Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: A NetworkPlus to strengthen the cybersecurity research ecosystem

Start application

Apply for funding to strengthen the UK’s cyber security research ecosystem and develop its people. Proposals should be applicable and inclusive to the wide range of communities comprising this ecosystem.

You must be based at a UK research organisation eligible for Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) funding.

Your department can be involved in one proposal.

The full economic cost (FEC) of your project can be up to £7.5 million. EPSRC will fund 80% of the FEC (up to £6 million).

The network can last for up to five years.

Who can apply

Before applying for funding, check the Eligibility of your organisation.

EPSRC standard eligibility rules apply. For full details, visit EPSRC’s eligibility page.

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has introduced new role types for funding opportunities being run on the new UKRI Funding Service.

For full details, visit Eligibility as an individual.

Your application should demonstrate that the team combines different areas of expertise and experience as appropriate to lead the NetworkPlus and achieve the stated outcomes, including community engagement, leadership and driving impact.

Individuals based in non-UK countries can be involved in the grant as visiting researchers, project partners, or members of advisory boards. However, they are not eligible to be project leads or co-leads, with the exception of individuals based at Norwegian institutions, who are eligible to be co-leads.

Please note that a maximum of five investigators can be included in your application.

Who is not eligible to apply

You or your department may be involved in no more than one application submitted to this funding opportunity. Involvement in this sense refers only to being named as Project Lead or Project Co-Lead on an application.

International applicants

Under the UKRI and Research Council of Norway Money Follows Cooperation agreement a project co-lead (international) (previously co-investigator) can be based in a Norwegian institution.

Please note that trusted research checks may be carried out on any proposal recommended for funding. See the ‘International collaboration’ section under ‘What we are looking for’ for more information.

Resubmissions

We will not accept uninvited resubmissions of projects that have been submitted to UKRI or any other funder.

Find out more about EPSRC’s resubmissions policy.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

We are committed to achieving equality of opportunity for all funding applicants. We encourage applications from a diverse range of researchers.

We support people to work in a way that suits their personal circumstances. This includes:

  • career breaks
  • support for people with caring responsibilities
  • flexible working
  • alternative working patterns

Find out more about equality, diversity and inclusion at UKRI.

What we're looking for

Aim

This funding opportunity aims to fund one NetworkPlus to strengthen collaboration, knowledge exchange, and skills across the various parts of the UK’s cyber security research ecosystem.

Strengthening the UK’s cyber ecosystem is Pillar One of the National Cyber Strategy. Within this, the first objective seeks to strengthen the structures, partnerships, and networks necessary to support a whole-of-society approach to cyber, getting the right people working together in the right ways across the whole public sector, industry and academia. Ensuring that these partnerships, and the people involved in them, are capable, highly skilled, and resilient is key to guaranteeing the success of the wider strategy.

The successful NetworkPlus will be a major part of EPSRC’s cyber security portfolio, building on a series of activities which EPSRC and the National Cyber Security Centre have delivered in partnership to address the National Cyber Strategy as well as aspects of EPSRC’s strategic delivery plan and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)’s five-year strategy.

Within EPSRC’s Strategic Delivery Plan, the ‘world-class impacts’’ objective identifies four mission-inspired multidisciplinary challenges which we aim to address. One of these is Artificial Intelligence, digitalisation and data: driving value and security. Through this priority we aim to generate scientific and technical advances to realise the benefits of AI and digital technologies, creating opportunities and improving outcomes for the UK economy and society. The priority contains several ambitions relevant to strengthening the UK’s cyber security research ecosystem:

  • encouraging adventure, pushing boundaries to realise the transformational impact of digital technologies across industry and society
  • ensuring the UK remains confident, capable and resilient as a thought leader in the fast-moving digital world
  • scoping future priorities in the area

This priority also addresses the UKRI strategic theme Building a Secure and Resilient World, which highlights the importance of enhancing national security across virtual and physical spaces, by improving awareness of risks and threats, preparedness, decision-making and response.

Scope

We expect that the NetworkPlus addresses the following (non-exhaustive) objectives:

  • providing leadership of diverse and inclusive interdisciplinary research communities (both new and existing) across academia, policy and industry
  • providing and improving connectivity between components of the UK cybersecurity research ecosystem
  • facilitating knowledge exchange between academia, industry, and government
  • supporting the career development of members of the ecosystem, particularly early career researchers
  • informing EPSRC’s future investment strategy and our dialogue with government, and providing thought leadership in the area
  • providing an international perspective to enable targeted collaboration with international partners, as well as benchmarking and horizon scanning to inform prioritisation of challenges
  • promoting regional strengths, for example via interaction with relevant regional groups such as the UK Cyber Clusters

In addition, the NetworkPlus should set aside a significant amount of its flexible funds for the award of small grants through open competition, across the broad remit of cyber security research.

