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Eligibility for Research Council funding

All UK Higher Education Institutions that receive grant funding from one of the UK higher education funding bodies are eligible to receive funds for research, postgraduate training and associated activities.

Research institutes for which the Research Councils have established a long-term involvement as major funder are also eligible to receive research funding, from any Council.

Other independent research organisations (IROs) may also be eligible if they possess an existing in-house capacity to carry out research that materially extends and enhances the national research base and are able to demonstrate an independent capability to undertake and lead research programmes. They must also satisfy other criteria related to their financial and legal status: these are set out in full in the Research Councils' joint statement on eligibility, which can be viewed here .

The current list of eligible IROs can be seen here (Microsoft Word format )

Information for IROs on how to apply for eligibility

Any organisation wishing to apply for IRO status should contact the Je-S helpdesk in the first instance. The Je-S helpdesk will then advise you of the process and send the appropriate documentation to be completed. When e-mailing the helpdesk for this purpose please include “Application for IRO Status” in the subject heading and provide the full name and postal address of your organisation.

Details of how to contact the Helpdesk can be found in the contacts page.

Change to Organisational Eligibility for Independent Research Organisations (IROs) and NHS Bodies

From 01 November 2016 the Research Councils introduced a change of eligibility status for Independent Research Organisations (IROs).  Any organisation currently approved as an IRO for one Research Council is now eligible for all Research Councils.

The change is implemented for all calls announced after 1 November 2016 and covers both responsive and directive modes of funding.

NHS bodies with research capacity (the Board, NHS Clinical Commissioning Group, NHS Special Authority, NHS Trust, NHS Foundation Trust, NHS Local Health Board) currently eligible to apply as lead applicants, will also be eligible to apply as lead applicants for all RCs. 

Eligibility of Innovate UK Catapult Centres

Catapult Centres do not currently meet the Research Councils’ eligibility criteria for Independent Research Organisations as they have been established by the public sector as detailed in the Research Councils' joint statement on eligibility. Organisations that are eligible to apply for RCUK research funding may work in partnership or collaboration with any other organisation, irrespective of its eligibility status, this includes Catapult Centres. This as a key way of ensuring academic-Catapult collaboration. Catapult Centres may be named contractors within research grants, and for some Research Councils, their staff may be eligible as Co-Investigators (See ESRC and MRC rules on eligibility for Co-Investigators).

To view the guidance that individual Research Councils are providing to their communities, follow the links below:

Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
Medical Research Council (MRC)
Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)

Research Council Financial and Capability Due Diligence Checking Process

Exceptionally, where co-funding is being provided by another funder, individual Research Councils may set up specific calls inviting proposals from overseas or UK research organisations not normally eligible for Research Council funding. It will be made clear in the specific call guidance which organisations may apply. The eligibility of the research organisation to receive funding will be confirmed by the individual Research Council before a grant is awarded using the process found here .


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