Quantum technology career development fellowships

Apply for funding to develop your quantum technology career and work towards becoming an independent researcher.

You must be hosted by an eligible UK research organisation.

You must have one of the following:

  • a PhD
  • at least four years’ experience in a relevant field.

Your proposal must be at least 50% within EPSRC’s remit. It can cover any aspect of quantum technology research.

A small number of fellowships will be sponsored by the National Quantum Computing Centre (NQCC).

There is no limit on how much funding you can request. Funding is available for between three to five years.

Who can apply

This award is to enable applicants to develop an independent research career in quantum technology.

You must have either:

  • a PhD
  • at least four years’ experience in a relevant field by the start of your fellowship.

You can be working within the quantum technology sector in academia, business or industry.

Quantum technologies exploit the quantum advantages of matter and light to achieve technological advances. Although many current and future technologies are described by quantum theory, the focus of this opportunity is on expanding capabilities focused on the direct exploitation of quantum phenomena such as superposition or entanglement to enable disruptive impacts.

You must be able to show how you will develop an independent career based on your own original research ideas and vision by the end of the fellowship.

You must be able to hold your fellowship at one of the following:

  • a higher education institution
  • a research institute
  • an independent research organisation (IRO) accredited by UKRI
  • an eligible public sector research establishment.

If you have already been in receipt of significant funding (as a principal investigator) or have been leading in an area of technical development, you may wish to apply for an EPSRC open fellowship. Significant funding is usually defined as awards:

  • including PDRA time
  • including capital equipment
  • in excess of £100,000 full economic cost.

A host organisation letter of support will be required as part of the application.

Read details of eligibility and a list of recognised institutes and IROs.

Cross sector and organisational links, and research and innovation collaborations in both the UK and internationally, are encouraged. You must contact the university and plan directly yourself.

There are no eligibility rules regarding number of years of postdoctoral experience or requirement for applicants to hold a permanent academic position.

Applicants interested in the NQCC sponsored posts should discuss their proposal with NQCC prior to submitting their proposal. A letter of support from NQCC is required as part of the NQCC fellowship applications, this is submitted as an additional document.

We encourage applicants who have taken a non-standard career path. We also welcome applications from candidates who want to move back into research after a career break or any other type of break.

We will not accept uninvited resubmissions of projects that have been submitted to UKRI.

Applicants who have been waiting to hear the results of Future Leader Fellowships and Open Fellowship applications that were submitted before 1 June 2021 can make an application to this opportunity, as they would not have had knowledge of this opportunity at the time.

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

There are no nationality restrictions imposed by EPSRC on who can apply for a fellowship. You will require the support of a UK university and must be resident in the UK. If coming from outside the UK, you may be eligible for a global talent visa.

Find out more about visas for carrying out research in the UK.

What we're looking for

This award is to enable applicants to develop an independent research career in quantum technology.

The award provides the opportunity to carry out an ambitious programme of research and accelerate your personal and professional career development.

Applicants should clearly describe their vision for their research programme and career development over the three to five years. Applicants should explain how the fellowship award will help them achieve their vision.

The awards provide funding for an ambitious programme of research and offer opportunities for personalised training and career development.

Fellowship proposals can request funding for between three to five years. Applicants can request to spend between 50% and 100% of their time on a fellowship. Fellowships can also be held part-time, at a minimal level of 50%.

Proposals must be at least 50% EPSRC’s quantum technology remit and can cover any aspect of quantum technology research. For example:

  • discovery
  • innovation
  • device development
  • quantum software engineering.

Read the details of EPSRC’s quantum technology portfolio.

Read about the National Quantum Technology Programme (NQTP).

Additionally, in order to support research in quantum computing, several of the fellowship awards will be supported by the NQCC through this funding opportunity.

NQCC fellowship proposals should focus on aspects of quantum computing, such as:

  • algorithm
  • development
  • standards
  • benchmarking
  • simulation.

To support these positions, access to prototype hardware will be available through the NQCC.

Other areas of underpinning technology such as control systems and theory, materials for quantum computing platforms and device development are also encouraged.

You should consider applying for this EPSRC or NQCC sponsored fellowship if:

  • you have a PhD, or equivalent industry experience, working in the quantum technology sector and are looking at what aspects of your career you would like to develop to enable you to become an independent researcher
  • you have started formulating your own research ideas for programmes of work that will deliver high-quality research with a focus on discovery, innovation, instrumentation or technique development within quantum technology
  • you can demonstrate a clear career development plan, over three to five years, that will give you the skills to successfully deliver your research proposal and transition to independent researcher
  • you have not previously held a significant grant (usually defined as those which included PDRA time, capital equipment or were in excess of £100,000 full economic cost)
  • you are committed to being an advocate for EPSRC and the NQPT and to implement good practice in creating an inclusive research environment.

