Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Impact focussed Supergen Hubs in bioenergy, networks and ORE

Start application

Apply for funding to deliver the next phase of the Supergen Hubs.

The hubs will have a specific focus on:

  • accelerating the impact of current generation offshore renewable energy (ORE)
  • bioenergy
  • networks technologies and solutions to contribute to securing net zero greenhouse gas emissions in the UK by 2050 and to secure UK economic benefit

You must have been successful in the Supergen Hubs 2017 funding opportunity to apply as director at this phase.

We will fund 3 hubs in total, 1 in each of the following areas:

  • bioenergy
  • networks
  • ORE

The full economic cost can be:

  • up to £7.5 million for ORE
  • up to £5 million for networks and bioenergy

EPSRC will fund 80% of the full economic cost. The Supergen Bioenergy hub will be co-funded by BBSRC.

Who can apply

This is an invite-only opportunity and only principal investigators from the currently funded Supergen Hubs 2017 in bioenergy, networks and ORE have been invited to submit a proposal at this phase.

Building on the success of the Supergen programme, these hubs are invited to apply for funding to solve the research challenges that will enable technologies and solutions to be accelerated rapidly and adopted by users.

This focus on accelerating impact will therefore require a clear plan for working closely with users across industry, policy and the third sector. The hubs will drive forward the research needed to exploit the current generation of renewable and networks technologies and solutions to help tackle future UK energy security and to contribute to achieving net zero greenhouse gas emission by 2050.

Standard EPSRC eligibility rules apply.

Research grants are open to:

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

Check if your institution is eligible for research and innovation funding.

Submissions to this funding opportunity will count towards the EPSRC repeatedly unsuccessful applicants policy.

What we're looking for

Scope

This funding opportunity is designed to launch the next phase of the Supergen programme.

This funding opportunity will evolve the 3 current Supergen Hubs (bioenergy, networks or ORE) to focus on:

  • impact (in all its forms)
  • demonstrable contributions to how the UK will meet net zero
  • leverage

The new hubs will work with the wider research and innovation community through a multidisciplinary consortium that ensures the outputs from the Supergen Hubs 2017 are rapidly translated into impact.

This funding opportunity forms 1 part of the next phase of the Supergen programme, and is focussed on accelerating current generation technologies. This will be complemented by a second programme strand, through a funding opportunity to be launched in early 2023. The second opportunity will be focussed on pioneering the next generation of clean energy technologies to ensure the UK remains at the forefront of renewable and networks technologies and solutions.

We expect the new hubs to evolve their strategy to focus on knowledge transfer, translation and impact, including partnering with policy, industrial engagement and leveraged funding. Both in terms of meaningful commitments of leveraged funding at the application stage and a plan to grow the volume of leveraged funding during the programme.

The Supergen Hubs are a key component of EPSRC’s Engineering Net Zero priority, UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) strategic theme of Building a Greener Future and the UK’s Net Zero Research and Innovation Framework. They will ensure the UK benefits from and remains at the forefront of clean energy research and innovation.

Hubs must describe how they will work together on both technical and non-technical issues (for example, equality, diversity and inclusion and, early career researchers (ECR)).

Supergen hub structure

The proposal should be in the form of a consortium of leading research institutions working in bioenergy, networks or ORE and should be focussed to maximise the impact of the research outputs and developments from the current Supergen hubs.

Area strategy

The proposal should present a clear strategy for taking bioenergy, networks or ORE forward, including how the hub will ensure:

Impact

The hub must demonstrate progression from the previous Supergen hub, to focus on accelerating the impact of current generation technologies and solutions over the course of the investment, including:

  • adopting strategies to ensure translation of research and overcome ‘the valley of death’
  • taking technologies out of the lab, improving process and working with closely with industry
  • leveraging support from stakeholders and users

Knowledge transfer

The hub must ensure knowledge transfer and the exploitation of intellectual property. This strategy should refer to, and take account of, the existing national landscape, published roadmaps and other official documents.

Contribution to net zero targets

The hubs are expected to demonstrate how their activities will contribute to securing net zero greenhouse gas emissions in the UK by 2050 and global decarbonisation efforts, encompassing decarbonisation (including materials, chemicals, embodied carbon) as well as energy generation.

Visible research leadership

The hub must be credible and able to act as the international face of the community, feeding into and helping to respond to as-yet unadopted challenges and strategies. They should be a centre of collaboration.

Hub management functions

This will include co-directors, a hub manager and an advisory board.

Role of the hub director

The director from the Supergen Hubs 2017 will fulfil this role. The applicant must demonstrate their ability to lead the evolution of the hub to focus on impact.

As well as continue to demonstrate:

  • thought leadership
  • strategic vision
  • inspirational team leadership
  • be a community ambassador

A leadership development plan should be included, detailing how the next generation of hub directors will be supported and developed. Key person risk should be addressed as part of the risk register within the workplan.

Role of the co-directors

The co-directors are expected to take on a strong supporting role which should be defined in the proposal document. We expect applicants to consider and justify the right make up of personnel to deliver the area strategy for the hub.

Interdisciplinary approach

We would expect all new hubs to consider social and environmental aspects, as well as to integrate where appropriate with the other Supergen hubs, as well as other UKRI investments where there are common areas of interest.

