For over three years EPSRC has championed the role of the RTP and the research software engineer (RSE). These highly skilled and versatile community within the university sector have become increasingly prominent in the research community in this time due to initiatives such as the TALENT Commission, the Warwick Analytical Science Centre (WASC) and the Technician Commitment, among others.
While UK Research and Innovation has set a strategic objective of developing world class people and careers across the academic spectrum, this period has also seen increasing recognition of the need to encourage more people to take up technical roles across universities and promote technical careers as a positive opportunity, due to the high demand for skilled technical staff nationwide.
Over this period EPSRC has begun to open up funding opportunities for RTPs that were not previously accessible. We are now launching this funding opportunity to fund strategic investments for systematic support, training and development to promote, enable and empower the RTP community in UK universities. These investments can be made in support of RTPs in both the physical and digital domains. Proposals should have a strategic regional or national focus, and may be based around a group of institutions or a particular scientific field or technology.
The proposals should offer a combination of personal and community-based activities and investments. You will need to describe how these investments will lead to the relevant RTP community gaining increased knowledge, skills and opportunities, and what the strategic benefit of this would be.
Examples of activities that could be considered include, but are not limited to:
- training opportunities (both in terms of new techniques and career development)
- secondments to other institutions or industries to train on new methods
- pump-priming access for facilities
- importing skills into the UK through visits to international facilities or hosting RTPs from internationally competitive institutes
- raising awareness of opportunities and community development
- conferences and workshops
- pilot projects and feasibility studies
- promotion and development of the role of RTPs in the context of universities in the UK (comparable to the ‘plus’ option of the current EPSRC Fellowship scheme)
Although not a funding opportunity requirement, applicants may wish to include a senior member of the host institution (such as a Dean of School or Pro Vice-Chancellor for example) to act as a champion to promote the RTP community at a high level.
The assessment will be a two-stage process:
- outline stage (this stage)
- full proposal stage: successful applicants at the outline stage will be invited to submit a full proposal, which will be assessed by an expert interview panel
The invited full proposal stage of this funding opportunity is likely to run on the Funding Service, our new funding platform, rather than via the Joint Electronic Submissions (Je-S) System.
The Funding Service has a digital form-based format. This means that the exact application requirements and assessment criteria may alter from what is currently published. Further information will be published in the full proposal funding opportunity.
A total of £6.5 million is available for this investment. Individual proposals should be in the range £750,000 to £2 million.
Awards should be up to four years in duration. A funding decision will be made in late 2023, with awards expected to start in April 2024.
Funding should be in addition to any existing support provided to RTPs in the host institution(s).
Equipment over £10,000 in value (including VAT) is not available through this funding opportunity. Smaller items of equipment (individually under £10,000) should be in the ‘Directly Incurred – Other Costs’ heading.
EPSRC approach to equipment funding.
You are expected to work within the EPSRC framework for responsible innovation.
Applicants planning to include international collaborators on their proposal should visit Trusted Research for guidance on getting the most out of international collaboration while protecting intellectual property, sensitive research and personal information.