Collaborating at the quantum computing and ICT interface

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Apply for funding at the quantum computing and ICT interface.

You must address one of these two challenges:

  • delivering quantum computing that is correct, trustworthy and resilient
  • quantum computing interfaces.

You must be:

  • eligible for EPSRC funding
  • based in the UK.

The full economic cost of your project can be up to £3 million. We will fund 80% of the full economic cost.

Projects will last for 48 months.

You may only submit one proposal.

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.

Read the guidance on institutional eligibility.

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

  • 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.

To help us manage demand you can submit only one proposal, either as principal investigator or co-investigator.

What we're looking for

Synopsis

The objective of this funding opportunity is to bring together the quantum computing and ICT communities, for collaboration at the interface in challenge areas that would be mutually interesting and beneficial, bringing together the expertise to deliver advances in quantum computing.

The aim of this opportunity is to fund core collaborative teams of quantum computing and ICT experts to address the identified challenge areas. These teams will utilise the networking element of the award to co-create a research project that will build a cohesive UK community that, via feasibility and research project funding, will accelerate progress in quantum computing.

Their vision should include the development of the technological research programme and activities to champion cross-disciplinarity and co-creation at the quantum computing and ICT interface.

The awards for this opportunity require a four year networking element: co-creation of a vision followed by a three-year research programme subsequent to successful progression from a stage-gated review at one year. There is also an option for inclusion of feasibility studies in the first year of the award.

Each element of the award would fit into the 48 month project as follows:

Month 0 to month 48

Networking activities at the interface between quantum computing and other ICT areas required for full duration of grant.

Month 0 to month 12

Co-creation of three-year research project, identifying and bringing together the required expertise across the interface to deliver the vision outlined in the proposal.

Feasibility studies (optional): up to 12 month projects, to explore potential research directions for three-year project.

Month 13 to month 48

Three year research project: vision identified at proposal writing stage, project developed during the co-creation stage.

Scope

This funding opportunity invites submissions at the interface of quantum computing and ICT that will tackle technological research within the remit of one of the following two challenges. The proposed research needs to be beneficial to the UK and have the potential for impact in the quantum computing field.

Challenge one: delivering quantum computing that is correct, trustworthy and resilient

This challenge is focused on delivering a quantum computing system that is trusted and fit for a range of end user purposes.

There are several topics this challenge could cover. These include error correction, information theoretic modelling, verification and validation, and local communication.

This challenge will require a range of approaches including hardware, software and modelling activities, and may include platform specific or hardware agnostic approaches.

Challenge two: quantum computing interfaces

This challenge is focused on scaling up quantum computing by interfacing it with the ICT ecosystem to deliver hybrid technologies and applications.

This will require consideration of hardware, software and applications and the conflicting system requirements such as the wide range of temperature, clock speed, data modality, representation, and exchange.

Fit to scope

As part of this award, successful applicants should play an advocacy role in championing cross-disciplinarity and co-creation at the interface of quantum computing and ICT research.

Co-creation and collaboration at the interface of quantum computing and ICT are essential elements of the funding opportunity and will be assessed through consideration of the assessment criteria ‘fit to call’ at all stages of the peer review process.

This is a joint quantum technologies and ICT funding opportunity. As such, all research should be focused on making progress in one of the challenge areas identified and must be technology focused.

Proposals must focus on one challenge area and will be assessed on how they address that challenge. However, when the proposal vision includes aspects that would be of relevance to the second challenge, reference to how it will contribute to that challenge should also be included.

The peer review process for this funding opportunity will involve an intention to submit stage and peer review of full proposals through postal peer review and prioritisation panel.

For the purposes of this funding opportunity the following definitions of quantum computing and ICT will apply.

Quantum computing definition

Quantum computers operate in a fundamentally different way to conventional digital computers. Quantum computing is based on the rules of quantum mechanics, harnessing effects that exist at the level of atoms, electrons and photons.

It involves encoding and processing information by controlling quantum states, relying on the uniquely quantum phenomena of superposition and entanglement.

ICT definition

ICT, or information and communications technology, is the infrastructure and components that enable modern computing.

This includes all devices, networking components, applications and systems that when combined allow people and organisations to interact in the digital world.