The new hubs will also have the freedom to look beyond EPSRC space and consider how research outputs from other research councils (for example, the Economic Social Research Council, the Natural Environment Research Council, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, the Science and Technology Facilities Council) can create additionality.

Hub expectations

Supergen Bioenergy hub

This hub will provide a focus for the UK research community, working in close partnership with businesses, governments, and administrations throughout the UK to accelerate the impact of current generation bioenergy technologies and solutions.

The Supergen Bioenergy 2023 hub will be co-funded by EPSRC and BBSRC, to increase the hub’s potential and gain additionality from combining engineering, technological, biological and biotechnological research outputs. We would also expect the new bioenergy hub to consider social and environmental aspects.

Continuing support in this area will ensure that bioenergy has a role to play in replacing fossil fuels to meet net zero targets. Research will continue to address important sustainability issues including crop yields, water dependence and the availability of land for energy and food crops.

The successful translation of research underpinning the production of advanced fuels will help the UK meet its commitments for reaching net zero by 2050. The commercialisation of advanced fuels should encourage increased sustainability, energy security and economic growth. The hub will look to develop solutions and pathways for the forthcoming UK bioenergy strategy.

Supergen Networks hub

This hub will discover, develop and deploy cross-cutting solutions to the cross-sector challenges relating to energy networks. The hub will work in close partnership with businesses, governments, and administrations throughout the UK to accelerate the impact of current generation energy network technologies and solutions.

This should include a strategy for working with the Energy Systems Catapult to maximise translation and impact.

Supergen ORE hub

The new Supergen ORE hub will focus on areas of offshore renewable energy that are suitable for translation into and development with industry and other stakeholders. It will also continue to focus on common challenges for the sector. The hub will work in close partnership with businesses, governments, and administrations throughout the UK to accelerate the impact of current generation ORE technologies and solutions.

The new Supergen ORE hub should work with the ORE Catapult and Offshore Wind Innovation Hub to maximise impact and ensure that fundamental and applied research is used to address user inspired challenges currently facing the offshore renewables industry.

Policy partnerships and industrial engagement

Securing the engagement and buy-in of relevant users will be essential to the success of the hubs and leveraging support from project partners is a requirement for this funding. All hubs will also need to have a greater tie in with industry, actively communicating fundamental research outputs and encouraging uptake of academic solutions into industry and the wider user base.

The hubs must demonstrate that they have secured meaningful project partner interest and contributions to the prioritised, proposed research programme. The hubs should detail the planned approaches to elicit more leveraged support as further research activities are prioritised during the hub’s lifetime. The hubs should detail the cash and in-kind contributions project partners will provide, as has been agreed at the point of application.

To ensure that research outcomes from the hubs can be fully exploited by industry and policy at all spatial levels, EPSRC expect to see clear evidence of genuine, substantive partnerships, with co-creation and co-delivery of projects and activities, in addition to financial contributions.

In the hub governance procedures, advice from users must be appropriately used in the hub decision-making strategy to grow user engagement in terms of funding and numbers of users.

The hubs are expected to take an open and inclusive approach and to grow and evolve over the lifetime of the grant. To reflect this, it is expected that they should develop a flexible approach to the research agenda and priorities of the programme beyond the first 12 months of the hubs to account for changes in the landscape, emerging opportunities and industrial sector priorities.

Matching contribution

Given the intention to co-create research with industry and government leading to impact, at application phase EPSRC expects the hubs to evidence the following matched funding (from the private sector, and regional and civic bodies) to every £1 of EPSRC investment:

  • for bioenergy at least 15p
  • for Networks and ORE, at least 30p

Throughout the lifetime of the hubs, the number of project partners will increase and cash or in-kind contributions rising to the following level of matched funding to every £1 of EPSRC funding is expected:

  • for bioenergy at least 60p
  • for Networks and ORE, at least £1

The panel will be asked to assess evidence of stakeholder interest and contributions, in the context of the disciplines and sectors involved. Hubs should make the case for why the total project partner support at full proposal phase, and planned approaches towards eliciting more leveraged support, are appropriate in the context and reach of their submission.

Cross-hub interaction

The hubs must align their activities and work together to act as a coherent Supergen research programme. The hubs should work across the breath of the research and innovation community, across all areas of the UKRI portfolio including but not limited to engineering, environmental, physical and social sciences, to identify key challenges, barriers and opportunities for coordinated activity.

The Supergen directors are expected to work together, in partnership, to enable alignment and complementarity of the respective hub activities, ensuring facilitation of knowledge exchange to secure maximum impact from all hubs. All of the hubs will be expected to form a Supergen Directors Group which will meet periodically to enable collaboration, coordinate joint-funding opportunities, and joint responses to government consultations.

In addition, a Hub Managers Group will also be established to coordinate communication, engagement and other joint activities between the hubs.

Contributing to place-based agendas

The hubs should relate to and connect effectively with local, regional (including where appropriate devolved administrations and their bodies) research and innovation ecosystems, drawing on and contributing to the local economy.

