Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Turing AI World-Leading Researcher Fellowships: round three

Apply for funding to undertake world-leading research to advance the field of artificial intelligence (AI) in the UK.

This opportunity is aimed at established researchers:

  • conducting research into AI at a fundamental or theoretical level
  • working at the interface between AI and another discipline

This funding opportunity is only open to candidates who have been invited to submit a full application, following the outline panel stage in October 2023.

Up to £12 million is available to fund a small number of sizable awards (£3 million to £5 million). Funding is for up to five years. EPSRC will fund 80% of the full economic cost.

Who can apply

This funding opportunity is only open to candidates who we have invited to submit a full application following the outline panel stage in October 2023. Please note that any unsolicited applications will be rejected.

You will need to submit your full application on the new UKRI Funding Service by 30 January 2024 at 4:00pm UK time.

Who is eligible to apply

There are no standardised eligibility criteria for this fellowship due to the diversity of career paths in AI.

This opportunity is open to national and international candidates who are based at UK Research and innovation organisation eligible for UK research and Innovation funding. These can be:

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

Who is not eligible to apply

There are no standardised eligibility criteria for this fellowship due to the diversity of career paths in AI, therefore, only those that aren’t based at UK Research and innovation organisation eligible for UK research and Innovation funding are not eligible.

Uninvited candidates are also not eligible to apply.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

The long-term strength of the UK research base depends on harnessing all the available talent. EPSRC expects that equality and diversity is embedded at all levels and in all aspects of research practice and funding policy.

We are committed to supporting the research community, offering a range of flexible options to enable you to design a package that fits your research goals, career and personal circumstances. This includes:

  • career breaks
  • support for people with caring responsibilities
  • flexible working
  • alternative working patterns

With this in mind, we welcome applications from researchers who job share, have a part-time contract, or need flexible working arrangements.

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

What we're looking for

Aim

Through the Turing AI World-Leading Researcher Fellowships, UKRI seeks to support individuals with a high international standing who can make an impact on the UK AI research and innovation landscape by recruiting top international talent to the UK and by retaining leaders currently located in the UK.

Scope

With these substantial awards, you will seek to build new AI capability and capacity in the UK and advocate for the AI ecosystem. You will lead a highly skilled and potentially multidisciplinary team to deliver an ambitious, world-leading research programme which will advance the field of AI, and potentially other disciplines. This can be achieved, for example, by:

  • developing novel AI methodologies by addressing the fundamental, theoretical or mathematical challenges in AI
  • developing novel AI methodologies to address the challenges present in other and across disciplines or sectors

This funding opportunity therefore welcomes applications from individuals who conduct research into AI at a fundamental or theoretical level, or who work at the interface between AI and another discipline. The proposed work must develop AI beyond the current state of the art. Projects which seek to apply current AI methodologies to an application area will not be accepted.

Alongside undertaking world-leading research, you will be expected to develop your position of leadership in the national and international research community, as well as your host organisation. Through your leadership, you will be expected to engage with, influence, and advocate for the strategic direction of the UK’s AI ecosystem.

You should also initiate, grow, and maintain strong relationships and collaborations with stakeholders in the UK and internationally. Through these, you should look to facilitate a positive impact on the wider research landscape.

It is expected that you will:

  • use the significant support package to establish around you, a highly skilled and potentially multidisciplinary research team and lead a major programme which builds new capability and capacity in AI
  • develop the skills and careers of your teams, growing and fostering the independent researchers and innovators of the future
  • actively engage with researchers, developers and users to enable AI for use in the real world to ensure that AI is designed, developed and deployed robustly and transparently
  • act as a leader in the AI community and an ambassador and advocate for it; driving forward the UK and international AI research agenda. Applicants who work at the interface between AI and another discipline will be expected to make leadership and ambassadorial contributions to all relevant fields
  • build strong relationships and collaborations between academia, business, and broader stakeholders in the UK and internationally
  • embed the principles of responsible innovation and trusted research throughout their activities
  • deliver research with a high likelihood of impact on UK society and the economy
  • build a broader portfolio of funding and activities beyond the fellowship, moving towards a position of sustainability at the end of the fellowship

You should explain how your fellowship vision complements and delivers against UKRI’s Statement of Opportunities on AI and the UK’s National AI Strategy.

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

Duration

The duration of this award is for up to five years, and projects must start by 1 October 2024.

Please note that due to the nature of this funding, grant extensions will only be considered under exceptional circumstances (in line with the Equality Act 2010) and will require UKRI agreement on a case-by-case basis. The research organisation remains responsible for compliance with the terms of the Equality Act 2010, including any subsequent amendments introduced while work is in progress, and for ensuring that the expectations set out in the UKRI statement of expectations for equality and diversity are met.

Funding available

Up to £12 million is available to fund a small number of sizable awards between £3 million to £5 million.

