EPSRC IAA Funding Schemes
1. Technology Fund
Technology fund supports (i) Technology Development Grants, to develop new technologies to the point where they are suitable for follow on support from other sources (e.g. Oxford University Innovation (OUI) translational funding) or for commercial exploitation (e.g. capital investment for spinning out, licensing deals etc.), and (ii) Impact Delivery Grants to transfer knowledge, whose take-up will provide benefits to users but will not necessarily generate a financial return to the University (e.g. applications for NHS and other public bodies, NGOs, etc.). Impact/Technology Fund Grants are typically six to twelve months in duration and around £75-100k in value.
(i) Technology Development Grants
There is often a gap between the end of EPSRC research grant support and the point at which a technology is sufficiently robust (de-risked) to qualify for OUI translational funding, to attract capital investment for spinning out, or to license the technology to interested commercial entities. IAA Technology Development Grants are intended to bridge that gap.
Projects must be linked to the development or refinement of existing research outputs. Activities that may be supported include, but are not limited to:
- Proof of concept studies;
- Prototyping or demonstrators;
- Scale-up testing and development work;
- Generation of additional data to demonstrate the credibility of a technology (but not further research into the development of that technology);
- Access to resources or proprietary IP from an industry partner without the need to compromise ownership or control over University IP.
Existing research outputs are likely to be characterised by a high degree of uncertainty or risk but the aim of any proposed IAA project should be to de-risk the technology and advance it closer to the point where it is suitable for support from other sources and/or commercial exploitation. Technology that is advanced enough to seek support from OUI translational funding will not be supported. Projects must have a clear impact plan or ‘roadmap’ and the relevance of the proposed IAA-funded work within that roadmap should be explained: projects should address specific questions or explore identified issues, and applicants should have a broad sense of what the next steps might be if this stage is successful. Purely speculative projects are unlikely to be supported.
For platform technologies that have numerous potential applications, applicants should seek an external partner (or partners) to provide focus and clarity to the proposed project. If this is not the case, applicants must contact the IAA before submitting an application. Plans beyond the IAA project may involve a broad range of applications, but given the size of grants and length of projects, IAA Technology Development Grant proposals should have a clearly defined focus. Applicants are advised to contact OUI to discuss their technology and the steps required for commercialisation/licensing, before applying for the IAA scheme.
(ii) Impact Delivery Grants
Some research outputs do not lend themselves to impact through direct commercial exploitation, but may have great potential to deliver benefits for third-party users. For example, many software outputs are open source, and therefore fall outside the remit of schemes designed to promote the commercialisation of research outputs. But in their ‘raw’ state, they may not be suitable for take-up by industry or other users: there may be a need for training materials, or for the development of new user interfaces.
Impact delivery grants support projects designed to address specific barriers to impact. Preference will be given to projects where there is a clear market and/or barriers have been identified in consultation with potential users.
2. Partnerships Fund
Partnerships grants accelerate impact through increased engagement of Oxford researchers with end-users of the research in non-academic organisations. We are keen to encourage Early Career Researchers, and encourage applications from under-represented groups to be involved in visits, short secondments, and collaborations through this scheme - this includes post-doctoral researchers and doctoral students (see guidance for details). Partnership projects are typically six to twelve months long and around £30k-£75k in value (or if higher, provide good justification). Calls will be announced on a regular basis until all of the available funding has been allocated.
The IAA Partnerships scheme is designed to be flexible and to promote interaction between Oxford researchers and research users in non-academic organisations (e.g. industry, public sector, third sector, government, etc). The scheme supports activities to build relationships between the University and external partners and promote a culture of innovation.
Partnerships involving part-time working with an external organisation (e.g. one day a week over a period of three, six or twelve months) or full-time secondments are welcomed, depending on the needs of the project. It should be made clear in the application what time will be spent at the external organisation and how the project will be managed when not on-site. A Partnership may also lead to a Technology Fund grant application. Please note that graduate students [see note below] are also eligible to be seconded, with the support of their supervisor. Please see the EPSRC IAA Doctoral Impact Scheme below for information on partnership opportunities for recently graduated DPhil students.
Partnerships that may be supported include, but are not limited to:
- Outward: Outward secondment of researchers/academics to establish or strengthen connections with external research users by transferring knowledge or technology from EPSRC-related research.
- Pre-application: Enable PIs to work directly with users to inform the design of an EPSRC research grant proposal, thereby ensuring research questions and/or the format of research outputs are more relevant to users.
- Pre-proof of concept: Enable researchers to work with users to identify key gaps or challenges that need to be addressed to enable further utilisation of EPSRC-related outputs and draw up a plan to tackle them.
