Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Research and leadership role in quantum software and algorithms

Apply for funding to undertake a three-year ambitious research programme in quantum software and algorithm development.

You must:

  • be based at an eligible UK research institution
  • have a secondment to the National Quantum Computing Centre (NQCC) at a minimum time commitment of 30%.

The total value of the strategic package proposal should not exceed £2 million.

EPSRC will fund 80% of the full economic cost of proposals, with the research organisation funding the remaining 20%.

Who can apply

Standard EPSRC eligibility rules apply. Research grants are open to:

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

Check if your institution is eligible for funding.

You can apply if you are a resident in the UK and meet at least one of the conditions below:

  • are employed at the submitting research organisation at a level equivalent to lecturer or above
  • hold a fixed-term contract that extends beyond the duration of the proposed project, and the host research organisation is prepared to give you all the support normal for a permanent employee
  • hold an EPSRC, Royal Society or Royal Academy of Engineering fellowship aimed at later career stages
  • hold fellowships under other schemes (please contact EPSRC to check eligibility, which is considered on a case-by-case basis).

Holders of postdoctoral level fellowships are not eligible to apply for an EPSRC grant.

Researchers looking to apply from outside the UK will need an eligible UK research institution to host them under contract for the duration of the award.

You can collaborate with academic researchers, industrial partners and international partners.

Project partners

A collaborating organisation who has an integral role in the project and is providing a contribution of a specified value (in-kind or cash contribution) must be listed as a project partner. Project partners cannot normally receive funding directly from the grant. The two exceptions to this are where the project partner:

  • is providing services or equipment that will go through a formal procurement process audited by the host research organisation
  • can receive small amounts of funding from the grant, such as for travel and subsistence, to attend project meetings. These will need to be requested by the principal investigator and will need to be fully justified.

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

What we're looking for

Scope

This strategic package award will allow the successful candidate to undertake an ambitious programme of research in quantum software and algorithms focusing on their applications.

As part of the strategic package, you will spend a minimum of 30% full-time equivalent (FTE) on secondment to the NQCC in the role of Chief Scientist.

In total, 50 to 100% FTE time can be requested through this funding opportunity.

As Chief Scientist, the successful applicant will use current research results to steer and advise on areas of high potential for the NQCC and contributions to the wider UK quantum computing landscape.

You will be part of the NQCC team and will make a key contribution in shaping and influencing the future UK quantum computing landscape, meeting the strategic aims of the National Quantum Technologies Programme (NQTP) (as set out in the NQTP strategic intent (PDF, 10.6MB)) and the NQCC technology roadmap (PDF, 2.9MB).

Specifically, the successful candidate will:

  • contribute to ensuring capability for the UK in quantum computing
  • lead an ambitious research programme in quantum software and algorithms to support the UK in this area of national importance
  • provide an enhanced network in quantum software and algorithms for the NQCC to work with and provide expertise and value
  • contribute towards achieving the aspirations of the NQTP strategic intent around talent retention in the UK by building capacity in this research area
  • provide expert advice to the NQCC and build further links between academia, industry and government in an area of strategic importance for the UK.

You must have a collaboration agreement in place between your institution and the NQCC within six months of the grant starting.

Full details of the secondment and role within the NQCC will be discussed with the NQCC leadership team following the successful awarding of the grant.

Informal discussions with the NQCC Director, Michael Cuthbert (in advance of submitting the application to fully understand expectations for the secondment) are strongly encouraged.

Proposals should be for three years in duration.

The proposal should detail:

  • plans for the research programme and how the applicant intends to work with any project partners
  • evidence of strong links with academia and industry in the research area
  • planned time commitment to the NQCC secondment and how they will add value to the NQCC technology programme
  • the research environment at the university in the particular research area
  • details of the university’s financial commitment to the candidate and strategic package
  • evidence of the applicant’s communications skills, and strong leadership, interpersonal and influencing skills
  • plans for positive impact on UK research in their own field and expectation of a positive influence on a broader cohort of researchers
  • management and risk mitigation plans for the programme of work.

Funding available

This funding opportunity is a strategic intervention by EPSRC to support an individual working in quantum computing to carry out a research programme whilst in tandem, providing trusted advice and leadership to shape the wider UK quantum computing agenda.