The NetworkPlus could achieve these objectives by:

  • facilitating knowledge exchange across programmes and driving progress in cross-cutting areas, improving cross-disciplinary understanding and facilitating application of the state of the art between different areas of research
  • developing a roadmap or similar of key issues on the horizon and which funding gaps require prioritisation
  • building and supporting connections between research and non-academic stakeholders to drive greater co-creation of problems and solutions and identifying realistic translation pathways
  • running small funding opportunities to support early career researchers, high-risk projects, new collaborations, feasibility studies or impact acceleration activities
  • convene workshops and events to enable collaboration, horizon-scanning and generation of new ideas
  • engaging with local authority and civic stakeholders in meaningful collaboration, delivering benefits to specific local situations rather than a generic approach to the wider UK

This list is not exhaustive, and the successful network is not obliged to do all the above. Applicants are encouraged to tailor their activities to their specific vision and to be innovative in their approach.

Expectations

The proposed NetworkPlus must fit primarily within EPSRC’s remit, bringing together research and accelerating impact from research across EPSRC. However, we also welcome the involvement of researchers and expertise from other relevant disciplines across the remit of UKRI, such as social sciences and law. Workstreams should be co-created with appropriate interdisciplinary collaborators and non-academic stakeholders.

As we expect the NetworkPlus to have a major influence on the future cyber security research ecosystem, you should be EDI role models for the community, and after the award of the grant a detailed EDI plan must be prepared. This should identify specific barriers and challenges and propose a strategy to address these.

The NetworkPlus should have a national focus and relevance to all areas of the UK, but also look to consider the needs of local clusters or bases of expertise. You should:

  • indicate which regional clusters you will try to collaborate most closely with
  • demonstrate how regional activity will contribute to broader national benefit

There is no expectation that a NetworkPlus consists only of institutions within one regional area.

For more information on the background of this funding opportunity, go to the ‘Additional information’ section.

Duration

The duration of this award is up to five years.

Funding available

The FEC of your project can be up to £7.5m.

EPSRC will fund 80% of the FEC.

What we will fund

Project lead and co-leads’ salaries

These should be requested under the directly allocated cost heading.

The project lead and up to four co-leads can request funds to cover their salary costs for the time spent on setting up and leading the NetworkPlus.

The following can be requested under the Directly Incurred cost heading:

Flexible funds

Conducting research projects is outside of the NetworkPlus scope. However, flexible funding should be used to award small research grants (but not to demonstrator phase or beyond technology readiness level (TRL) 4). We particularly encourage the award of small grants aimed at developing the research of early career researchers. The expectation is that some of these small projects will lead to applications for further support from appropriate funding bodies. These funds must be distributed externally to the grant.

Flexible funds can be allocated to researchers at any organisation currently eligible for EPSRC funding. You will need to think carefully about how any budget for external distribution will be commissioned through a robust peer review process, and how you will ensure processes for the allocation of funds are fair and transparent within the framework of the UKRI principles of assessment and decision making.

Please note that any activities commissioned by the NetworkPlus using the flexible funds will be restricted to EPSRC current research organisation eligibility but will not be bound by standard EPSRC investigator eligibility criterion. It is the project lead’s responsibility to ensure ongoing governance to ensure correct usage and accountability of the funds (including carrying out trusted research checks where appropriate). We would expect some examples of the types of projects at the application stage, but the research challenges are expected to evolve throughout the NetworkPlus lifetime and should be co-created and collaborative in nature.

Flexible funds may only be used for activities that may be funded through a standard research grant. for example, not studentships or the kind of student costs that would be funded through a training grant.

These funds must be reported on the final expenditure statement (FES) as awarded on the offer letter and a breakdown of the expenditure must be submitted along with the FES. Flexible funds are funded at 80% FEC by EPSRC.

Travel and subsistence

Travel and subsistence enabling members of the NetworkPlus to meet to exchange ideas and expertise. This may include:

  • travel within the UK
  • visits by or to experts overseas, subject to trusted research considerations
  • travel and subsistence costs to support secondments

Where possible collaborators should meet their own travel costs.

