ESRC Launches New Investigator Grants Scheme

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) has launched a new initiative for early-career researchers seeking support for their first independent research project. The New Investigator Grants scheme, which replaces the Future Leaders Scheme, aims to support new UK based researchers and academics to develop their careers through gaining experience of managing and leading research projects and teams. Applicants must be the principal investigator on proposed projects and be able to show how an award would have a demonstrable impact on their career progression in becoming an independent researcher.

Grants of between £100,000 and £300,000 (100% fEC) are available for up to five years and proposals are accepted for a wide range of research activities from standard research projects to surveys and other infrastructure projects and methodological developments. Applicants are free to concentrate on any research area as long as it falls within the ESRC’s remit. Proposed projects may draw from the wider sciences provided that the social sciences represent more than 50% of the research focus and effort. Awards are available for a period of up to five years and can be for basic, applied or strategic research. Interdisciplinary proposals are welcomed.

As part of their proposal, applicants should include a programme of training and development activities that will ensure their continued progression towards being an independent researcher. Programmes could incorporate elements such as project management, research methods development, knowledge exchange and user engagement, impact, national and international networking and research development, and should be developed in consultation between the applicant, their mentor and the host organisation. Applicants must also demonstrate how they will identify, address and monitor the training needs of any staff employed on the grant.

Applications are invited from early career researchers with no more than four years’ research experience since submitting their PhD. Applicants can be of any nationality but must be based at a UK HEI or research organisation approved by the ESRC and eligible for responsive mode schemes.

This scheme operates alongside the ESRC’s Research Grants scheme and is, similarly, an open call for proposals, which can be submitted at any time. It is anticipated that ESRC will fund between 30 and 35 grants per year subject to quality and available funds. Funding is awarded at 80% of fEC, in accordance with Research Council policy.

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