• Damon Butcher

Turing AI World-Leading Researcher Fellowships: round two

Updated: Apr 22

Open


Summary:

Apply for funding to undertake world-leading research to advance the field of artificial intelligence (AI) in the UK.

This opportunity is aimed at established researchers. International applicants are welcome. However, you must be based in the UK at an organisation eligible for UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) funding to hold the fellowship.

We welcome those:

  • conducting research into AI at a fundamental or theoretical level

  • working at the interface between AI and another discipline.

Funding is for up to five years. EPSRC will fund 80% of the full economic cost.

Another round of these fellowships will open in 2023 (round three) with up to £12 million available.


Open date: 29/03/2022

Close date: 14/07/2022

Max Funding: £5,000,000

Funding Percentage: 80%

Collaboration: Collaborative or Single

Funding Type: Grant

Fund Provider(s): Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Medical Research Council (MRC), Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), UK Research and Innovation

Industries: Artificial Intelligence


 

We’re looking to support talented researchers with a high international standing who work in AI, or at the interface between AI and other disciplines, and can advance and transform the field.

We encourage applications from top international talent, either through recruitment from outside of the UK, or by retaining leaders currently located in the UK.

You do not need to be a UK resident to apply. However, to be eligible for this award, you must be employed by an eligible UK host organisation for the time committed to the fellowship. Eligible organisations are:

  • UK higher education institutions

  • research council institutes

  • UKRI-approved independent research organisations

  • eligible public sector research establishments

  • NHS bodies with research capacity.

Fellowships can be held as part of a joint position between an academic organisation and another sector, with the eligible organisation functioning as host organisation for the fellowship.

There are no standardised eligibility criteria for this fellowship due to the diversity of career paths in AI. We welcome applications from individuals who conduct research into AI at a fundamental or theoretical level, or who work at the interface between AI and another discipline.

We encourage applicants who:

  • are currently employed in a non-academic sector, including:

  • business

  • government

  • the third sector

  • have taken a non-standard career path after completing their primary degree.

You can apply for the fellowship to be held part-time. However, these fellowships have a maximum duration of five years and cannot be extended pro rata.

If you would like to discuss applying to this fellowship opportunity from a non-academic position, please see the contacts section.

Proposals based on applying current AI methods to an application area will not be accepted.

Restrictions

EPSRC restrictions on the number of fellowship applications in a 12-month period do not apply to this opportunity. If you apply for this opportunity, you can still submit a fellowship proposal to EPSRC in the following 12 months. However, you can only apply to one fellowship scheme at a time. You must wait until the outcome of one application is known before submitting to another scheme.

EPSRC has a no resubmission policy. Full proposals submitted to this funding opportunity which are unsuccessful will be classed as a first submission under the EPSRC resubmissions policy. You would not be able to submit the proposal to other EPSRC schemes. Similarly, full proposals previously submitted to other EPSRC schemes will be counted as a resubmission and office rejected.

If you’ve previously been unsuccessful in an EPSRC fellowship or Turing AI World-Leading Researcher Fellowship application, you must submit a substantially different proposal this time. Exceptionally, this also applies to unsuccessful outline proposals submitted to the Turing AI World-Leading Researcher fellowship programme. Read the EPSRC policy on resubmissions.

Submissions to the outline stage of this funding opportunity will not count towards the EPSRC repeatedly unsuccessful applicants policy. Unsuccessful full proposals will count towards this policy.

If you are currently restricted under the repeatedly unsuccessful applicants policy, you may submit unlimited outlines. However, you will only be able to submit one full proposal as principal investigator or co-investigator during the 12-month restricted period.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

The long-term strength of the UK research base depends on harnessing all the available talent. EPSRC expects that equality and diversity is embedded at all levels and in all aspects of research practice and funding policy.

We are committed to supporting the research community, offering a range of flexible options to enable you to design a package that fits your research goals, career and personal circumstances. This includes:

  • career breaks

  • support for people with caring responsibilities

  • flexible working

  • alternative working patterns.

With this in mind, we welcome applications from researchers who job share, have a part-time contract, or need flexible working arrangements.


Through the Turing AI World-Leading Researcher Fellowships, we’re looking to support individuals with a high international standing in AI who can make an impact on the UK AI research and innovation landscape. This may be through recruiting top talent to the UK, or by retaining leaders currently located in the UK.

With these substantial awards, you should seek to build new AI capability and capacity in the UK. You will be expected to lead a highly skilled and potentially multidisciplinary team to deliver an ambitious, world-leading research programme that will advance the field of AI, and potentially other disciplines. This could be achieved, for example, by developing novel AI methodologies that address:

  • the fundamental, theoretical or mathematical challenges in AI

  • the challenges present in other disciplines or sectors.

Your proposed work must develop AI beyond the current state of the art. Programmes that seek to apply current AI methodologies to an application area will not be accepted.

If you’re a UK-based applicant, you should explain in your proposal how the fellowship will help retain you within the UK, and be used to build new AI capability and capacity beyond what would be possible without this fellowship.

