Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: EPSRC Digital Twinning Research Hub for Decarbonising Transport

Apply to lead a large scale, interdisciplinary, digital twinning research hub to support both the decarbonisation and improved integration of the transport systems in the UK.

This is an invite only funding opportunity, which is only appropriate for those successful at the first stage of this scheme. You must be based at a UK research organisation eligible for Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) funding.

If successful, the team will lead a new research hub which will tackle key digital twinning research challenges, focusing on a transport use case. The research should be transformational and translatable to other sectors.

Who can apply

This funding opportunity is only open to the team successful at stage 1.

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.

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.

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

This is the second stage of a two-stage process designed to launch a new EPSRC research hub that will tackle key digital twinning research challenges, following a ‘learning by doing’ approach, to support and accelerate the UK transport systems’ transition to zero emissions, improve integration across the systems of transport and support economic growth. The stages are as follows:

  • Stage 1 – Digital Twinning Transport Leader for the decarbonisation and integration of transport systems in the UK
  • Stage 2 – Digital Twinning Research Hub for the Decarbonisation and integration of transport systems in the UK

Digital twins offer the potential to accelerate progress in achieving net zero, improving national security and national resilience, as well as delivering wider economic and societal benefits. The requirement for a national capability in digital twinning was identified in the Integrated Review, and digital twinning also features within the following publications:

This funding opportunity is a major part of our contribution to the national capability in digital twinning.

Scope

We are looking for a leader or co-leaders, who will create a security-minded, cross-sector, interdisciplinary consortium and research plan for a single new EPSRC digital twinning research hub. The research hub is a five-year investment to undertake transformational and application driven research to address important digital twinning research challenges to support and accelerate the decarbonisation and integration of the transport systems in the UK.

This mission-led investment will form a key part of our contribution to the development of the national capability in digital twinning. The leader will need to continue to build and lead the research hub to tackle key research challenges in digital twinning for decarbonising and improving the integration of UK transport systems, while also working collaboratively with other EPSRC digital twinning, decarbonisation and related, research investments as part of a cohesive enterprise targeted at addressing nationally important challenges.

The transport systems are the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions, accounting for 27% of UK emissions. Achieving sustainable transportation systems will require rapid technological change in the way people, goods and services are transported.

Digital twin development presents an excellent opportunity to improve the user experience with increased journey reliability and decreased congestion and to reduce carbon emissions as next generational computation capability improves efficiencies, such as reducing air traffic stacking, smoothing traffic interchanges, and improving logistics.

Digital twins are virtual replicas and representations of assets, processes, systems, or institutions in the built, societal, or natural environments. They provide real- or right-time insight into how complex physical assets and citizens behave, helping organisations improve decision-making and optimise processes.

Digital twins fundamentally differ from computer models as they can provide significant amounts of real- or right-time data, allowing an appropriate level of interaction with the physical twin. At the same time, certain types of proposals, actions and events can be modelled with unprecedented accuracy effectively offering the ability to experiment in a non-live environment of the real world.

In our Strategic Delivery Plan, we stated that we will focus on four mission-inspired, interdisciplinary challenges, working across UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), but with engineering and physical sciences activities at their core. This investment spans two of those mission-inspired interdisciplinary challenges. They are:

  1. Artificial intelligence (AI), digitalisation and data: Driving value and security; and
  2. Engineering net zero.

For the first of these challenges, we stated that we will:

  • 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
  • deliver platform technologies that underpin a range of potential applications, as well as research and innovation across UKRI and its strategic themes
  • encourage adventure, pushing boundaries to realise the transformational impact of digital technologies across industry and society

We recognised that a key outcome is enhancing national security to address the government’s Integrated Review and the UKRI strategic theme ‘Building a Secure and Resilient World’. Specifically, we committed to develop a digital twins use case in decarbonising transport which takes into consideration and embeds appropriate security in the way it is delivered and in the outputs it generates.

This funding opportunity and the research hub that will follow a successful proposal submitted under the second funding opportunity, will deliver on that commitment.

This investment will also help to address the engineering net zero mission-inspired interdisciplinary challenge. In our Strategic Delivery Plan, we recognised that our engineering and physical sciences research is critical to the discovery, development, and deployment of solutions to tackle climate change, enhance sustainability and ensure economic prosperity and fairness.

