Area of investment and support

Area of investment and support: Engineering theme

The vision for engineering capability is to identify and tackle fundamental engineering research challenges with the potential for lasting benefit to the UK.

Partners involved:
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

The scope and what we're doing

In its role as a capability theme, the Engineering team seeks to:

  • stimulate creativity and strengthen cross-disciplinary connections both across engineering and within the basic sciences
  • build core engineering capabilities through a focus on both current and future leaders. To do this we will target support at different career stages and in areas where a specific capability requirement exists
  • grow or maintain strengths in those research areas where the UK leads internationally or has the potential to lead.

The actions for shaping the future engineering landscape are informed by strategic advice received from a variety of sources, including the Engineering Strategic Advisory Team, Early Career Forum, recent subject area reviews and workshops, national priorities, and the profile of existing EPSRC investments. We will shape our investments with reference to this landscape, reflecting both excellence and national need.

Our vision and objectives

The vision for engineering capability is to identify and tackle fundamental engineering research challenges with the potential for lasting benefit to the UK. To achieve this we will work in partnership with leading researchers, focusing on three specific objectives:

  • safeguarding the long-term sustainability of fundamental engineering research
  • inspiring current and future leaders of engineering research
  • shaping the underpinning research portfolio and better integrating it with societal challenges.

Engineering strategy

Our strategy is to support excellent long-term core and multidisciplinary engineering research while ensuring alignment to the priorities set out in the EPSRC Delivery Plan (2019).

As the single largest public sector funder of engineering research, we will stimulate creativity and long-term thinking in areas with the potential for long-term impact. We will actively shape our portfolio, focusing resource on areas where the UK is internationally leading, or has a realistic chance of taking an international lead, while reducing investments in areas of lower national importance.

Taking a holistic view of our portfolio, we will focus on core engineering skills, knowledge and resources, and integrate research policies so that they successfully deliver against EPSRC’s priority challenge themes of energy, healthcare technologies and manufacturing the future – which are dependent on underpinning engineering research and a flow of leading researchers between disciplines.

We will maintain our emphasis on quality over quantity in postgraduate training provision and will continue to support the best early-stage researchers with the potential to be international leaders. To this end we will actively manage our critical mass investments, specifically programme grants, centres for doctoral training (CDTs) and other large centres.

Current and future activities

Tomorrow’s engineering research challenges (TERC): visions from the UK community

The engineering theme have initiated an activity to engage with the UK research community to:

  • identify the most important questions and grandest challenges that face engineers in the future
  • explore the new ideas, creative ways of working and radical engineering solutions that will be required to solve them.

This represents the biggest community engagement exercise the engineering theme has ever undertaken.

The TERC initiative is being spearheaded by co-chairs Professor Dame Helen Atkinson and Dr Peter Bonfield OBE, who are steering the community, on EPSRC’s behalf, through a series of engagements. So far, these have included:

Workshops

Four sequential workshops were held in November and December 2021 facilitated by Know Innovation. A total of 207 participated in these workshops, and each was asked to answer the following:

  • looking 10 to 15 years into the future, what do you consider to be the most interesting challenge in the field of engineering that we should be exploring?
  • imagine that your first challenge had magically been overcome, what do you consider to be another interesting challenge in engineering that we should be exploring
  • thinking outside your immediate field, can you suggest one more interesting challenge in the field of engineering that we should be exploring?

From this, a total of 621 future perspectives were received. Using a set of assessment criteria, these were sifted to 63 which provided stimulus for conversation at the workshops.

At the workshops, these were further narrowed down to nine high-level questions and 27 priority questions.

Roundtable meetings

In addition to the sequential workshops, the TERC initiative has also included a series of satellite roundtable meetings with key stakeholders which has included:

  • professional engineering institutions and the Royal Academy of Engineering
  • early career researchers
  • representatives from industry
  • students.

A specific meeting was dedicated to discussing issues relating to equality, diversity and inclusion.

Whilst the workshops provided a predominantly academic viewpoint, the roundtables complemented these with perspectives from the various stakeholders.

Together, these voices will produce a vision from and for the UK engineering research community.

Report

The key output of the TERC initiative will be a report that will influence and inform future engineering research strategy. It will make recommendations that will potentially contribute to the long-term sustainability of engineering research and skills. It will enable the next generation of engineers to be on the front foot for future revolutions, be they industrial, environmental, economic or societal.

