Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Quantum for science – scientific exchange visits

Apply for funding to enable short-term exchange visits to or from the US, Canada and Switzerland. This funding opportunity includes the necessary funding for small-scale collaborative projects to explore the use of quantum technologies in fundamental physics and its translation into real-world applications.

Submissions must mention a suitable partner based at a research organisation in one of the above-mentioned countries.

The full economic cost (FEC) of your project can be up to £62,500. STFC will fund 80% of the FEC.

Projects are funded for up to four months and must end by 31 March 2024.

Who can apply

The proposal must be submitted by a researcher, ( the principal investigator), who is an employee of a research organisation that is eligible to receive UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) grants. These include higher education institutes or recognised academic analogues, such as institutes funded by other research councils and other organisations eligible to apply for funding. Only academic partners may request funding.

Check if you are eligible for funding

To be named as a principal investigator on a grant submitted to this funding opportunity you must be an academic member of staff (lecturers or equivalent) or hold a fellowship, such as an STFC or Royal Society Fellowship, won through open competition. In exceptional cases, senior postdoctoral research assistants of sufficient experience and qualification may also be eligible. Such cases should be justified with a case for support accompanied by a letter of support from the head of department.

You must be either resident in the UK or be employed by an overseas research organisation approved by us as eligible to apply for research grant funding. You must, at least by the time the grant is due to start, be employed by the organisation submitting the proposal or, if not (for example, retired or on secondment from elsewhere), have a written agreement from the organisation confirming that you may carry out research there and will receive all necessary management and infrastructural support from the organisation.

You must have an assurance from the submitting organisation that if the proposal is successful, the contract of employment, or formal commitment to provide support

If there are any queries around eligibility, please contact

What we're looking for


Quantum for Science – scientific exchange visits, is a joint STFC, EPSRC programme that is funded through the UKRI International Science Partnership Fund (ISPF).  Its main aim is to support UK researchers to collaborate with international partners through exchange visits focused around short research projects of up to four months in duration. This programme forms a platform for international collaboration to:

  • develop quantum technologies for fundamental physics discoveries or
  • apply quantum technologies developed for fundamental physics into a range of sectors where appropriate

The funding opportunity has three priority countries for exchanges, the US, Canada and Switzerland, where work can be undertaken with partner universities or national laboratories. Funding can be sought for short-term science exchange visits to or from these countries based around a short collaborative research project. Funds to work exclusively with European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) as the international partner cannot be requested via this funding route.

Collaborations should explore the use of quantum technologies to answer fundamental physics questions and where appropriate apply the know-how generated from the fundamental physics research to real world applications and use cases. Examples include, but not limited to:

  • scheduling and data processing
  • space science
  • metrology,
  • healthcare technologies
  • environmental sustainability

Applications are welcome from all career stages including early career researchers. Standard eligibility rules apply to be a principal investigator on the application.

Trusted Research and Innovation

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is committed to ensuring that effective international collaboration in research and innovation takes place with integrity and within strong ethical frameworks. Trusted Research and Innovation (TR&I) is a UKRI work programme designed to help protect all those working in our thriving and collaborative international sector by enabling partnerships to be as open as possible, and as secure as necessary.

Our TR&I Principles set out UKRI’s expectations of organisations funded by UKRI in relation to due diligence for international collaboration.

As your application involves international collaboration and will be funded through the International Science Partnership Fund (ISPF) you will need to demonstrate how your proposed project will comply with UKRI’s approach and expectation towards TR&I, identifying potential risks and the relevant controls you will put in place to help proportionately reduce these risks.

Further guidance and information about TR&I – including additional where you can find additional support – can be found on UKRI’s website.

Funding available

The full economic cost of your project can be up to £62,500. We will fund 80% of the full economic cost. Any level of contribution from a partner country (cash or in-kind) will be seen as beneficial to the project. Hosting an exchange researcher is considered as an in-kind contribution.

