Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Lead energy demand research as the Energy Demand Research Champion

Apply for funding to become the ‘Energy Demand Research Champion’ and lead the next stage of energy demand research in the UK.

You must be a UK resident based at an eligible research organisation.

You can be from any discipline and should have a:

  • background in research, industry or policy
  • clear understanding of the interdisciplinary nature of UK energy demand research.

In the role, you will:

  • develop a consortium that will apply for the upcoming funding opportunity for a new ‘Energy Demand Research Centre’
  • lead the new Energy Demand Research Centre, if the consortium proposal is successful.

The full economic cost of the role can be up to £312,500. UKRI will fund 80% of the full economic cost.

Who can apply

For this funding opportunity, standard UKRI research council eligibility rules apply.

Investigators from eligible UK institutions with relevant interdisciplinary expertise are welcomed and encouraged to apply.

Research grants are open to:

  • UK higher education institutions
  • research council institutes
  • UKRI-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.

Applications are also welcome from academics who:

  • job share
  • have a part time contract
  • are currently committed to other large existing UKRI grants, for example:
    • centres
    • hubs
    • programme grants
    • centres for doctoral training.

If committed to other large grants, the applicant must have enough time available to fulfil the ‘Energy Demand Research Champion’ role.

Submissions to this funding opportunity will not count towards the EPSRC repeatedly unsuccessful applicants policy.

What we're looking for

A reduction in energy demand is a global and UK priority. It is central to achieving the UK government’s national target of carbon neutrality by 2050, and the interim target to cut emissions by 78% by 2035.

To achieve these targets, a whole systems approach will be required, as outlined in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s net zero strategy and the UK net zero research and innovation framework. The Climate Change Committee has highlighted that a combination of low-carbon technological changes and societal and behavioural changes will be needed.

Studies of incremental efficiency improvements and minor behavioural changes will not be sufficient. More transformative change is needed.

Therefore, new interdisciplinary research is required to rapidly deliver actionable insights on the future of energy demand within the UK. This includes interdisciplinary energy demand research that focuses on:

  • governance
  • business models
  • technology
  • social change.

Energy Demand Research Champion role

UKRI wishes to fund a new ‘Energy Demand Research Champion’ who will provide transformational leadership and coordination for energy demand research within the UK. This investment will help inform our transition to net zero by 2050.

We expect the champion to develop a leading interdisciplinary consortium to apply for the subsequent ‘Energy Demand Research Centre’ funding opportunity. This application needs to be submitted in January 2023. The champion will be the principal investigator.

Objectives

We expect the champion to:

  • increase understanding and actionable insights to inform the transformation of energy demand within the UK and internationally
  • provide leadership through the design and implementation of an interdisciplinary Energy Demand Research Centre that includes wider stakeholders
  • champion interdisciplinary research, integrating a range of disciplines to provide actionable solutions
  • support capacity and capability building for research and knowledge mobilisation, to ensure insights are deployed as rapidly and effectively as possible
  • contribute to the wider national and international energy demand research community, including being an equality, diversity and inclusivity (EDI) role model.

Requirements

The Energy Demand Research Champion will be required to:

  • develop a detailed proposal for assessing future UKRI investment in energy demand research. This should include a focus on interdisciplinary research, a strong career development programme, a clear EDI plan, and an appropriate management and governance model with effective monitoring and evaluation
  • develop a stakeholder engagement and knowledge mobilisation strategy for input into the design and development of the Energy Demand Research Centre, including how the energy demand community, business and government will be integrated
  • summarise how future investment in energy demand research will build upon existing activities, infrastructure and investments
  • develop a plan of engagement with the UKRI office on future ideas for energy demand research, through regular catch ups and effective collaboration
  • draw up a clear communication plan that details how potential impacts and outputs will be communicated to a wide range of audiences, both internally and externally.

Long-term goals

The long-term goals for the champion are to:

  • provide leadership and coordination on interdisciplinary energy demand research, including through the design and delivery of a world-leading Energy Demand Research Centre (if the funding application is successful)
  • contribute towards the evidence base for energy demand, informing strategies to help meet the UK’s 2050 net zero target and broader global environmental and sustainability goals
  • enhance utilisation and engagement with energy demand research across society, to ensure more sustainable and equitable decision making.

Please note that the Energy Demand Research Champion needs to be available to start work in September 2022.

