Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Early career researcher international collaboration grants

Apply for funding to initiate or develop new international partnerships with researchers overseas.

You must be:

  • an early career researcher who meets the eligibility requirements of the EPSRC New Investigator Award scheme
  • is based at a UK research organisation eligible for EPSRC funding.

There are 2 parallel funding routes to this funding opportunity:

  • open funding route
  • international development funding route

The full economic cost of your project can be up to £200,000 with a duration of up to 2 years.

EPSRC will fund 80%of the full economic cost.

Who can apply

This funding opportunity is only open to early career researchers who meet the eligibility requirements of the EPSRC New Investigator Award scheme.

Whether they are successful or unsuccessful, applicants who apply for an early career researcher international collaboration grant are still eligible to apply for a New Investigator Award. Applicants who have previously applied for a New Investigator Award, successful or unsuccessful, but otherwise still satisfy the other New Investigator Award eligibility criteria are still eligible to apply to this funding opportunity.

Submissions to this funding opportunity will count towards the EPSRC repeatedly unsuccessful applicants policy.

What we're looking for

EPSRC wants to support early career researchers to initiate or develop new international partnerships with researchers overseas. You and your international partners may have a previous relationship, but we do not expect you to have worked together extensively.

We expect the proposed collaborative project to present a balance between partnership building activities and direct research, as appropriate, considering the key objectives of the funding opportunity. The international academic project partners must also have an integral role in the proposed work.

You can request funding to support any eligible international collaborative activities, including (but not limited to):

  • joint research activities: scoping, feasibility, or proof of concept studies
  • travel and networking
  • programmes of exchange visits or staff secondments
  • impact-specific activities

As per standard New Investigator Award guidance, you can include co-investigators if the grant crosses disciplinary boundaries and it is demonstrated that they are from a different discipline to the principal investigator.

Funding routes

This funding opportunity has 2 parallel funding routes:

  • open funding route
  • international development funding route

This page details the requirements for the open funding route of the funding opportunity.

Find out about the international development funding route.

Applicants are permitted to only be involved with 1 application for this funding opportunity.

Proposed collaborations for this open funding route may involve international research partners from any country, this can include researchers in 1 or more lower middle income, low income, or least developed countries on the Development Assistance Committee list, where the focus of the research is outside the official development assistance compliance criteria.

Although the majority of the application should lie within EPSRC remit, multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary collaborations with international partners are welcomed.

Funding available

EPSRC has up to £5,000,000 to spend on the 2 funding routes of this funding opportunity, including:

  • up to £4,000,000 for this open funding route
  • up to £1,000,000 for the international development funding route

You may apply for up to £200,000 at 100% full economic costs with a duration of up to 2 years.

All costs will be funded at 80% of full economic costs.

You can request funds for anything eligible under standard EPSRC rules. This includes but is not limited to funding available to cover:

  • staff time
  • travel and subsistence
  • visiting researchers
  • meetings or workshops
  • resources to enable different approaches to building and sustaining collaborations, which reduce the need to travel
  • ‘proof of concept’ research activities for UK researchers exploring new international partnerships

Support may be requested for international partners (both investigators and researchers). As per standard EPSRC visiting researcher guidelines, funding is limited to 12 months per individual international partner.

The UK research organisation should include estate costs and indirect costs for any visiting researcher regardless of whether the support being requested includes a salary contribution or is only travel and subsistence. You can also request costs associated with the international partners undertaking research activities in the UK, including consumables.

You can also request support for research activity related costs, including consumables, for UK researchers during any time spent overseas.

EPSRC will not support overheads, salary or research activity costs for overseas researchers during times that they are not working in the UK.

Sub-contracting costs can be claimed as an exception to bring in non-standard expertise and is relevant to research and help further the partnership but it needs to be distinguished from a co-investigator.

Read about support available on EPSRC grants for people with caring responsibilities.

Equipment over £10,000 in value (including VAT) is not available through this funding opportunity. Smaller items of equipment (individually under £10,000) should be in the ‘Directly Incurred – Other Costs’ heading.

EPSRC approach to equipment funding.

Trusted Research and Innovation

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is committed in ensuring that effective international collaboration in research and innovation takes place with integrity and within strong ethical frameworks. Trusted research and innovation is a UKRI work programme designed to support cross-sector campaigns that protect all those working in our thriving and collaborative international sector.