This funding opportunity is targeted at those with expertise in quantum software and algorithms, and their applications.

Funding is available to support one successful applicant to carry out an ambitious research programme for the duration of three years, alongside a secondment to the NQCC where they will actively contribute to the shaping of the NQCC programme and wider quantum computing strategy for the UK.

Funding for costs associated with the secondment should be included as part of the proposal.

Between 50% and 100% of applicant time can be applied for on the strategic package award with a minimum of 30 % FTE to be spent on the secondment to NQCC (irrespective of the total % FTE time requested).

Example scenarios include:

  • an applicant can request a total of 50% FTE of which 30% FTE is spent on secondment to NQCC
  • an applicant can request a total of 100% FTE of which 30% FTE is spend on secondment to NQCC
  • a candidate can request a total of 100% FTE of which 50% FTE is spent on secondment to NQCC.

This is not an exhaustive list of options. You should request time as is appropriate to your situation and proposed programme of research.

The total value of the strategic package proposal should not exceed £2 million.

EPSRC will fund 80% of the full economic cost of proposals, with the research organisation funding the remaining 20%.

Equipment over £10,000 in value (including VAT) is not available through this funding opportunity.

Smaller items of equipment (individually under £10,000) should be in the ‘Directly incurred – other costs’ heading.

Up to £500,000 of in-kind contribution from NQCC comprising provision of access to quantum computing resources (including third party prototypes, simulators and high performance compute) will be made available on successful award of the grant. This should be discussed directly with the NQCC Director.

Find out more information about EPSRC’s approach to equipment funding.

Responsible innovation

You are expected to work within the EPSRC framework for responsible innovation.

International collaboration

If you are planning to include international collaborators on your proposal, you should visit Trusted Research for guidance on getting the most out of international collaboration whilst protecting intellectual property, sensitive research and personal information.

How to apply

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

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

EPSRC must receive your application by 16:00 on 14 July 2022.

When applying select ‘new document’ then:

  • ‘create New Document’
  • council: EPSRC
  • document type: Standard Proposal
  • scheme: Standard
  • on the project details page you should select the ‘EPSRC Strategic Package in Quantum Computing’ call.

After completing the application, you must ‘submit document’ which will send your application to your host organisation’s administration.

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

As well as the Je-S application form, the following documents must be submitted:

  • a case for support (eight pages, two on your track record and six on the scientific case)
  • a work plan (one page)
  • justification of resources (two pages)
  • CVs (up to two A4 sides each) for named:
    • postdoctoral staff, researcher co-investigators, including 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
  • letters of support from all project partners included in the Je-S form (no page limit). Please see the EPSRC guidance on project partners letter of support
  • technical assessments for facilities listed as requiring one in the Je-S guidance (no page limit)
  • a host organisation letter of support (two pages)
  • a cover letter (optional attachment, no page limit, not seen by peer review).

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

Find out more about writing proposals for EPSRC funding.

Ethical information

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.

Find out more about the guidance on completing ethical information on the Je-S form. EPSRC guidance can be found under ‘additional information’.

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.

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

Your application will be 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 gains enough support.

You will then be invited to an interview stage. The interview panel will view the proposal, reviewers’ comments and your response, and together with your interview responses, will score the application against our assessment criteria and rank it with other proposals.

Your application is assessed first and foremost on quality (primary) and applicant and partnerships (primary). It is also assessed on national importance (secondary), resources and management (secondary), and strategic leadership (secondary) and research environment (secondary).

If your proposal does not clearly meet the funding opportunity requirements, it will be rejected prior to the peer review stage.

Interviews will take place in early October 2022.

Outcomes will be communicated to applicants by the end of October 2022.

Find out more about the EPSRC assessment process.

Assessment criteria

Standard criteria

Quality (primary)  research excellence, making reference to:

  • the novelty, relationship to the context, timeliness and relevance to identified stakeholders
  • the ambition, adventure, transformative aspects or potential outcomes
  • the suitability of the proposed methodology and the appropriateness of the approach to achieving impact.

National importance (secondary) and how the research:

  • contributes to addressing key UK societal challenges or contributes to future UK economic success and development of emerging industries
  • meets national needs by establishing or maintaining a unique world leading activity in quantum computing
  • complements other UK research funded in the area, including any relationship to the EPSRC portfolio.