Community engagement

EPSRC has a portfolio of existing investments in energy and decarbonisation research as a major component of EPSRC’s Engineering Net Zero Delivery Plan priority (for example, the Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions or the UK Energy Research Centre). The hubs are expected to engage with existing grant holders to work in partnership, tackling cross sectoral issues. They are also expected to engage with any relevant research and innovation investments made by UKRI and other public funders, including Innovate UK.

A critical feature of the hubs will be their ability to tackle the most pressing needs of businesses, UK government departments, and policy makers across the UK to secure both UK commercial advantage and policy objectives. This will ensure effective 2-way engagement, and information and knowledge exchange between all related investments and hubs to accelerate research and development.

Public engagement

Ensuring and increasing public awareness of sustainable power generation and supply across the energy system and its importance in delivering net zero is essential. The hubs are expected to deliver effective public engagement plans to co-create the research programme and outcomes, ensuring the solutions being developed are accessible and inclusive.

Host organisation support

The host organisations will also be expected to demonstrate substantial support for the hub through cash or in-kind contributions. 20% full economic cost contribution to any funded grant will not count towards the consideration of matched funding.

Host organisations should use the host organisation statement to clearly describe:

  • their long-term strategy relevant to the hub and how this links to their role in the local, regional and national research and development landscape
  • how their strategy complements the UK landscape
  • how they anticipate the hub will enable them to deliver their strategy
  • their intended approach to supporting the individual, their team, and their research activity to enable their full potential contribution to the UK to be realised

Monitoring and evaluation

Directors should make provision in their proposal to track the hubs’ contribution and impacts. This will include an annual report (with Impact case studies) submitted for evaluation by the Supergen High Level Group, that provides evidence of the hubs are contributing to Net Zero Innovation Board (NZIB) Research and Innovation Framework priorities and UK net zero targets. It may also include a mid-term review of the hubs and a final evaluation of the programme.

Equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI)

As leaders in the community, hubs will be expected to embed EDI in all their activities throughout the lifetime of the hub. If funded, this will include identifying the specific EDI challenges and barriers in their own environment and developing a strategy to address these, with reference to EPSRC’s published expectations for EDI.

Hubs must ensure that they request appropriate resources to develop and deliver their EDI strategy effectively.

Responsible innovation and environmental sustainability

The hubs must follow the principles and guidance contained within UKRI’s environmental sustainability strategy, regarding the sustainability of the research methodologies and practices used. The hubs must also consider the responsible innovation and environmental sustainability aspects of the proposed research approaches, and the associated outputs and outcomes.

They should provide an opportunity for the UK to achieve more sustainable and clean economic growth and prosperity. This should involve the consideration of the risks, costs and trade-offs associated with different materials, technologies and approaches and an appropriate degree of application of tools such as life cycle analysis.

Data considerations

The new Supergen hubs will be expected to curate and store generated data as well as that from past iterations of the hub and enable access for the broader community.

Funding available

EPSRC will fund up to 3 hubs.

The full economic cost of your project can be:

  • up to £7.5 million for ORE
  • up to £5 million for networks and bioenergy

EPSRC will fund 80% of the full economic cost. The Supergen Bioenergy hub will be co-funded by BBSRC.

Eligible costs

The directors are expected to request the funding required to achieve the objectives and outcomes they have proposed for the hub. This may include, but is not limited to, funding for:

  • directors and co-directors
  • core research
  • flexible fund
  • impact, engagement, communication and networking
  • support staff

The spilt of the funding between each of the above will fall to the Supergen leader and their team to decide, but this will need to be fully justified. The directors should retain flexibility within the overall programme of work to allow for the hub to respond to emerging priorities and opportunities.

Directors and co-directors

The directors and co-directors time to lead and deliver the hub activities. Directors and co-directors are permitted to have a post-doctoral research associate (PDRA) to support their own research efforts within the hub. When considering consortium partners, applicants are encouraged to ensure that funding isn’t spread too thinly, and that the hub remains focussed on impact.

Core research

The core research budget is to cover key topics identified within the hub’s research programme. It is understood that the research programme may require more funding than the initial set-up funding allows. It is expected that the new Supergen hub would seek additional funding from opportunities across UKRI to cover the research needs identified in the research programme and to adapt to change.

All opportunities will be listed on the UKRI funding funder. Any additional UKRI funded grants can be branded as ‘Supergen Programme’ if the PI of that grant accepts additional grant conditions, which tie it to the programme, and the director of the Supergen hub discusses any potential applications with the relevant portfolio manager for that research area.

Flexible fund

The flexible fund should be used to provide ‘seed corn’ funding for multidisciplinary projects which should subsequently support the following:

  • applications for translation or impact funding (such as impact acceleration account (IAA), place based IAA,or other research council equivalent)
  • support for early career researchers including staff retention or recruitment (for staff returning after career break, etc.)
  • support for EDI activities within the hub. Any EDI activities should not supersede any existing university activities

The fund should also be used to support agile research on emerging topics in the energy landscape as well as drawing in expertise from other disciplines outside of the core hub (where useful).

It is expected that the fund will be held at the host organisation and distributed as required. The Supergen hub’s management board (or other EPSRC approved group) will be required to assess the quality of proposals and the potential outcomes against the Hubs vision and strategic priorities.

