Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Turing AI World-Leading Researcher Fellowships: round two

Start application

Apply for funding to undertake world-leading research to advance the field of artificial intelligence (AI) in the UK.

This opportunity is aimed at established researchers. International applicants are welcome. However, you must be based in the UK at an organisation eligible for UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) funding to hold the fellowship.

We welcome those:

  • conducting research into AI at a fundamental or theoretical level
  • working at the interface between AI and another discipline.

Funding is for up to five years. EPSRC will fund 80% of the full economic cost.

Another round of these fellowships will open in 2023 (round three) with up to £12 million available.

Who can apply

We’re looking to support talented researchers with a high international standing who work in AI, or at the interface between AI and other disciplines, and can advance and transform the field.

We encourage applications from top international talent, either through recruitment from outside of the UK, or by retaining leaders currently located in the UK.

You do not need to be a UK resident to apply. However, to be eligible for this award, you must be employed by an eligible UK host organisation for the time committed to the fellowship. Eligible organisations are:

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

Fellowships can be held as part of a joint position between an academic organisation and another sector, with the eligible organisation functioning as host organisation for the fellowship.

There are no standardised eligibility criteria for this fellowship due to the diversity of career paths in AI. We welcome applications from individuals who conduct research into AI at a fundamental or theoretical level, or who work at the interface between AI and another discipline.

We encourage applicants who:

  • are currently employed in a non-academic sector, including:
    • business
    • government
    • the third sector
  • have taken a non-standard career path after completing their primary degree.

You can apply for the fellowship to be held part-time. However, these fellowships have a maximum duration of five years and cannot be extended pro rata.

If you would like to discuss applying to this fellowship opportunity from a non-academic position, please see the contacts section.

Proposals based on applying current AI methods to an application area will not be accepted.

Restrictions

EPSRC restrictions on the number of fellowship applications in a 12-month period do not apply to this opportunity. If you apply for this opportunity, you can still submit a fellowship proposal to EPSRC in the following 12 months. However, you can only apply to one fellowship scheme at a time. You must wait until the outcome of one application is known before submitting to another scheme.

EPSRC has a no resubmission policy. Full proposals submitted to this funding opportunity which are unsuccessful will be classed as a first submission under the EPSRC resubmissions policy. You would not be able to submit the proposal to other EPSRC schemes. Similarly, full proposals previously submitted to other EPSRC schemes will be counted as a resubmission and office rejected.

If you’ve previously been unsuccessful in an EPSRC fellowship or Turing AI World-Leading Researcher Fellowship application, you must submit a substantially different proposal this time. Exceptionally, this also applies to unsuccessful outline proposals submitted to the Turing AI World-Leading Researcher fellowship programme. Read the EPSRC policy on resubmissions.

Submissions to the outline stage of this funding opportunity will not count towards the EPSRC repeatedly unsuccessful applicants policy. Unsuccessful full proposals will count towards this policy.

If you are currently restricted under the repeatedly unsuccessful applicants policy, you may submit unlimited outlines. However, you will only be able to submit one full proposal as principal investigator or co-investigator during the 12-month restricted period.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

The long-term strength of the UK research base depends on harnessing all the available talent. EPSRC expects that equality and diversity is embedded at all levels and in all aspects of research practice and funding policy.

We are committed to supporting the research community, offering a range of flexible options to enable you to design a package that fits your research goals, career and personal circumstances. This includes:

  • career breaks
  • support for people with caring responsibilities
  • flexible working
  • alternative working patterns.

With this in mind, we welcome applications from researchers who job share, have a part-time contract, or need flexible working arrangements.

What we're looking for

Through the Turing AI World-Leading Researcher Fellowships, we’re looking to support individuals with a high international standing in AI who can make an impact on the UK AI research and innovation landscape. This may be through recruiting top talent to the UK, or by retaining leaders currently located in the UK.

With these substantial awards, you should seek to build new AI capability and capacity in the UK. You will be expected to lead a highly skilled and potentially multidisciplinary team to deliver an ambitious, world-leading research programme that will advance the field of AI, and potentially other disciplines. This could be achieved, for example, by developing novel AI methodologies that address:

  • the fundamental, theoretical or mathematical challenges in AI
  • the challenges present in other disciplines or sectors.

Your proposed work must develop AI beyond the current state of the art. Programmes that seek to apply current AI methodologies to an application area will not be accepted.

If you’re a UK-based applicant, you should explain in your proposal how the fellowship will help retain you within the UK, and be used to build new AI capability and capacity beyond what would be possible without this fellowship.

What we expect of you

As a fellow, you will be expected to:

  • undertake world-leading research, leading a major programme that builds new capability and capacity in AI
  • use the significant support package to establish around you a highly skilled and potentially multidisciplinary research team
  • develop your position of leadership in the national and international research community, as well as at your host organisation
  • engage with, influence and advocate for the strategic direction of the UK’s AI ecosystem
  • act as a leader in the AI community and an ambassador and advocate for it, driving forward the UK and international AI research agenda
  • initiate, grow and maintain strong relationships and collaborations with academia, business, and broader stakeholders in the UK and internationally, facilitating a positive impact on the wider research landscape
  • develop the skills and careers of your team, growing the independent researchers and innovators of the future
  • actively engage with researchers, developers and users to enable AI for use in the real world to ensure that AI is designed, developed and deployed robustly and transparently
  • embed the principles of responsible innovation and trusted research throughout your activities
  • deliver research with a high likelihood of impact on UK society and the economy
  • build a broader portfolio of funding and activities beyond the fellowship, moving towards a position of sustainability at the end of the fellowship.

