Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Pre-announcement: UKRI cross research council responsive mode pilot scheme: round 2

Apply for funding for breakthrough or disruptive interdisciplinary ideas that transcend, combine or significantly span disciplines that are not routinely funded through existing UKRI responsive mode schemes.

Awards will be potentially transformative for the participating disciplines or lead to the creation of new disciplines.

Project leads must be based at a UK research organisation eligible for UKRI research council funding.

The full economic cost (FEC) of your project can be up to £1.2 million, for up to two years. UKRI will fund 80% of the FEC.

This is a pre-announcement and the information may change. The funding opportunity is expected to open on 2 September 2024. Due to high demand in round 1, we have introduced institutional caps on the number of applications that can be submitted to round 2. See the ‘What we are looking for’ section for guidance.

Who can apply

Organisation eligibility

Research grants are open to UK organisations normally eligible for funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) research councils, including:

  • UK higher education providers
  • research council institutes
  • UKRI approved independent research organisations (IROs)
  • public sector research establishments (PSREs)

For full details, visit Eligibility of your organisation. If you are unsure, please contact the Interdisciplinary Responsive Mode (IRM) team at ukrirm@ukri.org for advice.

Organisations not eligible to apply

The following organisations are not eligible to apply to this scheme:

  • research and technology organisations unless they are listed as eligible
  • non-academic organisations, such as businesses, charities or other third-sector organisations that are not UKRI approved IROs or PSREs. These organisations can contribute as project partners. For more information see ‘Collaborators’ section below

Current co-funding arrangements via international lead agency agreements with individual research councils, do not apply to this pilot funding opportunity.

UKRI will make minimal checks on eligibility at the outline submission stage of this scheme (lead organisation only). It is the responsibility of the UK lead research organisation to check eligibility of all collaborating organisations (UK and international) and the eligibility of individuals for their proposed roles. Applications submitted with ineligible applicants could be at risk of being rejected at the full stage.

Person eligibility and grant roles

You can apply as an individual or team, from a single organisation or across a number of organisations. For teams with multiple organisations involved, the organisation of the project lead should submit the application, and it will count towards that lead organisation’s allocation of applications that they are permitted to submit (see the ‘What we are looking for’ section for further details).

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 and guidance on role eligibility, responsibilities and costings. For specific eligibility rules for this scheme, refer to the CRCRM round 2 – Guidance for applicants and research organisations document.

You may be involved in any number of applications provided you have the capacity to meet these commitments. You may be the project lead on only one application to this round of the pilot scheme.

International applicants

This funding opportunity is primarily to support interdisciplinary ideas emerging from the UK research community, but in specific circumstances we will allow international project co-leads.

A project co-lead (international) is an individual employed by a research organisation (RO) in an overseas country, who would otherwise fit the normal definition for a project co-lead. That is, they are a member of the project leadership and management team. However, a project co-lead (international) cannot take over the leadership of a project as they do not meet the residency criteria for a project lead.

To be a project co-lead (international):

  • you would be expected to make a significant intellectual contribution to the design and conduct of the project
  • your contribution and added value to the research collaboration should be clearly explained and justified in the application

The international RO would be expected to meet the general equivalent requirements for being eligible to receive UKRI funding taking into account the national context of the international RO. This means the international RO should meet the relevant equivalent criteria specified in the guidance applicable for:

  • registered higher education institutions (HEIs)
  • research institutes receiving long term investments through relevant national funders
  • independent research organisations with existing in-house capacity to carry out and lead research, including but not limited to approved charitable or non-governmental organisations (NGOs)

Further information on the eligibility criteria for international research organisations is provided in the CRCRM round 2 – Guidance for applicants and research organisations document and in the UKRI project co-lead (international) policy and guidance.

The UK research organisation which hosts the project lead will be responsible for the due diligence and confirming that the international research organisation and project co-lead meets the eligibility criteria.

Collaborators

Project partners

A project partner is defined as a third-party person or organisation (including international or non-academic collaborations) who provides specific contributions to the team and project.

Organisations that are applicants on the project, including any named applicants’ organisations, cannot also be a project partner. UKRI Head Office Staff acting in their capacity as a UKRI employee are not eligible to be project partners.

