The ESRC has announced their new Centres Competition 2020:

The ESRC centres competition is the flagship funding for ESRC centres. Where budget allocations allow we aim to run periodic centres competitions, typically every two years, to fund a limited number of centre proposals ranging from £2.5-10 million (100% full economic cost) for a term of up to five years. ESRC will meet 80% of the full economic cost (fEC) on proposals submitted; standard funding rules will apply.

Centres competitions require evidence of long-term institutional commitment to the centre, including additional financial resources from the research organisation to extend the work programme beyond the 100% fEC funding requested. For the sake of transparency we ask for a minimum 5% over and above 100% fEC. Excellence of the proposal will remain the overriding criterion for funding.

The ESRC announced the call on 24 April.

This followed the pre-call announcement from the ESRC earlier in the month.

Full guidance on eligibility, closing dates, how to apply to the call, and assessment criteria are available on the ESRC website. The timetable is as follows:

  • call published – April 2020
  • deadline for submitting outline proposals – October 2020
  • deadline for submitting full proposals – March 2021
  • award start date - October 2021

See the ESRC call specification.

Based on previous competitions, and the number of centres ESRC is looking to fund nationally, it is likely that eligible Research Organisations (ROs) will be restricted to one bid per institution. An additional bid is permitted under the ‘headline notice’.

In addition, as noted above, there is a requirement for a minimum 5% additional contribution from the University to support the bid – each prospective applicant must discuss plans with their Dean prior to submitting an outline.

Internal selection process

We are running an internal selection process to ascertain which bid(s) can be strategically and financially supported by the University.

Should you be interested in leading or participating in a bid to this call, please submit an outline of your proposed centre (maximum 2 pages, font Arial 11), to no later than 18 May 2020, to include the following:

  • centre focus/title
  • proposed PI and internal Co-Is
  • what are their credentials to lead a Centre?
  • what questions will the Centre address, what will be the methods, outputs and outcomes?
  • in what way does the proposed Centre relate to the University/Faculty research strategy?
  • what support has been given/agreed by the Faculty/School? How will this meet the requirement for the additional 5% over and above 100% FEC?
  • how does the proposed centre address ESRC priorities and how does it complement funded ESRC centres?
  • which other institutions (if any) are involved?
  • involvement/contribution of policy/industry/third sector partners – what cash and/or in kind might they be contributing?
  • how will the centre be sustained beyond the grant period?
  • has a version of this proposal previously been submitted for other ESRC funding? If yes, please give details and the outcome(s)