International Opportunities Fund - Announcement of Opportunity 2014

2 Apr 2014

Closing date for full proposals: 22 April 2014 at 16.00 BST

Update 2 April 2014: Please note this call will now accept joint proposals to NERC-FAPESP under the terms of the RCUK/FAPESP Memorandum of Understanding


The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) is inviting proposals to its International Opportunities Fund (IOF). The IOF scheme provides resources to NERC-supported researchers to allow them to forge long-term partnerships with overseas scientists that add value to current NERC-funded science. IOF grants are pump-priming, to help stimulate novel research collaborations. Mature research collaborations should apply to NERC's Standard or Large Grant schemes, which allow for overseas project partnerships, or to other appropriate sources of funding.


In general, NERC expects pump-priming for international research can be supported with modest amounts of funding. For example, to support a focused programme of exchange visits and/or scoping workshops. This call is for IOF Pump Priming grants only (Larger Pump-priming plus awards are not invited to this call).

Applicants considering international collaboration with researchers from São Paulo State, Brazil, should note that this call will accept joint proposals to NERC-FAPESP (the State of São Paulo Research Foundation) under the terms of the RCUK/FAPESP Memorandum of Understanding (see Annex A of the Guidance for Applicants for further details).

IOF Pump-Priming Grants

These aim to help researchers establish and develop new collaborative links with international partners. Although the grants may have exploratory elements, the proposal should include specific scientific objectives. Proposals for IOF Pump Priming Grants may request funding of a maximum of £40k (at 80% FEC) for up to two years duration. The total amount of funding available for this call is anticipated to be approximately £280k. NERC anticipates funding up to seven grants. As IOF Pump Priming Grants are limited to a maximum of £40k (at 80% FEC), proposals should be realistic in terms of proposed objectives, resources and impact. Proposals should also show clear added value to NERC science (ie from a specified existing NERC grant or NERC Research Centre programme: please see eligibility criteria), and 'buy-in' from the international partner(s).


Standard NERC eligibility requirements apply (see Section B of Research Grants Handbook). In addition, because the aim of the IOF is to add value to current NERC investments through international collaboration, applications must be made by a Principal Investigator (PI) who is currently both eligible for NERC responsive mode funding and currently in receipt of NERC research funding as a PI (lead or non-lead), through one of the following mechanisms:

  1. a NERC responsive mode grant.
  2. a NERC Research Programme grant.
  3. a Research Scientist at one of the NERC Centres.
  4. a current recipient of a fellowship grant from NERC.

The NERC grant reference should be quoted on application.

How to apply

Proposals must be submitted using the Research Councils' Joint Electronic Submission system (Je-S). Please select Proposal Type 'Standard Proposal' and then select the Scheme 'International Opportunities Fund' and the Call:

  1. For IOF Pump Priming Grants: 'International Opportunities Fund 2014a Pump priming'

In addition to NERC's usual guidelines the Guidance for Applicants contains further information and guidance specific to this IOF Call. It is essential that you read it before applying to the scheme.

IOF Call Guidance for Applicants (PDF, 87KB)

Where the RCUK-FAPESP Memorandum of Understanding is being applied, applicants must attach the completed FAPESP-NERC Pump Priming Proposal Form as supporting documents. It is essential you also read Annex A of the Guidance for Applicants before applying.

FAPESP-NERC Pump Priming Proposal Form (Word, 54KB)

Please note: On application Pathways to Impact is not required for this scheme, and as 'not applicable' a blank document is to be submitted where asked for as an attachment in Je-S.