Funding available

The funding for this opportunity is £10 million, with the maximum for each award being £3 million. We are aiming to fund a maximum of two awards in each challenge area.

Awards are for 48 months and will include a compulsory requirement for 48 months of networking activity and a 36 months research project, which will commence at month 13 following co-creation during the first 12 months.

There is an option for feasibility study funding to be requested for the first 12 months of the award, where there are areas to explore towards the overall vision that will require both quantum computing and ICT expertise to deliver them.

Equipment over £10,000 in value (including VAT) is not available through this opportunity. Smaller items of equipment (individually under £10,000) should be included under the ‘directly incurred – other costs’ heading.

Funding of up to £500,000 can be requested for networking and feasibility studies and up to £2.5 million can be requested for the three year research project. The maximum value of the research council contribution will be £3 million (80% full economic cost).

Further funding may become available at the 12 month point, subject to independent peer review.

The funding awarded will be for 48 months, however, there will be a review stage at 12 months to evaluate the proposed research project. This is to ensure high quality, co-creation and fit to challenge and it is therefore not anticipated that funding would be removed at this stage.

Revisions to the proposed research project may be required at the recommendation of the review panel before they are approved by EPSRC to commence.

How to apply

Intention to submit

Anyone wishing to submit a proposal to this funding opportunity, must first submit an intention to submit using the smart survey by 7 October 2021 16:00.

Submit your intention to submit (SmartSurvey)

Anyone who submits a proposal who has not submitted an intention to submit by this deadline, will be rejected as out of remit of the opportunity.

The intention to submit asks for:

  • name, organisation and expertise of core team members
  • title
  • challenge being addressed
  • your vision and objectives for addressing the challenge.

For questions regarding the intention to submit, please see the contact details section of this funding opportunity for the EPSRC contacts.

Submitting a proposal

Applicants should ensure they are aware of and comply with any internal institutional deadlines that may be in place. You should prepare and submit your proposal using the research councils’ Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system.

When adding a new proposal, you should go to documents, select ‘new document’, then select:

  • ‘create new document’
  • council: ‘EPSRC’
  • document type ‘Standard Proposal’
  • scheme: ‘Standard’
  • ‘Collaborating at the quantum computing / ICT interface’ on the project details page.

After completing the application, you must ‘submit document’ which will send your application to your host organisation’s administration.

Your host organisation’s administration is required to complete the submission process. Applicants should allow sufficient time for your organisation’s submission process between submitting your proposal to them and the opportunity closing date.

EPSRC must receive your application by 28 October 2021 16:00 UK time.

As well as the Je-S application form, the following documents must be submitted:

  • case for support: eight pages (two on your track record and six on the  proposed vision and plans for delivery)
  • workplan: one page
  • justification of resources: two pages
  • letters of support from all project partners included in the Je-S form: no page limit (project partners are optional)
  • cover letter: optional attachment, no page limit, not seen by peer review.

To ensure that peer review can assess the proposals including fit to the opportunity, the following information should be provided:

Case for support

Up to two pages of track record of the core team.

The core team are those that will lead the project. The track record should detail:

  • why the core team are the right people to deliver the project
  • their experience of managing large investments and of bringing together communities across an interface
  • their international standing in their areas of expertise.

Up to six pages on the proposed vision and plans for delivery. This must include:

  • challenge area being addressed and the vision for what will be achieved in this challenge during the four-year award
  • why this needs to be tackled at the interface and why it is timely to do this now
  • what steps are already being taken to start bringing together the communities with the required expertise to deliver the vision
  • a clear objective and vision for the project, without restricting the vital networking and co-creation required for a collaborative research project
  • if you are doing a feasibility study for the first 12 months, a clear justification of why these are essential to the vision and how they will help co-create a research project
  • networking plans for four years.

Your networking plan must include detailed plans to identify key expertise required to deliver the vision and engage with the communities in those areas to ensure co-creation of the research project in the first 12 months.

Networking must include plans for virtual, hybrid and physical networking activities and include a clear mitigation for how the co-creation and networking activities will take into account COVID-19 pandemic related impacts, including restrictions at a national or organisational level, and changes in personal preferences or needs regarding travel and working practices.

Justification of resources

The proposal should be fully costed and all resources justified.