If you work at the interface between AI and another discipline, you will be expected to make leadership and ambassadorial contributions to all relevant fields.

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

You should use your proposal to explain how your fellowship vision complements and delivers against UKRI’s statement of opportunities on AI (PDF, 5.6MB) and the UK’s national AI strategy (GOV.UK).

Funding available

Up to £8 million is available to fund a small number of sizable awards (£3 million to £5 million) for up to five years. UKRI will fund 80% of the full economic cost.

If successful in your application, you must start your fellowship by 1 October 2023.

We expect you to request a significant package of resource, designed in partnership with your host organisation and collaborative partners, to provide the best support for your research vision. This might include:

  • relocation costs
  • attractive packages for staff
  • access to data and infrastructure
  • other standard research grant costs.

Resources may be used for research expenses including:

  • travel
  • equipment
  • research technical support including research software engineers, data scientists, postdoctoral research assistants (PDRA) and fellow salaries
  • training
  • other standard expenses.

Relocation costs are also permitted for international applicants, and up to £100,000 may be requested to set up research activity in the UK.

Resources may be used for activities that initiate, grow and maintain collaborations with stakeholders (for example academia, business, government, third sector) such as:

  • secondments
  • staff exchanges
  • regular travel.

Support for studentships is exceptionally permitted through this investment, where this is clearly justified. Student engagement may also be realised through institutional or stakeholder support, or collaboration with the UKRI AI Centres for Doctoral Training.

See further information on allowable costs.

We want to be flexible to help you deliver your research. Detailed resourcing estimations are only required for the first two years of the investment, with a decision-making methodology for subsequent planning.

Time dedicated to the fellowship

We don’t expect you to commit 100% of your full time equivalent (FTE) contracted time to this activity throughout its duration. However, on average a minimum 50% commitment is expected over the lifetime of the award as this fellowship should be your main identity. You may start your award by working less than 50% FTE, but should ramp up your commitment to a minimum of 50% FTE within six months of the award start date.

By the final year of the award, we expect you to have developed your portfolio beyond the fellowship and be working a maximum of 50% FTE to enable broader portfolio development. You should design an appropriate time commitment over the duration of the award to deliver your research vision.

If you have a joint academic appointment with other sectors, the minimum time commitment to the fellowship is 40% average over the lifetime of the award. This should enable you to establish leadership within the host organisation outside of the time committed to the fellowship. Your time commitment should be suitably justified in your application against the assessment criteria and aims of the programme.

The fellowship must start by 1 October 2023. No extensions will be given for delays in the appointment of staff. You should allow for staff recruitment time when putting together your proposal. For example, if you estimate that it will take six months to recruit a PDRA, only 54 months of PDRA time should be requested. Only if there is a PDRA or staff member ready by the grant start date should you apply for the full five years (60 months) of time.

Costs should be based on the 2023 to 2024 academic year with no account for inflation. UKRI will index the grant as appropriate to account for cost changes over the grant lifetime.

Grant extensions

Grant extensions will only be considered under exceptional circumstances in line with the Equality Act 2010. Extensions require UKRI agreement on a case-by-case basis.

The research organisation remains responsible for compliance with the terms of the Equality Act 2010, including any subsequent amendments introduced while work is in progress, and for ensuring that the expectations set out in the UKRI statement of expectations for equality and diversity are met.

Read the Equality Act 2010.

Stakeholder collaboration

Due to the scale and prestige of these awards, significant collaboration and leverage (cash or in-kind) will be expected from project partners (for example, business, public sector, third sector). This may include models such as endowing chairs or adding to academic salaries.

We expect collaborations to build a mutually beneficial two-way relationship based on:

  • expertise
  • secondments in both directions
  • products
  • infrastructures.

To ensure the awards are inclusive of a variety of approaches and research fields, no specific leverage expectations are being set for eligibility to this programme.

Clear plans for engaging with new and existing collaborators over the duration of the fellowship should be detailed in the case for support.

Involvement of The Alan Turing Institute

The Alan Turing Institute is a delivery partner in the Turing AI Fellowships and therefore the institute’s policy is to take a neutral stance towards all applicants as they intend to work openly and proactively with all successful Turing AI fellows. This means they will not be offering specific support to individual candidates, for example acting as project partners on any Turing AI Fellowship application. They will not offer letters of support to any candidates.

Find out more about The Alan Turing Institute.

Doctoral studentships

Funds for doctoral students may be applied for as part of this funding opportunity. This exception recognises that studentships supported through UKRI’s main routes may have been committed before the fellowships are awarded, and that these fellowships represent an exciting opportunity for these students to train and acquire skills through working with eminent researchers they wouldn’t have otherwise had access to.

The students will also benefit from the drawing together of vibrant, balanced teams that combine doctoral and postdoctoral research and build leadership for the future in key areas of AI.

The fellowship must be viable without the studentship, with distinctive objectives that are not reliant upon studentships.

Your proposal will need to:

  • show how the inclusion of doctoral studentships adds value to the proposed research, and to the student compared to UKRI’s existing training grant routes
  • clearly explain the benefit to doctoral students of being part of the research team.

Doctoral students must be:

  • provided with a clear opportunity for a distinct and independent course of enquiry from the fellowship objectives and receive training that is not available through existing programmes
  • supported through the fellowship with the opportunity to develop their substantive research skills as well as with broader professional development opportunities.

