Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: EPSRC quantum technologies career acceleration fellowships

Start application

Early career researchers (ECR)’s can apply for funding to accelerate their careers to become world-leading researchers who will:

  • champion a vibrant and networked UK research community
  • support innovation activities needed for growth in this sector

Fellowship applications must:

  • cover sufficient quantum technologies (QT) remit to deliver an outcome with a significant impact in the QT landscape
  • be between three to five years of duration
  • be supported by an eligible UK research organisation
  • be held at a minimum level of 50% full time equivalent

We will fund 80% of the full economic cost.

Who can apply

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

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

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

For full details, visit Eligibility as an individual.

Who is eligible to apply

This funding opportunity is for early career researchers (ECRs) who are looking to lead their own research programme and further develop their independent research profile within the quantum technologies (QT) sector. The definition of ECRs is broad and can span from current postdoctoral researchers to those recently appointed to their first permanent academic position.

There is no requirement:

  • to hold a PhD for this fellowship due to the diversity of career paths in QT. However, if you do not hold a PhD, you must be able to demonstrate equivalent research or training
  • regarding the length of postdoctoral experience or length of relevant work experience to be considered an “early-career researcher”

You should provide sufficient evidence to demonstrate you are in the early-career stage and that the award of your fellowship will achieve the objectives of this funding opportunity.

This funding opportunity is open to national and international candidates who are based at UK research organisations eligible for UKRI funding.

You must be hosted and supported by an eligible UK research organisation during your fellowship.

Who is not eligible to apply

  • applicants who have already achieved research or innovation independence (for example, by having already secured funding aimed at this career stage, or by already managing their own significant programme of work within a business)
  • senior academics and innovators
  • applicants cannot apply in parallel to UKRI FLF and any EPSRC Fellowship schemes. There is one exception outlined below

Applicants who have been waiting to hear the outcome of UKRI Future Leaders Fellowships (FLF) Round eight and Open Fellowship applications that were submitted before 29 November 2023 can make an application to this funding opportunity, as they would not have had knowledge of this funding opportunity at the time. This will exclude UKRI FLF Round nine.

However, you can only accept one successful UKRI (including EPSRC) Fellowship.

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

What we're looking for

Context

Building on the strong foundations established by government investment in the National Quantum Technologies Programme (NQTP) since 2014, the new National Quantum Strategy has outlined a 10 year programme supported by £2.5 billion of investment to capitalise on the UK’s leading position. The first goal set out in the strategy is to “Ensure the UK is home to world-leading quantum science and engineering, growing UK knowledge and skills”.

This emphasis on the strength of the UK research base and the importance of training skilled researchers, demonstrates the importance of investing in talented individuals to achieve the aspirations of making the UK a ‘world leading quantum-enabled economy’.

Building a diverse and thriving workforce that can drive the growing quantum industry will be vital to unlocking economic and societal benefits in the future. The quantum sector is small but rapidly evolving, with an expectation that skills needed will change over time.

The National Quantum Strategy call for evidence responses indicate that we are facing challenges associated with the small global talent pool for quantum-specific skills. A clear pathway was set out in the strategy to invest in skills, including through fellowship support, to grow the UK quantum technology skills expertise and to build a quantum-literate workforce.

This funding opportunity supports the aims of the National Quantum Strategy which seeks to boost quantum skills in the UK through investment in fellowships for the most promising researchers to ensure the UK can realise the incredible potential of new quantum technologies.

Objectives of the funding opportunity

The EPSRC quantum technologies career acceleration fellowship awards are designed to accelerate the careers of high potential ECRs towards a world-leading position by the end of the funding period. These awards will support talented ECRs to contribute to a vibrant and networked UK quantum technologies community. Fellows should seek to build strong relationships and collaborations with stakeholders in the UK and internationally.

The flexibility of the awards will also provide opportunity to build connections to industry and end-users thereby reducing the gap between research and commercialisation.