What we expect of you

As a fellow, you will be expected to:

  • undertake world-leading research, leading a major programme that builds new capability and capacity in AI

  • use the significant support package to establish around you a highly skilled and potentially multidisciplinary research team

  • develop your position of leadership in the national and international research community, as well as at your host organisation

  • engage with, influence and advocate for the strategic direction of the UK’s AI ecosystem

  • act as a leader in the AI community and an ambassador and advocate for it, driving forward the UK and international AI research agenda

  • initiate, grow and maintain strong relationships and collaborations with academia, business, and broader stakeholders in the UK and internationally, facilitating a positive impact on the wider research landscape

  • develop the skills and careers of your team, growing the independent researchers and innovators of the future

  • actively engage with researchers, developers and users to enable AI for use in the real world to ensure that AI is designed, developed and deployed robustly and transparently

  • embed the principles of responsible innovation and trusted research throughout your activities

  • deliver research with a high likelihood of impact on UK society and the economy

  • build a broader portfolio of funding and activities beyond the fellowship, moving towards a position of sustainability at the end of the fellowship.

If you work at the interface between AI and another discipline, you will be expected to make leadership and ambassadorial contributions to all relevant fields.

You are also expected to work within the EPSRC framework for responsible innovation.

You should use your proposal to explain how your fellowship vision complements and delivers against UKRI’s statement of opportunities on AI (PDF, 5.6MB) and the UK’s national AI strategy (GOV.UK).

Funding available

Up to £8 million is available to fund a small number of sizable awards (£3 million to £5 million) for up to five years. UKRI will fund 80% of the full economic cost.

If successful in your application, you must start your fellowship by 1 October 2023.

We expect you to request a significant package of resource, designed in partnership with your host organisation and collaborative partners, to provide the best support for your research vision. This might include:

  • relocation costs

  • attractive packages for staff

  • access to data and infrastructure

  • other standard research grant costs.

Resources may be used for research expenses including:

  • travel

  • equipment

  • research technical support including research software engineers, data scientists, postdoctoral research assistants (PDRA) and fellow salaries

  • training

  • other standard expenses.

Relocation costs are also permitted for international applicants, and up to £100,000 may be requested to set up research activity in the UK.

Resources may be used for activities that initiate, grow and maintain collaborations with stakeholders (for example academia, business, government, third sector) such as:

  • secondments

  • staff exchanges

  • regular travel.

Support for studentships is exceptionally permitted through this investment, where this is clearly justified. Student engagement may also be realised through institutional or stakeholder support, or collaboration with the UKRI AI Centres for Doctoral Training.

See further information on allowable costs.

We want to be flexible to help you deliver your research. Detailed resourcing estimations are only required for the first two years of the investment, with a decision-making methodology for subsequent planning.

Time dedicated to the fellowship

We don’t expect you to commit 100% of your full time equivalent (FTE) contracted time to this activity throughout its duration. However, on average a minimum 50% commitment is expected over the lifetime of the award as this fellowship should be your main identity. You may start your award by working less than 50% FTE, but should ramp up your commitment to a minimum of 50% FTE within six months of the award start date.

By the final year of the award, we expect you to have developed your portfolio beyond the fellowship and be working a maximum of 50% FTE to enable broader portfolio development. You should design an appropriate time commitment over the duration of the award to deliver your research vision.

If you have a joint academic appointment with other sectors, the minimum time commitment to the fellowship is 40% average over the lifetime of the award. This should enable you to establish leadership within the host organisation outside of the time committed to the fellowship. Your time commitment should be suitably justified in your application against the assessment criteria and aims of the programme.

The fellowship must start by 1 October 2023. No extensions will be given for delays in the appointment of staff. You should allow for staff recruitment time when putting together your proposal. For example, if you estimate that it will take six months to recruit a PDRA, only 54 months of PDRA time should be requested. Only if there is a PDRA or staff member ready by the grant start date should you apply for the full five years (60 months) of time.

Costs should be based on the 2023 to 2024 academic year with no account for inflation. UKRI will index the grant as appropriate to account for cost changes over the grant lifetime.

Grant extensions

Grant extensions will only be considered under exceptional circumstances in line with the Equality Act 2010. Extensions require UKRI agreement on a case-by-case basis.

The research organisation remains responsible for compliance with the terms of the Equality Act 2010, including any subsequent amendments introduced while work is in progress, and for ensuring that the expectations set out in the UKRI statement of expectations for equality and diversity are met.

Read the Equality Act 2010.

Stakeholder collaboration

Due to the scale and prestige of these awards, significant collaboration and leverage (cash or in-kind) will be expected from project partners (for example, business, public sector, third sector). This may include models such as endowing chairs or adding to academic salaries.

We expect collaborations to build a mutually beneficial two-way relationship based on:

  • expertise

  • secondments in both directions

  • products

  • infrastructures.

To ensure the awards are inclusive of a variety of approaches and research fields, no specific leverage expectations are being set for eligibility to this programme.

Clear plans for engaging with new and existing collaborators over the duration of the fellowship should be detailed in the case for support.

Involvement of The Alan Turing Institute

The Alan Turing Institute is a delivery partner in the Turing AI Fellowships and therefore the institute’s policy is to take a neutral stance towards all applicants as they intend to work openly and proactively with all successful Turing AI fellows. This means they will not be offering specific support to individual candidates, for example acting as project partners on any Turing AI Fellowship application. They will not offer letters of support to any candidates.

Find out more about The Alan Turing Institute.

 

Link: Turing AI World-Leading Researcher Fellowships: round two – UKRI

Inovasi helps companies to innovate with innovation incentives: R&D, Tax Credits, The Patent Box Scheme, and Funding. Inovasi aims to save you time, so you can focus on the core of your business, we offer expert advice, you can rest easy knowing your claim has been strictly adhered to HMRC legislation, reducing the chance of an inquiry, maximise all aspects of your innovation process, experienced, up to date on the latest guidance and changes related to grants.