Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Public engagement for information and communication technologies

Apply for funding to help you:

  • develop, deliver and evaluate public engagement activities
  • encourage public engagement within your organisation and the wider community.

You must be eligible for EPSRC funding and:

  • an active researcher within the remit of EPSRC’s information and communication technologies (ICT) theme
  • have a record of engaging the public with research
  • have been a principal investigator or a co-investigator on a grant within the last five years.

Funding is available for between two and three years. The full economic cost of your project can be up to £200,000. EPSRC will fund 80% of the full economic cost.

Who can apply

In addition to standard EPSRC eligibility rules, applicants must:

  • be active researchers in ICT
  • be in a field of research or expert area within the remit of EPSRC’s ICT theme
  • have been a principal investigator or a co-investigator on a grant from EPSRC or other known funders within the last five years.
  • have a demonstrable and credible track record in public engagement with research.

Applications are invited from all tenured career stages in parallel with EPSRC eligibility rules.

Standard EPSRC eligibility rules 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 organisation is eligible for funding.

You can apply if you are resident in the UK and meet at least one of the criteria below:

  • are employed at the submitting research organisation at a level equivalent to lecturer or above
  • hold a fixed-term contract that extends beyond the duration of the proposed project, and the host research organisation is prepared to give you all the support normal for a permanent employee
  • hold an EPSRC, Royal Society or Royal Academy of Engineering fellowship aimed at later career stages
  • hold fellowships under other schemes (please contact EPSRC to check eligibility, which is considered on a case-by-case basis).

Holders of postdoctoral level fellowships are not eligible to apply for an EPSRC grant.

Submissions to this funding opportunity will not count towards the EPSRC repeatedly unsuccessful applicants policy.

What we're looking for

Apply to become an EPSRC Public Engagement Champion. This initiative aims to encourage the development of a research culture that inspires the public, attracts people to STEM careers and values interaction with the public in all stages of the research process.

EPSRC Public Engagement Champion goals

Successful champions should endeavour to achieve one or more of these strategic goals.


Contribute to ensuring that society is inspired by the contribution that engineering and physical sciences can make to life in the UK and the wide range of benefits that it provides.


Showcase the range and desirability of STEM careers to attract future workforces.


Empower our communities to collaborate and interact with society throughout the research process to achieve the maximum benefits from our funding.


This funding opportunity provides bespoke support to EPSRC researchers from the field of ICT to undertake public engagement activities alongside their core research.

Applicants must be active researchers in research areas within the remit of the EPSRC ICT theme, with a particular emphasis on:

  • technological aspects of ICT
  • advancing digital skills for different generations of people.

Applicants should think broadly about the issues and challenges associated with their chosen area and how the proposed programme of activities will enable the applicant to make an impact.

Proposals submitted through this funding opportunity must clearly focus around the remit and strategy of EPSRC’s ICT theme.

Below are some examples of existing issues relevant to the ICT community, but we strongly encourage applicants to also consider issues specific to their discipline that may not appear on this list.


For example, influencing decision making and policy in areas such as enhancing digital skills.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

For example, to:

  • increase the visibility of a diverse range of role models
  • better reach underserved audiences
  • widen the future skills base.


For example, to address area differences in the accessibility of the multiple economic, societal and cultural benefits research provides.


To maximise the impact of the award, the programme of activities should be aimed at a well-defined and specific public or stakeholder audience, especially those audiences that are typically underserved by the ICT sector. This could include, but is not limited to:

  • individuals of a particular social background or protected characteristics
  • individuals in a particular geographical location or region, or economic grouping
  • parents, teachers or other educational influencers
  • government representatives (including local authority, MPs, parliament and so on).


EPSRC recognises the importance of evaluation and being able to demonstrate and evidence the impacts of the work that we fund. Applicants will be expected to have undertaken a detailed consideration of how the proposed activities will be evaluated.

This must include a plan for measuring impacts on the target audience and the applicants, including their practice in this space.

The evaluation plan could be articulated through a logic model, or other appropriate evaluation tools. This will ensure that the activities are designed with evaluation in mind and that the right data is gathered at the right time.

