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Strategic Priorities Fund

The Strategic Priorities Fund is an £830 million investment in multi- and interdisciplinary research across 34 themes.

It is funded through the government’s National Productivity Investment Fund and managed by UK Research and Innovation.

The fund aims to:

  • increase high-quality multi- and interdisciplinary research and innovation
  • ensure UKRI investment links up effectively with government research and innovation priorities
  • respond to strategic priorities and opportunities

You can gain support for a variety of research projects ranging from pure research through to feasibility studies, research and development, demonstrators and major new research centres or institutes.

A key element of funded programmes is that many bring together people from different disciplines to work on finding solutions.

Research programmes that have won funding

We have selected a variety of research programmes that will be funded through the Strategic Priorities Fund. These include:

Each of these programmes will run in a different way, and many will announce funding opportunities in the coming months.

How to apply

Most of the challenges are collaborative, multi- and interdisciplinary research programmes delivered by two or more of our councils and other public sector funding organisations.

You can apply if you are a researcher at a higher education institution, research institute, or independent research organisation accredited by UKRI. You can also apply if you are employed at an eligible public sector research establishment (PDF, 62KB). Some programmes are open to businesses.

Many of the programmes have already allocated their funding to projects. However, you can still find opportunities to work with successful projects, particularly where programmes have funded new research centres that are looking for collaborators or suitable research projects.

Strategic Priorities Fund opportunities may also be offered by non-UKRI partners listed below or by the research centres and institutes set up with the funding.

The funded programmes

The Strategic Priorities Fund has 34 programmes organised under eight themes:

  • environment
  • biology and biomedicine
  • artificial intelligence
  • productivity
  • infrastructure
  • health, wellbeing and human rights
  • digital
  • productivity and technical.

The programmes and contacts are listed below.

Environment

Clean Air: Analysis and Solutions

This £19.6 million programme has invested in 18 research and innovation projects into cleaner air through predictive understanding of future air quality challenges, a systems approach to analysis, new technologies, and innovative policy and practice that benefit vulnerable groups, improve public health and support clean growth.

The funding has been delivered by the Natural Environment Research Council and the Met Office, with Innovate UK, the Economic and Social Research Council, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the Medical Research Council, and National Physical Laboratory, in partnership with the government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Department for Health and Social Care and Department for Transport.

For more information, contact:

Email: atmospheric@nerc.ukri.org

Clean Air: Indoor/Outdoor Interface

This £22 million programme aims to help the UK tackle air quality challenges from changing emissions and exposure patterns to protect human health and support clean growth.

It is delivered by the Natural Environment Research Council and the Met Office, with Innovate UK, the Economic and Social Research Council, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the Medical Research Council, the Science and Technology Facilities Council, National Physical Laboratory, in partnership with the government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Department for Health and Social Care, and Department for Transport, the Scottish Government and the Welsh Government.

Contact us for more information.

Email: atmospheric@nerc.ukri.org

UK Climate Resilience

This is a £18.7 million programme that supports climate risk and solutions research that ensures the UK is resilient to climate change and well positioned to exploit opportunities for adaptation and green growth.

Projects already funded include research into climate flooding hazards in UK estuaries and research into new ways to understand what drives changes in extreme rainfall and windstorms.

The funding is delivered by the Natural Environment Research Council and the Met Office, with the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the Economic and Social Research Council and the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and the government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Contact us for more information.

Email: climateresilience@nerc.ukri.org

Constructing a Digital Environment

This is a £10.4 million programme funding a series of feasibility projects and demonstrators that support development of an integrated network of sensors and tools across the UK to help policymakers, businesses, communities and individuals understand long-term environmental change.

It is delivered by the Natural Environment Research Council, with the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Funded projects include demonstrating new ways to monitor landslides and floods and a platform for sharing data and analysis on greenhouse gases.

Contact us for more information.

Email: digitalenvironment@nerc.ukri.org

Landscape Decisions

This is a £10.5 million programme bringing together researchers, policymakers, business and land managers to develop an interdisciplinary decision-making framework that helps to make better decisions on land use in the UK.

