Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: UK future internet NetworkPlus: outline

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Apply for funding for a UK future internet NetworkPlus which brings together the research community, policymakers and wider stakeholders to make the UK an active leader in the development of the internet and an intelligent customer of internet technologies in the 2030s and 2040s.

You must be based at a UK research organisation eligible for UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) funding.

The full economic cost (FEC) of your project can be up to £6,500,000. UKRI will fund 80% of the FEC.

Awards will start by 1 July 2025 for three years and nine months.

Who can apply

Before applying for funding, check the Eligibility of your organisation.

This opportunity is being managed by Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) on behalf of UKRI and EPSRC standard eligibility rules apply. For full details, visit EPSRC’s eligibility page. This does not restrict the home discipline or areas of expertise of the applicants.

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

For full details, visit Eligibility as an individual.

Who is eligible to apply

This is a UKRI-wide funding opportunity. UKRI would like to encourage multidisciplinary and multi-institution teams to apply. Your application should demonstrate that the team combines different areas of expertise and experience as relevant to lead the UK future internet NetworkPlus and achieve the expected outcomes.

Individuals based in non-UK countries can be involved in the grant as visiting researchers, project partners, or members of advisory boards. However, they are not eligible to be project leads or co-leads, with the exception of individuals based at Norwegian institutions, who are eligible to be co-leads.

A maximum of one project lead and seven project co-leads is permitted for each application. All project co-leads must make a significant contribution to the conduct of the project.

Who is not eligible to apply

You may be a named applicant in no more than one application submitted to this funding opportunity. Being a named applicant in this sense refers only to being named as project lead or project co-lead in an application.

International applicants

Under the UKRI and Research Council of Norway Money Follows Cooperation agreement a project co-lead (international) (previously co-investigator) can be based in a Norwegian institution.


We will not accept uninvited resubmissions of projects that have been submitted to UKRI or any other funder.

Find out more about EPSRC’s resubmissions policy and ESRC’s resubmissions policy.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

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

We support people to work in a way that suits their personal circumstances. This includes:

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

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

What we're looking for


This opportunity falls under UKRI’s Creating Opportunities, Improving Outcomes strategic theme, which seeks to improve outcomes for people and places across the UK by identifying solutions that promote economic and social prosperity. The theme particularly targets economic growth and innovation, health inequalities and community connectedness.

The opportunity is part of the Future of the Internet initiative, whose vision is to support a future internet that works for all across the UK and globally, is pro-prosperity, secure and resilient, globally governed, scalable and robust, and supports democratic, open societies and the public.

Together with international partners, the UK recently endorsed the Declaration for the Future of the Internet (PDF, 66KB), committing to promote an open, interoperable, reliable and secure internet, operating as a single decentralised network of networks.

Understanding what the internet will look like in the 2030s or 2040s is challenging, but it is inevitable that internet technologies and the way we interact with them will change significantly as new products are developed, new communities are connected, and societal needs and geopolitical drivers evolve.

The Future of the Internet will be influenced by the decisions made by policymakers and businesses today. The UK therefore needs to understand and help to shape these changes, to ensure that the future internet will meet the needs of people across the UK, operate in a way that is consistent with our values, and avoid perpetuating the shortcomings of the present internet, for example, vulnerable wiring, patchy connectivity, digital exclusion, misinformation and online harms. We need to consider what we want from the future internet, and how we can realise this vision.

Through this Future of the Internet initiative, UKRI aims to bring to bear the potential contribution of the academic research community, across multiple disciplines, to give the UK a world-class understanding of future internet possibilities, based on a realistic understanding of what is within our control, and leading to well-considered options to inform policy-makers.

This initiative aims to establish new horizon-scanning capability and support science and technology priority development, establishing the UK as a leader, realising social and economic benefit, and protecting our future national interests. It seeks to support UK policymakers and other users to shape the future internet, acknowledging that the internet is an increasingly important platform for society globally. The initiative therefore will align with and support the priority actions identified in the Integrated Review 2021 (PDF, 12MB), as well as Pillar 1 of the Integrated Review Refresh 2023 (PDF, 11MB), or subsequent policies and strategies as relevant.

This funding opportunity will fund one NetworkPlus, which will be responsible for creating a visible, collaborative and interdisciplinary UK Future of the Internet research community, providing a ‘front door’ for effective connection across academia, the UK security community, government, regulators and industry, and across the UK, and enabling effective response to need and challenges between parties.

