Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Smart Data Research UK Data Services

Apply for funding to deliver Smart Data Research UK data services. Data services will acquire, steward and enable safe access to smart data. They will build long term partnerships with data owners, demonstrate the potential of smart data, and provide technical infrastructure, governance and user support to a broad research community.

Data services will support impactful, cutting-edge interdisciplinary research and innovation within one or more of the SDR UK thematic pillars.

The full economic cost (FEC) of your project can be between £3 million and £7 million.

Services will be funded for a period of four and a half years, with a view towards establishing long-term service.

Who can apply

You must be based at an eligible research organisation to apply for funding to deliver the SDR UK data services. Before applying for funding, check the standard Eligibility of your organisation and Eligibility as an individual documentation. Specific criteria for this funding opportunity are as follows:

Project lead

The project lead (director) should be experienced researchers/professionals with a proven ability to lead an investment of this nature, as well as a successful track record of delivering large scale projects. Directors will need to demonstrate they have the vision, leadership and management skills, and sectoral/technical experience required to deliver a data service. We welcome directors with backgrounds in research, industry, service delivery, and other areas, provided other eligibility criteria are met.

Please note we are open to data services with two directors working in collaboration. Proposals involving two directors should demonstrate a clear rationale and explanation of how work will be managed. Please note only one person can be assigned the role of project lead on the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Funding Service proposal, the second director should be added as a co-lead.


We are seeking multidisciplinary teams of experts to deliver the data services. Teams will need to demonstrate that they have the skills, knowledge and experience to lead a research data service focused on access to data meeting the definition of ‘smart data’, within an academic environment. This will include subject matter, sector-specific experts or both, as well as the people who can provide:

  • data engineering and infrastructure
  • data management and governance
  • data science and analytics
  • private sector partnership development
  • service delivery management
  • communications

We will expect your proposal to include any additional roles required to meet your objectives.

Time commitment

Directors (project lead) must show that they will direct the project and be actively engaged in the work. The combined project lead and co-lead leadership time charged to the grant for delivery of the service, excluding time dedicated to proof-of-concept research, should be a minimum of 0.7 full time effort (FTE).

Very small fractions of project lead and or co-lead time should be avoided. Standard ESRC research funding rules would apply for staff engaged in more than one UKRI grant. See ESRC research funding guide.

International applicants

Project leads from non-UK organisations are not eligible to apply for funding for this funding opportunity.

Project co-leads based in non-UK research organisations can be included in research grant applications. Read project co-lead (international) policy guidance for details of eligible organisations and costs.

Business, third sector or government body project co-leads

We welcome consortia applications and strongly encourage collaboration to fulfil the aims of the service. Partnerships are encouraged with non-HEI organisations and across third sector, business and the public sector, either as project partners or as project co-leads. Read Including project co-leads from business, third sector or government bodies for details of eligible organisations and costs.

We will fund all justified costs associated with international and UK business, civil society or government bodies project co-leads at 100% full economic cost (FEC). However, these combined costs must not exceed 30% of the full 100% FEC cost of the grant.


We will not accept uninvited resubmissions of projects that have been submitted to UKRI.

Find out more about ESRC’s resubmissions policy.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

We are committed to achieving equality of opportunity for all funding applicants. We encourage applications from a diverse range of researchers.

Measures to support and encourage Equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) will be embedded across SDR UK. We will expect respondents to consider how EDI will be supported through their proposed data service.

Find out more about equality, diversity and inclusion at UKRI.

Indications of interest

Those applicants who participated in the SDR UK Indications of Interest (IOI) process for data services have already received a response from the team regarding whether their project idea is within scope for this funding opportunity. Applicants who did not submit to the IOI are still eligible to apply but are encouraged to contact the project team to discuss scope. See contact details below.