Co-champions

Applications are welcome for ‘co-champions’. In this case, the distinct roles and responsibilities of the two co-champions must be clearly set out. For example:

  • ‘co-champion 1: strategy’
  • ‘co-champion 2: management’.

There can be a maximum of two co-champions. One should be listed on the application as ‘principal investigator’ and one as ‘co-investigator’.

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

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

Funding available

Up to £312,500 is available for this initial stage of the process, from September 2022 until April 2023. This provides funding for 80% of the full economic cost of the role.

Funding can be used for:

  • teaching buyout (if required)
  • networking activities
  • workshops
  • administrative support.

How to apply

UKRI must receive your application by 16:00 on 6 April 2022.

Applications must be made through the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system.

When adding your proposal, you should go to ‘documents’, select ‘new document’, then select:

  • ‘create new document’
  • council: ‘EPSRC’
  • document type: ‘standard proposal’
  • scheme: ‘standard’
  • funding opportunity: ‘Energy Demand Champion’ on the ‘project details’ page
  • start date: September 2022.

After completing the application, click ‘submit document’. This will send your application to your host organisation’s administration office.

Your host organisation’s administration office is required to complete the submission process. You should allow sufficient time for your organisation’s submission process between submitting your proposal to them and the opportunity closing date.

Please note that the timeframe for the Energy Demand Research Champion and Energy Demand Research Centre has fixed ‘start by’ and ‘end by’ dates. If your specific circumstances might lead to difficulty in adhering to these dates, please outline a mitigation plan in your proposal, which could include having a ‘co-champion’.

Documents to include

As well as the Je-S application form, you must submit the following documents:

  • case for support (maximum 10 sides of A4)
  • work plan (maximum one side of A4)
  • institutional letter of support (maximum one side of A4)
  • justification of resources (maximum two sides of A4)
  • CV (maximum of two sides of A4 per person).

You should attach your documents as PDFs to avoid errors. They should be completed in single-spaced Arial 11 point font (or a similar-sized sans serif typeface) with 2cm margins.

Case for support

This is the main body of your proposal. You must include the following sections:

  • a detailed vision for the role of champion, including the objectives and long-term goals you will address in line with the requirements of this funding opportunity
  • a detailed description and justification of all the activities you will undertake to deliver the objectives of this funding opportunity, including how you will learn from and evolve existing infrastructures within the energy demand community
  • evidence of your skills, expertise and experience, including examples of prior successes and lessons learnt from running complex or interdisciplinary projects
  • a description of your proposed work plan for the funding period, including how you plan to work with the UKRI office during this time (for example, through regular meetings and collaboration on the plans for the Energy Demand Research Centre)
  • clear, demonstrable links to a wide range of stakeholders, including researchers, industry, policymakers and users within the energy demand community. Please include examples of previous engagement and its impacts
  • details on how equality, diversity and inclusion will be placed at the core of the proposed programme.

Your case for support should be a self-contained description of your proposed work, with relevant background and references. It should not depend on additional information such as the inclusion of external links.

Assessors are advised to base their assessment on the information contained within the application and are under no obligation to access any such links. This means that links should not be used to provide critical information.

Work plan

Your work programme should be illustrated with a simple diagrammatic work plan such as a Gantt chart (maximum one side of A4). This should clearly set out a timeline for activities and delivery milestones.

Institutional letter of support

You must include an institutional letter of support from the pro-vice chancellor for research (or equivalent role) at the lead research organisation, confirming its commitment (and any partner research organisation’s commitment) to your application.

The letter should identify:

  • the key characteristics and skills that the institution feels demonstrate your ability to succeed as a research leader
  • the level of support that the host institution will offer you as part of its standard career development package
  • additional support to help you succeed in this funding opportunity, for example, dedicated admin support, mentoring.

Justification of resources

Your justification of resources should state that the resources you are requesting are appropriate to undertake the activity described in your case for support. It should also explain why they are appropriate, taking into account the nature and complexity of your proposal.

It should not simply list the resources required, as this has already been done in the Je-S form.

Where you do not provide an explanation for an item that requires justification, it will not be funded.

CV

You must include a CV for the principal investigator and another one for the co-champion if this is a joint application.

This should contain, as appropriate:

  • contact details
  • qualifications (including subject and class)
  • academic and professional posts held since graduation
  • academic responsibilities
  • experience of project management
  • a summary list of the most relevant and recent publications.

