Call for ideas for strategic research highlight topics

NERC invites new ideas (strategic funding for research and innovation) for the 8th round of the highlight topics scheme.

Ideas can come from any individual or group, and any part of the environmental science community (including researchers and those who use environmental science research). Once an idea is sent to NERC, the proposer relinquishes ownership of that idea and transfers it to NERC. NERC may choose to publish or share material received.

By an 'idea', NERC means a statement of a possible course of research, presented for example as a sharply-focused question, gap, challenge or opportunity, that the proposer(s) consider would work within the framework of the NERC Delivery Plan 2019 (PDF)- external link. Please refer to the generic guidance below, which explains what we are looking for in a highlight topic idea in more detail.

Guidance for developing and submitting ideas for strategic research (PDF, 215KB)

Ideas for new highlight topics should be submitted by 4 May 2021 1600 BST using the online submission form.

Ideas will have a lifetime of a single round to ensure they remain timely. All submitters of ideas will receive feedback depending on whether their idea contributed to a highlight topic, whether it is felt to have potential but needs further development, or whether it is not considered to be appropriate for strategic research investment at this time.  We encourage the community to use this feedback and the ideas guidance to decide whether to resubmit ideas for future rounds.

Cut-off dates

Please note that timings are indicative only and so may change.

HT timetable

  • Cut-off date for HT R8 ideas 2021 – 1600 BST on 4 May 2021
  • New highlight topics announced for round 8, feedback on ideas submitted available - November 2021


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.