Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Pre-announcement: EPSRC Prosperity Partnerships round six

Apply for funding to support ambitious collaborative research programmes.

Prosperity Partnerships projects must:

EPSRC will fund 80% of the full economic cost (FEC) of your application.
The business cash contribution must at least match the amount funded by EPSRC.

This is a pre-announcement and the information may change. The funding opportunity will open on 12 March 2024. More information will be available on this page then.

Who can apply

Business organisations

Businesses can act as the ‘primary business partner’ if they are:

  • a UK-based business or have UK-based research activity
  • a business in the private sector driven by profit which can provide the necessary cash contribution

We welcome consortia of businesses of any size including Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs). One of the businesses needs to act as the primary business partner. We encourage SME participation and use the European Commission definition of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises. Check the definitions of SMEs.

Your application must show evidence that all partners were involved in the creation of the project.

Academic organisations

Research organisations can act as the ‘primary academic partner’ if they are eligible to receive research council funding:

  • UK higher education institutions
  • research council institutes
  • UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) approved independent research organisations
  • public sector research establishments
  • NHS bodies with research capacity

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

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

Prosperity Partnerships: one opportunity, two funding routes

This funding opportunity is aimed at supporting both promising earlier-stage research partnerships which are on their way towards becoming strategic partnerships, as well as established partnerships that already have a long-term strategic partnership in place.

Route one

If your collaborative relationship is at a relatively early-stage of approximately one to five years in duration, then the amount of EPSRC funding you may apply for must not exceed £1 million. Grants are normally between two to three years in duration.

Route two

If your collaborative relationship is well-established and has lasted for five years or more, then there is no restriction on the maximum amount of EPSRC funding you may apply for. Grants are normally between three to five years in duration. This route is intended for larger grants of more than £1 million.

There will be more detail on both funding routes when the funding opportunity is open.

We are particularly looking to encourage Small Medium Enterprise (SME) involvement. This could be alone, or as part of a consortium, or as part of the supply chain of a larger company. Smaller businesses may prefer to support smaller projects and are welcome to consider route one even if they have a more established partnership.

Funding available

Route one: up to £10 million is available for projects (we expect to fund 12 to 15 awards).

Route two: up to £30 million is available for projects (we expect to fund 15 to 20 awards).

Scope

The primary business partner and primary academic partner should consider the following criteria before applying:

  • the business and academic partners have a demonstrable, research-based relationship that has been established for at least one year
  • there are clear plans to evolve this relationship via user-inspired shared research challenges demonstrating a desire to enhance the partnership
  • both partners are committed to the co-creation of a jointly delivered research programme at technology readiness level (TRL) one to three:
    • basic and applied research
    • principles are demonstrated through experimentation
    • early proof of concept demonstrated in the lab

The business and academic partners can commit to leveraging EPSRC funding for their Prosperity Partnership, and should consider the following:

  • business cash contribution will at least match the amount funded by EPSRC (see the ‘Definitive list of eligible cash contributions’ section)
  • no UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) public or government funding will be used as leverage

Projects must be at least 50% within the EPSRC remit. Cross-disciplinary and multidisciplinary projects are welcomed. We may seek funding from other UKRI councils if there is a substantial element of the proposed work which lies outside our remit.

We welcome applications across the whole breadth of EPSRC’s remit, but for this round of Prosperity Partnerships we are particularly encouraging applications for certain areas in EPSRC’s quantum technologies and engineering net zero portfolios. These notices apply to both Route One and Route Two, and further details of these ‘highlight notices’ are provided below.

Highlight notice for quantum technologies

As detailed in the National Quantum Strategy, the UK has set out bold ambitions to deliver a quantum enabled economy by 2033. The UK government has also published five quantum missions to drive growth and support priority areas of the innovation system in achieving the aims of the Quantum Strategy. A quantum enabled economy will comprise a world leading sector where quantum technologies are an integral part of the UK’s future digital infrastructure and advanced manufacturing base, driving growth and helping to build a thriving and resilient economy and society. In order to achieve this, we must support and champion collaborations between our strong research community and vibrant industrial community.

Therefore, EPSRC is seeking to support applications to the Prosperity Partnership scheme in quantum technologies. We are looking for applications across the breadth of our research portfolio including quantum computing, communications, sensing, timing, imaging, engineering, and underpinning science. We want to support the excellence of our research base and accelerate the development of new technologies towards commercialisation. This includes supporting partnerships to develop the supply chain, collaborate with industry, and work with end users. Recognising the breadth and diversity of industry within the growing quantum technologies landscape we want to encourage applications in both routes of the opportunity. Through this we believe we can have the most impact in supporting the development of new quantum technologies emerging from the research base through the translation pipeline and towards creating a quantum enabled economy.

