Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Pre-announcement: build a network to enable resilient solutions for future UK systems

Apply for funding to develop a network to enable the resilience of future UK urban systems during a crisis event.

You must:

  • be a UK resident
  • be based at an eligible research organisation
  • have the leadership skills to coordinate a network of interdisciplinary research.

Your project must:

  • be at least 50% within EPSRC’s remit
  • work closely with stakeholder groups.

The full economic cost of your project can be up to £2.25 million. ESPRC and DST will fund 80% of the full economic cost.

We will fund your network for three years.

This is a pre-announcement. The funding opportunity will open in November 2021, when further guidance and information will be available on this page. Please note that the scope of this opportunity is subject to change.

Who can apply

Standard EPSRC eligibility rules apply.

Research grants are open to:

  • UK higher education institutions
  • research council institutes
  • UKRI-approved independent research organisations
  • eligible public sector research establishments
  • NHS bodies with research capacity.

Check if your institution is eligible for research and innovation funding.

You can apply if you are a resident in the UK and meet at least one of these criteria:

  • are employed at the submitting research organisation at a level equivalent to lecturer or above
  • hold a fixed-term contract that extends beyond the duration of the proposed project, and the host research organisation is prepared to give you all the support normal for a permanent employee
  • hold an EPSRC, Royal Society or Royal Academy of Engineering fellowship aimed at later career stages
  • hold fellowships under other schemes (please contact EPSRC to check eligibility, which is considered on a case-by-case basis).

Holders of postdoctoral level fellowships are not eligible to apply for an EPSRC grant.

Guidance for applicants.

What we're looking for

UK prosperity and security depends upon the smooth and sustainable functioning of many interrelated systems. As the world becomes increasingly complex, new thinking is required to ensure we have resilience against threats and challenges in the future beyond the current generation (around 2050).

A NetworkPlus is a strategic investment that brings together new research communities and identifies, prioritises and develops future research challenges.

The research agenda of this NetworkPlus will focus on a predefined scenario. EPSRC has worked with an established group spanning industry and academia called the Defence Academic Pathways Steering Group (DAP SG) to define this opportunity. Co-funding for this opportunity is provided from Defence Science and Technology (DST).

The predefined scenario this NetworkPlus will focus on is of a major disaster taking place in a densely populated future urban setting, around 2050. This might be caused by a lone terrorist actor or a sophisticated state-sponsored attack.

Such an event might cause massive disruption to transportation infrastructure, communication networks, and emergency services. In this scenario, there are multiple concurrent challenges which would need to be solved simultaneously in an evolving situation. This includes but is not limited to:

  • how to detect and reach casualties when automated and manual transport networks are disrupted (including the need to assess and triage the status of casualties)
  • how to share correct and vital information when primary systems are compromised or unavailable
  • how to establish decision-making and organisational structures
  • how to minimise additional effects through reliable, resilient and self-repairing systems
  • how to avoid further casualties and panic
  • any other relevant challenges relating to this disaster scenario.

This NetworkPlus will support a research agenda that addresses the above challenges by mobilising a diverse community. It will do this by bringing together existing researchers working on individual elements of this challenge and forming them into a coordinated and coherent whole.

Additionally, this NetworkPlus will use part of its funding to create new funding opportunities. To build sustained engagement and collaboration, the NetworkPlus will provide leadership across disciplines and sectors and will deliver different activities, such as:

  • workshops
  • events
  • communications
  • funding opportunities for pilot and feasibility projects.

This NetworkPlus is expected to:

  • build relationships between the UK defence sector, industry, and academic community (particularly those who may not typically engage with the defence sector)
  • build interdisciplinary capability, leverage existing partnerships and establish new ones
  • enable a coordinated and coherent landscape across disciplines and communities, and ensure high impact by working closely with important UK defence stakeholders and groups, including:
    • Defence Science and Technology (DST)
    • Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl)
    • the Defence Academic Pathways steering group (DAP SG)
    • industry and the wider research community.

Your proposal must be multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary or both. We welcome proposals from across the range of academic disciplines, providing at least 50% of the programme falls within EPSRC’s remit. We expect the successful grant to play a strategic role in bringing together stakeholders across disciplinary boundaries and all relevant areas.

The principal investigator of the proposal should have a collaborative mindset alongside excellent leadership and management abilities. The leader of this network is expected to engage closely with industry stakeholders.

As part of running the NetworkPlus, you will be expected to use part of the grant funding to develop and run calls for small projects. These will take place over the duration of the grant.

The expectation is that some of these small projects will lead to applications for further support from appropriate funding bodies. In addition to being of high quality, all funded activities should aim for high impact and involve stakeholders to have a good chance of bringing real defence benefit to the UK.

These challenges are not limited to engineering and physical sciences, and a diversity of thought and knowledge will be required to overcome them. EPSRC and DST would like to encourage applicants from a broad range of disciplines, some of whom may not normally engage or be familiar with the defence sector.

Further guidance and information will be provided on this page when the funding opportunity opens in November.

Additional info


We will be hosting a webinar for interested parties to find out more. This will take place on 14 December 2021 at 10:00 to 11:00, and you may attend and ask questions anonymously.

Register for the webinar on Smart Survey.

The webinar will be recorded. Anyone may request a link to the recording from the EPSRC Business Engagement Team after the event.

Registration will close 8 December 2021 at 16:00.

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