Guidance and resources on how to evaluate this type of activity can be found in the ‘additional info’ section.


Applicants are encouraged to consider how their proposed programme may be strengthened by the inclusion of appropriate partnerships. Value can be added by appropriate engagement with other relevant actors in the engineering and physical sciences (EPS) or public engagement space and to ensure maximum impact of any intervention is achieved.

Advocacy and leadership

Successful applicants will be expected to act as advocates and leaders for engagement within their organisations, their professional community and wider sectors. This may include:

  • raising the profile of public engagement
  • championing best practice
  • influencing and driving culture change
  • strengthening capacity, networks and skills.

They will promote and champion their research discipline and EPSRC research more widely including the impact of EPS research on society.

Additional conditions

Champions will be required to:

  • participate in annual reporting exercises which will monitor project progress as well as collating and showcasing success stories and case-studies arising from the awards
  • inform the EPSRC and invite them to relevant events organised by the champion
  • prepare a full equality diversity and inclusion (EDI) plan for the duration of this grant to demonstrate best practice in EDI throughout the lifetime of this funding award. This must be demonstrated at the annual reporting events
  • attend and contribute to relevant EPSRC events, for example:
    • cohort events
    • strategic advisory meetings.

Funding available

£1.5 million is available through EPSRC’s ICT theme to support up to 10 public engagement champions

Awards are expected to be in the range of £100,000 to £200,000 at 80% full economic cost, between 0.2 to 0.5 full time equivalent for 24 to 36 months.

Applicants will be active researchers in ICT. However, this funding is to support public engagement activities to sit alongside core research funded through other means.

Funding for technical research is not available in this funding opportunity, please refer to standard routes for this funding.

Activities associated with this funding opportunity should aim to go above and beyond what could be supported on standard research proposals or through other existing channels for example impact acceleration accounts.

Resources can be requested to cover:

  • staff time, for example:
    • administrators
    • postdoctoral research assistants whose activities directly supports the champion’s work
  • overheads
  • consumables associated with public engagement activities provided they are specific to the project and are of demonstrable value to the project.

Resources eligible under full economic costing can be requested, for example, to cover:

  • training in public engagement or communications
  • public engagement specialist staff expertise and support
  • materials or venue costs
  • travel expenses.

Consumables associated with developing resources for public engagement should be costed under the ‘directly incurred – other cost’ heading.

Equipment over £10,000 in value (inclusive of VAT) is not available through this opportunity.

Smaller items of equipment (individually under £10,000) should be in the ‘directly incurred – other costs heading.

EPSRC guidance on equipment funding.

How to apply

Applicants should ensure they are aware of and comply with any internal institutional deadlines that may be in place.

You should prepare and submit your proposal using the research councils’ Joint Electronic Submission system (Je-S).

When adding a new proposal, you should go to documents, select New Document, then select:

  • ‘create new document’
  • council: EPSRC
  • document type: standard Proposal
  • scheme: standard research
  • on the project details page, you should select the ‘ICT Public Engagement Champions 2021’.

After completing the application you must ‘submit document’, which will send your application to your host organisation’s administration.

Your host organisation’s administration is required to complete the submission process. Applicants should allow sufficient time for your organisation’s submission process between submitting your proposal to them and the closing date

EPSRC must receive your application by 16:00 on 4 November 2021.

As well as the Je-S application form, the following documents must be submitted.

Case for support

Eight pages to include track record and description of the engagement programme.

Track record

Two pages, including you and your team’s track record in:

  • research
  • public engagement with research.

Description of the engagement programme

Six pages, including:

  • programme objectives and engagement strategy
  • proposed activities, methodologies, approach, audience and stakeholders
  • relationship to wider context and challenges to be addressed
  • approach for achieving impact
  • plans for wider advocacy, leadership, promotion and championing of:
    • public engagement
    • your discipline
    • engineering and physical science research more widely, including the impact of this research on society
  • details of any collaborations and partnerships and how they will add value to your programme
  • evaluation plan, including:
    • suitable quantitative and qualitative evaluation measures for determining the success of the strategy in delivering value to the audience and stakeholder group
    • a plan for measuring impacts both on the target audience but also on the applicants and/or others involved in the project
  • national importance, including how the proposed activities:
    • contribute to EPSRC’s ambition to encourage the development of a research culture that inspires the public, attracts people to STEM careers and values interaction with the public in all stages of the research process
    • fits with or complements other activity in this, or related areas.


