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NERC Independent Research Fellowship Program (Up to £7,200,000) 2023

The funding enables you to further your career through an independent research fellowship. Through an independent research fellowship (IRF), they will invest in researchers seeking to conduct their own environmental research within an eligible host organisation.

You should demonstrate convincing evidence of working towards this goal and a high potential to become an independent research leader of the future. You must demonstrate that, if awarded an IRF, you will be working independently of senior colleagues with whom you might have previously collaborated or with whom you might currently be working in a supporting role. Assessors must be convinced that you have devised your own research questions. The duration of this award is five years. Projects must start by January 1, 2025.

About UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is a non-departmental public body of the Government of the United Kingdom that directs research and innovation funding, funded through the science budget of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Established on 1 April 2018 by the Higher Education and Research Act 2017, UKRI brought nine organisations into one unified body.UKRI was created following a report by Sir Paul Nurse, the President of the Royal Society, who recommended the merger in order to increase integrative cross-disciplinary r... continue reading

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)

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UKRI NERC Independent Research Fellowship Program

Application Deadline08 Nov 2023
SponsorUK Research and Innovation (UKRI)
GenderMen and Women

Aim and Benefits of UKRI NERC Independent Research Fellowship Program

  • The total amount of £7,200,000 is available.

Requirements for UKRI NERC Independent Research Fellowship Program Qualification

  • Open to early career researchers wishing to carry out independent research. Applicants on an upward trajectory to pursuing working independently and developing research leadership are encouraged to apply.
  • You must also be able to evidence reasonable scientific and technical skills and competencies, in line with the ambitions of the Independent Research Fellowship (IRF) scheme.
  • If you are currently studying for a PhD, you are only eligible if you are expecting to have passed your PhD viva before March 2024.
  • There is no limit on the number of years postdoctoral or work experience.
  • Holders of postdoctoral training fellowships such as the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions can apply. Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellows and Daphne Jackson Trust Fellows who meet all eligibility requirements may also apply.
  • If you have been included on applications as a project co-lead, then you are eligible to apply provided you still meet all eligibility criteria. Your application must be different from applications you have been included on.
  • You may be employed at a lecturer level that is clearly a ‘teaching only’ post.

You should not apply if you hold, or have ever held:

  • A position at lecturer level (or the equivalent in an institution other than a university) that includes setting up a group and conducting your own research.
  • An equivalent competitive fellowship that allows you to establish an independent research group, and therefore independent researcher status.
  • A tenured academic post.

If you hold a fellowship where you are eligible to supervise PhD students or submit research grants as a project lead, then they consider that equivalent to a lectureship. As a result, you are not eligible to apply.

Examples of these fellowships include, but are not limited to:

  • Wellcome Trust Sir Henry Dale Fellowships
  • Medical Research Council Career Development Awards
  • BBSRC Discovery fellowships
  • UKRI Future Leaders fellowships

Interview date, Process and Venue for UKRI NERC Independent Research Fellowship Program


  • Opening date: 16 August 2023 9:00am
  • Closing date: 8 November 2023 4:00pm
  • Sift panel: Mid-February 2024
  • Interview panel: April 2024

Application Deadline

November 8, 2023

How to Apply

Interested and qualified? Go to UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) on to apply

To apply,

  • Confirm you are the project lead.
  • Sign in or create a UKRI Funding Service account. To create an account, select your organisation, verify your email address, and set a password. If your organisation is not listed, email [email protected]
  • Answer questions directly in the text boxes. You can save your answers and come back to complete them or work offline and return to copy and paste your answers. If they need you to upload a document, follow the upload instructions in the Funding Service. All questions and assessment criteria are listed in the How to apply section on the Funding finder page.
  • Allow enough time to check your application in ‘read-only’ view before sending to your research office.
  • Send the completed application to your research office for checking. They will return it to you if it needs editing.
  • Your research office will submit the completed and checked application to UKRI.

For more details,visit UKRI website

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