We are committed to support a whole systems approach to developing the technological solutions which will decarbonise our economy and society, to create a sustainable net zero future.

The transport sector is advanced and well positioned to coordinate and create world leading advances in digital twinning to achieve the UK’s net zero ambitions, improve the user journey and support economic growth, as set out in the Decarbonising Transport: A Better, Greener Britain. This plan is already delivering positive change, as detailed in the Decarbonising transport: one-year-on review, helping to drive the investments needed to support necessary infrastructure and improve user confidence in new technology.

The EPSRC digital twinning research hub has the potential to build upon this existing expertise and the UK’s excellent research base to deliver the supporting research, people and skills necessary to deliver this vision.

EPSRC and key stakeholders such as the Department of Transport, envisage that two of the highest priority areas where an advanced digital twinning capability can add value are in decarbonisation and improving transport systems for the user through better integration. These are described as follows:

  • Decarbonisation of transport systems:
    How digital twins can contribute to a systems-level understanding of the impact of different interventions on overall decarbonisation goals and provide methods through which changes can be made to influence and accelerate progress to decarbonisation.
  • Improving transport for the user through improved integration:
    How digital twins can be used to put people at the centre of decision-making and dynamically manage and improve the integration of transport systems, such as digital twins for public transport timetables linking modalities and operations and for network management.

A digital twinning capability for transport in the UK can also support economic growth.

The successful digital twinning transport research leader is invited submit to the second stage as project lead for the new interdisciplinary, digital twinning research hub to support the decarbonisation and integration of the transport systems in the UK.

Information on the EPSRC digital twinning research hub

If the consortium application is successful, the appointed leader or co-leaders from this funding opportunity will establish and lead the EPSRC digital twinning research hub for the decarbonisation and integration of the UK transport systems. The leader will become the director of the research hub that will receive up to £19 million, plus indexation, of EPSRC funding. They are expected to generate additional leverage to amplify our investment.

This interdisciplinary research hub should follow a ‘learning by doing’ approach, developing a proof of concept for the next generation of digital twins for transport and connected sectors within a live and controlled testbed environment.

The research should be transformational (for digital twinning) and application driven with a strong user focus, tackling digital twinning research challenges that no single organisation would be able to address on their own, but which would be of benefit to many across the whole of the UK transport and connected sectors.

The research hub must establish an appropriate management and governance model with effective monitoring and evaluation, develop a clear equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) plan, and support early career researchers. We expect the director to build a diverse and sustainable hub that integrates social, economic and environmental sustainability at all stages of the research and innovation process.

The successful leader will report to us and engage with our leadership team as the use cases develop. They will also be expected to engage with linked digital twinning investments, including the National Digital Twin Programme in BEIS, and relevant governments and industry stakeholders, such as the Department of Transport (DfT), DfT’s Transport Research and Innovation Board (TRIB) member organisations and others, to identify and develop the digital twinning use cases for the future research hub.

The successful leader will need to strike an appropriate balance between addressing important digital twinning research challenges critical to the development of the national capability in digital twinning and using digital twinning as an approach through carefully selected use cases to tackle important and relevant objectives in the decarbonisation and integration of transport systems in the UK.

Some of the digital twinning research challenges that are required to build a national digital twinning capability include:

  • data acquisition, analysis, curation, storage, processing, standardisation and sharing, including the interoperability and integration of complex spatial data from multiple sources and combining publicly available data with commercially sensitive data
  • multi-fidelity and multi-scale modelling, including working in high fidelity
  • working in real- or right-time
  • using AI and different levels of automation
  • challenges to federation of digital twins, including semantic rules for federation of digital twins, developed for different reasons, and defining a clear systems architecture
  • digital safety and security, including cybersecurity, to understand vulnerabilities and build resilience through diversity and other paths
  • uncertainty, complexity, validation, verification, and assurance, including assurance in safety critical applications
  • decision making and understanding systems of systems, and how to most effectively use digital twinning based on clarity of purpose
  • visualisation and user interface, making digital twinning as an approach accessible for decision makers and those affected by the system or systems
  • working with large volumes of data to understand and improve systems and their interaction over time using large data storage while concurrently using edge computing to enable rapid interactions within systems using sensors and updates to optimise operation in the moment
  • environmental sustainability, understanding and optimising the power efficiency of digital twinning as an approach through design and operation
  • developing digital threads to develop, design, understand and optimise the performance of systems, and parts of the systems, over time
  • using high performance computing and related infrastructure
  • offline simulations and emulations, testing and improving options with digital twinning generating learning loops
  • hardware and software for digital twins
  • human behaviour and humans in the loop, including EDI, ethics, trustworthiness and personal data aspects, protecting privacy and security while empowering users
  • infrastructure requirements
  • liability, legal, standards and regulations
  • aspects of public policy development, including balancing competing public goals
  • supporting legacy infrastructure assets as well as new transport systems and their interactions
  • skills development, including skills needed to work in multi and interdisciplinary settings
  • cultural change while moving towards national and multi-modal level transport solutions

