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.


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.


Opportunities for Early Career Researchers – Women in STEM

Institution of Engineering and Technology Conference

(Deadline for submissions 23 January 2017)

The most recent Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) annual ‘Skills and Demand in Industry’ Survey showed that, despite a rise in demand for engineering staff, UK employers find many new engineering graduates have significant skills deficiencies.There have been new initiatives proposed and implemented addressing these deficiencies through disruptive innovation, namely making engineering higher education more appropriate for the needs of industry and attractive to students.
The Institute of Engineering and Technology is inviting key educational pioneers to give presentations about new degree programmes or innovative approaches in undergraduate engineering courses.

If you would like to highlight the work of your educational institution at the IEC conference on 22 May, please contact Stephanie Fernandes (SFernandes@theiet.org).

The 2017 L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science UK & Ireland Fellowship Awards Programme

(Deadline for submissions is 25 January 2017)

Awarding five outstanding female post-doctoral scientists a bursary of £15,000.  The fellowships are open to female early-career researchers working in the fields of life and physical sciences, engineering, mathematics and computer sciences.

Apply online at www.womeninscience.co.uk and contact your Faculty Research Funding and Policy Manager.

Rosalind Franklin Award and Lecture 

(Deadline for nominations 30 January 2017 at 18.00)

The Rosalind Franklin Award is made annually to support and promote women in STEM, the winner receives a £30,000 grant to implement a project to raise the profile of women in STEM.

This Award is for anyone but particularly early and mid-career researchers. Nominees should have been resident in the UK for three years and be actively engaged in research in a university, research institute or in industry.

If you have any questions contact awards@royalsociety.org (+44 20 7451 2609) and contact Faculty Research Funding and Policy Manager.


FameLab 2017 is here! Centre for Life 27th January 2017

Passionate about science? Love telling people about the latest research? Want to inspire the next generation?


If any of the above applies to you  –  then FameLab needs you!


The international competition in science engagement is back for another fantastic year.  FameLab is a great way to get your research out there, test your skills, or just have a laugh! Previous winners have gone on to travel the globe, and appear on radio and TV.


Contestants have just three minutes to convey a science, maths or engineering concept in an exciting and engaging way. If that sounds like your sort of challenge, FameLab wants to hear from you. The competition is open to anyone currently working science, technology, engineering or maths though you must be over 21. More details can be found here.


UK competitors have the chance to win a weekend Master Class with experts in media & communication skills, not to mention a chance to appear in the FameLab International Final at the Cheltenham Science Festival in June 2017.


The Newcastle heats are taking place at the Centre for Life on the 27th January 2017. The heat will run in the evening as part of the Friday Night Life adult event at the science centre.


There will be an optional training session at the Centre for life, (date and time TBC). If you wish to attend the training, or have any questions contact Duncan at duncan.yellowlees@life.org.uk