Future Leaders Fellowships – Up to £1.2m funding for employee-led innovation is available now

Future Leaders Fellowships – Up to £1.2m funding for employee-led innovation is available now
Member News, Funding news

Future Leaders Fellowships allow early career researchers and innovators from eligible UK businesses to develop their leadership potential through challenging innovation or research projects:

  • Funding of up to £1.2 million over a four year period, but with considerable flexibility available. Funding will be provided in line with prevailing state aid guidelines.
  • The ability to attract in individual, or develop an existing employee, who will help create innovative solutions for their business. This could include bringing the most talented international innovators to work in their business in the UK.
  • A new Reduced Hours Fellowship, in which fellows are able to spend up to 40 percent of their time focused on other activities within the business in order to enhance their career.
  • The option to collaborate with other organisations (business, academic, public and third sector)

Only registered businesses will receive further information

Our process requires registration to receive further information and bid writing support, so it is important that you register now to be able to apply later.

Any size of business, in any sector, in any region  

Businesses of any size, in any sector across the UK, can host a fellowship in order to significantly enhance the career potential of a highly talented employee, through the implementation of a challenging and strategically important research or innovation project within the business.

Host a fellow or benefit from collaborating with universities

A business may host a Future Leaders Fellowship independently, to carry out a self-contained program of R&D and develop a world class innovator.

Projects led by the Future Leaders Fellow can build significant new or enhanced capabilities which scale and grow the business, leading to a more competitive position within the marketplace and the reputation as an innovative employer for highly skilled individuals.

Alternatively, businesses may wish to engage and collaborate with academically hosted Future Leaders Fellowships, opening access for the business to basic or applied research for the development of new products, processes, business models and market opportunities.

A business hosted fellow might choose to build collaborative relationships with other businesses and/or academic researchers, thus enhancing their network (and that of the business host) and building an effective pipeline for new ideas, employees and partnerships.

Sustained funding to tackle a significant challenge

Future Leaders Fellowship grants are awarded competitively and last for four years, with the option to extend for up to a further three years. The grant covers the salaries of the fellow and their immediate team, as well as materials, capital equipment, facilities, travel and subsistence, training and development, and overheads related to the project.

An award of up to £1.2m

The amount awarded will depend upon the characteristics of the proposed Future Leaders Fellowship and the project to be undertaken with up to £1.2m available for the four years. Flexibility may be available to exceed £1.2m where this is necessary for the proposed fellowship.

The amount of funding you can receive will be at a level in accordance with prevailing State Aid guidance. This will be based on the type of research or innovation undertaken and the size of business or commercial entity involved in the application. For more information see:

Changes to round 4 to increase flexibility of the scheme

To encourage business hosted applications additional flexibility and emphasis on flexibility are being trialled for rounds 4 and 5. This is in direct response to the feedback from business. The aim of the scheme remains developing a researcher or innovator and capability  that is nationally or internationally leading edge, and goes beyond what other, smaller project grants could support.

Scheme flexibility includes:

  • The fellowship may be made up of a single programme of work, or through multiple consecutive or concurrent interlinked projects led by the fellow (a ‘Portfolio Fellowship’). Where multiple shorter projects are spread over the 4 or 4(+3) years, applicants should ensure the proposed research/innovation is of sufficient scale and ambition to maximise the potential and career prospects of the fellow.
  • Flexibility where the direction of the fellow’s project changes part way through the grant, or the fellow is no longer able to continue the grant.
  • For business hosted fellows only, recognising state aid restrictions, business hosted fellows may spend up to 40 percent of their time on unfunded activities which are essential to their career, but are not directly relevant to the fellowship.
  • While we expect that the level of capability being aimed for will usually need sustained development over four years we recognise that a change in business circumstances may mean an award is relinquished early.

Applications that address programmes of innovation, are business led, collaborate with business or that encourage the movement of researchers between academia and business, are particularly encouraged to apply to round 4.

Deadline for receipt of interest: 8th October

You must register your interest as a first step

Our process requires registration to receive further information on bid writing support, so it is important that you register now to be able to apply later.

Please provide details in the form below to receive information and updates on the next round of funding.

Register your interest here

Want to know more: UK Research and Innovation held a webinar briefing for businesses in April 2019 to talk about its Future Leaders Fellowships scheme and how businesses can be involved. For details of webinars for round 4, see news and events.

Scheme documentation and more information on key dates of future rounds can be found here.


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