Introduction to network grants

Introduction

The main objective of Networks is to create new interdisciplinary research communities and topics, by developing interaction between the research community and appropriate science, technology and industrial groups. The aims are to:

  • Transfer experimental techniques, models and scientific insights
  • Promote mobility between academe, universities and industry.

Networks are expected to lead to new collaborative multidisciplinary research proposals and some may develop into virtual centres of excellence, providing critical mass of analytical expertise.

Network proposals may be submitted at any time in Standard Research. However, EPSRC may also occasionally issue specific calls for proposals which have different objectives from those listed above. EPSRC has established various initiatives to set up Networks in specific areas.

Funding

Under full economic costing there is no limit on the amount of funding that can be applied for, although the network should last for no longer than three years. Funding is intended to cover the operating and support costs of the Network and full justification for the sum requested should be included in the proposal. Funding will not be renewed beyond the original length of the grant. Requests for funding may include:

  • Investigator’s salaries
    Under full economic costing, Principal Investigators (PI) can request funds to cover their salary costs for the time spent on setting up and managing the Network. Requests can also be made, if appropriate, for one Co-Investigator (Co-I) to assist in the management of the Network. Time spent by the PI and Co-I on the coordination of the Network should be reasonable and is not expected to form the majority of the cost of the proposal. The salary costs of Network participants should not be included in the proposal and we would not expect these individuals to be Co-Investigators.
  • Travel and subsistence
    Travel and subsistence typically forms the majority of the request for funding, enabling members to meet to exchange ideas and expertise and to visit each other’s laboratories. This may include visits by or to experts overseas. Where possible industrial collaborators should meet their own travel costs.
  • Workshops
    Funds may be requested to hold Workshops. Costs requested should meet the guidance for Workshops
  • Administrative support
    Funding for administrative support can be requested to help in the coordination of the Network. Costs should be reasonable and normally only form a small part of the request for funding. Funding may also be requested for the running costs of communication and also for additional equipment, such as PCs and web servers. Reasonable costs for monitoring and dissemination of the Network output can also be included.

Additional funding, for example, contributions from industrial members is encouraged, and details should be included in the proposal.

Funds cannot be requested to support research-related activities. These should be sought through the normal mechanisms.

Eligibility

The proposal should be submitted by a researcher (the Principal Investigator) who meets the current EPSRC eligibility criteria as described in the funding guide. The Principal Investigator will be responsible to EPSRC for the management of the grant.

Each Network should:

  • Be a new collaboration.
  • Should normally have as its key objectives in the formation of a new interdisciplinary research community and identification of new interdisciplinary research topics.
  • Involve a group of people with a range of expertise and experience.
  • Be based in the UK, but may include collaboration with those overseas.
  • Demonstrate the added value that EPSRC funding will bring.

Applicants are encouraged to be innovative in the choice of mechanisms for operation of the proposed Network.

Should an existing Network Principal Investigator submit a proposal for a new Network, it is important that he / she illustrates that the new proposal is demonstrably different from his / her previous Network. An incremental change from the aims / objectives / remit will not normally be funded by EPSRC.

Running a Network

EPSRC has produced a guide to Best Practice in Network Management. The information contained within the document is offered on an ‘advice only’ basis and will be of interest to investigators and coordinators that are either in the process of developing a Network proposal, or are running an established Network activity.