Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Responsible AI UK international partnerships

Apply for funding to develop international partnerships with world-leading organisations and research centres in the domain of responsible artificial intelligence (RAI) to ensure society deploys and uses AI in a responsible way.

Your proposed partnership should primarily focus on generating impact for:

  • economies
  • societies
  • cultures
  • public sector or governments
  • social services
  • wellbeing
  • the environment
  • quality of life

Successful projects must begin by 1 February 2024 and can last up to 18 months.

Who can apply

Approaches to RAI should draw on the full breadth of academic disciplines, and we encourage researchers from any discipline to lead a creative and innovative interdisciplinary bid addressing the challenge.

The projects must also adopt equality, diversity and inclusivity, trusted research, and responsible research and innovation as fundamental principles underlying the research.

We are therefore particularly interested in supporting diverse, interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary teams that co-create research with industry, policymakers and the public.

Successful applicants will be expected to collaborate with the wider RAI UK programme (see the RAI UK website).


RAI UK is leading this funding opportunity on behalf of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). For this funding opportunity, projects must be led by a suitable ‘research organisation’ as defined by UKRI:

  • UK higher education institutions
  • public sector research establishments
  • research council institutes
  • UKRI-approved independent research organisations and NHS bodies with research capacity

UK businesses, third sector, or government bodies can be funded as part of the project, but cannot lead the project, and restrictions apply.

Read the guidance on institutional eligibility.

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

  • are employed at the submitting research organisation at lecturer level 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 a UKRI, Royal Society or Royal Academy of Engineering fellowship aimed at later career stages (excluding industry employees)
  • hold fellowships under other schemes (please contact us to check eligibility, which is considered on a case-by-case basis)

Holders of postdoctoral level fellowships can be named as ‘researcher’ or ‘researcher co-investigator’ on the grant.

This funding opportunity is not part of any UKRI repeatedly unsuccessful applicants policy.

What we're looking for

This is the first round of the RAI UK international partnerships scheme.

This is a rolling funding opportunity and applications received will be reviewed on a monthly cycle, initially for three months. The monthly cycle may continue after this period or until the 2023 to 2024 budget is committed.


Our aim is to enable world-leading partnerships by providing an opportunity for UK research groups to work in partnership with the best international collaborators for research on responsible and trustworthy AI.

RAI UK champions a reflective, inclusive approach to the development of RAI that engages with and seeks to mitigate AI’s potential harms, including such harms that arise beyond national boundaries.


For this funding opportunity:

  • we will consider applications to collaborate with one or more international research organisations (including universities, public sector research organisations and publicly funded research institutes)
  • the application should lie within UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) remit; multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary collaborations with international partners are welcomed
  • partnerships can involve one or more overseas research organisations in one or more countries
  • we are open to applications to either develop new international collaborators or to build on existing relationships. In particular, we are interested in collaborations between responsible AI institutes, regional, or national initiatives
  • partners may be in a low or middle-income country. However, we do not require compliance with Official Development Assistance criteria for this funding opportunity
  • industry and other non-academic engagement is strongly encouraged and, where appropriate, you are encouraged to engage with your strategic partners and co-develop ideas early in the process

If you have any doubts on these points, please contact RAI UK before applying. Applications not meeting these requirements in the judgement of RAI UK will be rejected.

Applications must fit the RAI UK vision to:

  • help enable RAI to power benefits for everyday life
  • work in collaboration with researchers, industry professionals, policymakers and stakeholders to drive AI so that it will be responsive to the needs of society

While researchers are free to select from a range of types of activity with international partners, we seek projects to:

  • develop methodologies for RAI
  • support the development of legal and responsible innovation toolkits that can be used by small and medium-sized enterprises and large companies to help them meet current legal, ethical and social expectations for AI and anticipate future changes
  • establish policy engagement activities that enhance conversations involving policymakers, researchers, practitioners, end-users, and the public

In addition to collaborating with the wider programme, it is anticipated that successful applicant teams will also engage with stakeholders and users of the research, who are essential to the design, conduct and impact of application-orientated research.


We encourage projects to demonstrate clear routes to impact to address both imminent and long-term needs of industry, society and government. Please make it clear where the project looks to build on connections to existing networks and research programmes.

RAI UK is keen to understand how this funding is building exciting new connections within the ecosystem, providing additional value.

International collaboration

For international collaborators (for example, industry or academic partners), please:

Note that based on the answers to this checklist, you may need to escalate this within your institution or department for a decision.

Further guidance on getting the most out of international collaboration while protecting intellectual property, sensitive research and personal information has been released by the National Protective Security Authority.

A balanced range of projects across non-academic impact types will be funded (political, economic, societal, technological, legal, environmental, health, cultural and other).

Learn about the RAI UK programme.

Funding available

Projects must be led by an eligible researcher at a research organisation.

