Embedded research on UK climate resilience

Apply for funding to do an ‘embedded researcher’ project. This is a research placement at a non-academic organisation. You’ll support the sharing of knowledge between academics, decision-makers and practitioners.

You must be a UK-based researcher employed by an eligible research organisation.

Your project must explore climate resilience in the UK. You can focus on any area of climate resilience.

You can request support for your salary, and travel and subsistence. The full economic cost can be up to £87,500. We’ll fund 80% of this.

Funding is available for up to 12 months.

You must know your non-academic organisation before applying. We can help you find a suitable organisation. Read more about how we’re linking researchers with hosts in the ‘what we’re looking for’ section.

Who can apply

Standard NERC eligibility rules apply.

UKRI research and fellowship grants for all schemes may be held at:

  • approved UK higher education institutions (HEIs)
  • approved research council institutes (RCIs)
  • independent research organisations (IROs)
  • public sector research establishments (PSREs).

Full details of approved RCIs, IROs and PSREs can be found on the UKRI website. Check if you are eligible for research and innovation funding.

Eligibility rules for UK research organisations can be found in section C of the NERC research grant and fellowships handbook.

Applicants must have a fully verified Joint Electronic Submission system (Je-S) account. For Postdoctoral Research Awards (PDRAs) who do not hold an individual account, employing institutions may grant full accounts to applying PDRAs. Alternatively, a lead figurehead applicant from the applicant’s institution (with Je-S account eligibility) may be used, with no time or costs allocated for them. It must be clear in the application who the intended embedded researcher will be.

Individual researchers may only submit one application to the opportunity with a single host organisation.

Host organisations must be based in the UK and may only be involved in one application. Hosts will be named as project partners on submissions.

No studentships will be allowed under this opportunity.

What we're looking for

Embedded researcher details

Each project will consist of one academic researcher who will undertake the placement embedded in a non-academic host organisation. The researcher will continue to be employed by their academic research institution, but will spend a significant period of time embedded in the host organisation to conduct the research.

It is recognised that great value can be obtained by researchers being embedded within their host by virtue of exposure to a different organisational culture. Virtual or hybrid embedding models are also permitted under this opportunity. The approach should be agreed by the researcher and host in advance and be appropriate to the project opportunity.

Embedded researchers will play a key role in bridging between academics, decision-makers and practitioners. The role may focus on independent research and may also entail signposting to relevant information, collaboration with other embedded researchers and development of additional knowledge brokering mechanisms for example, learning labs.

The successful researchers will be based within their host organisation while undertaking their project. This may be on a full or part-time basis, as agreed for what is appropriate to the project opportunity and all parties. For example, set working pattern or days may be agreed between the researcher and host.

If virtual or hybrid ‘in person’/virtual approaches are undertaken these may be flexible throughout the project’s duration. By being embedded, the researcher will establish a good understanding of day-to-day working, drivers, decision-making contexts and knowledge needs of both sides as well as barriers to action.

By working with both host organisation colleagues and academics, the embedded researchers will have the opportunity to gather relevant data and information, working collaboratively to generate new knowledge, synthesise and communicate findings to promote learning across the relevant science, business and policy domain.

Funding will be awarded as a research grant to the researchers employing university/institution and profiled across 12 months. The anticipated start date of projects is 1 November 2021. However, individual starts date at the host organisation, duration and working pattern of the placement should be flexible and negotiated between the researcher and host organisation as appropriate to each opportunity.

Scope

The exact length of deployment within the host organisation can be negotiated between the applicant and host within the budget allocated for each project but must be no more than 12 months.

The central objectives of the programme, as outlined in the Science Plan are:

  • characterising and quantifying climate-related risks
  • managing climate-related risks through adaptation
  • co-producing climate services.

It is strongly recommended that all applicants read the UK Climate Resilience Science Plan in advance of applying.

Any area relating to climate resilience in the UK is eligible for this scheme. Applications are encouraged from environmental, social and governance; tourism; insurance and finance sectors.

Linking researchers and hosts

Each embedded researcher will have a lead contact person within their host organisation with whom they will collaborate to guide the development of a work plan with flexibility to allow researcher to follow emergent opportunities for the host, as well as their academic ambitions (for example, presentations at conferences, writing papers). Coordination, guidance and support will be provided through regular meetings (virtual and face-to-face) to develop agreed activities, outputs and reports. Support will also be provided by the UK Climate Resilience champions.

