Physical Sciences grants

For more information or to apply for any of the below funding opportunities, get in touch.

Catapult Researchers in Residence Programme

Physical Sciences grants The programme will run until March 2023, with two RiRs announcements of opportunity each year, with the last RiR opportunity announced in January 2019.

To help increase the connections between the UK research base and the Catapults, Research Councils UK* (RCUK) is supporting the development of new collaborations through research visits/residencies for university (and other eligible research organisations) academics to spend time embedded within the Catapult teams.

Catapult Researchers in Residence (RiR) Awards will build connections, support pathways to impact and knowledge exchange between academia and the Catapult centres.  As such, the Catapults have been awarded vouchers (assigned to the Catapults but paid directly to universities or other research organisations) to support a range of activities to accelerate the impact of Research Council (RC)-funded research and/or expand the capabilities of their centre.

This initiative aligns strongly with RCUK’s excellence with impact, through building stronger partnerships in the national innovatio system and supporting the best environment for innovation.

Aims of the Scheme

The aims of RiR initiative are to:

  • Accelerate the impact of RC-funded research
  • Increase knowledge exchange and co-creation between academia and Catapult centres
  • Develop new collaborations between academia and Catapult centres
  • Expand the capabilities and knowledge of the Catapults
  • Nurturing talents and skills development of researchers and Catapult staff
  • Create a cohort of RiRs able to share their experiences with a wider network of academics.


The value of each voucher towards supporting a RiR is up to £50k (100% FEC), which may be flexibly spread between one and four years. Funding will be awarded directly to the RiR’s host university (or other eligible research organisation) and not the Catapult. The award can only be used to cover the salary costs for the visit of each RiR, travel and subsistence costs, and any consumables used at the Catapult.

Any other costs (e.g. equipment/service costs, technician time, etc.) will be covered by the host Catapult within reasonable limits and pre-agreed with the host Catapult.


The programme will run until March 2023, with two RiRs announcements of opportunity each year, with the last RiR opportunity announced in January 2019. 

How to Apply

Applications for RiR should be made by using this webform and uploading a completed Application Form, CV and Letter of Supports from your institution.

Application Guidance and Impact Report Guidance have been provided.

Please note that submissions made after 5 pm on the closing date will not be accepted. 

Information Documents

Applicant Guidance

Impact Report Guidance

Application Form



Defence and Security Accelerator (DSA) Enduring Challenge funding competion

Physical Sciences grants Rolling monthly deadlines

It provides a route into defence and security for any supplier who thinks they have an idea that can benefit UK Defence and Security, at home or abroad. It exists because we can’t possibly know all the potential solutions and novel approaches out there – whether that’s more advanced technical capability, how we work or operate, or how we train our people. As well as all our existing suppliers, we want to attract those who have not worked with defence and security before.

The Accelerator Enduring Challenge is building on the previously run Centre for Defence Enterprise enduring competitions. It provides some direction on what MOD’s on-going research challenges are, while still remaining open to all highly innovative ideas that challenge existing conventions and have a high potential benefit for the defence and security end user.

It has a budget of up to £6 million in financial year 2017/18. The Accelerator typically funds proposals for proof-of-concept research in the range of £50,000 to £90,000 for work of up to 9 months duration.

We won’t accept proposals for more than £90,000 or for projects lasting more than 9 months at phase 1. This is to ensure that we are focused on rapid proof-of-concept research.

Read more about the Accelerator terms and conditions.

If you have a novel research idea for the enduring competition, you can sign up for an Accelerator event to discuss your proposal.

More information can be found here

Defence and Security Accelerator (DSA) funding competitions

Physical Sciences grants Open call for innotvation


The Defence and Security Accelerator (DSA) funds novel, high-risk, high-potential-benefit research to develop capabilities for UK defence and security.

The Accelerator is formed of personnel from the Ministry of Defence, the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, Defence Equipment and Support and the Home Office.

You can submit a Defence and Security Accelerator proposal for a research contract either to our enduring competition, or in response to the technical challenges in a specific themed competition.

See Defence and Security Accelerator terms and conditions and contract guidance.

The Defence and Security Accelerator funds only novel, high-risk, high-potential-benefit research. If your proposal is a product, or outside of the Defence and Security Accelerator competition space, you should speak to the Defence Suppliers’ Service.

You can submit a DSA proposal for a research contract either at any time to our enduring competition, or in response to the technical challenges in a specific themed competition.

More information can be found here.

EPSRC CDT in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (NanoDTC)

Physical Sciences grants Applications for Oct 2019 are now open.