UKRI will fund 80% of the full economic cost (FEC), therefore, the FEC of your project can be up to £6.25 million.

Costs should be based on the 2024 to 2025 academic year with no account for inflation. UKRI will index the grant as appropriate to account for cost changes over the grant lifetime.

What we will fund

You are expected to request a significant package of resource, designed in partnership with your host organisation and collaborative partners, to provide the best support for your research vision. This might include relocation costs, attractive packages for staff, access to data and infrastructure and other standard research grant costs.

You are expected to build highly skilled inter or multidisciplinary teams where appropriate. Resources may be used for research expenses including travel, equipment, research technical support including research software engineers, postdoctoral research assistants (PDRA) and fellow salaries, data scientists, training, and other standard expenses.

Relocation costs are also permitted for international applicants, and up to £100,000 may be requested to set up their research activity in the UK.

Resources may be used for activities which initiate, grow and maintain collaborations with stakeholders (for example academia, business, government, third sector) such as secondments, staff exchanges and regular travel.

Support for studentships is exceptionally permitted through this investment, where this can be clearly justified. Student engagement may also be realised through institutional or stakeholder support, or collaboration with the UKRI AI Centres for Doctoral Training.

See further information on allowable costs.

Flexibility will be given to aid in delivering the outcomes of the fellowship programme. As such, detailed resourcing estimations will therefore only be required for the first two years of the investment, with a decision-making methodology for subsequent planning.

Time dedicated to the fellowship

It is not expected that you will commit 100% of your full time equivalent (FTE) contracted time to this activity throughout its duration. However, on average a minimum 50% commitment is expected over the lifetime of the award as this fellowship should be the your main identity. You may start your award with less than 50% FTE but should increase your commitment to a minimum of 50% FTE within six months of the award start date.

By the final year of the award, it is expected that you will have developed your portfolio beyond the fellowship and should therefore have a maximum of 50% FTE to enable broader portfolio development. With this in mind, you should design an appropriate time commitment over the duration of the award to deliver your research vision.

If you have a joint academic appointment with other sectors, the minimum time commitment to the fellowship is 40% average over the lifetime of the award. This is to enable you to establish leadership within the host organisation outside of the time committed to the fellowship. The time commitment should be suitably justified against the assessment criteria and aims of the programme.

The fellowship must start by 1 October 2024 and no extensions will be given for delays in the appointment of staff. Therefore, when putting together the proposal, the recruitment time for staff required should be taken into consideration. In other words, if it is estimated that it will take six months to recruit a PDRA then only 54 months of PDRA time should be requested. Only if there is a PDRA or staff member ready by the grant start date should you apply for the full five years (60 months) of time.

Stakeholder collaboration

Due to the scale and prestige of these awards, significant collaboration and leverage (cash or in-kind) will be expected from project partners (for example business, public sector, third sector). This may include models such as endowing chairs or adding to academic salaries.

It is expected that collaborations will build a mutually beneficial two-way relationship based on expertise, secondments in both directions, products, and infrastructures. However, to ensure the awards are inclusive of a variety of approaches and research fields, no specific leverage expectations are being set for eligibility to this programme.

Clear plans for engaging with new and existing collaborators over the duration of the fellowship should be detailed in the case for support.

Involvement of The Alan Turing Institute

The Alan Turing Institute, the UK’s national institute for AI and data science, is a delivery partner in the Turing AI Fellowships. They will take a neutral stance towards all applicants as they intend to work openly and proactively with all successful Turing AI fellows. This means they will not be offering specific support to individual candidates, for example acting as project partners on any Turing AI Fellowship application and will not offer letters of support to candidates.

Successful candidates will be invited to join The Alan Turing Institute’s community of researchers and can discuss opportunities for them, and any postdoctoral researchers or students recruited to the fellowships, to engage with the Institute.

Find out more about The Alan Turing Institute.

Doctoral studentships

Funds for doctoral students may exceptionally be applied for as part of this funding opportunity. This exception recognises that studentships supported through UKRI’s main routes may have been committed before the fellowships are awarded, and that these fellowships represent an exciting opportunity for these students to train and acquire skills through working with eminent researchers they wouldn’t have otherwise had access to. The students will also benefit from the drawing together of vibrant, balanced teams which combine doctoral and postdoctoral research and build leadership for the future in key areas of AI.

The inclusion of doctoral studentships must add value to the proposed research, and to the student compared to UKRI’s existing training grant routes. Students must be provided with a clear opportunity for a distinct and independent course of enquiry from the fellowship objectives and receive training that is not available through existing programmes. The fellowship must be viable without the studentship, with distinctive objectives that are not reliant upon the studentships. You should clearly explain the benefit to the students of being part of the research team.

The host organisation should have a track record of training doctoral students and it is expected that there are UKRI doctoral students training concurrently with students supported by the fellowship. You are expected to have completed any supervisor training required to be familiar with supervising within a UK higher education institution, before students start their studies. If you are a fellow who has been recruited from abroad, the student should be assigned a co-supervisor with experience of training UK-based UKRI doctoral students.

