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Discovery Projects call – Towards a National Collection: Opening UK Heritage to the World

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The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), on behalf of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), is pleased to announce the call for the Discovery Projects of Towards a National Collection: Opening UK Heritage to the World.

Towards a National Collection represents a major investment (£19 million in total)  in the UK’s world-leading cultural and heritage sector. Funded from UKRI’s Strategic Priorities Fund, Towards a National Collection addresses the lack of coordination between different online collections and catalogues, which constitutes a major barrier to research and public access.

Forging new and deeper partnerships between Independent Research Organisations (IROs) and Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), and using the catalytic potential of new technology, the programme will begin to dissolve barriers between different collections, opening them up to new cross-disciplinary and cross-collection lines of research, and at the same time diversifying their visitor base and the ways in which the public access them.

The aim is to begin to realise the full, combined potential of the collections not only for research but for the heritage economy and the wider social good, and to take the first important steps towards creating a virtual ‘national collection’.

The Discovery Projects form the major part of this investment, and this call aims to fund up to five projects over a maximum of 36 months within a total funding envelope of up to £15 million. The indicative limit for each project is £3 million.

For the full call specification please see the Towards a National Collection call guidance (PDF, 380KB).

Please also see our Frequently asked Questions document about his call here (PDF, 369KB).

Open meetings

Following the success of these webinars, we will be hosting four more webinars in August 2020. These webinars will be in two formats. The first will be “Introduction” webinars and will replicate the first run of the ones held in May and June. These are targeted at those who were unable to make those initial sessions. The second will be “Support” webinars are aimed at those who attended those sessions and are at a more advanced stage with their proposals). The dates and times of the webinars are below.

  • (INTRODUCTION webinar) Tuesday 11th August 2020 – 1000-1200 BST    
  • (SUPPORT webinar) Wednesday 12th August 2020 – 1030-1230 BST
  • (SUPPORT webinar) Tuesday 18th August 2020 – 1400-1600 BST 
  • (INTRODUCTION webinar) Wednesday 19th August 2020 – 1400-1600 BST

If you wish to attend, please complete the online SmartSurvey which can be found at:


Following the webinars held in June, we collated a document with the most frequently asked questions around the Discovery Projects Call, which you can find here here.

The deadline for outline proposals is: 16:00 GMT, 17 November 2020.

More information on the webinars can be found on the main Towards a National Collection page.

JISC Mail Group

To help organisations form partnerships for the proposals, AHRC has set up a discussion mailing list with JISC for use as a partner matching tool.

Closing Dates

Closing Date: 17/11/2020

The deadline for outline proposals is: 17 November 2020, 16:00 GMT

How to make an application

This call will have a two-stage application process: an outline stage followed by a full proposal stage.

Outline proposals must be submitted by 17 November 2020, 16:00 GMT.

Outline proposals will be reviewed and shortlisted, and will be invited to attend a workshop on 17 February 2021 where advice and guidance on the full proposal stage will be given.

Only those who are shortlisted and attend the workshop will be invited to submit at the full proposal stage.

Applicants must submit an outline proposal in order to be invited to submit a full proposal.

Please see the ‘Application Process’ section of the Towards a National Collection call guidance below for further details.

Download - Towards a National Collection call guidance

Further Information

Further information about the programme as a whole can be found on the Towards a National Collection: Opening UK Heritage to the World programme webpage.


Enquiries regarding this call should be directed to:

Consultation with the Programme Director on proposal ideas is encouraged. Please contact
Rebecca Bailey – Rebecca.bailey@hes.scot  

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