Funded projects include using artificial intelligence to learn the complex relationships between social, economic and environmental driving factors and historic changes in agricultural land use.

It is delivered by the Natural Environment Research Council, with the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the Economic and Social Research Council, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and the Arts and Humanities Research Council, with policy support from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Contact us for more information.

Email: landscapedecisions@nerc.ukri.org

Greenhouse Gas Removal Demonstrators

This is a £31.52 million programme assessing sustainable ways for large-scale removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

It is delivered by the Natural Environment Research Council, with the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, the Economic and Social Research Council, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Innovate UK, the government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs.

Contact us for more information.

Email: GGR@nerc.ukri.org

Transforming the UK Food System for Healthy People and a Healthy Environment

This is a £47.5 million programme supporting research to fundamentally transform the UK food system by placing healthy people and a healthy natural environment at its centre.

It is led by the Global Food Security programme and delivered by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, in partnership with the Economic and Social Research Council, the Medical Research Council, the Natural Environment Research Council, the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs, the Department of Health and Social Care, the Food Standards Agency, Public Health England and Innovate UK.

Contact us for more information.

Email: food.systems@bbsrc.ukri.org

National Interdisciplinary Circular Economy Research Programme

This is a £30 million programme that supports new opportunities to increase sustainability, improve resource efficiency and reduce waste in sectors such as textiles, metals and construction materials, and includes establishment of five interdisciplinary circular economy centres and an integration hub.

Funding is delivered by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, with the Arts and Humanities Research Council, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, Economic and Social Research Council, Innovate UK, Natural Environment Research Council, the government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Contact us for more information.

Emailcircular.economy@epsrc.ukri.org

Sustainable Management of Marine Resources

This is a £12.4 million programme that aims to improve understanding of society’s attitude and behaviour towards the marine environment and use this to develop policy and decision-making in marine management.

It is delivered by the Natural Environment Research Council, with the Economic and Social Research Council, the government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Scottish Government.

Contact us for more information.

Emailsmmr@nerc.ukri.org

Biology and biomedicine

Physics of Life

This £31.2 million programme brings together integrated programmes of multidisciplinary research to transform understanding of the physics of biological function in health and disease and provide new insight into key challenges.

The programme is delivered by the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council, with Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council and the Medical Research Council.

European Bioinformatics Institute

This is a £45 million programme helping the European Molecular Biology Laboratory’s European Bioinformatics Institute in Cambridge to meet growing demand for open access biological datasets, supporting the UK’s genomics sector, and driving advances in biotechnology, medicine and agriculture by improving understanding of how genetics affect the health of humans, animals and plants.

It is delivered by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and the Medical Research Council.

Contact the European Bioinformatics Institute for more information.

Email: barlow@ebi.ac.uk

Bacterial Plant Diseases

This £17.7 million programme supports research into countering diseases that threaten crop production, forestry, horticulture, woodlands and wider biodiversity, and cause severe economic, environmental and social impact.

The programme is delivered by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council with the Natural Environment Research Council, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Scottish Government.

Contact us for more information.

Emailplant.bacteria@bbsrc.ukri.org

Human Cell Atlas

This £6.7 million programme supports the UK’s role as a key partner in the ambitious global Human Cell Atlas  initiative.

It is delivered by the Medical Research Council with support from the charity the British Heart Foundation.

Contact us for more information.

EmailMRCHCA@mrc.ukri.org

Artificial intelligence

Living with Machines

Living with Machines is a £9.2 million programme helping data scientists, historians, computational linguists, geographers, and archivists to work together to better understand the social and cultural impact of the mechanisation of work during the first industrial revolution.

It is delivered by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, with The Alan Turing Institute, the British Library, the Universities of Cambridge, East Anglia, and Exeter and Queen Mary University of London.

Contact us for more information.

Email: CIDAA@ahrc.ukri.org

AI and Data Science for Science, Engineering, Health and Government

This £38.8 million programme supports the use of artificial intelligence and data science in priority areas of the UK economy, including engineering and urban planning, health, physical and life sciences, and criminal justice.

