EPSRC New Strategy for Healthcare Technologies


Over the last year, EPSRC’s Healthcare Technologies Theme has engaged with the UK’s research and user communities to develop a new long-term strategy. This strategy has now been published on the EPSRC website.

The strategy was developed in collaboration with the Strategic Advisory Team and through engagement with the research community, users and other funders. The strategy has three elements which form an interconnected matrix and provide a framework for the activities of the theme:

  • Grand Challenges – these are healthcare focussed challenges to which computational, engineering, mathematical and physical scientists can make a significant contribution
  • Cross-cutting research capabilities – these are areas of research which are essential for delivering the grand challenges;
  • Impact and translation toolkit – these are specific topics and issues that we encourage researchers to consider in order to make it more likely that impact will arise, that it will arise more quickly and that it will bring benefit to the UK.

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).

To find out more – Click Here

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.

To find out more – Click Here

RCUK: Pathways to Impact – Update


As described in the Research Support Newsletter at the end of January, RCUK have updated their Pathways to Impact criteria and information.

The purpose of Pathways to Impact is to encourage applicants to explore, from the outset, who could potentially benefit from their work in the longer term and consider what could be done to increase the chances of their research reaching beneficiaries. RCUK has now reviewed this approach in consultation with representatives from the academic and user communities. As a result of comments and feedback RCUK has reaffirmed its commitment to Pathways to Impact and will require a clearly thought-through and acceptable Pathways to Impact statement as a condition of funding in the future.

This harmonisation of approach across the Research Councils is important in the broad innovation landscape and RCUK will continue to engage with the other key research and innovation funders to ensure alignment of purpose and approach to deliver the best exploitation of UK research.

This change will take effect for peer review panels which take place after 1st April 2015.

To find out more about the changes – Click Here
For the updated Pathways to Impact summary guidance – Click Here (PDF)
For Oxford University’s guidance on a good Pathway to Impact section – Click Here

Wellcome Trust – Changes to Funding

The Wellcome Trust have announced they are changing their funding framework in order to enhance their ability to support excellent research, make an even greater impact on health, and provide opportunities for talented researchers at whatever career stage to find funding. Improvements include a new funding mechanism for collaborative research by teams, and the introduction of seed grants to support researchers who want to develop original and innovative ideas.

The most significant changes to the funding framework include:

  • A new scheme for collaborative research, to support groups led by multiples researchers in pursuing key questions.These are designed to allow multiple researchers to come together, ideally from different disciplines, to work towards solutions which are more than the sum of their parts.
  • A new scheme for seed funding to support original and innovative ideas, with a view to enabling researchers to move towards a larger research application.
  • Current “New Investigator” and “Senior Investigator” Award schemes are merging into a single “Investigator” Award scheme. All candidates will be considered according to their career stage and experience to date.
  • Increased opportunities for research leaders of the future through our established schemes of Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowships and Sir Henry Dale Fellowships.
  • New schemes to encourage the development of portfolios of translational research projects and sustained excellence in public engagement.

A webinar explaining the new changes, how they will be implemented, and what effect they will have is being held on 12th December 2014.

To find out more – Click here
To sign up for the Webinar – Click here