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Oxford has received a time-limited block grant from the EPSRC for capital equipment for engineering and physical science researchers in the early stages of their career. £600k has been awarded, which must be spent by 31 March 2020.

Funding available

Awards are available for capital equipment to support the career development of Early Career Researchers (ECRs) working within the EPSRC remit research areas. The equipment might benefit ECRs in any of the following ways:

  • benefit a single or group of ECRs through provision of new capabilities not otherwise available to them;
  • provide ECRs with increased or dedicated access to equipment, leading to gains in productivity and/or providing the time needed to develop novel experiments as a route to new avenues of research;
  • leverage gains in productivity or capability from existing facilities, for example by adding new functionality needed by a particular ECR to carry out research, or by increasing throughput and thus freeing up time for additional users;
  • accelerate establishment of labs and facilities for ECRs recently arrived at Oxford;
  • facilitate research independence for ECRs progressing within Oxford;
  • facilitate access to equipment as a means to encouraging equality and diversity (for example through providing dedicated access to equipment where caring responsibilities make it difficult to get sufficient access to existing facilities during peak times).


Awards are available for early career researchers to cover the cost of capital equipment items over £10k and up to a maximum of £400k (inclusive of VAT). It is expected that the number of ECRs benefitting from the equipment, and the scale of that benefit, is proportionate with the cost of the equipment (i.e. items towards the higher end of the scale must show significant impact on ECRs).

Equipment must provide clear support primarily to early career researchers, with benefit to the wider academic community a secondary benefit. The award holder must be an early career researcher.

In the context of this call early career researchers are defined as those who are currently eligible to apply to, or have been eligible to apply to in the past eight years, EPSRC New Investigator Awards, First Grants, Early Career Fellowships, Career Acceleration Fellowships, Challenging Engineering and Healthcare Technology Challenge Awards. Therefore:

  • Investigators must be academic employees who have held an academic post for less than eight years
  • Any fellows holding fellowships aimed primarily at the postdoctoral level are not eligible to apply. EPSRC early career fellows, Royal Society fellows, Royal Academy of Engineering fellows and those holding fellowships aimed at early career stages are eligible to apply.
  • You must either not have previously held a research grant (excluding fellowships), OR have been awarded your first research grant as PI in the past eight years. There is no limit on the number of research grants held.
  • The term of employment of a fixed-term employee must extend beyond the duration of the proposed research project.
  • If you are employed in a staff post on a research grant, you are not eligible unless you hold an academic fellowship.


Equipment must support research that is very clearly centred in EPSRC’s remit. A full list of the EPSRC research areas can be viewed here:

Terms & conditions

  • 18 months fixed duration: 1 October 2018 – 31 March 2020no extension past this date is possible
  • All expenditure to be complete within the grant period
  • Projects are funded at 100% of direct costs
  • Capital equipment items (over £10k) only
  • Laboratory refurbishment costs are not allowed
  • Award holders will be required to submit a financial and narrative report by 30 April 2020.

 How to apply

The deadline for applications is 1pm Monday 10 December.

Please submit your application online via the Internal Research Award Management System (IRAMS)

Guidance in the form of quick reference guide documents for applicants, departmental approvers and administrators can be found on Research Support pages.

The following documents should be uploaded to the online application as a single PDF file:

1)     Short CV (maximum two sides of A4)

2)     A business case (maximum three sides of A4 – Arial 11 font with 2cm margins) which must provide all of the information detailed in the next section below.

Note that some departments may have set an earlier internal deadline so please check with your local admin team and prepare your application well in advance of the date advertised above. Applications must be reviewed online by departmental approvers and, where approved, submitted for review by the Panel before the deadline. 


The following information must be included in the three page business case and laid out in this order. The document must use the UKRI standard Arial 11 font with 2 cm margins.

  1. Item: Name and specific model (if relevant) of the item of equipment
  2. Vendor: If a preferred vendor is known, this should be stated along with the reasons why. In any case, the mechanism that will be used to identify the preferred supplier should be articulated.
  3. Description: Briefly describe the item of equipment and its primary functions. Please explain how the specifications of the instrument make it different from other similar equipment available for use.
  4. Timescales: Please describe the timescales associated with procurement of the equipment and when you anticipate you will spend any capital provision made.
  5. Costs: Please ensure the costs are as accurate as possible.
  6. Usage: Indicate the proportion of equipment time that will be available for use by the group managing the equipment, other groups at the same institution, and if applicable, researchers at other institutions. What plans are in place to ensure usage will be maximised, and is there evidence of strong demand? Indicate how additional users of the equipment will be identified and how all users will be prioritised. Information should be provided on the anticipated demand, indicating the likely main users and where they will be based. You should describe how you plan to interact and/or collaborate with key groups or shared facilities in your research area. 
  7. Support & Sustainability: Please indicate how the item of equipment will be supported and maintained for the duration of any current or proposed research funding including any costs that would be recouped through charging. In addition, explain how the item will be replaced at the end of its life.
  8. Strategic Case: Please describe the research enabled by the equipment and/or the value added to existing research programmes. Explain how the purchase of this item of equipment will compliment or enhance Departmental/University research capability.
  9. Career Benefit: Please provide an overview of how the equipment will benefit the career progression of ECRs (including your own). For larger items, please demonstrate the scale of the ECR cohort set to benefit.
  10. Ensuring Maximum Value: Explain how the requested equipment will fit with other items of equipment, infrastructure and people support already within your Department and/or Division.
  11. Contribution from Other Sources: Please describe what contributions to the cost, operation or maintenance of the item of equipment will be found from other sources (if applicable)
  12. Alternatives: In the case that the proposal for equipment is not supported, describe the alternative options for using existing equipment of different specification or at other locations.

 Assessment process

Decisions will be made by a multi-disciplinary panel of academics, chaired by the MPLS Head of Division or his nominee.

The primary assessment criteria will be:

  • scientific excellence and novelty
  • career benefits and added value
  • additionality of investment

As a secondary criterion, the panel will also consider value for money and the potential for shared equipment usage. 

It is expected that the number of ECRs benefitting from the equipment, and the scale of that benefit, is proportionate with the cost of the equipment (i.e. items towards the higher end of the scale must show significant impact on ECRs).

Further information

For more information on this call, or to discuss an application, please contact