Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Working with centres: advanced materials

Start application

This funding opportunity aims to support early- to mid-career materials researchers in building connections and collaborations with established UKRI research programmes. This could be to further their research through enhancing available expertise, to broaden their research horizons or help translate their research into applications.

You must be based at a UK research organisation eligible for Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) funding.

The full economic cost (FEC) of your project can be up to £312,500. EPSRC will fund 80% of the FEC.

Who can apply

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

EPSRC standard eligibility rules apply. For full details, visit EPSRC’s eligibility page.

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.

Who is eligible to apply

This funding opportunity is for early to mid-career materials researchers who are looking to further their research by connecting with established large-scale UK research programmes. What we consider as early to mid-career is broad and can span from those recently appointed to their first permanent academic position to those who hold a modest portfolio of grants and are looking to expand their network.

You should provide sufficient evidence in the ‘Applicant and team capability to deliver’ section of the application form to demonstrate that you are in the early to mid-career stage. We will not consider years post-PhD or job title as a marker of career progression, for eligibility we will consider overall funding history and portfolio. We recognise alternative career paths and value the diversity of career experiences.

Who is not eligible to apply

  • established academics who have a substantial amount of research experience and have made significant contributions to their field over an extended period of time
  • those who hold leadership positions on large EPRSC flagship grants such as:
    • The Henry Royce Institute
    • programme grants
    • research hubs
    • prosperity partnerships
    • national research facilities
    • networks
    • Strategic Priorities Fund

If you have read the guidance above and spoken to your research office and are still unsure if you are eligible to apply, please contact us for advice before submitting an application to this funding opportunity.

Assessment of appropriateness for this funding opportunity will be undertaken on a case-by-case basis, based on the individual circumstances of the applicant and their career path. Acceptance of the applicant to the funding opportunity will be judged by EPSRC before the application is peer reviewed. Panel members will not be asked or expected to comment on eligibility.

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.

Resubmissions

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.

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

Aim

This funding opportunity aims to support research projects that enable early to mid-career researchers to build new connections with established research programmes in order to further or help translate their research in advanced materials.

Scope

We are looking to fund collaborative advanced materials research projects between early to mid-career project leads and existing large scale UKRI research and development investments.

We expect applications to include one or more collaborator that provides expertise, skills or equipment that enhances or helps to translate the work of the project lead. Collaborations should provide additionality, enabling research and connections which would not otherwise be feasible.

Proposed projects should present a balance of direct research and collaborative activities; we do not intend to fund projects that focus entirely on networking.

Eligible collaborations

To be eligible for this funding opportunity, at least one collaboration should be with an existing large-scale UKRI funded project. Examples include:

  • research hubs
  • institutes
  • innovation and knowledge centres (IKCs)
  • Catapults
  • national research facilities (NRFs)

Additional collaborators such as industry partners or specialists also remain eligible and are encouraged. For example, projects could include an additional collaborator that specialises in the integration of advanced materials into design and manufacturing processes.

Within our standard eligibility requirements, collaborators can be included as either project partners or co-leads. However, the funds requested should primarily focus on supporting the research advancement of the project lead.

Research focus

Projects must look to address relevant challenges within advanced materials. For example:

  • identifying alternative materials and manufacturing technologies to deliver more circular and sustainable options that reduce the demand for critical minerals
  • developing and optimising materials with suitable electronic properties for quantum technologies
  • engineering to accelerate the creation and utilisation of materials in an environmentally sustainable and socially responsible way to support the UK towards achieving a just transition to net zero aims

Please note, the above are examples only, and do not represent an indication of priority research areas.

Further information on the key EPSRC research areas for advanced materials can be found on the EPSRC advanced materials theme page.

Projects are expected to be predominantly within the remit of EPSRC. However, considerations such as life cycle analysis, social acceptability and engaging with end users can also be included as appropriate. We also expect you to consider design, manufacture and scale-up where applicable.

You should be mindful of the need to ensure future materials are sustainable in themselves and where appropriate should consider this as part of your research.

Out of scope

Due to the significant number of opportunities elsewhere, the development of digital approaches to materials development and AI for materials research is out of scope for this funding opportunity.

Projects should primarily focus on a materials challenge. The incorporation of materials into devices or use in applications can be addressed but should not form the bulk of work proposed.

Duration

The duration of this award can be up to 24 months.

Funding available

The FEC of your project can be up to £312,500.

We will fund 80% FEC of your project.

What we will fund

The funds requested should primarily focus on supporting the research advancement of the project lead.

