The Digital Economy Theme intends to launch a call for "Next Stage Digital Economy Centres" in May 2019. It is anticipated that a budget of up to £20 million (at 80% FEC) will be available to support up to six Next Stage Digital Economy Centres for five years.
This call builds on the previous Next Stage Digital Economy Call in 2014, which resulted in six centres being supported, with additional funding from AHRC, Innovate UK and other EPSRC Themes. Proposals are invited for a Next Stage Digital Economy Centre to promote the realisation of impact and enhanced exploitation of the outcomes arising from the Digital Economy (DE) Theme investments in the UK research base through a critical mass approach.
The DE Theme is looking to support a range of interdisciplinary and user-focused centres which span across a range of digital technologies. They will draw substantially on the outputs, knowledge and positioning of DE expertise and demonstrations resulting from previous DE Theme funding. Each centre will be of a sufficient scope and size to achieve critical mass and attract the requisite match funding and support (both in kind and cash) from partners and host universities. The centres will undertake activities to maximise impact and develop committed routes for exploitation as well as grow and support the pool of DE trained interdisciplinary researchers.
Successful applicants will demonstrate:
- Critical mass, breadth and interdisciplinary nature of DE portfolio. (In order to be eligible the proposal must assemble, consolidate and articulate a coherent and critical mass sized portfolio of DE Theme projects.)
- How impact will be maximised through the centre's specific project plans
- Leveraging and matched funding
- Strong people support
Given the nature of this call, centres will not be expected to support 'blue skies' research, applied research for private companies or associated intellectual property costs (e.g. patent costs).
It is anticipated that centres will be hosted by a single organisation and may involve a number of organisations working in close collaboration. However applicants may wish to make the case for other models. In all cases centres must consolidate and build upon an existing (current or previously funded) DE Theme or closely related portfolio of research. An institution may only lead on one bid.
Applicants will be invited to submit an outline proposal prior to an invited full proposal submission where they will be required to demonstrate a coherent critical mass portfolio of DE Theme funded and related research, by 9 July 2019. Not all outlines will be invited to the full proposal stage. Full guidance on the preparation of outlines and full proposals will be provided, together with details of the assessment process, in the call document. A webinar will also be held following the outline decisions to allow information exchange and questions prior to the full proposal submission on 17 September 2019.
Applicants are encouraged to contact the Digital Economy Theme to discuss their interest and suitability in applying for a Next Stage Digital Economy Centre.
Please note: the opening and closing date of the call are estimates and will be updated when the call is opened. Interviews will be held during early February 2020.