Highlight topics – Sixth round

Update: UK Research and Innovation has recently announced changes to requirements on ‘Pathways to Impact’. As a result of this change, you will no longer be required to provide a ‘Pathways to Impact’ plan or complete an ‘Impact Summary’ within your grant proposal.

These requirements will be removed for all UKRI opportunities by 1 March 2020, so the section and attachment type will disappear from any proposal “under preparation” by applicants or research offices by 1 March. 

Applicants for this call should follow this guidance: A separate Pathways to Impact statement is no longer required, but applicants must still consider how they will or might achieve impact throughout their projects and include this as part of their Case for Support. Activities to realize impact do not have to be cost-incurring, but relevant costs can be included and must be fully justified within the Justification of Resources statement. The Case for Support page limit will not be increased as a result of this change.

The Announcement of Opportunity was updated on 02/12/2019 to provide some revised wording relating to the scientific advances for Topic F.

NERC invites proposals for the sixth round of highlight topics, a route for funding strategic research. Highlight topics focus strategic research on defined subject areas, and will be delivered through independent projects.

The highlight topics in this call are:

  1. Biodegradable plastics as emerging environmental pollutants
  2. Understanding and predicting the cross-ecosystem impacts of insect decline on ecosystem services and natural capital
  3. Marine terminating Glaciers in the Earth System
  4. Achieving net environmental gain and resilient ecosystems in the UK
  5. Consequences of accelerating Arctic warming for European climate and extreme weather
  6. Polyisotopologues for constraining atmospheric budgets
  7. Understanding global lithium resources and cycles to enable a low carbon future

NERC has allocated £16 million to this call. Please refer to the individual highlight topic scope outlined in the Announcement of Opportunity for the maximum duration and budget limits per project. There are more highlight topics than funding is available for, so that all highlight topics will not, necessarily, result in funded grants. This is to ensure that only the very best research is funded.

If you intend to submit a proposal, please complete the online notification of intent form, which must be received by 16:00 on 20 February 2020.

Proposals must be submitted via the research councils' Je-S system by 16:00 on 19 March 2020.

Please see the Announcement of Opportunity for full details.

Announcement of Opportunity (PDF) (PDF, 173KB)


For eligibility, application process and peer review queries, please contact researchgrants@nerc.ukri.org.

For scientific and remit queries, please contact highlighttopics@nerc.ukri.org.