In recognition that EPSRC is delivering these fellowships on behalf of UKRI, EPSRC rules on international students will apply. International students recruited as part of the fellowship will count towards the 30% of new EPSRC studentships in any one year with open eligibility.

For more information, see the guidance on flexibility to support the very best students.

Training doctoral students

The host organisation should have:

  • a track record of training doctoral students
  • UKRI doctoral students training concurrently with students supported by the fellowship.

You will be expected to have completed any supervisor training required to be familiar with supervising within a UK higher education institution, before students start their studies. If you are a fellow who has been recruited from abroad, the student will also need to be assigned a co-supervisor with experience of training UK-based UKRI doctoral students.

Evidence of an appropriate training environment that meets the UKRI expectations for doctoral training should be provided in your proposal.

UKRI also expects that other doctoral students aligned with the fellowship research programme, but funded from other sources, would have the same training conditions and opportunities as those students funded by fellowship.

Studentship timings

Studentships should be four years in duration and must start in the 2023 to 2024 academic year.

Careful consideration should be given to the overall staff resource on the fellowship and the balance between the different types of staff resource available. To ensure that postdoctoral researchers have sufficient time to support and train students alongside their research, funding should be requested for a minimum of 2.0 FTE PDRAs per studentship. You should ensure that you have sufficient time to supervise students, but this time should not be charged to the grant.

Studentship costings

As a minimum, the UKRI stipend and indicative fees must be met. Enhanced stipends are permitted where this has been justified in your application.

Student fees, stipends and research training support costs (RTSG) related directly to the training of the student may be funded by UKRI. Research training support costs specifically relate to the research project of the student and related additional technical training needs above those covered by the tuition fee. Such costs include:

  • travel and subsistence
  • conference costs
  • consumables.

Indirect and estate costs are not applicable to studentships and supervisor costs are ineligible for funding.

Funding associated with studentships will be issued to the fellow as a separate training grant with training grant terms and conditions. See the guidance on meeting UKRI terms and conditions for funding.

Fees and stipends

Research councils publish their national minimum doctoral stipend and indicative fee level on an annual basis. Find out more about studentship and doctoral funding.

As a guide, UKRI’s national minimum doctoral stipend for 2022 to 2023 is £16,062 and the indicative fee level for 2022 to 2023 is £4,596.

An uplift to this minimum stipend may be requested if there is clear justification for doing so in your proposal. A top up may be achieved through using business leverage rather than requesting further UKRI funding.

Research training support grant (RTSG)

This is a contribution towards costs incurred in training research students, for example the provision of consumables, equipment and travel. The RTSG is not intended to relieve a research organisation of any part of its normal expenditure.

You should justify the level of RTSG requested. As a guide, MRC allocates a minimum £5,000 MRC-funded RTSG per year.

Co-investigators

Fellowships are a personal award, however you can name co-investigators on your application. The expertise of co-investigators should complement yours, adding value to your research vision.

Co-investigators are not expected to lead any of the work packages. Their role should be to enable the delivery of your vision.

The inclusion of co-investigators should be clearly justified in your proposal.

Equipment

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 and if no appropriate alternative provision can be accessed. A 50% contribution to the cost of the equipment from other sources is required.

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. They will also need to be reported on annually as part of the university’s equipment portfolio annual reports. This will be communicated via an additional grant condition on the research grant.

Smaller items of equipment (individually under £10,000) and consumables should be in the ‘directly incurred – other costs’ heading in Je-S.

Read more about equipment funding.

Guidance for the host organisation

Turing AI World-Leading Researcher Fellowships are a strategic investment intended to build new AI capability and capacity in the UK.

The host organisation statement at both stages of this funding opportunity is an important feature of this award. The host organisation and the applicant should co-create a work plan for the investment, outlining the institutional and partner support that will be required to ensure the anticipated outcomes of the fellowship are delivered, and the full potential of the UK investment in the individual is realised. This plan should be monitored and adapted as required to enable a flexible fellowship pathway.

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

  • their long-term strategy for AI
  • how their AI strategy complements the UK landscape
  • how they anticipate the fellow will enable them to deliver their strategy
  • the strategic reasons for wanting to recruit or retain the world-leading individual in question
  • 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.

Due to the strategic nature of these awards, we don’t expect host organisations to submit more than two applications. Host organisations wishing to submit more than two applications should discuss this with EPSRC early in the candidate selection process.

Support for fellows

The host organisation will play a key role in the retention and recruitment of global talent. They should demonstrate clear support for the proposed fellow and articulate the fellow’s anticipated role in delivering the organisation’s AI strategy. It is expected that significant tangible support will be offered to the fellow, above and beyond that of a standard fellowship, and commensurate with the national strategic need to invest in that individual.

It is expected that career mobility between the fellow’s team and collaborative partners in other disciplines or sectors will be explicitly enabled, including secondments in both directions.

Where fellows have been recruited from outside the UK, the host organisation should provide support to integrate the fellow and their team into the UK research ecosystem and AI community. Additionally, host organisations will be expected to outline how they plan to facilitate interaction between Turing AI fellows nationally.

At the end of this five-year investment, it is expected that each of the fellows supported and their wider groups and activities will be in a sustainable position. In part, this will be due to the support of their host organisation. A key expectation is that the organisation commits to continued strategic support for the fellows, their group and activities beyond the term of the fellowship.

Read more about the obligations of the research organisation.

