International agreements


Lead agency opportunity with the NSF

Through UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) we work in partnership with the National Science Foundation (NSF) in the US to encourage and support proposals that involve international collaborative teams. We have in place a lead agency opportunity between the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the following NSF units:

  • Directorate of Engineering (ENG):
    • Division of Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental and Transport Systems (CBET)
    • Division of Civil, Mechanical and Manufacturing Innovation (CMMI)
    • Division of Electrical, Communications and Cyber Systems (ECCS)
  • Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS):
    • Division of Mathematical Sciences (DMS)
    • Division of Physics (PHY)
    • Division of Chemistry (CHE)
  • Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE):
    • Division of Computing and Communication Foundations (CCF)
    • Division of Information and Intelligent Systems (IIS)
    • Office of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure (OAC)

Find a list of specific participating NSF programmes on the NSF Office of International Science and Engineering (OISE) website.

This lead agency opportunity is open to all themes within EPSRC, through the responsive mode standard grant funding route.

The UK part of any application must fit within the remit of EPSRC, and the US part must fit within the remit of one of the NSF programmes that are involved in the opportunity.

Applying for funding

To apply for funding under the EPSRC-NSF lead agency opportunity with EPSRC as the lead agency, you must submit a single joint proposal to EPSRC from eligible applicants in both countries. EPSRC processes applications following its standard procedure, and they are assessed alongside all other responsive mode standard proposals received at the same time.

NSF-nominated experts may be involved in the peer review process, considered on a case-by-case basis by EPSRC and NSF.

Funding decisions are made by the appropriate EPSRC theme lead in consultation with NSF, following the recommendation of the EPSRC panel.

If NSF is the lead agency, read application guidance on the NSF website.

Expression of interest

Before making a funding application, you must submit an expression of interest at least three months before you plan to submit an application. This is to ensure that you meet your funding organisations’ eligibility requirements.

Include in the expression of interest a short summary of the proposed research and its objectives, together with indicative costs for both the EPSRC and NSF components. Indicative costs should be the 80% full economic cost figure, the cost to EPSRC.

We will contact NSF to ensure that the US component meets their eligibility requirements.

This is a two-way opportunity. Only one expression of interest should be submitted, to either EPSRC or NSF, depending on where the largest proportion of the research lies.

Submit an expression of interest.

You must wait until you receive approval from EPSRC before submitting the joint proposal through the UKRI Funding Service. Proposals should be submitted within three months of receiving approval from EPSRC.

Joint proposal format

Except where indicated otherwise, joint applications should follow standard EPSRC format. Additional pages are not permitted.

The title of all applications submitted through the Funding Service should begin ‘[Insert Name of NSF Directorate/Division]-EPSRC’ depending on the division or target programme, for example ‘ENG/CBET-EPSRC’, ‘MPS/DMS-EPSRC’, etc.

Include the scientific case for the US components of the project in the vision and approach.

US collaborating research organisations should be included as project partners in the application, and the funding totals by US research organisations should be included as project partner contributions.

The proposal should only request the UK expenses on the cost form.

The application should be submitted under the ‘EPSRC working with overseas scientists: responsive mode’ funding opportunity.

The funding requested from EPSRC and NSF should be within 10% of the indicative costs requested in the expression of interest. If the change will be larger than 10% please contact the EPSRC international team or the cognizant NSF programme director. The resources and cost justification should include a clear summary and justification of the US costs sought from NSF, as well as the funding sought from EPSRC.

A detailed breakdown of the funding requested from NSF should be submitted to EPSRC through the Funding Service as an attachment in the international agency requirements section. This document will be shared with NSF to verify the eligibility of the costs requested.

Reviewers’ comments and the project lead response to reviews will be shared with NSF once the funding decision has been made.

Guidance for submissions

You will find more details about the submissions process in the guidance for applicants or on the NSF website.

Last updated: 20 September 2023

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