Doctoral students supported through the fellowship must be provided with the opportunity to develop their substantive research skills as well as with broader professional development opportunities. Evidence of an appropriate training environment that meets the UKRI expectations for doctoral training should be provided.

UKRI also expects that other doctoral students aligned with the fellowship research programme, but funded from other sources, would have the same training conditions and opportunities as those students funded by fellowship.

Studentships should be four years in duration and must start in the 2024 to 2025 academic year. Careful consideration should be given to the overall staff resource on the fellowship and the balance between the different types of staff resource available. To ensure that postdoctoral researchers have sufficient time to support and train students alongside their research, funding should be requested for a minimum of 2.0 FTE PDRAs per studentship. For example, one studentship with a duration of four years would require eight years of PDRA time over the same period that the fellowship will run. You should ensure that you have sufficient time to supervise students, but this time should not be charged to the grant.

In recognition that EPSRC is delivering these fellowships on behalf of UKRI, EPSRC rules on international students will apply. International students recruited as part of the fellowship will count towards the 30% of new EPSRC studentships in any one year with open eligibility.

For more information see the guidance on flexibility to support the very best students.

Studentship costings

As a minimum, the UKRI stipend and indicative fees must be met; enhanced stipends are permitted where this has been justified in the application. Student fees and stipends and research training support costs (RTSG) related directly to the training of the student may be funded by UKRI. Research training support costs specifically relate to the research project of the student, and related additional technical training needs above those covered by the tuition fee. Such costs include travel and subsistence, conference costs and consumables. Indirect and estate costs are not applicable to studentships and supervisor costs are ineligible.

Funding associated with studentships will be issued to the fellow as a separate training grant with training grant terms and conditions. See the guidance on meeting UKRI terms and conditions for funding.

Fees and stipends

Research Councils publish their national minimum doctoral stipend and indicative fee level on an annual basis.

Research Councils UK Doctoral Stipend Levels and Indicative Fees for 2023/24

The National Minimum Doctoral Stipend for 2023/24 is £18,622, UKRI minimum stipend for doctoral studentships.

Support for the tuition fees (minimum £4,712 per year).

We welcome and encourage international students, however, in line with UKRI policy, we will cover only up to the domestic tuition fee.

An uplift to this minimum stipend may be requested if there is clear justification for doing so. A top-up may be achieved through using business leverage rather than requesting further UKRI funding.

Research training support grant (RTSG)

This is a contribution towards costs incurred in training research students, for example the provision of consumables, equipment, travel and so on. The RTSG is not intended to relieve a Research Organisation of any part of its normal expenditure. You should justify the level of RTSG requested, however, as a guide the Medical Research Council (MRC) allocates a minimum £5,000 MRC-funded RTSG per year.

Project co-lead

Fellowships are a personal award; however, you can name co-investigators on your application. It is expected that the expertise of the co-investigators should complement yours, adding value to your research vision. You should lead the research programme, and therefore it is not expected that the co-investigator will lead any of the work packages, rather their role should be in enabling the delivery of your vision. The inclusion of any co-investigators should be clearly justified.

Equipment

Individual items of equipment between £10,000 and £400,000 can be included on proposals for individual research projects if the equipment is essential to the proposed research and if no appropriate alternative provision can be accessed. However, a contribution to the cost of the equipment from other sources is required. For these Turing AI Fellowships the required contribution is 50%.

Additional justification of the requirement for individual items of equipment between £10,000 and £400,000, and details of the proposed contribution to the cost of the equipment, must be provided in the Justification of Resources (JoR). For any items or combined assets with a value above £138,000 (including value added tax (VAT)) a two-page Equipment Business Case must also be included in the proposal documentation.

Any items of equipment with a value in excess of £138,000 (including VAT) that are funded on research will need to be reported on annually as part of the University’s Equipment Portfolio Annual Reports. This will be communicated via an additional grant condition on the research grant. Smaller items of equipment (individually under £10,000) and consumables should be in the Directly Incurred – Other Costs heading.

Quotes for equipment do not need to be included in your application, but please retain quotes for equipment costing more than £138,000 as we may ask for these at post-panel stage before releasing funds.

Read more about EPSRC’s approach to equipment funding.

Supporting skills and talent

Guidance for the host organisation and the support for fellows

Turing AI World-Leading Researcher Fellowships are a strategic investment intended to build new AI capability and capacity in the UK. Host organisations should use their Host Organisation Statement to clearly describe their long-term strategy for AI, how it complements the UK landscape, and how they anticipate the fellow will enable them to deliver their strategy.

Within their Host Organisation Statement, the host organisation is expected to set out the strategic reasons for wanting to recruit and retain the world-leading individual in question, and their intended approach to supporting the individual, their team, and their research activity to enable their full potential contribution to the UK to be realised.