Only the core team should be named on the proposal, all other people resource requested should be included in the Je-S form as unnamed positions, with justification of how the number of costed months and banding has been calculated. The justification needs to outline how you will ensure flexibility to adapt to the needs identified at co-creation of the research project.

Detailed costs relating to co-creation, networking and feasibility activities in the first 12 months must be provided.

Networking costs and research project costs for months 13 onwards should be estimated using prior experience and details provided of how costings have been calculated. These should all be entered in the Je-S form in the relevant headings. It will not be permitted to via funds between the ‘directly incurred’, ‘directly allocated’ and ‘indirect cost’ headings.

You should attach your documents as PDFs to avoid errors. They should be completed in single-spaced Arial 11 font or similar-sized sans serif typeface.

For advice on writing proposals see what to include in your proposal.

EPSRC will not fund a project if it believes that there are ethical concerns that have been overlooked or not appropriately accounted for. All relevant parts of the ethical information section must be completed. Further guidance on completing the Je-S form can be found on the Je-S ethical information pages. EPSRC guidance can be found under ‘additional information’.

Submissions to this opportunity will count towards the EPSRC repeatedly unsuccessful applicants policy.

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

Intention to submit

The intention to submit will not be assessed, it is for monitoring the applications for this opportunity only.

Full proposal

Full proposals will be sent to external peer reviewers for their comments. Where sufficiently supportive reviewer comments have been received, principal investigators will be invited to submit a response to the reviewers’ comments. Proposals will then be considered and prioritised for funding by a peer review panel.

Funding decisions will be based on the recommendations provided by the panel.

Full proposals that do not have a majority in the EPSRC remit or are outside the scope of the opportunity will be rejected prior to peer review.

Applicants should note that peer reviewers will be drawn from a pool across ICT and quantum computing and simulation.

Panel members will have a range of expertise in ICT and quantum technologies. EPSRC reserve the right to sift proposals at any stage to ensure all proposals fit the opportunity.

Proposals will be assessed by the panel against those in the same challenge area and the panel will then be asked to tension their ranking between the two challenge areas.

Assessment criteria

Fit to call (primary)

The ability of the proposed vision and plans to fit the requirements of the opportunity, making reference to the:

  • suitability of the plans for development of the technological research programme and activities to champion cross-disciplinarity and co-creation at the interface of quantum computing and ICT
  • proposed contribution to quantum computing in the UK and fit to their selected research challenge
  • relevance of any feasibility studies to their end vision and selected research challenge
  • demonstration of a motivation to champion the development of a cohesive UK community.

Quality (primary)

The research excellence, making reference to:

  • the novelty, relationship to the context, timeliness and relevance to identified stakeholders
  • the ambition, adventure, transformative aspects or potential outcomes
  • the suitability of the proposed methodology and the appropriateness of the approach to achieving impact.

National importance (secondary major)

How the research:

  • contributes to, or helps maintain the health of other disciplines, contributes to addressing key UK societal challenges and contributes to future UK economic success and development of emerging industries
  • meets national needs by establishing or maintaining a unique world leading activity
  • complements other UK research funded in the area, including any relationship to the EPSRC portfolio.

Applicant and partnerships (secondary)

The ability to deliver the proposed project, making reference to:

  • appropriateness of the track record of the applicant or applicants
  • balance of skills of the project team, including collaborators
  • the research expertise and leadership experience of the core team to advocate, build a cohesive UK community and to ensure the co-creation and delivery of a research activity at the interface of ICT and quantum computing.

Resources and management (secondary)

The effectiveness of the proposed planning and management, and whether the requested resources are appropriate and have been fully justified, making reference to:

  • appropriateness and justification of the resources, taking into consideration the information regarding resources and justification provided to applicants in the ‘how to apply’ section of this funding opportunity
  • the requested resources required to enable co-creation at the outset and to deliver the networking plans for the duration of the award.

Feedback

There will be no feedback from the intention to submit stage. There is no assessment of the intention to submit.

Feedback on the full proposal is provided by the reviewer’s comments and, unless sifted prior to the meeting, the rank order list information is published on EPSRC’s Grants on the Web system shortly after the meeting.

Occasionally there is specific feedback from the prioritisation meeting which will be passed to the applicant.

Nominating reviewers

As part of the application process you will be invited to nominate up to three potential reviewers who you feel have the expertise to assess your proposal. Please ensure that any nominations meet the EPSRC policy on conflicts of interest.

