International Opportunities Fund - Important changes effective from 2016

1 February 2016

Following an internal review in 2015, NERC is introducing a number of important changes to its International Opportunities Fund (IOF) scheme, effective from 2016.

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, which means they aim to help researchers establish and develop new, collaborative links with international partners.

These changes have been introduced to ensure that NERC's IOF process is efficient, and to allow the review processes to be brought into line with the processes for NERC standard grants.

The changes to the IOF scheme include:

  • There will be a single Announcement of Opportunity for both IOF pump priming and pump priming plus grants, to be held annually in May. IOF pump priming plus grants aim to support establishment of novel international collaborative links, as for IOF pump priming grants, but allow for development of partnerships that require more resource. We have made this change due to lack of demand from the community for more than one round per year.

  • The maximum amount of funding requested in pump priming plus proposals will be reduced to £250,000 (at 80% full economic cost (FEC)) and peer reviewed in line with the process for NERC standard grants. The maximum amount available for standard grants is £800,000 (at 80% FEC). This change is to allow for a clear distinction to be made between an IOF proposal and a standard grant.

  • In addition to principal investigators being eligible, co-investigators currently in receipt of eligible NERC research funding can now apply directly to both IOF pump priming and pump priming plus grants.

  • Applicants will be required to submit an additional mandatory attachment in their application detailing how the IOF proposal will add value to existing NERC-funded research. This is a key requirement of the scheme.

The overall annual budget for the IOF scheme will remain the same as previous years.

This text was updated on 3 February 2016 to clarify this final point.


Weihao Zhong
01793 413172