We welcome applicants from across Physical Sciences including Chemistry, Physics, Materials and Engineering. Entry into this prestigious programme is competitive, and will take into account qualifications, aspirations and experience.

The University requirement for entry into a PhD programme is a II.1, but most students who are offered admission on the NanoDTC usually have a first. International applicants should refer to this link to find out what grades they need to have.

Applications for NanoDTC MRes + PhD programme should be made through the standard online Graduate Application Portal for Cambridge University. Please read the graduate prospectus entry for the NanoDTC and the application guide carefully before completing your application.

We do not offer the MRes or PhD components as standalone programmes.

Please note that the University’s ability to offer this course in 2019/20 depends on funding decisions scheduled to be made by the UK Research funding council in December 2018 for all CDTs seeking renewal. If the course is not offered, then either your application fee will be refunded, as well as travel expenses to attend for interview, or (with your consent) your application may be transferred to another course.

Please start your online Graduate Application by clicking here.

Innovate UK Funding Competitions

Physical Sciences grants Open call

Various funding competitions – you can apply for funding to test the feasibility of your idea, research and develop it and demonstrate it in a prototype.

If you’re a UK-based business or research organisation, you may be able to compete for government-backed funding to:

  • research and develop a process, product or service
  • test your innovation ideas
  • collaborate with other organisations

Use this service to:

  • search and apply for innovation funding
  • submit, track and manage your applications

Start now on the InnovateUK innovation funding finder

More information can be found here.

Isaac Newton Trust Research Grants

Physical Sciences grants Closed

The Trust’s research grant policy aims:

  1. to provide initial partner funding for new research projects, institutional projects or equipment, so that the projects can go on to apply for external funding to complete the work, or become self-sustaining in other ways.
  2. to provide emergency or bridging funding for salary costs (or occasionally equipment) for outstanding (usually peer-reviewed) projects that have run out of money through no fault of their own. The Trust is also willing to grant underwriting while the results of other applications are awaited.
  3. to help unconventional innovative science. Trustees wish to encourage applications for early-stage funding for genuinely creative and innovative early-stage research projects that are too speculative or unconventional to stand much chance of attracting institutional funding.
  4. Potential applicants seeking to make an institutional application for the promotion of education or research which could reasonably fall under the heading of a ‘Strategic Research Project‘ should consult the Director in the first instance.

More information can be found here.

NERC Follow-on Fund Pathfinder

Physical Sciences grants Open call

Pathfinder awards complement Follow-on awards.

Follow-on awards of up to £250k FEC fund development projects whose objective is to realise the commercial potential of NERC-funded research via a combination of complementary technical and commercial engagement work programmes.

Successful applications to the Follow-on Fund are invariably built upon a good understanding of the likely market potential for the technology around which the project is based.

If you are confident that you already have a sound assessment of these, and the other, issues described in Follow-on Fund – Guidance for applicants, you are ready to submit an application to the Follow-on Fund.

If, however, there are gaps in your knowledge, you are strongly advised to first apply for a Pathfinder award.

This will give you the best possible opportunity to secure Follow-on funding by enabling you to carry out work that will help you develop a greater understanding of the commercial aspects and possibilities of your research, and hence produce a more robust, better informed proposal for Follow-on funding.

More information can be found here.

RAE ERA Enterprise Fellowships

Physical Sciences grants Stage 1: the submission deadline is 19 August 2019. If successful at stage 1, applicants will be invited to complete a stage 2 application. - Stage 2: the submission deadline is 16 September 2019.

This programme is now open for applications.The first submission deadline is 19 August 2019.

  • Stage 1: the submission deadline is 19 August 2019. If successful at stage 1, applicants will be invited to complete a stage 2 application.
  • Stage 2: the submission deadline is 16 September 2019.

Following this application round, the programme will run twice per year, opening again for applications in January 2020.

The Enterprise Fellowship programme supports innovative, creative entrepreneurial engineers who have demonstrated an exceptional innovation in engineering which they want to develop further.

The programme focuses on equipping the awardee with the confidence, skills, experience and network of expert advisors necessary to enable them to develop their innovation.

We support three types of individuals through our Enterprise Fellowships; researchers wishing to spinout a company from a university or research institute, recent graduates wishing to create a company, and international PhD students based in the UK, wishing to spin out or start up.

The Fellowships provide:

  • Up to £60,000 equity-free funding
  • Tailored mentoring and training
  • PR, marketing and promotion
  • Access to our drop-in workspace in central LondonIf you successfully complete the Enterprise Fellowship Programme you will be invited to become an Enterprise Hub Member, and you will continue to receive an exceptional package of lifetime support, including continued access to our facilities, training programme, PR and media support, network of investors, experts, advisors and Academy Fellows.