Highlight notice for engineering net zero

As part of EPSRC’s engineering net zero priority we are focused on both pioneering environmentally sustainable advanced technologies and harnessing the power of transformative technologies to provide solutions to support our environmental sustainability goals. This includes both the discovery and development of the next generation of more environmentally sustainable advanced technologies and processes; and the identification of near-term solutions to increase the environmental sustainability of current generations spanning low and zero carbon solutions, such as renewable energy technologies, as well as transformative technologies themselves such as quantum technology, semiconductors, artificial intelligence, engineering biology and telecommunications. More widely, there is also huge opportunity in enabling the utilisation of digital and transformative technologies to enable a step change in the productivity, resilience and sustainability of UK industries, national infrastructures such as our energy networks and transports systems, and the ability to help solve some of our most challenging problems and de-risk technologies at an early stage through using advanced computing and modelling. We would therefore welcome Prosperity Partnership proposals which address these priorities.

All applications will be assessed equally, and funding priority will not be given to any particular area of research.

The project should address research areas and challenges based on the EPSRC’s strategic delivery plan.

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.

We will publish full details on how to apply when the funding opportunity opens.

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

Route one assessments will be via:

  • shortlisting prioritisation (July 2024)
  • interviews (October 2024)

Route two assessments will be via:

  • shortlisting prioritisation (July 2024)
  • peer review
  • interviews (January 2025)

Shortlisting prioritisation (both routes)

The expert shortlisting prioritisation panel will assess applications for both routes and decide which applicants should go forward to the next stage of the assessment process. It will be undertaken by a panel of experts, assembled mainly from academic and business Prosperity Partnership grant holders.

Next step for route two only

We will invite experts to review your application independently, against all the specified criteria for this funding opportunity.

You will not be able to nominate reviewers for applications on the new UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Funding Service. Research councils will continue to select expert reviewers. We are monitoring the requirement for applicant-nominated reviewers as we review policies and processes as part of the continued development of the new Funding Service.

Interviews (both routes)

The interview panel will be composed of business and academic members across the broad remit of relevant sectors, who are either existing EPSRC Prosperity Partnerships grant holders or have significant experience of delivering successful business-academia partnerships. The interview panel will produce a rank-ordered list of proposals and make funding recommendations to EPSRC based on further exploration of all the assessment criteria.

Funding decisions

Route one funding decisions are expected by mid-November 2024.

Route two funding decisions are expected by late-January 2025.

Feedback

If your application was discussed by a panel and there is any relevant feedback it will be communicated to you 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.

Sharing data with co-funders

We will need to share the application (including any personal information that it contains) if applicable for potential co-funding with relevant research councils so that they can participate in the assessment process.

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

Assessment criteria

The criteria we will assess your application against are:

  • vision
  • approach
  • applicant and team capability to deliver
  • costs and resources
  • organisational support
  • partner contributions to costs
  • ethics and responsible research and innovation (RRI)

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

Contact details

Get help with your application

Important note: The Helpdesk is committed to helping users of the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Funding Service as effectively and as quickly as possible. In order to manage cases at peak volume times, the Helpdesk will triage and prioritise those queries with an imminent opportunity deadline or a technical issue. Enquiries raised where information is available on the Funding Finder opportunity page and should be understood early in the application process (for example, regarding eligibility or content/remit of an opportunity) will not constitute a priority case and will be addressed as soon as possible.

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: prosperitypartnerships@epsrc.ukri.org

More information will become available when the funding opportunity opens, and we will be able to answer any queries you have at this point.

Any queries regarding the system or the submission of applications through the Funding Service should be directed to the Helpdesk.

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

Our phone lines are open:

  • Monday to Thursday 8:30am to 5:00pm
  • Friday 8:30am to 4:30pm

To help us process queries quicker, we request that users highlight the council and opportunity name in the subject title of their email query, include the application reference number, and refrain from contacting more than one mailbox at a time.

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

Webinar for potential applicants

We will hold a webinar on 21 March 2024. This will provide more information about the funding opportunity and a chance to ask questions.

More details will be available once the funding opportunity is published. Attendance at this webinar is not a requirement for applying to the funding opportunity. Webinar material will be made available to all.

Register for the webinar

Supporting links

EPSRC Prosperity Partnerships quick guide

This is the website for UKRI: our seven research councils, Research England and Innovate UK. Let us know if you have some quick feedback or help us improve your experience by taking three minutes to tell us what you think of the UKRI website.