Innovation Placements

Note: With the advent of UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) and new significant funding opportunities, the context for the NERC-funded Innovation Placements scheme has altered. This shifting landscape has led to a need to review NERC's innovation open calls.

To this end, the annual call for financial year 2019-20 is paused whilst we review NERC's offer in the round. Future call opportunities will be listed on the NERC funding news and calls page and you can sign up to the NERC email alert service to ensure you receive the most up-to-date news on NERC and UKRI funding.

Call opens: 11 April 2018

Call closes: 16:00 on 4 July 2018

Announcement of Opportunity updated: Please note the Announcement of Opportunity document for this call was updated on 16 April 2018. Further information concerning these updates is available within the document itself.

NERC invites academic researchers (at post-doctoral level or above) to apply for an Innovation Placement, duration between 3-12 months, working within a non-academic host organisation such as a private business, third-sector organisation or public body. This can be on a specified project or one of their choosing, which is organised with the host organisation independently of NERC. Researchers will explore and demonstrate how these partner organisations can make use of scientific knowledge, data, models or other tools to understand and manage their impacts and/or dependencies on the environment, and/or to inform policy and decision making in relation to the environment.

Focus of the placements

The objectives of the Innovation Placements scheme are to:

  • initiate collaborations, or deliver a step-change in existing collaborative activity, between academics and non-academic partner (host) organisations, leading to longer-term self-sustaining activities undertaken by the latter
  • provide opportunities to enhance the capacity of NERC's academic community to engage with, and meet the business needs of, private, public, policy and third-sector users of environmental evidence
  • generate evidence and case studies of how non-academic organisations have used, or could use, environmental science research outcomes in collaboration with academics, to add value to their operations through the innovative use of new tools, data or expertise.

Projects must fall within the NERC remit and must identify clear examples of where environmental science research, data and skills can be used to make a real difference to non-academic organisations, starting from a clear articulation of the user needs and drawing on existing science and expertise. Projects must identify how research-council-funded research feeds into the existing activities, tools and processes of users, identifying current gaps and potential future needs.


Each project will involve a non-academic partner in the capacity of the host organisation, and one (or exceptionally a maximum of two) academic researchers who will undertake the placement, spending between 80% and 100% of their time embedded in the partner organisation on the placement.

Host organisations gain from having a placement undertake a focused piece of translational or innovative work (not research) of direct benefit to their specific organisation. NERC has received and collated a number of placement opportunity specifications that may be of interest to applicants:

Innovation Placements 2018 - Host organisation specifications (PDF, 1.1MB)

NERC also welcomes applications that propose working with other hosts on other topics which build on research-council-funded research and which fall within the NERC remit. All applicants are advised to discuss their application with the host organisation at the earliest possible opportunity.

Eligibility and funding

Applicants must be resident in the UK and be employed by an eligible UK research organisation for the duration of the proposed project.

This opportunity is available to academic researchers (at any career stage from a minimum of postdoctoral level), including those with academic positions, who can demonstrate how research-council-funded research could be used to make a real difference to non-academic organisations.

NERC will cover 100% direct costs of the researcher's salary on a pro-rata basis, including superannuation, National Insurance and specific allowances. Travel and subsistence costs, including accommodation, may also be requested.

Applying for a placement

Guidance on how to apply for the placement can be found in the following document:

NERC Innovation Placements open call Announcement of Opportunity (PDF, 167KB)

Applications should be submitted through the Je-S system. Applications must be made through the academic partner.

Please note that this call is not part of, nor linked to, the NERC Knowledge Exchange Fellowships call.

Please note that this funding opportunity no longer permits applications from current PhD students (except those who have already submitted their PhD thesis). However, current PhD students interested in undertaking innovation placements with non-academic organisations are encouraged to seek further information about support available via NERC's National Productivity Investment Fund allocation to doctoral training award holders.

Please note that researchers based at organisations on the UKRI list of eligible independent research organisations - external link (IRO's) are eligible to apply to this call. Organisations on the UKRI list of eligible IROs are however not eligible to act as host (partner) organisations for this call.

For further information, please contact:

Tessa Edgecombe
Senior Programme Manager (Innovation)
07788 190531