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Research Grants

Contract research staff may apply for research grants as Co-Investigators or more often as Researcher Co-Investigators, and in certain cases as Principal Investigators. Applicants who wish to apply as Principal Investigators or Co-Investigators must first obtain permission from their Head of Department or Head of School. A Researcher Co-investigator is someone who is not eligible to be a Co-Investigator, but who has made a substantial contribution to the formulation and development of the application and who will be paid from the grant.


The Research Councils fund and support the work and activities of Vitae, a national programme which provides online information, advice and resources for higher education institutions and researchers on professional development and careers.

Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)

Research Grants - Standard

The Research Grants Schemes are intended to support well-defined research projects enabling individual researchers to collaborate with, and bring benefits to, other individuals and organisations through the conduct of research.  This scheme is not intended to support individual scholarship.  Please note that as a minimum, from 1 April 2012, all applications under the grants scheme will be required to include a principal investigator and at least one co-investigator jointly involved in the development of the research proposal, its leadership and management and leading to significant jointly authored research outputs.  The standard route provides grants for projects with a full economic cost (fEC) between £50,000 and £1,000,000 for a varying duration up to a limit of 60 months. 

Research Grants - Early Career

The Research Grants scheme - early career route shares the same aims as the standard route but has been introduced to assist new researchers at the start of their careers in gaining experience of managing and leading research projects.  The early career route provides grants for projects with a full economic cost (fEC) between £50,000 and £250,000 for a varying duration up to a limit of 60 months. 

Closing date
Applications to both schemes can be submitted at any time.  Please note that the assessment process takes approximately 30 weeks and the earliest start date for a project should be no earlier than 9 months after submissions to the AHRC. 

Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)

Responsive Research Grants

Grants are awarded in response to unsolicited research proposals in any area relevant to BBSRC's mission.  As a general principle, BBSRC allocates as much research grant funding as possible in responsive mode.  A variety of investigator led research activities can be applied for through responsive mode.  These include, but are not limited to: research projects, including technology development projects; equipment or use of existing facilities; new facilities or infrastructure provision; research networks and coordination; and summer schools.  Funding is available for up to 5 years.  This includes short duration activities such as small pilot projects or proof of concept studies, which are often less than two years in duration.

Closing date
There are 3 deadlines per year, in January, April, and September; see website for details of next round.

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Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)

Research Grant

The ESRC offers funding under its Standard grants scheme.  Awards ranging from £350,000 to £1 million, at 100 per cent full economic cost, will be made to eligible institutions to allow individuals or research teams to undertake standard research projects through to a large-scale survey and other infrastructure or methodological development.

There is considerable flexibility when it comes to subject area, too.  As long as you always make sure that your suggested topic falls within the ESRC's remit, you are free to concentrate on any research area.

Closing date
Applications can be submitted at any time.

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

Standard Research Grants

These provide flexible funding, for any amount and any project duration required.  The research should fall within the EPSRC remit.  Funding will be provided for a wide range of activities, including research projects, feasibility studies, instrument development, equipment, travel and collaboration, and long-term funding to develop or maintain critical mass.  The council welcomes research collaborations with other academic institutions or with business or the public sector. 

Closing date
Applications can be submitted at any time. 

Medical Research Council (MRC)

Research Grants

MRC research grants are suitable for focused research projects that may be short or long term in nature. In addition, they can be used to support method development or development and continuation of research facilities and may involve more than one research group or institution. A research grant can be awarded for any period of up to five years, but those of two years or less are for proof of principle or pilot work only. Applications seeking support of greater than three years should provide a clear justification as to why a longer timescale is needed, for example due to specific research deliverables, or the need for prolonged data collection or follow-up.  The budget for research grant awards will not typically exceed £1 million. 

Closing date
Application deadlines are usually in January, May and September; see website for details.  

Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)

Research Grants

This is an open competition for curiosity motivated basic, strategic or applied research.  Proposals are assessed on their scientific excellence.  Moderating Panels meet annually in June and December to grade the proposals and make recommendations for funding.  The minimum that can be requested per complete proposal and per component is £65,000 (100% Full Economic Cost) and the maximum for the complete proposal is £0.8m (100% Full Economic Cost).  

Closing date
Late January and July; see website for details.

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Research and Enterprise Development

Anne-Marie van Dodeweerd


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