    To date the Enterprise Hub has provided training, mentoring and £4.5million seed funding to 94 Enterprise Fellows (‘Hub Members’).

RAE Launchpad Competition

Physical Sciences grants 2nd September 2019

The Launchpad Competition is now open for applications. The submission deadline is 2 September 2019.

Each year we help one budding engineering entrepreneur aged 18-25 to start a business based on their engineering innovation.

Over our 12 month programme we focus on equipping the awardee with the confidence, skills, experience and network of expert advisors necessary to enable them to develop their innovation. The most successful awardees will then serve as role models to inspire the next generation of aspiring entrepreneurs, passing on the skills they have gained.

The Launchpad Competition is generously supported by the Gammon family, and the winner will received:

  • The JC Gammon Award
  • £15,000 equity-free cash prize
  • Lifetime membership of the Enterprise Hub

Launchpad Competition guidance notes (362.85 KB)

For further details, please email the Enterprise team.

To date we have supported 94 Entrepreneurs with £4.5 million of seed funding. They have raised over £83 million in further funding, and now employ over 400 staff.

Research Professional Database

Physical Sciences grants Various dates

The Research Professional Database contains various information regarding funding, and can be found here.

UK Research and Innovation

Physical Sciences grants Round Four: October 2019

Future Leaders Fellowships

The UK Research and Innovation Future Leaders Fellowships (FLF) will grow the strong supply of talented individuals needed to ensure that UK research and innovation continues to be world class.

Who can apply

This cross-UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) scheme will support early career researchers and innovators with outstanding potential in universities, UK registered businesses, and other research and user environments including research councils’ institutes and laboratories.

The FLF scheme welcomes applications from both UK and international applicants and individuals should use the person specification to assess and justify their suitability for the scheme. The support of the institution will be a critical component of all fellowships which will enable the fellow to transition to or establish their research/innovation independence in any area supported by UKRI.

The objectives of the scheme are:

  • to develop, retain, attract and sustain research and innovation talent in the UK
  • to foster new research and innovation career paths including those at the academic/business and interdisciplinary boundaries, and facilitate movement of people between sectors
  • to provide sustained funding and resources for the best early career researchers and innovators
  • to provide long-term, flexible funding to tackle difficult and novel challenges, and support adventurous, ambitious programmes.

These Fellowships support applicants from diverse career paths, including those returning from a career break or following time in other roles. We also encourage applications from those wishing to work part-time in order to combine the fellowship with personal responsibilities. Review panels will take into account time spent outside an active research or innovation environment, whether through career breaks, flexible working or as a consequence of working in other roles.

How to apply

There will be six calls for these fellowships; two calls per year between 2018-19 and 2020-21 (financial years), typically awarding at least 100 fellowships per call across UKRI’s remit (with the initial round being smaller, aiming to award ~50 fellowships).

This is a single scheme across the entire UKRI remit, with no ringfenced budgets for specific areas and no barriers to interdisciplinary or cross-sector research.

Timing for Second and Third Rounds

Outline Proposals (Expressions of Interest) are mandatory for each applicant intending to submit to the second round of this call. Host Organisation support for the submission of the Outline Proposal must be sought and agreed before the Outline Proposal is submitted. The call for Outline proposals for Round 3 will open on 2 April 2019.

  • Outline Proposals for applicants to be based at academic host organisations or business host organisations who are Je-S registered should be submitted via the Joint Electronic Submission system (Je-S) (available from 2 April 2019).
  • Outline Proposals for applicants to be based at business host organisations who are not currently Je-S registered should be submitted via an online form (available from 2 April 2019).
  • Full applications for Round 3 must be submitted via Je-S by 16:00 on 30 May 2019 or the second round of this call. Full details are available in the ‘Overview of the scheme’ and ‘Completing the application form’ documents below.Expected closing dates for future rounds:
    • Round Four: October 2019
    • Round Five: May 2020
    • Round Six: October 2020


Winton Programme for the Physics of Sustainability

Physical Sciences grants Open call

Pump Prime grants for novel research.

The Pump Prime scheme is available for academic and research staff in the Physics department to encourage exploration for new innovative ideas with relevance to the broad field of sustainability. This scheme is designed to promote speculative, high-risk activities that have potential for major impact, which otherwise would be difficult to resource.

Funding will be available for up to £50k for feasibility trials and demonstrations of new concepts including costs related to labour, consumables and small scale equipment.

Proposals can involve collaborative activities with other departments.

More information can be found here.