Who we fund


Universities, NHS bodies, charities, NGOs and other institutions

Universities and other higher education institutions (HEIs)

UKRI provides funding of £2 billion directly to institutions. Over 90% of this is awarded as a single annual grant to universities in England.

Universities and HEIs then fund their own projects, as well as publishing in the funding finder any additional:

  • funding opportunities for postgraduate research training
  • project-based funding opportunities.

HEIs that receive funding in this way are then eligible to apply for and receive funds for research, postgraduate training and associated activities.

NHS bodies

NHS bodies with research capacity are eligible to apply as lead applicants for funds from all research councils.

Public sector research establishments

Organisations that meet UKRI’s definition of public sector research establishments (PSREs) are eligible to apply for most funding opportunities managed by:

  • Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
  • Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
  • Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
  • Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
  • Medical Research Council (MRC)
  • Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
  • Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).

Check the individual funding opportunity before you apply.

Independent research organisations

An organisation can apply to be authorised and become an eligible Independent Research Organisation (IRO). They will be considered if they have in-house capacity for research that extends and enhances the national research base.

Organisations will need to demonstrate an independent capability to undertake and lead research programmes. They must also satisfy other criteria related to their financial and legal status. These are explained in full in the research councils’ joint statement on eligibility (PDF, 22KB).

IROs, PSREs and research institutes must be assessed and authorised before they can apply for published funding opportunities.

Assessment is by a nominated research council and the UKRI funding assurance team. Applications then have final authorisation by the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT).

You should check the organisations that are already authorised, before applying to become eligible:

Last updated: 15 February 2024

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