Post-award expectations

A key feature of this strategic investment will be the management of the cohort of fellows as a group, in collaboration with other Turing AI fellows. Cohort activities will be led by UKRI in partnership with the Office for AI and The Alan Turing Institute. If successful in your application, you will be expected to engage with cohort activities.

Fellows and host organisations will be expected to periodically report against host organisation and project partner leverage, engagement and other support committed to in the full proposal. EPSRC will take appropriate action where this has not been realised.

Additional requirements on spending profile, reporting, monitoring and evaluation and extension will apply. This will be reflected in specific grant conditions. If funded, you will need to comply with them.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

Equality, diversity and inclusion enriches diversity of thought, builds stronger perspectives and performance within organisations and communities, and fosters more innovative and creative approaches. This is particularly pertinent in AI as the quality of the output from algorithms depends on assurances that the inherent biases of those involved in their development do not transfer into their design.

AI is increasingly being used in ways that can directly impact lives, and it is commonly agreed that a diverse AI community and workforce is likely to reduce bias and positively impact the development of fair, ethical and inclusive AI technologies. Investing in a diverse array of fellows of different genders, ethnicities, backgrounds and career paths will enable greater diversity of thought and approach in AI. This is key to the development of a sustainable UK AI ecosystem, and the development of creative new AI technologies.

One of the primary aims of this programme is to invest in the most creative, innovative researchers, with the most diverse and exciting new approaches to AI. Host organisations are encouraged to actively use an inclusive approach to selecting and maximising the diversity of the candidates they intend to support.

Likewise, you will be expected to actively consider diversity and use an inclusive approach in the recruitment of your teams. UKRI expects that diversity is considered broadly to include backgrounds, career paths, thought, and approach as well as protected characteristics.

Peer review is central to EPSRC funding decisions. We require expert advice and robust decision-making processes for all EPSRC funding initiatives. We are committed to ensuring that fairness is fully reflected in all our funding processes by advancing policy which supports equality, diversity, and inclusion.

Read more about equality, diversity and inclusion at EPSRC.

International collaboration

Applicants planning to include international collaborators on their proposal should visit Trusted Research on the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure website for guidance on getting the most out of international collaboration whilst protecting sensitive information.

How to apply

This funding opportunity has a two-stage application process:

  • outline proposal
  • full proposal.

The full proposal stage is by invitation only. Applications that are successful at the outline stage will be invited to submit a full proposal.

No other proposals will be accepted. Any unsolicited proposals will be rejected. Application details are described below.

Stage 1: submitting an outline proposal

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.

You should ensure you 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: Outline proposal
  • scheme: EPSRC fellowship outline
  • call/type/mode: Turing AI World-Leading Researcher Fellowships round 2 outlines.

The project title should begin ‘Turing AI Fellowship:…’

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

Your host organisation will be able to provide advice and guidance on completing your application.

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

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

Guidance on writing an outline proposal

Je-S application

The ‘what we’re looking for’ section outlines some of the information we expect to see in the Je-S application.

Equipment costs should be included in the ‘exceptions’ costing field in Je-S. This should be the 50% contribution requested from EPSRC. This should also be noted in the justification of resources. For example, if the total cost of equipment on a proposal is £100,000, applicants should include £50,000 in the exceptions costs and note both the total equipment cost and the 50% EPSRC contribution requested in the justification of resources.

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

  • an outline case for support
  • a narrative CV
  • a justification of resources
  • a host organisation statement
  • letters of support.

A cover letter is optional.

Outline case for support

This should be no more than four sides of A4.

The case for support should complement the narrative CV where appropriate. You should use it to:

  • tell us why you are the right person for a Turing AI World-Leading Researcher Fellowship:
    • explaining how you aim to further develop your role within global AI community
    • demonstrating your potential to build new AI capability and capacity in the UK
    • demonstrating your ability to act as a leader within  AI, and any other relevant communities
  • tell us how you and your research complement the UK AI landscape
  • explain how the cross-sector or cross-disciplinary aspects of the fellowship will be used enhance your career mobility and how they will enable you and your team to initiate, grow and manage collaborative relationships with key stakeholders
  • give a brief description of the current AI research environment at the host organisation, and how you will complement this.

You should also give a brief explanation of the proposed research, including:

  • your vision for the fellowship, clearly demonstrating the novelty and creativity of your research and outlining your original and ambitious plans and ideas
  • how it will lead to the development of novel AI capabilities in the UK, beyond applying established AI approaches within applications
  • its potential to impact the field of AI, other scientific disciplines, UK society and the economy.
Narrative CV

This should be no more than four sides of A4.

In line with EPSRC’s open fellowship scheme, we ask you to provide a narrative CV. This should include the following headings:

  • Personal details
  • How have you contributed to the generation and flow of new ideas, hypotheses, tools or knowledge?
  • How have you contributed to research teams and the development of others?
  • How have you contributed to the wider research and innovation community?
  • How have you exploited your research?
  • Additional information.

Read our guidance on preparing a narrative CV (PDF, 49KB).

Justification of resources

This should be no more than two sides of A4.

You must ensure that all applicable costs requested on the Je-S form are justified in the justification of resources. This includes doctoral studentship costs if applicable and equipment costs.

If resources are requested for doctoral studentships, these should be clearly justified. Say why additional UKRI investment is needed on top of existing UKRI studentship funding, such as Doctoral Training Partnerships and Centres for Doctoral Training. You should clearly explain why additional UKRI investment in AI students represents value for money in the context of the £100 million already invested in UKRI AI Centres for Doctoral Training.

