Big Ideas initiative


Ideas Bank

The Ideas Bank contains ideas that have been submitted to EPSRC, prioritised and then developed further. Some have been initiated by our academic and business communities, others have been co-created by EPSRC teams and their communities.

Find out more about how EPSRC uses ideas in the Ideas Bank to inform its plans, priorities and activities.

Carbon-neutral chemicals and fuels – transforming UK clean manufacturing

To build carbon-neutral process industries that produce the chemicals, polymers and fuels of the future as part of a low-carbon energy system in a post fossil-fuel world.

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Matt Rosseinsky, University of Liverpool. Email:

The UK’s next generation converged digital infrastructure

To realise a fully converged national digital infrastructure that underpins and drives forward the UK’s economy. A national infrastructure that is open, sustainably powered, offers ubiquitous on-demand connectivity with 100% coverage and 100% availability, and provides users with seamless access at the lowest-cost. It is highly-predictable, highly-secure, highly-resilient and highly-efficient.

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Jonathan Legh-Smith, BT. Email:

Programmable massively parallel computing in chemical and material systems (TheChemBrain)

Computers are von Neumann machines with electronic bits, but we aim for programmable computers in chemical systems that go beyond binary logic, aiming for massively parallel non-quantum computing architectures.

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Lee Cronin, University of Glasgow. Email:

Digital chemistry

The vision of digital chemistry is for new molecules and compounds to be discovered, synthesised and manufactured from code within the next 20 years.

Achieving this vision will require the UK’s world-leading strength in computer science and synthetic chemistry to be brought together to form a new, interdisciplinary digital-chemistry community. The ability to rapidly design and develop novel chemical entities on demand will have significant long-term impacts on the UK chemical and pharmaceutical sectors.

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Lee Cronin, University of Glasgow. Email:

Trustworthy Autonomous Systems

Increasingly, systems are required to make decisions, and take actions, autonomously. Yet without fundamental research advances in their design, development, verification and validation we will never trust these autonomous systems, be they robots or AI algorithms, to be safe, reliable, resilient and ethical.

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UKRI Trustworthy Autonomous Systems Hub

Tackling waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE)

Only a fraction of the 53.6 million tonnes per year of global WEEE is recovered. Biodegradable electronics would reduce cost and waste, as well as the introduction of toxic and ineradicable materials into the environment.

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David Cumming, University of Glasgow. Email:

Translating mathematical sciences research across UKRI

There is a vast untapped resource stemming from mathematical sciences research which is being added to every day. This bid seeks to create structures, incentives and opportunities to exploit this mathematics. It will enhance understanding and evidence-based decision making for the benefit of the UK economy and society.

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EPSRC mathematical sciences theme. Email:

Transition to a sustainable zero pollution economy

To realise a sustainable zero-pollution future by creating and translating holistic socio-technical solutions to anthropogenic environmental change through the convergence of systems-thinking, discovery science, transformational cross-disciplinary research, technology and innovation.

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Mathematical modelling for next generation formulated products

The drive towards rapid, smarter, greener and personalised formulation requires the development of innovative mathematical approaches which are predictive. Understanding microstructure, complex processes, perception and how these can be linked will unlock productivity gains in the formulation sector.

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Stacie Tibos, PepsiCo. Email:

Internet of Materials: data-centric materials discovery, characterisation and manufacture

Internet of Materials aims to place data at the core of materials innovation to remove constraints (physical, resource, manufacturability) that currently inhibit its economic and societal impact.

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Iain Todd, The University of Sheffield. Email:

(R)Evolution: engineering with evolution

Evolution is the most powerful technology on Earth. Learning to engineer with evolution will transform biotechnology to help solve our most pressing grand challenges and create the bioindustries of tomorrow.

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Guy-Bart Stan, Imperial College London. Email:

The UK metamaterials revolution: innovative solutions to global challenges in energy, communication, health and security

Recent advances in fundamental physics, engineering and advanced manufacturing have brought us to the cusp of delivering a range of materials that offer game changing control of energy and light. This opens up a new landscape of potential impacts benefiting UK strategic advantage.

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EPSRC Advanced materials theme. Email:

Transforming criminal evidence assessment (TRACE)

Provision of an interpretative framework to:

  • manage trace level information provided by modern technologies sensitivity
  • classify and apportion the source of evidence
  • determine the provenance of forensic traces

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Simona Francese, Sheffield Hallam University. Email:

Last updated: 20 February 2023

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