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UKRI Future Leaders Fellowships Scheme

Proposals are invited for the UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship (FLF). This multidisciplinary fellowship scheme aims to develop, retain, attract and sustain research and innovation talent in the UK, by providing up to seven years of funding, for at least 550 early-career researchers and innovators, across all areas of the Research Councils’ and Innovate UK’s remit.

Fellowships can be held at any UK-based organisation currently registered as eligible to apply to the Research Councils (e.g. Higher Education Institutes, Research Council Institutes and eligible Independent Research Organisations), or Innovate UK.  Companies or other privately owned research organisations are encouraged to host UKRI Future Leaders Fellowships if they can provide an Innovation and/or research environment of international standing.

There will be six calls for the FLFs, with two calls taking place each year over the next three years.  Applications can be submitted in any area of research or innovation covered by the Research Councils and Innovate UK.

Visit the UKRI call page for round three of Future Leaders Fellowships scheme.

Is it for me?

We strongly encourage early career researchers in the arts and humanities to make the most of this opportunity, which is unprecedented in its size and scale.

Professor Roey Sweet
Professor Roey Sweet, AHRC Director of Partnerships and Engagement

Professor Roey Sweet, The AHRC’s Director of Partnerships and Engagement, said “The Future Leaders Fellowship scheme represents a transformational opportunity for early career researchers in the arts and humanities.

“The significance and the length of these prestigious awards are unprecedented in arts and humanities funding and they will give the opportunity for the brightest and best to realise their boundless potential.

“With the call open to researchers from all disciplines, we anticipate there will be stiff competition, but those who are successful will be able to cement their careers. Strong representation from our community will further reinforce the UK’s position as a world leader in arts and humanities research.”

More information is available on the UK Research and Innovation website.

Which Fellowship?

Many of those who are eligible for the UKRI Future Leaders Fellowships will also be eligible for AHRC’s Leadership Fellows scheme, and vice versa.  To help you to consider which Fellowship scheme might be the best fit for your project, we have outlined the differences between the two schemes.

   AHRC Leadership Fellows (ECR route) UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship
  • support for researchers to develop their capabilities as research leaders;
  • to carry out excellent individual research which was the potential to generate a transformative impact on their discipline, and which is of exceptional intellectual scope and importance;
  • develop and undertake innovative and collaborative leadership activities which are connected to their research and which will result in benefits for their own discipline(s) and beyond;
  • to develop the leadership experience and capabilities of early career researchers in a crucial phase of their careers as they establish themselves and develop beyond doctoral and immediate post-doctoral work;
  • enable the production of high quality innovative research that moves significantly beyond doctoral projects.
  • develop, retain, attract and sustain research and innovation talent in the UK
    foster new research and innovation career paths including those at the academic/business and interdisciplinary boundaries, and facilitate movement of people between sectors;
  • provide sustained funding and resources for the best early career researchers and innovators;
  • provide long-term, flexible funding to tackle different and novel challenges, and support adventurous, ambitious programmes.
Organisational eligibility UK HEIs and recognised IROs UK HEIs, UK-registered businesses, recognised IROs, and RC institutes and laboratories;
collaborating hosts can include charities, government departments, community groups, non-UK HEIs, companies and research organisations
Individual eligibility
  • doctorate or equivalent research experience/training
  • academic researcher with a contract at a UK HEI of at least 12 months prior to application, and lasting for the duration of the proposed award period
  • < 8 years post-PhD, or < 6 years from first academic appointment, excluding any career breaks
  • doctorate or equivalent research experience/training;
    academic researchers and innovators, who have not already held substantial ECR funding grants;
  • fit of project/programme to scheme, and fit of individual to undertake the project, and demonstrate how it will contribute to their leadership within their subject area and research more broadly (refer to Person Specification)
Subject area eligibility AHRC remit anything fundable by RCs and Innovate UK
Host organisation commitment
  • contract to end of proposed award period
  • support for research and the Fellow’s development
  • applied for based on 80% FEC
  • tapered salary commitment from year 3;
  • open-ended position during or at end of Fellowship;
  • applied for based on 80% FEC;
  • supportive research/innovation environment for the Fellow (for example, office/lab space, relevant training, mentoring and support, access to specialist facilities)
Length of award 1-2 years 4 + 3 years (with progress review)
Nature of contract
  • Can be balanced with existing academic/research duties
  • up to 12 months may be taken at 100% FTE (no other professional activities allowed except PhD supervision)
  • average duration over award period must be no less than 50% FTE
  • Existing academic/research duties must be relinquished for duration of the Fellowship;
  • 100% of Fellow's working time must be dedicated to the fellowship to focus on research;
  • Fellows in receipt of full-time awards would not be expected to spend more than 6 hrs/week (pro-rated for p/t) on other ongoing research commitments
Amount of award £50k - £250k no maximum, but awards over £1.2m (at 80% FEC) should be discussed in advance with UKRI staff
Assessment criteria
  • Quality and importance of research
  • People
  • Proposed leadership activities
  • Project management
  • Data management
  • Value for money
  • Output, dissemination and impact
  • Research/Innovation excellence
  • Applicant and their development
  • Impact and strategic relevance
  • Research environment and costs
Assessment format Office sift, peer review, PI response, panel moderation Office sift, peer review, PI response, panel moderation, panel interview

More information

Further details about the scheme, eligibility criteria, and how to apply may be found on the Future Leaders Fellowships call page at: www.ukri.org/funding/funding-opportunities/future-leaders-fellowships.