If you have already been in receipt of significant funding as defined above, or have been leading in an area of technical development, you may wish to apply for an EPSRC open fellowship or a UKRI future leader fellowship.

What your proposal could include:

  • theoretical or experimental research in quantum technologies
  • training and development support to enable you to expand or enhance your role and career, which can include support to develop a range of skills such as:
    • project planning
    • supervision and line management (through supervision of PhD students and PDRAs as appropriate)
    • networking
    • community outreach
    • engagement
    • additional technical skills that would enhance your research
  • multidisciplinary research, but the proposal should be at least 50% quantum technology
  • opportunity to transition into a different area of quantum technology through your proposed research programme
  • industry collaboration and secondments
  • partnership with other academic researchers, both in the UK and abroad
  • working with a mentor to develop your career but also acting as a mentor to others, either within your own research group or institution or within another institution or industry
  • a co-investigator is expected to bring complementary experience and different skills.

Your proposal must include a career development work package.

Experimental research can be on existing equipment, within the UK or abroad. Equipment may be purchased where it is considered essential to the proposal and there is no alternative provision available. Equipment costing under £10,000 is considered to be consumables. Equipment between £10,000 and £400,000 can be requested if suitably justified.

The career development fellowship will offer, amongst other things:

  • flexibility to accommodate changes to family circumstances
  • a cohort group of fellows to encourage and support networking
  • financial support for visa applications
  • the opportunity to demonstrate a wide range of skills beyond a publication list
  • the opportunity to have a secondment or part-time placement working with industry
  • the opportunity to collaborate with another organisation beyond your host institution
  • the opportunity to develop your national and international networks.

The NQCC sponsored career development awards could also offer, for example:

  • access to NQCC resources such as laboratory space
  • nanofabrication through partner organisations
  • access to prototype quantum computer resources.

Research organisations should show their commitment to applicants by providing additional support and resources as evidenced in the host organisation statement (EPSRC).

Information for the research organisation

We expect eligible research organisations to submit the most suitable candidates for these fellowships and identify the additional support and resources they will provide the applicant with if successful.

If you are a research organisation, you must:

  • make sure that the experience, aims and aspirations of the applicant are suitable for a fellowship application
  • commit to supporting the applicant to ensure their knowledge and expertise in implementing good practice in creating an inclusive research environment is continually updated
  • ensure the applicant has considered their knowledge of ethical, responsible innovation and thought about how they could further this knowledge. Read the guidance on how to build international collaborations (CPNI)
  • identify the additional support you will provide to ensure successful project delivery and opportunities for the applicant to expand or enhance their current role
  • offer opportunities for the applicant to develop supervisory skills, for example, by supervising PhD students
  • consider if they need a mentor, and what aspects of their development their mentor will help with
  • agree a mutually acceptable balance of time devoted to fellowship and non-fellowship activities such as teaching or demonstrating
  • leadership opportunities.

Funding available

You can apply for between three and five years’ funding.

You can spend between 50% and 100% of your time on a fellowship.

The amount of time spent on a fellowship can vary over the funding period. This also allows time for other career development activities.

Up to one day a week teaching time is allowed at 100% of your time.

Grants can start from 1 April 2022.

If you want to work part-time, you can hold your EPSRC fellowship part-time as well, at a minimum of 50% of your time. In these circumstances the duration of your fellowship can be extended pro-rata.

Applicants can spend up to a day a week teaching.

We will fund 80% of the full economic cost of your project. You may request funding for:

  • staff costs
  • equipment and other items needed to carry out the project
  • costs related to impact
  • travel and subsistence
  • career development activities and training.

Individual items of equipment between £10,000 and £400,000 can be included on proposals for individual research projects if:

  • the equipment is essential to the proposed research
  • no appropriate alternative provision can be accessed.

Additional justification of the requirement for individual items of equipment between £10,000 and £400,000 and details of the proposed contribution to the cost of the equipment must be provided in the justification of resources (JoR).

For any items or combined assets with a value above £138,000 (including VAT), a two-page equipment business case must also be included in the proposal documentation.

Read our guidance on how to prepare an equipment business case (EPSRC).

