Area of investment and support

Area of investment and support: Research England development fund

The Research England Development (RED) Fund supports institutional-level innovative projects in research and knowledge exchange including collaborations between education providers and between education providers and business.

£27 million a year
Partners involved:
Research England

The scope and what we're doing

The Research England Development (RED) Fund commits up to £27 million in annual funding. It supports institutional strategic developmental projects in higher education research and knowledge exchange in line with government and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) priorities.

Its aim is to drive innovation in research and knowledge exchange in higher education.

The fund supports:

  • activities that contribute to government and UKRI policy priorities, with a particular emphasis on delivering innovative and novel approaches
  • collaborations between higher education providers, industry or business partners
  • a risk-sharing approach – due to the innovative nature of projects that the RED fund seeks to support, we expect financial contributions, investments or leverage from appropriate partners and beneficiaries to support these higher risk activities
  • projects that increase the effectiveness or efficiency of research or knowledge exchange for wider societal and economic benefits
  • projects that clearly seek to disseminate key learning points to the sector to enhance positive practice for ‘what works’ and ‘what doesn’t work’
  • activities that are unable to be supported through any other means
  • innovations with a clear plan for sustainability.

Our priorities

Bids must clearly fit with one of the following priorities in order to be successful.

Collaborations in research

This includes proposals which develop strategic research collaboration between higher education institutions. Areas to focus on might be:

  • maximising the economic and social benefits from established research units
  • improving outcomes for postgraduate research students
  • proposals that examine ways in which to secure postgraduate research opportunities, or work experience, for under-represented groups at that level.

It also includes working with external partners to support a diverse research workforce, and developing new facilities for research and knowledge exchange with external partners.

Delivering Industrial Strategy through knowledge exchange

This includes novel approaches from disciplines or types of knowledge exchange that are currently under-used in Industrial Strategy developments to date but have potential to deliver to unexplored areas of business demand or to draw in a wider range of higher education institution expertise or knowledge exchange capacity.

This may include projects to unlock potential of higher education institutions that do not have critical mass currently to gain a Higher Education Innovation Fund formula allocation, and enhancing impact through social innovation and enterprise.

This also includes:

  • projects that build on policies, priorities or funding of the other eight UKRI councils and wider Industrial Strategy developments, including with the Office for Students
  • addressing challenges and opportunities in university commercialisation policy and practice – in due course, we may update or review these priorities in the light of development of UKRI’s commercialisation strategy.

Research culture

Proposals that seek to improve research culture, aligned with the aims of the government’s research and development people and culture strategy. Potential areas of activity include, but are not limited to:

  • improving access to and participation in research, including postgraduate research study, for people from currently underrepresented groups
  • furthering open research practices
  • improving research conduct and reproducibility
  • tackling bullying and harassment
  • improving research leadership skills across all career stages
  • creating routes for collaboration and exchange with businesses, third sector organisations and government
  • securing and supporting the careers of researchers and associated professions
  • diversifying recruitment, reward and recognition approaches at all career stages
  • delivering new approaches to public dialogue and community-led research.

Creating opportunities to consolidate existing, or develop new opportunities, for international collaborations

The Industrial Strategy highlighted the development of the International Research and Innovation Strategy and the UKRI Fund for International Collaboration. In the context of this wider landscape we are inviting activity from institutions in England that look to address the following areas:

  • proposals for major strategic international research partnerships enhancing the impact of research in England
  • improving practice in leadership, governance and management focused on international opportunities
  • innovative approaches to international collaboration in knowledge exchange focused on knowledge exchange activities that could be scaled or of wider relevance to the higher education sector.

We may update or review these priorities in the light of development of UKRI’s international strategy.

Opportunities, support and resources available

Funding opportunities

Who to contact

Ask a question about the fund


Governance, management and panels

For bids of £501,000 to £5 million, the RED Fund panel is required to make recommendations to the Research England Executive Chair for funding. The RED Fund panel members include:

  • Professor Dame Jessica Corner, Research England Executive Chair and RED Fund Chair
  • Dr Richard Armour, former Secretary-General, University Grants Committee, Hong Kong
  • Dame Janet Finch, former Vice-Chancellor of Keele University, and Honorary Professor of Sociology, The University of Manchester
  • Faith Wainwright, Director of Arup Group.
  • Dr Carol Bell, Director of Football Association of Wales, board member of the Development Bank of Wales and Chair of its Investment Committee

Last updated: 12 September 2023

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