research will contribute to national and international strategies, including:

  • contributing to, or helping maintain the health of other research disciplines, contributing to addressing key UK societal challenges, contributing to current or future UK economic success or enabling future development of key emerging industries
  • meeting national strategic needs by establishing or maintaining a unique, world-leading research activity (including areas of niche capability)
  • fitting with and complementing other UK research already funded in the area or related areas, including the relationship to the EPSRC portfolio
Applicant and partnerships

Effective leadership is essential to drive the project forward and ensure all members of the team are focused on the overall vision. This criterion will focus on the appropriateness of the team in relation to the scientific content and whether it is truly operating as a coherent team.

The proposal should:

  • demonstrate the suitability of both the business and academic principal investigator to lead the Prosperity Partnerships: early-stage collaboration
  • demonstrate the appropriateness of the leadership team with evidence of joint working between the business and the academic principal investigators
  • show clear plans for joint leadership
  • demonstrate that the experience, knowledge, skills and expertise of the team is appropriate to deliver the scientific programme of work
  • have clear plans for how this project will help catalyse the development of a deeper longer-term strategic partnership and deliver business and academic aspirations (for example, to develop certain technologies or move into a particular market)
  • outline why the team is appropriate to deliver the project’s vision and ambition, and how their competencies will help to ensure the proposed benefits are realised
  • demonstrate the value the business partners will bring to the team in relation to the delivery of the projects work packages and vision

Interview panel

The interview panel will be composed of business and academic members across the broad remit of relevant sectors, who are either existing EPSRC Prosperity Partnerships grant holders or have significant experience of delivering successful business-academia partnerships. The interview panel will make funding recommendations to EPSRC based on further exploration of the following assessment criteria:

Vision and ambition

A clear business-led vision and ambition, with a programme of work that has been developed in partnership. Coherence and relevance of the work packages in line with the vision. Clear evidence of how the Prosperity Partnerships will bring benefits to the UK economy and the research base, and address national and international strategies, including those of the business or businesses involved.

Additionality and added value

Evidence of the additionality and added value of the Prosperity Partnerships: early-stage collaboration. Clear evidence of the buy-in from business partners and co-creation of the proposed business-inspired fundamental research programme. The relative types and amounts of funding (cash and in-kind) from the partners will be assessed.

Applicants’ leadership and appropriateness of the team

Appropriateness of the leadership team with evidence of joint working and co-creation between business and the academic principal investigator. Clear plans for joint leadership demonstrating the makeup of the team’s skills and competencies to address the vision and ambition of the project.

Impact, monitoring, evaluation, and benefits realisation

Ability to clearly articulate how this project will deliver the benefits identified. Clear plans to maximise translation and impact arising from the partnership, as well as plans for responsible research and innovation. The proposal will be assessed on the plans put in place for monitoring, evaluation and benefits realisation through the lifetime of the project. The proposal should:

  • demonstrate that regular monitoring and evaluation has been considered and embedded in the project. This does not need to be shown at individual key performance indicator (KPI) level, but should demonstrate how KPI’s will be monitored
  • show that deliverables and milestones will be routinely reviewed to ensure that the most exciting and promising lines of research are pursued and that sufficient resources are assigned to ensure the project is professionally managed
  • identify potential routes to benefit realisation and how these will be exploited throughout the lifetime of the project, including through strategic collaboration between the lead academic and business partners
  • explain specific approaches and activities of the project in relation to equality, diversity and inclusion

Management, governance, and resources

Appropriateness of the management and governance arrangements, commensurate with the scale of the programme.

The proposal must demonstrate that:

  • there is a clear management plan, which will ensure that resources, including human resources, are deployed in the most effective way to deliver high quality research outcomes and impacts that have the potential to induce a step-change in the knowledge and capabilities of the business partners
  • the resources requested are appropriate to meet the needs of the scientific programme
  • the resources requested are sufficient to deliver the stated vision and ambition of the programme including any relevant training, the realisation of the outlined benefits, and delivery of impact to the UK

Please note that in the event of this opportunity being substantially oversubscribed to become unmanageable, EPSRC reserves the right to modify the assessment process.

Moving forward after the interview stage

The interview panel will consider each proposal against the assessment criteria and will provide a funding recommendation to EPSRC as a rank ordered list. EPSRC will decide on which proposals to support based on the funding available, working down the rank ordered list.

Submissions to this opportunity will count towards the EPSRC repeatedly unsuccessful applicants policy.

Intellectual property (IP)

EPSRC will not specify terms for collaboration agreements or IP arrangements but expects any agreements to recognise the significant amount of public funding being invested in the programme.

You may wish to consult the Lambert Toolkit guidance published by the Intellectual Property Office.

Guidance for reviewers

The panels will be run in accordance with EPSRC review policy and principles.

Panel members will have access to the documentation submitted to EPSRC. This comprises the:

  • proposal form
  • case for support
  • technical annex
  • justification for resources
  • costings table
  • workplan
  • CVs
  • project partner letters of support

They will also access equipment quotes, technical assessments, and any additional letters of support, if these documents are submitted.

Proposal cover letters are not seen by the panel.

Guidance on journal-based metrics

As part of our commitment to support the recommendations and principles set out by the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), UK Research and Innovation reviewers and panel members are advised not to use journal-based metrics, such as journal impact factors, as a surrogate measure of the quality of individual research articles, to assess an investigator’s contributions, or to make funding decisions.