It is delivered by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council in partnership with The Alan Turing Institute, and in collaboration with the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, the Medical Research Council, the Natural Environment Research Council and the Science and Technology Facilities Council. It includes policy support from the Home Office, the Ministry of Justice and Department of Health and Social Care.

Ensuring the Security of Digital Technologies at the Periphery

This £30 million programme supports the development of a safe and secure ‘Internet of Things’, particularly to protect more critical applications from sophisticated cyber threats. It includes the setting up of the National Centre of Excellence for IoT Systems Cybersecurity.

It is delivered by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and Innovate UK, with policy support from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the Home Office.

Productivity

UK Populations Lab

This is a £2.1 million programme that supports the development of new ways of carrying out cohort studies, which are used in health and social science to follow over time a group of people sharing a common characteristic.

It is delivered by the Economic and Social Research Council, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the Medical Research Council, with policy support from the Department for Health and Social Care and the Department for Work and Pensions.

Contact us for more information.

Email: thomas.graham@esrc.ukri.org

Transforming Productivity Research

This £8.9 million UKRI programme is developing understanding of the factors that drive productivity growth and how we might capitalise on them.

It is led by the Economic and Social Research Council and designed with the Medical Research Council and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. It includes policy support from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Department for Work and Pensions.

Contact us for more information.

Email: productivity@esrc.ukri.org

Analysis for Innovators Scale-Up

This is a £14.1 million programme that supports business-led research and development to address the productivity gap by helping UK companies to solve measurement and analysis problems with existing products, processes and services.

It is delivered by Innovate UK, the Science and Technology Facilities Council and the National Physics laboratory.

Contact us for more information.

Email: jonathan.mitchener@innovateuk.ukri.org

Infrastructure

Extreme Photonics Applications Centre

This £81 million programme is funding a new imaging centre at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus that will use world-leading UK laser technology to create highly accurate 3D images of structures and produce 3D reconstructions of complex objects hundreds of times faster than conventional systems. The centre is expected to be operational by 2024.

It is led by the Science and Technology Facilities Council, with additional investment from the Ministry of Defence.

Contact us for more information.

Email: clfenquiries@stfc.ac.uk

Health, wellbeing and human rights

Policy and Evidence Centre for Modern Slavery and Human Rights

This is a £10 million programme supporting a policy and evidence centre at the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law to provide insight and analysis that will help to counter modern slavery at home and abroad. It is also supporting a partnership of centres of excellence in modern slavery research.

It is delivered by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, with the Economic and Social Research Council and the Home Office.

Contact us for more information.

Email: ahrcpolicy@ahrc.ukri.org

Nucleic Acid Therapy Accelerator

This is a £30 million programme to support the new Nucleic Acid Therapy Accelerator at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus for the development of therapies and technologies targeting genetic mutations that could treat many diseases.

It is delivered by the Medical Research Council and the Harwell Research Campus, supported by the government Office for Life Sciences.

Contact us for more information.

Email: enquiries@natahub.org

The Advanced Pain Discovery Platform: Mapping the Complexity of Chronic Pain

This is a £24 million programme to deepen understanding of pain and support new approaches to treatment across a range of chronic and debilitating conditions including arthritis by creating a series of consortia that bring together researchers across biomedical, social, informatics and data sciences.

It is delivered by the Medical Research Council, the charity Versus Arthritis, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council.

Contact us for more information.

Email: spfpain@mrc.ukri.org

UK Centre of Evidence Implementation in Adult Social Care

This is a £15 million programme delivered by the Economic and Social Research Council and the charity The Health Foundation.

The programme will support a new centre that will promote better use of research evidence in adult social care and support those working in adult social care to adopt innovations and improvements.

Contact us for more information.

Email: esrcsocialcare@esrc.ukri.org

Tackling Multimorbidity at Scale

This is a £20 million programme to support research to improve understanding, diagnosis and treatment of multimorbidity, where a person is suffering two or more long-term health conditions.