The Turing AI Fellowships are a strategic investment and are being delivered by EPSRC on behalf of UKRI, therefore EPSRC will contribute 50% of the final purchase price of equipment. This should also be noted in the justification of resources. For example, if the total cost of equipment on a proposal is £100,000, applicants should include £50,000 in the exceptions costs and note both the total equipment cost and the 50% EPSRC contribution requested in the justification of resources.

It is expected that resources will be used flexibly to deliver the outcomes of the programme. Detailed resourcing estimations will therefore only be required for the first two years of the investment, with a decision making methodology for subsequent planning.

You should follow the ‘cost to the proposal’ headings in the application form.

Read our guidance about preparing a justification of resources.

Host organisation statement

This should be no more than three sides of A4.

Host organisation support is an important feature of this award and should explain:

  • the host organisation’s strategy for AI research
  • how the applicant and their research complements its strategy
  • the strategic reasons for wanting to recruit or retain the world-leading individual in question
  • why the host organisation is an appropriate place for the fellow and their team to conduct this research
  • the anticipated tailored support that would be offered to the fellow and how this will aid them in realising the objectives of the Turing AI World-Leading Researcher Fellowship programme
  • how the host organisation and applicant have engaged to develop a research work plan that will allow the applicant to follow a flexible research, collaboration, and leadership pathway throughout the fellowship
  • the training and development opportunities that are available to meet the applicant’s aspirations for themselves and their team over the duration of the proposal
  • the support that will be provided to familiarise and integrate the applicant into the UK research ecosystem if they will be relocating from abroad, including the supervision of UK doctoral students.

This statement should be on headed paper and dated within the last six months. If this is not included within the outline proposal, the proposal will be office rejected and will not go forward to the outline panel.

Find out more about what to include in the host organisation statement.

Letters of support

There is no page limit for letters of support.

Letters of support must be provided by all project partners mentioned in the Je-S form.

Read our project partner letter of support guide for more information.

Cover letter

This is an optional attachment. There’s no page limit.

It will only be seen by UKRI and will not be sent to peer review. The cover letter gives you the opportunity to provide any other information you feel is relevant to your application. You can use it to highlight anything relevant to the application that has been discussed with EPSRC or wider UKRI staff beforehand.

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.

Stage 2: submitting a full proposal

Proposals successful at the outline stage will be invited to submit a full proposal. No other proposals will be accepted. Any unsolicited proposals will be rejected.

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

You must apply using the 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.

When applying, select ‘new document’ then:

  • council: EPSRC
  • document type: Fellowship proposal
  • scheme: EPSRC fellowship
  • call/type/mode: Turing AI World-Leading Researcher Fellowships round 2 full proposal.

The project title should begin ‘Turing AI Fellowship:…’

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

Your host organisation will be able to provide advice and guidance on completing your application.

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

The deadline for full proposals is expected to be in mid-November 2022. The date will be confirmed prior to inviting successful outline applicants to submit a full proposal.

Guidance on writing a full proposal

As well as the Je-S application form, a full proposal is required. The full proposal should consist of:

  • a case for support
  • a justification of resources requested
  • a justification of doctoral studentships (if applicable)
  • a work plan
  • a narrative CV
  • a host organisation statement
  • letters of support from project partners
  • technical assessment
  • quotes for equipment above £25,000
  • proposal cover letter
  • ethical information
  • nominating reviewers.

In your proposal, you should consider and address the:

  • strategic drivers of the funding opportunity
  • expectations of Turing AI World-Leading Researcher fellows mentioned in the ‘what we are looking for’ section
  • assessment criteria set out in the ‘how we will assess your application’ section.
Case for support

This should be no more than twelve sides of A4. It should include the following information.

Expertise and track record of the applicant and team

This should be no more than two sides of A4.

It should build upon the details in your narrative CV. It should demonstrate how your expertise will be complemented by that of any team members and collaborators named on the proposal to deliver a transformative programme of research. For multidisciplinary programmes, it is particularly important to clarify the breadth of disciplinary expertise the team will draw from.

If co-investigators are named, describe how they will add value to the programme and contribute to delivering your research vision, referencing their track record.

Include a description of the current AI research environment at the host organisation, and how you will complement this.

Description of the fellowship vision, the proposed research and its context

The case for support should offer a compelling vision for a creative and adventurous research agenda, with a clear plan of how this will be achieved.

National importance

You should demonstrate how your proposed research has the potential to grow new capability and capacity in AI in the UK, while enabling enhanced cross-sector engagement. You should consider how your fellowship visions complement and deliver against UKRI’s statement of opportunities on AI (PDF, 5.6MB) and the UK’s national AI strategy (GOV.UK)

Read our guidance on how to address national importance within your proposal.

Impact

This should be no more than two sides of A4.

You should:

  • demonstrate how your programme of research will have a transformative effect on the AI research and innovation landscape, describing how stakeholders in other sectors will be engaged to ensure those in the field and related disciplines will benefit
  • describe how you intend to manage the type of impact envisaged to ensure it reaches the intended beneficiaries as quickly as possible
  • include a description of how you will act as a leader in the community and an ambassador for AI, advocating for the research area to a range of audiences including the public.

