Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Pre-announcement: Value of Marine Artificial Structures (ValMAS)

Apply for funding to enhance understanding of the ecological, economic and social value of marine artificial structures’ natural capital to inform decision making and policy solutions for management for all life stages.

You must be:

  • based at a UK research organisation eligible for Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) funding
  • in a role that meets the individual eligibility requirements

The programme will only award one project, which will be funded for 48 months.

This is a pre-announcement and the information may change. The full announcement will be subject to the signing of a funding agreement by the programme partners.

Who can apply

Before applying for funding, check the following:

UK Research and Innovation (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.

Project leads and project co-leads must meet our standard eligibility criteria.

Who is eligible to apply

This funding opportunity is open to research groups and individuals. We:

  • encourage multidisciplinary research and collaborations with other UK organisations
  • encourage applications from diverse groups of researchers
  • welcome applications from individuals at any career stage, subject to NERC eligibility criteria

 Who is not eligible to apply

You may be involved in no more than two applications submitted to this funding opportunity. Only one of these can be as project lead.

Project partners fund their own involvement. We will only fund minor incidental expenses, such as some travel costs, if needed for project partners.

International applicants

We do not fund overseas organisations, except for specific costs for project co-leads (previously co-investigator) from Norway and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA). Read more about this in the NERC eligibility guidance for applicants.

You should include all other international collaborators (or UK partners not based at approved organisations) as project partners. This includes organisations from the business or financial sectors.

What we're looking for

This is a pre-announcement for the £5 million Value of Marine Artificial Structures (ValMAS) research programme, which is delivered in partnership with the INSITE industry consortium and The Crown Estate.

In this decade of decommissioning there is growing pressure to make nature-positive decisions for the management of marine artificial structures (MAS) that align with wider polices to achieve nature recovery and net zero targets, under the UK Marine Strategy, Environment Improvement Plan, British Energy Security Strategy (BESS), and Scottish National Marine Plan. Policy makers require a comprehensive understanding of the value of biodiversity associated with MAS to be able to weigh-up their environmental effects, both positive and negative, over their life-stages and develop cross-cutting policies that deliver the best marine environmental outcomes from the ever-increasing numbers of MAS in UK waters.

The programme will fund one large project of around £5 million that addresses ValMAS’s three objectives, and will deliver all four of its programme outcomes.

Programme objectives

The programme objectives are to:

  • develop an enhanced understanding of the ecological relationships, trophic and biogeochemical dynamics, and pressures on marine life associated with MAS
  • apply novel marine natural capital approaches, including ecosystem service assessment and evaluation of ecosystem benefits, to understand the environmental value of MAS and the benefits and risks to nature, economy and society over their life-cycle, from deployment to decommissioning
  • accelerate the impact of robust evidence, new approaches and tools that support nature positive decision-making in decommissioning, nature recovery, and cross-industry marine management in the North Sea, including oil and gas, offshore wind, and fisheries

Programme outcomes

The outcomes of the ValMAS programme will:

  • enhance understanding of the ecological, economic, and social value of MAS natural capital, in the context of other stressors and climate change, and how to express this value using a natural capital approach to support decision making
  • demonstrate research advances in using the latest modelling techniques that integrate both empirical and conceptual data from a wide variety of sources to inform and support better understanding of ecological interactions, tropic dynamics, and provision of critical ecosystem services of MAS natural capital
  • provide a sound, accessible and user-friendly evidence base to inform decision-making and policy solutions for managing all stages of the life cycle of MAS in a nature positive way. This will include supporting new methodologies to undertake OPRED Comparative Assessments for decommissioning that utilise the value of MAS natural capital in decision making across sectors
  • enhance understanding of the natural capital value of MAS to other sectors (for example, fisheries, conservation, offshore renewables including cabling), and the role they may have to play in the net zero energy transition and meeting outcomes around marine net gain, environmental recovery targets, or nature positive operation

How to apply

Full guidance on how to apply will be published when funding opportunity is released.

How we will assess your application

The assessment of applications will be a two-stage process:

  • outline application stage
  • full application stage

Outline applications will be assessed and shortlisted by an assessment panel. Shortlisted applicants will subsequently be invited to submit applications to the full application stage.

Contact details

Ask about this funding opportunity


Enquiries can be sent to this email. However, we will not be able to provide additional information about this funding opportunity in advance of its publication.

Additional info

Research applications are expected to build on relevant research carried out in the following programmes:

  • Influence of man-made structures in the ecosystem (INSITE)
  • Sustainable Management of Marine Resources (SMMR)
  • Ecological Consequences of Offshore Wind (ECOWind)
  • Ecological Consequences of Floating Offshore Wind (ECOFlow)
  • Marine Natural Capital and Ecosystem Assessment (mNCEA)
  • The Crown Estate’s Offshore Wind Evidence and Change programme (OWEC)

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