UKRI Individual Merit Promotion (IMP) scheme

The IMP scheme is the main route for senior scientific researchers, who have made, and who will continue to make, an outstanding personal contribution in their field, to gain promotion.

The research councils, and other participating organisations, are invited to make nominations annually for individual merit promotion.

The scheme is currently owned and administered by UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) HR Operations team.


The current UKRI IMP scheme provides an opportunity for scientists who have demonstrated excellence in their field to be promoted to senior grades without a requirement for substantial administrative responsibilities.

In this way, scientists with an excellent track record in research or in the development of new techniques or instrumentation may be retained at the cutting edge of their fields and be promoted to senior grades (Band H and above).

In all research institutions, the leadership in innovative research is generally provided by a few percent of overall staff. These are the individuals who lead major grants and international projects, and who top the metrics for the important publication outputs.

The ability of institutions to promote such individuals through the IMP scheme provides a means of retaining key staff in a very competitive national and international market for the leading scientists.

The scheme operates within the research centres of:

  • Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) (British Antarctic Survey (BAS), British Geological Survey (BGS))
  • Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)
  • National Oceanography Centre (NOC)
  • UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (UKCEH)
  • Natural History Museum (NHM)
  • Royal Botanic Gardens (Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh (RBGE) and Royal Botanic Gardens Kew (RBGK)).

There are currently 89 IMP scientists in post.

UKRI took over the responsibility for the scheme from STFC in 2022 and the scheme is now managed by the UKRI HR Operations Team.

The IMP scheme

The IMP process is an annual 6-month cycle between September and October to March and April. Within the centres or institutes, individuals are identified and apply to the scheme using the UKRI IMP submission form. The 3 grades within the scheme are below.

IMP level 3

Candidates must have a good international reputation. Those involved in basic or strategic research must demonstrate an excellent record of innovative and original research and have made a significant contribution to the development of their area of science.

Those involved in the application of existing knowledge must have an excellent record of innovation in the development and exploitation of technology, processes or products (including software and systems).

Candidates must justify their intended future research programme or demonstrate that their future programme will maintain a high level of development and innovation.

IMP level 2

Candidates should be established leaders in their field with an excellent international reputation.

Those involved with basic and strategic research must demonstrate a high level of original published material in terms of both quality and quantity. Their future research programme and their likely personal contribution to scientific advance should be clear.

Those concerned with the application of existing knowledge should have introduced innovative concepts to the development and exploitation of technology, processes or products, including computer software and systems.

They should demonstrate an expectation that this level of creativity will continue.

IMP level 1

Candidates should be widely acclaimed authorities and world leaders in their subject and specialism. They should have contributed substantially to the discovery of new scientific knowledge and discoveries or have opened new fields of fruitful and useful research.

They should be of pre-eminent international standing and acclaim. The published work of those in the field of basic and strategic research should have had major influence on the development of their specialism. Future research plans should illustrate how it will continue to have a significant impact.

The contribution of those involved in the application of existing knowledge should have resulted in major advances in the development or exploitation of technology, processes or products of special significance. They are likely to have a profound influence on the future development of their specialism.

Nominations must include a supportive statement from the director of the applicants’ organisation. The deadline for all paperwork will be the first working day in October, and for 2022 this will be 3 October. If a research council decides to conduct internal reviews of paperwork, this is separate to the administration as is the responsibility of the home council to conduct.

Nomination papers are sent to panel members. A paperboard meeting is held in November where the papers are reviewed and decisions are made on whether candidates should be offered interviews or IMP should be continued in the case of periodic reviews (described below).

Following the paperboard, references for each of the interview candidates are sought. As panel members are not able to cover every scientific discipline, an expert is secured for each candidate to sit on the interview panel.

Candidates will also be asked to supply 6 papers for review and conduct a 10 minute presentation. In the 10 minutes provided, all candidates will need to tell the panel the essence of their case for promotion to their IM level.

Candidates will need to communicate their science and the focus to date, and what they propose to do over the next few years. It is important to keep to time and the presentation provides the platform for questioning from the panel.

In previous years, the interviews have taken place at 58VE London in March, however due to COVID-19, the interviews have been held over Zoom since 2020. The decisions of the IMP panel are final.  ​​​​​​​

Periodic review

Candidates hold IMP only as long as they continue to meet the criteria for the scheme, and continue to maintain the standards for which it was awarded.

Periodic reviews are held to ensure that the overall and individual standards of the scheme are being rigorously maintained. Each holder of an IMP will be fully reviewed within a maximum of 5 years from the initial promotion.

If the application for review does not appear to meet the required standards, the holder will be offered an interview. Please see the IMP periodic review submission form. ​​​​​​​

Benefits of the scheme

The primary benefit of the scheme is in retaining key innovative scientists within their research centres, providing leadership in their fields. For the individual, the IMP status provides important recognition for their role in the organisation and comes with a higher grade and salary (usually).

IMP members and panel

Scheme members

The scheme members are:

  • NOC
  • STFC
  • NHM
  • RBGE
  • RBGK.

IMP panel members

The IMP panel members (usually serving 4 years) are:

  • Professor David Fowler (Chair), retired (formerly Director of Science, CEH)
  • Professor Mary Fowler, Master at Darwin College, Cambridge
  • Professor Matthew Griffin, Cardiff
  • Professor Josephine Pemberton, Edinburgh
  • Professor Dave Charlton FRS, Birmingham
  • Professor Karen Heywood, University of East Anglia
  • Professor Alison Smith, Cambridge University.

​IMP Scheme Manager: UKRI HR Operations Team.

The primary benefit of the scheme is in retaining key innovative scientists within their research centres, providing leadership in their fields.

For the individual, the IMP status provides important recognition for their role in the organisation and comes with a higher grade and salary (usually).

The IMP panel is a group of independent members with relevant knowledge and expertise, providing appropriate governance for the IMP scheme.

Decision making authority rests with the panel who are able to determine that the scheme is operating as intended and that decisions are consistent and reasonable.


UKRI IM Manager

Katie Hopgood, HR Operations Advisor

UKRI IM Administrator

Emma Pannell, HR Operations Assistant

Last updated: 23 March 2023

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