Area of investment and support

Area of investment and support: UKRI cross research council responsive mode pilot scheme

The cross research council responsive mode (CRCRM) pilot scheme has been developed to support emerging ideas from the research community that transcend, combine or significantly span disciplines, to ensure all forms of interdisciplinary research have a home within UKRI. It will support ideas which are not routinely funded, or perceived not to be funded, through existing UKRI responsive mode schemes.

£65 million across two rounds, with around 36 awards in each round. Projects will have a full economic cost of between £200,000 and £1.2 million.
Funded projects will last a maximum of two years. Round 1 was launched in May 2023 and awards will be announced in June 2024. A pre-announcement for Round 2 will be published in June 2024 and will open for outline applications in September 2024.
Partners involved:
UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Medical Research Council (MRC), Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)

The scope and what we're doing

The CRCRM scheme is aimed at funding new, high-quality and creative interdisciplinary ideas emerging from the research community outside current disciplinary boundaries.

The scheme will complement the existing individual research council responsive mode schemes by funding excellent bottom-up ideas that span disciplinary boundaries without a natural lead council to apply to.

It aims to fill an identified gap in the UKRI funding portfolio and will ensure we can fund the best ideas without disciplinary or domain constraints.

The scheme will only support projects that span at least two research council disciplinary remits. Interdisciplinary research is about reciprocity across the disciplines, with the disciplines involved being changed or transformed by working together.

This requires genuine collaboration and co-creation of the research and should not have people or disciplines ‘bolted on’ at the end of the project development.

Please watch this video for further information about what we mean by interdisciplinary research.

Video credit: UKRI 
Video transcript and on-screen captions are available by watching on YouTube.

The scheme will use a novel assessment approach that moves away from traditional ‘written’ peer review to avoid each disciplinary element being assessed individually, which can disadvantage interdisciplinary proposals.

A trained Interdisciplinary Assessment College (IAC), comprising members with experience of working in or supporting interdisciplinary research, has been appointed for the assessment of applications to the scheme.

Through this novel assessment process, we anticipate that we will identify and support new interdisciplinary research projects that, through current routes, may struggle to secure support.

Why we're doing it

We have implemented this innovative pilot scheme as part of the UKRI corporate plan 2022 to 2025 and our dedication to breaking down silos in interdisciplinary research.

UKRI already supports interdisciplinary research through:

  • strategic funding opportunities where interdisciplinary research addresses a specific challenge area
  • responsive mode schemes where interdisciplinary research is within the boundaries of a single council
  • responsive mode schemes with a cross-research council remit agreement involving interdisciplinary research across two or more council remits with a clear lead council

However, the 2015 Nurse Review and the 2022 Grant Review identified a potential gap in UKRI funding for projects that significantly span the remits of different research council disciplines. The need to identify a lead research council and the difficulties in fairly assessing interdisciplinary research through traditional peer review can be barriers in applying for interdisciplinary research funding.

Through this pilot we will assess demand and refine our processes to further develop programmes for interdisciplinary research.

We will be evaluating the scheme as it is delivered and will be seeking feedback from the applicants and members of the interdisciplinary assessment college after each stage of the process.

Past projects, outcomes and impact

We received 979 outline applications to Round 1 and invited 175 applications through to full stage. Feedback has been collated from the Interdisciplinary Assessment College Chairs who were involved in assessment discussions at the outline stage.

A summary of key features of both strong and weaker applications has been summarised, as well as recommendations for preparing future applications.

See generalised feedback on CRCRM outline stage applications, round one.

Who to contact

Ask a question about this area of investment

Contact the interdisciplinary responsive mode (IMR) team.


Include ‘cross research council responsive mode scheme’. in the subject line.

We aim to respond within three working days.

Governance, management and panels

The UKRI Interdisciplinary Responsive Mode (IRM) team is responsible for the operational delivery of this scheme.

The UKRI Interdisciplinary Responsive Mode Project Board is responsible for establishing, maintaining and ensuring there is effective governance, leadership and direction of the UKRI CRCRM pilot scheme. It is chaired by Professor Alison Park, Deputy Executive Chair, ESRC.

The UKRI CRCRM Working Group is responsible for the efficient and effective set-up, delivery and evaluation of the pilot scheme. It is chaired by IRM Strategic Lead, Dr Alexandra Amey, and has representation from all seven research councils.

Interdisciplinary Assessment College

We had an open call for members for an Interdisciplinary Assessment College (IAC) who are responsible for assessing applications to the scheme. We had an extremely positive response from the community with over 1,300 applications. We appointed 302 members, including 70 members of the Chair and Rover Pool.

All appointed college members have a high level of experience in working on interdisciplinary research or supporting interdisciplinary research. The college membership reflects the breadth of disciplines and subjects across UKRI, including those working in new and emerging areas to help respond to the potential demand and breadth of applications.

All members of the college have been appointed to either a Chair pool or the panel member pool. They have received tailored training to assess interdisciplinary applications and to mitigate against the viewing of applications through the lens of a single discipline. They are therefore expected to be best placed to identify and assess excellence in interdisciplinary ideas.

See the list of IAC-appointed members.

Not all college members will be assigned to assess applications at each stage. This will depend on the number of received applications and their alignment with college member expertise.

Last updated: 3 June 2024

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