Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Responsible AI UK: skills programme

Apply for funding to develop open educational resources for the training of artificial intelligence (AI) developers, users, managers, the public and other stakeholders.

Proposals may include research into the creation of resources, responding to responsible AI skills critical challenges, including issues related to upskilling, reskilling, pedagogy, or educational delivery.

You and your organisation must be eligible for UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) funding.

Successful projects must begin by 1 September 2024 and last six to 12 months.

Responsible AI UK will fund up to £100,000 at 80% full economic cost.

Who can apply

Responsible AI needs an interdisciplinary ecosystem that adopts equality, diversity and inclusivity (EDI), trusted research, and responsible research and innovation (RRI) as fundamental principles. We are therefore particularly interested in supporting diverse, multidisciplinary teams that will co-create resources with businesses, government, the education sector and the public. Successful applicants will be expected to collaborate with the wider RAI UK skills programme. Learn about the RAI UK programme.

RAI UK is leading this funding opportunity on behalf of UKRI. Standard UKRI eligibility rules apply. Research grants are open to:

  • 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 (restrictions apply)

Read the guidance on institutional eligibility.

The lead applicant will need to be a resident in the UK and meet at least one of the following:

  • 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 provide 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 are not eligible to apply for a UKRI grant.

UK-based non-academic collaborators can be included on projects at up to 30% of the total budget, at 100% at full economic cost (FEC).

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

What we're looking for

The RAI UK skills programme is set up to ensure that research and best practices in responsible AI are used to strengthen the UK’s responsible AI skills base. It has four key pillars:

  • national responsible AI skills frameworks
  • upskilling or reskilling within or across industries or sectors, schooling with a focus on responsible AI
  • raising public awareness of responsible AI
  • addressing equity and disadvantage in AI through education

We invite grant proposals that align with our goal to advance the UK’s AI strategy by expanding AI skills beyond technical practitioners and promoting the upskilling and reskilling of diverse citizens and businesses. Our focus is on fostering the development and transfer of skills among industry, government, educators and the general public.

Projects should deliver responsible AI skills resources, which will be made available openly to the RAI UK ecosystem. Resources may include anything from lesson plans and activities, workshops, organisational toolkits, professional development resources, visual aids or videos, to online learning platforms, courses or apps.

These resources should be based on empirical evidence, established or new methodologies, or experience. Projects should clearly articulate how and why the resources relate to the underpinning evidence, methodologies or experience.

In cases where evidence is lacking, or where it is not clear what an appropriate pedagogical strategy or effective learning resource might be, projects may need to include a stronger research element.

Your proposed RAI project should respond to skills challenges from at least one of RAI UK’s responsible AI challenge themes and it should align with at least one of the four skills programme’s pillars.

The three RAI UK themes with example skills challenges are as follows.

Responsible AI-powered organisations and economies

Organisational professional development programmes face the challenge of keeping up with rapid advances in AI. A systems-based approach to responsible AI can frame skills initiatives and collaboration across sectors, yet most training available is not framed in this way. Tailored training programmes, informed by an understanding of the consequences of AI deployment, may be needed for different levels of an organisation, particularly in high-stakes domains, but the extent of customisation required remains unclear.

Addressing harms, maximising benefits of AI

How AI is framed and applied introduces new opportunities but also trade-offs for individuals, industries and societies where the potential benefit may be outweighed by negative impacts on a wide range of issues.

This includes issues such as:

  • privacy
  • bias
  • accessibility
  • labour rights
  • social justice
  • sustainability of people, organisations and the environment

This introduces the need for new interdisciplinary and critical thinking skills for deployment and oversight to ensure:

  • AI’s safety, for example ensuring the system functions as intended with regards to ethics, policy, legal and technical aspects
  • AI security, for example ensuring the system is robust to malicious interference
  • reduction of negative environmental impacts
  • reduction of misuse

Moreover, addressing the educational needs of underrepresented groups is essential, yet they may have specific needs that are not well understood. What is needed to be in place so that AI works for the benefit of people and societies while harms are minimised?

