The Transforming Foundation Industries ISCF Challenge will be investing up to £4.7m in a Research and Innovation Hub which will be delivered by EPSRC on behalf of UKRI. The aim of this Challenge is to enable the foundation industries (made of six separate sectors: metal, glass, ceramics, paper, cement and chemicals) to work together to address their common challenges of competitiveness and sustainability. The Research and Innovation Hub call is a cross-Council opportunity that aims to fund a new cross-sector and multi-disciplinary research centre for the ‘ISCF Transforming Foundation Industries’ programme that will work to accelerate the development and adoption of new technologies and business models within the Foundation Industries.
The applicants should develop a multidisciplinary Research and Innovation programme, with match funding from industry, that focuses on linking innovators with industry to address challenges across the Foundation Industries. The activity of the Hub should result in a demonstrable increase in the transfer of knowledge from universities to industry through mechanisms such as technology transfer, change management and early stage ‘proof-of-concept’ projects. The research undertaken by the Hub must have the ability to generate credible and engaging impact and develop commercial opportunities. This could either cover the testing of new technologies and methods with potential beneficiaries in the relevant user(s) domain or looking at new ways of using existing knowledge/methods.
The Hub should consider a number of different approaches to realising impact and facilitating knowledge transfer. The proposed themes listed below are not exhaustive and applicants are encouraged to think innovatively in order to create a co-ordinated programme.
- User inspired approaches
In this approach, it would be expected that industry leads on defining the research problems and works with the academic community to co-create the research plan. The research should be grounded in ‘real world’ applications and have close involvement with potential users. The research plan could include fundamental, applied or translational research but must include clearly identified and engaged stakeholders. One potential approach to effectively realising this goal is through ‘In the Wild’ deployment and evaluation, where some of the design is through usage.
- Novel multidisciplinary approach to sector research
In this theme the applicants would take the current understanding of the barriers to implementation of new technologies and then use a multidisciplinary approach to develop new working models that aim to increase the adoption of research innovations in an industrial setting. Although we would expect there to be multidisciplinary working across the themes, activity here should have a particular emphasis on developing a research plan across the discipline boundaries involving engineers, physical and environmental scientists, economists and social scientists to ensure that the new technology developed is successfully adopted.
- Knowledge transfer cross-sector
Activity in this theme would focus on deriving common and interconnected learning from across the sectors. Research plans should outline an approach to addressing key challenges and barriers to change as well as exploiting opportunities for coordinated activity and cross-cutting research in order to maximise the impact across the sectors. The potential for different sectors to work together to address sustainability challenges may also be explored (e.g. through concepts such as industrial symbiosis).
The Hub is expected to work closely with the wider Challenge and should also work collaboratively with the newly commissioned Transforming Foundation Industries Network Plus: https://epsrc.ukri.org/funding/calls/iscf-transforming-foundation-industries-network-plus/. Applications are expected to take an open and inclusive approach and to grow and evolve over the lifetime of the grant.
It is expected that the Hub will be led by a multidisciplinary team where the Principal Investigator may be supported by a number of Co-Investigators and Project Partners, with inter-organisational proposals encouraged. Securing the engagement and buy-in of relevant users will be key to the success of the Hub, and support from Project Partners is a requirement. The Hub will be expected to elicit at least £4.7m of Project Partner contributions (in-kind or cash) over the lifetime of the grant. At the outline stage, it is important for applicants to demonstrate initial Project Partner interest (and where possible, contributions), and detail planned approaches to eliciting more leveraged support, however, please note there is no set target of Project Partner contributions at the point of application. The panel will be asked to assess evidence of stakeholder interest and contributions at application stage, in the context of the disciplines and sectors involved, and the context of the current external Covid-19 situation.
Call opens: July 2020
Funding Available: Up to £4.7M will be available from UKRI-ISCF for this call, and we expect to fund 1 Research and Innovation Hub for a duration of 36 months.
How to apply: Intent to submit, outline stage and full proposal (invitation only).
Assessment Process: Outline proposals shall be considered by an expert panel. Up to two applications will then be invited to submit a full proposal and will be assessed by an expert interview panel.
Intent to submit required: August 2020
Outline Proposal required: September 2020
Invited Full Proposal required: December 2020
UKRI in collaboration with the KTN will hold a webinar and online networking event for this call on the 9th of July. Registration details can be found here:
The aims of this webinar are to:
- Provide information on the background of the Challenge
- Answer any questions about the scope of the call
- Provide an opportunity to network between different sectors and disciplines. This should propel discussions for collaborations on submitting a Research and Innovation Hub grant.