The content of a paper is more important than publication metrics or the identity of the journal in which it was published, especially for early-stage researchers. Reviewers and panel members are encouraged to consider the value and impact of all research outputs (including datasets, software, inventions, patents, preprints, other commercial activities, and so on) in addition to research publications.

Contact details

Get help with developing your proposal

For help and advice on costings and writing your proposal please contact your research office in the first instance, allowing sufficient time for your organisation’s submission process.

Ask about this funding opportunity

EPSRC Prosperity Partnerships team


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Additional info

Responsible innovation

Responsible innovation creates spaces and processes to explore innovation and its consequences in an open, inclusive and timely way, going beyond consideration of ethics, public engagement, risk and regulation.

Innovation is a collective responsibility, where funders, researchers, interested and affected parties, including the public, all have an important role to play.

EPSRC is fully committed to develop and promote responsible innovation. Research has the ability to not only produce understanding, knowledge and value, but also unintended consequences, questions, ethical dilemmas and, at times, unexpected social transformations.

We recognise that we have a duty of care to promote approaches to responsible innovation that will initiate ongoing reflection about the potential ethical and societal implications of the research that we sponsor and to encourage our research community to do likewise.

Conditions for Prosperity Partnerships: early-stage collaborations grants

The standard UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) research grant terms and conditions will apply to the grants funded through this opportunity.

The following grant additional conditions (GAC) will also apply.

GAC 1: management and governance

You will establish an appropriate management and governance structure that is proportional to the scale of the investment with clear lines of responsibility and authority to oversee the day-to-day running of the project. This must be in place within 3 months of the start date of the grant. The terms of reference, management and governance structure must be approved by us, as must any changes to this structure. We reserve the right to attend any of the governance or management meetings.

An advisory board, or equivalent body, must be established to oversee the running of the project and provide advice on the strategic direction and activities of the project. The terms of reference and membership of this group (at least 50% independent membership and an independent chair) should be established.

A dedicated project manager should be appointed at the start of the grant within the 3 first months, and risk management plans put in place, including the creation of a risk register.

GAC 2: reporting

Notwithstanding the requirements set out in standard grant conditions RGC 7.4.3, you are responsible for providing annual progress reports against financial (project expenditure and matched contributions) and non-financial performance metrics.

In addition to the requirements set out in standard UKRI grant conditions RGC 7.4 research monitoring and evaluation, RGC 7.5 disclosure and inspection, we reserve the right to instigate a review of all or part of the grant at any stage during the lifetime of the award as well as after the grant has finished.

GAC 3: matched contribution

Academic and industrial financial and non-financial information related to the matched contributions must be recorded for audit purposes and included in the annual report. We reserve the right to review such contributions at any point during the life of the grant and has the right to suspend the grant should the committed contributions of any parties not be met, or evidence of such contributions not be provided to us. It is the responsibility of the academic partner as the grant holder to provide the auditable record of matched funds on request.

GAC 4: publicity and branding

In addition to RGC 12.4 (publication and acknowledgement of support), you must make reference to Prosperity Partnerships and UKRI funding and include relevant UKRI council branding (for example EPSRC) on all online or printed materials (including press releases, posters, exhibition materials and other publications) related to activities funded by this grant. Please see the website for logos and branding guidelines.

GAC 5: collaboration agreements

In addition to RGC 12 exploitation, impact and acknowledgement, allocation of resources is required to be set out in a formal collaboration agreement. The grant will be suspended, and no payments will be made until confirmation is received that such an agreement signed by all partners is in place. Confirmation that the agreement is in place must be sent to

In accepting this grant, you agree to comply with UK Subsidy Control regulations, and that the collaboration and intellectual property frameworks should reflect that a significant amount of public funding is attributed to these awards. The terms of collaboration agreements must not conflict with the research councils’ terms and conditions.

Arrangements for collaboration or exploitation must not prevent the progression of research and the dissemination of research results in accordance with academic custom and practice.


Academic lead

The primary academic partner. If the project is successful the grant will be awarded to the lead academic partner, and they will manage the funding and project on behalf of all academic partners.

Business lead

The primary business partner. Other businesses can collaborate in the partnership as project partners, but most of the matching contribution is expected from the business lead.

Full economic cost

All research grant proposals and fellowship applications submitted will be costed based on full economic costs. If a grant is awarded, research councils will provide funding at 80% of the full economic cost.

Matching contribution

Minimum figure (against the 80% full economic cost awarded by EPSRC) that must be matched with eligible cash contributions from the business lead and any non-academic project partners. The matched contribution must be at least equal to the value of the funding amount requested from EPSRC.


Contributions that will count towards the matching contribution.


Any contribution from business, academic or other project partners not included in the definitive list of eligible matching cash contributions.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SME)

We use European Commission definition of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Check the definitions of SMEs.


A webinar was held on the 22 March 2023, about the funding opportunity and gave attendees a chance to ask questions.

Watch the webinar recording (via Zoom)

Passcode: 1?qAT&@s

View the webinar slides (PDF, 323KB)

Supporting documents

Costings table (DOCX, 55KB)

Budget examples and eligible cash contributions (PDF, 46KB)

Equality impact assessment (PDF, 208KB)

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