Administrative support

A sufficient level of administrative support should be requested to ensure the coordination, management, and smooth running of the NetworkPlus.

You are expected to employ a dedicated grant manager as a core member of the team, with relevant experience and costed at the appropriate grade.

Reasonable costs for monitoring and dissemination of the network’s output can also be included.

Equipment

Equipment over £10,000 is not available through this funding opportunity. We will not be funding laboratory or research equipment for this funding opportunity. We will only support equipment to facilitate communication, networking and events. We welcome innovative and creative thought.

Project partners

Project partners are expected to provide contributions to the delivery of the project and should not therefore be seeking to claim funds from UKRI. However, where there are specific circumstances where project partners do require funding for minor costs such as travel and subsistence, this will usually be paid at 80% FEC. These costs should be outlined and fully justified in the proposal and will be subject to peer review.

Where the project needs work to be undertaken that is more significant and includes costs other than travel and subsistence, then the project partner may also need to be included as a subcontractor. Any subcontracting costs must be fully justified and will be subject to peer review, as well as the procurement rules of the host organisation.

Other activities

Funding can also be requested for:

  • activities to identify and disseminate key research challenges in the area, such as horizon-scanning studies
  • activities to generate new research projects in the area, such as sandpits
  • activities to facilitate impact and advance policy, such as reports, websites and briefings
  • secondment support, including scoping of potential opportunities, travel and subsistence, and other appropriate costs
  • activities to support career development and training
  • activities such as networking events to connect users, industry and other stakeholders with the research base
  • communication costs and for additional equipment such as personal computers and webservers
  • equipment to support networking, events and communication
  • expert working groups or problem-solving workshops
  • lectures and seminars
  • other projects as appropriate for the NetworkPlus

What we will not fund

Research

Funds cannot be requested to support the NetworkPlus to carry out research-related activities itself. These should be sought through the normal mechanisms or commissioned via open competition using flexible funds.

Appropriately skilled individuals may be costed to conduct and analyse horizon scanning activities to meet the aims and objectives of the NetworkPlus.

Equipment

Equipment over £10,000 is not available through this funding opportunity. We will not be funding laboratory or research equipment for this funding opportunity.

Supporting skills and talent

We encourage you to follow the principles of the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers and the Technician Commitment.

International collaboration

If your application includes international applicants, project partners or collaborators, visit UKRI’s trusted research and innovation page for more information on effective international collaboration.

You may seek advice from the Research Collaboration Advice Team (RCAT), a collaboration between the government and academia which provides research institutions with a first point of contact for official advice about national security risks linked to international research.

You should be aware of the National Security and Investment Act 2021, and where this may relate to outputs from your NetworkPlus.

Find out about getting funding for international collaboration.

Additional conditions

The NetworkPlus funding will be subject to the following additional conditions, in addition to our standard terms.

Community network expectations

This grant is awarded on the understanding that, in addition to the core research programme, the project will undertake a wider networking role with the research and user community outside its membership. This may involve coordination of activities such as meetings, workshops or seminars on behalf of us. A dedicated website must be set up within six months of the start of the grant and regularly maintained to provide a resource for engagement with the wider community.

This grant is expected to further develop the network including its academic and user (for example, policy, business, non-governmental organisation) membership throughout the period of funding in order to maximise its impact on a wide range of disciplines. As part of the grant, networks must identify ambitious ‘real-world’ challenges, which require a multidisciplinary approach and will form an agenda for future research.

User engagement strategy

You must develop and execute a strategy for engaging with potential users of the research funded in the project. This strategy should be reviewed and updated regularly as part of the formal management and reporting process agreed for this grant.
Equality, diversity and inclusion

Equality, diversity and inclusion

In addition to RGC 3.4, you are expected to prepare a full equality, diversity and inclusion plan for the duration of this grant to demonstrate best practice in equality, diversity and inclusion throughout the lifetime of this funding award. This must be recorded through the grant reporting process.

Project officer appointment

We will nominate a member of EPSRC staff (the project officer) who will be your primary point of contact. The project officer will ensure that the project is being run in accordance with the terms and conditions and in line with financial due diligence. The project officer(s) should have access to all documentation of governance and reporting bodies, in so far as it relates to the administration and application of the grant. As funding administrators, all UKRI staff have agreed to maintain the confidentiality required by all parties involved in EPSRC-funded research.

