What is the Research Chairs/Senior Research Fellowships scheme?
This scheme aims to strengthen the links between industry and academia. The scheme supports exceptional academics at UK higher education institutions/universities to undertake use-inspired research that meets the needs of the industrial sponsors.
Who can apply?
Research Chairs are professorial appointments, so applicants should already be a professor or equivalent.
Senior Research Fellowships are senior academic appointments, so applicants should already be a Reader or Lecturer level or equivalent.
The applicant must have a permanent academic position or an unconditional offer of such a position. The host institution's letter of support must make clear that they have offered a permanent position to the applicant stating the starting date. The permanent position must start before the award.
What are the benefit's of the programme?
The scheme provides funding for five years. Each application is capped at a maximum contribution from the Academy of £225,000 over the five-year period.
In addition to the direct financial support, the scheme benefits include:
- mentoring support from an Academy Fellow to offer independent expert advice and guidance on research related matters throughout the duration of the award
- training, events and additional funding opportunities
- reduction of teaching and administrative duties to enable the awardees to focus on delivering use-inspired research, that creates impact for their industrial sponsors
- networking opportunities with other awardees and Academy Fellows.
Is the programme costed on the basis of full economic costs (fEC)?
The Academy will fund up to one-third (1/3) of 80% of the full economic costs (fEC) showed in Table A in the application form with a cap of £225,000 over the five-year period. The allowed costs are: Research Chair/Senior Research Fellow’s gross salary, indirect cost and estates.
What does the programme fund?
The programme is designed to provide part of the funding for a collaboration between the applicant, their industrial sponsor, and their host institution. The Academy contribution's is towards the applicant’s salary, indirect costs and estates. The host institution's contribution could, or perhaps should, involve new academic staff positions, investment in facilities as well as PhD studentship support. The industry funding can be used flexibly to support the collaborative research project.
Awardees are expected to:
- establish or enhance a world-leading engineering research group
- deliver ‘use-inspired’ research that meets the needs of their industrial sponsors
- disseminate the outcomes of their research for appropriate academic use
- become a self-sustaining research group by the end of the award (by securing substantial external grant income).
What does the programme not fund?
This award is not intended to support contract research or consultancy work.
The Academy is not able to cover the costs of the apprenticeship levy on research grants.
Please note that the Academy does not pay inflation and inflation should not be applied to the costs.
What are the key dates to know?
Frequency of award cycle
The award opens for applications twice a year, with deadlines in March and September. The current application round closes at 4:00pm BST on Thursday 7 September 2023.
The Academy aims to provide additional support to applicants from groups that are persistently underrepresented within UK engineering through the grant application process.
For more information on Access Mentoring please see the guidance. Applications for Access Mentoring support close at 4.00pm BST on Thursday 10 August 2023
Start date of award
All awards made in this round must start on 1 March 2024. In general awards start six months after applications close.
- Applications open: April 2023
- Applications for Access Mentoring support deadline (optional support ): 10 August 2023
- Application deadline: 7 September 2023
- Stage 1 - expert review. Applicants are informed of outcomes: by end of November 2023
- Stage 2 - interview (online): 18-19 December 2023
- Interviewed applicants are informed of the stage 2 outcomes: by early January 2024
- Awards start: 1 March 2024
Duration of award
The duration of an award is five years, on a full-time basis. Applications for shorter time periods will not be accepted.
The Academy wants to support applicants to achieve a balance between their personal and work demands and will consider individual requirements and part-time and other flexible working arrangements.
Extensions to the appointment are permitted. For eligibility and further details please contact the Research team.
What is the programme review process?
Stage 1: expert review
The full application will be assessed by a minimum of three expert reviews (usually Academy Fellows). Expert reviewers will provide comments and score against each of the following assessment criteria, the overall quality of the application and a recommendation on whether they should proceed to interview.
