Call for ideas for potential Strategic Priorities Fund programmes

Please note that this call for ideas is currently paused while we refresh our approach to seeking ideas from the community.

NERC is seeking ideas that could form the basis of future bids to the Strategic Priorities Fund (SPF). Ideas are being sought now to allow for early identification and development of programme proposals in anticipation of the potential for future wave(s) of funding through the SPF.

By an 'idea', NERC means a statement of a possible course of research and innovation, presented, as a sharply focused evidence need, challenge or opportunity that the proposer(s) consider would contribute to the delivery of the Strategic Priorities Fund.

This call for ideas is focused on two of the three core SPF aims:

  • Ensure that UKRI's investment links up effectively with government departments' research priorities and opportunities, encouraging funding for research that crosses boundaries between UK Research & Innovation councils and government departments. It will foster even closer collaboration between researchers and policymakers in directing the attention of research and innovation communities to the important questions identified by government departments.

  • Drive an increase in high-quality multi- and interdisciplinary research and innovation by encouraging and funding work in areas that previously may have struggled to find a home. It will ensure that good ideas are supported that might once have been more challenged by organisational boundaries. It will give pioneering research the space to develop, laying the foundations for future capability.

We are looking for ideas that address at least one of these aims and are at an appropriate scale for an SPF programme.  As an indication, the scale of programmes that NERC led or were a partner in for the first two SPF Waves ranged from £10m to £40m.

Ideas can come from any individual or group, and any interested parties, including from those who use environmental science, such as business, policymakers and non-governmental organisations.   

All ideas should have a strong environmental science component or challenge. The nature of the SPF bidding process means that ideas framed around an environmental solution have, in previous rounds, made particularly compelling cases for support.

Please refer to the guidance below, which explains what we are looking for in more detail.

Guidance for developing and submitting ideas for potential SPF programmes (PDF, 111KB)

Ideas for new SPF programmes should be submitted using the online submission form.

At this time, there is no cut-off date to submit ideas as the details of any potential future waves of SPF have not been announced.  


NERC encourages ideas from all parts of the environmental science community and NERC staff are available to discuss potential ideas and provide advice. If you have any queries on the process or would like advice on a potential idea, please contact us at in the first instance, and we will put you in touch with a NERC colleague who can help.