What we will fund

Resources may be requested for:

  • all UK research costs, following STFC’s standard guidelines
  • costs to support mobility of UK researchers such as investigators, postdoctoral research assistants, students or technical staff associated with the project to work overseas, including:
    • travel, accommodation and subsistence costs to work overseas with the international partner
    • access to facilities in the overseas partner country
  • costs to support the international partner including investigators or other members of their research group or department to spend time in the UK, limited to:
    • travel, accommodation and subsistence costs
    • research costs incurred by the UK lab to support their time in the UK, for example, consumables, equipment access
  • salaries of visiting researchers working on the project only if they are not already receiving a salary from elsewhere
  • venue hire, workshop and networking costs
  • costs related to attendance of any conference only if it is associated with an exchange visit, including:
    • registration fees
    • travel, accommodation, and subsistence
  • costs to cover additional caring responsibilities

What we will not fund

  • other international project partner costs such as estate costs
  • costs associated with conference attendance only
  • large items of equipment
  • mobility of researchers to or from a country that is not a priority for this funding opportunity

Each exchange visit should be requested in a separate proposal.

Grant conditions

You are asked to be realistic when selecting a start date in your application. The earliest start date of the grant should not be before 6 November 2023. All projects funded through this funding opportunity will need to adhere to a fixed start date condition.

The exchange visits should end by 31 March 2024. Grant extensions beyond March 2024 will only be considered under exceptional circumstances (in line with the Equality Act 2010) and will require our agreement on a case-by-case basis.

Supporting skills and talent

We encourage you to follow the principles of the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers and the Technician Commitment.

How to apply

You must apply using the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system.

You can find advice on completing your application in:

We recommend you start your application early.

Your host organisation will also be able to provide advice and guidance.

Expression of interest

To aid us with panel membership and judging demand for this funding opportunity, we would welcome a short ‘expression of interest’ paragraph to our team inbox listing names and institutions of people involved in the project and a short summary of the proposed project, including funds to be requested (approximate figures) by 17th August 2023.  Please note, this is not a pre-requisite to applying for the funding opportunity.

Please do not include any confidential information at this stage.

Submitting your application

Before starting an application, you will need to log in or create an account in Je-S.

All investigators and other named personnel involved in the project need to be registered on Je-S.

Anyone who does not have a Je-S account must register for one at least seven working days before the funding opportunity deadline.

Permission to name any other person on the proposal form must be obtained, for example any co-investigators or project partners. This is for the provision of their personal information to UKRI and the processing of their data by UKRI for the purpose of assessing the application and management of any funding awarded.

When applying:

  1. Select ‘documents’, then ‘new document’.
  2. Select ‘call search’.
  3. To find the opportunity, search for: ISPF Quantum 2023

This will populate:

  • council: STFC
  • document type: Standard Proposal
  • scheme: Standard
  • call/type/mode: ISPF Quantum 2023

Failure to select the correct options at this stage could result in your application not reaching the correct council or funding opportunity. This will lead to your application not being considered for this funding opportunity.

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.


Any expressions of interest should be received by 17 August 2023 via email to

We must receive your completed application by 7 September 2023 at 4:00pm.

You will not be able to apply after this time. Please leave enough time for your proposal to pass through your organisation’s Je-S submission route before this date.

You should ensure you are aware of and follow any internal institutional deadlines that may be in place.


All attachments should use 11pt sans serif font throughout, with a minimum of 2cm margins around each page. Please submit all application attachments in PDF to Je-S to avoid any issues with corrupt files.

Your application must also include the following attachments:

  • Je-S pro forma (mandatory)
  • Case for support (mandatory, maximum four pages) should include:
    • main objectives for the exchange visit
    • details of activities to be carried out during the visit
    • statement of added value – indicate the benefit of the proposed collaboration to UK and partner country science and in particular, the relevance to your current research projects
    • applications must demonstrate how this award will strengthen or promote longer-term collaborations between the UK and partner country’s researchers in the future
  • Letter of support (maximum 2 pages) (where relevant, up to three attachments) please include the following:
    • from the partner country institutions involved in the project
      The Je-S system only allows for a maximum of three attachments. If the proposal is benefited by additional letters of support, please combine multiple letters into one document before uploading it. Further guidance can be found on the STFC website.
  • Project partner letter of support (mandatory if project partners are listed)
    • from any organisation entered on the Je-S form as project partners.