Please note this list is not exhaustive.

The research hub will act as a central focus point for collaboration with existing and future digital twinning transport research investments to address some of the above important research challenges, reaching beyond into the net zero landscape and taking a whole systems approach to providing real world solutions.

Work on some of these areas is already taking place as part of the National Digital Twin Programme and therefore liaison with this programme will be critical to ensure best use of resource and long-term alignment and to avoid duplication.

There are a wide range of possible transport specific use cases linked to decarbonisation and integration that the digital twinning research hub could address, such as accelerating speed of net zero product development and improving quality of resultant technology, optimisation and decarbonisation of fleets, freights or aviation, managing traffic to deliver efficiencies on the road network, and supporting user mode shift to lower carbon options.

The appointed leader will report to us and will need to closely engage with our leadership team as the use cases develop. They will also be expected to engage with relevant governments and industry stakeholders, such as DfT and DfT’s TRIB member organisations, to identify and develop the digital twinning use cases that will have the maximum impact on achieving net zero, improving integration across the systems of transport and supporting economic growth.

The transport sector is a system of systems, and as such actionable insights and lessons learned from the work of the research hub should be applicable to different modes of transport, to different places and to connected sectors, such as the energy grid.

The majority of the proposed research for the new digital twinning transport research hub must be within the remit of EPSRC.

Long-term goals

The long-term goals for the leader are to:

  • provide leadership and coordination on digital twinning transport research, including through the design and delivery of a world-leading digital twinning research hub for the decarbonisation and integration of the UK transport systems (if the funding proposal is successful)
  • contribute towards the evidence base for digital twinning, informing strategies to meet the UK’s 2050 net zero target and broader global environmental and sustainability goals
  • enhance utilisation and engagement with digital twinning research across society
  • deliver digital twinning activity that will lead to real world solutions to decarbonise transport and enhance transport integration, codeveloped and coproduced with users
  • ensure the work of the digital twinning research hub is conducted in a security-minded manner and that appropriate security is built into the outputs it generates
  • deliver efficiencies in physical infrastructure management and proactive maintenance with digital twinning research activities, and as such reducing disruptions, costs and carbon emissions for the UK transport systems.

Co-Project leads

Applications are welcome for ‘co-project leads’. In this case, the distinct roles and responsibilities of the two co-project leads must be clearly set out. There will be no change in co-project leads from stage one to stage two of this investment.

Co-project leads must make clear to the panel how they would work together effectively and co-lead the wider consortium.

For applications with co-project leads, the application must demonstrate that the co-project leads jointly fulfil the assessment criteria.

The one project lead will have editing rights to the application, supported by their research office who will be the grant holder.

Funding available

Up to £19million, plus indexation, is available from us for five years. This grant is expected to start in July 2024.

The funding can be used for the following:

  • project lead time
  • co-project leader time
  • administrative support
  • project management support
  • costs for networking activities and workshops, such as professional facilitator
  • research associates (RAs) salary to support workshops and other activities
  • training
  • travel, networking and venues
  • other standard expenses

Resources may also be used for activities that initiate, grow, and maintain collaborations with stakeholders (for example academia, business, government, third sector) such as:

  • secondments
  • staff exchanges
  • regular travel

Although this is not a funding opportunity designed for significant capital expenditure, equipment over £10,000 in value (including VAT) and up to £400,000 is available through this funding opportunity. All equipment should be fully justified and essential to the mission of the hub. Smaller items of equipment (individually under £10,000) should be in the Directly Incurred – Other Costs heading.