Organisations interested in participating in the embedded researcher scheme are now invited to submit research pitches to the champion team (champion@leeds.ac.uk) who will collate these and publicise them to potential applicants through their website and social media. No more than two ideas can be submitted by each organisation at this pitch stage.

The final deadline for submitting research pitches is 28 May 2021.

Pitches should provide information about:

  • person to contact to find out more
  • interest in climate resilience (200 word limit)
  • motivation for being involved in the scheme (200 word limit)
  • ideas for research topics or knowledge brokering activities (300 world limit).

Researchers interested in applying to the scheme are advised to visit the UK Climate Resilience website to view the research ideas proposed by host organisations

Forming relationships through the UK Climate Resilience website is not a requirement of the opportunity. Embedded researchers can work with a host that they either already know or form a new relationship through a different route should they wish to. Equally, hosts are not required to submit a pitch as this is not an obligatory step, it only aims to maximise the opportunity where necessary.

Scheme funding

Each researcher (via their employing academic research organisation) can apply for up to £87,500 (UKRI will fund 80% of this, i.e. £70,000).

The host organisation is responsible for all other costs of hosting the applicant, including training, equipment and consumables. Details of the host organisation’s contributions should be included in the applicant’s project partner letter of support, with the host being named as a project partner. This should include details of any direct financial and in-kind support to the project.

Linking to other UK climate resilience activities

It is envisioned that there will be the opportunity to enable sharing of practice across the cohort of embedded researchers funded through this opportunity for example, through meetings and a final workshop to synthesise emerging experience and insight on the knowledge intermediary role for climate resilience across the different embedded researcher contexts. This will be supported by the UK Climate Resilience champions.

During their placement, successful embedded researchers may also be expected to collaborate with other activities funded through the UK Climate Resilience programme where appropriate.

How to apply

The application should be written in conjunction with the host organisation, addressing an agreed approach for how the researcher will undertake the project and related activities.

Applications should include within their case for support:

  • a workplan describing how the project and activities will be achieved
  • anticipated benefits and outcomes for the researcher and host organisation from this collaboration
  • a description of how the wider resilience community, beyond the host organisation, will benefit
  • a plan for how project outcomes will be disseminated
  • a description of how the skills and experience of the researcher applicant match the needs of the opportunity and how the opportunity supports the long-term career goals of the applicant.

Proposals must be submitted to the research council’s Je-S system. Applicants should select:

  • council: NERC
  • proposal type: standard proposal
  • scheme: directed
  • call: UK Climate Resilience Embedded Researchers.

Proposals should be submitted in standard grant format (with a reduced case for support page limit, see details below) following the guidance in NERC research grant and fellowship handbook. Required documents:

  • case for support – eight pages (comprising a combined researcher track record and CV: two pages / description of project and workplan: six pages)
  • justification of resources – two pages
  • project partner letter of support (mandatory from host organisation): confirming the suitability of the applicant and workplan in achieving the proposed activities and detailing the support available to the researcher).

All attachments, with the exception of letters of support and services/facilities/equipment quotes, submitted through the Je-S system must be completed in single-spaced typescript of minimum font size 11 point (Arial or other sans serif typeface of equivalent size to Arial 11), with margins of at least 2cm. Please note that Arial Narrow, Calibri and Times New Roman are not allowable font types and any proposal which has used either of these font types within their submission will be rejected. References and footnotes should also be at least 11 point font and should be in the same font type as the rest of the document.

Headers and footers should not be used for references or information relating to the scientific case. Applicants referring to websites should note that referees may choose not to use them.

Please note that on submission to council all non-PDF documents are converted to PDF. The use of non-standard fonts may result in errors or font conversion, which could affect the overall length of the document. Additionally, where non-standard fonts are present, and even if the converted PDF document may look unaffected in the Je-S system, when it is imported into the research councils grants system some information may be removed. We therefore recommend that where a document contains any non-standard fonts (scientific notation, diagrams etc.), the document should be converted to PDF prior to attaching it to the proposal.

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

All proposals received which meet the eligibility criteria will be assessed by an independent panel of experts.

The UK Climate Resilience programme board will use the recommendations of the panel, along with the overall opportunity requirements and the available budget in making the final funding decisions.

A decision is expected to be notified to applicants within two weeks of the panel meeting, which is anticipated to take place in September 2021 (date to be confirmed).