Project partners are expected to provide contributions to the delivery of the project, either in cash or in kind, and should not therefore be seeking to claim funds from UKRI. However, where there are specific circumstances where project partners require funding for minor directly incurred costs such as travel and subsistence. These costs will need to be outlined and fully justified in your full application and will be subject to peer review.

Project subcontractor

A project subcontractor is defined as a third-party individual who is not employed as staff on the grant, who is subcontracted by a participating organisation to deliver a specific piece of work. Subcontractors will be allowed in line with UKRI terms and conditions for research grants.

Collaborators entitlement to project outputs and intellectual property

Under UKRI terms and conditions for research grants you must ensure at all times that the grant funding awarded to you is compliant with the Subsidy Control Act 2022. Ensure you have obtained prior agreement from collaborators that, should you be offered funding, they will support your project. Details of how to be compliant can be found in the CRCRM round 2 – Guidance for applicants and research organisations document.

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

Scope

This pilot scheme is designed to support interdisciplinary ideas emerging from the research community outside current disciplinary boundaries. We will support projects that transcend, combine or significantly span disciplines, involving different knowledge and methodological spheres. This scheme will power innovative conceptual thinking and research, and novel methodological approaches, to ensure UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) supports a rich and diverse array of blue skies and applied research.

We know how important existing responsive mode council schemes have been in supporting research and innovation with transformative outcomes for knowledge, economy and society.

This scheme will help do the same for research that does not fit the remit of current research councils’ responsive mode schemes, helping ensure there is space for the convergence and divergence of new ideas across all fields of research.

We are piloting this scheme over two rounds of funding, allowing us to assess demand, and test and refine our processes. This is round two of the pilot scheme. Round 1 was well received by the research community with nearly 1,000 outline applications submitted. UKRI will be using what it learns from the pilot scheme to consider cross research council responsive mode (CRCRM) funding opportunities as part of future government spending review processes.

Scheme objectives

This funding is to support interdisciplinary research, including to:

  • unlock new research, new approaches or new methods that would not emerge from established disciplinary thinking
  • demonstrate reciprocal research benefits through the involvement of distinct disciplinary perspectives and spheres of knowledge
  • support breakthrough or disruptive ideas and collaborations
  • incentivise new and unexpected types of interdisciplinary research not routinely funded through existing UKRI responsive mode schemes
  • encourage speculative, early-stage and high potential interdisciplinary research proposals, embracing new concepts, techniques, or technologies

We are seeking:

  • high quality, and creative ideas that transcend, combine or significantly span research council remits
  • new, unexpected and novel projects that have the potential to lead to breakthrough ideas and collaborations
  • research that can only be addressed through interdisciplinary collaboration
  • projects combining disciplines to create new approaches to a research question, new methodologies or new ways of working
  • reciprocity across the disciplines, with the disciplines involved being changed or transformed by working together
  • projects that catalyse new interdisciplinary research through co-creation and design
  • ideas with no clear ‘lead’ UKRI research council for responsive mode funding, including applications that significantly span two or more research council remits

We are not seeking:

  • applications where there is a clear alternative research council responsive mode scheme (see below) including interdisciplinary research that fits within a single research council remit
  • projects where the programme of work appears siloed and where interdisciplinary research outcomes are limited, for example where work packages are discreet and discipline specific rather than integrating disciplinary knowledge
  • projects where there is an imbalance of the intellectual content, and some disciplines appear ‘bolted’ on

Interdisciplinary research

For the purposes of this scheme, we are using the following definition of interdisciplinary from the REF 2021 Interdisciplinary Advisory Panel final report (PDF, 510KB):

“Interdisciplinary research is understood to achieve outcomes (including new approaches) that could not be achieved within the framework of a single discipline. Interdisciplinary research features significant interaction between two or more disciplines and/or moves beyond established disciplinary foundations in applying or integrating research approaches from other disciplines.”