A project partner is an organisation which contributes in cash or in kind to the project, but which is not requesting any money. An institution that is hosting the exchange researcher can be added as a project partner.
Resources to be provided by any project partners, whether in cash or in-kind contributions, should be clearly identified in the proposal. We will pay up to 80% of the total costs of the project excluding the project partner contribution. Project partners’ contributions in cash or in-kind should be seen as additional to our contribution and are not considered part of the FEC of the project:

  • Data management plan (mandatory, maximum 2 pages): guidance can be found on the STFC website.
  • Gantt chart (mandatory, maximum 1 page)
  • Covering letter (optional)
    this will not be seen by external reviewers or panel)
  • Other (any document uploaded under ‘other’ will not be seen by external reviewers or the panel) Do not attach any documents additional to those listed above even though Je-S allows other documents, such as CVs, list of publications and others. The proposal will be returned to you for these to be removed before being sent for peer review. This will delay the peer review process.

How we will assess your application

All proposals will be assessed by a streamlined peer review process involving consideration by a specially convened expert assessment panel. The panel’s assessment will be based upon the quality of the proposal documentation.

Proposals will not be sent to external reviewers, therefore there will not be a principal investigator or applicant written response to reviewers’ comments stage.

Assessment criteria

The panel will assess all proposals against the following criteria:

Scientific and technical excellence:

  • feasibility of proposed activities
  • Your capability to deliver the outcomes of the proposed project
  • complementarity of shared expertise of both countries involved

Strategic fit to STFC and UK science:

  • strategic importance of the proposed science
  • strategic importance of the international partnership

Potential impact from proposed research:

  • the potential to develop international links
  • benefits and future joint research opportunities between UK and partner country
  • career development opportunities of exchange fellow

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

QTFP team inbox


Include ‘ISPF science exchange in the subject line.

We aim to respond within three working days.

Get help with applying through Je-S



01793 444164

Opening times

Je-S helpdesk opening times.

Additional info

The International Science Partnerships Fund is designed to enable potential and foster prosperity. It puts research and innovation at the heart of our international relationships, supporting UK researchers and innovators to work with peers around the world on the major themes of our time.

COVID-19 guidance

We recognise that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused major interruptions and disruptions across our communities. We are committed to ensuring that you and your wider team, including partners and networks, are not penalised for any disruption to your or their careers. This includes:

  • breaks and delays
  • disruptive working patterns and conditions
  • the loss of on-going work
  • role changes that may have been caused by the pandemic.

Panel members will be advised to consider the unequal impacts of the impact that COVID-19 related disruption might have had on the track record and career development of those individuals included in the proposal. They will be asked to consider the capability of you and your wider team to deliver the research you are proposing. Where disruptions have occurred you can highlight this within your application, if you wish, but there is no requirement to detail the specific circumstances that caused the disruption.

We acknowledge that it is a challenge for you to determine the future impacts of COVID-19 while the pandemic continues to evolve. Applications should be based on the information available at the point of submission and, if applicable, the known application specific impacts of COVID-19 should be accounted for. Where known impacts have occurred, these should be highlighted in the application, including the assumptions and information at the point of submission. There is no need to include contingency plans for the potential impacts of COVID-19.

Panel members will receive instructions to assume that changes that arise from the COVID-19 pandemic, post-submission, will be resolved and complications related to COVID-19 should not affect their scores.

Unconscious bias

Read our briefing on unconscious bias.

Equality and diversity

Read about UKRI’s commitment to promoting equality and diversity.


We should have an overview of all communications activity relating to our grants, including for example:

  • grants announcements
  • research publications
  • interviews and third-party media
  • social media campaigns
  • case studies

Notify our communications team of impending activity by emailing

We encourage communications and do not wish to jeopardise any such activity, so please notify us of your plans in advance.


All award holders are required to submit outputs from their project on the UKRI Researchfish platform.

Award holders are required to provide information about outputs arising from their work annually during the period of the award and normally for at least five years after the award has terminated.

The International Science Partnership Fund (ISPF) team will monitor outputs on all ISPF funded grants and may contact you for further information on outputs and outcomes, in particular with a view to publishing a case study area.

Supporting documents

Equality impact assessment (PDF, 165KB)

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