Building responsible neurotechnology research capability

Apply for funding to develop a research network for neurotechnology.

You must be:

  • based in the UK
  • eligible for EPSRC funding.

Your network is expected to:

  • help form new interdisciplinary research communities
  • promote responsible research and address ethical issues in neurotechnology
  • set a research agenda and fund small feasibility studies.

The full economic cost of your network can be up to £7.5 million. EPSRC and MRC will fund 80% of the full economic cost, up to £6 million.

Your network can include up to five investigators:

  • the principal investigator
  • up to four co-investigators.

EPSRC, in partnership with MRC, invites proposals for ‘network plus’ grants that build capability for responsible research across the breadth of neuro-technologies.

EPSRC and MRC are looking for a balanced portfolio of networks which will lead to new collaborations, aiming to form new interdisciplinary research communities, involving a group with a range of expertise and experience, and demonstrating the added value EPSRC and MRC funding would bring in this area.

Network scope

The research focus of the networks will be supported by EPSRC and MRC and will draw significantly on:

  • engineering
  • physical sciences
  • information and communications technologies
  • mathematical sciences.

We are particularly encouraging activities which target health needs.

The networks will lead to new collaborations, excellent research proposals and inform ideas for future research themes. They will provide a foundation for addressing ethical questions and addressing future research within the framework of responsible innovation.

Applicants should also consider public, patient involvement and engagement and how this may be integrated into the network. For more information, see the EPSRC impact and translation toolkit.

To be successful, there needs to be a clear vision, understanding of the wider context, and demonstration of the added value arising from the network. It would also be helpful to set the research focus in an international context.

Networks will be expected to set a collaborative research agenda and fund small scale proof of concept studies and other relevant activities flexibly over the lifetime of the grant in line with their central vision.

We expect the funded networks to be collaborative and not competitive, that is, they should work together where appropriate (for example, joint events). The networks should cover a range of approaches and aspects of neuro-technologies. We would welcome plans to address the potential for UK-wide activities across the breadth of neuro-technologies.

Network members

Proposals may include up to five investigators (one principal investigator and up to four co-investigators) and this core group should reflect the people setting up and leading the network. We appreciate there will be a wider group who advise on or participate in the network.

The role of the network is to nurture research ideas between its members and to facilitate the transfer of knowledge to a broader community. Networks are encouraged to work with a range of project partners and collaborators.

The networks should aim to bring together interdisciplinary experts with leading capabilities in underpinning research areas to explore significant research opportunities that enable the full potential of neurotechnology. This includes experts in areas such as:

  • medical imaging
  • bioelectronic medicines
  • brain-computer interfaces
  • materials sciences
  • modelling
  • manufacturing
  • engineering
  • machine interfacing
  • neural prosthetics
  • bioethics
  • clinical sciences
  • fundamental research.

Neurotechnologies are also expected to raise new ethical questions and the networks will build research communities that can address these questions.

Project partners

A project partner is an organisation with an integral role in the proposed network. Project partners cannot receive funding from the grant. A letter of support is required from each project partner to outline their contribution. There are no restrictions regarding other collaborating organisations.

Funding available

Up to £6 million will be available to fund networks for up to three years at 80% full economic cost. We expect to fund three to six networks to build the UK community, build future capacity and inform the strategy for neurotechnology development.

Proposals can seek costs of building interdisciplinary research communities including but not limited to:

  • investigator salaries
  • travel and subsistence
  • organisations of different types of workshops or engagement events
  • summer schools
  • part-time coordinators
  • administrative support
  • feasibility studies and small-scale research studies.

Equipment over £10,000 in value (inclusive of VAT) is not available through this opportunity. Smaller items of equipment (individually under £10,000) should be in the ‘directly incurred – other costs’ heading.

Responsible innovation

Research has the ability to not only produce understanding, knowledge and value, but also unintended consequences, questions, ethical dilemmas and, at times, unexpected social transformations.

We recognise that we have a duty of care to promote approaches to responsible innovation that will initiate ongoing reflection about the potential ethical and societal implications of the research that we sponsor and to encourage our research community to do likewise.

Applicants are expected to work within the EPSRC framework for responsible research and innovation.

Applicants planning to include international collaborators on their proposal should visit the Trusted Research website for information and advice on how to get the most out of international collaboration whilst protecting intellectual property, sensitive research and personal information.

Trusted Research website (Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure)

Visit funding web page

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