Reducing research bureaucracy

The Simpler and Better Funding (SBF) programme drives UKRI’s work to reduce research bureaucracy. Through the new Funding Service, SBF will ease the burden of finding, applying for and managing UKRI research funding. This will enable researchers and innovators to focus more effort on their ideas, rather than funding administration.

The Independent Review of Research Bureaucracy, led by Professor Adam Tickell, has highlighted the need for coordinated change across the research and innovation community. UKRI welcomes this review and will work with government and the sector to take forward the recommendations. The SBF team will contribute to UKRI’s broader response to the review to reduce bureaucracy.

Throughout the review, the SBF programme leads engaged with Professor Tickell and his team. Many of the recommendations of the independent review align with work already underway within SBF.

We will continue to engage and share experiences with other research funders to further align our approaches where possible.

What we’re doing to reduce bureaucracy in the new Funding Service

Our new digital Funding Service is starting to change how UKRI manages funding opportunities, working towards greater consistency and standardisation across the research councils.

Simpler, standardised application process

The new UKRI Funding Service reduces bureaucracy for people applying for research funding. Applicants who took part in user research told us that, over the years, more and more information requests have been added to our old application system, but few administrative tasks have been taken away. For the new service, one of our foundational principles is to only ask for the information that we need, when we need it.

In addition, we are standardising and simplifying application processes across UKRI’s research councils and introducing consistent question sets and assessment criteria.

The new service makes it easier for applicants, and those supporting them, by providing clear and consistent guidance embedded within the application form, at the point it is needed.

We are also removing requirements for unnecessary attachments.

We have been piloting this approach. These pilots have helped us identify additional ways to improve how researchers and innovators apply for funding. Increasingly, more opportunities will run in the new service. Read more about our timeline for change.

Managing research grants with greater flexibility

We are exploring ways to make the management of funding simpler and better for all users. We are creating every aspect of the new service following the principle of user-centred design.

We recognise the need for greater flexibility for research organisations to make changes to and manage their funding. Our team is working with users to redesign the grant management processes that will be available in the new Funding Service.

Communicating with the research community

We understand the need to communicate important messages about funding to colleagues at all levels of the research community. As we introduce changes to the Funding Service, we will be clear about the changes we are making and why we are making them.

We want everyone involved to understand why they are being asked for information in funding applications, and to help research offices and applicants use the new UKRI Funding Service.

To keep up to date with developments in the new Funding Service, email us on sbf@ukri.org to sign up for our ‘Simpler and Better’ newsletter.

You can also visit the SBF pages on the UKRI website.

Contact us

The Funding Service helpdesk can provide support with your questions about applying for funding using the new service.

Email: support@funding-service.ukri.org
Telephone: +44 (0)1793 265810

Last updated: 20 October 2022

This is the integrated website of the seven research councils, Research England and Innovate UK.
Let us know if you have feedback or would like to help us test new developments.