If you work at the interface between AI and another discipline, you explain how you will make leadership and ambassadorial contributions to all relevant fields.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

You should explain how equality, diversity and inclusion will be embedded in your plans to build collaborations and recruit members of your team. You should also explain how the diverse range of perspectives in the community will be reflected and encouraged. Diversity should be considered broadly to include backgrounds, career paths, thought and approach as well as protected characteristics.

As a signatory of the concordat to support the career development of researchers, we ask you to consider the principles of the concordat in the development of your team in the case for support. Read more about the concordat to support the development of researchers (Vitae).

Responsible AI research

Explain how you will actively engage with the design of AI for use, seeking to address challenges in areas such as ethics, robustness, fairness, security, auditability, and resilience as appropriate for the nature of the research.

You should demonstrate how the principles of responsible innovation and trusted research have been embedded throughout your activities.

For more information, read the general guidance on writing a case for support.

Justification of resources requested

This should be no more than two sides of A4.

All applicable costs requested on the Je-S form must be justified in the justification of resources.

Explain why the resources requested are required to undertake your research project, establish a highly skilled team, and implement plans to deliver impact as described in the case for support.

If resources are requested for doctoral studentships, these should be clearly justified, including why additional UKRI investment is needed on top of existing UKRI studentship funding such as Doctoral Training Partnerships and Centres for Doctoral Training.

Justification should be provided for why additional UKRI investment in AI students represents value for money in the context of the £100 million already invested in UKRI AI Centres for Doctoral Training. Full details should be provided in the justification of doctoral studentships document.

We recommend that you follow the ‘cost to the proposal’ headings used in the application form. For more information, please see the UKRI guidance about the justification of resources.

Justification of doctoral studentships

This should be no more than two sides of A4.

This document is only necessary if resources have been requested for doctoral studentships. You should:

  • justify why studentship resources are requested, including why additional UKRI investment is needed on top of existing UKRI studentship funding
  • explain the added value to student or students of being associated with the fellowship research
  • include a description of the training environment in your research group, the department, and the host organisation
  • explain how the student experience will differ from that which would have been offered by the host organisation to standard doctoral students working in this area
  • briefly outline the proposed research project or projects
  • detail how the students’ engagement in the investment will play a notable role in establishing a sustainable AI ecosystem.
How to apply for studentships on Je-S

If you are requesting a doctoral studentship, stipends and fees need to be entered into Je-S.

Under ‘studentship costs’ there are two boxes:

  • ‘stipends’ is where you enter the stipend level as one figure
  • ‘fees’ is where you enter the fees amount and the RTSG.
Work plan

This should be no more than one side of A4.

Normally, this would be in the form of a schematic Gantt chart, but any technique may be used to show how the elements of the fellowship will flow together. Depending on the nature of the research proposed, this is not expected to be a detailed and fixed work plan for the full duration of the project.

Narrative CV

This should be no more than four sides of A4.

In line with EPSRC’s open fellowship scheme, we ask you to provide your narrative CV. This should include the following headings:

  • Personal details
  • How have you contributed to the generation and flow of new ideas, hypotheses, tools or knowledge?
  • How have you contributed to research teams and the development of others?
  • How have you contributed to the wider research and innovation community?
  • How have you exploited your research?
  • Additional information.

See our guidance on preparing a narrative CV (PDF, 49KB).

Host organisation statement

This should be no more than three sides of A4.

Host organisation support is an important feature of this award and should explain:

  • the host organisation’s strategy for AI research
  • how the applicant and their research complements its strategy
  • the strategic reasons for wanting to recruit or retain the world-leading individual in question
  • why the host organisation is an appropriate place for the fellow and their team to conduct this research
  • the anticipated tailored support that would be offered to the fellow and how this will aid them in realising the objectives of the Turing AI World-Leading Researcher Fellowship programme
  • how the host organisation and applicant have engaged to develop a research work plan that will allow the applicant to follow a flexible research, collaboration, and leadership pathway throughout the fellowship
  • the training and development opportunities that are available to meet the applicant’s aspirations for themselves and their team over the duration of the proposal
  • the support that will be provided to familiarise and integrate the applicant into the UK research ecosystem if they will be relocating from abroad, including the supervision of UK doctoral students.

This statement should be on headed paper and dated within the last six months.

Read more about what to include in the host organisation statement.

Letters of support

There is no page limit. Letters of support are needed from all project partners included in the Je-S form.

More information is available in our project partners letter of support guidance.

Technical assessment

There’s no page limit for this.

If you plan to use a major facility in your research, such as those funded centrally by EPSRC or a European facility, contact the facility before applying to EPSRC to check if your proposed research is feasible. You will also need to obtain a technical assessment if Je-S marks it as required.

Quotes for equipment above £25,000

There’s no page limit for this. You will need to upload quotes for all equipment of this value.

Equipment business case

This should be no more than two sides of A4. It should include any items of equipment or combined assets with a value above £138,000.

Proposal cover letter

This can be up to two sides of A4.

This letter will only be seen by UKRI and will not be sent to peer review. The cover letter gives you the opportunity to express any other information you feel is relevant to your application. If applicable, you may want to highlight anything you’ve discussed with EPSRC or wider UKRI staff beforehand that’s relevant to your application.

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.

Get more advice on 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 on the Je-S form must be completed.

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

A three-stage assessment process will be used.

Stage 1: outline proposals

Outline proposals will be considered by an external panel against the quality, applicant, resources and management, and research environment assessment criteria.

Successful applicants will be invited to submit a full proposal. In the event of this funding opportunity being substantially oversubscribed as to be unmanageable, EPSRC reserves the right to modify the assessment process.

