EPSRC Big Ideas

EPSRC has introduced an initiative to collect adventurous and exciting ideas from the wider research community. Big Ideas will be ambitious and have the ability to transform the research landscape. Not necessarily driven by scale, we are looking for a level of ambition and transformational potential embedded within the idea.

Big Ideas are those that are hard to achieve, require significant support (financial, people, skills) to make them possible and have ground-breaking impacts (in all forms). Big Ideas also attract public, industry and government enthusiasm and excitement, either by the nature of the science itself or by the potential socio-economic changes it could offer in the future.

EPSRC welcomes submissions across all areas of our portfolio. The Big Ideas will be appraised under the three lenses of contributing to the Industrial Strategy, multidisciplinary research and/or fundamental science innovations.

Why Big Ideas?

EPSRC is aiming to have a pipeline of ideas at various stages of development, so that when opportunities arise there are potential research concepts developed and ready. The Big Ideas process is not in itself a call for proposals because there is no dedicated funding aligned to this activity. However, by developing Big Ideas other avenues could be inspired by the idea itself as well as the potential to be part of the pipeline of ideas.

Progressing a Big Idea

The Big Ideas process is designed to support the development of an idea from its original conception into a compelling business case. The initial form has been developed to help you consider the various aspects of a Big Idea, so you can test its robustness before it is submitted. Once submitted, successful ideas will benefit from the support and expertise of both EPSRC and the Big Ideas Advisory Group, who will provide feedback as the ideas is developed. A Big Idea may require other people to lead, or be involved in, its development; this will be discussed as part of the process of developing an idea further beyond the initial submission. A Big Idea may be submitted by academia, industry or charitable bodies. EPSRC may put you in contact with others who have submitted similar ideas in order to develop the idea further, but will seek your permission to do so first.

In order to submit a Big Idea, individuals need to submit a completed smart survey (an associated guidance document has been created to support this). The guidance document is a live document which will be updated and added to as the process evolves.

The ideas received will be batched regularly throughout the year – approximately every 8-10 weeks.

What Happens Next?

Once submitted, the Big Idea submission will be looked at by EPSRC for alignment to EPSRC strategies and if considered a sufficiently close fit, is then passed to our external Big Ideas Advisory Panel. They will decide if the concept is in line with the Big Ideas aims and provide advice to develop the idea along the best route. This could involve assigning mentors, redirecting the idea, encouraging wider links and facilitated discussions to create a compelling case. Finally, EPSRC Council will review Big Ideas at Council meetings against the developing funding landscape.

Contact: bigideas@epsrc.ac.uk

Big Ideas Advisory Group Membership

  • Richard Friend – University of Cambridge
  • Muffy Calder – University of Glasgow – EPSRC Council
  • Alison Etheridge – University of Oxford – EPSRC Council
  • Paul Gosling – Thales – EPSRC SAN
  • David Payne – Imperial College London – Capital SAT
  • Susan Stepney – University of York – ICT SAT
  • Sarah Harris – University of Leeds – e-Infrastructure SAT
  • Jonathan Legh-Smith – BT – EPSRC SAN
  • Nilay Shah – Imperial College London – Manufacturing the Future SAT
  • Alison Burdett – Sensium - EPSRC SAN
  • Cameron Alexander – University of Nottingham – Physical Sciences SAT
  • Rachel Williams – University of Liverpool – Healthcare Technologies SAT
  • Deborah Pullen - BRE Trust - former Engineering SAT member