The NetworkPlus will work with UKRI and other government partners to develop an understanding of the future internet landscape and a strategy for addressing the most relevant and timely research challenges in supporting the UK’s desired future relationship with the global future Internet. This will help to inform possible future investments in support of the broader aims of the initiative, as detailed in the Additional Information section. It will also help to inform the UK future internet stakeholder community more broadly.


The UK future internet NetworkPlus will bring together the research community, policy makers and wider stakeholders to enable the UK to be an active leader in the development of the internet and an intelligent customer of internet technologies in the 2030s and 2040s. It must take a strategic and forward-looking approach, in line with UKRI’s mission to convene, catalyse and invest in close collaboration with others to build a thriving, inclusive research and innovation system that connects discovery to prosperity and public good.

This funding opportunity seeks to improve outcomes for people and places across the UK. Where we refer to government or policymakers, this should be taken to include government or policymakers at the national level, as well as those in devolved administrations, regions and local authorities.

We expect the NetworkPlus to address the following objectives:

  • develop a visible, collaborative, inclusive, diverse and interdisciplinary UK Future of the Internet research community, drawing on the wealth of existing expertise and providing effective connection, communication, engagement and knowledge exchange across academia, the UK security community, government, regulators and industry
  • develop a cutting-edge understanding of the challenges and opportunities posed for the UK by evolving internet technologies and their sociotechnical implications and drivers, through consultation, understanding the international context and developing strategic foresight
  • inform UKRI’s research strategy in the area of future internet, through collaborative thought leadership and the development of ideas with stakeholders, with the aim of supporting policymakers to create a positive future for the UK
  • engage with a small number of specific places in the UK as case studies in place-based considerations for the future internet, to the mutual benefit of these places and the academic community, and to draw out learnings that may be transferable to other places

These begin to address the longer-term objectives for the Future of the Internet initiative, which are detailed under Additional Information.

Initial Future of the Internet challenge areas

For the purpose of this initiative, we are taking a broad view of the definition of the future internet, encompassing a connected network of future devices and technologies, its associated applications and services and their intersection and interaction with society.

The successful leadership team are expected to lead a process of establishing priority areas where the most value can be added to the UK Future of the Internet ecosystem, and where the UK can have the most meaningful impact, in the international context. UKRI and government stakeholders have identified the following initial set of challenge areas for further exploration during the initiative. It is expected that each strand is addressed by the NetworkPlus, although the emphasis may vary. The intersections and synergies between these areas should also be explored. The initial challenge areas are:

  • standards and regulation for the future internet and the UK’s influence on global standards development, principles such as openness and decentralisation, addressing risks of fragmentation, and promoting the resilience of the future internet
  • security in the future internet for people, prosperity, democracy and freedoms, for example, mitigation of threats posed by states, terrorism, radicalisation, disinformation, cybercrime and serious and organised crime
  • international, geopolitical and diplomatic aspects relating to future internet, including national security; governance, law and worldviews, as well as the UK’s relationship with the Global South in the context of the development of the future internet
  • future internet technologies such as integrated or interoperable wired, wireless and satellite network infrastructure (and networks of networks), decentralised technologies and Internet of Things, software, and protocols
  • people-centred considerations such as future internet access and accessibility, inclusivity, personal control and agency, identity, security, and safety
  • realising a society-driven internet, including values, norms and ethics and public digital literacy
  • productivity and economic value for the UK in the future internet, including the needs of people in different places

The NetworkPlus may also consider evolving areas intrinsically connected to the future internet, such as internet-based AI and implications of AI for the internet, quantum internet technologies, net zero for the internet, immersive technologies, human augmentation, skills, and Intellectual Property.


The NetworkPlus is expected to build and support a community of academic and non-academic stakeholders, support collaboration, networking, horizon-scanning, identification of key research challenges, and generation of new ideas, and help the community to navigate government strategies and inform the development of future strategy in this area. The NetworkPlus team should evaluate its work as it progresses, carry out continuous learning, be agile in its activities and adapt according to feedback.