The report is set to be published at the end of May 2022.

Town hall meetings

In June 2022, EPSRC will invite members of the engineering community to town hall meetings where we will share findings from these engagements, including the high-level themes and sub-themes.

Research areas

You can find out more about:

Opportunities, support and resources available

Funding opportunities

You can apply for funding to support an EPSRC research proposal in the area of engineering at any time under any open EPSRC scheme, including standard mode, programme grants and fellowships.

Standard (sometimes known as ‘responsive’) funding opportunities are open to a wide range of research and approaches within EPSRC’s remit.

Portfolio manager perspectives on writing a proposal

As EPSRC portfolio managers, we each oversee a different community within the engineering theme and, although the research areas may differ, the questions we receive are often the same. We thought it would be beneficial to share what we have learned through managing the peer review process and convening panels, and we hope you find this a useful addition to what is already available on the EPSRC website.

If you have any questions or topics you would like to see discussed further, please email EngineeringPeerReview@epsrc.ukri.org.

There are a number of things to consider when beginning to write a proposal. The first port of call is always the EPSRC funding guide for applicants, which contains all the important information on what should and shouldn’t be included in your proposal, writing tips, and the documentation requirements in terms of length and format.

If you still have questions or need clarification, ask the research office at your university or an EPSRC contact.

Before submission: getting started and general advice

Standard mode proposals and New Investigator Awards go through a two-part assessment process of expert peer review, and a generalist panel, which can be composed of both academic and industrial members. The panel uses the expert peer review reports to moderate across all proposals and create a rank order list. Your proposal must balance the necessity of showing the novelty of the technical aspects while also being clear to a non-expert audience.

To help you do this, consider the following points.

Review prompts. Look at the reviewer prompts and what the reviewers are asked to comment on. Does your proposal answer these questions? Have you left any gaping holes?

Convince experts of the value of your field. You need to convince the experts in your own research field about the value of your project. Panels will comment on this, for example, “The reviews all seemed very positive, but there was no real sense of excitement”. Consider what excites you about your research and convey this to both audiences. Convince your peers.

Address the basics and make your proposal relevant for non-experts. Addressing the basics may seem obvious, but ensure that your proposal contains sufficient details for experts and non-experts alike.

Although a panel assesses applications on the basis of reviewer reports, try to make your proposal helpful for those who may not be experts in your precise area. Is your title and summary meaningful and accessible?

Always remember the basics:

  • What are you planning to do?
  • How are you planning to do it?
  • Why is this important?

Well-written proposals:

  • take the assessment criteria into account
  • demonstrate the capability of the applicant
  • show novelty and added value
  • are clear about the ideas, methodology and work plan; they are not woolly or cluttered with technical jargon
  • pitch an appropriate and realistic degree of ambition
  • don’t leave questions unanswered.

Remember, the Case for Support is your opportunity to convince your peers of why your proposed research should be funded. Make sure you use it well.

Provide a convincing case for the originality of your proposal and describe your objectives clearly and succinctly. Proposals are not rejected just because others are doing similar work. But if you don’t describe the novelty of your approach and the likelihood of success when compared with others, the value of your proposal may be questioned.

Reviewers often comment that a proposal is unclear about the methodology to be applied, or on the degree of ambition that a proposal has. It’s best not to leave it to your peers to ask the questions. Show that you have thought the proposal through and explain how it will succeed. Potential applications might be obvious to you, but tell reviewers and panel members what they are so they are not left in doubt.

Have you thought about:

  • what it would be like to review your proposal?
  • having experienced colleagues review your proposal?
  • looking at successful proposals at your institution (this may help you with structure)?
  • whether the panel will want to read your proposal (in other words, is the summary well-written and accessible to a non-expert audience)?

Think about both the content and structure of your proposal. For example, is it a wall of poorly structured or closely spaced paragraphs? Make sure it is easy for reviewers to read.

Proposal summary

The proposal summary will be posted on Grants on the Web and Gateway to Research if your project is successful. This is read by a wide range of people, so please ensure that it is written for a general, not technical, audience. To this end, please do not simply cut and paste from elsewhere on your proposal.

Je-S

Portfolio managers are unable to access Je-S and cannot provide assistance with this system. If you have any problems while working on your proposal, please contact your research office or the Je-S helpdesk at 01793 44 4164.