What we're looking for

SDR UK will fund a portfolio of national data services to unlock the power of smart data (see Scope below) for research and innovation. The data services will form the core data infrastructure of our programme, working alongside the SDR UK strategic hub (‘the hub’). We encourage you to read about our programme-level aim and objectives in the SDR UK Strategy and the funding opportunity briefing document (see Additional information).

Each service should develop a strong and clear value proposition that sets out (a) the primary category of smart data they will acquire and steward, and (b) the core research theme or themes their service will support aligned to the SDR UK pillars. Services also need to set out how they will meet five primary data service objectives. These are:

  1. Acquire, steward and enable safe access to smart data for research
  2. Collaborate to build a user-friendly federation of services and enable cross-domain research
  3. Ensure responsible use of data
  4. Build capability across the research community
  5. Be a centre of excellence for smart data research, enabling impact through ground-breaking research

We will take a portfolio approach to fund a balanced set of differentiated data services. Our aims in building the portfolio will be:

  • to minimise overlap on data acquisitions, by ensuring each service has lead responsibility for one or more categories of smart data
  • to enable impactful research by ensuring each service is driven by clear use cases aligned with our thematic pillars

Scope – categories of smart data

Our definition of smart data refers to data generated through everyday interactions with digital devices, sensors, and services. The data types within the scope of this funding opportunity are set out below. We recognise this list may not be exhaustive and categories are not necessarily mutually exclusive:

  • retail and business data about the production, distribution and sale of goods and services, and those who consume them. Sources include store loyalty cards, checkout scanners, management information systems, online shopping transactions
  • app and web data resulting from human engagement with online services and platforms. Sources include social media, forums, apps, gaming and streaming services, property listings, gambling services
  • financial data resulting from digital transactions and other financial products. Sources include high street banking transactions and account data, card payment systems, digital currencies, loans, pensions and other investments
  • transport, mobility and infrastructure data generated by sensors monitoring the physical environment or the movement of people and objects. Sources include GPS-enabled devices and vehicles, communication networks, sensors in transport networks, supply chains, buildings, environmental sensors, energy systems, utility networks
  • imagery data from remote imaging devices. Sources include satellite observations, aerial imagery, LiDAR, street-level imagery, crowdsourced imagery
  • Smart devices and wearables data including from sensors on the body or devices sensing and acting in small-scale environments. Sources include smart watches, fitness trackers, wearable glucose monitors, IOT and smart home

We recognise the diversity of the types of data in our scope, the range of sectors holding these datasets, the varied challenges of accessing and working with such data, and the benefits of combining data from different sources. Accordingly, we will take a flexible approach in building our portfolio. We are open to applications that:

  • focus on a single data category, with a plan for how they would connect with ancillary data for example. Administrative, health and survey data sources as appropriate, to support research in one or more of our thematic areas, or
  • focus on curating a set of related smart data types, in support of one or more of our thematic areas

The final portfolio will not necessarily include one service for each of the data types described above.

Scope – research themes

The value proposition for a data service should tell us why your targeted category of smart data is a priority for research, and how your service will support impacts aligned with one or more of our thematic pillars:

  • productivity and prosperity for all
  • health and wellbeing
  • digital society
  • sustainability

In setting out the value proposition for your data service you should present:

  • clear evidence of current and ongoing demand for the data service on the part of researchers
  • clear use cases for how the data service will meet the needs of users and enable real world impacts

You will be required to provide evidence the data service is feasible, and comprehensively identifies any risks to delivery and how they will be managed.

Objective 1: acquire, steward and enable safe access to smart data for research

Services will need to bring together subject matter and sector-specific expertise with strengths in delivering digital technology, data infrastructure, data science, and private sector partnership development. We are looking for proposals that provide the vision and resources to deliver a world-class data service through activities including:

  • acquiring data by building long-term partnerships with data owners or other means
  • developing and curating data products that meet the needs of users with different skill levels
  • addressing challenges around the use of smart data for high quality research. For example, representativeness, uncertainty, provenance, bias, privacy protection, or licencing issues
  • providing digital research infrastructure and information governance to protect sensitive data while making data available to the UK research community on equal terms
  • providing user support

The data in our scope requires technical infrastructure that is fit for purpose. This includes meeting stringent security requirements, the capacity to handle varied complex data types and, in some cases, the ability to manage very large volumes of data at speed and provide effective analytical environments for these.