The host organisation will play a key role in the retention and recruitment of global talent. They should demonstrate clear support for the proposed fellow and articulate the fellow’s anticipated role in delivering the organisation’s AI strategy. It is expected that significant tangible support will be offered to the fellow, notably above and beyond that of a standard fellowship, and commensurate with the national strategic need to invest in that individual.

It is expected that career mobility between the fellow’s team and collaborative partners in other disciplines or sectors will be explicitly enabled, including secondments in both directions.

Where fellows have been recruited from outside the UK the host organisation should provide support to integrate the fellow and their team into the UK research ecosystem and AI community. Additionally, host organisations will be expected to outline how they plan to facilitate interaction between Turing AI Fellows nationally.

At the end of this five year investment, it is expected that each of the fellows supported, and their wider groups and activities will be in a sustainable position. In part, this will be due to the support of their host organisation and a key expectation of the host organisational support will be that the organisation commits to longitudinal strategic support for the fellows, their group and activities beyond the term of the fellowship.

The Host Organisation Statement at both stages of this funding opportunity is an important feature of this award. The host organisation and the applicant should co-create a work plan for the investment, outlining the institutional and partner support that will be required to ensure the anticipated outcomes of the fellowship are delivered, and the full potential of the UK investment in the individual is realised. This plan should be monitored and adapted as required to enable a flexible fellowship pathway.

Read more about the obligations of the research organisation.

Post-Award expectations

A key feature of this strategic investment will be the management of the cohort of fellows as a group, in collaboration with other Turing AI Fellows. Cohort activities will be led by UKRI in partnership with the Office for AI and the Alan Turing Institute. Fellows will be expected to engage with cohort activities.

Fellows and host organisations will be expected to periodically report against host organisation and project partner leverage, engagement and other support committed to in the full proposal. EPSRC will take appropriate action where this has not been realised.

Please note that due to the nature of this funding, additional requirements on spending profile, reporting, monitoring and evaluation and extension will apply. This will be reflected in specific grant conditions and those funded will need to comply with them.

Equality, diversity, and inclusion

Equality, diversity, and inclusion enriches diversity of thought, builds stronger perspectives and performance within organisations and communities, and fosters more innovative and creative approaches. This is particularly pertinent in AI as the quality of the output from algorithms depends on assurances that the inherent biases of those involved in their development do not transfer into their design.

AI is increasingly being used in ways that can directly impact lives, and it is commonly agreed that a diverse AI community and workforce is likely to reduce bias and positively impact the development of fair, ethical, and inclusive AI technologies. Furthermore, investing in a diverse array of fellows of different genders, ethnicities, backgrounds, and career paths will enable greater diversity of thought and of approach in AI. That is key to the development of a sustainable UK AI ecosystem, and the development of creative new AI technologies.

One of the primary aims of this programme is to invest in the most creative, innovative researchers, with the most diverse and exciting new approaches to AI. Host organisations are encouraged to actively use an inclusive approach to selecting and maximising the diversity of the candidates they intend to support.

Likewise, you will be expected to actively consider diversity and use an inclusive approach in the recruitment of your teams. UKRI expects that diversity is considered broadly to include backgrounds, career paths, thoughts, and approach as well as protected characteristics.

The long-term strength of the UK research base depends on harnessing all the available talent. EPSRC expects that equality and diversity is embedded at all levels and in all aspects of research practice and funding policy. We are committed to supporting the research community, offering a range of flexible options which allow applicants to design a package that fits their research goals, career and personal circumstances. This includes career breaks, support for people with caring responsibilities, flexible working, and alternative working patterns. With this in mind, we welcome applications from researchers who job share, have a part-time contract, or need flexible working arrangements.

Peer review is central to EPSRC funding decisions. We require expert advice and robust decision-making processes for all EPSRC funding initiatives. We are committed to ensuring that fairness is fully reflected in all our funding processes by advancing policy which supports equality, diversity, and inclusion.

Find out more about our equality, diversity inclusion policy.

Responsible innovation and Trusted research

UKRI 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.

You will be required to embed principles of responsible innovation and those of trusted research throughout your activities.

You will be expected to engage with the relevant regulatory bodies where concerns may arise under the National Security and Investment Act. Aspects of bias, privacy, security and ethics should be considered where appropriate.

Please note that you will be expected to articulate how you will ensure those principles are embedded throughout your activities during the interview if successful.

We encourage you to follow the principles of the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers and the Technician Commitment.

International collaboration

If your application includes international applicants, project partners or collaborators, visit UKRI’s trusted research and innovation for more information on effective international collaboration.

Find out about getting funding for international collaboration.

How to apply

We are running this funding opportunity on the new UKRI Funding Service through invitation only. 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 support@funding-service.ukri.org
  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.

Watch our research office webinars about the new Funding Service.