We will fund:

  • staff costs for the project lead and any project co-leads
  • research and technical staff
  • technical equipment and other items needed to carry out the project
  • travel and subsistence
  • activities such as workshops that transfer knowledge between stakeholders to drive impact
  • activities that consider life cycle analysis, design and manufacture, engaging with end users and social acceptability

What we will not fund

  • projects entirely focused on networking activities
  • fees or stipends for postgraduate studentships
  • international co-leads (except for those based in a Norwegian institution)

International collaboration

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

Find out about getting funding for international collaboration.

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

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 support@funding-service.ukri.org
    Please allow at least 10 working days for your organisation to be added to the Funding Service.
  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)
  • ensure files are smaller than 8MB 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:

References

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.

Deadline

We must receive your application by 4.00pm UK time on 12 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 funding opportunity.

Personal data

Processing personal data

EPSRC, as part of UKRI, will need to collect some personal information to manage your Funding Service account and the registration of your funding applications.

We will handle personal data in line with UK data protection legislation and manage it securely. For more information, including how to exercise your rights, read our privacy notice.

Publication of outcomes

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

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

Core team

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

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

Only list one individual as project lead.

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

Summary

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 collaboration or connection the project enables
  • the challenge the project addresses
  • aims and objectives
  • potential applications and benefits

Application questions

Vision and approach

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

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

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

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

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

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

What the assessors are looking for in your response

For the Vision, explain how your proposed work:

  • is of excellent quality and importance within or beyond the field(s) or area(s)
  • enables a collaboration; identify the additionality of the proposed collaboration, and what this grant would enable which would not otherwise be feasible
  • 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

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

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

Within the Approach section we also expect you to:

  • demonstrate access to the appropriate services, facilities, infrastructure, or equipment to deliver the proposed work
  • provide a project plan including milestones and timelines in the form of a Gantt chart or similar (additional one-page A4)

References may be included within this section.

Applicant and team capability to deliver

Word limit:1,650

Why are you the right individual or team to successfully deliver the proposed work?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

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

  • the relevant experience (appropriate to career stage) to deliver the proposed work; providing sufficient evidence to demonstrate that you are in the early to mid-career stage
  • the right balance of skills and expertise to cover the proposed work
  • the appropriate leadership and management skills to deliver the work and your approach to develop others
  • contributed to developing a positive research environment and wider community

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

The word count for this section is 1,650 words; 1,150 words to be used for R4RI modules (including references) and, if necessary, a further 500 words for Additions.

Use the Résumé for Research and Innovation (R4RI) format to showcase the range of relevant skills you and, if relevant, your team (project and project co-leads, researchers, technicians, specialists, partners and so on) have and how this will help deliver the proposed work. You can include individuals’ specific achievements but only choose past contributions that best evidence their ability to deliver this work.

Complete this section using the R4RI module headings listed. Use each heading once and include a response for the whole team, see the UKRI guidance on R4RI. You should consider how to balance your answer, and emphasise where appropriate the key skills each team member brings:

  • contributions to the generation of new ideas, tools, methodologies, or knowledge
  • the development of others and maintenance of effective working relationships
  • contributions to the wider research and innovation community
  • contributions to broader research or innovation users and audiences and towards wider societal benefit
Additions

Provide any further details relevant to your application. This section is optional and can be up to 500 words. You should not use it to describe additional skills, experiences, or outputs, but you can use it to describe any factors that provide context for the rest of your R4RI (for example, details of career breaks if you wish to disclose them).

Complete this as a narrative. Do not format it like a CV.

References may be included within this section.

UKRI has introduced new role types for funding opportunities being run on the new Funding Service. For full details, see Eligibility as an individual.

Project partners

Add details about any project partners’ contributions. If there are no project partners, you can indicate this on the Funding Service.

A project partner is a collaborating organisation who will have an integral role in the proposed research. This may include direct (cash) or indirect (in-kind) contributions such as expertise, staff time or use of facilities.

Add the following project partner details:

  • the organisation name and address (searchable via a drop-down list or enter the organisation’s details manually, as applicable)
  • the project partner contact name and email address
  • the type of contribution (direct or in-direct) and its monetary value

If a detail is entered incorrectly and you have saved the entry, remove the specific project partner record and re-add it with the correct information.

For audit purposes, UKRI requires formal collaboration agreements to be put in place if an award is made.

Project partners: letters (or emails) of support

Upload a single PDF containing the letters or emails of support from each partner you named in the Project Partner section. These should be uploaded in English or Welsh only.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Enter the words ‘attachment supplied’ in the text box, or if you do not have any project partners enter N/A. Each letter or email you provide should:

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

The Funding Service will provide document upload details when you apply. If you do not have any project partners, you will be able to indicate this in the Funding Service.