AI law, governance, and regulation in an international context

The UK needs to meet the challenges of when and how to govern and regulate AI within the international digital economy. In the National AI Strategy, the UK government emphasised the desire to encourage startups and small and medium sized enterprises or businesses (SMEs) to adopt AI, while acknowledging the increasing need to meet AI regulation. Diverse AI policies across the world create a pressing need to upskill government, regulators, industry, SMEs and the public for effective AI governance and leadership. It also includes:

  • addressing issues around knowledge exchange under export controls
  • providing inclusive AI education
  • accessing security-sensitive expertise

In the specific context of education, generative AI requires careful oversight to balance learning and teaching gains with academic integrity.

Funding available

Funding is available for between three and eight grants. RAI UK will fund up to £100,000 at 80% full economic cost.


Successful projects must begin by 1 September 2024 and last between six and 12 months.

How to apply

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

Proposals should be prepared using the provided submission template, completing all the sections, and submitted in a PDF format via the online application portal.

Proposals must contain an explanation of how the proposed work aligns with the objectives of the RAI UK programme and how it fits into the appropriate theme and pillar. 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 proposals must also demonstrate how they will ascertain adherence to their spending profile.

RAI UK reserves the right not to fund a project if ethical concerns exist or are raised by the reviewers or panel members. Concerns may include overlooked aspects, or issues not appropriately accounted for. You must complete the EDI and RRI 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 a proposal during the registration period. The registration and submission system will be activated by the stated opening date. Details will be published on the website.

Submitting your application

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

  • key project details, bid summary and proposal upload
  • project team
  • financial information
  • alignment to RAI UK themes and skills programme pillars.

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


RAI UK must receive your application by 14 June 2024 4:00pm UK time.

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

Proposals that meet the assessment criteria will be considered by a panel of experts in order to select the final successful proposals. While this panel of experts will include members of the core RAI UK team, the panel will also consist of experts outside of RAI UK’s consortium.

All the following criteria will be assessed in determining the final rank ordered list using the panel introducer’s scale of 1 to 10. RAI UK will follow UKRI’s principles of peer review to ensure fairness and transparency within the decision-making process.

Funding decisions will be made based on the rank ordered lists as well as the nature of the projects. To ensure a balanced portfolio of activities, we will aim to fund at least one project against each one of the skills programme’s pillars.

Assessment criteria

Proposals will be evaluated based on their scope and rigour of methods, applicant team and alignment with the RAI UK skills programme.

All submitted project proposals will be evaluated according to the following criteria.

Quality of the proposed activity (primary)

This includes:

  • relevance of the project to skills programme pillars
  • potential impact of the proposed project to inform policy or practice, or both
  • adequate consideration of core issues for responsible AI education
  • suitability of proposed methodology to create and deliver resources

Relevance to stakeholders (secondary major)

This includes:

  • evidence of at least one non-academic project partner
  • evidence of project co-creation with partners at an adequate level of engagement with key stakeholders or relevant partners
  • evidence of adequate partner support (in-kind or cash contributions)

Applicant team (secondary major)

This includes:

  • expertise and capabilities within the applicant team to deliver the project
  • multidisciplinarity or interdisciplinarity adequate for the proposed project
  • suitability of the plans to include a diverse range of investigators from different backgrounds and career stages, recognising these are short projects
  • potential to grow the career and networks of individuals involved

Fit to the RAI UK and AI education landscape (secondary major)

This includes:

  • relationship to the RAI UK skills programme objectives
  • relationship and complementarity to other responsible AI education programmes across the UK
  • potential for planned outcomes to impact on RAI UK programme and beyond as defined by UKRI (read about reporting your project’s outcomes)

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

This includes:

  • plans to embed responsible innovation practices in the project including
    engagement with under-represented groups and adequate consideration of EDI across the project (team, methodology, outputs, delivery)

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

Awards are conditional upon acceptance of the non-negotiable terms and conditions, which will be set out in the award letter.

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

Any queries regarding the funding opportunity or submission of proposals should be directed to the RAI UK operations team.

RAI UK operations team


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

Additional info


This funding opportunity is part of the RAI UK programme, 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.

The 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. The 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 responsible AI for users, customers, and developers
  • develop pathways to scale the use of human-centred AI across society, industry and commerce

Webinar for potential applicants

We are also holding a webinar skills programme on 1 May 2024 at 12:00pm till 1:00pm UK time. This will provide more information about the funding opportunity and a chance to ask questions.

Register for the webinar.

Supporting documents

Responsible AI skills project proposal form (DOCX, 91KB).

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