Data services will need to partner with other infrastructure providers to build on existing and emergent digital research infrastructure. This means data services should focus funding on filling gaps and meeting technical needs arising from obtaining new data.

We expect you to dedicate a minimum of 60% of your total budget to delivery of objective 1.

Data requirements

Data services will be expected to comply with standard ESRC research data policy and data ethics guidance as a condition of funding.

Objective 2: collaborate to build a user-friendly federation of services and enable cross-domain research

We note that the opportunities and challenges of data discovery, interoperability, and linkage across services will vary based on the data that is the focus of your service. Your proposal should set out your priorities and general approach to working with other data services to enable connectivity, knowledge exchange, and visibility between your service and other relevant services. This will include the following activities:

  • contribute to cross-programme efforts to streamline processes, products and services and make SDR UK data Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable (FAIR)
  • collaborate with data services beyond SDR UK to standardise and streamline services
  • support and implement steps to establish the next generation of digital research infrastructure to enable fast, safe and efficient sharing and linkage

Objective 3: ensure responsible use of data

We are looking for proposals that go beyond regulatory compliance and embed careful consideration of ethics and responsibility into all aspects of the data service. Your proposal should demonstrate how your team will:

  • protect sensitive data
  • control and process data in an ethical and legal manner
  • seek and take account of public views to maintain public trust, working in partnership with others in SDR UK and the wider landscape

Objective 4: build capability across the research community

We are looking for data services to build capability across the research community through activities such as:

  • building an inclusive community of practice around smart data that extends beyond your core partners
  • working in collaboration with other SDR UK data services and investments to support the development of research skills through training and capacity building
  • undertaking activities to grow the research user base for the data
  • providing training in working with your service’s data and tools

Objective 5: be a centre of excellence for smart data research, enabling impact through ground-breaking research

As a centre of excellence for the data and thematic priorities in your scope, your service should engage in activities such as:

  • conducting pioneering impact-focused research that demonstrates the value of smart data to support changes in practice, thinking or capacity and that creates a positive impact in our society, economy or environment
  • providing thought leadership arising from your team’s hands-on experience in working with the data
  • bringing researchers, policymakers, and industry together to champion the use of smart data to inform policy and address societal challenges
  • developing partnerships and seeking support through other funding opportunities to widen the impact of your service
  • tracking, championing, and communicating the impact of your data service and playing an active role in the broader communication activities to promote the value of smart data to a wide audience

We expect you to dedicate a maximum of 20% of their core grant budget towards Objective 5, and to seek to build on this through other means including further grant funding opportunities and institutional research budgets.

Additional requirements

Management and structure

You should consider the structure of your proposed data service to ensure it can successfully deliver its objectives, whether through a consortium approach or single institution. Partnerships with non-HEI organisations across government, industry and civil society are encouraged where appropriate.

We are looking for mechanisms such as advisory groups within your proposed structure which should be used to provide clear and transparent evidence that your service is meeting the current and future needs of research communities.

You must read the briefing (see Additional Information) for further details on resourcing and monitoring requirements and the support available from the hub.

Organisational support

We will be looking for evidence of long-term strategic and financial institutional commitment to your service. In support Objective 5 of your data service (centre of excellence), we would encourage organisational support above the required 20% (as we fund at 80% FEC), which should be detailed in the Organisation support section. This could be through the provision of associated parallel activities.

Career and skills development

You should clearly articulate your plans for career development within your proposed data service. We encourage you to follow the principles of the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers and the Technician Commitment. Through these, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) commits to support the professional and career development of researchers and technicians through its funding opportunities.

