Research Areas Update – Spring 2019

Following the launch of an ongoing monitoring approach in July 2018, EPSRC gathered information and evidence to inform the direction of research areas. EPSRC gathers evidence through a number of routes, including an open Call for Evidence, community engagement and EPSRC portfolio data, along with input from strategic advisory groups such as SATs and the SAN.

EPSRC has updated a number of the research areas, with two areas closing, one growing, and twelve areas having the rationales updated.  All grants in altered research areas will remain active.


This area has been closed and removed from the Research Area taxonomy. Displays was a small research area in 2016 and has decreased since then. Display innovation and development is now less about the underpinning optoelectronics and more about how people engage and interact with displays. Closing this area will see it fully integrated with Graphics and Visualisation, Vision, Hearing and Other Senses, and Human-Computer Interaction to take advantage of opportunities presented by enhanced image processing/manipulation and holographic displays. All current grants in this area will remain active.

Resource Efficiency

This area has been closed and removed from the Research Area taxonomy. Discussions with members of the research community, and a review of grants coded to the research area have indicated that Resource Efficiency is a driver for research rather than a standalone research area. This is further exemplified by the fact that of all the research proposals submitted to EPSRC which include Resource Efficiency, it is always a secondary area to another portfolio. All current grants in this area will remain active.

As a driver, Resource Efficiency and sustainability is reflected in the rationales of appropriate research areas. The majority of research areas already reference Resource Efficiency but the following will be updated: Chemical Biology and Biological Chemistry; Energy Storage; Engineering Design; Functional Ceramics and Inorganics; Operational Research; Polymer Materials; Process Systems: Components and Integration; and Synthetic biology. Other areas such as Materials engineering – Metals and Alloys already reference Resource Efficiency in their rationales.

Artificial Intelligence Technologies

Artificial Intelligence Technologies (AI) will be grown to reflect its importance as a government priority. The rationale has been updated to emphasise the AI technology itself and show that novelty in the application of AI lies in other parts of the EPSRC portfolio. We wish to encourage research in other parts of the Artificial Intelligence Technologies Research Area beyond Machine Learning, and to emphasise the focus and importance of Responsible Research and Innovation in this area.

Research areas that have updated research rationales:

Following these updates made to Research Areas in April 2019, as part of the evolved approach to Managing our Portfolio and Priorities, EPSRC has been gathering information and evidence to inform its 2020 annual refresh of Research Areas.

To provide input to a research area, please visit the EPSRC Call for Evidence survey. This open Call for Evidence provides a year-round opportunity for engineering and physical sciences stakeholders, through their organisations, to provide input on Research Areas.