- Inward: Inward secondment from industry or other organisations can be supported, although salary costs for non-University staff cannot be requested.
Letters of support from the partner organisation are required at the time of application, although if this is proving to be a challenge you should inform the IAA. However, awards will be conditional on receipt of a satisfactory letter of support which clearly details that what the partner will contribute to the project is in line with the information provided in the application.
3. Doctoral Impact Scheme
Doctoral Impact Scheme supports and encourages new DPhil graduates to maximise the impact of their research beyond academia through engagement with non-academic partners in industry, healthcare, governmental agencies, local and regional government, and other external organisations. It is expected that requested costs for Doctoral Impact projects will not exceed £30k. However if justified, higher costs may be supported.
Eligibility requirement: To be eligible for the Doctoral Impact Fund, it is required that DPhil students will have submitted their thesis. We particularly encourage applications from under-represented groups.
DPhil students are eligible to apply for the scheme if:
- their research is within EPSRC research areas (students do not need to have received EPSRC funding)
- they have passed their Confirmation of Status examination
- they are within 12 months of submission of their thesis
Applications should be led by the supervisor, who must be an employee of the University for the duration of the project, and who will assume responsibility for ensuring that the award is used within the terms of the grant. DPhil secondees can be named as Co-Investigators.
PURPOSE AND USE OF FUNDING
Supervisors will be required to clearly state the benefits for the awardee, and how they will support the awardee during the project. In addition to the supervisor, awardees should identify a ‘project mentor’ who is not the awardee’s line manager or supervisor or PI and is, ideally, external to the University. The role of the mentor is to help extend awardees into areas that are less familiar to them, thus applications should detail what added value the mentor will bring to the awardee. Any potential conflicts of interest (for the supervisor, the project mentor and for the DPhil student) must be declared and a satisfactory management plan detailed in the application.
Awards can comprise up to six months’ salary (at the first point on the University salary scale 07S, including pension and NI contributions) and direct project support costs. Travel or accommodation costs may also be requested, depending on the location of the non-academic partner. It is expected that requested costs will not exceed £30k. Applications for awards of greater value are permitted, but must include an exceptionally strong and specific justification as to why the project could not be completed within the expected limit.
It is expected that the majority of the project will be spent at the external partner, but that a proportion of the project (e.g. the final 20%) will be spent at the University, writing up a project report and delivering a short webinar or similar, which may be used as exemplar case study material. However, projects that do not fit this schedule will be considered for funding, if such an arrangement can be justified in the application.
Project proposals should be very focussed, with the emphasis on creating impact (beyond academia) from the original DPhil project (or related research). Examples might include: transferring a method developed during the DPhil to an industrial setting, transferring knowledge to support the implementation of software into industry, or supporting a sector/governmental policy change.
Doctoral Impact award holders will be employees of the University, not students, and therefore the affiliated department will need to issue a contract to the candidate once the offer of award is confirmed.
Overseas students are eligible to apply, providing they meet the eligibility criteria. In this event, visa arrangements may need to be considered as employment will be subject at all times to meeting the requirements of the UK Border Agency and the provision of original documentation to establish the right to work and remain in the UK in advance of the start date.
Industry-funded students (e.g. iCASE or fully funded) need to seek confirmation of the intellectual property situation from Research Services, before considering an application.
Please note that this scheme cannot fund additional research. EPSRC-funded DPhil students who are interested in follow-on funding to support academic impact should refer to the EPSRC Doctoral Prize scheme.
4. Impact Workshops
This funding aims to support academics and researchers to coordinate and deliver impact-focussed meetings and workshops. Meetings/workshops should include engagement with non-academics or non-academic organisations (industry, healthcare, government agencies, third-sector organisations, charities, local and regional government, etc.), and should seek to give rise to further knowledge exchange, translation or partnership activities.
Up to £5,000 per meeting/workshop is available (or if higher, provide good justification). Please send enquiries by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Applicants are encouraged to be creative in their approach to this funding stream, and examples of activities that may be supported include:
- Identifying challenge areas with non-academic organisations;
- Activities to develop a Responsible Innovation approach, e.g. support towards broader deliberation, dialogue, engagement and debate in an inclusive way;
- Bringing together academic groups to develop solutions to known external problems, e.g. future calls for ISCF, GCRF, etc.;
- Public Engagement where interaction is key to informing the research impact, such as user or patient engagement as a critical pathway to achieving societal and/or economic impact;
- Visits/meetings to develop new collaborations with non-academics or non-academic organisations.