Deadline

EPSRC must receive your application by 30 January 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.

We will not be returning applications for amendment. If an application is withdrawn prior to peer review or office rejected due to substantive errors in the application, it cannot be resubmitted to the opportunity.

Personal data

Processing personal data

EPSRC, 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

EPSRC, as part of UKRI, will publish the outcomes of this funding opportunity.

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

Summary

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 describe in a concise way (you will have the opportunity to expand on the below via next steps) your proposed work in terms of:

  • concise context
  • the challenges 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:

  • fellow
  • project co-lead (UK) (PcL)
  • specialist
  • grant manager
  • professional enabling staff
  • research and innovation associate
  • technician
  • visiting researcher
  • doctoral student (exception, please see the doctoral studentship section above)

Only list one individual as fellow.

Find out more about UKRI’s new grant roles.

Vision and Approach

Create a document that includes your responses to all criteria. The document should not be more than six sides of A4, single spaced in paper in 11-point Arial (or equivalent sans serif font) with margins of at least 2cm. You may include images, graphs, tables. You can have an additional page for a diagrammatic workplan.

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

Save this document as a single PDF file, no bigger than 8MB. Unless specifically requested, do not include any personal data within the attachment.

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

The Funding Service will provide document upload details when you apply.

What are you hoping to achieve with and how will you deliver your proposed work?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

For the Vision, explain how your proposed work:

  • will be conducted through key prioritised objectives
  • is of excellent quality and importance within or beyond the AI fields or areas
  • has the potential to advance current understanding, generates new knowledge, thinking or discovery within or beyond the AI field or area
  • is timely given current trends, context and needs
  • impacts world-leading research, society, the economy or the environment
  • clearly demonstrates the novelty and creativity of your research and outlining your original and ambitious plans and ideas
  • will complement the UK AI landscape
  • will demonstrate potential to build new AI capability and capacity in the UK
  • will demonstrate your ability to act as a leader within the AI landscape and global AI community, and any other relevant communities
  • will be used to enhance your career mobility and your team to initiate, grow and manage collaborative relationships with key stakeholders

Within the Vision section we also expect you to:

  • identify the potential direct or indirect benefits and who the beneficiaries might be

For the Approach, explain how you have designed your work so that it:

  • is effective and appropriate to achieve your objectives
  • is feasible, and comprehensively identifies any risks to delivery and how they will be managed
  • if applicable, uses a clear, transparent and creative methodology
  • if applicable, summarises the previous work and describes how this will be built upon and progressed
  • will maximise translation of outputs into outcomes and impacts
  • describes how your and your team’s, research environment (in terms of the place, and relevance to the project) will contribute to the success of the work describes how it will contribute to build capability, engage with, influence and advocate for the strategic direction of the UK’s AI ecosystem

Within the Approach section we also expect you to:

  • demonstrate access to the appropriate services, facilities, infrastructure, or equipment to deliver the proposed work

Applicant and team capability to deliver

Word limit: 2,000 (1,500 words to be used for R4RI modules and, if necessary, a further 500 words for Additions).

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

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

Additions

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.

Within this section you can also demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. If using visual elements, you must:

  • 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

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

For full details, see Eligibility as an individual.

References

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.

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.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Enter the words ‘attachment supplied’ in the text box. Each letter or email you provide should:

  • confirm the partner’s commitment project
  • clearly explain the value, relevance, and possible benefits of the work to them
  • describe any additional value that they bring to the project

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 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. Additionally, letters from the Alan Turing Institute will not be permitted as they are delivery partners of the Turing AI World Leading Research Fellowships.

Facilities

Word limit: 250

Does your proposed research 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, 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.

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.

Resources and cost justification

Word limit: 1,500

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. 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

Ethics and responsible research and innovation (RRI)

Word limit: 500

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

If you are collecting or using data, identify:

  • any legal and ethical considerations of collecting, releasing or storing the data including consent, confidentiality, anonymisation, security and other ethical considerations and, in particular, strategies to not preclude further reuse of data
  • formal information standards with which your study will comply

Within this section you can also demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. If using visual elements, you must:

  • 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

Additional sub-questions (to be answered only if appropriate) will be included in the Funding Service. These will ask about numbers, species or strain and justification about:

  • genetic and biological risk
  • research involving the use of animals
  • conducting research with animal overseas
  • research involving human participation
  • research involving human tissues or biological samples

Doctoral studentship

Word limit: 1,000

Does your proposal require funding for doctoral students?

The Turing AI World-Leading Fellowships funding opportunity may exceptionally provide funding for doctoral students. This exception recognises that studentships supported through UKRI’s main routes may have been committed before the fellowships are awarded, and that these fellowships represent an exciting opportunity for these students to train and acquire skills through working with eminent researchers they wouldn’t have otherwise had access to. The students will also benefit from the drawing together of vibrant, balanced teams which combine doctoral and postdoctoral research and build leadership for the future in key areas of AI.