You are also encouraged to consider leadership development at all career stages in your data service. These equip staff in the service with the leadership skills needed to design, lead and deliver large and complex and interdisciplinary projects and teams.

Leadership should go beyond project management. It should include a capacity to enthuse, ignite and sustain an intellectual vision that is inclusive, flexible and open to challenge.

The ESRC-commissioned report Fit for the Future: Research Leadership Matters gives insight into the skills related to leadership at different career stages. It includes preliminary suggestions for how those skills might be supported across the career life-course.

This funding opportunity does not include funding for associated studentships.

Research ethics

UKRI requires that the research we support is designed and conducted in such a way that it meets ethical principles and is subject to proper professional and institutional oversight in terms of research governance. We have agreed a Framework for Research Ethics that all submitted proposals must comply with. Read further details about the Framework for Research Ethics and guidance on compliance.

Responsible research and innovation

We want to foster a research and innovation system where diverse and dynamic people and ideas can thrive. The UKRI good research resource hub brings together policies, standards and guidance to support researchers, innovators and organisations.
Throughout your application, you must set out how you will follow, achieve and demonstrate compliance with relevant UKRI policies, standards and guidance, including:

You are particularly requested to note UKRI’s trusted research and innovation principles which sets out our expectations of organisations funded by UKRI in relation to due diligence for international collaboration.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

Promoting equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) is an integral part of UKRI’s vision to deliver new knowledge and an enriched, healthier, more sustainable and resilient society and culture, and to contribute to a more prosperous economy. You are expected to demonstrate throughout your proposal how you will consider EDI during your service’s lifetime.

Environmental sustainability

SDR UK will constructively and positively support the UK’s goal of reaching net zero by 2050 through highly relevant research activities, as well as in its operations. You are expected to consider the environmental impact of your services activities and to put in place actions that encourage sustainability and mitigate any risk of environmental harm.

Value for money

You should take care to demonstrate value for money and that public money will be appropriately stewarded over the course of the grant.


The duration of this award can be up to four years and six months. Projects can start from 1 September 2024 and grants will need to end by 31 March 2029.

Funding available

The FEC of your project can be from £3 million and up to £7 million.

UKRI will fund 80% of the full economic cost of the grant. For further details on the principles of full economic cost, please see ESRC’s funding guide.

For more information on the background of this funding opportunity, go to the Additional information section.

How to apply

The funding opportunity is administered by ESRC on behalf of UKRI. We are running this funding opportunity on the new UKRI Funding Service. You cannot apply on the Joint Electronic Submissions (Je-S) system.

The project lead is responsible for completing the application process on the Funding Service, but we expect all team members and project partners to contribute to the application.

Only the lead research organisation can submit an application to UKRI.

To apply

Select ‘Start application’ near the beginning of this Funding finder page.

  1. Confirm you are the project lead.
  2. Sign in or create a Funding Service account. To create an account, select your organisation, verify your email address, and set a password. If your organisation is not listed, email Please allow at least 10 working days for your organisation to be added to the Funding Service.
  3. Answer questions directly in the text boxes. You can save your answers and come back to complete them or work offline and return to copy and paste your answers. If we need you to upload a document, follow the upload instructions in the Funding Service. All questions and assessment criteria are listed in the How to apply section on this Funding finder page.
  4. Allow enough time to check your application in ‘read-only’ view before sending to your research office.
  5. Send the completed application to your research office for checking. They will return it to you if it needs editing.
  6. Your research office will submit the completed and checked application to UKRI.

Where indicated, you can also demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant:

  • use images sparingly and only to convey important information that cannot easily be put into words
  • insert each new image onto a new line
  • provide a descriptive legend for each image immediately underneath it (this counts towards your word limit)
  • files must be smaller than 5MB and in JPEG, JPG, JPE, JFI, JIF, JFIF, PNG, GIF, BMP or WEBP format

Watch our research office webinars about the new Funding Service.