EPSRC will fund 80% of the full economic cost of equipment.

Read our guidance on equipment below £10,000 (including VAT).

Read more information on equipment funding (EPSRC).

Read about equipment sharing (EPSRC).

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
  • encourage our research community to do likewise.

Therefore, applicants are expected to work within the EPSRC framework for responsible innovation.

Read information and advice on how to get the most out of international collaboration whilst protecting intellectual property, sensitive research and personal information (CPNI).

This is for applicants planning to include international collaborators on their proposal.

How to apply

Before you start your application for a fellowship, you must:

  • ensure your application fits into the EPSRC quantum technology remit
  • check that you meet the eligibility criteria in terms of experience and career stage
  • read the quantum technology career development fellowship frequently asked questions
  • ensure you have discussed your proposal with the NQCC and obtained a supporting letter if you are applying for a NQCC fellowship.

You must apply using the Joint Electronic Submission system (Je-S) by 6 October 2021 at 16:00.

Applicants should ensure they are aware of and comply with any internal institutional deadlines that may be in place.

When applying, select ‘new document’, then:

  • council: EPSRC
  • document type: fellowship proposal
  • scheme: EPSRC fellowship
  • call, type or mode: Quantum Technology Career Development Fellowship.

Your application should include the following attachments:

  • a case for support (nine pages, six on the scientific case, one on how you will achieve your vision for career development and two on the non-technical aspects, meaning, to cover the non-scientific elements of the assessment criteria) of your application. One work package within the proposal should be dedicated to career development
  • a work plan (one page)
  • a host organisation statement (two pages)
  • justification of resources (two pages)
  • narrative CV and track record (four pages, see template)
  • project partner letters of support from all project partners included in the Je-S form (no page limit)
    • note that additional letters of support are not permitted on fellowship applications
    • where applicants are collaborating with other departments at the host organisation this should be included in the host organisation statement
  • equipment quotes as appropriate
  • technical assessments for facilities listed as needing one in the Je-S guidance (no page limit)
  • an ‘additional document’ letter of support from NQCC if applying for consideration for one of their funded fellowships. If you will be at the NQCC for 100% of your time then an additional document is not required alongside the host organisation statement
  • a cover letter (no page limit), this will not be seen by peer reviewers.

You should attach your documents as PDFs to avoid errors and use single-spaced 11 Arial or similar sans serif typeface.

After completing the application:

  • you must ‘submit document’ which will send your application to your host organisation’s administration
  • your host organisation’s administration is required to complete the submission process. Applicants should allow sufficient time for your organisation’s submission process between submitting your proposal to them and the funding opportunity closing date.

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

When you submit the application, it will first go to your host organisation for review.

See the Je-S handbook for full advice on completing applications.

Read our advice on writing proposals (EPSRC).

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.

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

Your application is assessed by peer review. It will be sent electronically to at least three reviewers, including at least one nominated by you. You will have the opportunity to respond to reviewer comments if your application has enough support to proceed to the prioritisation panel stage.

The proposal, reviewers’ comments and your response will then go to a panel that will score it against our assessment criteria and rank it with other proposals.

Our assessment criteria at the review stage and prioritisation panel stage:

  • research quality (primary criterion)
  • applicant and partnerships (secondary major criterion)
  • national importance (secondary criterion)
  • resources and management (secondary criterion).

Research quality

Reference should be made to:

  • the novelty and timeliness and relevance to quantum technology priorities identified in the NQTP strategic intent
  • the ambition, adventure, transformative aspects or potential outcomes
  • the suitability of the proposed methodology and the appropriateness of the approach to achieving impact.

Applicant and partnerships

Reference should be made to:

  • appropriateness of the applicants track record
  • balance of skills of the project team, including collaborators and partners.

National importance

Reference should be made to how the research:

  • 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(s)
  • meets NQTOP needs by establishing and maintaining a unique world-leading activity in the quantum technology sector
  • complements other UK research funded in the area, including any relationship to the EPSRC portfolio and NQTP portfolio, or NQCC portfolio if appropriate.

Resources and management

Reference should be made to:

  • the effectiveness of the proposed planning and management
  • how requested resources are appropriate and fully justified
  • how resources requested for activities to either increase impact, for public engagement or to support responsible innovation are appropriate and justified
  • how arrangements described for accessing equipment are viable, appropriate and justified, especially any university or third-party contribution (if required).

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 policy on conflicts of interest.

After reviews are complete, proposals with sufficiently supportive reviews will be sent to a prioritisation panel.