Ensure you have prior agreement from project partners so that, if you are offered funding, they will support your project as indicated in the Funding Service.

For audit purposes, UKRI requires formal collaboration agreements to be put in place if an award is made.

Do not provide letters of support from host and project co-leads’ research organisations.

Facilities

Word limit: 250

Does your proposed research require the support and use of a facility?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

If you will need to use a facility, follow your proposed facility’s normal access request procedures. Ensure you have prior agreement so that if you are offered funding, they will support the use of their facility on your project.

For each requested facility you will need to provide the:

  • name of facility, copied and pasted from the facility information list (DOCX, 35KB)
  • proposed usage or costs, or costs per unit where indicated on the facility information list
  • confirmation you have their agreement where required

If you will not need to use a facility, you will be able to indicate this in the Funding Service.

Resources and cost justification

Word limit: 1000

What will you need to deliver your proposed work and how much will it cost?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Justify the application’s more costly resources, in particular:

  • project staff
  • significant travel for field work or collaboration (but not regular travel between collaborating organisations or to conferences)
  • any equipment that will cost more than £10,000
  • any consumables beyond typical requirements, or that are required in exceptional quantities
  • all facilities and infrastructure costs
  • all resources that have been costed as ‘Exceptions’

Assessors are not looking for detailed costs or a line-by-line breakdown of all project resources. Overall, they want you to demonstrate how the resources you anticipate needing for your proposed work:

  • are comprehensive, appropriate, and justified
  • represent the optimal use of resources to achieve the intended outcomes
  • maximise potential outcomes and impacts

Ethics and responsible research and innovation (RRI)

Word limit: 500

What are the ethical or RRI implications and issues relating to the proposed work? If you do not think that the proposed work raises any ethical or RRI issues, explain why.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Demonstrate that you have identified and evaluated:

  • the relevant ethical or responsible research and innovation considerations
  • any direct or indirect environmental impacts of your research
  • how you will manage these considerations

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

If you are collecting or using data, identify:

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

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

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

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

We will assess your application using the following process.

Applications will be assessed by an expert panel and will not be sent for review prior to panel.

In the event of this funding opportunity being substantially oversubscribed as to be unmanageable, we reserve the right to modify the assessment process.

Panel

Prior to the panel meeting, we will invite three experts to assess the quality of your application and they will be given the opportunity to request additional information from you under all or some of the assessment criteria. You will be given two weeks to provide a response to the questions raised by the experts. The response can be a maximum of two pages.

The panel will use the information provided in your application and your response to their questions to rank your application alongside other applications; after which the panel will make a funding recommendation.

Timescale

We aim to complete the assessment process within six months of receiving 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 areas

The assessment areas we will use are:

  • Vision
  • Approach
  • Applicant and team capability to deliver
  • Resources and cost justification
  • Ethics and responsible research and innovation

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

Contact details

Get help with your application

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

Important note: The Helpdesk is committed to helping users of the UK Research and Innovation (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 materials@epsrc.ukri.org. Please include the opportunity name ‘Working with centres: advanced materials’ in the subject line of your email.

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

Email: support@funding-service.ukri.org
Phone: 01793 547490

Our phone lines are open:

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

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

For further information on submitting an application.

Sensitive information

If you or a core team member need to tell us something you wish to remain confidential, please contact tfschangeepsrc@epsrc.ukri.org

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

Typical examples of confidential information include:

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

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

Additional info

Background

Advanced materials offer novel or improved properties. While the exact definition of the term varies, it can be considered to encompass both novel materials and developments to traditional materials that improve their structural or functional properties. As such, materials research is highly pervasive in its impact and ability to contribute to socioeconomic challenges.

We support a significant portfolio of advanced materials research across the breadth and depth of our standard schemes. Through this funding opportunity, we are looking to maximise the impact of these activities by enabling advanced materials researchers to establish connections within the UK’s wider research community. By providing early- to mid-career researchers the opportunity to collaborate with existing UKRI funded centres, for example, institutes, hubs, IKCs, alongside building wider partnerships, we hope to both nurture our future skills base, expand UK capabilities and capitalise on our substantial portfolio of wider investments made across the UKRI research base.

We aim to:

  • enable the UK materials community to realise its potential, ensuring UK social and economic prosperity
  • reduce timescales of materials innovation, particularly with respect to impact and use of new materials by enhancing knowledge transfer
  • develop future generations of researchers able to operate within a multidisciplinary landscape
  • address our overarching goal to support the development and implementation of materials for sustainable futures

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, 89KB)

This is the website for UKRI: our seven research councils, Research England and Innovate UK. Let us know if you have feedback or would like to help improve our online products and services.