For more guidance on the Funding Service, see:


We must receive your application by 2 May 2024 at 4:00pm UK time.

You will not be able to apply after this time.

Make sure you are aware of and follow any internal institutional deadlines.

Following the submission of your application to the funding opportunity, your application cannot be changed, and applications will not be returned for amendment. If your application does not follow the guidance, it may be rejected.

Personal data

Processing personal data

ESRC, as part of UKRI, will need to collect some personal information to manage your funding service account and the registration of your funding applications.

We will handle personal data in line with UK data protection legislation and manage it securely. For more information, including how to exercise your rights, read our privacy notice.

Publication of outcomes

ESRC, as part of UKRI, will publish the outcomes of this funding opportunity at What ESRC has funded.

If your application is successful, we will publish some personal information on the UKRI Gateway to Research.


Word limit: 550

In plain English, provide a summary we can use to identify the most suitable experts to assess your application.

We may make this summary publicly available on external-facing websites, so make it suitable for a variety of readers, for example:

  • opinion-formers
  • policymakers
  • the public
  • the wider research community

Guidance for writing a summary

Clearly and succinctly describe your proposed work in terms of:

  • context
  • the challenge the project addresses
  • aims and objectives
  • potential applications and benefits

Core team

List the key members of your team and assign them roles from the following:

  • project lead (director) (PL)
  • project co-lead (UK) (PcL)
  • project co-lead (international) (PcL (I))
  • specialist
  • grant manager
  • professional enabling staff
  • research and innovation associate
  • technician
  • visiting researcher

Please note we are open to data services with two directors working in collaboration. Proposals involving two directors should demonstrate a clear rationale and explanation of how work will be managed. Please note only one person can be assigned the role of project lead on the Funding Service proposal, the second director will need to be added as a project co-lead.

Find out more about UKRI’s core team roles in funding applications.

Application questions


Word limit: 1,000

What are you hoping to achieve with your proposed work?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Explain how your proposed work:

  • is of excellent quality and importance within or beyond the field(s) or area(s)
  • has the potential to advance current understanding, or generate new knowledge, thinking or discovery within or beyond the field or area
  • is timely given current trends, context, and needs
  • impacts world-leading research, society, the economy, or the environment

Within this section we also expect you to show:

  • a strategic rationale for your data service, framed as a strong and clear value proposition
  • the user demand for your data service, this should include clearly articulating how the data service could support research programmes across UKRI and beyond
  • clear use cases for your data service, demonstrating your data service will meet user need and enable real world impacts

Where indicated, you can also demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. Further details are provided in the Funding Service.


Word limit: 5000

How are you going to deliver your proposed work?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Explain your approach to meeting the SDR UK data service objectives:

  1. Acquire, steward and enable safe access to smart data for research
  2. Collaborate to build a user-friendly federation of services and enable cross-domain research
  3. Ensure responsible use of data
  4. Build capability across the research community
  5. Be a centre of excellence for smart data research, enabling impact through ground-breaking research

You should explain your approach to objective 3 (Ensure responsible use of data) in the ‘Ethics and responsible research and innovation’ section.

Within your response, please explain how your approach:

  • is feasible, and comprehensively identifies any risks to delivery and how they will be managed
  • is interdisciplinary, bringing together the right disciplines and expertise to deliver the data service
  • describes how your team’s research environment (in terms of the place and relevance to the project) will contribute to the success of the work
  • demonstrates evidence that issues relating to equality, diversity, inclusion have been considered throughout your approach

Within the Approach section we also expect you to:

  • provide a project plan for your data service including milestones, including key performance indicators (see briefing for required KPIs) and timelines
  • provide a high level data acquisition plan for your data service, broken down into yearly targets and with mitigations if acquisition targets are not reached
  • provide a clear plan for the development and delivery of your data service technical infrastructure. This should include setting out the accreditation requirements for your data service infrastructure
  • provide a management plan for your data service including details of project management and administrative resource alongside details of governance and advisory groups your data service technical infrastructure

Where indicated, you can also demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. Further details are provided in the service.

