EPSRC Expressions of Interest: Building a Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing Community & Physical Sciences ECRs

Laser diffraction monofotogrammetry by Jorma Palmen CC BY-SA 4.0
Laser diffraction monofotogrammetry by Jorma Palmen CC BY-SA 4.0
Laser diffraction monofotogrammetry by Jorma Palmen CC BY-SA 4.0

EPSRC have recently issued two calls for expressions of interest for workshops:

  1. Building a Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing Community: “The workshop will be highly multidisciplinary as well as bringing together those who are developing platforms and standards with researchers deploying and evaluating in real world environments. Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing (PUC) is the fundamental and applied research that aims achieve the integration of computing into any device in any location that interacts with our lives… This will require novel computer science and engineering while incorporating research from the social sciences, humanities and law.” If you would like to attend the workshop then complete the short EOI form on the webpage: https://www.epsrc.ac.uk/funding/calls/puccommunityworkshopeoi/ Deadline: 14th Feb 2018
  2. Physical Sciences Early Career Researchers Workshops: “The workshops will provide an update to EPSRC and Physical Sciences strategies and will communicate recent and upcoming policy changes, such as the New Investigator Awards. The workshops will be attended by a number of EPSRC staff but also by experienced academics and current or previous Early Career Fellowship holders from across the Physical Sciences portfolio who will provide guidance and mentoring.” If you’re not sure which research areas are included in EPSRC’s Physical Sciences remit, you can check here. The process for applying to attend is the same as above – complete the short EOI form on the webpage: https://www.epsrc.ac.uk/funding/calls/psecrworkshopseoi/ Deadline: 31st Jan 2018



EPSRC Introduces New Investigator Award Scheme to Replace First Grant

Laser diffraction monofotogrammetry by Jorma Palmen CC BY-SA 4.0
Laser diffraction monofotogrammetry by Jorma Palmen CC BY-SA 4.0
Laser diffraction monofotogrammetry by Jorma Palmen CC BY-SA 4.0

Today the EPSRC has announced it is introducing a New Investigator Award Scheme to replace the First Grant Scheme.

The First Grant scheme will close on 24th July 2017 at 4pm and the New Investigator Awards will open on 25th July 2017. Like the First Grant there are no deadlines for the NIA scheme.

The full details are available here and I have summarised the main changes below:



Like the First Grant scheme, the NIA scheme is directed at individuals who have “recently acquired their first academic lectureship position, have not previously led an academic research group or been the recipient of a significant grant”. There is no specific requirement around time since PhD or time since first academic post in the NIA scheme.

Regarding previous grants, the wording is “Applicants should not hold, or have held, grants or industry sponsorship which have provided funds to set up a research group. This includes any previous funding which provides PDRA time, equipment over £10k or, normally, any research grant over £100,000.” I’ve checked with EPSRC and they’ve told me that someone who has received, say, £15k from the Royal Society Research Grants scheme would be eligible.

Like the First Grant, an application to the NIA scheme should be your first application to EPSRC as Principal Investigator (except Postdoctoral Fellowships, overseas travel grants or unsuccessful Early Career Fellowships).

Size/structure of projects

The limit of £125k FEC has been removed to provide more flexibility. EPSRC have indicated that projects would typically comprise a PI (for a proportion of time, e.g. 20% FTE) plus a PDRA for 1-3 years. Normally Co-Is are not permitted, unless they clearly bring complementary skills to the project and are from a different discipline to the PI.

There is a significant emphasis on career development and university support which “should be appropriate to the foundation of a research group, including allocation of resources (e.g. students, access to facilities, PDRA time etc.)”. In recent First Grant bids we have generally been seeing positive reviewer comments about the level of support offered for applicants, but given this is a revised scheme we will need to review this.

There is further information on the scheme available at the link above and in the FAQs. Research Funding and Policy Managers will be contacting all staff who have expressed an interest in or are developing an application for the scheme, but in the meantime Northumbria staff should please contact us if you have any questions.


Royal Academy of Engineering: Research Fellowships 2017/18

A day at BCIT aerospace technology campus by Mike CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The Royal Academy of Engineering offers seven Research Fellowships each year to outstanding early career engineering researchers, who are hosted by a UK higher education institute/university. These highly prestigious five-year Research Fellowships are designed to promote excellence in engineering by providing support for high-quality candidates to become future research leaders.

