New Investigator Award FAQs

The New Investigator Award scheme is to support individuals who have recently acquired their first academic lectureship position, have not previously led an academic research group or been the recipient of a significant grant (usually defined as those which included PDRA time, capital equipment or were in excess of £100,000 (FEC)).

New Investigator Awards should provide foundational funds to initiate a research group, coupled with sufficient provision from their host institution to ensure a boost to career development and the underpinning support to establish the applicant within their research field.

When did the New Investigator Award replace the First Grant scheme?

The New Investigator Award replaced the First Grant scheme on 25 July 2017.

What are the main differences between the New Investigator Award and the First Grant scheme?

The New Investigator Award was introduced as a replacement to the First Grant scheme in order to increase flexibility and therefore improve the quality and ambition of research proposals submitted.

The main changes from the First Grant scheme to the New Investigator Awards are summarised below:

  • Removal of the financial value and duration caps
  • A greater emphasis on the provision of university support to aid career development
  • Removal of the time based eligibility criteria, ensuring support for researchers who are new to leading research applications

Encouragement for the panels to recommend invited resubmission and give feedback to support this more often than they would for standard grant applications.

How will EPSRC make decisions on eligibility of the applicant?

Acceptance of the applicant to the scheme will be judged by EPSRC before the application is sent to expert peer review and is made on the basis of the content of the cover letter.

In addition to our standard eligibility checks, EPSRC will use the Eligibility guidance to establish whether an applicant is eligible, based on the information in their covering letter.  If eligibility is not clear from the contents of the covering letter, or we believe that the applicant is not eligible, we will reject the application.

We expect Research offices to advise applicants on eligibility. If multiple ineligible applications are received from a single institution, EPSRC may seek to engage with the university before additional applications are made.

How will EPSRC determine fit of the project resources to the scheme?

Acceptance of the project to the scheme will be judged by EPSRC before the application is sent to expert peer review and is judged on the level of resources requested in the application.

EPSRC staff will use the Eligibility guidance to establish the fit of a project to the scheme. If it is decided the project does not fit within the scheme, we will ask the applicant to withdraw the proposal and resubmit as a Standard mode proposal.

We expect Research offices to advise applicants on eligibility. If multiple ineligible applications are received from a single institution, EPSRC may seek to engage with the university before additional applications are made.

I am on a fixed-term appointment, am I eligible to apply for a New Investigator Award?

Yes, provided the eligibility criteria are met and you are recognised as a full academic by your institution (Please see EPSRC Eligibility of Investigators).  We would expect this recognition to form part of the host institution letter of support. The grant duration must not exceed the period of your appointment with the university.

I have been employed by more than one UK University. Am I eligible to apply for a New Investigator Award?

Yes, assuming all other eligibility criteria are met.

I have been Co-Investigator on a previous proposal. Can I apply for a New Investigator Award?

Yes, if this is your first proposal as a Principal Investigator (PI).   

Am I eligible if I have applied as a Principal Investigator on a component of a joint proposal?

No, that grant will count as your first application to EPSRC and you would therefore be ineligible to apply for a New Investigator Award. However, if you were a Co-Investigator on a single, multi-institution proposal you would still be eligible.

I have submitted an EPSRC grant proposal through an outline stage but was unsuccessful, am I still eligible to apply for a New Investigator Award?

Yes, if you were not invited to submit a full proposal you are still eligible for a New Investigator Award. If your outline was successful and you submitted a full proposal that will count as your first application to EPSRC as a PI and you are not be eligible for a New Investigator Award.

I previously submitted a proposal to the First Grant scheme but was unsuccessful, am I still eligible to apply for a New Investigator Award?

If your application to the First Grant scheme was rejected and you were not provided with specific permission to reapply, you are not eligible for the New Investigator Award.

I previously submitted a proposal for a New Investigator Award but was unsuccessful, can I reapply?

The New Investigator Award scheme can only be applied to once, whether previous applications were successful or not, but specific applicants may be invited to resubmit an application by the prioritisation panel.

I currently hold a Research Fellowship. Am I eligible for the New Investigator Award scheme?

Current or past holders of EPSRC Fellowships are not eligible, except previous holders of EPSRC Postdoctoral Fellowships. Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellows and University Research Fellows who receive their £150K additional grant from EPSRC are not eligible.