Multidisciplinary research is not within the scope of this scheme. Transdisciplinary research is not within scope on its own but interdisciplinary research could also be considered transdisciplinary if it involves non-academic stakeholders. We have defined these terms as follows:

  • multidisciplinary research is where researchers work independently within their disciplines and there is little or no integration of disciplines. Work packages are discrete and discipline specific rather than integrating disciplinary knowledge and can result in distinct outputs. Some disciplines are not included from the start and are not involved in the project framing or the research design. In cases like this there are clear asymmetries of leadership within the project due to the project objectives. In these cases, the project is considered as multidisciplinary
  • transdisciplinary research has various definitions but is often defined as research that transgresses boundaries between disciplinary knowledge or integrates different bodies of knowledge and actively co-creates knowledge between academic and societal partners such as policymakers or business

To support applicants and research organisations to understand what we are looking for and what we mean by interdisciplinary research in the context of this scheme, we have prepared this short video.

Existing UKRI funding mechanisms for interdisciplinary research

The existing research council responsive mode schemes remain open for a wide range of interdisciplinary research applications, both within council boundaries and across council boundaries through the Cross-Council Remit Agreement. See further information about these existing schemes and research councils’ remits.

You should consider carefully the degree to which your proposal meets the criteria set out for this scheme, or whether it could be accommodated through existing council-led responsive mode funding opportunities and submitted to a ‘lead council’ through the Cross-Council Remit Agreement. Interdisciplinary research applications that fall within a single research council boundary are ineligible for this scheme.

A small proportion of applications might be suitable for both this call and existing responsive mode schemes via the Cross-Council Remit Agreement. You must determine which scheme to make your submission to. Duplicate applications are not permitted.

Number of applications to round 2

The UKRI cross research council responsive mode scheme is highly competitive, with nearly 1,000 outline applications submitted in round 1. An increase in submissions in round 2 would exceed the assessment capacity of the Interdisciplinary Assessment College. To avoid this, and ensure that applications are assessed and administrated in a timely and effective manner, UKRI are introducing institutional caps for round 2. Organisations will be given a cap and are asked to prioritise their applications to submit within this allocation limit. The maximum number of outline applications that can be submitted per submitting lead organisation, including any round 1 outline resubmissions, and how this has been calculated is provided in the CRCRM round 2 -Guidance for applicants and research organisations document.

Inclusive selection process statement and supporting data

UKRI wishes to ensure organisations are employing good practices in identifying and prioritising applications to this scheme. As part of the selection process for submissions, lead organisations must provide a statement describing the inclusive process they used to identify and select the applications for submission. Lead organisations must also provide anonymised information on the number of prospective applicants by sex and gender, ethnicity, disability and broad interdisciplinary groupings (see CRCRM round 2 – Guidance for applicants and research organisations for more details on how the scheme groups applications into ‘interface panels’).

The Excel template (XLXS, 137KB) provided in the Additional information section for both the inclusive selection statement and anonymised diversity data must be completed and submitted to the IRM team at ukrirm@ukri.org by the opportunity deadline, 19 November 2024 4:00pm UK time. Research offices should consider how they will be selecting applications early and it is the lead organisation’s responsibility to ensure that applicants and research support staff have adequate time to work on their submissions.

Information provided will not be used in the assessment or outcome of this funding opportunity. Applications submitted by lead organisations that have not submitted their UKRI CRCRM R2 Inclusive selection statement and diversity monitoring form will be rejected prior to panel assessment.

Further details of this requirement by lead organisations, including why we are collecting this data and what to consider in the inclusive selection statement, are provided in the CRCRM round 2 – Guidance for applicants and research organisations document.

Resubmissions

If your application was unsuccessful at the outline stage of round 1 of this scheme, you can resubmit to round 2 subject to the selection of your application by the lead organisation for submission within its institutional cap on the number of applications.

For this scheme the same resubmission rules apply for applications that have been previously submitted to research council responsive mode opportunities. If your application has been unsuccessful after peer review assessment at full stage, you cannot resubmit your application to this scheme.

This means, if your application was invited through to the full stage of round 1 but was unsuccessful after panel assessment, you will not be eligible to resubmit the same application to round 2. This includes applications that met the quality threshold but were not awarded funding as part of the partial randomisation process. To be considered as a new submission, the application should overall represent a substantially different package of work, such as a different research idea, with different aims and objectives.

Duration

The duration of this award is up to two years.

Awards are expected to be offered by December 2025. A period of up to six months from the date of the award letter to the commencement of grant activity is permitted, as per standard UKRI terms and conditions.