Applicant and team capability to deliver

Word limit: 1,500

Why are you the right individual or team to successfully deliver the proposed work?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Evidence of how you, and if relevant your team, have:

  • the relevant experience (appropriate to career stage) to deliver the proposed work
  • the right balance of skills and expertise to cover the proposed work
  • the appropriate leadership and management skills to deliver the work and your approach to develop others
  • contributed to developing a positive research environment and wider community

The word count for this section is 1,500 words, 1,000 words to be used for R4RI modules and, if necessary, a further 500 words for Additions.

Use the Résumé for Research and Innovation (R4RI) format to showcase the range of relevant skills you and, if relevant, your team (project and project co-leads, researchers, technicians, specialists, partners and so on) have and how this will help deliver the proposed work. You can include individuals’ specific achievements but only choose past contributions that best evidence their ability to deliver this work.

Complete this section using the R4RI module headings listed. Use each heading once and include a response for the whole team, see the UKRI guidance on R4RI. You should consider how to balance your answer, and emphasise where appropriate the key skills each team member brings:

  • contributions to the generation of new ideas, tools, methodologies, or knowledge
  • the development of others and maintenance of effective working relationships
  • contributions to the wider research and innovation community
  • contributions to broader research or innovation users and audiences and towards wider societal benefit

Provide any further details relevant to your application. This section is optional and can be up to 500 words. You should not use it to describe additional skills, experiences, or outputs, but you can use it to describe any factors that provide context for the rest of your R4RI (for example, details of career breaks if you wish to disclose them).

Complete this as a narrative. Do not format it like a CV.

UKRI has introduced new role types for funding opportunities being run on the new Funding Service.

For full details, see Eligibility as an individual.

Where indicated, you can also demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. Further details are provided in the Funding Service.

Ethics and responsible research and innovation (RRI)

Word limit: 1,000

What are the ethical or RRI implications and issues relating to the proposed work? If you do not think that the proposed work raises any ethical or RRI issues, explain why.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Demonstrate that you have identified and evaluated:

  • the relevant ethical or responsible research and innovation considerations
  • how you will manage these considerations

All proposals have to comply with the ESRC framework for research ethics which includes guidance for applicants and links to related web resources.

All necessary ethical approvals must be in place before the project commences, but do not need to have been secured at the time of application.

If you are generating data as part of your project, you should complete the Data Management question and should cover ethical considerations relating to data in your response.

If you are not generating data and have not completed the Data Management question you should address any legal or ethical considerations relating to your use of data here.

Where indicated, you can also demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. Further details are provided in the Funding Service.

Resources and cost justification

Word limit: 1,000

What will you need to deliver your proposed work and how much will it cost?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Justify the application’s more costly resources, in particular:

  • project staff
  • significant travel for field work or collaboration (but not regular travel between collaborating organisations or to conferences)
  • any equipment that will cost more than £10,000
  • any consumables beyond typical requirements, or that are required in exceptional quantities
  • all facilities and infrastructure costs
  • all resources that have been costed as ‘Exceptions’

Assessors are not looking for detailed costs or a line-by-line breakdown of all project resources however applicants are requested to provide a rough estimate of total costs allocated towards each objective for their data service.

Overall, they want you to demonstrate how the resources you anticipate needing for your proposed work:

  • are comprehensive, appropriate, and justified
  • represent the optimal use of resources to achieve the intended outcomes
  • maximise potential outcomes and impacts

For detailed guidance on eligible costs please see the ESRC research funding guide.