Applicant and partnerships (primary) and the ability to deliver the proposed project, making reference to:

  • the appropriateness of the track record of the applicant
  • the balance of skills of the project team, including collaborators.

Resources and management (secondary) and the effectiveness of the proposed planning and management, and whether the requested resources are appropriate and have been fully justified, making reference to:

  • any equipment requested, or the viability of the arrangements described to access equipment needed for this project, and particularly on any university or third-party contribution
  • any resources requested for activities to either increase impact, for public engagement or to support responsible innovation
  • the appropriateness of the risk mitigation strategy.

Opportunity specific criteria

Strategic leadership (secondary), where you must demonstrate:

  • evidence of leadership and influence within the UK Quantum Technologies landscape or internationally
  • how you plan to work with the NQCC in the role of Chief Scientist and provide strategic advice on the technology programme.

Research environment (secondary), where you must demonstrate:

  • the strategic intent and level of tailored support from the host organisation during and beyond the lifetime of the strategic package.

Feedback

Feedback in addition to reviewers’ comments will not be provided by EPSRC.

Guidance for reviewers

Find out more about the EPSRC peer review process and guidance for reviewers.

Additional information can also be found on the process and guidance for standard calls.

Contact details

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

Ask a question about the opportunity

For questions relating to scope of the funding opportunity, eligible costs, the peer review process and any other elements specific to EPSRC, please contact:

Dr Anke Davis, Joint Head of Quantum Technologies, Quantum Technologies Team, EPSRC

Email: anke.davis@epsrc.ukri.org

Quantum Technologies Team inbox

Email: quantumtechnologies@epsrc.ukri.org

Ask a question about the secondment

For specific queries about the secondment element of the award at the NQCC, please contact:

Dr Michael Cuthbert, NQCC Director

Email: michael.cuthbert@stfc.ac.uk

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

Je-S helpdesk opening times

Additional info

Background

The UK NQTP is a £1 billion dynamic collaboration between industry, academia and government.

It represents and guides the fission of a leading-edge science into transformative new products and services.

The NQTP supports ideas, innovation and investment to secure UK advantage and opportunities in the globally competitive new quantum era.

The NQTP acts as a cornerstone for the underpinning scientific research, skills training and international collaboration vital to building a resilient UK quantum-enabled economy.

EPSRC is a key partner of the NQTP, supporting the translation of academic research in quantum technologies out of the labs and into industry. It has a portfolio of research and skills investments to support this aim totalling over £90 million of active grants in 2022.

Through the quantum technology hubs, EPSRC supports a broad range of application areas in quantum technologies, including:

  • quantum communications
  • quantum imaging
  • quantum sensing and timing
  • quantum computing and simulation.

NQCC

The NQCC is a new research institution funded through UKRI, which is dedicated to accelerating the development of quantum computing by addressing the challenges of scalability.

Working with partners across industry, government and the research community, the NQCC will create the necessary research and development capabilities through coordination and delivery of a technical programme, alongside the commissioning and operation of new facilities.

The programme will deliver assured quantum computing capability, enabling the UK to remain internationally competitive.

The centre will be headquartered in a purpose-built facility at the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory campus in Oxfordshire, which is due for completion in 2023.

Read further details on the NQTP strategic intent (PDF, 2.9MB) and the NQCC strategic intent.

Additional grant conditions

In addition to the requirements set out in standard UKRI grant conditions ‘RGC 7.4 research monitoring and evaluation’ and ’7.5 disclosure and inspection’, we reserve the right to instigate a review of all or part of the grant at any stage during the lifetime of the award as well as after the grant has finished.

A mid-term review of this grant will take place to assess the performance of the grant in line with the peer reviewed body of work, published scheme assessment criteria and key performance indicators or milestones and deliverables.

We will give you due notice of the date of any review and will provide details of the terms of reference and documentation required.

Any review will be conducted by an expert panel, which will make recommendations to us for the grant’s future.

Grants are awarded under the standard UKRI grant terms and conditions.

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 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.

Supporting documents

Equality impact assessment (PDF, 193KB)

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