One page.

Justification of resources

Two pages.


Up to two A4 sides each only for any 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.

Project partner letters of support

No page limit.

Letters from all project partners included in the Je-S form.

In exceptional cases, we will consider a maximum of three generic letters of support if individuals cannot be project partners.

Host organisation letter of support

Two pages.

Detail the specific support offered to the applicant to help them successfully undertake their proposed programme, deliver on their proposed objectives and undertake the role within normal working hours.

This should specifically include what the host organisation will do to support the champion in their public engagement and advocacy role.

Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • how the champion can be linked into wider relevant organisational strategy and activities
  • any training which can be provided for example in aspects such as evaluation, safeguarding and media engagement.

Cover letter

Optional attachment. No page limit, not seen by peer review.

Personal development and research management plan

One A4 side.

Including how activities will be managed alongside your current research activities and other priorities.

Submission guidance

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.

EPSRC advice on writing proposals.

EPSRC will not fund a project if it believes that there are ethical concerns that have been overlooked or not appropriately accounted for. All relevant parts of the ‘ethical information’ section must be completed.

Guidance on the ethical information section of the Je-S form.

EPSRC guidance can be found under ‘additional information’.

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

EPSRC reserves the right to reject any applications that do not fit EPSRC ICT remit or the remit of this funding opportunity. Any such proposals will not be considered further and will not be assessed by the expert or interview panels.

Stage one: expert panel

Proposals will be considered by an expert peer review panel, who will rank the proposals based on the assessment criteria. EPSRC will decide, based on the advice of the peer review panel, which proposals to invite to the interview.

Stage two: interview

Proposals prioritised by the expert panel will be invited for interview.

Assessment criteria: expert panel

Quality (primary)

The quality of the proposed activities, methodologies and the approach put forward

The novelty, timeliness and relevance to identified stakeholders.

Awareness of and relationship to the wider context of the proposed work and the current challenges to be addressed.

The ambition, adventure, transformative aspects or potential outcomes.

The suitability of the proposed methodology and the appropriateness of the approach to achieving impact. Proposals under this funding opportunity should go beyond the usual impact activities associated with a standard research grant and demonstrate advocacy for the broader discipline.

Quality of the plans for wider advocacy, leadership, promotion and championing of:

  • public engagement
  • ICT
  • engineering and physical science research.

National importance (secondary major)

Evidence of how the proposed activities will succeed in contributing to EPSRC’s ambition to encourage the development of a research culture that inspires the public, attracts people to STEM careers and values interaction with the public in all stages of the research process.

How the proposed work fits with or complements other activity in this, or related areas.

Evaluation methodology (secondary)

Evidence of an evaluation plan to show that the applicant has considered how they will measure success. This will be assessed in more detail at the interview stage.

Applicant and partnerships (secondary)

The ability to deliver the proposed project, including:

  • appropriateness of the research and public engagement track record of the applicant
  • balance of skills of the project team, including collaborators and partnerships.

Resources and management (secondary)

The effectiveness of the proposed planning and management and whether the requested resources are appropriate and have been fully justified.

Host organisation statement (secondary)

Sufficiency of the specific support offered to the applicant to help them successfully undertake their proposed programme, deliver on their proposed objectives and undertake the role within normal working hours.

Assessment criteria: interview panel

Vision (primary)

Ambition, creativity and innovation in the proposed activity. The extent to which this addresses key challenges within the chosen area.

The difference that the proposed activities will make to the target audience, and the applicant and their team.

Evaluation (secondary major)

Appropriateness of the proposed evaluation methodology.