Documents uploaded as ‘Other’ are not seen by peer review. Your research office can also provide general help when uploading your proposal to the Je-S system.

A final thought when writing your proposal

“There is no grantsmanship that will turn a bad idea into a good one, but there are many ways to disguise a good one.” (William Raub, Past Deputy Director, NIH)

Case for Support

Typically, each proposal is allowed an eight-page Case for Support which should contain the Track Record and the Description of the Research.

A track record:

  • is two pages maximum – even when there are multiple applicants (in such cases, the summary could usefully highlight previous co-working or the ‘fit’ of research teams)
  • should be made relevant to the proposal – show peer review why you are the the right people in the right place to do this work.

For guidance on completing the description of the research, refer to the guidance notes.

You may want to squeeze in as much information as you can, but don’t present reviewers with a wall of tightly-packed text: it’s hard to read. Think carefully about what you need to include to make the case as to why your research should be funded.

Justification of resources

The resources requested should be adequate, realistic and appropriate for the research and be clearly and concisely justified. Two sides of A4 are allowed for the Justification of Resources, but don’t just repeat what’s on your proposal form – explain and justify everything. Otherwise, you run the risk of delay due to proposals being returned for further clarification or resources being cut at authorisation stage. And please do check that the resources match on the Je-S form and the Justification of Resources document.

Reviewers comment both ways: a project can be considered over or under resourced. They will mention if the project is overly ambitious for the funding requested, or if you are massively overestimating what you need to deliver the project.

Remember:

  • make it easy for the reviewers by using a simple format and approaching the Justification of Resources in a direct way
  • say what resources you want and why they are necessary
  • don’t leave holes and lay yourself open to questioning from the reviewers.

Make sure you’ve read the Justification of resources guidance document.

Project partners

In standard mode, having a project partner is not a requirement. However, you should consider whether your peers would consider it appropriate (or even expected) for a collaboration of some sort to be a part of your proposed research.

A project partner should add tangible value to the proposal, either directly or indirectly.

Formal project partners are asked to write a statement of support to accompany your proposal. A good statement of support can help by showing that the collaboration is genuine, and by explaining why the project partner supports the project and what they will get out of it. Statements should be relevant to the project, written by project partners when the proposal is being prepared, and dated within six months of the proposal submission date.

Standard letters declaring general support are often criticised by reviewers. Likewise, a generic letter that is more or less the same for all project partners on a proposal will often be considered negatively by reviewers and panel members.

Sometimes a collaborating organisation cannot or chooses not to be a formal project partner on a proposal. For example, this may be another department within your university, an equipment supplier offering discounts, or where organisational policy dictates how collaborations take place.

In exceptional circumstances, EPSRC will accept letters of support from organisations that are not listed as formal project partners. Up to three of these letters of support are allowed as attachments, but they can be of any length. However, these letters must demonstrate real, tangible value to the proposed research. If not, the proposal will be returned and you will be asked to remove them. Again, a multitude of standard letters declaring general support tend to go down badly with reviewers: consider the quality not the quantity of letters.

Please do not put £0 or £1 for in-kind support; have your project partner estimate a (realistic) value for what they are providing.

Additional guidance can be found on the project partners letter of support page.

Schemes

Each EPSRC scheme has a different purpose and you shouldn’t use a ‘one size fits all’ approach when applying. A great place to start is with this webpage to determine the type of funding to apply for.

Reviewer forms and guidance may vary from scheme to scheme and it is worth checking that you have reviewed the correct one for the scheme you are applying to.

For specific New Investigator Award guidance, please see the EPSRC New Investigator Award page.

Nominated Reviewers

You have the opportunity to nominate three applicant reviewers. These should be researchers or industrialists who you feel can provide a fair assessment of your proposal. They should not be people with whom you have a conflict of interest or have mentioned within the proposal; please do not suggest people you have worked with or published with in the past.

Remember:

  • do not ask potential reviewers if they will provide a review for you
  • while we aim to have one applicant nominated reviewer for each proposal, this cannot be guaranteed
  • international nominated reviewers are fine to include, as are reviewers from industry.

Experiencing the peer review assessment process from both sides, as an applicant and a reviewer or panel member, can help you better understand the evaluation process and the role of EPSRC in facilitating it.