Advisory board appointment

This grant must establish and run an independent advisory board, or equivalent body, to oversee the running of the project and provide advice on the strategic direction and activities of the project. The terms of reference and membership of this group (at least 50% independent membership and an independent chair) should be agreed with EPSRC. The EPSRC project officer will also be expected to attend and participate in advisory board and other appropriate meetings for the duration of the grant.

It is expected the first advisory board meeting will be held within four months of the start date of the project and there will two meetings a year with contact outside of the meeting when appropriate.

Flexible funds

Notwithstanding standard grant condition RGC 4.4, the sum awarded under the heading of ‘flexible funds’ can include both directly incurred and directly allocated expenditure. These funds must be reported on the FES as awarded on the offer letter and a breakdown of the expenditure must be submitted along with the FES. If a breakdown of this expenditure is not received the FESs will be returned. Standard grant conditions apply to all other funds awarded on this grant.

Publicity and branding

In addition to RGC 12.4 publication and acknowledgement of support, you must make reference to EPSRC and UKRI funding and include the UKRI logo and relevant branding on all online or printed materials (including press releases, posters, exhibition materials and other publications) related to activities funded by this grant.

Progress reports

In addition to the requirements set out in RGC 7.4.3, you are responsible for providing annual progress reports against non-financial performance metrics. A detailed list of performance metrics and instructions for reporting will be agreed with the grant holder and advisory board upon commencement of the grant.

Management structure

You should have established an appropriate management structure with clear lines of responsibility and authority to oversee the day-to-day running of the project. This should be in place within six months of the start date of the grant. The terms of reference and management structure, including the project lead, co-leads and senior investigators must be approved by us in advance as must any changes to this structure. The Project Officer will be our main contact with the project, and must receive all meeting minutes of the management committees. We reserve the right to attend any meetings.

Management resourcing

Adequate resourcing to support an appropriate management structure, as specified in the funding opportunity documentation, should be costed within the grant. This includes employing a grant manager on the grant.

How to apply

We are running this funding opportunity on the new UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Funding Service. You cannot apply on the Joint Electronic Submissions (Je-S) system.

The project lead is responsible for completing the application process on the Funding Service, but we expect all team members and project partners to contribute to the application.

Only the lead research organisation can submit an application to UKRI.

To apply

Select ‘Start application’ near the beginning of this Funding finder page.

  1. Confirm you are the project lead.
  2. Sign in or create a Funding Service account. To create an account, select your organisation, verify your email address, and set a password. If your organisation is not listed, email support@funding-service.ukri.org
    Please allow at least 10 working days for your organisation to be added to the UKRI Funding Service.
  3. Answer questions directly in the text boxes. You can save your answers and come back to complete them or work offline and return to copy and paste your answers. If we need you to upload a document, follow the upload instructions in the Funding Service. All questions and assessment criteria are listed in the How to apply section on this Funding finder page.
  4. Allow enough time to check your application in ‘read-only’ view before sending to your research office.
  5. Send the completed application to your research office for checking. They will return it to you if it needs editing.
  6. Your research office will submit the completed and checked application to UKRI.

Where indicated, you can also demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. You should:

  • use images sparingly and only to convey important information that cannot easily be put into words
  • insert each new image onto a new line
  • provide a descriptive legend for each image immediately underneath it (this counts towards your word limit)
  • ensure files are smaller than 5MB and in JPEG, JPG, JPE, JFI, JIF, JFIF, PNG, GIF, BMP or WEBP format

Watch our research office webinars about the new Funding Service.

For more guidance on the Funding Service, see:

Deadline

We must receive your application by 4:00pm UK time on 16 April 2024.

You will not be able to apply after this time.

Make sure you are aware of and follow any internal institutional deadlines.

Following the submission of your application to the funding opportunity, your application cannot be changed, and applications will not be returned for amendment. If your application does not follow the guidance, it may be rejected. If an application is withdrawn prior to peer review or office rejected due to substantive errors in the application, it cannot be resubmitted to the opportunity.

Personal data

Processing personal data

EPSRC, as part of UKRI, will need to collect some personal information to manage your funding service account and the registration of your funding applications.

We will handle personal data in line with UK data protection legislation and manage it securely. For more information, including how to exercise your rights, read our privacy notice.

Publication of outcomes

EPSRC, as part of UKRI, will publish the outcomes of this funding opportunity online.

If your application is successful, we will publish some personal information on the UKRI Gateway to Research.