Exceptions will be made where applications need to delay their start date to allow access to UKRI facilities. You can request to delay the start of the project up to 12 months from the date of the award letter. This will need to be requested at the outline stage and fully justified.

Funding available

The full economic cost (FEC) of your project can be between £200,000 and £1.2 million.

Exceptions to the £1.2 million cap will be allowed to enable use of specific UKRI facilities and should be requested at the outline stage and fully justified. See the section below on UKRI facilities access for further details.

UKRI will fund 80% of the FEC amount (with some exceptions, detailed in the CRCRM round 2 – Guidance for applicants and research organisations document).

UKRI will invest a total of £65m funding across two rounds of this scheme. We anticipate making around 36 awards per round.

What we will fund

Costs for UK project leads and UK co-leads can include:

  • contributions to the salary of project lead and co-leads
  • staff costs
  • equipment
  • travel and subsistence
  • other directly incurred costs, including:
    • consumables
    • access to facilities, services and resources
    • costs associated with research data management and sharing
    • NHS costs
  • estates and indirect costs

For details on what costs we will fund, please refer to the CRCRM round 2 – Guidance for applicants and research organisations document.

Changes from round 1

Accessing UKRI supported facilities and services

Applicants to this scheme can request access to UKRI supported facilities and services (DOCX, 35KB). Costs associated with facility access will be funded from the grant at 80% FEC. The research organisation will be responsible for the remaining 20%, that is facilities will be reimbursed at 100% FEC by the host organisation. For details on the rules that apply when requesting access to a UKRI facility, please refer to the CRCRM round 2 – Guidance for applicants and research organisations document.

For round 2, applicants may request by exception a delay to the grant start date to allow access to a UKRI supported facility of up to 12 months from the date of the award letter. This will need to be requested at the outline stage and fully justified. You should therefore discuss your request with facilities before the outline stage deadline to get an understanding of the facility access timelines and the estimated delay to the start date.

We will be running a webinar to inform the research community about the UKRI supported facilities available for this scheme, and to support applicants in understanding how to access them.

This will be held on 4 July 2024, at 10:00am to 11:30am UK time.

To register for this webinar, follow the link in the Additional information section. Once registered, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about how to join the webinar.

Exceptions for access to NERC large research infrastructure facilities

We recognise that having to include the high cost of some NERC large research infrastructure facilities within the £1.2 million (100% FEC) grant maximum may inhibit applications, as these facilities are normally available to environmental sciences through separate NERC budgets. For the following NERC facilities, we will allow applicants to exceed the maximum budget limit by up to £250,000 (100% FEC):

  • ship-time and marine facilities
  • polar research facilities
  • facility for Airborne Atmospheric Measurements (FAAM)

If your proposed research requires access to these facilities, you will need to contact the facility to discuss the feasibility of your project and obtain approximate costings in advance of the outline stage application submission. You will need to indicate on your outline application an estimate of any additional costs that exceed the £1.2 million budget limit or any potential delay to the start date to access these facilities and justify this. Final costings and approvals can be determined at the full stage if invited to submit. Please follow the guidance in the CRCRM round 2 – Guidance for applicants and research organisations document on who to contact, how to make a request and by when.

Equipment costs

Individual items of equipment above £10,000 (inclusive of VAT) can be included if both of the following apply:

  • the equipment is essential to the proposed research
  • no appropriate alternative provision can be accessed

UKRI will fund up to 80% of the cost of equipment.

This is an opportunity for research projects; applications focused on capital requests for research infrastructures are not eligible.

For more information about equipment costs please refer to the CRCRM round 2 – Guidance for applicants and research organisations document.

Costs for international project co-leads

For international project co-lead costs, UKRI will award funding to the UK lead organisation, this organisation will then be responsible for distributing funds to the international research organisation. Justified costs will be funded at 100% and should be included under exceptions. Estate and indirect costs are not eligible. The total costs claimed for international project co-lead contribution to a project must not exceed 30% of the overall cost of the project, calculated at 100% full economic cost.