In line with the above explanation, please provide a justification for any Doctoral studentship.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

  • why studentship resources are requested, including why additional UKRI investment is needed on top of existing UKRI studentship funding?
  • the added value of a student being associated with the fellowship
  • a description of the training environment in your research group, the department and the host organisation
  • how the student experience will differ from that which would have been offered by the host organisation to standard doctoral students working in the area
  • briefly outline the proposed research project
  • detail how the students’ engagement in the investment will play a notable role in establishing a sustainable AI ecosystem

Within this section you can also demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. If using visual elements, you must:

  • 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

Your organisation’s support

Word limit: 1,000

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 including:

  • the host organisation’s strategy for AI research
  • how the applicant and their research complements its strategy
  • the strategic reasons for wanting to recruit or retain the world-leading individual in question
  • why the host organisation is an appropriate place for the fellow and their team to conduct this research
  • the anticipated tailored support that would be offered to the fellow and how this will aid them in realising the objectives of the Turing AI World-Leading Researcher Fellowship programme
  • how the host organisation and applicant have engaged to develop a research work plan that will allow the applicant to follow a flexible research, collaboration, and leadership pathway throughout the fellowship
  • the training and development opportunities that are available to meet the applicant’s aspirations for themselves and their team over the duration of the proposal
  • the support that will be provided to familiarise and integrate the applicant into the UK research ecosystem if they will be relocating from abroad, including the supervision of UK doctoral students.

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

At the end of this five-year investment, it is expected that each of the fellows supported, and their wider groups and activities will be in a sustainable position. In part, this will be due to the support of their host organisation and a key expectation of the host organisational support will be that the organisation commits to longitudinal strategic support for the fellows, their group and activities beyond the term of the fellowship.

The Host Organisation Statement is an important aspect of this award. The host organisation and the applicant should co-create a work plan for the investment, outlining the institutional and partner support that will be required to ensure the anticipated outcomes of the fellowship are delivered, and the full potential of the UK investment in the individual is realised. This plan should be monitored and adapted as required to enable a flexible fellowship pathway.

EPSRC 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

Within this section you can also demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. If using visual elements, you must:

  • 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

Data management and sharing

Word limit: 1,000

How will you manage and share data collected or acquired through the proposed research?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Provide a data management plan that clearly details how you will comply with UKRI’s published data sharing policy, which includes detailed guidance notes.

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

We will assess your application using the following process.

Peer review

We will invite peers to review your application independently, against the specified criteria for this funding opportunity.

You will not be able to nominate reviewers for applications on the new Funding Service. Research councils will continue to select expert reviewers.

We are monitoring the requirement for applicant-nominated reviewers as we review policies and processes as part of the continued development of the new Funding Service.

Where the majority of postal peer reviews are unsupportive, the proposal will be ‘review rejected’ at the review stage. The applicant will no longer qualify for the right to reply.
If your application has received enough support from reviewers, it will go forward to the interview panel. Prior to the interview panel, usable reviewer comments that were included in the decision process are sent to you. This gives you the opportunity to correct factual inaccuracies and respond to any queries raised by the reviewers in a principal investigator response document.

Interview panel

At the interview stage, the panel questions will primarily focus on the applicant and quality assessment criterion. However, all criteria will be assessed in determining the final rank ordered list, taking into consideration:

  • the peer review comments
  • applicant response
  • interview

Full details of the interview process will be sent to applicants who are successful at the outline stage.

Timescale

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

Feedback

Feedback on the full proposals will be in the form of reviewers’ comments. Additional feedback may also be provided by the interview panel.

Principles of assessment

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

Find out about the UKRI Principles of Assessment and Decision Making.

We reserve the right to modify the assessment process as needed.

Portfolio balancing

EPSRC reserves the right to achieve a balanced portfolio. With this in mind, there may be the possibility of prioritising international applicants to this fellowship opportunity.

You are reminded that your proposal should meet the objectives of this investment and are also encouraged to pay particular attention to:

  • industry – we welcome the possibility of future fellows holding joint industry-academia positions
  • regional diversity – we encourage applications from across the UK International applicants – we also encourage applications from overseas, as long as the applicant will be employed by an eligible UK organisation for the duration of the fellowship

Assessment criteria

The criteria we will assess your application against are:

Fellowship vision around the quality and novelty of the Research project (primary)

We assess research excellence making reference to the Vision section:

  • the fellowship vision, including the ambition and adventure of the proposed programme and the potential for its outcomes to have a transformative effect on the research and innovation landscape of AI
  • the degree of novelty in the research programme to advance to the field of AI, the relationship to the broader context of the current AI research area internationally and timeliness and relevance to identified stakeholders
  • the suitability of the proposed methodology and the appropriateness of the approach to achieving impacts across sectors and timescales
  • the plans to embed the principles of responsible innovation and trusted research throughout your activities.