Interview stage

Following the prioritisation panel, we will invite successful candidates to interview.

Interviews will take place around six weeks after the prioritisation panel meeting. An interview panel will assess your application against the criteria below:

Fellowship vision and delivery

How will the award progress the applicant’s career, allowing them to achieve research independence?

How will this fellowship contribute strategically to the UK’s quantum technology research landscape?

Why is this award necessary in order to achieve career development?

What is the applicant’s career vision and how will the fellowship enable them to realise their research vision?

Continued professional development (career development plan)

Will the applicant’s career development plan enable them to develop an independent career by the end of the fellowship?

Does the career development plan include:

  • developing an equality, diversity and inclusion research culture
  • knowledge building of responsible innovation and trusted research and innovation
  • suitable mentorship
  • development of skills required to lead and manage a research team
  • suitable support, of an appropriate level, offered by the host organisation?

Outcomes

Applicants will be informed of outcomes by the end of March and funding will be available from 1 April.

Applicants can start within six months of their proposed start date.

Contact details

For help and advice on costings and writing your proposal, please contact your research office in the first instance. You must allow sufficient time for your organisation’s submission process.

Ask about this funding opportunity

Email: quantumtechnologies@epsrc.ukri.org

Get help with Je-S

Any queries regarding the submission of proposals through Je-S should be directed to the Je-S helpdesk.

Email: jeshelp@je-s.ukri.org

Telephone: 01793 444164

Opening times:

  • Monday to Thursday 8:30 to 17:00
  • Fridays 8:30 to 16:30
  • closed on weekends, bank holidays and other holidays.

Additional info

Background

Quantum technologies are set to transform the global society and economy with significant efforts being put into developing quantum technologies around the world.

The NQTP was established in 2014 to make the UK a global leader in the development and commercialisation of these technologies.

This focus has set the UK apart from the international competition but the UK needs to continue moving forward as technological developments gather pace.

The NQTP strategic intent sets out the programme’s ambitions for the next 10 years and aims to make the UK:

  • a global centre of excellence in quantum science and technology development
  • the go-to place for quantum companies or global companies to locate their quantum activities
  • a preferred location for investors and global talent.

None of this can be achieved without a ‘quantum ready’ workforce and the NQTP strategic intent makes a commitment to ‘attract, grow and retain talent’ within the UK.

The transition of quantum technologies into commercial products requires a new generation of quantum physicists, engineers and mathematicians who:

  • are fluent in multidisciplinary and systems based approaches
  • possess the right entrepreneurial and business skills
  • can adapt to new roles in industry.

People and know-how are the most important elements of the emerging quantum technologies ecosystem.

During the first phase of the NQTP in 2014 to 2019, EPSRC funded a national network of quantum technology hubs, through a £120 million investment in four hubs over five years. These were to harness the UK’s strengths in quantum science by turning this into strength in quantum technologies.

As part of their investments in the second phase of the national programme, EPSRC has refreshed the quantum technology hubs with a £94 million investment in four hubs over five years. This is to maintain the technological research leadership that the UK has established in quantum technologies through the NQTP.

During the first phase of the NQTP, the first round of quantum technologies fellowships aimed to support both the individuals and their teams to help realise some of the country’s potential.

The fellowships were aimed at early and established career stage academics whose research focused on the direct exploitation of quantum phenomena. For example, superposition or entanglement, to address the challenges of translation of quantum science through technology to eventual application.

The aim of the fellowships was to develop potentially transformative research in areas that contribute to the development of novel quantum technologies. These have now, or will shortly, come to an end and it is timely to revisit the need for fellowships in the quantum technology field.

Through the quantum technology hubs and other quantum technology projects, EPSRC are a key partner within the NQTP and share the ambition to maintain the UK’s reputation as an excellent place to do research.

As an NQTP partner, EPSRC are committed to growing, retaining and supporting talented people to lead within the quantum technology arena.

Excellent research leaders will form the backbone of the UK’s quantum enabled economy and this workshop is one aspect of a broader strategy to ensure that the UK has the future scientific leaders it needs.

Information on current EPSRC and quantum technology fellows

We invest in people with leadership potential at all career stages, helping them to lead excellent research projects.

Read more about the inspiring scientists and engineers who are our current EPSRC fellows and quantum technology fellows (NQT) and find out how taking part in a fellowship has influenced their careers.

Find examples of projects we have funded by searching for ‘fellowship’ in our online portfolio (EPSRC)

Supporting documents

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