Our trusted research and innovation principles set out UKRI’s expectations of organisations funded by UKRI in relation to due diligence for international collaboration.

You are encouraged to read these principles and should familiarise yourself with the resources referenced in our trust research and innovation guidance, including for example the guidance on trusted research from the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI), in order to get the most out of international collaboration whilst protecting intellectual property, sensitive research and personal information.

Responsible innovation

You are expected to work within the EPSRC framework for responsible innovation.

How to apply

Webinar

Prospective applicants are invited to join a webinar on 16 November 2022 at 10:00am UK time.

Attend the webinar.

The webinar will last for an hour, it will begin with a presentation from the EPSRC international team and will be followed by an opportunity to ask questions about the funding opportunity.

Questions can be submitted prior to the event using the EPSRC international team email address or during the webinar using the question and answer function. The questions raised and answers will be compiled into a frequently asked questions document, which will be published shortly after the webinar.

Intention to submit

Applicants who intend to submit an application to this funding opportunity should complete the following intention to submit by 7 December 2022.

Complete the intention to submit form on Smart Survey.

You will be asked to provide the following information:

  • investigator names
  • principal investigator contact information
  • lead UK research organisation
  • international partner name and organisation
  • if you will be applying for the open or international development funding route of this funding opportunity
  • summary of research project, including:
    • description of research activities that will be undertaken
    • research disciplines you are associated with

You are not required to have finalised all the details of your application by the time the intention to submit is made. We recognise that information provided in the full proposal, including the names of the international partners, may differ from the information provided in the intention to submit form.

Information provided as part of the intention to submit will not be formally assessed. We will use this information to help plan the proposal assessment, for example to understand expected submission levels and the spread of applications across EPSRC’s remit.

Full proposal

You must apply using the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system.

You can find advice on completing your application in:

We recommend you start your application early.

Your host organisation will also be able to provide advice and guidance.

Submitting your application

Before starting an application, you will need to log in or create an account in Je-S.

When applying:

  1. Select ‘documents’, then ‘new document’.
  2. Select ‘call search’.
  3. To find the opportunity, search for: ‘Early Career Researchers International Collaboration Grants’.

This will populate:

  • council: EPSRC
  • document type: Standard Proposal
  • scheme: Standard
  • call/type/mode: Early Career Researchers International Collaboration Grants

Once you have completed your application, make sure you ‘submit document’.

You can save completed details in Je-S at any time and return to continue your application later.

Deadline

EPSRC must receive your application by 18 January 2023 4:00pm UK time.

You will not be able to apply after this time. Please leave enough time for your proposal to pass through your organisation’s Je-S submission route before this date.

You should ensure you are aware of and follow any internal institutional deadlines that may be in place.

Attachments

Your application must also include the following attachments:

  • case for support (8 pages, 2 on your track record and 6 on the scientific case). The track record should cover the UK and international partners
  • workplan (1 page)
  • justification of resources (2 pages)
  • CVs (up to 2 A4 sides each) for named:
    • postdoctoral staff, researcher co-investigators (research assistants who have made a substantial contribution to the proposal and will be employed on the project for a significant amount of time)
    • visiting researchers
  • letters of support from all project partners included in the Je-S form (no page limit), EPSRC guidance on project partners letter of support. The international academic partners should be included as project partners and provide letters of support
  • technical assessments for facilities listed as requiring one in the Je-S guidance (no page limit)
  • host organisation letter of support (2 pages)
  • cover letter (optional attachment, no page limit, not seen by peer review). You should use the cover letter to describe how your experience and career history fit with the person eligibility guidance. Read the eligibility requirements of the EPSRC New Investigator Award scheme.

You should attach your documents as PDF documents to avoid errors. They should be completed in single-spaced Arial 11 font or similar-sized sans serif typeface.

Advice on writing proposals for EPSRC funding.

Ethical information

EPSRC will not fund a project if it believes that there are ethical concerns that have been overlooked or not appropriately accounted for. All relevant parts of the ‘ethical information’ section must be completed.

Guidance on completing ethical information on the Je-S form.

EPSRC guidance can be found in the ‘additional info’ section.

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

Intention to submit

Information provided as part of the intention to submit will not formally assessed. UKRI staff will use this information to understand:

  • expected submission levels
  • the spread of applications across EPSRC’s remit

Full proposals

Full proposals will be assessed by an expert panel. 3 members of the panel, introducers, will be asked to assess each of the projects. The introducers will assess the proposals and can request additional information from you under all or some of the funding opportunity criteria. The additional information will be requested from you in late March 2023.