- Quality of the applicant
- Quality of the collaborative research programme
- Strength of the strategic partnership
- Beneficiaries and impact
- Financial costing of the proposal
The Academy staff will collate all reviewers’ comments and scores into a summary table, and rank the applications by overall score and the Yes/No recommendations. These are presented to the sift panel for a final decision on which applications should proceed to interview stage. Those applicants not asked to attend an interview will be informed of this decision as soon as possible following the sift panel’s decision.
Stage 2: interview
The interview will be conducted by a generalist panel consisting of at least three Academy Fellows. Each interview will take about 50 minutes. Panellists will provide comments against the assessment criteria outlined above.
The ranking of candidates during the preceding sift panels will have no bearing at interview. All interview candidates are considered to have equal standing. Following the interviews, the panel will rank the applications and select the top ranked candidates for awards.
How do I apply?
All applications must be submitted by the applicant themselves via the Academy’s online Grant Management System (GMS) available at https://grants.raeng.org.uk
All applicants must first register with the online system and provide some basic login details to create a profile.
Can I submit two ideas?
Can I reapply?
The Academy accepts resubmissions of Research Chair and Senior Research Fellowship proposals by invitation only.
The application will be considered as a new application and the ranking of applicants at the preceding round of applications will have no bearing. All applicants are considered to have equal standing.
What reporting requirements will be expected of me throughout the duration of the award?
Annual reports and expenditure statements are required.
At the annual review meeting, the awardee, the host institution’s head of department/school, a representative of the industrial sponsor, the mentor, and a member of Academy staff will discuss progress and agree future plans.
You can have a look at the Mentoring and Reporting Guidance.
Who to contact for further information?
What level of contribution is required from the industry sponsor?
The industrial sponsor should contribute at least £250,000 towards this collaborative research project over the five-year period.
This can be used flexibly to support the project and may include both cash and in-kind contributions (for example access to facilities, technical staff, equipment, data, consumables). In-kind support should be fully costed
The amount of funding the industrial sponsor is willing to contribute is an important assessment criterion, being an indicator of the level of commitment and the level of ambition for the group to be created.
What are common reasons why applicants are unsuccessful?
The candidate does not hold a position eligible for funding. Applications will only be considered from candidates who hold a permanent academic post at an appropriate level.
Industry sponsor is not of a scale or capability to sustain research activity for the duration of the programme. In addition, the industrial sponsor does not articulate how the engagement with the academic will benefit the company and how they will seek to balance the long-term research with their needs.
Poor host institution support. The institution is expected to explain their investment in the individual and the group and how it fits into their wider long-term research and investment strategy. This investment could, or perhaps should, involve new academic staff positions, investment in facilities as well as PhD studentship support.
In addition we can mention:
- Unclear on collaborators, and potential collaborator plans including industrial/ clinical collaborations and clear routes to impact.
- Not knowing and acknowledging competitors.
- Vision and ambition not clearly explained.
- Proposal lacking novelty, or not articulating how the proposed work will address a novel research question.
- Unrealistic in terms of overstating potential impact. But also, milestones, resources, and the applicant’s ambition.
- Lacking strong letters of support from the host institution and industrial partner.
- Poor communication skills, both written and verbal. Inconsistent/unclear information provided in the application form.
Is it permissible for the industrial partner to be a spin-out of the host institution? I would like to apply but I have an equity stake/I am holding a position in the industrial partner (i.e. director) – does this represent a significant conflict of interest?
Both situations are eligible. We would suggest that you are as transparent as possible and clear about the relationships and your interest within the application form.
The collaboration between the industrial partner is already ongoing and the funding stream from the industry has already started. Would this be an issue with the application?
This is acceptable as long as the ongoing funding will last the duration of the proposed Research Chair/Senior Research Fellowship, and the added benefits of this award to the project is clearly articulated.
I have been awarded a Research Chair/Senior Research Fellowship that is now coming to an end/has ended, am I eligible to submit a new application?
Yes, you are eligible to apply provided that it is a new project with a new industrial partner.