These costs can cover:

  • directly incurred costs, such as travel and subsistence
  • research assistants (for example salary costs)
  • salary costs, only where these costs are fully justified and it can be demonstrated that the funding of salaries by grants is the standard practice of the international research organisation, and these costs cannot be covered through other sources

What we will not fund

  • fees or stipends associated with masters and PhD studentships
  • estate and indirect costs for international project co-leads
  • equipment over £10,000 (inclusive of VAT) for international project co-leads
  • publication costs. See the UKRI open access policy for further information
  • basic computing equipment for directly allocated staff already employed by the organisation, unless justified where a higher specification is required for the completion of specific grant related activities such as data modelling or enhanced graphics

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.

See further guidance and information about TR&I – including where you can find additional support.

How to apply

Webinars

The launch of the second round of the scheme is supported by a webinar for prospective applicants and professional research support staff. It will present an overview of the scheme and this opportunity, followed by a question-and-answer session. The webinar will be recorded, and a copy will be published on the opportunity Funding Finder page after the event. The following two dates are available:

  • Webinar 1: 5 September 2024 10:00am to 11:30am UK time
  • Webinar 2: 11 September 2024 2:00pm to 3:30pm UK time

To register for the webinars, follow the links in the Additional information section. Once registered, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about how to join the webinar.

Application stages

The second round of the pilot scheme comprises the following two stages, both via the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Funding Service:

  • submission of an outline application
  • invited submission of a full application

Full applications will not be accepted from any applicant who has not been invited to make a full application following the outline stage of this opportunity.

UKRI Funding Service

We are running both stages of this funding opportunity on the new Funding Service, so please ensure that your organisation is registered. You cannot apply on the Joint Electronic Submissions (Je-S) system. We will publish full details on how to apply when the funding opportunity opens.

Watch our research office webinars about the new Funding Service.

For more guidance on the Funding Service, see:

Outline application stage

The main outline stage application sections will include, but not be limited to:

  • a summary
  • core team member details
  • outline vision and approach
  • outline applicant and team capability to deliver

Further details will be available when the outline stage opportunity opens, due on 2 September 2024.

Full application stage

The full stage application questions and assessment criteria will follow the same format as the full stage of round 1. However, please note that this is a pre-announcement and UKRI reserve the right to modify the application and assessment process as the Funding Service enhances its functionality and reflecting on the evaluation of round 1 of the scheme.

Further details will be available to invited applicants when the full stage opportunity opens, due on 4 April 2025.

Deadline

The closing date for outline applications is expected to be 19 November 2024.

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

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

Personal data

Processing personal data

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.

UKRI may need to share the application and any personal information that it contains with third parties contracted by UKRI to undertake evaluation and analysis of the scheme. See more information on how personal information may be used.

Publication of outcomes

UKRI will publish the outcomes of two rounds of the CRCRM pilot on the CRCRM scheme webpages.

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

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

Applications will be assessed by the Interdisciplinary Assessment College (IAC).

The IAC members have expertise and experience in interdisciplinary working and are trained specifically for this funding opportunity. Further details about the IAC are available on the CRCRM scheme webpages.

Further details of the assessment process can be found in the CRCRM round 2 – Guidance for applicants and research organisations document.

This is a pre-announcement. Full details of the assessment process will be provided when the opportunity opens on 2 September 2024.

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.

Contact details

For questions related to this funding opportunity please contact the IRM Team at ukrirm@ukri.org

Additional info

Background

Find out more about the cross research council responsive mode (CRCRM) scheme and the Interdisciplinary Assessment College.

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.

Webinars

Access to UKRI supported facilities and services webinar

We will be holding a webinar dedicated to informing prospective applicants across the UKRI research community on UKRI-supported facilities and services on offer across the research councils (subject to approval from individual facilities by request).

This will be held on 4 July 2024 10:00am to 11:30am UK time.

Register for the UKRI supported facilities and services webinar

A recording of the webinar will be uploaded here shortly after it has been held.

CRCRM round 2 webinars

We will hold two identical webinars on 5 September 2024 and 11 September 2024 for prospective applicants. This will provide more information about the funding opportunity and a chance to ask questions.

Register for CRCRM Round 2 opportunity webinar 1: 5 September 2024 10:00am to 11:30am UK time

or

Register for CRCRM Round 2 opportunity webinar 2: 11 September 2024 2:00pm to 3:30pm UK time

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

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

CRCRM round 2 – Guidance for applicants and research organisations

CRCRM R2: Inclusive selection process statement and diversity monitoring Excel template (XLXS, 137KB)

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