Read our advice on writing proposals.

Ethical information

UKRI 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.

Read further guidance on completing the Je-S form. UKRI guidance can be found under ‘additional information’.

How we will assess your application

This funding opportunity is the first stage of a two-stage process designed to launch the next phase of UKRI investment in energy demand reduction.

Stage one: Energy Demand Research Champion

This stage is aimed at identifying a leader to drive forward UKRI’s investment in energy demand reduction from September 2022.

Stage two: Energy Demand Research Centre

This is the invited stage for a single full proposal describing the future Energy Demand Research Centre and the consortium of investigators who will achieve this vision.

This stage is a closed opportunity. Only the successful team convened by the successful champion identified in stage one will be eligible. The assessment process for this stage of the call will begin in January 2023.

Assessment process for the Energy Demand Research Champion

Applications will be assessed and shortlisted by an expert panel in May 2022.

Following initial shortlisting, a maximum of five applicants will be invited for interview in June 2022.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to consult with relevant existing UKRI Energy Programme investments before and during the assessment process.

Applications that do not clearly address the assessment criteria will be rejected.

UKRI reserves the right to modify the assessment process as needed.

Assessment criteria

Applications will be assessed against the following criteria:

  • fit to the opportunity’s objectives, including an effective, well-articulated vision and strategy for how funded time will be used to develop the next interdisciplinary Energy Demand Research Centre
  • demonstrable experience of leading and managing successful interdisciplinary programmes or projects that resulted in delivering impact at both national and international levels
  • experience of effective stakeholder engagement and knowledge mobilisation strategies involving diverse stakeholders, including the UKRI office
  • experience of supporting the development of capacity and capability, including an interdisciplinary community, and of drawing up a fully inclusive strategy.

UKRI supports the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) and recognises the relationship between research assessment and research integrity.

Contact details

Ask a question about this opportunity

For further queries please email: energy@epsrc.ukri.org

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.

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

‘Energy demand reduction’ was identified as one of the top three priorities for the UKRI Energy Programme.

There will be a huge need to reduce energy demand as we increase our dependency on electrification. It is essential that the UK is the leader in understanding the changes in energy demand needed for the transition to a secure and affordable net zero society, as set out in the government’s net zero strategy.

The Climate Change Committee has stated in its report net zero: the UK’s contribution to stopping global warming that a net zero greenhouse gas target for 2050 is achievable with known technologies, interacting with behavioural changes.

However, this is only possible if well-designed policies to further reduce emissions are introduced across the economy, as current policies are insufficient even for the existing targets. Research into equitable energy demand is therefore paramount to ensure that these targets are met through quick actions and an evidence base supporting any policy changes.

In 2018, EPSRC and ESRC funded the Centre for Research into Energy Demand (CREDS) to address a broad range of issues to transform the energy demand sector.

These cross-cutting issues include:

  • buildings and energy
  • transport and mobility
  • materials and products
  • digital society
  • decarbonisation of heat and fuel
  • transport poverty
  • decarbonisation of the steel industry.

CREDS are currently a team of over 140 people based in 26 UK organisations.

This funding opportunity will find the next leader to drive world-class research to transform the energy demand landscape and help deliver the changes needed for a net zero society.

As set out in the Climate Change Committee report behaviour change, public engagement and net zero, this research will inevitably have to look at combining behavioural changes with technological advances.

Responsible innovation and trusted research

Responsible innovation creates spaces and processes to explore innovation and its consequences in an open, inclusive and timely way, going beyond consideration of ethics, public engagement, risk and regulation. Innovation is a collective responsibility, where funders, researchers, interested and affected parties, including the public, all have an important role to play.

UKRI is fully committed to developing and promoting responsible innovation. Research has the ability to not only produce understanding, knowledge and value, but also unintended consequences, questions, ethical dilemmas and, at times, unexpected social transformations.

We recognise that we have a duty of care to promote approaches to responsible innovation that will initiate ongoing reflection about the potential ethical and societal implications of the research that we sponsor and to encourage our research community to do likewise.

In addition to UKRI principles on trusted research and innovation, we expect applicants to follow guidance and best practice in working to reduce vulnerabilities to UK national infrastructure.

Supporting documents

Equality impact assessment (PDF, 764KB)

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