The NetworkPlus must:

  • engage widely and be inclusive, which includes:
    • engaging with and drawing on relevant parts of UKRI’s communities, existing strategic investments, those who developed unsuccessful bids to this opportunity, and, where relevant, other investments under the UKRI Creating Opportunities, Improving Outcomes strategic theme
    • working with research expertise from the UK Defence and National Security community and other government bodies
    • undertaking a significant and interactive communications and engagement programme, including events such as conferences, roundtables and showcases, as well as creative and innovative engagement mechanisms
    • developing a high-quality evidence base platform (for example, a website) to communicate and disseminate information to the academic and broader UK Future of the Internet community
    • developing a considered approach to public engagement and promoting national dialogue on the subject of the future internet
    • engaging and including Early Career Researchers (ECRs), for example by inclusion on the management team, or by provision of opportunities which particularly benefit ECRs
  • identify and address challenges and opportunities, which includes:
    • promoting knowledge exchange between academia and government, industry and other stakeholders through placements, secondments, fellowship opportunities or innovative mechanisms
    • identifying research priorities and supporting the academic community to engage with these priorities to deliver research which targets critical future internet challenges, and translating academic research and expertise for a user audience
    • developing and running small funding opportunities, via sandpits or open funding opportunities, to support high-risk projects, collaborative projects, feasibility studies (academic or addressing government or industry challenges), knowledge exchange or impact acceleration activities
  • support UKRI’s research strategy and government strategy, which includes:
    • making it easier for users to understand and access the breadth of existing and emerging evidence and expertise, to inform policy and support UK leadership in the future internet
    • embedding strategic foresight for the future internet into its vision and activities
    • collaborating with policymakers and regulators to consider likely futures and threats, envisage multiple scenarios, consider what futures are desirable for the UK, what levers the UK has or could have, and how they could or should be used
    • developing a clear strategic vision and a framework to deliver UK thought leadership in internet governance, security, standards development and potential for economic prosperity from the future internet
    • building relationships with overseas centres and institutes sharing similar objectives, employing best practice approaches in trusted research
    • embedding throughout the programme of work consideration of responsible research and innovation, including environmental sustainability, trusted research, and equality, diversity, and inclusion
  • engage with different places in the UK, which includes:
    • incorporating a local, regional, devolved administration and national lens in its activities to identify solutions that promote economic, social and cultural prosperity
    • engaging with a number of specific places in the UK to develop ’case studies’ in how the academic community can work with specific places in the area of future internet

This list is not exhaustive.

Structure of the NetworkPlus

The NetworkPlus should deliver a preliminary consultation and community-building phase of up to a year, to ensure that its programme of activities delivers a high degree of added value in priority areas for the UK. As part of this initial phase, the NetworkPlus should:

  • engage with a wide range of existing strategic investments, those who developed unsuccessful bids to this opportunity, and the broader research community, including to establish where this new investment can add the most value to the existing ecosystem
  • build effective relationships with a range of relevant policymakers, and draw on these for the design of the programme of activities
  • undertake a review of strategic documents
  • agree with UKRI a governance structure, monitoring and evaluation framework, and terms of reference for the NetworkPlus.
  • develop and publish (and maintain throughout the project) a set of thought leadership documents, drawing on expertise from relevant academic disciplines and dialogue with government stakeholders, to include:
    • a roadmap for how UK academia, with partners, can inform and help catalyse a clear vision for the UK’s desired Future of the Internet
    • a landscape map of the UK research and innovation landscape for the Future of the Internet

UKRI has supported three workshops as an initial scoping and community-building phase of the initiative. Outputs of these workshops may include contributions to these proposed thought leadership documents. The successful team will be expected to draw on and take forward these outputs.

It is expected that funds will be made available at points during the lifetime of the NetworkPlus for the commissioning of additional activities, where the need for these activities is identified by the NetworkPlus and agreed with UKRI. The NetworkPlus team should be prepared to work with UKRI and government stakeholders to identify and pursue these opportunities.

Place-based case studies

The NetworkPlus is expected to identify places within the UK which are particularly open to engaging with the academic community on the UK future internet NetworkPlus developing areas of interest, and which would particularly benefit from this engagement. The NetworkPlus team should engage with between two and four of these places as ‘case studies’, supporting a dialogue with the academic community which facilitates the sharing of each place’s research and evidence needs and assisting each place to access academic expertise. This work should be of mutual benefit to the selected places and to the academic community, and learnings for further engagement on the subject of future internet in other places should be drawn out of these ‘case studies’. These places may be at any level within the UK, they could include, for example, a city, a devolved administration, a town, a region, or a geographic category (urban, rural, or coastal).

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


The duration of this award is three years and nine months.

Projects must start by 1 July 2025.