Fellowship vision around National importance and AI capabilities (secondary major)

We assess how the research programme meets the vison on the national importance of the project as follows:

  • meets and exceeds national needs by establishing unique world-leading activities in AI to complement the UK AI landscape as set in the programme vision
  • leads to the development of novel AI capabilities in the UK complementing the UK AI landscape, beyond applying established AI approaches within applications
  • complements other UK research within the AI and data science landscape, including alignment to the UKRI portfolio, the UK’s national AI strategy
  • contributes to addressing key UK societal challenges or contributes to economic growth and development of emerging industries, while positively impacting the field of AI and other scientific disciplines
  • enhance and embed the responsible research and innovation principles, with particular focus on ethics, equality, diversity, inclusion and public engagement across all the aspects of the research programme and the AI landscape
  • supports your ability to act as a leader and advocate within the AI landscape and global AI community, including supporting your team to grow, develop and collaborate with stakeholders, to enhance the applicant and their team’s career mobility

Applicant and team capability to deliver (primary)

We make an assessment of your ability to deliver the proposed fellowship programme, making reference to:

  • international recognition of scientific contribution to advancing the field of AI as evidenced by your track record
  • your ability to act as a leader in the AI community, make a strategic contribution to the AI landscape, and act as an ambassador and advocate for AI both in the UK, and internationally
  • your ability to build and lead a world-leading research group, and to develop the skills and careers of your team and develop a positive working culture
  • your ability to successfully build and manage collaborations across sectors

Please refer to Resume for Research and Innovation – R4RI.

Resources and management (secondary)

We assess the effectiveness of the proposed planning and management, and whether the requested resources are appropriate and have been fully justified in the ‘Resource and management’ section, making reference to:

  • any equipment requested, or the viability of the arrangements described to access equipment needed for this project, and particularly on any university or third-party contribution
  • any resources requested for activities to either increase impact, for public engagement or to support responsible innovation
  • management of any staff requested and a demonstration of the approach to embedding equality, diversity and inclusion into recruitment
  • any doctoral studentships requested, and the added value to them of being associated with your planned programme
  • the appropriateness of the risk mitigation strategy

Organisation and project partner support – Research environment (secondary)

We consider:

  • the strategic intent and level of tailored and flexible support from the host organisation during and beyond the lifetime of the fellowship
  • your justification of choice of host organisation and collaborators, and how they will aid you in realising your research vision and the aims of this funding opportunity
  • the training environment for doctoral students where resources have been requested for studentships

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

If you have a question and the answers aren’t provided on this page

Important note: The Helpdesk is committed to helping users of the 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

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.

For questions related to this specific funding opportunity please contact ai.robotics@epsrc.ukri.org

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

Email: support@funding-service.ukri.org
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, please contact ai.robotics@epsrc.ukri.org

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

Background

On 4 October 2021, the Chancellor announced that the UK government would ‘double the number of Turing AI World-Leading Researcher Fellowships’.

This further investment of up to £20 million in Turing AI World-Leading Researcher Fellowships aligns with the national AI strategy and the UKRI statement of opportunities in AI.

The funding is being delivered through two rounds. Round two of this funding opportunity (£8 million) has already been awarded and started on 1 October 2023. The remaining £12 million is being delivered in this current round called round three will start by 1 October 2024.

It will enable distinguished academics to make research breakthroughs in AI, contributing to the UK and maintaining its position as a global leader in AI research and development.

The initial investment in Turing AI fellowships was a direct response to the government commissioned review of the AI sector, which recommended that an international fellowship programme for AI should be created.

Following the government’s AI sector deal in early 2018, ‘up to £50 million in new Turing AI fellowships to bring the best global researchers in AI to the UK’ was committed to in the 2018 budget.

Turing AI fellowships

The objectives of the overall investment in Turing AI fellowships are to:

  • accelerate and support the careers of a diverse cadre of the best and brightest AI international researchers, retaining them, or attracting them, to UK academia
  • enable enhanced connectivity between AI academia and industry across sectors, and facilitate career mobility for leading AI researchers and thinkers between academia and industry or the third sector, accelerating the pathway to impact of AI technologies
  • enable leading researchers to undertake world-leading creative and innovative AI research in the UK, with a broad range of potential impacts across sectors and timescales, and a key role in positioning the UK as a global leader in AI both now and in the future

Turing AI fellowships investment to date has been delivered through two phases:

  • phase one, the pilot phase, delivered by The Alan Turing Institute in 2019
  • phase two, the substantive phase, delivered by EPSRC on behalf of UKRI

Phase two consists of:

  • Turing AI Acceleration Fellowships in 2020
  • Turing AI World-Leading Researcher Fellowships in 2021

The Turing AI Fellowships are delivered by UKRI in partnership with:

Global talent visa

International researchers and specialists who are named, or have their position listed, on a successful grant may be eligible for the global talent visa.

