NERC Changes to Funding and Grant Procedure


NERC is implementing new measures designed to raise discovery science standard grant success rates. This is to reduce the number and size of applications from research organisations for NERC’s discovery science standard grant scheme, and ensure research excellence, efficiency and value for money for the taxpayer.

From the July 2015 standard grants scheme, there will be a reduction in the maximum standard grant award size, from the current £1·2m to £800k at Full Economic Cost.

At the same time, demand management measures in the form of a new institutional-level submission policy will take effect. This will be based on historic application and award data and will limit the number of applications an individual research organisation can make, where that organisation fails to meet a 20 per cent success rate quality threshold. For the 2015 assessment, this will use the grant rounds with the closing dates July 2011 to January 2014 (inclusive).

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ESRC Changes to Funding


ESRC are introducing changes to the funding thresholds for our Standard Grants scheme. Currently, applications are accepted between £200,000 and £2 million, however under the new arrangements, the lower threshold will rise to £350,000 and the upper threshold will be reduced to £1 million at Full Economic Costs. These changes will come into effect from the 1st July 2015.

The changes are for two reasons. Firstly, the change is a response to the pattern of demand, with the average value of a standard grant application having steadily increased to close to £500,000, so adjusting the centre of gravity of the scheme is a method to reflect applicant behaviour.

Secondly, the changes are also a response to feedback from our Grant Assessment Panels who have found it increasingly difficult to assess and compare the value of applications ranging from £200,000 to £2 million, where there is variable level of detail on project design, costs and deliverables. Narrowing the funding range of the scheme will help to maintain the robustness of the assessment process, ensuring all applications get a fair hearing.

In order to continue funding for larger scale projects, there is also likely to be the introduction of a single, annual open competition for grants between £1 million and £2.5 million, with more details to follow.

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