During peer review: writing a review

The peer review process can only work if researchers are willing to provide reviews of their colleagues’ work, and carrying out a review can help your future proposals by showing you what reviewers are looking for. Please sign up for Je-S and fill in your expertise and keywords to allow us to find you.

The following are a few things to keep in mind when writing a review.

Please accept or decline the invitation. We understand that you may be busy, on leave, or just don’t feel that a proposal is within your expertise. It is absolutely fine to decline, but please let us know so that we can find another reviewer (or, even better, please nominate someone who you think could potentially complete a review).

Justify your scores. This includes high scores as well as low. Please make it clear for both the PI and the panel what you found particularly innovative or problematic for each section of the reviewer form.

Do unto others. Please consider what you would want to see if it were you receiving a review. What comments will help the PI write a better proposal next time?

Flag up conflicts. If you are concerned you might have any conflicts of interest with a proposal you have been asked to read as a reviewer or panel member, please contact us as soon as possible.

More guidance about writing a review can be found on the reviewing proposals page.

Responding to reviews

The PI response is your last chance to make your case. Please take this opportunity to politely and respectfully answer all questions and criticisms.

Answer all questions. Do not cherry pick just the parts you want to answer. Show that you have taken the comments on board, even if you do not agree with them.

Back up comments with facts. Demonstrate that to the panel why they should have confidence in your ability to carry out the proposal by using facts, not just your opinions.

Avoid the following pitfalls. “Trust me, I know what I am doing” is not a good response. Nor is “I’ve been doing this for 10/20/30 years”. Likewise, do not:

  • criticise the reviewer or ignore criticisms
  • counter the negative comments from one reviewer with positive comments from another
  • repeat all the good feedback, you only have two pages to answer questions and criticisms, so ensure you use them wisely
  • repeat parts of your proposal; if reviewers have raised questions that you feel are already answered, then it is likely that something was not clear, please try to rephrase as appropriate
  • try to guess who the reviewer is – in our experience, no one has ever guessed correctly.

Have someone read your response for tone. Before you submit your PI response, it is useful to have someone check it over to make sure you are striking the right tone with the reader. After all, you do not want the panel to describe your PI response as angry, arrogant, dismissive, or petty. The reviewers do not see your response; it is only the panel who will use it as part of their evaluation.

The panel process

Although panel members are experts in their given fields, they are asked to be generalists when assessing proposals. This is due to the sheer number of research areas that are viewed by the Engineering prioritisation panel; the Manufacturing the Future and Energy themes send proposals to the Engineering panel as well.

Panel members can be viewed as moderators who use the reviewer reports and PI response to produce a prioritised rank order list. By having an overview of all reviewer comments for a proposal, panel members are able to better evaluate whether the reviews are justified. Panel members do not re-review the proposals, but instead use the reviews and PI response as the basis of their discussion and ranking.

There are a number of lists at a standard prioritisation panel, and these are divided by scheme (for example, fellowship, standard mode, New Investigator Award) and theme (engineering, manufacturing the future). Each list is separate for ranking purposes, but lists are tensioned against one another to ensure that the quality level (the primary criterion) is comparable across all lists.

Please keep in mind that proposals are not separated by research area. Rather, all proposals for a given theme and scheme are assessed against each other. For example, this means that all standard mode proposals within the engineering remit are assessed against each other.

There are common issues that panels flag up.

Unclear methodology. Reviewers have highlighted that it has not come across what the applicant actually intends to do or how they are going to do it.

PI response. A PI response that comes across as angry, aggressive, or dismissive of the reviewer comments, is considered unconvincing. Please see the Responding to Reviews section for suggestions.

Positive reviews are not justified. Ensure that a proposal is clear about the benefits the project offers: a positive review that does not give many details about why the project is considered high quality can be given less credence than an unsupportive review that clearly spells out the concerns the reviewer has with it. The reverse of this is also the case; if an unsupportive review has not justified a low score or negative comments, panel members have the discretion to disregard it.

Fellowship rankings are used to determine which applicants are invited to interview for a Fellowship. The head of each theme has his or her own budget to spend on funding New Investigator Awards and standard mode projects. There is not a pre-allocated pot of money set aside for each scheme, but rather the head of theme makes the decision about how far down the list to fund, or whether to fund at all if the quality of the projects has not been assessed as sufficiently high enough.

