UKRI open call for research and innovation ideas to address COVID-19

April 02, 2020 - 11:30am

UKRI open call for research and innovation ideas to address COVID-19

Proposals are invited for short term projects addressing and mitigating the health, social, economic and environmental impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak.

There is no closing date – proposals can be submitted at any time.

UKRI will support excellent proposals of up to 18 months duration which meet at least one of the following:

  • New research or innovation with a clear impact pathway that has the potential (within the period of the award) to deliver a significant contribution to the understanding of, and response to, the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts.
  • Supports the manufacture and/or wide scale adoption of an intervention with significant potential
  • Gathers critical data and resources quickly for future research use

Proposals will be accepted from anyone who is normally eligible to apply for UKRI funding. Proposals should be sent through this route for any research or innovation relevant to the above regardless of funding Council or whether relevant to multiple Councils.

Proposals with potential to directly deliver a public health impact in the next twelve months, and which have not already been submitted to the Initiative’s earlier calls, are asked to apply to the joint DHSC/UKRI COVID-19 Rapid Response Initiative’s rolling call via the NIHR single portal site.

Researchers holding existing UKRI standard grants can apply to re-purpose this funding to address the objectives of this call. Details on how to apply for approval to switch funding is given below.

Proposals must be submitted on this form. (Word, 54KB)

The proposal should:

  • Describe the approach you will take and put it in the context of the national response to COVID-19. International collaboration is permitted, so long as the research is of relevance to the UK
  • Explain the level of urgency, and why the activity is important now
  • Demonstrate that the proposal has the necessary critical mass to make a difference. Where relevant, demonstrate the strength of links to relevant decision makers. 
  • Demonstrate a clear route to impact within the timescale of the project.
  • Confirm whether the research requires any access to the health and care system and if so describe how you will comply with the newly established DHSC single, national process for prioritisation of COVID-19 research studies.
  • Explain why it is not possible to resource the work by repurposing existing funds you may have available.
  • Give an estimate of the resources required (within 10%).
    • As part of the submission, the proposal may include requests for access to UKRI experimental, analytical or computational capabilities that are currently operational.
  • Name the team that will run this and describe their ability and capacity to deliver.
    • UKRI can help provide access to pooled research staff from UK facilities, including research software engineering support and staff data scientists. Indicate on the form if help assembling the team is needed.
  • Provide evidence that the host institution or business supports the proposal and that the research can be carried out under present institutional or business restrictions. 

UKRI will endeavour to support a balanced portfolio of activity under this call. Details of supported projects will be published on this site as they are awarded.

Only one active bid can be under submission from a researcher or business at any time.

Proposals out of scope include:

  • Funding to directly mitigate the effects of the pandemic on specific institutions and businesses
  • Proposals more appropriate to other existing funding calls and /or other research funders
    • UKRI will act to transfer proposals to appropriate other calls that are open, so do submit here if you are unsure.
  • Longer term research proposals that address the COVID-19 emergency or future pandemics that don't meet the urgency guidelines should be submitted through normal responsive mode.

Process and timing

  • Proposals can be submitted at any time by sending the application form to CV19researchinnovation@ukri.org
  • The proposal will be reviewed by one or more of the UKRI councils. Peer reviewers may be asked to comment on proposals.
  • Proposers may be asked for more information before an award is confirmed.
  • Proposers may be asked to become part of wider consortia or join with already existing efforts.
  • Receipt will be acknowledged within 48 hours and in most circumstances PIs will have a response on the proposal within 10 days.
  • There will be a web page that will contain details of all successful projects as they are awarded.
  • UKRI may share details of the submissions with other funders.
  • Additional information on councils’ priorities in this area can be found on their websites. 

Requests to switch existing UKRI award funding to address Covid-19 research priorities

UKRI has put in place the following process to allow researchers to repurpose existing UKRI award funding to address COVID-19 research priorities.  In order to be eligible, the research to be undertaken must address one of the following:

  • New research or innovation with a clear impact pathway that has the potential (within the period of the award) to deliver a significant contribution to the understanding of, and response to, the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts. 
  • Supports the manufacture and/or wide scale adoption of an intervention with significant potential
  • Gathers critical data and resources quickly for future research use

Principal investigators should submit:

  • A document (up 500 words) providing information on what the repurposed research would achieve, including:
    • Reference and title of the existing grant.
    • A description of the approach to be taken and put it in the context of the national response to COVID-19
    • An explanation of the level of urgency, and why the activity is important now
    • A demonstration that the proposal has the necessary critical mass to make a difference. Where relevant, demonstrate the strength of links to relevant decision makers.
    • If the research requires any access to the health and care system, describe how you will comply with the newly established DHSC single, national process for prioritisation of COVID-19 research studies.
  • A letter from the host institution confirming they support the switch in the research programme.  This should include confirmation that relevant laboratories and other facilities are open and available for use.

Assessment of requests will be made by the council responsible for the award, as follows:

  • UKRI staff will determine that the submission meets the eligibility criteria listed above. If it does not the change will be rejected at this stage.
  • If needed, urgent expert review will provide assurance that the research proposed is likely to achieve impact on Covid-19 priorities.

Please send any requests for repurposing an existing grant to CV19researchinnovation@ukri.org

Other information

  • UKRI recognises the importance of all the research we support, and researchers must provide a good case for why their original project should be repurposed. 
  • Proposers may be asked for more information before an award is confirmed.
  • Proposers may be asked to become part of wider consortia or join with already existing efforts.
  • A webpage will be updated with details of all COVID-19 efforts

Please note that no subsequent extension to the grant or additional costs will be allowed in order to meet the original objectives where these were altered to permit new COVID-19 research.    

Government support for research related to COVID-19

Any research that requires access to the UK health and care system must follow guidance issued by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) to get their study nationally supported as high priority COVID-19 Urgent Public Health Research. See the NIHR guidance

This will include research that would normally need NHS R&D approval, including where access to patients, data or health and care staff would be required.

Given the urgency of the current situation UKRI are committed to a principle of parallel processing. We encourage requests to UKRI to be submitted in parallel to requests through the NIHR portal, however, we are aware that you may need evidence of the approval of funding before the NIHR makes their decision.  We will therefore endeavour to make decisions as quickly as possible.

If approval is received through NIHR and a study is nationally recognised, evidence of this must be provided to UKRI

https://www.ukri.org/funding/funding-opportunities/ukri-open-call-for-research-and-innovation-ideas-to-address-covid-19/