You should look to use local compute capacity and national facilities where possible. In circumstances where this is not possible, and there is a specific need, compute may be requested; this should be fully justified in the Resources section.

We do not require this role to be full time. It is for you to assess how much time you could reasonably commit to this role balanced alongside your other responsibilities, to recognise the strategic, high-profile nature of this role and the anticipated level of commitment required to develop the research hub. You should be prepared to justify the time committed to the role.

Read more information on our approach to equipment funding.

Responsible innovation

We are 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. Therefore, applicants are expected to work within the EPSRC Framework for Responsible Innovation.

How to apply

We are running this funding opportunity on the new 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 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 8 February 2024 at 4:00pm UK time.

You will not be able to apply after this time.

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

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.

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
  • technician
  • 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 workplan.

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?

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

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

Applicant and team capability to deliver

Word limit: 2,500

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

Evidence of how the 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 2,500 words; 2,000 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 Partner 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.

Facilities

Word limit: 250

Does your proposed research require the support and use of a facility?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

If you will need to use a facility, follow your proposed facility’s normal access request procedures. Ensure you have prior agreement so that if you are offered funding, they will support the use of their facility on your project.

For each requested facility you will need to provide the:

  • name of facility, copied and pasted from the facility information list (DOCX, 35KB)
  • proposed usage or costs, or costs per unit where indicated on the facility information list
  • confirmation you have their agreement where required

If you will not need to use a facility, you will be able to indicate this in the Funding Service.

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)
  • any equipment that will cost more than £10,000
  • any consumables beyond typical requirements, or that are required in exceptional quantities
  • all facilities and infrastructure costs
  • all resources that have been costed as ‘Exceptions’

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 service.

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

User Engagement Plan

Co-created research programme

Word limit: 1,000

How have you co-created and designed your research programme to maximise the impact of digital twinning for decarbonising transport?

What the assessors are looking for in your response:

Explain how you have designed your research programme so that it:

  • has been co-created and will be co-delivered in partnership with relevant stakeholders
  • identifies and embeds clear, realistic and proportionate pathways to maximise translation of outputs into outcomes and impacts of all types
  • embeds a systems approach, considering the wider context in which the proposed research and research outcomes will sit and the trade-offs and unintended consequences of adopting a circular economy
  • drives added value as a core focus of the programme by demonstrating synergistic connectivity between partners, disciplines, and workstreams
  • is positioned at the forefront of your chosen research area, displaying leadership and advocacy on a national scale

Your organisation’s support

Word limit: 1,000

Provide details of support from your research organisation or organisations.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Provide a statement of support from your research organisation/s detailing why the proposed work is needed. This should include details of any matched funding that will be provided to support the activity and any additional support that might add value to the work.

The committee will be looking for a strong statement of commitment from your research organisation.

We recognise that in some instances, this information may be provided by the Research Office, the Technology Transfer Office (TTO) or equivalent, or a combination of both.

You must also include the following details:

  • a significant person’s name and their position, from the TTO or Research Office, or both
  • office address or web link

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

This funding opportunity is the second part of a two-part process designed to launch a new digital twinning research hub to support and accelerate the decarbonisation and improved integration of transport systems in the UK.

Part one: Digital Twinning Transport Leader for the Decarbonisation and Integration of transport systems in the UK

This part is aimed at identifying a leader or co-leaders to drive forward the investment in digital twinning research for the decarbonisation and improved integration of the transport systems in the UK from June 2023.

Part two: Digital Twinning Research Hub for the Decarbonisation and Integration of transport systems in the UK

This is the invited part for a single full proposal describing the new research hub that will conduct application-focused research using digital twinning as an approach to support the decarbonisation and improved integration of transport systems of the UK, and the consortium of investigators who will achieve this vision.

This part is a closed funding opportunity. Only the consortium convened by the successful leader identified in stage one will be eligible. We will assess your application using the following process.

A two-stage assessment process will be used.

Stage 1: Postal peer review

Postal peer review will consider all assessment criteria detailed below.