Funding available

The FEC of your project as calculated at proposal stage can be up to £6,500,000.

UKRI will fund 80% of the FEC. Our contribution may be up to £5.2 million prior to indexation.

What we will fund

Project lead and co-leads’ salaries

These should be requested under the directly allocated cost heading.

The project lead and up to seven co-leads can request funds to cover their salary costs for the time spent on setting up and leading the NetworkPlus.

The following can be requested under the Directly Incurred cost heading.

Flexible Funds

Conducting research projects is outside of the NetworkPlus scope. However, flexible funding should be used to award small grants for work within the remit of UKRI. We particularly encourage the award of small grants aimed at developing the research of early career researchers. The expectation is that some of these small projects will lead to applications for further support from appropriate funding bodies. These funds must be distributed externally to the grant.

Flexible funds can be allocated to researchers at any organisation currently eligible for UKRI funding. You will need to think carefully about how any budget for external distribution will be commissioned through a robust peer review process, and how you will ensure processes for the allocation of funds are fair and transparent within the framework of the UKRI principles of assessment and decision making.

Please note that any activities commissioned by the NetworkPlus using the flexible funds will be restricted to UKRI current research organisation eligibility but will not be bound by standard Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) investigator eligibility criterion. It is the project lead’s responsibility to ensure ongoing governance to ensure correct usage and accountability of the funds (including carrying out trusted research checks where appropriate). We would expect some examples of the types of projects at the application stage, but the research challenges are expected to evolve throughout the NetworkPlus lifetime and should be co-created and collaborative in nature. The funded projects should be expected to engage with the wider programme of activity and report their progress and outcomes to the grant holder. These outcomes should be reported as part of the wider NetworkPlus programme reporting.

Flexible funds may not be used for studentships or the kind of student costs that would be funded through a training grant.

These funds must be reported on the final expenditure statement (FES) as awarded on the offer letter and a breakdown of the expenditure must be submitted along with the FES. Flexible funds are funded at 80% FEC by UKRI.

Travel and subsistence

Travel and subsistence enabling members of the NetworkPlus to meet to exchange ideas and expertise. This may include:

  • travel within the UK
  • visits by or to experts overseas, subject to trusted research considerations
  • travel and subsistence costs to support secondments

Where possible collaborators should meet their own travel costs.

Staff, including administrative support

Staff may be costed to carry out the activities of the NetworkPlus, including engagement, and horizon scanning activities to meet the aims and objectives of the NetworkPlus.

A sufficient level of administrative support should be requested to ensure the coordination, management, and smooth running of the NetworkPlus.

You are expected to employ a dedicated grant manager as a core member of the team, with relevant experience and costed at the appropriate grade.

Reasonable costs for monitoring and dissemination of the network’s output can also be included.


Equipment over £10,000 is not available through this funding opportunity. We will not be funding laboratory or research equipment for this funding opportunity. We will only support equipment to facilitate communication, networking and events. We welcome innovative and creative thought.

Project Partners

Project partners are expected to provide contributions to the delivery of the project and should not therefore be seeking to claim funds from UKRI. However, where there are specific circumstances where project partners do require funding for minor costs such as travel and subsistence, this will usually be paid at 80% FEC. These costs should be outlined and fully justified in the proposal and will be subject to peer review.

Where the project needs work to be undertaken that is more significant and includes costs other than travel and subsistence, then the project partner may also need to be included as a subcontractor. Any subcontracting costs must be fully justified and will be subject to peer review, as well as the procurement rules of the host organisation.

Other activities

Funding can also be requested for:

  • activities to identify and disseminate key research challenges in the area, such as horizon-scanning studies
  • activities to generate new research projects in the area, such as sandpits
  • activities to facilitate impact and advance policy, such as reports, websites and briefings
  • secondment support, including scoping of potential opportunities, travel and subsistence, and other appropriate costs
  • activities to support career development and training
  • activities such as networking events to connect users, industry and other stakeholders with the research base
  • communication costs and for additional equipment such as personal computers and web servers
  • equipment to support networking, events and communication
  • expert working groups or problem-solving workshops
  • lectures and seminars
  • other projects as appropriate for the NetworkPlus, and to allow the NetworkPlus to meet the expectations set out above

What we will not fund


Funds cannot be requested to support the NetworkPlus to carry out research-related activities itself. These should be sought through the normal mechanisms or commissioned via open competition using flexible funds.


