New Investigator Award - EPSRC

Contents

Frequently asked questions

Eligibility

How will EPSRC make decisions on eligibility of the applicant?

Acceptance of the applicant to the scheme will be judged by EPSRC before the application is sent to expert peer review. The answer to this question will be seen by the peer reviewers, but it is not an assessment question and we do not ask or expect them to comment on it.

How will EPSRC determine fit of the project resources to the scheme?

The level of resources requested must be justified following the UKRI Funding Service guidelines, and proportional to the project. Access to specialist facilities is usually exempt from assessment. Resources and costs requested will be part of the overall assessment through peer review, as per the UKRI Funding Service question.

I am on a fixed-term appointment, am I eligible to apply for a New Investigator Award?

Yes, provided the eligibility criteria are met and you are recognised as a full academic by your institution – see EPSRC eligibility of individuals. We would expect this recognition to form part of the research organisation support response. The grant duration must not exceed the period of your appointment with the university. A contractual extension must not be conditional on a successful application to the scheme.

I have been employed by more than one UK university. Am I eligible to apply for a NIA?

Yes, assuming all other eligibility criteria are met.

I have been a project co-lead (co-investigator) on a previous proposal. Can I apply for a NIA?

Yes, if this is your first application as a project lead and you satisfy the other eligibility criteria.

Am I eligible if I have applied as a project lead (principal investigator) on a component of a joint proposal?

Principal investigators on historic child grants are eligible to apply subject to meeting the other eligibility criteria. Applications as a principal investigator to EPSRC under joint funder agreements count as your first application to EPSRC. Note that child grants do not exist under UKRI Funding Service and we will consider your individual circumstances and contribution to other projects.

I have submitted an EPSRC grant proposal through an outline stage but was unsuccessful, am I still eligible to apply for a NIA?

Yes, if you were not invited to submit a full proposal you are still eligible for a NIA. If your outline was successful and you submitted a full proposal, that would count as your first application to EPSRC and you are not eligible for a NIA.

I previously submitted a proposal for a NIA but was unsuccessful, can I reapply?

The NIA scheme can only be applied to once, whether previous applications were successful or not, but specific applicants could be invited to resubmit an application by the prioritisation panel.

I currently hold a research fellowship. Am I eligible for the NIA scheme?

Please see the guidance on fellowships in the eligibility section.

I have received grant funding from other sources, am I eligible to apply?

This scheme is designed for applicants in the process of setting up their first research group. As such EPSRC will not permit applications from those who have previously been in receipt of significant grants – usually defined as those which included more than six months postdoctoral research assistant time, capital equipment in excess of £20,000, or a grant value in excess of £100,000 full economic cost. This guidance also applies to funding won competitively while working overseas from local funders.

Applications to calls led by UKRI, or to EPSRC funds which have been devolved to be managed by other institutions, for example hubs, do not count as the first application to EPSRC. However, they are still subject to our rules around significant grant funding. We may consider your current and historic research portfolio and whether this duplicates the ambition and experience of the scheme in reaching a judgement.

I have been in receipt of funding from industry, am I eligible to apply?

EPSRC welcomes applications from those who have previously worked in industry and are making a transition to academia. The same eligibility guidance around previous career history will apply.

Which other grants can I hold and still apply for a NIA?

EPSRC recognises that there are schemes with a purpose other than directly funding research which it may be beneficial to apply to, prior to applying for a NIA. Grants solely for the purchase of equipment with no associated research do not affect eligibility for NIA.

If you hold or have held any of the following and meet the other eligibility criteria, you may still apply for a NIA:

  • Industrial CASE Studentship
  • Overseas Travel Grant
  • Basic Tech Grant
  • Early Career Researcher Capital Block Grant
  • EPSRC Studentship through doctoral training partnership or centre for doctoral Training
  • Workshop Grant
  • Cooperative Awards in Science and Technology (CASE) for New Academic
  • Mathematical Sciences Small Grant
  • AMS Springboard (see caveat below)
  • New Horizons (see caveat below)

In the case of the AMS Springboard and New Horizons grants, they do not automatically affect NIA eligibility. However, they are subject to our limits around significant grants, for example grant value and postdoctoral research assistant time.

From time to time EPSRC may run calls for grants which will not affect NIA eligibility. Where this is the case it will be listed within the call guidance.

There are similar schemes run by other councils in UKRI and by external organisations. Where an applicant already holds or has previously held an award designed to address this career stage (for example, a NIA Research Grant from another research council, or a Wellcome Early Career Award), they are not eligible to apply for an EPSRC NIA. The STFC New Applicant award is a similar scheme but is aimed at low-level funding in exceptional cases, therefore this would not automatically discount an EPSRC NIA.