Up to £1 million funding is available through the RAI UK programme for allocation in 2023 to 2024 to develop international partnerships (at 80% full economic cost (FEC)) through this activity for projects of up to 18 months duration. Applications may consist of a single research project, or a suite of related research activities in the defined research area of RAI.

Please note that due to the nature of this funding, additional requirements on spending profile, reporting, monitoring and evaluation as well as grant extensions will apply. This will be reflected in the grant additional conditions, and those funded will need to comply with them. Further details are provided in the additional information section. In particular, please note that any projects funded through this funding opportunity will have a fixed start and end date, and that no slippage to this date will be permitted.

Grants will be funded at 80% of the stated FEC as per normal UKRI policies for research organisations. The remaining 20% must be contributed by the institution submitting the application. The grant can support any directly incurred costs, such as research staff time, consumables, travel and subsistence, and also directly allocated costs, such as UK investigator time and overheads.

Current RAI UK investigators may not lead a project. Current RAI UK investigators and international researchers may not be costed on the grant, but they may be named either as co-investigator or project advisor depending on their contribution.

You are not required to have existing collaborations or contacts within the RAI UK programme.

Project collaborators

Project co-leads from non-academic organisations (UK-based only, with due regard for trusted research requirements) may be included in project costs, up to 30% of the total FEC of the project. Where justified, the time of these partners can be listed under ‘Exceptions’ and will be funded at 100% FEC. The combined costs for non-UK academics and UK-based non-academic project co-leads must not exceed 30% of the total FEC of the grant application.

We recognise that some partners may be employed by a government-funded organisation. To avoid the double counting of public funds in the costings, no salary costs will be covered for permanent employees from government bodies.

Salary costs for new staff to be recruited for the proposed work can be submitted as part of the application. Travel and subsistence costs and overheads will be allowable if appropriately justified.

Note that any deviation from the spending profile beyond 5% is not allowed (any underspend will not be refunded, nor any overspend allowed). No-cost extensions cannot be allowed.

Support for the proposed international collaboration is subject to standard UKRI funding rules. We expect to see contributions from overseas partners to the project but recognise that it will depend on the nature of the project whether those are cash or in-kind contributions. Aspects of the fit to the funding opportunity criterion in particular will assess the contribution of the overseas partner (see the ‘How we will assess your application’ section).

PhD studentships or funding associated with PhD studentships are not eligible for inclusion in the costs sought from RAI UK.

We would expect to see funding requests to support travel, subsistence and consumables for the UK investigators and research staff to visit or have extended work placements at a partner’s laboratory overseas. Requests can also be made for resources to enable different approaches to building and sustaining collaborations, which reduce the need to travel. We would expect the budget requested for the travel or alternative resources to be sufficient to support the collaboration between the centres.

Overseas partner organisations can be universities, public sector research organisations or publicly funded research institutes. International collaborators should be included in applications as either:

Project partners

Project partners can receive small amounts of funding from the grant, such as for travel and subsistence to attend project meetings. Extended visits should be listed as visiting researchers.

Project partners’ estimated financial contribution to the research consortium should be indicated on the submission form as cash or in-kind contributions as appropriate.

A short description of the types of costs that international partners’ planned financial contribution will cover (for example, staff costs, travel, laboratory access) should be included in the justification of resources.

International partner contributions do not need to be new funding if they are applying for from equivalent international funding bodies. Their contribution can take the form of aligned existing funds, demonstrating added value.

Visiting researchers

Support may be requested for visits by overseas collaborators to the UK for up to 12 months per individual. The application may include estates and indirect costs for any visiting researcher, regardless of whether the support being requested includes a salary contribution or is only travel and subsistence.


Equipment over £10,000 in value (including VAT) is not available through this funding opportunity. Smaller items of equipment (individually under £10,000) should be in the ‘Directly Incurred – Other Costs’ heading and will need robust justification.

How to apply

This funding opportunity has been scoped and delivered by RAI UK, a UK Research and Innovation funded programme supporting research on the technical, social, legal and ethical challenges surrounding responsible and trustworthy AI.

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

Applications should be prepared using the provided submission template (DOCX, 56KB), completing all of the sections, and submitted in a PDF format via the online application portal.

Applications must contain an explanation of how the proposed work aligns with the objectives of the RAI UK programme and how it fits into the frame of the RAI UK. You should be explicit about the need for this funding and the added value your proposed activity brings to a specific area of the programme. All applications must also demonstrate how they will ascertain adherence to their spending profile.

RAI UK reserves the right not to fund a project if ethical or trusted research concerns exist or are raised by the reviewers or panels members, or both. Concerns may include overlooked aspects, or issues not appropriately accounted for. You must complete the equality, diversity and inclusivity, responsible research and innovation and trusted research section to identify and demonstrate how challenges will be addressed as part of the research.