Equipment over £10,000 is not available through this funding opportunity. We will not be funding laboratory or research equipment for this funding opportunity.

Supporting skills and talent

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

Trusted Research and Innovation (TR&I)

UKRI is committed in ensuring that effective international collaboration in research and innovation takes place with integrity and within strong ethical frameworks. Trusted Research and Innovation (TR&I) is a UKRI work programme designed to help protect all those working in our thriving and collaborative international sector by enabling partnerships to be as open as possible, and as secure as necessary. Our TR&I Principles set out UKRI’s expectations of organisations funded by UKRI in relation to due diligence for international collaboration.

As such, applicants for UKRI funding may be asked to demonstrate how their proposed projects will comply with our approach and expectation towards TR&I, identifying potential risks and the relevant controls you will put in place to help proportionately reduce these risks.

Further guidance and information about TR&I, including where you can find additional support, can be found on UKRI’s website.

You may seek advice from the Research Collaboration Advice Team (RCAT), which provides research institutions with a first point of contact for official advice about national security risks linked to international research.

You should be aware of the National Security and Investment Act 2021, and where this may relate to outputs from your NetworkPlus.

Find out about getting funding for international collaboration.

Additional Conditions

The NetworkPlus funding will be subject to the following additional conditions, in addition to our standard terms.

Community network expectations

This grant is awarded on the understanding that, the project will undertake a wider networking role with the research and user community outside its membership. This may involve coordination of activities such as meetings, workshops or seminars on behalf of UKRI. A dedicated website must be set up within six months of the start of the grant and regularly maintained to provide a resource for engagement with the wider community.

This grant is expected to further develop the network including its academic and user (for example policy, business, NGO) membership throughout the period of funding in order to maximise its impact on a wide range of disciplines. As part of the grant, networks must identify ambitious ‘real-world’ challenges, which require a multidisciplinary approach and will form an agenda for future research in the area.

User engagement strategy

You must develop and execute a strategy for engaging with potential users of the research funded in the project. This strategy should be reviewed and updated regularly as part of the formal management and reporting process agreed for this grant.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

In addition to RGC 3.4, you are 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 recorded through the grant reporting process.

Project officer appointment

We will nominate a member of our staff (the project officer) who will be your primary point of contact. The project officer will ensure that the project is delivering the expected outputs and outcomes, is being run in accordance with the terms and conditions, and in line with financial due diligence. The project officer(s) should have access to all documentation of governance and reporting bodies, in so far as it relates to the administration and application of the grant. As funding administrators, all UKRI staff have agreed to maintain the confidentiality required by all parties involved in our funded research.

Advisory board appointment

This grant must establish and run an independent advisory board, or equivalent body, to oversee the running of the project and provide advice on the strategic direction and activities of the project. The terms of reference and membership of this group (at least 50% independent membership and an independent chair) should be agreed with us. The project officer should be invited to and may wish to attend and participate in advisory board and other appropriate meetings for the duration of the grant.

Flexible funds

Notwithstanding standard grant condition RGC 4.4, the sum awarded under the heading of ‘Flexible funds’ can include both directly incurred and directly allocated expenditure. These funds must be reported on the final expenditure statement (FES) as awarded on the offer letter and a breakdown of the expenditure must be submitted along with the FES. If a breakdown of this expenditure is not received the final expenditure statements will be returned. Standard grant conditions apply to all other funds awarded on this grant.

Publicity and branding

In addition to RGC 12.4 Publication and acknowledgement of support, you must make reference to UKRI funding and include the UKRI logo and relevant branding on all online or printed materials (including presentations, the website, press releases, posters, exhibition materials and other publications) related to activities funded by this grant.

Progress reports

In addition to the requirements set out in RGC 7.4.3, you are responsible for providing progress reports against non-financial performance metrics. A detailed list of performance metrics and instructions for reporting will be agreed with the grant holder upon commencement of the grant.

Management structure

You should have established an appropriate management structure with clear lines of responsibility and authority to oversee the day-to-day running of the project. This should be in place within six months of the start date of the grant. The terms of reference and management structure, including the director, co-director and senior investigators, must be approved by us in advance. As must any changes to this structure. The project officer will be our main contact with the project and must receive all meeting minutes of the management committees. We reserve the right to attend any meetings.

Management resourcing

Adequate resourcing to support an appropriate management structure, as specified in the funding opportunity documentation, should be costed within the grant. This includes employing a grant or programme manager on the grant.