Stage 2: invited full proposals

Full proposals will be sent out for postal peer review. Postal peer review will consider all assessment criteria.

Where the majority of reviews are unsupportive, the proposal will be ‘review rejected’ at the review stage. The applicant will no longer qualify for the right to reply.

If your application has received enough support from reviewers, it will go forward to the interview panel. Prior to the interview panel, usable reviewer comments that were included in the decision process are sent to you. This gives you the opportunity to correct factual inaccuracies and respond to any queries raised by the reviewers in a principal investigator response document.

Stage 3: interview panel

At the interview stage, the panel questions will primarily focus on the applicant and quality assessment criterion. However, all criteria will be assessed in determining the final rank ordered list, taking into consideration:

  • the peer review comments
  • principal investigator response
  • interview.

Full details of the interview process will be sent to applicants who are successful at the outline stage.

Assessment criteria

The assessment criteria for all stages of the assessment process are provided below. The weighting of each assessment criteria in relation to each stage of the process is also indicated.

The assessment criteria are as follows.

Quality (primary)

This applies to all stages of the process.

We assess research excellence, making reference to:

  • the fellowship vision, including the ambition and adventure of the proposed programme and the potential for its outcomes to have a transformative effect on the research and innovation landscape of AI
  • the degree of novelty in the research programme to advance to the field of AI, the relationship to the broader context of the current AI research area internationally and timeliness and relevance to identified stakeholders
  • the suitability of the proposed methodology and the appropriateness of the approach to achieving impacts across sectors and timescales
  • the plans to embed the principles of responsible innovation and trusted research throughout your activities.

National importance (secondary major)

This applies to the full proposal and interview stages.

We assess how the research programme:

  • meets national needs by establishing a unique world-leading activity in AI
  • complements other UK research funded in the area, including any relationships or alignment to the UKRI portfolio, the UK’s national AI strategy, or UKRI’s statement of opportunities on AI
  • contributes to addressing key UK societal challenges or contributes to future UK economic success and development of emerging industries
  • engages with the ethical, equality, diversity and inclusion considerations of AI research in relation to both the research programme outputs, and in the community
  • engages with the public on the AI research agenda.

Applicant (primary)

This is considered at all assessment stages.

We make an assessment of your ability to deliver the proposed fellowship programme, making reference to:

  • international recognition of scientific contribution to advancing the field of AI as evidenced by your track record
  • your ability to act as a leader in the AI community, make a strategic contribution to the AI landscape, and act as an ambassador and advocate for AI both in the UK, and internationally
  • your ability to build and lead a world-leading research group, and to develop the skills and careers of your team and develop a positive working culture
  • your ability to successfully build and manage collaborations across sectors.

Resources and management (secondary)

This is considered at all assessment stages.

We assess 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
  • management of any staff requested and a demonstration of the approach to embedding equality, diversity and inclusion into recruitment
  • any doctoral studentships requested, and the added value to them of being associated with your planned programme
  • the appropriateness of the risk mitigation strategy.

Funding opportunity-specific criteria

Research environment (secondary)

This is assessed at all stages.

We consider:

  • the strategic intent and level of tailored and flexible support from the host organisation during and beyond the lifetime of the fellowship
  • your justification of choice of host organisation and collaborators, and how they will aid you in realising your research vision and the aims of this funding opportunity
  • the training environment for doctoral students where resources have been requested for studentships.

Feedback

Specific feedback will not be given at the outline stage. Feedback on the full proposals will be in the form of reviewers’ comments. Additional feedback may also be provided by the interview panel.

Unless rejected prior to the panel meeting, the rank order list information is published on the EPSRC’s grants on the web. Information is published on grants on the web shortly after the panel meeting.

Guidance for reviewers

Reviewers should assess proposals within the context of the aims, objectives and the specific assessment criteria outlined in this funding opportunity document. For postal peer review of these proposals, the standard reviewer form will be used. The ‘specific call criteria’ section of the reviewer form should be used to comment on the research environment

For more information, read:

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 a question about the opportunity

Robert Hicks, Portfolio Manager, AI and Robotics, EPSRC

Email: robert.hicks@epsrc.ukri.org

Include ‘Turing AI fellowships funding opportunity’ in the subject line.

Vivienne Blackstone, Senior Portfolio Manager, AI and Robotics, EPSRC

Email: vivienne.blackstone@epsrc.ukri.org

Include ‘Turing AI fellowships funding opportunity’ in the subject line.

AI and robotics team mailbox

Email: ai.robotics@epsrc.ukri.org

Include ‘Turing AI fellowships funding opportunity’ in the subject line.

Get help with applying through 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

Webinar

We held a webinar on 6 May 2022 to provide more information about the Turing AI World-Leading Researcher Fellowships.

View the slides presented at the webinar on 6 May 2022 (PDF, 754KB).

Background

On 4 October 2021, the Chancellor announced that the UK government would ‘double the number of Turing AI World-Leading Researcher Fellowships’.

This further investment of up to £20 million in Turing AI World-Leading Researcher Fellowships aligns with the national AI strategy and the UKRI statement of opportunities in AI (PDF, 5.6MB).

The funding will be delivered through two rounds. Round two is this funding opportunity and round three will follow. Fellows will start by 1 October 2023 and 2024 respectively.

It will enable distinguished academics to make research breakthroughs in AI, contributing to the UK and maintaining its position as a global leader in AI research and development.

