EPSRC and NERC are looking to fund proposals with a specific focus on quantum sensing being applied to transform one or more areas of environmental science.
Through this funding opportunity, EPSRC and NERC are looking to:
- increase collaboration between environmental scientists, quantum scientists and engineers
- explore the potential for quantum sensing to transform multiple areas of environmental science
- accelerate uptake of quantum sensing in environmental science applications.
The environmental science community are significant users of sensing technologies. Previous advances in sensor technologies, such as low-cost distributed sensor networks, have transformed our understanding of the environment.
Whilst quantum sensors are not yet a low-cost technology, the development of field deployable, high-resolution, mobile sensors has huge potential to deliver new understanding of the environment. These devices would:
- fill a different capability gap by offering sensitivity and temporal resolution at scale
- provide complementary data, which could be combined with other forms of environmental sensing to generate significant benefits.
By working in partnership, EPSRC and NERC will fund research activities together, building collaborations between the NERC and quantum technologies communities and leveraging the expertise of the internationally leading UK National Quantum Technologies Programme (NQTP).
Research activities will enable the UK’s substantial expertise in quantum sensing to address the most promising and exciting environmental science problems, building world-leading capability in quantum sensing for environmental science challenges.
About your proposal
- be within the remit of the EPSRC quantum technology theme
- have a specific focus in quantum sensing being applied to transform one or more areas of environmental science
- be from an appropriate multidisciplinary team made up of researchers from both quantum technology and environmental science.
To help you put forward a compelling and transformative proposal you could seek to include:
- industry collaboration and secondments
- partnerships with other academic researchers, both in the UK and abroad
- at least one co-investigator, bringing complementary experience and different skills.
If you are unsure whether your proposed research fits this remit, you can submit a remit query to the quantum technologies team using the email address provided in the ‘contact’ section.
Research in the area of quantum technologies for fundamental physics is out of the scope of this opportunity. If you have any questions about this exclusion, please email email@example.com for more information.
We are expecting a high volume of applications to this funding opportunity. There is no limit to the number of applications from a host organisation, but as this scheme will fund only the highest quality applications, we encourage organisations to focus their efforts on an appropriate, relatively small number of high quality applications in order to improve their success rates.
Potential research areas
You can submit a proposal in any area of quantum sensing for environmental science where there is a compelling case that quantum sensing could be transformative. Application areas could include, but are not limited to:
- quantum sensors for invisible water, including:
- flood and drought management
- climate change adaptation
- quantum sensors for carbon sequestration, such as net zero carbon
- quantum sensors for subsea mapping, oceanography, subsea navigation, such as the blue economy
- quantum sensors for soil characterisation:
- precision agriculture
- sustainable soil management
- nutrient management
- quantum sensor network for space weather, including:
- critical national infrastructure
- ecological applications of quantum-enabled radar, such as the impact of the urban landscape on migratory bird routes.
Find out more about EPSRC’s quantum technology theme.
Funding and duration
Up to £3 million of joint EPSRC and NERC funding is available. Proposals must have a value between £350,000 and £1 million full economic cost. EPSRC and NERC will fund 80% of the full economic cost of your project.
Your project should run for 18 to 36 months. Grants must start on or before 13 February 2023.
You may request funding for:
- staff costs
- equipment and other items needed to carry out the project
- costs related to impact
- travel and subsistence
- career development activities and training.
Individual items of equipment below £10,000 (including VAT) can be included in proposals for individual research projects and will be paid at 80% full economic costing (fEC). They should be included in ‘other directly incurred costs’ within your Joint Electronic Submission system application. If VAT or import duty do not apply, a value of zero should be entered in the relevant fields.
The £10,000 threshold applies to individual items of equipment. Where items costing £10,000 and below are to be combined into one asset costing more than £10,000, these items should be included as a directly-incurred equipment cost as one item.
Find out more about the EPSRC approach to equipment funding.
Additional justification and supporting documentation are required for items over £10,000. For details, see equipment on research grants.
EPSRC will fund 80% of the final purchase price of equipment.
Funding is available for proposals of duration between 18 to 36 months.
Responsible research and innovation
EPSRC and NERC are fully committed to develop and promote responsible research and innovation that makes a positive contribution to society and the environment, not just through research outputs and outcomes but through the way in which research and innovation is conducted and facilities are managed.
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 encourage our research community to do likewise. Applicants are expected to work within the EPSRC framework for responsible innovation.
As this is a joint EPSRC and NERC funding opportunity, grant holders must also adopt responsible research practices set out in the NERC responsible business statement. Responsible research is defined as reducing harm and enhancing benefit on the environment and society through effective management of research activities and facilities. Specifically, this covers:
- the natural environment
- the local community
- equality, diversity and inclusion.
- consider responsible research and innovation in the context of your project, not just your host institution as a whole
- take action to enhance your responsible research approach where practicable and reasonable.
If you plan to include international collaborators in your proposal, you should visit Trusted Research for information and advice on how to get the most out of international collaboration whilst protecting intellectual property, sensitive research and personal information.