Your organisation’s support

Word limit: 10

Provide details of support from your research organisation.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Provide a statement of support from your research organisation detailing why the proposed work is needed. This should include details of any matched funding that will be provided to support the activity and any additional support that might add value to the work.

UKRI will be looking for a strong statement of commitment from your research organisation.

UKRI recognises that in some instances, this information may be provided by the Research Office, the Technology Transfer Office (TTO) or equivalent, or a combination of both.

You must also include the following details:

  • a significant person’s name and their position, from the TTO or Research Office, or both
  • office address or web link

Upload details are provided within the service on the actual application.

Project partners

Add details about any project partners’ contributions. If there are no project partners, you can indicate this on the Funding Service.

A project partner is a collaborating organisation who will have an integral role in the proposed research. This may include direct (cash) or indirect (in-kind) contributions such as expertise, staff time or use of facilities.

Add the following project partner details:

  • the organisation name and address (searchable via a drop-down list or enter the organisation’s details manually, as applicable)
  • the project partner contact name and email address
  • the type of contribution (direct or in-direct) and its monetary value

If a detail is entered incorrectly and you have saved the entry, remove the specific project partner record and re-add it with the correct information.

For audit purposes, UKRI requires formal collaboration agreements to be put in place if an award is made.

Project partners letters or emails of support

Word limit: 10

Upload a single PDF containing the letters or emails of support from each partner you named in the Project partner section (if applicable).

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Enter the words ‘attachment supplied’ in the text box, or if you do not have any project partners enter ‘N/A’.

Each letter or email you provide should:

  • confirm the partner’s commitment to the project
  • clearly explain the value, relevance, and possible benefits of the work to them
  • describe any additional value that they bring to the project
  • be no more than one A4 page in length

Save letters or emails of support from each partner in a single PDF no bigger than 8MB. Unless specially requested, please do not include any sensitive personal data within the attachment.

For the file name, use the unique Funding Service number the system gives you when you create an application, followed by the words ‘Project partner’.

If the attachment does not meet these requirements, the application will be rejected.

The Funding Service will provide document upload details when you apply. If you do not have any project partners, you will be able to indicate this in the Funding Service.

Ensure you have prior agreement from project partners so that, if you are offered funding, they will support your project as indicated in the contributions template.

For audit purposes, UKRI requires formal collaboration agreements to be put in place if an award is made.

Do not provide letters of support from host and project co-leads’ research organisations.

Data management

Word limit: 1,000

How will you manage and share data generated through the proposed work?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Demonstrate that you have designed your proposed work so that you can:

Within the ‘Data management’ section we also expect you to:

  • plan for the research through the life cycle of the award until data is accepted for archiving by the UK Data Service (UKDS) or a responsible data repository
  • demonstrate compliance with ESRC’s research data policy and ESRC framework for research ethics. This should include confirmation that existing datasets have been reviewed and why currently available datasets are inadequate for the proposed research
  • cover any legal and ethical considerations of collecting, releasing or storing the data, including consent, confidentiality, anonymisation, security and other ethical issues.
  • include any challenges to data sharing (for example copyright or data confidentiality), with possible solutions discussed to optimise data sharing

See the importance of managing and sharing data and content for inclusion in a data management plan on the UK Data Service (UKDS) website for further guidance.

If this does not apply to your proposed work, you will be able to indicate this in the Funding Service.


Word limit: 250

Does your proposed work require the support and use of a facility?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

If you will need to use a facility (including access to, and use of data infrastructure), follow your proposed facility’s normal access request procedures. Ensure you have prior agreement so that if you are offered funding, they will support the use of their facility on your project. ESRC encourages the use of secondary and linked datasets.

For each requested facility you will need to provide the:

  • name of facility, copied and pasted from the facility information list (DOCX, 35KB)
  • proposed usage or costs, or costs per unit where indicated on the facility information list
  • confirmation you have their agreement where required

If you will not need to use a facility, you will be able to indicate this in the Funding Service.