Assessment criteria

Proposals will be assessed on the following assessment criteria:

  • impact potential: the potential for the project outputs to be beneficial to the organisation hosting the placement, and beyond the host organisation (for example, wider societal benefits, policy, standards). A high score in this criterion will indicate a project that is well aligned with the key objectives of the UK Climate Resilience embedded researcher scheme
  • project delivery and management: the appropriateness of the workplan will be considered, concentrating on whether the proposed deliverable can be achieved within the stated timeframe. The management of the project and its milestones will be assessed to ensure best possible success of the project.

Feedback

Applicants will be given feedback from the panel summarising the reasons why the proposal was successful or unsuccessful. No further feedback will be available. The UK Climate Resilience programme board will use the recommendations of the panel along with the overall opportunity requirements and the available budget in making the final funding decisions.

Contact details

Any queries regarding the submission of proposals through Je-S should be directed to Je-S help desk, at jeshelp@je-s.ukri.org or on 01793 444164.

For any other queries regarding the opportunity, please contact:

Dr Joseph Taylor, NERC, at climateresilience@nerc.ukri.org

UK Climate Resilience champions (at champion@leeds.ac.uk), should be contacted by no later than 28 May with host organisation pitches.

Additional info

Supporting webinar

UKRI will host a webinar at on 29 April 2021 14:00 to support the launch of this funding opportunity. The webinar will offer prospective applicants the opportunity to engage with UKRI and UK Climate Resilience champions as well as an existing embedded researcher, who will offer their insight into the benefits and opportunities this scheme allows.

Please contact climateresilience@nerc.ukri.org  for more details and to enroll in the webinar.

UK Climate Resilience embedded researcher scheme

The embedded researcher scheme acknowledges the gap that can exist between the production of relevant knowledge and information for building climate resilience and its use in organisations and business strategy, decision-making and making sense of climate risks and opportunities in our daily lives.

The embedded researcher approach provides an opportunity for the co-exploration of climate information needed for decision-making in a particular context. By spending significant time within a host organisation (for example, national government departments, local government, arms-length, third sector and private organisation) embedded researchers gain a depth and breadth of understanding of the relevant decision-making contexts as well as challenges to the uptake of climate information as it is normally provided.

By having a foot in both an academic and a host organisation, embedded researchers act as a knowledge broker linking the two (or more) sides and understanding the tensions and requirements that each context experiences. This implies playing several potential roles, including:

  • identifying shared objectives
  • addressing research questions of mutual interest
  • facilitating connections and cooperation between research, policy and practice.

The outputs of these placements are anticipated to be both the findings of the jointly developed research and practice insight into undertaking this research and what is means to act as an intermediary.

The embedded researcher scheme was originally designed to promote knowledge brokerage through the embedding of a researcher in a host organisation. The focus of the scheme is on co-production of climate information for a particular context. In order to work well, such co-production requires understanding of and mutual respect for the knowledge, language and expertise of all parties involved. This challenges the nature of traditional research both for academic partners who are used to leading the research process and organisations who may be used to commissioning tightly defined projects. The challenge is not one of a simple transfer of knowledge from academic knowledge ‘producers’ to decision making ‘users’, but on building connections between the knowledge, the people and organisations who produce and hold this knowledge, and their decision-making processes.

A first cohort of six UK Climate Resilience embedded researchers was funded in 2020.

UK Climate Resilience programme background

UK Climate Resilience is a £18.7 million collaboration between UKRI, led by NERC and the Met Office, with EPSRC, ESRC and AHRC.

The programme aims to draw together fragmented climate research and expertise to deliver robust, multi and interdisciplinary research into climate risks and adaptation solutions. This will help to ensure that the UK is resilient to climate variability and change, and powerfully positioned to exploit the opportunities of adaptation and green growth. It is widely expected that society will face serious challenges from projected changes in average climate conditions and climate variability. However, our understanding of potential impacts and necessary approaches to adaptation in the UK requires improvement. This programme has been devised to improve our understanding of how the UK can enhance its resilience to climate change and variability.

Strategic Priorities Fund

UK Climate Resilience is funded through the Strategic Priorities Fund, which aims to:

  • increase high-quality multi and interdisciplinary research and innovation
  • ensure UKRI investment links up effectively with government research and innovation priorities
  • respond to strategic priorities and opportunities.

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