If you hold any other research Fellowship, you can only apply if your university gives you the same stature as a permanent academic member of staff, as described in the EPSRC Funding Guide under "Eligibility of Investigators". As a scheme to help academics set up their first research group, we would not expect applications from holders of large fellowships covering multiple researchers.

I have received Grant funding from other sources, am I eligible to apply?

This scheme is designed for early career academics in the process of setting up their first research group. As such EPSRC will not permit applications from those who have previously been in receipt of significant grants (usually defined as those which included PDRA time, capital equipment or were in excess of £100,000).

I have previously worked overseas, where I received research grant funding from local sources, am I eligible to apply?

The eligibility guidance is the same for applicants with non-UK based career history. 

I have been in receipt of funding from industry, am I eligible to apply?

EPSRC welcome applications from those who have previously worked in industry and are making a transition to academia. The same eligibility guidance around previous career history will apply.

Which other grants can I hold and still apply for a New Investigator Award?

EPSRC recognise that there are schemes, with a purpose other than funding research in itself, which it may be beneficial to apply to prior to applying for a New Investigator Award.

If you hold or have held any of the following and meet the other eligibility criteria, you may apply for a New Investigator Award:

  • Industrial CASE Studentship
  • Overseas Travel Grant
  • Basic Tech Grant
  • EPSRC Studentship (through DTP or CDT)
  • Workshop Grant
  • Cooperative Awards in Science and Technology (CASE) for New Academic
  • EPSRC postdoctoral fellowship

From time to time EPSRC may run calls for grants which will not affect New Investigator Award eligibility. Where this is the case it will be listed within the call guidance.

Is it possible to fund a PhD studentship on a New Investigator Award?

No, we do not support PhD students on New Investigator Awards.

Is it possible to use other sources of funding to support a student alongside a New Investigator Award?

It is expected that part of the developmental aspect of a New Investigator Award will involve support from the university and, where possible, an assigned student. This may be drawn from the DTP or a CDT. If a studentship is aligned in this way, it should be clear in the case for support and work-plan how the work of the student will both contribute to the project and ensure successful completion of the students PhD. Universities should pay particular attention to ensure that the new investigator is properly supported and mentored through their supervision of the student, and that adequate attention is paid to the training of both the student and the investigator. We would expect this to form part of the university support letter.

Investigators cannot request doctoral training partnership (DTP) or Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) students' fees or stipend on a New Investigator Award, but a DTP or CDT student may work alongside them on proposed research project.  Where costs are project specific but involve the student (e.g. consumables for completion of the project, travel costs to project specific meetings) these may be claimed where they would not form part of that which should be provided by the student’s training grant.

Is it possible to use externally funded students on a New Investigator Award?

Externally funded students may work on a New Investigator Award in the same way as described above. Their funding source should be properly explained within the application.

How are New Investigator Award proposals handled at the panel?

Proposals submitted to the New Investigator Award scheme and the Standard Research scheme will be assessed at a single prioritisation panel meeting. New Investigator Awards are scored and ranked separately to Standard Research proposals during the prioritisation panel, since the two schemes have different objectives and assessment criteria. However, applications should be aware that New Investigator Awards and Standard Research proposals are funded from the same budget. Accordingly, the number of successful New Investigator Awards depends on the overall quality of all proposals at the panel and the funding available.

Do I need to include a CV from the applicant in my application?

No, this is not a required document for an applicant to the New Investigator Award scheme. You will require a CV for any named PDRAs or visiting researchers on the grant.

Am I allowed a Co-Investigator on a New Investigator Award?

If the grant crosses disciplinary boundaries, a Co-Investigator is permitted if it is demonstrated they are from a different discipline to the Principal Investigator. For example, we would usually not expect the Co-Investigator to be from the same department as the Principal Investigator.

Can I include equipment or Instrument development on a New Investigator Award?

Yes, if it is project specific and under the OJEU limit. Please refer to the project outline and resources table in the eligibility web page for details of what equipment may be applied for.

Can I have project partners on a New Investigator Award?

Yes.

Can I transfer with my New Investigator Award to a different Institution?

Yes, if there is a minimum of six months duration left on the grant. A request to transfer to another Host Organisation should be submitted via Je-S grant maintenance and include a Host Organisation Statement (HOS) from the receiving Research Organisation. The HOS should promise a similar or greater level of support than the original statement, and in general should be provided by the head of department. See also Transferring Grants.

Can my New Investigator Award be transferred to a new PI?

No, a New Investigator Award can only be held by the original applicant.