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Groundbreaking two-way lead agency pilot

Date: 18/09/2013

Research Councils UK (RCUK) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) in the United States have entered into a new agreement designed to help support international research partnerships between the two countries.

This new two-way lead agency agreement enables a simplified and flexible process for researchers wishing to apply for UK-US collaborative research funding, using the usual systems and processes of the respective funding agencies.

The new agreement is first being implemented by the Social Behavioural and Economic Sciences Directorate of the NSF (SBE) in partnership with the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

Research is becoming increasingly global in nature and scope, and as such it's important to enable researchers to work together to achieve goals of mutual interest in more flexible ways.

One of the main goals of the agreement was to reduce the current barriers that exist to researchers with an international remit. Previously a researcher would have needed to submit separate proposals to their respective funding agencies with no guarantee both would take on the research. This two-way agreement overcomes this problem.

This first agreement allows researchers to follow a familiar procedure to the ones they are used to. Proposals will go through the normal submission and assessment processes of the lead agency and, if selected for funding, the non-lead agency will agree to fund the research in their country.

It also allows the submission of joint proposals between US and UK researchers to either the NSF or one of the participating councils, depending on the balance of research and funds. The agency which the proposal is submitted to is considered the lead agency.

The agreement will enable a more flexible mechanism. It will be researcher led so they will decide whether their proposal is to be UK- or US-led. No matter where they are based, the researchers will have the freedom to apply for funds to conduct research in any area which falls within the remit of the NSF Social, Behavioural and Economic Sciences Directorate and the participating councils.

UK-led proposals will be submitted via the standard responsive mode calls of the respective Research Councils which are open year-round which allows researchers to decide when they want to submit.

A plan has been put in place, which will lay the foundation for future collaborations between the Research Councils and other NSF Directorates, as well as between RCUK and other national funding agencies.

Professor Paul Boyle said: This agreement not only strengthens the existing valuable research links between the UK and the US but by avoiding ‘double jeopardy ‘in funding applications, it removes some of the barriers facing international research collaboration. As two of the strongest research systems in the world and the best resourced, the UK and the US have long been partners in research. The US is the first choice partner for many of the UK's best researchers, so we are delighted to enter into this agreement to make the process for collaborative research between our two countries as simplified and flexible as possible for our world-leading researchers.

For further information, please contact: Danielle Moore-Chick, AHRC: 01793 416021 d.moore-chick@ahrc.ac.uk

Notes to Editors

  • The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funds world-class, independent researchers in a wide range of subjects: ancient history, modern dance, archaeology, digital content, philosophy, English literature, design, the creative and performing arts, and much more. This financial year the AHRC will spend approximately £98m to fund research and postgraduate training in collaboration with a number of partners. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits but also contributes to the economic success of the UK. www.ahrc.ac.uk


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