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NIRD Funding

The National Institute for Research into Dairying (NIRD) Trust Fund provides approximately £2million per annum to support research into agriculture and food.

The University of Reading is both sole beneficiary and trustee of the NIRD Trust Fund. The Trust is projected to be able to release up to £2million per annum each financial year to support research into agriculture and food. The Trust additionally owns substantial amounts of University farmland, which is the subject of a separate external Agri-Food scoping exercise to consider how the finances arising from any possible sale of such land would be reinvested into agriculture and food research at the University. The guidance presented here is focused only on how spend of the annual funding release will be managed and how it can be accessed by staff across the University.


Governance of the Trust

The NIRD Trustees (NIRD Trust Committee, NTC) oversee the interests of the Trust, determining how much money is available to invest each year and ensuring that the proposed research investments are within the remit of the Trust which is to ‘support research into agriculture and food’.

The NIRD Trust Steering Group (NTSG), comprising the Research Dean for Agriculture, Food & Health (Chair), Research Dean for Environment, Head of the School of Agriculture, Policy & Development, Head of School of Chemistry, Food & Pharmacy, Head of Department of Food & Nutritional Sciences, Director of Research at CEDAR, and the Senior Research Development Manager) will recommend the proposed research investments to University Committee for Research and Innovation (UCRI) and ultimately the NIRD Trust Committee.

The NTSG will receive input when setting priorities from the AFH Theme Advisory and Strategy Boards and from UCRI. In due course (18 to 24 months) it will also receive guidance from the Agri-Food Advisory Group that the PVC for Research & Innovation is convening to provide strategic advice on the longer-term spend of NIRD Trust funds.


Funding routes

There are two routes for individuals and Schools to access NIRD Trust funds.

  1. The first is to use the existing University funding competitions e.g. RETF Open Call, RETF Strategic Fund, Annual Research Equipment and Infrastructure Fund. Applications that meet the quality threshold for funding through these routes, as judged by the panels that review all applications to each of these competitions, will be funded from the NIRD Trust if they are eligible in terms of remit and sufficient NIRD funds are available.


  2. The second route is to apply for strategic funding directly from the NIRD Trust Steering Group. Cases can be made at any time of the year, but should only be put forward by Research Division Leads and the Head(s) of the relevant School(s). The NTSG would like to see only substantive requests that do not fit the remit of any of the calls in (1) above or which have the potential to confer significant strategic gains at national and/or global level. RDLs and Heads of School are encouraged to consider the potential of developing interdisciplinary research from the application, although discipline-specific cases are also welcomed.

Applications for strategic funding submitted via this second route should address the following questions:

  1. What is being requested?
  2. What external funding avenues have been explored? If none, please briefly explain why this is not appropriate.
  3. How will the request drive transformational research, or enable research to continue in an area of high strategic priority for the University that already has excellent reputation and performance?
  4. How much is being requested? Detail if there are recurrent costs to the request e.g. servicing, technical support.
  5. What other Schools, Functions or external stakeholders need to be consulted to support the request, e.g. if this is a request for a physical item have you considered where it will be installed, whether additional infrastructure is needed?
  6. How does the request help the University meet the priorities identified by the NTSG? If you are an RDL or Head of School who has not had sight of this priority list please contact Carol Wagstaff (Research Dean for Agriculture, Food & Health) to receive the most recent copy.
  7. How does the request help the Research Division or School meet its priorities? If these are different to those indicated in the most recent Research Division Operating Plan please explain why.


Cases will be considered by the Steering Group, who will then make recommendations to UCRI in favour of funding or otherwise. The Trustees will subsequently be asked to ascertain that the projects proposed for funding are in remit of the Trust and that finances are available to support the requests.

Further Information

For general information related to RETF and NIRD,  please contact Dawn Cobbold, Executive Administration Manager (Vice-Chancellor’s Office)

For information related to Research Travel Grants, please contact Eleanor Saxon, Senior Governance Officer

For Information related to Studentship Schemes, please contact Elena Bedisti, Director of Doctoral and Researcher College Services