We are looking to support individuals with a high international standing who can make an impact on the UK AI research and innovation landscape by recruiting top talent to the UK, or by retaining leaders currently located in the UK.
With these substantial awards, fellows will seek to build new AI capability and capacity in the UK.
Fellows 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. We will not accept projects that seek to apply current AI methodologies to an application area.
Alongside undertaking world-leading research, fellows will be expected to develop their position of leadership in the national and international research community, as well as their host organisation.
Through their leadership, fellows will be expected to engage with, influence, and advocate for the strategic direction of the UK’s AI ecosystem.
Fellows should also initiate, grow, and maintain strong relationships and collaborations with stakeholders in the UK and internationally. Through these, fellows should look to facilitate a positive impact on the wider research landscape.
It is expected that fellows will:
- use the significant support package to establish around them a highly skilled and potentially multidisciplinary research team, and lead a major programme which builds new capability and capacity in AI
- 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
- develop the skills and careers of their teams, growing 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
- 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 (PDF, 5.6MB) and the UK’s National AI Strategy.
Up to £12 million is available to fund a small number of sizable awards (£3 million to £5 million) for up to five years. Awards must start by 1 October 2024. UKRI will fund 80% of the full economic cost.
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
- other standard research grant costs
Fellows are expected to build highly skilled interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary teams where appropriate. Resources may be used for:
- research expenses including:
- research technical support including:
- research software engineers
- postdoctoral research assistants (PDRA)
- fellow salaries
- data scientists
- other standard expenses
Relocation costs are also permitted for international applicants, and up to £100,000 may be requested to set up your 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.
Find out about cost you can apply for.
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 fellows will commit 100% of their contracted time, full-time equivalent (FTE), 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 fellow’s main identity.
Fellows may start their award with less than 50% FTE but should increase their 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 fellows will have developed their portfolio beyond the fellowship and should therefore have a maximum of 50% FTE to enable broader portfolio development. With this in mind, fellows should design an appropriate time commitment over the duration of the award to deliver their research vision.
For applicants who 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 the fellow 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.
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.
Please note: 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.
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.
You should detail clear plans for engaging with new and existing collaborators over the duration of the fellowship 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.
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
- 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 studentship or studentships. You should clearly explain the benefit to the student or students 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.
The fellow is expected to have completed any supervisor training required to be familiar with supervising within a UK higher education institution, before students start their studies. Where the fellow 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.
Fellows should ensure that they 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.
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 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
UKRI publish their national minimum doctoral stipend and indicative fee level on an annual basis. Find out about getting a studentship to fund your doctorate.
Future fee and stipend levels are yet to be agreed, but for reference 2022 to 2023 details are as follows:
UKRI doctoral stipend levels and indicative fees for 2022 to 2023:
- national minimum doctoral stipend for 2022 to 2023 is £16,062
- UKRI indicative fee level for 2022 to 2023 is £4,596
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, etc. 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.
Fellowships are a personal award; however, fellows can name co-investigators on their application. It is expected that the expertise of the co-investigators should complement that of the fellow’s, and should add value to the fellow’s research vision.
The fellow 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 the fellow’s vision. The inclusion of any co-investigators should be clearly justified.
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. 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.
For the expression of interest stage: equipment costs should be included in the ‘exceptions’ costing field in the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system. This should be the 50% contribution requested from EPSRC. This should also be noted in the justification of resources. For example, if the total cost of equipment on a proposal is £100,000 you should include £50,000 in the exceptions costs and note both the total equipment cost and the 50% EPSRC contribution requested in the justification of resources.
Find out about EPSRC’s approach to equipment funding.
Guidance for the host organisation
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
- how they anticipate the fellow will enable them to deliver their strategy
Due to the strategic nature of these awards, it is not anticipated that host organisations will submit more than two applications. Host organisations wishing to submit more than two applications should discuss this with EPSRC early in the candidate selection process.
Within their host organisation statement, the host organisation is expected to set out the strategic reasons for wanting to recruit or 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.
Support for fellows
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.
For further information see: obligations of the research organisation
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. We encourage host organisations to actively use an inclusive approach to selecting and maximising the diversity of the candidates they intend to support.
Likewise, fellows will be expected to actively consider diversity and use an inclusive approach in the recruitment of their teams. UKRI expects that diversity is considered broadly to include backgrounds, career paths, thought, 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 equality, diversity and inclusion.
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.
Fellows will be required to embed principles of responsible innovation and those of trusted research throughout their activities. They 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.
Applicants planning to include international collaborators on their proposal should visit Trusted Research for guidance on getting the most out of international collaboration while protecting intellectual property, sensitive research and personal information.