You will be given 2 weeks to provide a response to the questions raised by the introducers. The response must be a maximum of 2 pages.

The panel will then use the information provided in the applications and the responses to the questions raised by the introducers to rank the proposals, using the assessment criteria, at a prioritisation panel meeting.

If there is significant demand, then we may group the applications by topic and run 2 or more prioritisation panels. Applications will only be assessed by 1 panel. If applications to the open funding route and international development funding route are assessed at the same panel they will be ranked on separate rank order lists.

Assessment criteria

Please note that whilst the criteria headings mirror EPSRC’s standard criteria, additional aspects have been added to the applicant and partnerships and resources and management criteria, and the applicant and partnerships criterion has been made a primary criterion.

Quality (primary)

The research excellence of the proposal, making reference to:

  • the novelty, relationship to the context, timeliness and relevance to identified stakeholders
  • the ambition, adventure, transformative aspects or potential outcomes
  • the suitability of the proposed methodology and the appropriateness of the approach to achieving impact. For multidisciplinary proposals please state which aspects of the proposal you feel qualified to assess

Importance (secondary major)

How the research:

  • contributes to or helps maintain the health of other disciplines
  • contributes to addressing key UK societal challenges
  • contributes to future UK economic success and development of emerging industry or industries
  • meets national needs by establishing or maintaining a unique world-leading activity
  • complements other UK research funded in the area, including any relationship to the EPSRC portfolio
  • plans for dissemination and knowledge exchange with potential beneficiaries of the research

Applicant and partnerships (primary)

The ability to deliver the proposed project, making reference to:

  • appropriateness of the track record of the applicant or applicants
  • unique and complementary contribution and expertise of the international partner or partners
  • appropriateness of the plans for developing the collaborative relationship with the international partner or partners
  • balance of skills of the project team, including collaborators

Resources and management (secondary)

The effectiveness of the proposed planning and management and whether the requested resources are appropriate and have been fully justified, making reference to:

  • the level of the contribution made to this award from other sources including the UK institutions and international potential partners
  • any equipment requested, or the viability of the arrangements described to access equipment needed for this project, and particularly on any university or third-party contribution
  • any resources requested for activities to either increase impact, for public engagement or to support responsible innovation

Feedback

Feedback will not be provided following the prioritisation panel meeting.

The assessment of the expert panel will be shared with you ahead of the prioritisation meeting.

You will have a chance to provide a response to the assessment, which will be considered in the ranking of the proposal.

Contact details

Get help with developing your proposal

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.

Ask about this funding opportunity

EPSRC international team

Email: international@epsrc.ukri.org

Include ‘EPSRC ECR International Collaboration Grant – open’ in the subject line.

Joanne Humphries, Senior Portfolio Manager

Email: joanne.humphries@epsrc.ukri.org

Include ‘EPSRC ECR International Collaboration Grant – open’ in the subject line.

Ellen Guest, Portfolio Manager

Email: ellen.guest@epsrc.ukri.org

Include ‘EPSRC ECR International Collaboration Grant – open’ in the subject line

Get help with applying through Je-S

Email

jeshelp@je-s.ukri.org

Telephone

01793 444164

Opening times

Je-S helpdesk opening times

Additional info

Background

The UK is at the forefront of addressing global societal and economic challenges that have engineering and physical sciences at the heart, including climate change, cyber security and long-term sustainable growth.

Consequently, as part of our 2022 to 2025 delivery plan we will provide opportunities for our research and innovation base to connect with international leaders and facilitate joint working between the UK research community and their preferred global partners.

Grant additional conditions

Grants are awarded under the standard UK Research and Innovation grant terms and conditions. As an internationally collaborative grant, particular attention should be paid to standard conditions 2.6.1 and 2.6.2.

Responsible innovation

EPSRC is fully committed to develop and promote responsible innovation. Research has the ability to not only produce understanding, knowledge and value, but also unintended consequences, questions, ethical dilemmas and, at times, unexpected social transformations.

We recognise that we have a duty of care to promote approaches to responsible innovation that will initiate ongoing reflection about the potential ethical and societal implications of the research that we sponsor and to encourage our research community to do likewise.

Supporting documents

Frequently asked questions and webinar questions (PDF, 420KB)

Webinar slides (PDF, 2.9MB)

Equality impact assessment (PDF, 232KB)

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