EPSRC recognises that investment is required to develop, support, and maintain software.
While previous software funding mechanisms have typically had a narrow focus on enabling novel research and innovation activities, or have supported software development as part of a wider programme of research, such approaches do not emphasise the long-term sustainability of research software.
As such, a community-driven approach to software development and maintenance is favoured for this call.
EPSRC aims to fund projects where the proposal provides evidence of an established or growing demand for the proposed software to facilitate more effective or efficient research workflows.
This may include the development of new functionality for existing software, benefitting the existing community and enabling new communities to be reached.
Alternatively, the proposal could focus on advancing the sustainability of software benefitting a well-established user base.
For example, by adapting software for new architectures, building new models and mechanisms for co-development, upskilling, incorporating existing good practices, the development of documentation and training materials, or other essential maintenance activities.
EPSRC encourages applicants to demonstrate the community demand within their application through:
- elaborating plans to support collaborations between software developer(s) and user(s) for the project by facilitating the sustainability of or enhancing the scope of existing collaborative mechanisms, or by establishing new collaborations
- providing evidence of the benefits that will be delivered to specific communities of practice by the proposed project, for example, by demonstrating:
- impact of existing software on existing user communities
- adoption of the software to-date
- demand from new user communities
- providing evidence that the benefits of the proposed project will continue to be realised beyond the period of funding.
Funding is available for projects of up to three years in length in this call.
The focus of this opportunity is to support software that benefits EPSRC’s research portfolio and strategic objectives.
Software supported by this opportunity may be focused on supporting workflows that are specific to certain user communities (for example, imaging or spectroscopic tools) or foundational tools that benefit multiple user communities (for example, supporting the management and analysis of research data in engineering and physical sciences disciplines).
In all cases, the applicant must be able to demonstrate the benefit to research methods and workflows within EPSRC’s remit.
Funding can be requested for:
- the addition of new functionality to existing software to enhance or extend the utility and usability of software to meet the ambition of researchers and enable improved research workflows
- the development and re-engineering of existing software to improve performance, enable operation on different hardware architectures, and incorporate good practice in software development
- maintenance activities for existing software, including activities to support documentation, training and dissemination
- co-creation activities to widen participation in the development and maintenance of the software.
Projects with the following characteristics are not eligible for this opportunity but are encouraged to explore alternative funding opportunities provided by UKRI:
- projects that are primarily focussed on the development of novel computational tools, techniques and methodologies without a well evidenced use case, rather than providing tools to support researchers
- projects that are primarily focussed on the development and application of software to contribute to a specific research project or programme and where there is limited potential for broader applications
- projects that are unable to demonstrate evidence of support from prospective or actual user communities because there is insufficient evidence of feasibility and significant benefit over alternative solutions.
EPSRC reserves the right to reject proposals that do not sufficiently clearly demonstrate the contribution of the proposed software project to research within EPSRC’s remit.
Up to £4.5 million is available for this opportunity. EPSRC will fund 80% of the project’s full economic cost.
Equipment over £10,000 in value (inclusive of VAT) is not available through this opportunity. Smaller items of equipment (individually under £10,000) should be in the ‘Directly Incurred – Other Costs’ heading.
EPSRC guidance for equipment funding (EPSRC website).
EPSRC is fully committed to develop and promote responsible innovation. 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 to encourage our research community to do likewise. Therefore applicants are expected to work within the EPSRC Framework for Responsible Innovation (EPSRC website).
Applicants planning to include international collaborators on their proposal should use the Trusted Research guidance for information and advice on how to get the most out of international collaboration whilst protecting intellectual property, sensitive research and personal information.
Trusted Research guidance (Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure)