MMU Research and Knowledge Exchange Blog

Funding opportunities, news and guidance from RKE at Manchester Metropolitan University

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RISE: Secure Hardware & Embedded Systems Call for Research Projects

RISEThe Research Institute for Secure Hardware and Embedded Systems (RISE) is a joint venture of the EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council) and the NCSC (National Cyber Security Centre). The institute aims to identify and address the key issues that underpin our understanding of hardware security, they currently have two schemes available:

 Call for Research Projects

Award Amount: £300,000 in total

Duration: 3 years

Deadline for Application: 31st July 2018

Applications will be accepted with the following areas of interest:

  • Micro-architectural and Analogue Security Evaluation
  • Automated Security Verification in EDA Tools and Software Tool Chains
  • Supply Chain Security
  • Hardware-based Security Services

For a detailed description of each area and for more information please visit the website.

Small Equipment Bids

Award Amount: up to £140,000, although expecting bids in the range of £20k – £50k

Duration: Equipment must be purchased by 15th February 2019

Deadline for Application: 31st July 2018

Funding through this scheme is entirely to cover the purchase cost of equipment (incl. VAT) The equipment must be used for a project which addresses one or more of the RISE research challenges or specific themes (detailed above).

For further information about this call please visit the website.

If you wish to apply for either of these calls or would like to discuss them further then please get in touch with the Research Development team via our email.



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EU Update – H2020 work programmes and future programmes


After a little absence, and with the next annual updates of H2020 work programmes on the horizon, we thought a round-up might be useful to Blog readers.

Horizon 2020 – 2019 work programme refresh and Infodays

The draft priorities for 2019 calls will soon be approved, with a target date of July 2018 for publication of the final work programmes. Our colleagues from UKRO have been doing a great job in pulling together the latest intelligence on what’s likely to change.

If you haven’t taken a look yet, you can access information about specific parts of H2020 via the links below (Ed – you’ll need to be logged into the website to view. If you don’t have an account, then we’d highly recommend signing up – see below for more details):

Information Communication Technologies

Nanotech, Advanced Materials, Biotech and Advanced Manufacturing and Processing


Societal Challenge 1. Health

Societal Challenge 3. Energy

Societal Challenge 5. Climate Action  there will be an Infoday relating to the 2019 call in Brussels on 11 September 2018.

Societal Challenge 6. Europe in a changing world

There will be also be an Infoday relating to the 2019 call for Societal Challenge 2 (Food Security …)  in Brussels on 25 June 2018.

As ever, if you’re thinking of applying and need advice then do get in touch (

Future programmes and UK participation

The European Commission is also starting to publish it’s thoughts about programmes which will come on line with the new Multiannual Financial Framework (Ed the MFF will run from 2021 to 2027). We’ll cover in more detail in future posts, but information is starting to emerge about Horizon Europe (Ed – this will be the follow on from Horizon 2020) and a proposal has been published about the successor to Erasmus+.  (Ed – again, UKRO have developed a really helpful resource here, which gives an overview of a range of programmes)

Whilst the UK’s participation in future programmes will depend on the outcome of negotiations around our departure from the EU, the UK Government has been very clear about it’s desire to take an active and full role in Horizon Europe (Ed – this has been a theme in recent speeches made by the Prime Minister and Science Minister).

About UK Research Office
The UK Research Office (UKRO) is the European office of the UK Research Councils. UKRO’s mission is to promote effective UK engagement in EU research, innovation and higher education activities. As a subscriber to UKRO, all MMU staff can register to receive personalised alerts on funding opportunities and policy developments.

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New Wellcome Trust Open Research Fund

wellcome trust

The Wellcome Trust have announced a new fund to support researchers to develop and test innovative ways of making health research open, accessible and reusable.

Examples of the type of activities that they’re considering to include (but not limited to):

  • Making outputs findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable (FAIR).
  • Developing open platforms or tools.
  • Improving research reproducibility.
  • Speeding up ways to find and share data.
  • Looking at the role of blockcahin technology could play in managing and disseminating research outputs.
  • Testing new metrics that offer transparent ways to evaluate open research.
  • Embedding incentives to encourage open research approaches.
  • Developing crowdsourcing approaches to increase participation in research.

Wellcome will review proposals based on the vision for your activity, including its aims, target audience and how you’ll advance open practices in your research field and beyond as well as how you’ll evaluate the outcomes and impact of the research.

Funding Amount: £50,000

Duration: 1 year

Deadline: Tuesday 7th August 2018

For more information please visit the Wellcome Trust website. If you’d like to apply then please get in touch with the Research Development Team via our email


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Applying for research funding – is it worth it?

Adam Goldberg is Research Development Manager in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Nottingham. He runs an excellent blog called ‘Cash for Questions’ in which he shared this interesting and useful article.

A version of this article first appeared in Funding Insight on 6th March 2018 and is reproduced with kind permission of Research Professional. For more articles like this, visit

Success rates are low and applications are more and more time consuming to write. Is it worth it? Here’s a quick list of considerations that might help you reach a better decision.

While the latest success rates from UK research councils showed a very modest overall improvement after five consecutive annual falls, most observers regard this as a blip rather than as a sign of better times to come. Outside the Research Councils, success rates are often even lower, with some social science/humanities fellowship schemes having single digit success rates.

While success rates have fallen, demands on applicants have steadily risen. The impact agenda has brought first the impact summary and then the pathways to impact statement, and more recently we’ve seen greater emphasis on data management plans and on detailed letters of support from project partners that require significant coordination to obtain. It would be one thing if it were just a question of volume – if you want a six or seven figure sum of what’s ultimately public money, it’s not unreasonable to be asked to work for it. But it’s not just that, it’s also the fiddly nature of using JeS and understanding funder requirements. I’m forever having to explain the difference between the pathways to impact and the impact summary, and there are lots of little quirks and hidden sections that can trip people up.

But beyond even that, there’s the institutional effort of internal peer review from research development staff and senior and very busy academic staff. Whether that’s an internal review mandated by the research council – shifting the burden of review onto institutions – or introduced as a means of improving quality, it’s another cost.

Given the low success rates, the effort and time required, and the opportunity costs of doing so, are we wasting our time? And how would we know?

The research

  • Do you need funding to do the research? If not, might it be a better idea just to get on with it, rather than spend a month writing an application and six months waiting for a response? And if you only need a small amount of funding, consider a smaller scheme with a less onerous application process.
  • Do you have a clear idea of what you want to achieve? If you can’t identify some clear research questions, and what your project will deliver, the chances are it needs more thinking through before it’s ready to be turned into an application.
  • Are you and your team passionate and enthused and excited about your proposal? If you’re not, why should anyone else be?
  • Is your research idea competitive? That’s not the same question as ‘is it good’? To quote a research director from a Canadian Research Council – it’s not a test, it’s a contest. Lots and lots and lots of good ideas go unfunded. Just because you could get something in that’s in scope and has at least some text in every box doesn’t mean you should.
  • Is your research idea significant? In other words, does it pass the ‘so what, who cares’ test? My experience on an NIHR funding panel is that once the flawed are eliminated, funding is a battle of significance. Is your research idea significant, would others outside your field regard it as significant, and can you communicate its significance?

Your motivations

  • Are they intrinsic to the research – to do with the research and what you and your team want to discover and achieve and contribute…. or are they extrinsic?
  • Are you applying for funding because you want promotion? When you come and talk to me and my colleagues about ‘applying for funding’ but have less a coherent project and more of a list of random keywords, don’t think we don’t know.
  • Is it because you/your research group/school is being pressured to bring in more funding? Football manager Harry Redknapp’s tactical instructions to a substitute apparently once consisted of “just flipping run around a bit” (I paraphrase) and I sometimes worry that in some parts of some institutions that’s what passes for a grant capture strategy that values activity over outcomes.
  • Is it because you want to keep researchers on fixed term contracts/your promising PhD student in work? That’s a laudable aim, but without the right application and idea, you risk giving them false hope if the application is just to do more of the same with the same people.

Practical considerations

  • Do you have the time you need to write a competitive application? Just as importantly, do your team? Will they be able to deliver on the bits of the application they’ll need to write? As Yoda said, “do or do not, there is no try” (Lucas, 1980). If you can’t turn your idea into a really well written, competitive, proposal in time, perhaps don’t.
  • Do you have your ducks in a row? Your collaborators and co-Is, your industry, government, or third sector partners lined up and on board? Are your impact plans ready? Or are you still scratching around for project partners while your competitors are polishing the fourth iteration of the complete application? Who are your rivals for this funding? Not relevant for ‘open’ calls, but for targeting schemes, who else is likely to be going for this?
  • Does what you want to do fit the call you’re considering applying for? Read the call, read it again, and then speak to your friendly neighbourhood Research Development professional and see if your understanding of the call matches hers. Why? Because it’s hard for researchers to read a call for proposals without seeing it through the lens of their own research priorities. Make sure others think it’s a good fit – don’t trust yourself or your co-Is to make that decision alone.
  • Is this the best use of your time right now? Might your time be better spent on impact, publishing papers from the last project, revising a dated module, running professional development courses?

A companion piece on the costs and benefits to researchers of applying for funding will be republished on Cash for Questions next week.

You can find the Cash for Questions blog here:



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ESRC Secondary Data Analysis – changes to eligibility including increase in £ and project duration


As of 17 May 2018, eligibility criteria for the ESRC Secondary Data Analysis Initiative (SDAI) will be changing.

Since December 2015, SDAI has operated alongside ESRC’s Research Grants open call. Following ESRC’s internal review of the Initiative, including an analysis of the volume and review outcomes of applications received so far, along with feedback from external stakeholders, it was concluded that changes to the Initiative were needed to improve the quantity and quality of proposals submitted.

As a result, the following changes to the SDAI have been introduced and will apply as of 17 May 2018:

  • The maximum funding threshold for applications will increase from £200,000 (100% fEC) to £300,000 (100% fEC)
  • The maximum duration of proposals will increase from 18 months to 24 months.
  • Previous eligibility criteria to (a) use only one of ESRC-funded data resources and (b) to include at least one named early career researcher as principal investigator or co-investigator have been relaxed.
  • Instead, as of 17 May, the ESRC will welcome proposals that aim to exploit secondary data from a range of UK and international data resources funded by ESRC and by other agencies, given sufficient justification and confirmation.
  • ESRC will continue to encourage applications that include a named early career researcher as principal investigator or co-investigator and/or applications that seek to use one or more ESRC-funded data resources.

These changes to the eligibility criteria will allow applicants greater flexibility when utilising existing UK and international data resources to deliver high-quality and high-impact research. This also provides a huge opportunity for comparative analysis into some of the most pressing challenges facing society in the UK and internationally.

Please see


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EU Falls Festival 2018

EU Falls Festival

The European Union Falls are pleased to announce their EU Falls Festival (EUFF) “New Solutions to Old Problems: ensuring sustainability of falls prevention interventions”, which will be taking place on the 2nd & 3rd July 2018 in Manchester, UK.

It intends to bring together leading researchers, clinicians, health care practitioners and industry from across the globe for discussion and exchange of the most cutting edge knowledge, insights, issues and ideas in relation to technology in the prediction, prevention and detection of falls.

For full details of the event and to register, please visit the website here.