Use of the flexible fund, subsequent outcomes (this includes, number of grants applied for, additional funding successfully acquired, etc.) and in particular activities to support ECR or EDI will be monitored via the annual reporting process and any mid-term review.

Impact, engagement, communication and networking

This can include:

  • funding to support impact activities (including stakeholder and user engagement, policy engagement and public engagement)
  • funding to support networking and community building activities, to enable engagement and collaboration across key disciplines and sectors, and with policy officials
  • funding to support governance, monitoring and evaluation activities
  • funding of external agencies, should the hub team require any additional support in areas such as marketing and public relations

A resourced engagement plan and communication strategy will form a key part of the hub’s activity. The full communication strategy and engagement plan should be developed within the first 6 months of the Supergen hub.

Support staff

This must include a hub manager and any additional administrative or technical staff required to support the integration, coordination, knowledge exchange and publication activities of the hub. We note the new focus of the hubs will likely necessitate an increased requirement for knowledge exchange expertise.

Equipment over £10,000 in value (including VAT) is not available through this opportunity. Smaller items of equipment (individually under £10,000) should be in the ‘Directly Incurred – Other Costs’ heading.

Read more about EPSRC’s approach to equipment funding.

Duration

Funding is available for up to 5 years and must start no earlier than 1 July 2023.

Exclusions

Hub funding is not suitable for research areas still in their early stages. Please do not include plans for these within your proposal. Such technologies or approaches will be eligible for funding in the Supergen Next Generation funding opportunity planned in early 2023.

How to apply

You must apply using the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system.

You can find advice on completing your application in the Je-S handbook

We recommend you start your application early.

Your host organisation will also be able to provide advice and guidance.

Submitting your application

Before starting an application, you will need to log in or create an account in Je-S.

When applying:

  1. Select ‘documents’, then ‘new document’.
  2. Select ‘call search’.
  3. To find the opportunity, search for: Supergen Hubs 2023 Call.

This will populate:

  • council: EPSRC
  • document type: standard proposal
  • scheme: standard
  • call/type/mode: Supergen Hubs 2023 Call

The title of your proposal must be: Supergen [Name of area] hub 2023.

All submissions must be made by the lead institution, on one single Je-S form, representing all the institutions involved.

Once you have completed your application, make sure you ‘submit document’.

You can save completed details in Je-S at any time and return to continue your application later.

Deadline

EPSRC must receive your application by 23 March 2023 at 4:00pm UK time.

You will not be able to apply after this time. Please leave enough time for your proposal to pass through your organisation’s Je-S submission route before this date.

You should ensure you are aware of and follow any internal institutional deadlines that may be in place.

Attachments

Your application must also include the following attachments.

Do not upload any ‘other attachments’. If submitted, they will not be sent to reviewers or the panel.

You should attach your documents as PDFs to avoid errors. They should be completed in single-spaced Arial 11 font or similar-sized sans serif typeface.

Advice on writing proposals for EPSRC funding.

Case for support

The case for support can be up to a maximum of 16 sides of A4:

  • 2 sides of A4 on track record
  • 10 sides of A4 to address the assessment criteria
  • 4 sides of A4 on the management and governance plan
Track record

The track record should be 2 sides of A4. It must detail the ability of the director to fulfil the role of hub director, and briefly outline the relevant expertise each investigator will bring to the research programme.

Please provide details and rationale for any personnel refresh, including how the new team align with the vision for this phase of funding. Please include a leadership development plan detailing how the next generation of hub directors will be supported and developed.

Address the assessment criteria

Addressing the assessment criteria should be 10 sides of A4. This section should include:

  • overall vision and ambition for the hub
  • area and impact strategy, including:
    • a ‘living’ area strategy which is informed from the current landscape and roadmaps for the future, building on the Supergen hubs 2017 and demonstrating how the planned activities contribute to EPSRC’s Engineering Net Zero strategic priority and the Net Zero Research and Innovation Framework
    • a detailed overview of the programme of research required in the area, and how it will address user inspired challenges and maximise translation and impact from hub activities
    • demonstrate clear progression from previous Supergen hub investments and focus on accelerating impact as described above, and how the focus of the hub activities, especially on impact in all its forms, will continue to evolve over the course of the grant
    • details of how the hub will ensure knowledge transfer and the exploitation of intellectual property
    • evidence of strong partnerships and plans to grow and evolve partnerships over the course of the grant to maximise impact and leverage support from stakeholders
  • research programme and methodology, including both high-level objectives and detailed technical plans. The high-level objectives should include cross-cutting research questions and challenges to enable impact and is expected to include flexibility to address emerging topics once funded. You should provide an initial plan alongside your approach to developing it as the hub progresses. The detailed technical plan is intended to provide additional information on the research programme (for example, on individual work packages or themes) for the expert reviewers. It should include details of the methodology proposed in each research strand to achieve the overall vision as well as why this is important. This section should detail research objectives, deliverables, and milestones. This should also include details about how the research programme will be balanced between research carried out within the core of the hub and research facilitated by the agile flexible fund
  • planned coordination and integration activities: including the strategy and approach for connecting the broad and diverse interdisciplinary community, and for coordinating knowledge exchange across other research and innovation investments to identify key challenges and maximise the outcomes of the investment
  • collaboration and stakeholder engagement, including how the hub will engage with and deliver to address the needs of diverse stakeholders, providing benefits and impact to consumers, government, business and other stakeholders. This should include details of the strategy for engaging with stakeholders including relevant government departments and user groups
Management and governance plan

The management and governance plan can be up to four sides of A4 within the case for support.