It is likely that a further condition will be added which will require the NetworkPlus to engage with UKRI throughout the lifetime of the grant.

How to apply

We are running this funding opportunity on the new UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Funding Service so please ensure that your organisation is registered. You cannot apply on the Joint Electronic Submissions (Je-S) system.

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

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

To apply

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

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

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

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

Watch our research office webinars about the new Funding Service.

For more guidance on the Funding Service, see:


Applications should be self-contained, and hyperlinks should only be used to provide links directly to reference information. To ensure the information’s integrity is maintained, where possible, persistent identifiers such as digital object identifiers should be used. Assessors are not required to access links to carry out assessment or recommend a funding decision. You should use your discretion when including references and prioritise those most pertinent to the application.

References should be included in the appropriate question section of the application and be easily identifiable by the assessors, for example (Smith, Research Paper, 2019).

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


UKRI must receive your application by 4:00pm UK time on 10 September 2024.

You will not be able to apply after this time.

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

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

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

UKRI will publish the outcomes of this funding opportunity online.

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

Core team

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

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

Only list one individual as project lead.

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


Word limit: 550

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

We usually make this summary publicly available on external-facing websites, therefore do not include any confidential or sensitive information. 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 your proposed work in terms of:

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

Application questions

Outline Vision

Word limit: 1,000

What are you hoping to achieve with your proposed work?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Explain how your proposed work:

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

You may demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. Further details are provided in the Funding Service.

References may be included within this section.

Outline Approach

Word limit: 1,000

How are you going to deliver your proposed work?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Explain how you have designed your approach so that it:

  • is effective and appropriate to achieve your objectives
  • has a strong focus on engagement with relevant stakeholders

You may demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. Further details are provided in the Funding Service.

References may be included within this section.

Outline Applicant and team capability to deliver

Word limit: 500

How will the application team deliver the proposed programme?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

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

  • relevant experience and skills to develop and deliver the proposed transdisciplinary programme
  • planned to identify and embed additional expertise where gaps in the team exist

The core leadership team should consist of the project lead and the project co-leads identified on the outline proposal. There will be scope to expand this team and include new collaborators on the full application and you will be able to add further detail.

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.

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

For full details, see Eligibility as an individual.

Outline costs

What are the expected costs of the proposed work?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Provide the approximate total values in GBP (£) for the expected directly incurred, directly allocated, indirect costs and exceptions.

This section is indicative only and will not be assessed at the outline stage.

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

We will assess your application using the following process.

There will be a two-stage assessment process for this funding opportunity:

  • Stage 1: outline application
  • Stage 2: full application

In the event of this opportunity being substantially oversubscribed as to be unmanageable, UKRI reserves the right to modify the assessment process.

Stage one: outline application

Applications submitted to this funding opportunity and which UKRI deems to be in scope will be considered by an expert panel in October 2024.

Any outline proposals we consider to be outside the scope of the funding opportunity will be rejected prior to assessment, without recourse to an expert panel.

The outline panel will evaluate applications against the assessment criteria given below. UKRI will then decide which proposals to invite to submit a full application based on the panel recommendation.

Please note that the vision for each NetworkPlus application must not change significantly between the outline and full application stages. The total cost must not change by more than 10% and must not exceed the maximum value allowed under this funding opportunity.

Upon completion of the outline stage, titles of applications that are invited to full application will be published online along with summary and details of the application team, including their names. We encourage the addition of further collaborators and project partners between outline and full proposal.

Assessment criteria for the outline applications

The criteria we will assess your application against are:

  • Outline Vision
  • Outline Approach
  • Outline Applicant and team capability to deliver

The Outline cost section is indicative only and will not be subject to assessment at the outline stage.

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

Stage two: full applications

Only invited applicants will be eligible to submit a full application via a separate funding opportunity.

Interview Panel

Full applications will be considered by an expert interview panel against the full opportunity assessment criteria listed below. Prior to the interview stage you will have an opportunity to respond in writing to initial written comments on your full application from the interview panel. Representatives from the applicant team will be invited to be interviewed by the panel, who will have access to your application and response to the initial panel comments. Using this information, and the interview, the panel will score your application against our assessment criteria and rank it alongside other applications.  The panel will make a funding recommendation.

We expect invited full application interviews to be held in March 2025.

UKRI will make the final funding decision.