A day at BCIT aerospace technology campus by Mike CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
A day at BCIT aerospace technology campus by Mike CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

This year, the Royal Academy of Engineering’s prestigious Research Fellowships scheme will open 30th June and close at 4pm on 6th September 2017. As the number of bids per institution is restricted, Northumbria University has an internal selection process for this call – see below for further information and note this has an internal deadline of 13th July 2017.

The Academy will award 7 Research Fellowships and, as part of the Global Challenges Research Fund, up to 4 additional Engineering for Development Research Fellowships. The latter fellowships must positively impact social and economic development in one or more DAC list countries.

Who can apply?

Applicants must have been awarded a PhD within the four years prior to the submission deadline. Existing PhD students can apply but only if they will complete their PhD prior to the take up of the award. Applicants must not hold a permanent academic position, but fixed-term postdoctoral staff would be eligible. If you’ve applied previously but were unsuccessful, you can re-apply assuming you still meet the other eligibility criteria. There are no nationality restrictions.

Which disciplines do the fellowships cover?

The fellowship must be in the broad area of  ‘engineering’, which for RAEng encompasses: civil, construction and environmental engineering; materials and mining; chemical and process engineering; aerospace; transport and mechanical engineering; manufacturing and design; electrical and electronic engineering; energy and power; medical and bioengineering; computing and communications. More detail on all of these areas is given in the scheme guidance.

How much funding is available?

For the standard Research Fellowships, applications are capped at a maximum contribution from the Academy of £500,000 over the 5-year period, at 80% of full economic costs. For the Engineering for Development Research Fellowships, an additional £25k per annum is ring-fenced for the development of international collaborations in order to deliver the research outputs and build pathways to positively impact or contribute to the
sustainable economic or social development of a country or countries on the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) list.

Are there limits on the number of proposals?

Yes. Each university is only permitted to submit a maximum of three applications*, with an additional application permitted if the applicant is a member of a group which has been evidenced as persistently underrepresented within engineering (i.e. women and black & minority ethnic groups). Northumbria University is therefore adopting an internal selection process for this call:

  • All potential applicants should submit i) a two-page outline describing the proposed project and ii) up to three-page CV by 13th July 2017 to researchsupport@northumbria.ac.uk (please make sure these are two separate attachments – Word or PDF – and please include applicant surname in the filename for both documents).
  • The two-page outline should include the following information: title, abstract, subject area, objectives, timeliness/novelty, beneficiaries and impact, ambitions & career plans (further information about what to include under each of these headings can be found in the scheme guidance, though note that the word limits don’t apply here as long as you keep the outline under two pages A4).
  • The CV is left to the applicant’s discretion, but should include a list of publications, any grants awarded, and any postdoctoral positions. You may wish to indicate which publications you deem most significant. The CV should be no more than three sides A4.
  • An internal review group consisting of senior academics from relevant disciplines and Faculties will be convened and will make a decision about which applications will be supported by the 21st July giving the selected applicant(s) 6 weeks to work on the full proposal before the deadline.

Please contact your Departmental Research Funding and Policy Manager to discuss any potential application.

* RAEng updated this from two to three on 20th June 2017.


ERC Starting Grant events in the UK, 19 & 26 July

​As UK National Contact Point for the European Research Council (ERC), UKRO is holding two events for researchers interested in applying for the 2018 ERC Starting Grant call.  There will be an event at the Natural History Museum in London on 19 July from 10.45-13.30 and another identical event at the University of Edinburgh on 26 July from 10.00-13.00.

The events are free but registration is essential. You can sign up on the UKRO website.

The 2018 Starting Grant call is likely to open on 18 July and close on 17 October. These grants offer flexible, generous funding to researchers with an excellent track record at the stage at which they are starting their own independent research team or programme. To be eligible for the 2018 call, the PI must be 2-7 years from their PhD on 1 January 2018, which is extendable in certain limited cases.