This should not focus specifically on the director but should demonstrate the strategy and track record across the proposed management team. It must include:

  • demonstration of how the proposed management structure and the team composition will enable them to manage an inclusive interdisciplinary hub
  • how equality, diversity and inclusion is embedded in plans for convening their community, including in how:
    • the core leadership team will embed equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) into all activities
    • the diverse range of perspectives in the community will be reflected and encouraged
    • how the team will create an inclusive and accessible environment for broad participation
  • a day-to-day management strategy for ensuring individual research, coordination and integration activities meet the overall vision for the hub, and for use of resources
  • details of the strategy and planned governance of the allocation and management of flexible funding including consideration of appropriate EDI considerations
  • the planned governance and advisory board structures of the hub, including:
    • how inclusivity will be built into stakeholder engagement
    • details of how the hub will work in partnership with other Supergen directors, in partnership to enable alignment and complementarity of the respective hub activities, ensuring facilitation of knowledge exchange to secure maximum impact from all hubs. This should include the Supergen Directors Group, coordinated joint-funding opportunities, the Hub Managers Group and joint responses to government consultations
    • how the hub will manage ongoing development and prioritisation of its programme of work in consultation with stakeholders and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)
  • a monitoring strategy, which includes a logic model detailing the outputs and outcomes to be delivered by the investment made through the hub. This should clearly articulate outcomes achievable within the hub lifetime and those that the hubs investment will enable in the longer term. Baseline key performance indicators should be defined for measuring the success of the hub in progressing towards these outcomes, with a plan for monitoring and the major decision points identified, and how these will be used to reassess the direction of the hub
  • details of how the hub will deliver for and support early career researchers (ECR)
  • a plan for engaging in the required monitoring and evaluation activities for the hub and how the hub will support UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) in these activities.

Communication and engagement plan

The communication and engagement plan can be up to two sides of A4. You must add this attachment under ‘additional documents’ in Je-S.

Detail the strategy for engaging with potential users of the research funded in the hub (resources for impact activities can be requested and must be justified in the application). This strategy should be reviewed and updated regularly as part of the formal management of the grant.

This strategy should describe how the Supergen will support the delivery of actionable solutions. The vision and programme for the hub must be designed and delivered in partnership with relevant users, including industry and government (UK and devolved as appropriate), regional or other local stakeholders.

The strategy should cover how the directors will:

  • work with all Supergen investments on common areas, in partnership, to secure maximum impact from all hubs
  • coordinate and engage with existing UKRI investments networks and groups (such as UKERC) who can carry the hubs messages to interested stakeholders, with detail on how the hub would identify and exploit potential opportunities to maximise engagement and impact
  • form new collaborations with users, including policy officials, industry and the third sector, throughout the hubs lifetime
  • ensure that the right content is delivered to the right people, at the right level and at the right time (feeding results into policy cycles etc.)
  • attract additional co-funding (both direct and in kind) from new and existing project partners to reach a level equal to or exceeding the EPSRC contribution
  • prioritise co-creation and co-delivery of projects with project partners from relevant industries, ensuring that user needs are forefront throughout the development and delivery of hub research and activities
  • make best use of the financial, in-kind and intellectual contributions of project partners to meet the needs and objectives of the hub
  • foster genuine and committed engagement with project partners, where project partners are a core part of the delivery team and develop strong relationships with the hub
  • determine the success of the strategy in delivering value to users and by what metrics and key performance indicators that are tracked throughout the hubs lifetime to gage effectiveness

While applicants need to consider this strategy in their proposal, UKRI recognises that flexibility is needed given the dynamic nature of the programme. You should therefore provide an initial plan alongside your approach to developing it as the hub progresses.

Workplan

The work plan can be up to 4 sides of A4, including 1 page for risk register table.

It is not expected that this will be a Gantt chart for the full duration of the hub. It is expected that the work plan includes a comprehensive plan for at least the first 12 months, which relates to the management strategy to give appropriate milestones for when important decisions on the further direction of the hub will be taken.

You should include key dates for any flexible funding opportunity (if relevant) and advisory board meetings.

The risk register table should detail both programme risks (including key person risk) and the top risks for each work-package, the likelihood and impact of each risk and briefly detail any mitigating steps which should be taken.

Justification of resources

The justification of resources can be up to 2 sides of A4.

It should include a narrative description of the need for the resources requested. Please ensure you justify all the resources you request.

CVs

CVs can be up to 2 sides of A4 each. CVs can be provided for:

  • named research staff including postdoctoral staff and research technical professionals
  • researcher co-investigators (research assistants who have made a substantial contribution to the proposal and will be employed on the project for a significant amount of time)
  • visiting researchers.