Summary

Word limit: 550

In plain English, provide a summary we can use to identify the most suitable experts to assess your application.

We may make this summary publicly available on external-facing websites, so make it suitable for a variety of readers, for example:

  • opinion-formers
  • policymakers
  • the public
  • the wider research community

Guidance for writing a summary

Clearly describe your proposed work in terms of:

  • context
  • the challenge the project addresses
  • aims and objectives
  • potential applications and benefits

Core team

List the key members of your team and assign them roles from the following:

  • project lead (PL)
  • project co-lead (UK) (PcL)
  • project co-lead (international) (PcL (I))
  • researcher co-lead (RcL)
  • specialist
  • grant manager
  • professional enabling staff
  • research and innovation associate
  • visiting researcher

Only list one individual as project lead.

Find out more about UKRI’s core team roles in funding applications.

Application questions

Vision and Approach

Create a document that includes your responses to all criteria. The document should not be more than six sides of A4, single spaced in paper in 11-point Arial (or equivalent sans serif font) with margins of at least 2cm. You may include images, graphs, tables. You can have an additional page for a diagrammatic work plan.

For the file name, use the unique Funding Service number the system gives you when you create an application, followed by the words ‘Vision and Approach’.

Save this document as a single PDF file, no bigger than 8MB. Unless specifically requested, do not include any sensitive data within the attachment.

If the attachment does not meet these requirements, the application will be rejected.

The Funding Service will provide document upload details when you apply.

What are you hoping to achieve with and how will you deliver your proposed work?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

For the Vision, explain how your proposed work:

  • is of excellent quality and importance within or beyond the field(s) or area(s)
  • has the potential to advance current understanding, generates new knowledge, thinking or discovery within or beyond the field or area
  • is timely given current trends, context and needs
  • impacts world-leading research, society, the economy or the environment

Within the Vision section we also expect you to:

  • demonstrate how the proposed work aligns strategically to the funding opportunity aims and scope
  • demonstrate a coherent strategic vision and establish clear outcomes for the NetworkPlus
  • identify the potential direct or indirect benefits and who the beneficiaries might be
  • identify key communities and future network members

For the Approach, explain how you have designed your work so that it:

  • is effective and appropriate to achieve your objectives
  • is feasible, and comprehensively identifies any risks to delivery and how they will be managed
  • if applicable, uses a clear and transparent methodology
  • if applicable, summarises the previous work and describes how this will be built upon and progressed
  • will maximise translation of outputs into outcomes and impacts
  • describes how your, and if applicable your team’s, research environment (in terms of the place, and relevance to the project) will contribute to the success of the work

Within the Approach section we also expect you to:

  • describe how the work will deliver against the expectations outlined in the funding opportunity
  • provide clear plans for:
    • networking with relevant communities and stakeholders including how you will support and build equitable, diverse, inclusive and accessible communities
    • building links between government and policy stakeholders and academic communities, supporting two-way communication and collaboration
    • utilising flexible funds to award small grants or other activities, including details on commissioning and ongoing governance to ensure correct usage and reporting
    • management of all relevant work packages, including a dedicated grant manager with appropriate expertise as a core member of the team
  • address place aspects. How will working with existing regional strengths amplify and enhance your network’s impact?
  • provide a project plan including milestones and timelines in the form of a Gantt chart or similar (additional one-page A4)

Applicant and team capability to deliver

Word limit: 1,500

Why are you the right individual or team to successfully deliver the proposed work?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Evidence of how you, and if relevant your team, have:

  • the relevant experience (appropriate to career stage) to deliver the proposed work
  • the right balance of skills and expertise to cover the proposed work
  • the appropriate leadership and management skills to deliver the work and your approach to develop others
  • contributed to developing a positive research environment and wider community

You may demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. Further details are provided in the service.

The word count for this section is 1,500 words; 1,000 words to be used for R4RI modules and, if necessary, a further 500 words for Additions.

Use the Résumé for Research and Innovation (R4RI) format to showcase the range of relevant skills you and, if relevant, your team (project and project co-leads, researchers, technicians, specialists, partners and so on) have and how this will help deliver the proposed work. You can include individuals’ specific achievements but only choose past contributions that best evidence their ability to deliver this work.

