Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Pre-announcement: Turing AI World-Leading Researcher Fellowships: rounds two and three

Apply for funding to carry out world-leading artificial intelligence (AI) research in the UK.

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.

There are no set eligibility criteria for this award. However, you should show that you:

  • have international standing in your area
  • can add value to AI research in the UK
  • can build AI capability and capacity in the UK.

This funding opportunity will open in spring 2022. More information will be available on this page by then.

This is a pre-announcement and the information may change.

Who can apply

This is a funding opportunity for researchers with a high international standing who are looking to make an impact in the field of AI in the UK.

As an applicant, you should be able to:

  • demonstrate international standing in your area
  • show potential for adding value to the UK AI leadership landscape
  • build new capability and capacity in AI within the UK.

We encourage applications if you:

  • are currently employed in any sector, including academia, business, government or the third sector
  • are a UK-based or international researcher
  • have taken a non-standard career path after completing your primary degree.

One of the objectives of the Turing AI World-Leading Researcher Fellowships is to enable mixed positions and flexible movement across sectors. As such, cross-sector working is encouraged. However, fellows must be employed by the eligible host organisation for the time committed to the fellowship.

We are seeking to support a cohort of fellows that includes both international recruits and researchers currently based in the UK.

If you are a UK-based applicant, you should be able to explain how the fellowship will:

  • help retain you in the UK
  • be used to build new AI capability and capacity.

There are no standardised eligibility criteria for this fellowship due to the diversity of career paths in AI.

Part-time applicants

If you are employed part-time, 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.

Eligible host organisations

The time dedicated to the fellowship should be hosted by an eligible organisation within the UK. EPSRC is leading this funding opportunity on behalf of UKRI, and therefore the standard EPSRC organisational eligibility requirements apply.

Businesses are not eligible to be host organisations but may be project partners on the application.

Resubmissions

EPSRC does not accept resubmission of proposals.

If you apply to this funding opportunity and are unsuccessful, this would be classed as a first submission under the EPSRC resubmissions policy. You would not then be able to subsequently submit the same fellowship proposal to the EPSRC open fellowship scheme.

Similarly, proposals previously submitted to other fellowship schemes, including previous Turing AI Fellowship funding opportunities, will be counted as a resubmission and office rejected.

See the EPSRC policy on resubmissions.

What we're looking for

Turing AI World-Leading Researcher Fellowships invest in the retention and international recruitment of the best and brightest AI researchers.

Their aim is to establish centres of excellence in key areas of AI research in the UK, helping to build new capability and capacity in the UK. This will contribute to the development of a diverse and sustainable UK AI research ecosystem.

The fellowships enable enhanced engagement between academia, business and other sectors through flexible career paths that encourage intersector mobility. The first five fellows were announced in July 2021.

Through this strategic investment, UKRI is seeking to support world-leading researchers who will undertake ambitious and novel research with a primary focus on tackling the methodological and theoretical challenges in AI.

Your research may be motivated by challenges in other disciplines or sectors, although that is not a requirement.

Fellowship expectations

Research should show significant novelty in the development of AI technologies and should go beyond applying established AI approaches within applications.

It is expected that fellows will:

  • establish a world-leading centre of excellence, building new capability and capacity in a strategically important area of AI research
  • lead a major programme of AI research, translation and innovation
  • build strong relationships and collaborations with academia, business and broader stakeholders in the UK and internationally, including cross-disciplinary collaborations where appropriate
  • act as a leader in the AI community and an ambassador and advocate for it, driving forward the UK and international AI research agenda
  • develop the skills and careers of their teams, 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, ensuring that AI is designed, developed and deployed robustly and transparently
  • embed the principles of responsible innovation and trusted research throughout their 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.

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. This may include models such as endowing chairs or adding to academic salaries.

Project partners might be from business, the public sector or the third sector.

It is expected that collaborations will build a mutually beneficial two-way relationship based on:

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

However, 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.

Funding opportunities

EPSRC is delivering these fellowships on behalf of UKRI through two funding opportunities:

  • Turing AI World-Leading Researcher Fellowships: round two
  • Turing AI World-Leading Researcher Fellowships: round three.

Fellows will start by 1 October 2023 and 1 October 2024 respectively.

Awards will last for up to five years.

How we will assess your application

These funding opportunities will involve a three-stage assessment process:

  • outline proposal stage
  • full proposal stage
  • interview panel.

Contact details

Ask about this funding opportunity

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.

Robert Hicks, Portfolio Manager, AI and Robotics, EPSRC

Email: robert.hicks@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.

Additional info

Background

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

This further investment in Turing AI World-Leading Researcher Fellowships aligns with the GOV.UK: national AI strategy and the UKRI statement of opportunities in AI (PDF, 5.6MB).

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

The initial investment in GOV.UK: 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 GOV.UK: 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 Turing AI Fellowships are delivered by UKRI in partnership with:

  • The Alan Turing Institute
  • Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
  • Office for Artificial Intelligence.

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

  • support a diverse AI research community by developing capability and capacity, thereby creating a sustainable AI research and innovation ecosystem
  • enable new models of collaboration and career paths across sectors in AI, encouraging mixed positions and flexible movement between them
  • integrate consideration of AI adoption into AI research activities and embed responsible research and innovation in AI, alongside consideration of how AI can be designed to be safe, ethical and usable.

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.

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.

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