For the latest funding opportunities from around the world, check the Research Professional database. It has extensive coverage of opportunities in the UK and beyond, and includes calls from the Research Councils, government funding, tenders, Horizon 2020, international funders and charities. The database is updated twice a week and is good for finding unusual funding opportunities of all sizes.
The information below provides some introductory information on some of the main sponsors of UK research.
UK Research Councils (UKRI - UK Research & Innovation)
- AHRC: the Arts and Humanities Research Council supports world-class research that furthers our understanding of human culture and creativity, from traditional humanities to creative and performing arts.
- BBSRC: the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council is the UK’s main funder of world-class bioscience research that helps to tackle major challenges such as the impact of climate change, a healthier old age, and sustainable food production, land use and energy production.
- EPSRC: the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council is the main UK government agency for funding research and training in engineering and the physical sciences.
- ESRC: the Economic and Social Research Council is the UK's largest organisation for funding research on economic and social issues, supporting independent, high quality research which has an impact on business, the public sector and the third sector.
- MRC: the Medical Research Council funds a range of medical research, from fundamental lab-based science to clinical trials, in all major disease areas. Its strategy is to support excellent research in areas that are poised to deliver substantive progress in tackling health challenges facing the UK and the world.
- NERC: the Natural Environment Research Council is the UK's leading public funder of environmental science - the physical, chemical and biological processes on which our planet and life itself depends – from pole to pole, from the deep Earth and oceans to the atmosphere and space.
- STFC: the Science and Technology Facilities Council funds research into particle physics, nuclear physics, space science and astronomy (both ground-based and space-based).
View the website of each funding council for further information on their priority areas and open funding calls. Their schemes are highly competitive and therefore when planning any application it is critical to ensure that you are familiar with their current strategy. Contact your Faculty Research Growth Officer for help and support.
Other Government funding
- GCRF: the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) is a £1.5bn investment to ensure UK research takes a leading role in addressing the problems faced by developing countries. It provides a unique opportunity for UK academics to work with partners around the world to address some of the biggest problems of our time. It is delivered through partners including the UK Research Councils and national academies, using a mix of allocations to institutions, funding of priority areas and open calls.
- Innovate UK (formerly the Technology Strategy Board) is an executive non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. It aims to accelerate economic growth by stimulating and supporting business-led innovation in the UK. They provide a range of funding schemes of between £5k and £10 million to support the development of innovative products or services. Many of these schemes are open to universities working with business.
- KTP: Knowledge Transfer Partnerships helps UK businesses to improve competitiveness, productivity and performance by accessing the knowledge, technology and skills that are available within universities. A recently qualified person (known as the KTP associate) is recruited specifically to work on a project to address a specific business challenge.
- ISCF: The Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) is part of government's Industrial Strategy, a long-term plan to boost the UK's productivity and earning power of people throughout the UK through promoting innovation across key industries. The fund is the cornerstone of the government’s commitment to increase funding in research and development by £4.7 billion over 4 years, to strengthen UK science and business. It aims to promote challenge-led research, focused on important industrial and societal themes, through investment in Universities and industry.
- The Wellcome Trust is a global charitable foundation that seeks to fund improvements in health by supporting biological, clinical and translational research, public engagement activities and an exploration of the historical, cultural and ethical issues across its major challenge areas.
- Horizon 2020 is the European Commission’s biggest ever research and innovation programme that runs from 2014 to 2020. There are three main pillars, supported by a small number of cross-cutting programmes and initiatives.
- Societal challenges funds research into seven pressing challenges which require collaboration to be addressed. This collaboration will not only span countries, but disciplines and sectors too. Consortia usually require at least three partners from at least three different EU members or associated countries; successful consortia tend to be much larger to address the impacts required in a call.
- ERC: the European Research Council programme provides attractive and flexible funding to enable talented and creative individual researchers and their teams to pursue the most promising avenues at the frontier of science.
- Marie Curie Actions provide excellent and innovative research training, as well as attractive career and knowledge-exchange opportunities through cross-border and cross-sector mobility of researchers to best prepare them to face current and future societal challenges.
- FET: the Future and Emerging Technologies scheme supports scientific collaboration across disciplines on radically new, high-risk ideas and accelerates development of the most promising emerging areas of science and technology.
Who to contact
For advice, guidance and support with any funder or call, please contact your Faculty Research Growth Officer.