Complete this section using the R4RI module headings listed. Use each heading once and include a response for the whole team, see the UKRI guidance on R4RI. You should consider how to balance your answer, and emphasise where appropriate the key skills each team member brings:

  • contributions to the generation of new ideas, tools, methodologies, or knowledge
  • the development of others and maintenance of effective working relationships
  • contributions to the wider research and innovation community
  • contributions to broader research or innovation users and audiences and towards wider societal benefit
Additions

Provide any further details relevant to your application. This section is optional and can be up to 500 words. You should not use it to describe additional skills, experiences, or outputs, but you can use it to describe any factors that provide context for the rest of your R4RI (for example, details of career breaks if you wish to disclose them). Complete this as a narrative. Do not format it like a CV.

UKRI has introduced new role types for funding opportunities being run on the new Funding Service. For full details, see Eligibility as an individual.

References

Word limit: 1,000

List the references you have used to support your application.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Include all references in this section, not in the rest of the application questions.

You should not include any other information in this section.

We advise you not to include hyperlinks, as assessors are not obliged to access the information they lead to or consider it in their assessment of your application.

If linking to web resources, to maintain the information’s integrity, include persistent identifiers (such as digital object identifiers) where possible.

You must not include links to web resources to extend your application.

Project partners

Add details about any project partners’ contributions. If there are no project partners, you can indicate this on the Funding Service.

A project partner is a collaborating organisation who will have an integral role in the proposed research. This may include direct (cash) or indirect (in-kind) contributions such as expertise, staff time or use of facilities.

Add the following project partner details:

  • the organisation name and address (searchable via a drop-down list or enter the organisation’s details manually, as applicable)
  • the project partner contact name and email address
  • the type of contribution (direct or in-direct) and its monetary value

If a detail is entered incorrectly and you have saved the entry, remove the specific project partner record and re-add it with the correct information.

For audit purposes, UKRI requires formal collaboration agreements to be put in place if an award is made.

Project partners: letters (or emails) of support

Word limit 10

Upload a single PDF containing the letters or emails of support from each partner you named in the ‘Project partners’ section.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Enter the words ‘attachment supplied’ in the text box, or if you do not have any project partners enter ‘N/A’. Each letter or email you provide should:

  • confirm the partner’s commitment to the project
  • clearly explain the value, relevance, and possible benefits of the work to them
  • describe any additional value that they bring to the project

Save letters or emails of support from each partner in a single PDF no bigger than 8MB. Unless specially requested, please do not include any sensitive personal data within the attachment.

For the file name, use the unique Funding Service number the system gives you when you create an application, followed by the words ‘Project partner’.

If the attachment does not meet these requirements, the application will be rejected.

The Funding Service will provide document upload details when you apply. If you do not have any project partners, you will be able to indicate this in the Funding Service.

Ensure you have prior agreement from project partners so that, if you are offered funding, they will support your project as indicated in the contributions template.

For audit purposes, UKRI requires formal collaboration agreements to be put in place if an award is made.

Do not provide letters of support from host and project co-leads’ research organisations.

Resources and cost justification

Word limit: 1,000

What will you need to deliver your proposed work and how much will it cost?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Justify the application’s more costly resources, in particular:

  • project staff
  • significant travel for field work or collaboration (but not regular travel between collaborating organisations or to conferences)
  • grant manager
  • any consumables beyond typical requirements, or that are required in exceptional quantities
  • all resources that have been costed as ‘Exceptions’
  • flexible fund uses

Assessors are not looking for detailed costs or a line-by-line breakdown of all project resources. Overall, they want you to demonstrate how the resources you anticipate needing for your proposed work:

  • are comprehensive, appropriate, and justified
  • represent the optimal use of resources to achieve the intended outcomes
  • maximise potential outcomes and impacts

Ethics and responsible research and innovation (RRI)

Word limit: 500

What are the ethical or RRI implications and issues relating to the proposed work? If you do not think that the proposed work raises any ethical or RRI issues, explain why.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Demonstrate that you have identified and evaluated:

  • the relevant ethical or responsible research and innovation considerations
  • how you will manage these considerations

You may demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. Further details are provided in the Funding Service.

Have any issues around trusted research been identified, and if so, have these been appropriately mitigated?