In very rare circumstances, the panel may recommend that a proposal be resubmitted if a minor change will make it more competitive at a future panel. The head of theme has final say about whether a proposal is invited back, but again, this is only if the panel has initially recommended it.

Feedback is only provided if the panel has flagged up something specifically, or if the Pathway to Impact needs to be revised. As a reminder, the panel uses the reviews and PI response to make their ranking decision.

EPSRC Peer Review College

The best way to gain an understanding of the peer review process is from the inside. Please consider applying to join the Associate Peer Review College.

After peer review: you didn’t get funded – now what?

You have spent a lot of time, energy, and effort writing a proposal. The reviews were encouraging. And you still didn’t get funded.

It’s very easy for us to say “Don’t take it personally”, but please keep in mind that, on average, success rates for standard mode panels are 20 to 30%. It is a highly competitive process that, in the case of engineering, can see the ranking of 30 to 40 standard mode proposals across over 20 different research areas. To ensure we are spending taxpayers’ money most effectively, quality was adopted as the primary criterion and those proposals at the top of the list are considered those the panel assessed to be of the highest quality. It is unfortunate but we cannot fund every proposal.

We are unable to provide specific panel feedback, but panel members are not re-reviewing your proposal: they are using the reviewers’ comments to make their assessment. These comments should be used to help you in writing future proposals. Likewise, assess your PI response to ensure you are taking advantage of this opportunity to address all reviewer questions or concerns.

You can also speak to members of your institution who have been successfully funded, or those who regularly provide reviews or sit on panels. They may be able to offer additional suggestions.

You can apply to join the college yourself to see the peer review process from the inside.

When you are ready to apply again, check out the resubmission policy to make sure that your proposal would not be considered a resubmission.

If you have any questions about future proposals, please contact the research office at your institution or the portfolio manager who looks after your research area.

You did get funded – now what?

Congratulations!

However, your work doesn’t stop with successfully making it through panel. While carrying out your research, please keep the following in mind:

  • your institution’s research office can help with queries or problems
  • please let the portfolio manager who looks after your area know about good news stories that we can disseminate through our communication channels
  • make sure you complete the outcomes of your research in Researchfish (this can be done throughout the year, then submitted during the submission window).

Don’t wait until your grant comes to an end to start thinking about your next steps.

Further assistance

If you have additional questions that aren’t answered here, please consider the following resources.

Your institution’s research office is a great way to find out more information about general EPSRC policy and activities, as well as processes that may be specific to your institution.

Colleagues who are familiar with applying to and reviewing for EPSRC can potentially provide subject-specific guidance for your proposal.

As EPSRC portfolio managers we are happy to provide general help about the peer review process and our given research areas. However, we are not technical experts and we cannot provide advice on the content of proposals. Instead, take advantage of the EPSRC remit checking service if you have any concerns regarding which research council your proposal is best suited for.

Past projects, outcomes and impact

Visualising our portfolio (VoP) is a tool for users to visually interact with the EPSRC portfolio and data relationships. Find out more about research theme connections and funding for engineering.

Find previously funded projects on Grants on the Web.

Past activities

During the previous Delivery Plan period (2016-2020), the engineering theme was involved in a number of national and international activities.

EPSRC engineering theme regional workshops report

In 2017, the engineering theme at EPSRC ran three two-day workshops between March and May to engage with a broad cross-section of the UK engineering community. The primary motivation of the workshops was to share EPSRC’s strategy for the Delivery Plan 2016-2017 to 2019-2020 and discuss its implementation in the context of the engineering theme’s strategy. The workshop content included opportunities to discuss equality, diversity and inclusion, leadership, impact, international and multidisciplinary working in the context of engineering and also a horizon scanning exercise to identify potential emerging areas and long-term research challenges.

Engineering academic community webinars

In the autumn of 2020, the engineering theme ran a series of academic community engagement webinars. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the theme’s traditional methods of community engagement were no longer possible and so new ways of working were needed to remain engaged with our academic stakeholders. Two 1.5-hour webinars were delivered in October and November which consisted of a presentation by the Engineering Head of Theme, Dr Andrew Lawrence, and a live question and answer session.

The presentation covered topics such as peer review processes and funding opportunities, including our responses to COVID-19. It also highlighted our current strategic priorities and our context within both EPSRC and UKRI more widely. The question and answer session provided the opportunity for audience members to submit questions to a panel consisting of members of the Engineering Team who answered a selection of these questions live.