It is delivered by the Medical Research Council, with the Economic and Social Research Council and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. It is jointly funded by the government’s Department of Health and Social Care through the National Institute of Health Research.

Contact us for more information.

Email: multimorbidity@mrc.ukri.org

Adolescence, Mental Health and the Developing Mind

This is a £35 million programme to support better understanding of the developing adolescent mind and the genetic, physiological, social and cultural factors that shape it and influence lifelong mental health, educational attainment, identity, social relationships and behaviour.

It is delivered by the Medical Research Council, with the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council.

Contact us for more information.

Email: adolescentmentalhealth@mrc.ukri.org

Digital

Towards a National Collection: Opening UK Heritage to the World

This is a £19 million programme to begin the creation of a unified virtual national collection involving some of the world’s most celebrated galleries, libraries, archives and museums.

It is delivered by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), and supported by the government’s Department for Culture Media and Sport and AHRC’s independent research organisations.

Protecting Citizens Online

This £18.2 million programme will establish a research centre of excellence in protecting citizens online and a programme of interdisciplinary research activity around technologies that preserve and enhance privacy and help to tackle online abuse and fraud.

It is led by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council in partnership with the Economic and Social Research Council, and the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and in association with the Department for Culture Media and Sport, the Home Office, and National Security.

Productivity and technical

Space Weather Innovation, Measurement, Modelling and Risk

This £20 million programme will support improvements to the forecasting and risk assessment of space weather, such as flares or winds from the Sun’s surface, or geomagnetic storms, which can disrupt modern technologies and damage human health.

It is delivered by the Science and Technology Facilities Council, with the Natural Environment Research Council, the Met Office, the Ministry of Defence and the Department for Transport.

Contact us for more information.

Email: clfenquiries@stfc.ac.uk

Productivity Institute

This £42.2 million programme supports the new Productivity Institute headquartered at the Alliance Manchester Business School at the University of Manchester and dedicated to understanding what is needed to solve the UK’s productivity challenges. It is also supporting a research programme into improving productivity.

It is delivered by the Economic and Social Research Council, with Innovate UK, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Her Majesty’s Treasury, the Department for Work and Pensions and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Email: productivity@esrc.ukri.org

Trustworthy Autonomous Systems

This is a £34 million programme driving fundamental research into the design, development, curation, verification and validation of autonomous systems.

It aims to improve trust in autonomous systems and ensure they are safe, reliable, resilient, ethical and deployable. The programme includes support for a Trustworthy Autonomous Systems Hub based at the University of Southampton.

It is delivered by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council in partnership with the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Economic and Social Research Council, the Science and Technology Facilities Council, Innovate UK and UK Space Agency.

Harnessing Exascale Computing (ExCALIBUR)

This £47.5 million programme is supporting the redesign of simulation codes and algorithms so we can take full advantage of the power of future generation supercomputers. The aim is to keep the UK at the forefront of high-performance simulation science.

It brings together UK domain experts, mathematicians and computational scientists to identify common issues and opportunities in the simulation codes.

The Met Office and Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council are leading this programme in partnership with the UK Atomic Energy Authority, the Natural Environment Research Council, the Medical Research Council and the Science and Technologies Facilities Council.

The National Timing Centre

This £36 million programme will allow the UK to develop a resilient time and frequency distribution network that would protect emergency services, the energy grid and telecommunications from massive disruption that would occur in the event of satellite failures.

Funding is for a national timing centre and to support businesses to develop new products and services that take advantage of more resilient time and frequency infrastructure.

It is delivered by the National Physical Laboratory, with Innovate UK, and supported by the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy and other government departments.

Contact the National Physical Laboratory for more information.

Email: ntc@npl.co.uk

Quantum Technologies for Fundamental Physics

This is a £40 million programme to demonstrate how the application of quantum technologies will advance the understanding of fundamental physics questions.

It is led by the Science and Technology Facilities Council and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. Contact us for more information.

Email: QTFP@stfc.ukri.org

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