The EPSRC quantum technologies career acceleration fellowships will:

  • accelerate the careers of talented ECRs to lead their own research programme and further develop their independent research profile within the QT sector
  • advance the UK’s competitive position globally by funding fellows to carry out high-quality programmes of ambitious, novel, and creative research
  • support the growing vibrant and networked UK research community
  • catalyse building connections with industry to translate, demonstrate and commercialise QT research
  • develop UK QT talent by funding tailored personal and professional career development of world leaders in this research space

You must:

  • deliver an outcome with a significant impact on the QT landscape in the UK
  • be predominantly addressing research and innovation challenges within QT. This is a broad research area and includes the spectrum of quantum computing, sensing, timing, imaging and communications, engineering, and underpinning science
  • include a career development work package
  • include networking activities to support and grow the UK quantum technologies community
  • have a project lead to spend a minimum of 50% full time equivalent on the fellowship
  • ensure your fellowship is between three to five years in duration

You could consider applying if:

  • you consider yourself, based on evidence, an early career researcher
  • you have started formulating your own research ideas that will deliver a high-quality programme of ambitious, novel, and creative research
  • you can demonstrate a clear career development plan, that will give you the skills to successfully deliver your research proposal and transition to become a world-leading independent researcher
  • you have a framework plan for industry engagement plan to take your QT research closer to commercialisation
  • you are committed to being an advocate for EPSRC and the NQTP
  • you are motivated to implement good practice in creating an inclusive research environment

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

Duration

You can apply for between three to five years of funding.

Funding available

Total funding available for this funding opportunity is £14,000,000.

We will fund 80% of the full economic cost.

There is no maximum amount per fellowship award. All costs must be justified.

What we will fund

We will fund:

  • staff costs
  • technical equipment and other items needed to carry out the project
  • travel and subsistence
  • personalised career development activities to enhance fellows’ role and career within the QT sector
  • activities to drive entrepreneurship and innovation needed for the growth of the QT sector in the UK.
  • equipment (up to £400,000 per item)

Read more about EPSRC’s approach to equipment funding.

What we will not fund

We will not fund:

  • fees or stipends for postgraduate studentships
  • patent costs and other intellectual property costs

How to apply

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

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

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

To apply

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

  1. Confirm you are the project lead.
  2. Sign in or create a Funding Service account. To create an account, select your organisation, verify your email address, and set a password. If your organisation is not listed, email support@funding-service.ukri.org
  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 must:

  • 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

EPSRC must receive your application by 4:00pm UK time on 10 April 2024.

You will not be able to apply after this time.

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

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

Personal data

Processing personal data

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

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

Publication of outcomes

ESPRC, 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:

  • fellow
  • project co-lead (UK) (PcL)
  • specialist
  • grant manager
  • professional enabling staff
  • research and innovation associate
  • technician
  • visiting researcher

For fellowships, the role of ‘fellow’ will be responsible for intellectual leadership and management (equivalent to project lead). You can only list one fellow on the application.

We generally do not allow project co-leads to be named on fellowship applications unless this could be fully justified. This is because a fellowship is an individual award for an applicant, based on their individual circumstances and career.

We would only consider project co-leads on a fellowship application if they are contributing expertise that is not available in the skills set of the fellow and such expertise is essential to the success of the fellowship; for example, clinicians as project co-lead on fellowships associated with healthcare technologies research.

In all cases, the project co-lead would not be permitted to take over the operation of the fellowship if the fellow leaves the project.

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

Application questions

Vision and approach

Word limit: 10

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.

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

What the assessors are looking for in your response

For the Vision, explain how your proposed work:

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

In the Vision section we also expect you to:

  • identify the potential direct or indirect benefits and who the beneficiaries might be

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 you will manage them
  • uses a clearly written and transparent methodology (if applicable)
  • summarises the previous work and describes how you will build on and progress this work (if applicable)
  • will maximise translation of outputs into outcomes and impacts
  • describes how your, and if applicable your team’s, research environment (in terms of the place, and relevance to the project) will contribute to the success of the work

Within the Approach section we also expect you to:

  • provide a detailed and comprehensive project plan, including milestones and timelines

Applicant capability to deliver

Word limit: 2,000

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

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Evidence of:

  • the relevant experience (appropriate to career stage) to make best use of the benefits presented by this funding opportunity to develop your career
  • the right balance of skills and aptitude to deliver the proposed work
  • contributed to developing a positive research environment and wider community
  • the appropriate team working or leadership skills (appropriate to career stage)

Opportunity specific: This funding opportunity is for early career researchers (ECRs) who are looking to lead their own research programme and further develop their independent research profile within the sector. For more information, please refer to the ‘Who can apply’ section.

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

The word count for this section is 2,000 words, 1,500 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 have and how this will help to deliver the proposed work. You can include specific achievements and choose past contributions that best evidence your ability to deliver this work.

Complete this section using the following R4RI module headings. You should use each heading once, see the UKRI guidance on R4RI. You should consider how to balance your answer, and emphasise where appropriate the key skills you bring:

  • 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 to describe any factors which may provide context for the rest of your R4RI (for example, details of career breaks if you wish to disclose them). However, you are not required to provide this information.
This section is optional and can be up to 500 words.