The aims of these webinars were as follows:

  • to increase the visibility of the Engineering Team within academic engineering sector
  • to increase the understanding of the engineering community of what EPSRC’s engineering priorities are
  • to increase dialogue between the Engineering Team and academic engineering sector
  • to improve the quality of proposals which deliver impact for society and economy.

In order to increase accessibility, a recording of the presentation from the webinar is available.

Watch the YouTube video of Dr Andrew Lawrence introducing EPSRC’s engineering programme, covering our peer review processes, funding opportunities and more.

Following positive feedback collected from the first two webinars, the engineering theme is now considering further, more targeted webinars addressing specific parts of the funding cycle.

Engineering grand challenges

EPSRC’s Engineering Grand Challenges were inspired by the themes of the Global Grand Challenges Summit in 2013 and further developed at a special two-day event in 2014 involving academics from many disciplines alongside representatives from industry and government. In February 2015, we published a funding opportunity aiming to support multidisciplinary research consortia to advance the following EPSRC Engineering Grand Challenge areas:

  • Challenge one – sustainable engineering solutions to provide water for all
  • Challenge two – Future Cities, engineering approaches that restore the balance between engineered and natural systems
  • Challenge three – engineering across length scales, from atoms to applications
  • Challenge four – identifying risk and building resilience into engineered systems.

To address these Grand Challenges, EPSRC provided £21 million to support five ambitious research programmes and two networks involving 19 UK universities and 80 partners, where industry contributed an additional £11 million investment.

In September 2019, at the Global Grand Challenges Summit, EPSRC exhibited a selection of the research projects funded back in 2013 to showcase the impact the research has received so far.

Global Challenges Research Fund

In 2016, EPSRC put out a funding opportunity, supported through our Global Challenges Research Fund allocation. The aim was to support an internationally leading programme of research, centred on engineering and digital technologies, to tackle the challenges faced by the developing world with emphasis on:

  • sustainable infrastructure development
  • engineering for disaster resilience
  • engineering for humanitarian aid.

Engineering research infrastructure roadmap

There is a renewed desire to understand what infrastructure is required to deliver high quality research and produce well-trained, highly skilled people that maintains the UK’s international standing in engineering. The Engineering Research Infrastructure Roadmap has been developed in consultation with the engineering community to further stimulate and focus the infrastructure needs of UK engineering research.

The funding landscape for research infrastructure changed between 2012 and 2017 and continues to do so. National investments made by the government have perturbed the infrastructure funding landscape and added new funding streams that offer attractive and timely opportunities.

EPSRC has and continues to offer a number of funding opportunities to support equipment and facilities, ranging from instrument development to large test rigs. This support is both for individual investigators to procure new equipment for their own use and for groups of researchers across the UK requiring access to specific facilities. EPSRC aims to tension this support with an increased emphasis on sharing and against the backdrop of recent government reviews and economic constraints that have encouraged greater scrutiny on spending.

There is now a renewed desire to understand what infrastructure is required to deliver high quality research and produce well-trained, highly skilled people that maintains the UK’s international standing in engineering. This roadmap has been developed in consultation with the engineering community to further stimulate and focus the infrastructure needs of UK engineering research. Its implications rely heavily on the research community and funders working together to fully share and exploit the existing infrastructure, promote future infrastructure investments and to establish a pipeline of ideas for future business cases to the government that will enhance and accelerate knowledge and capability in engineering – for the benefit of UK growth.

Lead agency agreement with NSF International

A lead agency agreement is currently in place between the between EPSRC’s engineering, information and communications technologies, and manufacturing the future themes and the NSF Directorate of Engineering’s:

  • Division of Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental and Transport Systems
  • Division of Civil, Mechanical and Manufacturing Innovation
  • Division of Electrical, Communications and Cyber Systems.

Engineering for a prosperous nation

EPSRC invested £6.6 million to support projects with potentially transformative impact in fields ranging from autonomous vehicles to energy storage and healthcare technology.

The Engineering for a Prosperous Nation call was an activity under the Bright IDEAS Awards: The Big Pitch initiative which made the first step to encourage bids from the Engineering community with the potential to contribute to the EPSRC Delivery Plan Prosperity Outcomes framework. The process involved two stages: anonymous shortlisting of proposals followed by a “Dragon’s Den”-style interview. 28 projects at 17 different universities have been supported, with grants awarded to researchers across all career stages and representing a diverse range of fields.

