Leverhulme Research Centres 2018 funding round

The Leverhulme Trust invites UK universities to bid for funding to establish a Leverhulme Research Centre. Each Centre, to be led by a named Director, will be funded for up to £1m per annum over a period of between five and ten years to conduct innovative research of the highest intellectual and academic ambition.

The application process for submitting outline bids opens on 4 September 2017 and closes on 9 January 2018. Please find below full details of the scheme criteria and other relevant information.

The Leverhulme Trust invites applications for Research Centres that will not only conduct research of outstanding originality but also aspire to achieve a significant step-change in scholarship. The Trust’s aim is to encourage new approaches that may establish or reshape a field of study and so transform our understanding of a significant contemporary topic.  Applicants are therefore invited to be bold in compiling their bids.

The Trust has a reputation for encouraging higher-risk research which is often therefore fundamental or curiosity-driven – so-called 'blue skies' – and pan-disciplinary. The expectation is that Centres will draw upon a range of disciplinary perspectives and expertise, perhaps bringing new disciplinary mixes to bear on a particular topic. The hope is that this new round will result in bids that fold the social sciences and humanities more authentically into the mix, as compared to the pattern of the first round, in which many proposals were encouragingly multi-disciplinary but framed primarily in physical and life science terms.

The Centres should have the capacity to become recognised internationally for excellence in their chosen area.

Centres should be titled as the ‘Leverhulme Centre for...’ the research activities in question.

Value and Duration

Up to £1 million per annum is available for between five and ten years, with an appropriate mid-grant review. Centres will be encouraged to build on the Leverhulme grant by seeking additional concurrent support from other funding bodies. The Trust will not normally award follow-on platform grants. If Centre arrangements persist beyond the original award, this will be on the initiative of the grant holder or institution.

Topics

In line with the Trust’s responsive-mode of working, the choice of research topic is left open, with the exclusion of studies of disease, illness and disabilities in humans and animals, or research that is intended to inform clinical practice or the development of medical applications. The Trust has a strong reputation for funding cross-disciplinary research embracing the sciences, social sciences and the humanities. The chosen area should be sufficiently large-scale to support an ambitious but realistic research agenda, for between five and ten years.

Leverhulme Research Centres should not duplicate existing activity at a comparable scale, whether in Research Council-funded or university research centres. The Trust wishes to support research activity where it can be confident that the work will have substantial added-value compared to smaller initiatives in the same area of research.

Please read the following before submitting an application.

Eligibility

Eligible institutions are universities in the UK.

A Leverhulme Research Centre may be single-site (one higher education institution) or multi-site (‘hub and spoke/s’). Each UK university is permitted to make only one bid as the principal applicant (‘hub’). Additional involvement in partnership(s) with other universities is, however, permitted (as ‘spoke’).

The participation of non-UK international institutions is encouraged, where this is relevant to the Centre’s research focus, but this is not a requirement.

Costs

The usual categories of expenditure from Trust funds are permitted: 

(i) Salaries for research staff

At least 75% of the resources requested must be used to provide funding for research staff (research assistants, postgraduate students, replacement teaching costs)

(ii) Associated research costs.

These include technical or computing staff costs or services, travel and subsistence, consumables, and can be included up to a maximum of 25% of the total budget.

As the Trust is not permitted to fund ‘infrastructural’ investment or overheads, institutions which wish to host a Centre will be required to provide all necessary office and work space and any other appropriate university support. Note also that the Trust does not make awards on a full economic costing basis.

Application procedure

Applications must be submitted by a Principal Applicant based in a UK university, who will act as Director of the Centre, providing intellectual and organisational leadership and ensuring delivery of the chosen research agenda. Applications will be considered via a two-stage process: an outline bid and a detailed proposal.

Outline bids must be submitted to the Trust by 4pm on 9 January 2018. The outline bid consists of a short form and a five-page description of the proposed Centre's research activity. The description should include:

  • a description of the area of research: the reasons why this is important and interesting, the key research questions to be addressed, and how the Centre will contribute to this general subject area;
  • the structure of the Centre: whether single centre, multi-centre, hub and spoke, including details of the institutions involved and rationale for their participation in the work of the Centre; plus brief details of any key staff who will be involved and their planned contribution;
  • the justification for the choice of the Principal Applicant to take both intellectual and organisational leadership;
  • an indication of how the resources might be used over five to ten years in terms of:
        (a) research staff, doctoral students, postdoctoral researchers, other academic staff costs, and
        (b) associated costs (NB associated costs cannot exceed 25% of the grant).

Following shortlisting, those reaching the second stage will be contacted  by the end of March and invited to submit a detailed proposal by 14 June 2018, along with a statement of support from the applying institution. The authors of short-listed bids will be invited for interview on 19 or 20 September 2018. It is anticipated that decisions on this (second) round of Leverhulme Research Centres will be made by the Trust Board on 4 October 2018.

To nominate the University’s chosen Principal Applicant and to receive the link to the outline bid form, please email the scheme administrator, Jane McVeigh (jmcveigh@leverhulme.ac.uk), giving the relevant name, departmental affiliation and email address.

Contact

If you have a query that has not been answered here please contact Jane McVeigh (020 7042 9876, jmcveigh@leverhulme.ac.uk).