Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Expression of interest: Research infrastructure for conservation and heritage science

Submit an expression of interest for AHRC research infrastructure for conservation and heritage science funding.

We invite submissions for organisations or individuals working in the heritage sector and beyond.

AHRC is seeking to fund an infrastructure programme that:

  • secures the UK’s reputation for excellence in heritage science
  • furthers capability beyond the sector, unlocking opportunity for innovation.

At this expression of interest stage, you must highlight any potential partnerships.

The future full funding opportunity will be open to consortia-led applications.

Who can apply

This funding opportunity is open to organisations and individuals working in the heritage sector, research and innovation sectors, and education and training sectors.

This includes, but is not limited to:

  • higher education institutions
  • independent research organisations
  • museums, libraries and galleries
  • freelance conservators and other heritage professionals
  • other public and private sector organisations.

The future full funding opportunity will be open to consortia-led applications, with an organisation eligible for UKR Research and Innovation (UKRI) funding acting as the submitting partner.

This expression of interest exercise aims to capture the heritage infrastructure needs of many different types of organisation in the UK, regardless of direct eligibility for UKRI funding.

Organisations that are not eligible to apply for UKRI funding directly are welcome to express an interest at this stage, as well as organisations that are eligible to apply for UKRI funding.

What we're looking for

AHRC is seeking to fund an infrastructure programme that:

  • secures the UK’s reputation for excellence in heritage science
  • catalyses a sustainable step-change in UK heritage science capability.

The programme seeks to address fragmentation within the sector through building a networked, distributed infrastructure of facilities and expertise. These will be complemented by a central strategic hub and programme of digital activity to improve connectivity.

This expression of interest stage invites prospective applicants to self-identify as partners to a potential consortia.

Organisations that might potentially apply for funding under this programme are strongly encouraged to submit an expression of interest.

Information received through the expressions of interest will allow AHRC to:

  • engage with prospective applicants as part of the opportunity development process
  • support the development of proposals through guidance and signposting.

Funding is currently subject to business case approval.

How to apply

Expression of interest stage

Please complete the expression of interest survey on JISC to the best of your current knowledge.

Applicants will have subsequent opportunities to refine and develop the information provided at the expression of interest stage.

Complete the expression of interest survey.

How we will assess your application

AHRC will analyse expression of interest responses and use these to inform the development of the full funding opportunity. The council may share high-level findings to support stakeholder and applicant engagement.

The expressions of interest will materially inform financial planning and allocations for future capability. While organisations who do not submit an expression of interest will not be barred from applying for funding, the needs of these organisations might not form part of the envelope.

Contact details

Ask about this funding opportunity

Sarah Burgess, Senior Investment Manager


Include ‘RICHeS’ in the subject line.

We aim to respond within three working days.

Additional info


AHRC ran a question and answer webinar on 14 July 2022 at 12:00.

Please watch a recording of the webinar (49 minutes).
Passcode: v*xy!6rC

View the presentation slides (PDF, 1MB) given at the webinar and the expression of interest example document (PDF, 95KB).


Heritage science is defined as the development and application of scientific techniques and technologies to further our ability to preserve heritage assets, to understand them and to engage the public with them.

Situated at the intersection of the humanities with the physical sciences, engineering, arts and craft, heritage science also contributes to innovation in non-heritage areas such as:

  • artificial intelligence
  • digital twins
  • computational modelling
  • imaging
  • sensing
  • spectroscopy.

The UK is acknowledged as internationally eminent in heritage science. However, heritage science capability, encompassing equipment, facilities and expertise, remains fragmented, siloed and historically under-resourced.

AHRC’s one-off and heavily oversubscribed Capability for Collections Fund, launched in 2020, was a first attempt at addressing long-standing systemic failures and inefficiencies caused by inadequate or ageing facilities.

However, there is as yet:

  • no coordinated programme to optimise access to facilities and knowledge exchange
  • no unified strategy to maximise opportunities for collaborative research and development
  • no structures to accelerate the exploitation of techniques, technologies and instruments developed by heritage scientists.

AHRC is currently developing an infrastructure funding programme that seeks to address these issues and drive forward research capabilities.

For more context on infrastructure for heritage science, see the National Heritage Science Forum website.

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