EPSRC DecarboN8 Network Plus seedcorn funding: Round 1

We are pleased to announce our first seedcorn funding call.

The deadline for applications is 5pm (GMT) on Thursday 27 February 2020.


16 December 2019: Call opens
27 February 2020: 5pm (GMT) closing date for applications
05 March 2020: Panel
09 March 2020: Decisions announced
01 April 2020: Earliest project start date

For this first round of seedcorn funding, a total of £100,000 (£80,000 at 80% fEC) is available. Two further funding calls will be run in 2020 and 2021, where a further £300,000 (£240,000 at 80% fEC) will be available. Proposals are invited for projects of up to 6 months duration.

Applications are encouraged for activities such as:

  • Exploratory research studies
  • Secondary data analysis
  • Comparative case study research
  • Interdisciplinary activities such as workshops

As this is seedcorn funding, we would not anticipate funding a small number of very high value bids. Whilst we are not setting a maximum value, applicants should be aware that we expect to share the £100,000 between a number of smaller projects. Our aim is to support research that demonstrates a credible path to larger funding applications to the Research Councils, InnovateUK, or other sources. We are particularly keen to encourage new inter- and multi-disciplinary collaborations and to support the development of Early Career Researchers in this area.

DecarboN8 welcomes applications from teams from across the UK. We encourage applications that utilise a place-based approach: reflecting the diversity of people, places and journeys, currently under-served by the dominant focus on city-centres and commuter travel. Our focus is on developing the North of England as a learning environment for carbon and transport research and proposals must support this goal.

The following is a list of indicative topic areas, which have been drawn from our thematic priorities, local stakeholder consultations and workshop outputs to date. The list is not prioritised in order of importance nor is it intended to be comprehensive or restrictive in nature:

  • Understanding inequities in the spatial and social distribution of carbon consumption
  • Developing approaches to convert a Paris-Compliant carbon budget to transport carbon budgets at a sub-national scale
  • Linking developments in the electrification of vehicles, provision of charging infrastructure and local energy systems
  • Evaluating the potential for regional biofuel supply chains focussed on light and heavy goods fleets
  • Understanding the embodied energy of transport infrastructure investment and maintenance programmes and how to reduce it
  • Developing the social acceptability and societal readiness of policy, technology, infrastructure innovations
  • Reducing barriers to multi-modal travel through innovative solutions such as re-imagining interchange points
  • Developing or synthesising the evidence base for important but under-researched non-commute based travel behaviour
  • Innovatively addressing aspects of social innovation and social change (transport and non-transport adaptations) including business, governmental and societal adaptations.
  • Interpreting new data sources to provide carbon insights
  • Developing open access tools which communicate carbon policy options and trade-offs to different audiences

Call Documents

Guidelines for Applicants (PDF, 502 KB)

Application Form (DOC, 70 KB)

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion monitoring survey (Online)

Completed applications should be emailed to by 5pm (GMT) on Thursday 27th February 2020.

If you are submitting your application form as a PDF, please also include the completed WORD version of your application.

FAQ and Contact Us

We will publish (anonymised) answers to all questions applicants ask us below.

If you have a question which has not been answered yet, please do not hesitate to contact us by emailing

Further reading: 23 January 2020, DecarboN8 lead at the University of Liverpool, Professor Karl Whittle, spoke to Research Professional and answered their questions about the call.

Q: Can I apply for funding for a project which is not about decarbonising transport?
A: Projects which do not contribute to DecarboN8’s mission to decarbonise transport are not eligible for funding.

Q: I am a visiting fellow at a UK University, am I eligible to apply as a Principle Investigator (PI)?
A: Unfortunately not, but the University you are visiting at might allow you to apply with one of their tenured academics as a PI mentor. Contact your research office to discuss your options.

Q: My project is about aviation, would it be eligible for funding?
A: We are not opposed in principle to funding projects which address aviation, however I would encourage you to review our research priorities for this round to ensure your proposed project is somewhat related to these. DecarboN8 is committed to supporting the development of place-based approaches to transport research, and so proposals which apply this approach are strongly encouraged.

Q: I am an academic at a UK University which is not in the North or the N8 – can I apply?
A: Non-Northern UK universities are welcome to apply. Our focus is on decarbonising transport in the North, so projects which seek to address this will be eligible, whether the lead applicant is a university from the North of England or elsewhere in the UK.

Q: What is the latest permissible project start date?
A: 01 July 2020

Q: Will your second and third round of funding calls also be seedcorn funding for smaller projects, or are they likely to different from this first round?
A: Yes, the subsequent calls will also be seedcorn funding. We aim to use our funding to help researchers leverage further funds for a diverse range of larger projects.

Q: My research focus is a city outside the North of England, will my project be eligible?
A: Proposals from all areas of the UK are welcome, however to increase your chance of success we recommend explaining clearly the ways in which your research: 1) addresses DecarboN8’s research priorities; 2) takes a place-based approach; 3) addresses societal readiness. As this is seedcorn funding, it may be used to support the development of a larger proposal which connects your current research focus to the North.

Q: The project we have in mind would be around £25-30k – would that be considered too high? Should we be aiming for something around £10-15k?
A: We anticipate funding in the region of 10 smaller projects, which leaves around £10,000 (fEC) for each project. The more ambitious a proposal in terms of finance, the higher quality it will need to be, in order for us to justify funding fewer projects. What will improve most proposals’ chance of success will be to request a smaller amount and to have a solid plan to use the project as a springboard to scale up the work and secure further funding.

Q: Should in-kind contributions be mentioned in the box on the first page, ‘is this funding being matched?’
A: Yes, please do include any in-kind contributions in the match-funding box. When doing so, please include the words ‘in-kind’ in the text, so we have clarity on the nature of the contribution for our records.

Q: Should letters of support come as a separate attachment, or should they be added to the application form and the whole document sent as a PDF?
A: Please attach letters of support as separate documents, rather than as part of the main PDF.

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