Do not use this section to describe additional skills, experiences or outputs, as this information will not be assessed.

You should complete this section as a narrative. Do not format it like a CV.

Career development

Word limit: 1,000

Why is this fellowship the right way to develop your career and how will you use it to benefit others?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Ensure that you have identified:

  • career development goals appropriate to the fellowship funding opportunity
  • how the fellowship will provide a feasible and appropriate trajectory for your personal development and to achieve your stated career development goals (as appropriate to your career stage and field)
  • how you will instigate positive change in the wider research and innovation community, for example through equality diversity and inclusion, advocacy or advisory roles, stakeholder engagement, participation in peer review, influencing policy, public engagement, or outreach

To address the funding opportunity specific scope, we also expect you to describe:

  • how would this fellowship accelerate your personal development and career
  • any mentoring arrangements proposed and how they are appropriate to you
  • how you will develop your role within the research environment to lead and support the teams and people around you including details on:

Creating a positive change in the research community by championing an identified topic

Word limit: 500

How will you champion and contribute to the continued development of a vibrant and networked QT community?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Given that you have allocated time within your fellowship to create a positive change in the QT community, explain how you have:

  • identified the area you intend to champion for your programme
  • explained the timeliness and relevance of your chosen area
  • explained the objectives of your proposal in this context
  • planned to implement these objectives, including your ability to be an advocate for this area and to influence others

Host organisation support

Word limit: 1,000

How will the host organisation support your fellowship?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

The assessors expect you to:

  • provide evidence detailing how the host will support you, as appropriate for your career development and the vision and approach of the fellowship
  • provide the name and role of who you have engaged with in your host organisation
  • explain how your research environment will contribute to the success of the work, in terms of suitability of the host organisation and strategic relevance to the project
  • explain how the host organisation will ensure your time commitment to the fellowship is protected
  • advise what development and training opportunities will be provided and how they form a cohesive career development package tailored to your aims and aspirations
  • advise what financial or practical support, such as access to the appropriate services, facilities, infrastructure, or equipment, is being provided and how this strengthens your application

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

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

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
  • training costs
  • all resources that have been costed as ‘Exceptions’

*For all items of equipment costing more than £25,000, we expect you to provide a short summary of quotations from at least three suppliers for all items of equipment costing more than £25,000. If there are only one or two suppliers for any piece of equipment, state this and explain why.

Find out more on EPSRC’s approach to equipment funding. The last section outlines specific information on applying for equipment funding on the Funding Service.

Ethics and responsible research and innovation (RRI)

Word limit: 500

What are the ethical or RRI implications and issues relating to the proposed work?

If you do not think that the proposed work raises any ethical or RRI issues, explain why.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Demonstrate that you have identified and evaluated:

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

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

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, 37KB)
  • proposed usage or costs, or costs per unit where indicated on the facility information list
  • confirmation you have their agreement where required

Enter N/A in the text box if not applicable to your proposed work.

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

We will assess your application using the following process.

Peer review

We will invite experts to review your application independently, against 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.

You will be able to respond to reviewers’ comments if your application gains enough support.

Prioritisation panel

If your application gains enough support from peer review stage, your application, reviewers’ comments, and your response will go to a prioritisation panel. Using this information, the panel will score it against our assessment and rank it with alongside other applications.

Where in the case that an application does not receive enough support from reviewers, it will be ‘review rejected’ at the review stage.

Interview panel

EPSRC will review recommendations from the prioritisation panel and invite the most competitive applicants to an interview panel. Following the interview process the panel will make recommendations to EPSRC who will make the final funding decisions.

Principles of assessment

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

Find out about the UKRI Principles of Assessment and Decision Making.

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

Assessment criteria

For fellowships, the assessment process will place more emphasis on the ‘research-based’ criteria at prioritisation panel and more emphasis on the ‘person-based’ criteria at interview.

However, both stages of review may consider any assessment criteria:

The criteria we will assess your application against are:

  • vision of and approach to the project
  • capability of the applicant and the project team to deliver
  • career development plans
  • creating a positive change in the research community by championing an identified topic
  • ethical and responsible research and innovation (RRI) considerations of the project
  • resources requested to do the project
  • host organisation support

Further detail on what the assessors are looking for is available in the questions in the ‘How to apply’ section.

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 funding 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, content or remit of a funding 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 quantumtechnologies@epsrc.ukri.org

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 funding 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 information on submitting an application.

Sensitive information

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

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

Typical examples of confidential information include:

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

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

Additional info

Background

National Quantum Strategy
National Quantum Strategy Missions

Research disruption due to COVID-19

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

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

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

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

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