The call was designed to encourage and support potentially-transformative, high-risk fundamental Engineering research that contributes towards the outcomes that because of their risky and speculative nature might otherwise struggle to attract funding’

Systems engineering workshop

Whilst this is not a formal portfolio within the engineering theme, there is growing interest in systems engineering. A workshop was held in 2017 to identify novel engineering and physical sciences challenges in systems engineering, and to understand and explore the contribution that this area of research makes to the EPSRC portfolio.

Read the report from the EPSRC Systems Engineering Workshop 16 February 2017.

Theme day in robotics and autonomous systems

In January 2017, the engineering theme held a theme day – an evaluation mechanism to assess projects funded in robotics and autonomous systems. A panel report and EPSRC action plan have been produced as a result.

Engineering early career forum

The Early Career Forum was created in 2016 by the engineering theme with the aim of establishing a long-term informal advisory structure, with an evolving membership that reflects the early career engineering community.

Who to contact

Ask a question about the engineering theme

Andrew Lawrence, Joint Head of Engineering

  • chemical and biomedical engineering
  • mechanical and materials engineering
  • complex fluids and rheology (temporary cover)
  • particle technology (temporary cover)
  • process systems components and integration (temporary cover)

Email: andrew.lawrence@epsrc.ukri.org

Maisie England, Joint Head of Engineering

  • electronic and electrical engineering
  • civil engineering

Email: maisie.england@epsrc.ukri.org

Sarah Billingham, Senior Portfolio Manager

  • chemical and biomedical engineering oversight

Email: sarah.billingham@epsrc.ukri.org

Lucy Hackett, Senior Portfolio Manager

  • civil engineering oversight
  • ground engineering (temporary cover)
  • structural engineering (temporary cover)

Email: lucy.hackett@epsrc.ukri.org

Gemma Adams, Senior Portfolio Manager

  • mechanical and materials engineering oversight
  • combustion engineering (temporary cover)

Email: gemma.adams@epsrc.ukri.org

Zoe Brown, Senior Portfolio Manager

  • electronic and electrical engineering
  • performance and inspection of mechanical structures and systems (temporary cover)
  • electrical motors and drives and electromagnetics

Email: zoe.brown@epsrc.ukri.org

Naomi South, Portfolio Manager

  • materials engineering – composites
  • materials engineering – ceramics
  • materials engineering – metals and alloys
  • combustion engineering (temporary cover)

Email: naomi.south@epsrc.ukri.org

Maria Calderon Munoz, Portfolio Manager

  • water engineering
  • coastal and waterway engineering
  • ground engineering (temporary cover)
  • structural engineering (temporary cover)

Email: maria.calderonmunoz@epsrc.ukri.org

Karen Davies, Portfolio Manager

  • synthetic biology
  • biomaterials and tissue engineering
  • process systems components and integration (temporary cover)
  • complex fluids and rheology (temporary cover)
  • particle technology (temporary cover)

Email: karen.davies@epsrc.ukri.org

Aimie Bartlett, Portfolio Manager

  • built environment
  • infrastructure and urban systems
  • ground engineering (temporary cover)
  • structural engineering (temporary cover)

Email: aimie.bartlett@epsrc.ukri.org

Eirini Kokkali, Portfolio Manager

  • robotics
  • control engineering

Email: eirini.kokkali@epsrc.ukri.org

Grace Belshaw, Portfolio Manager

  • fluid dynamics and aerodynamics
  • combustion engineering (temporary cover)

Email: grace.belshaw@epsrc.ukri.org

William Gompertz, Portfolio Manager

  • sensors and instrumentation
  • microsystems

Email: william.gompertz@epsrc.ukri.org

Ask a question about delivery and peer review support

Christine Hayward, Delivery Support Administrator for Engineering

Email: christine.hayward@epsrc.ukri.org

Rebecca Minns, Delivery Support Administrator for Engineering

Email: rebecca.minns@epsrc.ukri.org

Emily Scott, Delivery Support Administrator

Email: emily.scott@epsrc.ukri.org

Michelle Todd Delivery Support Manager

Email: michelle.todd@epsrc.ukri.org

Val Hibberd, Delivery Support Manager

Email: valerie.hibberd@epsrc.ukri.org

Governance, management and panels

Last updated: 6 December 2022

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