Responsible innovation

EPSRC is fully committed to developing and promoting 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.

Additional grant conditions

Grants are awarded under the standard UKRI grant terms and conditions. The following additional grant conditions will also apply.

Start date of the grant

Notwithstanding ‘starting procedures’, this grant must start by 1 October 2024. No slippage of start date beyond 1 October 2024 will be permitted. Expenditure may be incurred prior to the start of the grant and be subsequently charged to the grant, provided that it does not precede the date of the offer letter.

Grant extensions

No slippage or grant extensions beyond exceptional circumstances in line with the Equality Act 2010 will be allowed. EPSRC will not be responsible for any cost overrun incurred during the course of this grant. The research organisation or organisations will be required to make up any shortfall from alternative sources.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

The grant holder is expected to prepare a full equality, diversity and inclusion plan for the duration of this grant to demonstrate best practice in equality, diversity and inclusion throughout the lifetime of this funding award. This must be received by the project officer within three months of the grant start date.

Naming and branding

Fellowship titles must be prefixed with ‘Turing AI Fellowship:…’. In addition to RGC 12.4 ‘publication and acknowledgement of support’ in the standard terms and conditions of grants, the fellow must make reference to the ‘Turing AI World-Leading Researcher Fellowship’ or ‘Turing AI Fellowship’ title. Additionally, UKRI funding, the UKRI logo and relevant branding must be referenced on all online or printed materials (including press releases, posters, exhibition materials and other publications) related to activities funded by this grant.

Engagement

The grant holder may be required to attend meetings, events and other joint activities at the reasonable request of the research council, where such activities are held across the cohort of individuals awarded fellowships funded under this scheme in order to share:

  • experiences
  • best practice
  • wider public engagement activities
  • research impacts and outputs

Governance

EPSRC will nominate a member of UKRI staff (‘the project officer’) who will be your primary point of contact. The project officer will ensure that the project is being run in accordance with the terms and conditions and in line with financial due diligence. As funding administrators, all UKRI staff have agreed to maintain the confidentiality required by all parties involved in EPSRC-funded research.

Monitoring and reporting

In addition to the requirements set out RGC 7.4.3 in the standard terms and conditions of grants, the grant holder is responsible for providing regular progress reports and monitoring data (financial and non-financial) when requested by UKRI. UKRI expects that the frequency of financial returns will be twice a year but reserves the right to request returns more or less often as appropriate to respond to changes in business needs. A template and guidance to complete this will be provided by UKRI in due course.

EPSRC reserves the right to suspend the grant and withhold further payments if the performance metrics requested are not provided by the stated deadlines or are determined to be of an unacceptable standard by EPSRC.

Programme and project review

In addition to the requirements set out in RGC 7.4 Research Monitoring and Evaluation and 7.5 Disclosure and Inspection in the standard terms and conditions of grants, EPSRC reserves the right to instigate a review of all or part of the grant at any stage during the lifetime of the award as well as after the grant has finished.

Grant holders will be required to submit documentation and engage with those conducting any reviews. EPSRC will give the grant holder due notice of the date of any review and will provide details of the terms of reference and documentation required. An unsatisfactory outcome of a grant review may result in a reduction or termination of the grant funding.

Expenditure

At the start of the grant, the financial spend profile will be agreed by UKRI. In addition to any reporting requirements set out in ‘monitoring and reporting’, the grant holder must immediately notify the UKRI project officer or officers in writing of any accumulation, slippage or variation in expenditure greater than 5% of the annual profiled funding.
Any such changes must be approved in writing by UKRI. Approval should not be assumed and will be dependent on spend across all associated grants. We reserve the right to re-profile the grant if required.

Any deviation from the agreed allocation of funding and profiled costs must be negotiated and approved through written consent by UKRI. The approval of profile changes should not be assumed and will be dependent on spend across all associated grants. At the end of the grant period, a breakdown of the expenditure should be submitted along with the final expenditure statement.

Research disruption due to COVID-19

We recognise that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused major interruptions and disruptions across our communities. We are committed to ensuring that individual applicants and their wider team, including partners and networks, are not penalised for any disruption to their career, such as:

  • breaks and delays
  • disruptive working patterns and conditions
  • the loss of ongoing work
  • role changes that may have been caused by the pandemic

Reviewers and panel members will be advised to consider the unequal impacts that COVID-19 related disruption might have had on the capability to deliver and career development of those individuals included in the application. They will be asked to consider the capability of the applicant and their wider team to deliver the research they are proposing.

Where disruptions have occurred, you can highlight this within your application if you wish, but there is no requirement to detail the specific circumstances that caused the disruption.

Supporting documents

Equality impact assessment (PDF, 138KB)

Turing AI World-Leading Researcher Fellowships: previous round three guidance (PDF, 222KB)

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