Can I apply for another grant after submitting my NIA application?

Yes, you could apply for another grant before or after the NIA application (note that NIA should be your first application to EPSRC as a project lead). However, being successful in another significant grant will affect your eligibility if the decision is made before the NIA application is submitted. Please refer to our eligibility guidance for more details.

Your eligibility criteria must be met at the point of application, that is, when your research organisation submits the application to EPSRC.

PhD studentships

Is it possible to fund a PhD studentship on a NIA?

No, we do not support PhD students on NIAs.

Is it possible to use other sources of funding to support a student alongside a NIA?

It is expected that part of the developmental aspect of a NIA will involve support from the university and, where possible, an assigned student. This may be drawn from the doctoral training partnership (DTP) or centre for doctoral training (CDT).

If a studentship is aligned in this way, it should be clear in the case for support and workplan how the work of the student will both contribute to the project and ensure successful completion of the student’s PhD.

Universities should pay particular attention to ensure that the new investigator is properly supported and mentored through their supervision of the student, and that adequate attention is paid to the training of both the student and the project lead. We would expect this to form part of the university support letter.

Applicants cannot request DTP or CDT students’ fees or stipend on a NIA, but a DTP or CDT student may work alongside them on the proposed research project.

Where costs are project-specific but involve the student (for example, consumables for completion of the project, or travel costs to project-specific meetings), these may be claimed where they would not form part of that which should be provided by the student’s training grant.

Is it possible to use externally funded students on a NIA?

Externally funded students may work on a NIA in the same way as a student drawn from the DTP or CDT.

If a studentship is aligned in this way, it should be clear in the case for support and workplan how the work of the student will both contribute to the project and ensure successful completion of the student’s PhD.

Universities should pay particular attention to ensure that the new investigator is properly supported and mentored through their supervision of the student, and that adequate attention is paid to the training of both the student and the project lead. We would expect this to form part of the university support letter.

Where costs are project-specific but involve the student (for example, consumables for completion of the project, or travel costs to project-specific meetings), these may be claimed where they would not form part of that which should be provided by the student’s training grant.

Their funding source should be properly explained within the application.

General questions including assessment and resources

How are NIA proposals handled at the panel?

Proposals submitted to the NIA scheme and the standard research scheme will be assessed at a single prioritisation panel meeting.

NIA are scored and ranked separately to standard research proposals during the prioritisation panel, since the 2 schemes have different objectives and assessment criteria.

However, applicants should be aware that NIA and standard research proposals are funded from the same budget. Accordingly, the number of successful NIA depends on the overall quality of all proposals at the panel and the funding available.

Am I allowed a project co-lead on a NIA?

If the grant crosses disciplinary boundaries, a project co-lead is permitted in exceptional circumstances if it is clearly demonstrated they are from a different discipline to the project lead, and are providing critical and complementary expertise.

The NIA is an individual award which is intended to support the project lead or in developing research independence, and the proposal should be developed accordingly.

Co-leads on NIAs must meet the general eligibility criteria for co-leads. However, they are not subject to the same eligibility restrictions as new investigators. Collaboration with more established researchers is permitted.

For example, in most cases we would not expect the co-lead to be from the same department, school, or similar facility as the project lead.

Researcher co-leads are not permitted on NIAs. NIAs are individual awards and designed to develop the independent research vision of the applicant, therefore it is not appropriate for someone else to have sufficient input into the research direction to have researcher co-lead status.

The UKRI-RCN Money Follows Cooperation Agreement does not apply to the EPSRC NIA funding opportunity.

Can I include equipment or instrument development on a NIA?

Yes, if it is project-specific and justified. Those who are seeking to substantially exceed this value should consider other funding mechanisms.

Can I have project partners on a NIA?

Yes. Project partners are treated the same way as standard mode grants project partners letter of support. Please note that academic project partners cannot be from the same institution as the applicant. Please see the ‘project partners’ section in the UKRI Funding Service form.

Can I transfer with my NIA to a different institution?

Yes, if there is a minimum of six months duration left on the grant. A request to transfer to another host organisation should be submitted via your research office. Equivalent or greater research organisation support should be described and provided by the new institution.

Can my NIA be transferred to a new principal investigator (‘project lead’ in the UKRI Funding Service)?

In general no, a NIA can only be held by the original applicant. There may be some circumstances where we would permit the project to continue under the guidance of a new project lead, but you must write to us first. Such circumstances may include the project nearing completion, or the need to maintain staff in post.

Last updated: 1 November 2023

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