The academic energy research community has a key role to play in facilitating the growth and development of the wider clean energy sector. To best serve the interests of all stakeholders and benefit the broadest audience, a Network Plus funded through this opportunity will need to include the insights, ideas and experiences of the most diverse set of voices possible.
Working towards a diverse, equitable, inclusive and accessible research community will contribute to a more varied and better-informed research programme. In turn, this will contribute to a more diverse, equitable and inclusive society.
EPSRC recognises that there is much work going on in this space across the energy sector, in both academia and industry. However, this work is often disconnected across the energy research landscape.
This funding opportunity is therefore for a single Network Plus grant on EDI in the energy community in order to promote cohesion across the research community.
This Network Plus should aim to establish a new interdisciplinary community of energy researchers, focused on EDI and with links across the academic remit.
In particular, this community is expected to include researchers from relevant areas of the social sciences, in order to facilitate delivery of maximum impact.
Network Plus grants should be national in reach and the leadership team should represent a new collaboration. In particular, the Network Plus should seek to establish relationships with relevant UKRI investments and institutes across the energy research landscape, as well as other appropriate stakeholders across both academia and industry.
The Network Plus should involve contributors with a wide range of experience and expertise. For the current funding opportunity, it is expected that, in addition to stakeholders from across the energy sector, particular emphasis will be placed on establishing relevant EDI-specific relationships.
Stakeholders that a Network Plus may be expected to engage with across the energy and EDI communities include, but are not limited to:
- large UKRI grants, investments and institutes in the energy remit
- key experts in social sciences whose research focuses on relevant areas of EDI
- government: local, regional and national as appropriate
- organisations that bring together or represent the interests of under-represented groups or demographics
- industrial stakeholders and interested parties within the energy remit.
We expect the Network Plus to facilitate the development of new collaborative interdisciplinary research proposals focused on EDI issues within the energy research community.
The Network Plus investment will aim to bring together relevant research disciplines and stakeholders of interdisciplinary communities in order to:
- build new communities or create new links between different existing communities
- bring focus to the relevant areas: identifying challenges, opportunities and priorities
- improve knowledge exchange
- support initial testing of new ideas and kick-start new collaborations
- grow the areas of research and application of good practice for the benefit of the UK
- facilitate impact and advance policy.
Network Plus consortia can undertake a variety of activities including workshops, events, feasibility studies, secondments, and horizon scanning. It is essential that user engagement is considered in the wider network membership. Applicants are encouraged to be innovative in their approach.
Ultimately, the Network Plus must identify and disseminate ambitious ‘real-world’ challenges and activities with which the energy research community can engage to improve its own equality, diversity, inclusion and accessibility.
- an interdisciplinary approach to be taken with social science expertise embedded in all aspects of the grant
- consultation and co-creation with individuals holding relevant lived-experience to be part of the Network Plus and its research programme.
Community network expectations
This grant is awarded on the understanding that, in addition to the core research programme, the project will undertake a wider networking role with the research and user community outside its membership. This may involve coordination of activities such as meetings, workshops or seminars on behalf of EPSRC.
A dedicated website must be set up within six months of the start of the grant and regularly maintained to provide a resource for engagement with the wider community.
The grant will also be expected to liaise with the large investments funded through the UKRI Energy Programme.
User engagement strategy
You must develop and execute a strategy for engaging with potential users of the research funded in the project. This strategy should be reviewed and updated regularly as part of the formal management and reporting process agreed for this grant.
Equality, diversity and inclusion
You are expected to prepare a full equality, diversity and inclusion plan for the duration of this grant to demonstrate best practice in equality, diversity and inclusion throughout the lifetime of this funding award. This must be recorded through the grant reporting process.
Advisory board appointment
This grant must establish and run an independent advisory board, or equivalent body, to oversee the running of the project and provide advice on the strategic direction and activities of the project.
The sum awarded under the heading of ‘flexible funds’ can include both directly incurred and directly allocated expenditure. These funds must be reported on the final expenditure statement (FES) as awarded on the offer letter and a breakdown of the expenditure must be submitted along with the FES.
The EPSRC Energy and Decarbonisation theme wishes to support one Network Plus investment. Up to £1 million of EPSRC funding is available, and EPSRC will fund 80% of the full economic cost. The full economic cost of individual proposals is therefore limited to £1.25 million. The award will be for a project of between 36 and 48 months duration.
Directly allocated costs
Funding requested under the directly allocated cost heading may include investigators’ salaries. The principal investigator and up to four co-investigators can request funds to cover their salary costs for the time spent on setting up and leading the Network Plus.
The salary costs of Network Plus participants should not be included in the proposal and we would not expect these individuals to be co-investigators. Please note that individuals listed as principal investigators and co-investigators can only be included on one bid.
Directly incurred costs
Funding requested under the directly incurred cost heading may include the following elements.
Travel and subsistence: enabling members of the Network Plus to meet to exchange ideas and expertise. This may include visits by or to experts overseas. This may also include travel and subsistence costs to support secondments. Where possible, collaborators should meet their own travel costs.
Administrative support: a sufficient level of administrative support should be requested to ensure the coordination, management and smooth running of the Network Plus. Reasonable costs for monitoring and dissemination of the network’s output can also be included. At minimum, EPSRC expects the inclusion of a suitably qualified full-time project manager to be costed for.
Organisation of activities: funding can be requested for costs involved in running activities, such as:
- networking events
- expert working groups
- online discussion forums
- problem-solving workshops.
Applicants are encouraged to think creatively about the range of activities that could support the delivery of the Network Plus’ objectives.
Research activity to support the research strategy developed within the Network Plus. Funds can be requested for:
- PDRA staff
- travel and subsistence
- any other costs eligible under ‘directly incurred’ headings.
This is likely to include a budget for feasibility studies (but not to demonstrator phase or beyond TRL 4) that can be allocated to researchers at other universities.
We expect this to be a nationwide effort involving the best people. Applicants will need to think carefully about how this feasibility studies budget will be commissioned, processes for the allocation of funds must be fair and transparent.
Please note that the feasibility funds will be restricted to EPSRC current research organisation eligibility, but will not be bound by standard EPSRC investigator eligibility criteria. It is the principal investigator’s responsibility to provide ongoing governance to ensure correct usage and accountability of the funds.
EPSRC would expect some examples of the types of projects at the application stage, but the research challenges should evolve during the course of the Network Plus’ activities and should be co-created and collaborative in nature.
Funding can also be requested for:
- activities to identify and disseminate key research challenges in the area, for example horizon-scanning studies
- activities to facilitate impact and advance policy, such as reports, websites and briefings
- secondment support, including scoping of potential opportunities, travel and subsistence and so on
- activities to support career development
- activities to connect users, industry and other stakeholders with the research base
- communication costs and for additional equipment such as personal computers and web servers
- equipment to support networking, events and communication.
Equipment over £10,000 is not available through this opportunity. We will not be funding laboratory or research equipment for this opportunity. We will only support equipment to facilitate communication, networking and events. We welcome innovative and creative thought.
Please note, project partners cannot receive funding directly from the grant. The only exception to this is where a project partner is providing services or equipment that will go through a formal procurement process audited by the host research organisation. The project partner cannot receive any other funds from the grant, such as travel and subsistence.
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.
Applicants are expected to work within the EPSRC framework for responsible research and innovation.
Applicants planning to include international collaborators on their proposal should visit the Trusted Research website for information and advice on how to get the most out of international collaboration whilst protecting intellectual property, sensitive research and personal information.
Read Trusted Research (Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure)