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UK Research and Innovation(UKRI) NERC Independent Research Fellowship, UK 2023

Application is now open for UK Research and Innovation(UKRI) NERC Independent Research Fellowship. Interested applicants are encouraged to send their applications in before the deadline date.

About UK Research and Innovation(UKRI)

The Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy’s science budget provides funding for UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), a non-departmental public organization that manages research and innovation financing. The Higher Education and Research Act of 2017 led to the creation of UKRI, which united nine organizations on April 1, 2018.

On the brand-new UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Funding Service, the organization is managing the funding opportunity. Apply for a scholarship in independent research to advance your career.


The organization will fund researchers through independent research fellowships (IRFs) who want to carry out their environmental studies at an acceptable host organization. You should be able to provide compelling proof that you are working toward this objective and that you have a strong chance of one day becoming an independent research leader.

If given an IRF, you must show that you will operate independently of senior colleagues with whom you may have previously worked or with whom you may now be working in a supporting position. You must persuade the examiners that you created your research questions.

Please refer to the section under “How we will assess your application” for examples of how to prove that you satisfy these requirements. The great investigator-led research throughout the whole of the scientific mandate is supported by this funding opportunity. Although the organization accepts diverse proposals that touch on other research council areas, they anticipate that your principal area of interest will be within their purview.

Applications that are near remit borders are evaluated by the most suitable lead council thanks to the organization’s collaboration with other research councils.


The duration of this award is five years.

Projects must begin by 1 January 2025.

Details about UK Research and Innovation(UKRI) NERC Independent Research Fellowship:

Scholarship Sponsor: UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)

Scholarship Value: £7,200,000

Number of awards: Several

Study level: Fellowship

Host Institution(s): UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)


The IRFs have no funding restrictions.

Over 80% of the Full Economic Cost (FEC) will be covered by the organization. The application does not take ship and marine equipment (SME) costs into account.

What will be funded?

They will fund:

  • facilities costs
  • cruise costs

What will not be funded?

PhD studentships will not be funded by them.

Requests for machinery costing more than £10,000 are not covered by this funding opportunity. Smaller equipment requests (under £10,000 each) should be made in your application under “Consumables (other directly incurred costs)”. The £10,000 financing cap cannot be utilized to partially fund items with a higher price tag.

Data Management

You are required to follow the NERC data policy. For the preservation and curation services, they will pay the data center directly. The grant funds must be used to cover the costs associated with data preparation for preservation. While not needed at the application stage, outline data management strategies will be asked for projects that will get funding.

Services and Facilities

In your financing application, you might request permission to use a facility or resource. At least two months before the funding opportunity’s closing date, you should consult with the facility or service on your application to:

  • Talk about the suggested work in depth
  • get assurance that they can deliver the essential services within the funding’s term.

The facility will offer a technical evaluation that includes an estimate of how much it will cost to supply the service.

The technical evaluation should not be included with the application, but you must acknowledge receipt of it.

For further details, visit the NERC research grants and fellowships handbook. Read the full list of NERC facilities that require a technical assessment. High-Performance Computing (HPC), Ship-Time or Marine Equipment (SME), and the large research facilities at Harwell have their policies for access and costing.

Eligibility Criteria for UK Research and Innovation(UKRI) NERC Independent Research Fellowship

Before you apply for funding, check the following:

Who is qualified to apply

Researchers in their early careers who want to conduct their independent research are eligible for this financing opportunity. The application process is recommended for those who have aspirations of working independently and establishing themselves as research leaders.

Following the goals of the Independent Research Fellowship (IRF) scheme, you must also be able to demonstrate sufficient scientific and technical abilities and competencies.

Only those who plan to pass their Ph.D. viva before March 2024 are eligible if they are presently pursuing a Ph.D. The maximum amount of postdoctoral or professional experience is unrestricted.

Applications are accepted from recipients of postdoctoral training scholarships like the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions. Fellows of the Daphne Jackson Trust and the Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fund who satisfy all eligibility conditions may also apply.

If you have previously applied as a project co-lead, you may still apply as long as you still fulfill all qualifying requirements. Applications on which you have previously been listed must not be your application. You could hold a job at the lecturer level that is a “teaching only” one.

Who is not qualified to apply

If you currently possess or have previously held, any of the following:

  • a post at the lecturer level (or the equivalent in a non-university context) that entails organizing a team and carrying out independent research
  • a comparable highly competitive fellowship that enables you to
  • a group of independent researchers, and therefore the position of an independent researcher
  • a faculty position with tenure

The organization considers a fellowship to be equal to a lectureship if it permits you to supervise Ph.D. students or submit research grants as a project lead. You are thus ineligible to apply. These fellowships can take several forms, for instance:

  • BBSRC Discovery fellowships
  • UKRI Future Leaders fellowships
  • Wellcome Trust Sir Henry Dale Fellowships
  • Medical Research Council Career Development Awards

If you are uncertain of your eligibility status, you should email fellowships@nerc.ukri.org to confirm before you apply.

Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion

The group is dedicated to ensuring fair access to financing for all candidates. They welcome submissions from a wide variety of scholars. They assist people in finding employment that fits their unique needs. This comprises:

  • career breaks
  • support for people with caring responsibilities
  • flexible working
  • alternative working patterns

Find out more about equality, diversity, and inclusion at UKRI and NERC’s diversity and inclusion action plan.

Part-time fellowships

A full-time or part-time independent research fellowship (IRF) is possible. If you want to work part-time or flexible hours to balance your obligations and a job, the organization encourage you to apply.

Part-time employment for IRFs is permitted up to 0.5 full-time equivalents (FTE). In every situation, the fellowship’s duration must be increased proportionately. For instance, a five-year fellowship at full-time would be equivalent to a 10-year fellowship at 0.5 FTE, but the award amount would not change.

Throughout the award, it is possible to go from working part-time to full-time or vice versa. For further details on funding for fellows on research grants, see the NERC research grant and fellowships handbook.

Interview Date, and Process for UKRI NERC Independent Research Fellowship

The procedure they will use to evaluate your application is as follows:

  • The expert panel for shortlisting and evaluating
  • The organization will ask a group of professionals to independently evaluate your application in light of the requirements for this financing opportunity. They will provide you with a list of candidates who have been shortlisted and have been invited to an interview panel. A financing suggestion will be made by the interview panel.
  • Examination panel
  • Shortlisted candidates will be asked to give a presentation before the panel interviews them. These will include both non-scientific (such as leadership, career growth, or impact) and scientific questions that panelists may have regarding your planned research.

For individuals who request them, the interview setup will be adjusted reasonably. Interviews are anticipated to take place in March or April 2024. The choice about financing will be made by NERC.


In the seven months following the receipt of your application, they hope to have finished the evaluation process.


Each candidate will get email comments from the panel. You will receive a panel response if your Sift panel submission is rejected. All candidates who appear before the interview panel will get panel comments.

Principles of Assessment

The organization supports the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) and identifies the relationship between research assessment and research probity. Find out about the UKRI Principles of Assessment and Decision Making. They reserve the right to change the assessment procedure as needed.

Assessment Criteria

The following factors will be used to evaluate your application, and they are directly related to the application questions:

  • Host organisation support
  • Ethics and responsible research and innovation
  • Resources and cost? justification
  • Vision
  • Approach
  • Career development
  • Applicant’s capacity to deliver
  • Dedication to equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI)

The questions in the ‘How to apply’ section provide more information on what the assessors are searching for.

Application Procedure for UK Research and Innovation(UKRI) NERC Independent Research Fellowship

Interested and eligible applicants should visit UK Research and Innovation(UKRI) on funding-service.ukri.org to apply. On the brand-new UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Funding Service, the organization is managing the funding opportunity. This funding opportunity does not accept applications through the Joint Electronic Submissions (Je-S) mechanism.

By clicking the “Start application” button at the top of this page, you may create an account with the UKRI Funding Service if you don’t already have one. It takes two minutes to create an account, during which you must confirm your email address and choose a password.

They will make contact with the research office of any organization you belong to if they don’t already have administrator access set up. This offers:

  • supervision of each UKRI Funding Service application submitted on your organization’s behalf
  • reviewing and submitting applications

Research offices that have not already obtained an invitation to open an account should email support@funding-service.ukri.org. To find out more about the role of research office professionals in the application procedure, watch a recording of a recent research office webinar on YouTube.

To apply:

  1. Verify your status as the project’s lead.
  2. Create an account with the UKRI Funding Service or log in. Choose your organization, validate your email address, and establish a password to create an account. If your organization is not listed, email support@funding-service.ukri.org
  3. Directly reply to questions in the text fields. You can work offline and then return to copy and paste your answers, or you can store your answers and come back to finish them. Please follow the upload instructions in the Funding Service if you are asked to upload a document. The How to Apply portion of this Funding Finder website contains a list of all questions and evaluation standards.
  4. Before sending your application to your research office, give yourself ample time to review it in’read-only’ view.
  5. Send the application in its entirety to your research office for review. If it needs modification, they will send it back to you.
  6. The completed and reviewed application will be delivered to UKRI by your research office.

Watch the research office webinars about the new Funding Service. You can also visit the UKRI website for more details.

The Submission Deadline: November 8, 2023

Not interested in this particular scholarship? See other UK scholarships here.