Feedback at this stage will be provided in the form of reviewer comments. Prior to the interview panel, usable reviewer comments will be sent to you. This will give you the opportunity to correct factual inaccuracies and respond to any queries raised by the reviewers in a principal investigator response document.

The interview panel will also have sight of the reviewer comments and your response; some interview questions may be based on these.

Stage 2: Interview panel

The Leader (project lead), co-leader (project co-lead) and (optional) up to one other identified on the proposal will be invited to attend the interview. It is thought that the interview will be held in March 2024.

The expert interview panel will provide you with an opportunity to respond to any questions raised by the prioritisation panel and will assess the applicants against the equally weighted criteria detailed below. Full details of the interview process will be sent to candidates before the interviews.

Feedback

Written feedback will be provided after the interview.

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.

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
  • co-created research programme
  • your organisation’s support

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

Contact details

Get help with your application

If you have a question and the answers aren’t provided on this page, please contact digital.security.resilience@epsrc.ukri.org

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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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Email: support@funding-service.ukri.org
Phone: 01793 547490

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

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  • the application is an invited resubmission

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Additional info

Integrated review and national capability in digital twinning

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is the lead policy department for the development of the national capability in digital twinning. EPSRC, working with colleagues across UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and with BEIS, have considered how the academic research community can play its part in the development of the national capability in digital twinning.

The digital twinning landscape includes investments across government and industry. The leader should be aware of the digital twinning landscape, such as:

  • Other EPSRC and UKRI investments
  • The National Digital Twin Programme (NDTP)
  • The Digital Twin Hub – a multi-sector Industry and Catapult Network partnership housed at the Connected Places Catapult
  • The Alan Turing Institute – AI and data science, including for digital twinning, such as the Turing Research and Innovation Cluster in Digital Twins (TRIC: DT)
  • The Apollo Protocol

Upcoming EPSRC’s digital twinning investments

We are making a series of digital twinning investments linked to, and in some cases funded by, UKRI’s Building a Secure and Resilience World theme, in support of the development of the national capability in digital twinning. These investments include this funding opportunity, which is the second stage of a two-stage process designed to launch a new EPSRC digital twinning research hub that will tackle digital twinning research challenges to support and accelerate the UK transport systems’ transition to zero emissions, improve integration across the systems of transport and support economic growth.

The focus of this investment is on the transport sector because it is advanced and well positioned to coordinate and create world leading advances in digital twinning and because of the inherent interconnectedness between different modes of transport, transport systems, people and places and transport systems and energy suppliers. The actionable insights and lessons learned from the work of the digital twinning research hub should be applicable to connected sectors, such as the energy grid.

The Department of Transport (DfT) and DfT’s Transport Research and Innovation Board (TRIB) member organisations recognise the need for research and development support to enable the UK to develop a world leading digital twinning capability for transport.

The implementation of Digital Twins will aid in the delivery of government environmental and economic aspirations through systems level approaches to transport, infrastructure, supply chains and safety, driving advancements in efficiency, customer experience and reduced costs.

The impacts and benefits of digital twinning of whole systems and processes will include simulation and virtual testing, which will inform long-term strategic decision making to produce better environmental, economic and consumer outcomes.

The strategy for our digital twinning investments is managed within our Digital Security and Resilience theme, working in support of our AI, Digitalisation and Data priority and UKRI’s Building a Secure and Resilient World Theme.

Building a Secure and Resilient World strategic theme

The UKRI Strategy for 2022-2027, Transforming Tomorrow Together, outlines five strategic themes which 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 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 inter-related 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, and 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.

This funding opportunity speaks directly to the ‘technologies for resilience security and defence’ sub-theme exploring and critically assessing the role of technologies in making systems more robust against external threats.

EPSRC’s Digital Security and Resilience theme

Our Digital Security and Resilience theme has been formed 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 our relevant investments under the new theme (around £120 million), while making connections across EPSRC and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), and with key stakeholders
  • developing our 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.

Engineering net zero

We will support a whole systems approach to support the research and innovation critical to the discovery, development and deployment of solutions to tackle climate change, enhance sustainability and ensure economic prosperity.

Additional grant conditions (AGCs)

Grants are awarded under the standard UKRI grant terms and conditions.

Supporting documents

Equality impact assessment (PDF, 237KB)

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