Word limit: 1,000

List the references you have used to support your application.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Include all references in this section, not in the rest of the application questions.

You should not include any other information in this section.

We advise you not to include hyperlinks, as assessors are not obliged to access the information they lead to or consider it in their assessment of your application.

If linking to web resources, to maintain the information’s integrity, include persistent identifiers (such as digital object identifiers) where possible.

You must not include links to web resources to extend your application.

How we will assess your application

We will assess your application using the following process.


An assessment panel comprised of independent external members will review your application against the assessment criteria and rank it alongside other applications. You will have an opportunity to respond to comments before the proposals are discussed by the panel.

Panel interview

We will conduct interviews for shortlisted applicants on the week commencing 15 July 2024.

Final panel selection

The panel will recommend a final portfolio of data services which delivers against the overall aim for SDR UK. Our priorities in building the portfolio to support SDR UK’s overall aim are discussed further in the ‘What we are looking’ for section above.

Decision notification

We will notify you of the funding decision following the assessment process.


We will give feedback with the outcome of your application.


We aim to complete the assessment process within four months of receiving your application.

Principles of assessment

We support the San Francisco declaration on research assessment (DORA) and recognise the relationship between research assessment and research integrity.

Find out about the UKRI principles of assessment and decision making.

Assessment criteria

The criteria we will assess your application against can be found in the ‘How to apply’ section under ‘What the assessors are looking for in your response’.

Assessors will refer to criteria under these headings only:

  • Vision
  • Approach
  • Plans
  • Applicant and team capability to deliver
  • Organisational support
  • Project partners
  • Facilities
  • Data management
  • Resources and cost justification
  • Ethics and responsible research and innovation (RRI)

Find details of assessment questions and criteria under the ‘Application questions’ heading in the ‘How to apply’ section.

Contact details

Get help with your application

Important note: The Helpdesk is committed to helping users of the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Funding Service as effectively and as quickly as possible. In order to manage cases at peak volume times, the Helpdesk will triage and prioritise those queries with an imminent opportunity deadline or a technical issue. Enquiries raised where information is available on the Funding Finder opportunity page and should be understood early in the application process (for example, regarding eligibility or content/remit of an opportunity) will not constitute a priority case and will be addressed as soon as possible.

Contact details

or 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.

For questions related to this specific funding opportunity please contact:

Any queries regarding the system or the submission of applications through the Funding Service should be directed to the helpdesk.

Phone: 01793 547490

Our phone lines are open:

  • Monday to Thursday 8:30am to 5:00pm
  • Friday 8:30am to 4:30pm

To help us process queries quicker, we request that users highlight the council and opportunity name in the subject title of their email query, include the application reference number, and refrain from contacting more than one mailbox at a time.

Find out more information on submitting an application.

Sensitive information

If you or a core team member need to tell us something you wish to remain confidential, email:

Include in the subject line: [the funding opportunity title; sensitive information; your Funding Service application number].

Typical examples of confidential information include:

  • individual is unavailable until a certain date (for example due to parental leave)
  • declaration of interest
  • additional information about eligibility to apply that would not be appropriately shared in the ‘Applicant and team capability’ section
  • conflict of interest for UKRI to consider in reviewer or panel participant selection
  • the application is an invited resubmission

For information about how UKRI handles personal data, read UKRI’s privacy notice.

Additional info

Webinar for potential applicants

We held a webinar on 5 March 2024 to provide more information about the funding opportunity and a chance to ask questions.

Watch webinar recording via Zoom.

Passcode: 89^YnB+z

Supporting links

SDR UK data service briefing (DOCX, 84KB)

Frequently asked questions (PDF, 608KB)

Equality Impact Assessment (DOCX, 37.1KB)


  • 5 April 2024
    Webinar recording, frequently asked questions document and updated briefing document added in Additional info section
  • 13 March 2024
    SDR UK data service briefing document updated in Additional info section

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