EPSRC DecarboN8 Network Plus seedcorn funding call and sandpit

We are pleased to announce the next round of DecarboN8 Seedcorn Funding.

Jump to Frequently Asked Questions

This is a challenge-based call and will involve a multi-stage online sandpit process and engagement with DecarboN8 stakeholders. The aim of this is to support applicants to co-design high quality research projects which respond directly to real-world transport decarbonisation challenges in the North of England, building in local knowledge and resources.

For this round of seedcorn funding, a total of £250,000 (£200,000 at 80% fEC) is available. Proposals are invited for projects of up to 6 months duration.

As this is seedcorn funding, we do 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 £250,000 between up to 5 projects.

Applications are encouraged for activities such as:

  • Exploratory research studies
  • Secondary data analysis
  • Comparative case study research
  • Inter-disciplinary activities such as workshops

Working with our regional partners we have identified a list of indicative topic areas, which align with our thematic priorities. The list is not prioritised in order of importance nor is it intended to be comprehensive or restrictive in nature and we actively encourage ideas in areas not listed.

  • What approaches are needed to convert a Paris-Compliant carbon budget to transport carbon budgets at a sub-national scale?
  • What do we understand about car-dependent areas? What is different about options, attitudes and appetite for change? How can these areas be encouraged to set targets and decarbonise more quickly?
  • How should we electrify transport? This might include questions of the fleet size, vehicle right sizing, urban realm considerations and the equity implications of different approaches. Interactions with local electricity network capacity and models for funding upgrades and use may also be in scope. We are interested in different electrification scenarios which look at shared futures and how it will interact with other modes. Projects might look at different use cases and place combinations. Note that electrification is the core focus of the DTE Network+ and we will only consider specifically place-based proposals.
  • Is there a case for accelerated adoption of hydrogen for heavy vehicles in the North? What aspects of geography or activity mix, fleet structure and usage patterns make hydrogen adoption more important and where might electrification fit better? How important is multi-modal adoption (e.g. rail and ports) to the case? Note that hydrogen is the core focus of the H2 Network+ and we will only consider specifically place-based proposals.
  • How can we incorporate an understanding the embodied energy of transport infrastructure investment and maintenance programmes and vehicle construction and maintenance into decision-making? How can these emissions be reduced? For vehicles how can different fleet mixes of bikes, e-bikes and scooters contribute to lower overall embodied emissions?
  • What innovations are necessary to incorporate micro-logistics (e.g. cargo bikes, micro consolidation, micro rail freight) into the delivery chain? How else can last-mile delivery be tackled through changes to planning and regulation of the sector?
  • What rapid transport decarbonisation options exist for rural areas? Is there potential for a rural MaaS service? How should areas with significant visitor travel such as National Parks respond?
  • What urban interventions can stimulate a reduction in total vehicle ownership and an increase in non-motorised modes? This might include research into the role of 15-minute neighbourhoods, step-change investments in active modes or new mobility services. How do we understand more about the variation in uptake between different communities and different authorities?
  • What are the impacts of better active travel provision on economic vitality of an area? How important are road-space reallocations which to non-motorised modes? How do places that reduce parking compare with places which refuse to take out parking? In what kinds of places does this matter most?
  • What innovations could cut carbon through a more activity or community-led approach? Whilst workplace and school travel planning is widespread, this is less true of other activities, yet they comprise around 70% of all transport carbon emissions – is this an opportunity?
  • What could accelerate a return to public transport in the North after Covid19?
  • Who wins and who loses in different transport decarbonisation strategies? What are the distributional impacts of decarbonisation and how do these vary spatially and by community, class, gender, race, age, dis/ability, etc? What can be done to deliver a just transition?

Within these topics we recognise there may be scope for:

  • Interpreting new data sources to provide carbon insights
  • Developing open access tools or activities which communicate transport decarbonisation policy options and trade-offs to different audiences
  • Understanding barriers to uptake and action amongst citizens, businesses, and government stakeholders.

Key Dates

09 December 2020Sandpit Registration opens
19 January 20215pm deadline for sandpit registration (now closed)
19 January 2021Asynchronous Online Activities begin
02 February 2021Online Workshop 1
10 February 20215pm deadline for intention to submit
12 February 2021Online Workshop 2
11 March 20215pm deadline for 500-word project summary
March 2021Regional Youth Climate Assembly online interviews (23, 26 and 30 March)
29 April 20215pm deadline for full applications
10 May 2021Decisions announced (Postponed to 2 June 2021)
01 July 2021Earliest project start date (latest start date is 1 Oct 2021)

Call Documents

Guidance for Applicants (PDF: 335kb – includes eligibility criteria)

Intention to submit (online form – now open) Deadline: 10 February 2021

Project Summary form (Word: 65kb) Deadline: 11 March 2021

Full Stage Application form (Word: 72kb) Deadline: 29 April 2021

Sandpit registration (online form – now closed)

Help and FAQ

If you have any questions about the call which are not answered in the call guidance, please email

We will publish (anonymised) responses to your questions below, to help other applicants.

Past calls:

DecarboN8 Seedcorn Fund: Round 1 (closed 27 February 2020) – read about the funded projects

EPSRC DecarboN8 Network Plus funding call 2: Rapid Response Road-space Reallocation (RRRR) (closed 27 May 2020) – read about the funded projects

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