Project partner letters of support

This is a mandatory attachment if information about a project partners is added to the Je-S form itself. There is no page limit.

The letter should demonstrate why inclusion of a partner is integral to an applicant’s plans and the project partner’s commitment to delivering the aims of the proposal.

If included, project partner letters of support must be signed, dated (no more than 6 months before the opportunity closing date) and on letter headed paper.

Host organisation letter of support

The host organisation letter of support can be up to 2 sides of A4 per institution.

There should be 1 statement for each host organisation involved (each 2 pages maximum), all attached as 1 document.

For co-investigators from other institutions, a host organisation statement is required from all institutions involved.

Letters should include the institution’s commitment to the hub for the lifetime of the award, and the alignment of the hub’s proposed vision to the institution’s strategy.

The statement should:

  • be on headed paper
  • be signed
  • be dated within 6 months of submission
  • state clearly the position held by the author

Technical assessments for facilities listed as requiring one in the Je-S guidance

There is no page limit for this.

Proposal cover letter

The proposal cover letter is an optional attachment and can be up to 2 sides of A4.

This letter will only be seen internally by UKRI. You can express any other information you feel is relevant to your application.

Ethical information section

EPSRC will not fund a project if it believes that there are ethical concerns that have been overlooked or not appropriately accounted for.

All relevant parts of the ethical information section must be completed.

Guidance on completing ethical information on the Je-S form.

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

The proposal will be assessed in 2 ways by a panel. Firstly through written assessment and secondly via interview. Panel members will provide anonymous written reviews which will be sent to the director via Je-S. The director will then be invited to submit a response to the reviewers’ comments.

The proposal will then be considered for funding by an interview panel. The interview panel will consider the submitted proposal, reviews and response to reviews and lead a discussion with the director to enable them to assess whether the proposed Supergen Hub meets the assessment criteria sufficiently.

The panel may recommend conditions for EPSRC to impose before funding is awarded. Based on the panel’s recommendations, EPSRC reserves the right to seek further information from the applicants before awarding funding.

EPSRC reserves the right to request applicants to adjust costs in line with the budget available for this opportunity.

Assessment criteria

Quality of the proposed hub (primary)

This includes:

  • an overarching research vision, ambition and adventure that will ensure the Supergen hub will deliver for users in the specific area
  • a comprehensive, resourced programme including scope for using additional funds to maximise translation and impact of activities
  • planned coordination and integration activities
  • appropriateness of proposed methodologies and strategies for management, governance, communication and user engagement
  • flexibility to respond to emerging topics and changes in the landscape during the course of the investment.
  • fit to energy and decarbonisation landscape, EPSRC’s Engineering Net Zero Delivery Plan priority and UKRI strategic objectives and the UK Net Zero Research and Innovation Framework

Fit to scheme: impact strategy (primary)

 This includes:

  • strong engagement of project partners to work in partnership to co-create and co-deliver the hub activities and ensure the research outputs are exploited
  • cash and in-kind support from project partners and a detailed plan to elicit more leveraged support during the hub’s lifetime
  • clear strategies to ensure that research outcomes are fully exploited by industry and policy
  • collaboration and stakeholder engagement, including plans to work across user groups to facilitate knowledge exchange and two-way engagement
  • the appropriateness of planned activities to allow the generation and implementation of ideas

National importance (secondary)

This includes:

  • clear alignment and contribution to targets and priorities of the UK government and devolved administrations, as well as more localised, regional bodies such as civic bodies, local authorities or similar
  • evidence of the potential for the proposal to contribute visibly to economic and social impacts in places across the UK
  • contributes to, or helps maintain, the health of other disciplines
  • contributes to addressing key UK societal challenges or contributes to future UK economic success and development of emerging industry
  • meets national needs by establishing and maintaining a unique, world leading research and integration activity
  • fits with and complements other UK research funded in the area or related areas, including any relationship to the UKRI portfolio and our stated strategy (which can be consulted using Gateway to Research)

Applicant and partnerships (secondary)

This refers to the ability to deliver the proposed research, making reference to:

  • appropriateness of the track record of the applicants
  • balance of skills of the project team, including collaborators
  • ability of the management team to lead or manage a large, complex investment with sufficient support, infrastructure and resources for the day-to-day running of the hub
  • clear broad stakeholder mapping and prioritisation and a clear strategy for engaging with and encouraging collaboration and knowledge exchange across the programme with business, policy makers including UK government and devolved administrations, the third sector and the public
  • appropriateness of the engagement strategy and strategic plan between the hub and industrial partners
  • details of level of commitment from the industrial partners and how additional leverage will be accessed over the lifetime of the award
  • evidence that the hub research projects and activities will be co-created and co-delivered with users

Resources and management (secondary)

This refers to the effectiveness of the proposed planning and management and whether the requested resources are appropriate and have been fully justified, making reference to:

  • the appropriateness of the requested resources to support community building, responsible innovation and public engagement or to increase impact
  • the effectiveness of the proposed management structure and plans
  • the suitability of the proposed strategy for governance of the programme, including the flexible allocation of funding and inclusion of a broad and diverse community
  • the appropriateness of plans for integrating the views of stakeholders (including government), business and the third sector) as part of governance and advisory structures
  • effectiveness of the proposed monitoring and evaluation arrangements to ensure the overall EPSRC opportunity objectives are met
  • how equality, diversity and inclusion are embedded in the management of the hub and the delivery of activities
  • appropriate resources allocated to ECR development

Feedback

Feedback from the panel will be provided in the form of their written assessment ahead of the interview panel and in writing from UKRI following the interview panel.