For more information about the reviewer selection process please see the related content links.

Guidance for reviewers

Read information about the EPSRC peer review process and guidance for reviewers.

Read guidance for reviewing standard grants.

For multidisciplinary proposals please state which aspects of the proposal you feel qualified to assess.

Contact details

For help and advice on costings and writing your proposal please contact your research office in the first instance, allowing sufficient time for your organisation’s submission process.

Ask a question about the opportunity

If you would like to discuss this funding opportunity or have a question, please get in touch with Amanda or Joanne.

Amanda Howes

Email: amanda.howes@epsrc.ukri.org

Joanne Humphries

Email: joanne.humphries@epsrc.ukri.org

Get help with Je-S

Any queries regarding the submission of proposals through Je-S should be directed to the Je-S helpdesk.

Email: jeshelp@je-s.ukri.org

Telephone: 01793 444164

Opening times:

  • Monday to Thursday 8:30 to 17:00
  • Fridays 8:30 to 16:30
  • closed on weekends, bank holidays and other holidays.

Additional info

Background

The National Quantum Technologies Programme (NQTP) was established in 2014 to make the UK a global leader in the development and commercialisation of quantum technologies, which is set to transform the global society and economy.

Under the umbrella of the National Programme, UKRI invested in technology research hubs in quantum computing and simulation (NQIT 2014 to 2019 and QCS Hub 2019 to 2024) and the National Quantum Computing Centre (launched 2021).

The NQTP strategic intent (PDF, 10.67MB) sets out the programme’s ambitions for the next 10 years, including the following overall aims:

  • stimulate market growth, unleash innovation and grow a thriving ecosystem
  • maintain the UK’s excellence in research and technology
  • build a resilient network of national assets and mutually beneficial international relationships
  • grow, attract and retain talent.

The strategic intent states that “there is a growing need for interdisciplinary collaboration, bringing together the physical sciences with engineering, mathematics and computing disciplines to enable products to be developed that will meet the needs of industry. The programme will encourage this interaction to take place through an enhanced programme of research activities, overcoming technical challenges, creating a skilled workforce and strengthening our global position in research.”

It also states that “co-working between people from different backgrounds and specialisms is key to creating this diverse and well-rounded skillset. This means bringing together people from relevant industries to work alongside quantum researchers. The sector faces a challenge in growing the diversity of its people.”

The objective of this funding opportunity is to bring together the quantum computing and ICT communities, for collaboration at the interface in challenge areas that would be mutually interesting and beneficial, bringing together the expertise to deliver advances in quantum computing. This goal clearly aligns with objectives as set out in the NQTP strategic intent document and enhances the breadth of the quantum computing landscape beyond the NQCC and the QCS Hub.

Monitoring and evaluation conditions

In addition to the standard UKRI grant conditions, all awards made through this funding opportunity will have the following monitoring and evaluation condition requiring a ‘month 12’ review following the co-creation stage.

In addition to the requirements set out in standard UKRI grant conditions RGC 7.4 Research Monitoring and Evaluation and 7.5 Disclosure and Inspection, we reserve the right to instigate a review of all or part of the grant at any stage during the lifetime of the award as well as after the grant has finished.

A month 12 review of this grant will take place to assess the performance of the grant in line with the peer reviewed body of work, published scheme assessment criteria and key performance indicators, milestones and deliverables.

We will give you due notice of the date of any review and will provide details of the terms of reference and documentation required. Any review will be conducted by an expert panel, which will make recommendations to us for the grant’s future.

Responsible innovation

EPSRC is fully committed to developing and promoting responsible innovation. Research has the ability to not only produce understanding, knowledge and value, but also unintended consequences, questions, ethical dilemmas and, at times, unexpected social transformations.

We recognise that we have a duty of care to promote approaches to responsible innovation that will initiate ongoing reflection about the potential ethical and societal implications of the research that we sponsor and to encourage our research community to do likewise. Therefore applicants are expected to work within the EPSRC framework for responsible innovation.

Applicants planning to include international collaborators on their proposal should visit Trusted Research for information and advice on how to get the most out of international collaboration whilst protecting intellectual property, sensitive research and personal information.

Supporting documents

Equality impact assessment (PDF, 190KB)

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