EPSRC has recently released a call for proposals to support cross-disciplinary research on new economic models in the digital economy. EPSRC are specifically targeting business schools and economics researchers, which it says have been under-represented in existing grants:
The digital economy challenges the way organisations work and do business. New technologies have revolutionized the way people relate to one another and are challenging traditional economic models and boundaries, as well as providing potential opportunities to create new ways of doing business: “To realise the economic potential of new technology, high quality research at the interfaces between the digital economy, economics and management sciences will be required and is of strategic importance to the UK.”
How do I apply?
There is £3.5M available in the call, which opened earlier this month and closes on 28th June. This is an invitation for outline proposals, and is not being run through Je-S. Applicants must fill in a short form with basic details of applicants, costs and project title as well as a three-page case for support, and send to EPSRC via email before the deadline. However, it’s worth noting that even outline applications should be properly costed before submission, so please contact RBS at an early stage if you intend to apply.
What are they looking for?
They want to see a mix of “people-based” networking and research activities which “complement the work of the DET Network+ ‘New Economic Models in the Digital Economy’” as well as the previously funded Digital Economy grants. The challenges to be addressed in this call are:
- The Digital Economy and financial services
- Collaborative consumption
- Personal data
- ‘Incomplete’ products and ‘Platform’ offerings
There are full details in the online guidance notes [PDF]. Outlines must address one or more of these challenges otherwise they’ll be considered outside the remit of the call. It’s also important to note that proposals must include both people-based and research activities (defined in the call guidance notes), not just one or the other.
EPSRC expect to fund 5 grants, suggesting an indicative value of £500K – £1M per grant. This is borne out by the values of the funded grants from the previous round, the maximum value of which is £1.1M, and the mean value is £822K.
Given the interdisciplinary focus this is likely to involve multiple institutions in a single proposal. Further, given the fact that applications must include both people-based and research activities, this would suggest that a duration of 2-3 years would be expected, although EPSRC do not give any indication of maximum length. Again, this is borne out by reviewing durations of previously funded grants, which are all 2-3 years in length.
Another interesting factor to consider is the inclusion of project partners (i.e. non-academic organisations). Given the topics and direction of the call, it’s likely that inclusion of relevant and active project partners will strengthen a bid, although it’s interesting to note that numbers of partners in existing projects varies from 0-21 in any single project.
It’s always essential to consider track record when deciding which institution and PI will lead a bid. Note that all of the grants funded in the previous round were led by research intensives and often included several other strong research institutions in the consortium. There were only a few grants which were based entirely within a single institution, including Cambridge and Imperial.
In line with the interdisciplinary focus of the theme, various disciplines were represented in grants funded under the previous call, including computer sciences, engineering, mathematics, economics and social sciences. This will be essential for the current call, and again it’s worth noting that EPSRC are targeting economics and business researchers for this call.