Feedback following the interview could take the form of advice to be considered during the delivery of the hub, as required amendments that need to be addressed in order for funding to be given, or to provide feedback on why the proposal is not being funded.

The panel will expect their feedback to be addressed in the principal investigator response and during the interview, ensuring the applicants are utilising the opportunity to alleviate their concerns or to consider potential modifications as part of the principal investigator response and interview discussion.

Nominating reviewers

As part of the application process, you will be invited to nominate up to three potential reviewers who you feel have the expertise to assess your proposal. Please ensure that any nominations meet the EPSRC conflicts of interest policy.

Guidance for reviewers

Read more information about the EPSRC peer review process and guidance for reviewers.

Read the guidance on reviewing standard grants.

Contact details

Get help with developing your proposal

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.

Ask about this funding opportunity

Energy and Decarbonisation team

Email: energy@epsrc.ukri.org

Jim Fleming, Joint Head of Energy and Decarbonisation, EPSRC

Email: jim.fleming@epsrc.ukri.org

Phone: 07795333242

Joanna Watt, Senior Portfolio Manager, EPSRC

Email: joanna.watt@epsrc.ukri.org

Phone: 07523917772

Chris Carlton, Senior Portfolio Manager, EPSRC

Email: christopher.carlton@epsrc.ukri.org

Phone: 07873615519

Get help with applying through Je-S

Email

jeshelp@je-s.ukri.org

Telephone

01793 444164

Opening times

Je-S helpdesk opening times.

Additional info

Background

EPSRC’s engineering net zero delivery plan priority outlines that engineering and physical sciences research is critical to the discovery, development and deployment of solutions to:

  • tackle climate change
  • enhance sustainability
  • ensure economic prosperity

Through investments supported within this priority area, EPSRC seeks to support a whole systems approach to technological solutions which will decarbonise our economy and society, and enable a sustainable net zero future.

Supergen programme history

The Supergen programme was set up in 2001 to deliver sustained and coordinated research on sustainable power generation (Supergen) and supply, focusing on several key research areas, including:

  • bioenergy
  • energy networks
  • energy storage
  • fuel cells
  • hydrogen and other vectors
  • marine, wave and tidal
  • solar technology
  • wind power

It is 1 of the UK government’s largest single investments in fundamental research on low-carbon energy generation and sustainable distribution.

For phase 3, EPSRC supported seven Supergen hubs with £150 million of investment over a 5-year period (including a series challenge funding opportunities and Centres for Doctoral Training).

The Supergen programme was reviewed in 2016 by an independent panel. The review report highlighted the scale of the programme and recognised it’s high academic, socio-economic, environmental and international impact. The Supergen programme then focussed on carrying out and commissioning research within a coordinated strategic framework and focussing on a community-led programme of fundamental to applied research, of national importance.

The Supergen Hubs 2017 (phase 4) use research to address high impact user, industrial and government inspired problems whilst also covering adventurous discovery-led investigations. It is recognised that the position a Supergen hub adopts will depend on the area which it covers, for example, wind power is in a different adoption space to bioenergy.

These Supergen hubs feature an enhanced management structure including a director and co-directors. The co-directors are responsible for, amongst other activities, supporting cross-hub activities and engagement outside of the core universities and ensure a balance of funding distribution that maximises high quality research outputs.

The Supergen programme has been highly successful in discovering and developing sustainable solutions and technologies for energy generation that have enabled the commitment to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions to become a reality.

To meet the target of securing net zero greenhouse gas emissions in the UK by 2050, and build on the earlier Supergen programme, the Supergen Hubs 2023 will have a specific focus on driving forward the acceleration of current generation ORE, bioenergy and networks technologies and solutions to ensure UK economic benefit.

This funding opportunity forms 1 part of the next phase of the Supergen programme (phase 5) and is focussed on accelerating the impact of current generation technologies. This will be complemented by a second programme strand, through a funding opportunity to be launched in early 2023, which will be focussed on pioneering the next generation of clean energy technologies to ensure the UK remains at the forefront of renewable and networks technologies and solutions.

Example challenges

A number of outstanding research challenges remain in each hub area, which may form part of the proposed programme, particularly where addressing a research need will accelerate the impact of current generation technologies and solutions.

Supergen Bioenergy hub

This hub will provide a focus for the UK research community, working in close partnership with businesses, governments, and administrations throughout the UK to tackle research challenges that underpin development and use of bioenergy.

