Future Leaders Fellowships: round 7

UK Research and Innovation UKRI LogoThis scheme is for early career researchers and innovators who are either:

  • looking to establish or transition to independence
  • developing their own original and ambitious plans within a commercial setting.

We are offering funding to support ambitious research or innovation programmes across UKRI’s remit.

You must be based at, and have the support of, an eligible academic or non-academic institution.

There is no minimum or maximum award value.

Your project can last for up to four years, with the option to apply to renew for a further three years.

NOTE THIS SCHEME OPENS ON THE 6th SEPTEMBER


This scheme is for early career researchers and innovators who are transitioning to or establishing independence, or who may be developing their own original and ambitious plans within a commercial setting.

You do not need to hold a PhD and there are no eligibility rules based on the number of years since your PhD. However, if you do not hold a PhD, you must be able to demonstrate equivalent research or innovation experience or training.

There are no eligibility rules based on whether you currently hold a permanent or open-ended academic position or job role.

To assess and justify your suitability, go to the ‘additional info’ section and read the person specification annex in either the:

  • guidance for academic-hosted applicants
  • guidance for non-academic-hosted applicants.

UKRI cannot confirm eligibility prior to submission.

The fellowship offers flexibility to support outstanding individuals:

  • from diverse career backgrounds
  • returning from a career break or returning to research or innovation following time in other roles
  • wishing to work part-time or in job shares in order to combine the fellowship with personal responsibilities
  • coming to the UK from abroad. Researchers and innovators are eligible for a Global Talent visa under the ‘exceptional promise’ category for future research leaders. They must have the support of their host organisation.

Who is not eligible

Applicants who have already achieved research or innovation independence (for example, by securing funding aimed at this career stage, or by already managing their own significant programme of work within a business) should not apply. Senior academics and innovators are not permitted to apply.

How you spend your time

Fellows hosted by an academic organisation may spend up to six hours a week (pro rata for part-time applicants) on other commitments or related activities, provided they enhance career development. Those with substantial ongoing research commitments as a result of participation in other grants must relinquish these in order to hold a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowships award.

Fellows hosted by a non-academic organisation can come from commercial organisations of any size, in any sector or region. Reduced-hours fellowships are available to applicants hosted by a non-academic organisation. This enables fellows to spend up to 40% of their time (not funded by UKRI) on other activities within the organisation in order to enhance their career.

Eligible host organisations

Fellowships must be held at a UK-based organisation currently registered as eligible to apply for funding from the research councils.

Details of individual eligibility and lists of recognised institutes and independent research organisations can be found in our information about eligibility for research funding.

Academic institutions

Academic institutions can be:

  • any UK higher education institution that receives grant funding from one of the UK higher education funding bodies
  • a research institute
  • an independent research organisation.

Cross sector and organisational links, and research and innovation collaborations in both the UK and internationally, are encouraged.

Number of applications

The Future Leader Fellowships (FLF) scheme is highly competitive. Increasing numbers of applications in previous rounds led to the extension of timelines and an increased peer review burden on our research and innovation community. To administrate this funding opportunity in a timely manner, the number of applications which can be submitted by each academic host organisation is capped. Read annex A of the guidance for academic-hosted applicants in the ‘additional info’ section for more information.

Inclusive selection process

Host organisations are asked to provide a statement describing the inclusive process they have used to select their chosen candidates by completing an online survey before the submission of any outline proposals to UKRI.

The information submitted will contribute to an external review being undertaken by UKRI which aims to identify and share good practice relating to applicant support and inclusive selection processes. The statement should describe the process used to identify potential candidates. It should not include personal details of potential candidates nor any details that may enable them to be identified.

Outline proposals submitted by host organisations that have not reported on this process will be office rejected.

The survey link will be provided when the outline funding opportunity opens.

Salary commitment

For academic applicants, full proposals should highlight the institution’s commitment to the salary of the fellow and to providing an open-ended UK-based independent research or innovation position, to be taken up during or on completion of the fellowship in line with organisational employment policies and practices.

Non-academic organisations

Non-academic organisations hosting fellowships should provide an innovation or research environment of international standing and must be eligible for UK government subsidy control. Fellowships will only be awarded to support research or innovation above and beyond the standard activities of the organisation.

Catapult organisations

UKRI has published an update on Catapult eligibility for funding and fellows wishing to apply for an FLF hosted within a Catapult should contact the team at fellows@ukri.org for further details.


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