An eligible member of the research investigation team will be identified as the main contact. They will submit the bid and be the point of contact with RAI UK for all communication during the bid and post award (if successful). The main contact must register their intent to submit an application 10 working days before the selected deadline for each funding opportunity round. The registration and submission system will be activated by the stated opening date. Details will be published on the website.

To complete your bid submission, you will need to complete a bid details form in the submission system and upload your applications document. Sections of the form include:

  • key project details, bid summary and application upload
  • project team
  • financial information
  • alignment to RAI UK

Once you submit your application you will receive a confirmation email, including details of your submission.

RAI UK must receive your application by 4:00pm UK time on the day of the relevant submission deadline.

How we will assess your application

This funding opportunity will be peer reviewed by RAI UK, a UK Research and Innovation funded programme supporting research on the technical, social, legal and ethical challenges surrounding responsible and trustworthy AI.

Assessment process

Applications that meet the assessment criteria will be considered by a panel of experts in order to select the final successful applications.

All criteria will be assessed in determining the final rank ordered list using the panel introducers scale of one to 10.

Funding decisions will be made based on the rank ordered lists as well as the nature of the projects.

Assessment criteria

All submitted applications will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

Fit to funding opportunity (primary)

This includes:

  • added value to the UK research base of the proposed international research partnership
  • unique features of the joint research team and capability to deliver, including the added value to research outcomes from the international partnership
  • appropriateness and timeliness of proposed international partnership in the context of RAI
  • track record of UK applicant team working together
  • meets national and international needs by establishing or maintaining a unique world leading activity
  • relationship to the RAI UK objectives
  • potential for planned outcomes to impact on RAI UK programme and beyond

Quality (primary)

The research excellence of the application, making reference to:

  • the effectiveness and appropriateness of the approach to deliver the proposed work
  • the novelty, relationship to the context, timeliness and relevance to identified stakeholders
  • the ambition, adventure, transformative aspects or potential outcomes
  • the suitability of the proposed methodology and the appropriateness of the approach to achieving impact

Equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) and responsible research and innovation (secondary)

This includes:

  • plans to embed responsible innovation practices in the project
  • adequate consideration of EDI in terms of the research or knowledge exchange

Resourcing (secondary)

This includes:

  • adequate and fully justified resourcing
  • risks to resourcing fully identified and mitigated, including appropriate plans to manage finances during the lifetime of the activity
  • consideration of risks of delays in completing the project within the timeline specified, taking into account, for example, delays in getting ethics approval, or hiring key personnel

Grants will be confirmed upon acceptance of the non-negotiable terms and conditions, which will be set out in the grant letter.

Contact details

Get help with your application

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

Get help with submitting your application

Any general queries regarding the submission of applications should be directed to the RAI UK operations team:


Our working hours are Monday to Friday, 9:00am to 4:00pm UK time, excluding bank holidays and other holidays.

Ask about this funding opportunity

For any other funding opportunity specific information, contact RAI UK projects manager Dr Ben Coomber.


Additional info

The RAI UK programme of which this funding opportunity is a part is a £31 million strategic investment by the UK government in responsible and trustworthy AI.

RAI UK acts as a focal point for a broad range of initiatives to work across the community to co-create with all stakeholders an ecosystem to meet society’s needs for justice, equity, sustainability, and inclusivity. RAI UK adopts a strong human-centred approach aligned with the UK AI strategy, to provide platforms for technological futures that promote inclusive and positive outcomes. RAI UK moves beyond ‘making technology responsible and trustworthy’ by ensuring the benefits and risks of AI can be recognised and governed by all those whose lives and livelihoods are affected by it.

RAI UK works to ensure society deploys and uses AI in a responsible way. Our approach is to equip the AI community with a toolkit that includes technological innovations, case studies, guidelines, policies and frameworks for all key sectors of the economy.

To achieve this, RAI UK works in collaboration with researchers, industry professionals, policymakers and stakeholders to drive an ecosystem that will be responsive to the needs of society. It is led by a team of experienced, well-connected leaders from all four nations of the UK, with complementary backgrounds, committed to an inclusive approach to the management of the programme.

This ecosystem consists of mechanisms to:

  • co-create research with industry and the public
  • establish contextual understandings of RAI for users, customers, and developers
  • develop pathways to scale the use of human-centred AI across society, industry and commerce

Grant additional conditions

Please note that due to the nature of this funding stream, there will be specific spending requirements, monitoring and evaluation.

Projects will also be expected to commit to adhere to open-source, open-data and open-innovation guidelines.

Grants will be confirmed upon acceptance of the non-negotiable terms and conditions, which will be set out in the grant letter.

The project team of all funded projects will be required to engage fully with the programme, including participating in RAI UK activities and events, alongside attending partner meetings as required during the lifetime of the project, and reporting including on commencing, mid-project, and at the end of the project. In addition, within one month of the end of the project, a final report will be submitted to the RAI UK executive management team highlighting the project outcomes and impact.

Supporting documents

Submission template (DOCX, 56KB)

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