Feedback may be given on successful outline proposals. Feedback on unsuccessful outline proposals will be provided only if specifically requested by the panel.

For full proposals considered by the expert interview panel, we will give feedback with the outcome of your application.

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.

Assessment criteria for the full proposals

The criteria we will assess invited full application against are:

  • Vision and approach
  • Applicant and team capability to deliver
  • Stakeholder engagement
  • Resources and cost justification
  • Governance, including leadership and considerations of equality, diversity and inclusion
  • Ethics and responsible research and innovation (RRI)

We reserve the right to amend these assessment criteria and further details will be provided to applicants invited to the full stage.

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

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


Phone: 01793 547490

Our phone lines are open:

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

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

For further information on submitting an application read How applicants use the Funding Service.

Sensitive information

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

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

Typical examples of confidential information include:

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

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

Additional info

Webinar for potential applicants

We held a webinar on 9 July 2024, which provided more information about the funding opportunity and a chance to ask questions.

Watch webinar recording on Zoom (passcode: E9y1S1*c).

Supporting collaboration

We expect to provide a mechanism to support collaboration and consortium-building. We will update the funding opportunity page once this is in place.


This NetworkPlus will make a significant contribution towards the broader aims of the Future of the Internet initiative. However, further funding is not confirmed and the aims of the initiative may evolve during the course of the NetworkPlus investment. The following longer-term objectives have been identified for this initiative by UKRI and government stakeholders:

  • convene researchers from disparate disciplines to address the multidisciplinary challenges, and to seize the opportunities, posed by evolving internet technologies and their sociotechnical implications and drivers at a local, national and global level
  • provide national and local policy makers, the UK Security community and industry with the research, evidence and expertise needed to inform policy and support UK leadership in the future internet
  • enable policymakers to take account of views across the UK for how the internet should evolve in a way that works across the UK, ensuring that the future internet is for everyone
  • leverage the expertise and networks within relevant existing UKRI investments and provide greater coherence across the research and innovation community in the area of future internet

Anticipated outcomes

The following are potential outcomes of the work we are commencing:

  • a visible, collaborative and interdisciplinary UK Future of the Internet research community, providing a ‘front door’ for effective connection across academia, the UK security community, government (local, regional and national) and industry, and across the UK, and enabling effective response to needs and challenges between parties
  • world-leading targeted research on critical challenges across emerging internet technologies and the internet’s sociotechnical implications and drivers, drawing on relevant parts of UKRI’s communities, and working with research expertise from the national defence and security community and other government bodies
  • a high-quality evidence base and platform for knowledge exchange between academia and local, regional and national policymakers, supporting policymakers’ access to views and evidence from across the UK
  • a framework to deliver UK thought leadership in internet governance, security, standards development and potential for economic prosperity from the future internet
  • a strengthened future internet skills base in the UK, to support local and national policymakers and the UK national security community and industry

Anticipated impacts

The potential longer-term impacts of the work we are beginning span research and innovation culture, the UK’s global reach and economic welfare, and society in the UK and worldwide. These impacts could include that:

  • building on the expertise of our world leading research base, the UK is well informed, forward thinking, and on the front foot when engaging internationally on the future of the internet
  • governments (local, regional, and national) have a clear, informed vision for a desired future of the internet
  • policymakers are well-informed and thereby empowered to shape the internet of the future to address place-based disparities and level up digital inequality across UK society and regions. Future place-based disparities and social and economic marginalisation of groups and areas related to the development of the internet are effectively mitigated
  • there is strong, effective partnership between governments (local, regional and national), regulators, industry and academia, enabling researchers to work on the most critical challenges, and enabling governments and other users to draw on a strong research base to inform policy
  • the UK is a globally respected and influential thought and skill leader participating in the development of a future internet which is a safe, secure, robust and accessible platform for the society of the future across the UK and globally and supports sustainable economic growth across the UK
  • the UK has new research-informed tools (for example, regulatory, policy) to support the internet as a platform for society, for example supporting increased trustworthiness of internet content, better digital literacy, public trust, and the ability to challenge content

Additional disability and accessibility adjustments

UKRI can offer disability and accessibility support for UKRI applicants and grant holders during the application and assessment process if required.

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 (DOCX, 110KB)


  • 18 July 2024
    Link to webinar recording added to the 'Additional info' section.
  • 2 July 2024
    Equality impact assessment document added to the 'Additional info' section.

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