If you are collecting or using data, identify:

  • any legal and ethical considerations of collecting, releasing or storing the data including consent, confidentiality, anonymisation, security and other ethical considerations and, in particular, strategies to not preclude further reuse of data
  • formal information standards with which your study will comply

Additional sub-questions (to be answered only if appropriate) will be included in the Funding Service. These will ask about numbers, species/strain and justification about:

  • genetic and biological risk
  • research involving the use of animals
  • conducting research with animal overseas
  • research involving human participation
  • research involving human tissues or biological samples

Programme leadership and management

Word limit: 500

How have you co-created and designed your research programme to maximise the impact of the NetworkPlus?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Explain how you intend to:

  • manage and monitor the progress of the programme, including consideration of how the flexibility of resources will be managed
  • embed creativity and agility into the plans for the programme in order to respond to a changing landscape
  • develop and progress the careers of all team members, including academic and non-academic staff
  • embed considerations of equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) at all levels and in all aspects of the programme

Added value

Word limit: 500

What is the added value that this NetworkPlus will enable that would not be possible otherwise?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Demonstrate how the NetworkPlus will achieve the following:

  • create new interdisciplinary research communities and topics
  • provide a critical mass of researchers with a range of expertise and experience
  • promote mobility between academia, industry and other sectors
  • achieve sustainability of impacts beyond the funding requested

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

We will assess your application using the following process.

Any applications that do not fit the remit of the opportunity will be rejected prior to assessment. Please note that the application must focus on building a research community, not a research project.

This opportunity will use a two-stage assessment process.

Expert panel

We will invite experts to review your application independently, against the specified criteria for this funding opportunity. They will then rank it alongside other applications at a panel meeting.

You will have the opportunity to respond to experts’ comments prior to the panel discussion.

Interview panel

For successful applications, an expert interview panel will conduct interviews with applicants after which the panel will make a funding recommendation.

We expect interviews to be held in July 2024.

EPSRC will make the final funding decision.

Feedback

We will give feedback with the outcome of your application.

Principles of assessment

We support the San Francisco declaration on research assessment and recognise the relationship between research assessment and research integrity.

Find out about the UKRI principles of assessment and decision making.

We reserve the right to modify the assessment process as needed.

Assessment criteria

The criteria we will assess your application against are:

  • vision of the project, and approach to the project
  • capability of the applicant or applicants and the project team to deliver the project
  • resources requested to do the project
  • ethical and responsible research and innovation considerations of the project
  • added value of the NetworkPlus
  • programme leadership and management, including considerations of equality, diversity and inclusion

Find details of assessment questions and criteria under the ‘Application questions’ heading in the ‘How to apply’ section.

Contact details

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Contact details

For help and advice on costings and writing your proposal please contact your research office in the first instance, allowing sufficient time for your organisation’s submission process.

For questions related to this specific funding opportunity please contact digital.security.resilience@epsrc.ukri.org

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Phone: 01793 547490

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Find out more information on submitting an application.

Sensitive information

If you or a core team member need to tell us something you wish to remain confidential, please contact tfschangeepsrc@epsrc.ukri.org

Include in the subject line: [the funding opportunity title; sensitive information; your Funding Service application number].

Typical examples of confidential information include:

  • individual is unavailable until a certain date (for example due to parental leave)
  • declaration of interest
  • additional information about eligibility to apply that would not be appropriately shared in the ‘Applicant and team capability’ section
  • conflict of interest for UKRI to consider in reviewer or panel participant selection
  • the application is an invited resubmission

For information about how UKRI handles personal data, read UKRI’s privacy notice.

Additional info

Background

A NetworkPlus is a strategic investment which brings together new research communities and identifies, prioritises and develops future research challenges.

EPSRC has had considerable success from previous NetworkPlus investments which focus on academic research challenges. These NetworkPlus investments have developed a rich body of outputs, including:

  • new collaborations
  • grant proposals
  • new research methods
  • horizon scanning reports
  • new policy
  • feasibility studies

Lessons learned from previous NetworkPlus activities include:

  • a clear, well-defined topic for the network is needed to focus plans and activities
  • the portfolio of grants needs to be regularly reviewed
  • sufficient administrative and host university support for the network is vital, in order to support activities such as small projects and dissemination activities
  • the amount of funding for small projects may be variable, and should depend on the research topic or discipline
  • different scales of study may require different assessment processes to reflect the value that is being requested
  • expectation and arrangements for full economic costing of network activities need to be clear across all parties
  • advertising of events needs to be included in the budget
  • long-term plans for the legacy and sustainability of the network need to be considered early on
  • a NetworkPlus should coordinate and complement existing research in the area, rather than compete or replicate work

Some examples of active NetworkPluses in the area of digital security and resilience are:

Other relevant UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) or National Cyber Security Centre investments in this area include:

EPSRC’s digital security and resilience (DS&R) theme

EPSRC’s digital security and resilience theme was formed in 2022 to put a spotlight on digital technologies relevant to the security, defence and resilience of the UK. The supported research will aim to create a more secure and resilient digital society that is robust and prepared to withstand shocks and challenges in an increasingly interconnected digital world.