Applicant: engagement or ambassadorship (secondary major)

Qualities of the individual to engage and communicate with the target audience and develop a significantly higher profile for the identified area of research.

Qualities of the individual to act as an advocate and leader for public engagement and a champion for ICT and EPS research and its impact on society.

Advocacy and leadership (secondary major)

Quality of the plans for wider advocacy, leadership, promotion and championing of public engagement and EPS research.

How the applicant will maximise impact through engagement with external stakeholders.

Personal development and research management (secondary)

Plans for personal and career development.

Management plan (including how activities will be managed alongside current research activities and other priorities).

Feedback and guidance for reviewers

There will be no postal peer review for this call. Proposals will be assessed at an expert panel against the assessment criteria set out above. Quality will be the primary assessment criterion for this stage. Proposals prioritised by the expert panel will be invited for interview.

Written feedback will be provided to applicants following the expert panel and interview panels.

Contact details

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

Jasmine Harvey, ICT Portfolio Manager


Impact Team


Get help with Je-S

Any queries regarding the submission of proposals through Je-S should be directed to the Je-S helpdesk.


Telephone: 01793 444164

Additional info


Through this activity, we aim to:

  • encourage the development of a research culture that inspires the public, attracts people to STEM careers and values interaction with the public in all stages of the research process
  • create a cohort of researchers who are highly skilled advocates for EPSRC and ICT
  • enable our community to help us deliver on our objectives in public engagement by providing them with the necessary time and financial resource to excel in this area
  • encourage the creation of bespoke, ambitious and imaginative high-quality public engagement with research activities for the ICT community which aim to tackle specific, relevant issues
  • work in partnership with our cohort of public engagement champions to develop skills, share good practice and build networks which will enable them to sustain their visibility and activities beyond the lifetime of the grant.


Public engagement and furthering equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) are key priorities for EPSRC and UK Research and Innovation. As a funder we encourage recipients of our grants to take a proactive approach to developing strategies around:

  • EDI
  • public engagement with research
  • impact.

This funding opportunity builds on the embedded support we offer for these types of activities by offering bespoke support to increase high quality public engagement and advocacy across the ICT research community.

The EPSRC Delivery Plan 2019 recognises the importance of inspiring, informing and interacting with the publicWe will communicate outcomes of our research and innovation in ways that instil trust. We will target activities to inform and educate, to inspire people to engage with engineering and physical sciences and understand its importance to their wellbeing and success, and to encourage bright minds into engineering and physical sciences careers.

The need for improved public engagement and advocacy for ICT disciplines was identified by the EPSRC ICT Strategic Advisory Team. In addition, engagement with the wider ICT research community has shown broad recognition for the need to:

  • promote the importance, impact and contributions of ICT research
  • improve public engagement with ICT research
  • encourage wider participation.

This funding opportunity builds on the pilot funding opportunity in 2019, Engineering Engagement Champions.

Public engagement guidance

The National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE) is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in the theory, practice and application of public engagement work.

UKRI has links to public engagement guidance and best practice in the good research resource hub.

Information on evaluating public engagement:

Other funding support for public engagement

This funding opportunity is only open to eligible active ICT researchers who have a demonstrable and credible track record in public engagement with research. However, EPSRC provides other routes for supporting public engagement.

Well planned public engagement activities related to the research proposed can be included within standard grant applications. Relevant costs for public engagement activities can be requested if justified.

EPSRC fellowships offer an option to allocate 20% to 50% of the time spent on the fellowship to create positive change in the research community by championing a topic aligned to EPSRC aspirations to deliver improvements in research culture in topics such as:

  • EDI
  • responsible innovation
  • public engagement.

Responsible innovation

Research has the ability to not only produce understanding, knowledge and value, but also unintended:

  • consequences
  • questions
  • ethical dilemmas
  • 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.

Applicants are expected to work within the EPSRC framework for responsible research and innovation.

Applicants planning to include international collaborators on their proposal should visit the Trusted Research website for information and advice on how to get the most out of international collaboration whilst protecting intellectual property, sensitive research and personal information.

Trusted Research website (Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure).

Supporting documents

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