UK Intelligence Community Postdoctoral Research Fellowships

CCTV by Ian Britton CC BY-NC

Are you an early career researcher in science, computing or engineering disciplines? The Royal Academy of Engineering, in conjunction with the Government Office for Science, are offering a number of postdoctoral fellowships in areas of interest to the intelligence, security and defence community. Applications must be submitted by 10th April at 4pm.

The topics available are in the table below with full descriptions available from the RAEng website (PDF):

Topic Title No.
Environmentally stable rechargeable batteries for flexible wearable electronics 1
Calculus of privacy 2
Magnon algorithmics 3
An examination of the role and impacts of automation in security 4
Stored energy detection in complex environments 5
Voice liveness detection 6
Heterogeneous network analysis 7
Ultra-Narrowband Transceiver Design for Long Range Low Power and Low Profile Communication 8
Advanced research into archive, analysis and retrieval of video based data 9
Quantum and Optical Sensors 10
Through the Earth Information 11
Electronic Materials and Components for Low Power Flexible Devices 12
Advancing direct-write printing methods for the fabrication of electronics on complex surfaces 13

Eligibility: Fellowships must be held at a UK Higher Education Institute in a department capable of supporting the research project and researcher. The fellow must have been awarded a PhD no more than five years prior to the submission deadline, and must not currently hold a permanent academic post. Full details on eligibility are available at the RAEng site.

Funding available: Applications are costed on a Full Economic Cost basis for up to two years of full-time postdoctoral fellowship. Costs covered in the grant include the applicant’s salary, travel, consumables, small items of equipment (less than £3k), plus technical staff, estates and indirect costs.

How to apply: Applications are made online at https://grants.raeng.org.uk/. The application includes sections on the profile and track record of the proposed fellow, the research topic, methodology, relation to previous work, potential significance and application of the results, resources requested and host institution support (which is added separately via a letter).

Please get in touch with your Faculty-aligned Research Funding and Policy Manager at an early stage if you would like to apply.


Faculty of Business and Law funding drop-in, Wed 26 Oct, 2.30-4.00

Question Everything by Thomas Galvez CC BY 2.0
Question Everything by Thomas Galvez CC BY 2.0

Emma Batey, the Faculty’s Business and Engagement Manager, and I (Research Funding and Policy Manager for B&L) will hold the monthly Wednesday afternoon funding drop-in in the staff room on the ground floor of CCE1 this week from 2.30-4.00.

This is an opportunity to ask any funding-related questions, big or small, or to get advice on funding opportunities, draft proposals and bid ideas. To book a specific time, please email me or Emma.

There has been a good amount of faculty interest in Knowledge Transfer Partnerships lately and Emma is happy to focus this session on developing KTPs, identifying deadlines, building relationships with external organisations and any other KTP-related questions but please feel free to come along to talk about other funding issues too.



EPSRC: ICT Theme Early Career Workshops

Data imageThe Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council has recently announced two two-day workshops for Early Career Researchers working in the area of Information and Communication Technologies. These are:

Sheffield (16-17 Feb 2017)

Cardiff (6-7 Mar 2017)

The workshops will provide an update to EPSRC and ICT Theme strategies and policies, and guidance on applying for grants. The workshops will be attended by a number of EPSRC staff but also by experienced academics from across the ICT portfolio who will provide guidance and mentoring throughout the two days. The events will include a number of facilitated sessions covering topics such as impact from research, career development and a number of new ICT Theme priorities. They will also include opportunities for networking with other ECR colleagues and the previously mentioned mentors.

All prospective attendees will need to complete a short EoI form to register interest in attending. This includes a short biography of career aspirations, primary area of research, why the workshop is of interest, and how you will disseminate information to colleagues at your institution. Each of these sections is a maximum of 100 words. You will need to complete the EoI by 24th November 2016 in order to be considered for a place at the workshops. EPSRC is looking for a balance between research organisations, areas, expertise and career stage, although they are primarily targeting this at “early career” researchers, which is usually up to 10 years post-doctorate, and typically those who have not yet been PI on a grant.

EPSRC will notify successful applicants in the w/c 12th December. The Research Council will cover costs of accommodation, but it will be up to participants to cover their own travel and subsistence costs.

Please get in touch with your Faculty RFPM if you’d like to discuss.