We are doing this by:

  • bringing relevant EPSRC investments under the new theme, while making connections across EPSRC and UKRI, and with key stakeholders
  • developing EPSRC’s strategy and plans for digital security and resilience, and for specific topic areas falling under that remit, such as cyber security and digital twinning, while connecting across UKRI
  • building communities, networks and capacity to develop national capability in specific digital security and resilience topic areas

Broadly, the digital security and resilience theme’s investments fall in two areas:

  • mitigating risk: research to promote and improve the security and resilience of digital technologies
  • creating opportunities: research into digital technologies that would be developed to promote and improve the security, defence and resilience of the UK, and the security and resilience of its organisations, systems, infrastructure and society

Recently, the DS&R theme has:

  • invested over £9 million, including co-funding from Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), in 11 research projects aligned with the goals of the cyber security research institutes
  • awarded funding for a UKRI NetworkPlus to develop a UK digital twinning research community
  • awarded funding to lead the establishment of a digital twinning research hub to support the decarbonisation of transport
  • secured a Prosperity Partnership in digital twinning for energy grid operation and resilience
  • funded the second phase of the SPRITE+ NetworkPlus
  • funded the third phase of the Centre for Secure Information Technologies
  • delivered the digital forensics aspect of the UKRI Forensics Sandpit

Building a secure and resilient world strategic theme

The UKRI strategy for 2022 to 2027: transforming tomorrow together, outlines five strategic themes that look to harness the full power of the UK’s research and innovation system to address major national and global challenges.

‘Building a secure and resilient world’ is one of the themes under the auspices of which UKRI will catalyse, convene and conduct research and innovation, through taking a systemic approach that is human-centred, aimed at strengthening societal and economic resilience. The theme aims to enhance national security across virtual and physical environments, by improving awareness of risks and threats, preparedness, informed decision making and response, and allowing change to be understood as a force for good.

‘Building a secure and resilient world’ directly tackles core methodologies for supporting a better and more robust approach to managing crisis from business to government to communities. A core focus of the theme is on supporting systems thinking and decision making to reduce risk and strengthen our security and resilience, and showing how this should support, and be implemented by, communities at every level, from local to international.

We have identified five interrelated sub-themes, through which UKRI will deliver a range of activities tailored to enable resilience to different risks in different systems that:

  • is built on the strengths of our current economy and society
  • helps reduce vulnerability
  • prepares for robust and rapid responses and enhances recovery
  • encourages approaches which bring positive transformation

The five sub-themes are:

  • global order in a time of change: enable UK to take one of the leading positions in shaping an international order that is secure, resilient and just
  • technologies for resilience, security and defence: advance capacity of state defence and security, society and economy to reduce vulnerabilities, to respond to and recover from shocks through innovation and technological advancement
  • resilient and secure supply chains: increase the resilience of supply chains (food, critical materials, manufacturing, complex systems) to a wide variety to potentially interacting shocks
  • behavioural and cultural resilience: reduce the impact of shocks on individuals and communities through adaptation and embracing change, deployment of resources for personal resilience that is fair and just
  • strengthening resilience in natural and built environment: mitigate impact of natural and anthropogenic hazards and risks on wider societal processes and operations in rural and urban contexts being responsive to particular requirements of place

Research disruption due to COVID-19

We recognise that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused major interruptions and disruptions across our communities. We are committed to ensuring that individual applicants and their wider team, including partners and networks, are not penalised for any disruption to their career, such as:

  • breaks and delays
  • disruptive working patterns and conditions
  • the loss of ongoing work
  • role changes that may have been caused by the pandemic

Reviewers and panel members will be advised to consider the unequal impacts that COVID-19 related disruption might have had on the capability to deliver and career development of those individuals included in the application. They will be asked to consider the capability of the applicant and their wider team to deliver the research they are proposing.

Where disruptions have occurred, you can highlight this within your application if you wish, but there is no requirement to detail the specific circumstances that caused the disruption.

Updates

  • 14 February 2024
    Info regarding who is not eligible to apply updated under What we're looking for.

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