Examples include, but are not limited to, research challenges such as:

  • biorefineries -engineering practicalities of biorefineries, hydrogen systems and ammonia: examine the ‘biorefinery vision’ from an engineering perspective, including the energy balance and carbon emissions
  • carbon value chains: clarify the integrity, viability and bankability of carbon reductions from different biomass sources or technologies when full life cycle and associated impacts are taken into account
  • biomass to hydrogen pathways: including gasification, photocatalysis and fermentation
  • energy transitions across sectors: leverage our knowledge of biofuel production potential and environmental impacts to deliver a more finely characterized and realistic appraisal of potential resources and conversion technologies than currently exists in energy systems models
  • biomaterials, chemicals and products: leveraging biomass for very significant reductions in carbon intensity
  • bioenergy integration into the current (and future) energy systems, including transport, water treatment, heat, integration with carbon capture and storage to give potential negative emission technologies and biorefineries
  • reducing costs and increasing efficiency of technologies and processes
  • land use, integration of bioenergy into ecosystem services and life cycle assessment
  • feedstock innovation: identify potential new bioenergy or bioproduct feedstocks, their sustainability and attendant impacts
  • scale-up of process and technologies, whilst recognising the deployable scale
  • understanding opportunities and barriers to take up, for example, policy, social acceptability, financial challenges and perceptions of relevant actors. For example, understanding the challenges and opportunities, trade-offs and decision-making process surrounding land use, including the use of bioenergy as flood defence

Supergen Networks hub

This hub will discover and develop cross-cutting solutions to the cross-sector challenges relating to energy networks.

Examples include but are not limited to research challenges such as:

  • analysis of the impact of the decarbonisation of heat and transport sectors on multi-vector networks.
  • multi vector network integration of the next generation of nuclear power stations. Connecting the networks community with the nuclear community to support government plans to grow nuclear considering pink hydrogen and nuclear for heating.
  • transmission-distribution network or system coordination of zero-carbon, zero-inertia power systems, and to enable the continued growth in ORE (with ORE hub)
  • energy network reliability and security as we move to a renewable energy-based system
  • improve network resilience to extreme weather events (climate change) and cyber security vulnerabilities
  • coordinated development of energy networks and energy demand (with Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions)
  • commercial and Market arrangements and societal impacts of energy network developments, with a focus on vulnerable consumers
  • evidence based design of sustainable decarbonisation strategies and policies covering multi-vector energy networks. Will generate evidence base and analytical tools

Supergen ORE hub

The Supergen ORE hub was formed in 2017 to combine 3 internationally leading research areas (wind, wave and tidal technology), whilst also enabling shared learning on common research challenges.

The Supergen ORE hub would be expected to address research challenges related to non-technology specific themes (common to wind, wave and tidal technologies) in addition to any sector specific requirements. The high-level themes include:

  • to grow an industry at pace. This needs investment in people and skills. Will provide the sector talent pipeline
  • maintaining momentum in ORE research to support UK government targets
  • scoping of the environmental impact of increased ORE deployment in the Marine Environment; environmental factors and interactions: degradations, biofouling and potential barriers to development
  • risk and safety:
    • de-risking at all stages of project development cycle, design and planning
    • human factors for installation, operation and maintenance
    • safety of personnel and minimised human presence in hazardous areas; Autonomous and cooperative systems
  • cost reductions and economics: cost reduction across ORE technologies, economic viability, scalability, etc.
  • high value markets (remote communities, niche applications) as well as large volume utility scale markets
  • sustainable use of the natural resources: resource and environment characterisation, multi-purpose hybrid systems for ORE and ocean resources
  • data: collection (or access), curation, sign-posting and model validation, smart sensors and integration
  • power connections to shore: power systems to maximise efficiency, reliability and yield as well as transmission technology
  • social-technical factors, for example, understanding the issues surrounding public acceptance, governance, decision-making processes (for example, site location) and impact on surrounding region
  • fluid-structure-seabed interactions: floating foundation and station-keeping systems, dynamic cables and cable-seabed interactions to improve reliability
  • materials and manufacturing: new materials, recycling and reuse, circular economy, structural Integrity in the marine environment, corrosion and fatigue degrade
  • control and electromechanics: control and co-design, energy integration for improved reliability and resilience
  • survivability, reliability and design: risk-based design for reliability, whole-system design, integration of supply, storage and the grid, design tools for array-scale and farm-scale interactions

Responsible innovation

EPSRC is 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
  • 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, you are expected to work within the EPSRC framework for responsible innovation.

International collaboration

Applicants planning to include international collaborators on their proposal should visit Trusted Research for information and advice on how to get the most out of international collaboration whilst protecting:

  • intellectual property
  • sensitive research
  • personal information

Grant additional conditions

Grants are awarded under the standard UKRI grant terms and conditions. There will also be grant conditions that cover the following aspects:

  • equality, diversity and inclusion
  • monitoring
  • collaboration
  • project advisory group
  • networking activities
  • flexible fund
  • publicity and branding
  • management structure
  • cross-theme working

Directors funded in Supergen 2017 hubs

Details of the funded directors who are each invited to submit a bid as a director for the Supergen 2023 hubs are:

Bioenergy director

Professor Patricia Thornley

Supergen Bioenergy

Networks director

Professor Phil Taylor

Supergen Energy Networks

ORE director

Professor Deborah Greaves

Supergen ORE

Supporting documents

Equality impact assessment (DOCX, 63KB)

This is the integrated website of the 7 research councils, Research England and Innovate UK.
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