The initial investment in Turing AI fellowships was a direct response to the government commissioned review of the AI sector, which recommended that an international fellowship programme for AI should be created.

Following the government’s AI sector deal in early 2018, ‘up to £50 million in new Turing AI fellowships to bring the best global researchers in AI to the UK’ was committed to in the 2018 budget.

Turing AI fellowships

The objectives of the overall investment in Turing AI fellowships are to:

  • accelerate and support the careers of a diverse cadre of the best and brightest AI international researchers, retaining them, or attracting them, to UK academia
  • enable enhanced connectivity between AI academia and industry across sectors, and facilitate career mobility for leading AI researchers and thinkers between academia and industry or the third sector, accelerating the pathway to impact of AI technologies
  • enable leading researchers to undertake world-leading creative and innovative AI research in the UK, with a broad range of potential impacts across sectors and timescales, and a key role in positioning the UK as a global leader in AI both now and in the future.

Turing AI fellowships investment to date has been delivered through two phases:

  • phase one, the pilot phase, delivered by The Alan Turing Institute in 2019
  • phase two, the substantive phase, delivered by EPSRC on behalf of UKRI.

Phase two consists of:

  • Turing AI Acceleration Fellowships in 2020
  • Turing AI World-Leading Researcher Fellowships in 2021.

The Turing AI Fellowships are delivered by UKRI in partnership with:

Global talent visa

International researchers and specialists who are named, or have their position listed, on a successful grant may be eligible for the global talent visa.

Responsible innovation

EPSRC 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.

Additional grant conditions

Grants are awarded under the standard UKRI grant terms and conditions. The following additional grant conditions will also apply.

Start date of the grant

Notwithstanding ‘starting procedures’, this grant must start by 1 October 2023. No slippage of start date beyond 1 October 2023 will be permitted. Expenditure may be incurred prior to the start of the grant and be subsequently charged to the grant, provided that it does not precede the date of the offer letter.

Grant extensions

No slippage or grant extensions beyond exceptional circumstances in line with the Equality Act 2010 will be allowed. EPSRC will not be responsible for any cost overrun incurred during the course of this grant. The research organisation or organisations will be required to make up any shortfall from alternative sources.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

The grant holder is expected to prepare a full equality, diversity and inclusion plan for the duration of this grant to demonstrate best practice in equality, diversity and inclusion throughout the lifetime of this funding award. This must be received by the project officer within three months of the grant start date.

Naming and branding

Fellowship titles must be prefixed with ‘Turing AI Fellowship:…’. In addition to RGC 12.4 ‘publication and acknowledgement of support’ in the standard terms and conditions of grants, the fellow must make reference to the ‘Turing AI World-Leading Researcher Fellowship’ or ‘Turing AI Fellowship’ title. Additionally, UKRI funding, the UKRI logo and relevant branding must be referenced on all online or printed materials (including press releases, posters, exhibition materials and other publications) related to activities funded by this grant.

Engagement

The grant holder may be required to attend meetings, events and other joint activities at the reasonable request of the research council, where such activities are held across the cohort of individuals awarded fellowships funded under this scheme in order to share:

  • experiences
  • best practice
  • wider public engagement activities
  • research impacts and outputs.

Governance

EPSRC will nominate a member of UKRI staff (‘the project officer’) who will be your primary point of contact. The project officer will ensure that the project is being run in accordance with the terms and conditions and in line with financial due diligence. As funding administrators, all UKRI staff have agreed to maintain the confidentiality required by all parties involved in EPSRC funded research.

Monitoring and reporting

In addition to the requirements set out RGC 7.4.3 in the standard terms and conditions of grants, the grant holder is responsible for providing regular progress reports and monitoring data (financial and non-financial) when requested by UKRI. UKRI expects that the frequency of financial returns will be twice a year but reserves the right to request returns more or less often as appropriate to respond to changes in business needs. A template and guidance to complete this will be provided by UKRI in due course.

EPSRC reserves the right to suspend the grant and withhold further payments if the performance metrics requested are not provided by the stated deadlines or are determined to be of an unacceptable standard by the EPSRC.

Programme and project review

In addition to the requirements set out in RGC 7.4 Research Monitoring and Evaluation and 7.5 Disclosure and Inspection in the standard terms and conditions of grants, EPSRC reserves 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.

Grant holders will be required to submit documentation and engage with those conducting any reviews. EPSRC will give the grant holder due notice of the date of any review and will provide details of the terms of reference and documentation required. An unsatisfactory outcome of a grant review may result in a reduction or termination of the grant funding.

Expenditure

At the start of the grant, the financial spend profile will be agreed by UKRI. In addition to any reporting requirements set out in ‘monitoring and reporting’, the grant holder must immediately notify the UKRI project officer or officers in writing of any accumulation, slippage or variation in expenditure greater than 5% of the annual profiled funding.

Any such changes must be approved in writing by UKRI. Approval should not be assumed and will be dependent on spend across all associated grants. We reserve the right to re-profile the grant if required.

Any deviation from the agreed allocation of funding and profiled costs must be negotiated and approved through written consent by UKRI. The approval of profile changes should not be assumed and will be dependent on spend across all associated grants. At the end of the grant period, a breakdown of the expenditure should be submitted along with the final expenditure statement.

Supporting documents

Equality impact assessment (PDF, 204KB)

This is the integrated website of the seven research councils, Research England and Innovate UK.
Let us know if you have feedback or would like to help us test new developments.