NERC announces new call for ideas for strategic research

15 February 2016

NERC invites the environmental science community to submit new ideas for strategic research.

NERC is seeking ideas for research challenges that should be priorities for strategic research investment through either highlight topics or strategic programme areas. NERC would welcome ideas from both researchers and those who use environmental science research.

Ideas for new highlight topics should be submitted by 9 May 2016 while ideas for new strategic programme areas should be submitted by 1 September 2016 to be considered in the next round. Guidance is available to explain what we are looking for, how to submit ideas, and how NERC staff can help.

2015 saw the second cut-offs for ideas for strategic research, with 21 ideas received for strategic programme areas and 58 ideas for highlight topics. The summary of ideas is available on our website.

NERC's Strategic Programme Advisory Group (SPAG) reviewed the ideas and used a number of them to generate the proposals for strategic programme areas that were selected for scoping by NERC's Science Board:

  • fundamental ecological research for sustainable resource exploitation in the deep ocean
  • Southern Ocean's role in the Earth system
  • subsurface-surface coupled processes associated with UK unconventional hydrocarbon extraction.

A decision on highlight topics will be made by Science Board in April 2016, with an Announcement of Opportunity for proposals to the next highlight topic call to be released in May 2016.

All submitters of ideas received by NERC between September 2014 and the 2015 cut-offs will receive feedback on their idea. There are no restrictions on resubmission of ideas that are not used to develop potential investments.

NERC encourages ideas from all parts of the environmental science community and NERC staff are available to discuss potential ideas and provide advice, for example where it is challenging to provide the level of specificity required in the science questions. Please contact us at in the first instance, and we will put you in touch with a NERC colleague who can help.