1. About our research
  2. Spotlight on research
  3. Research in our departments and centres
  4. Research publications
  5. Research and Enterprise
  6. City's Research Excellence Framework 2014
  7. Research Degrees
  1. Research funding
  2. How to identify funding opportunities

How to identify funding opportunities

An introduction to different types and sources of UK funding, and how to find out more information.

We know that looking for funding can seem intimidating. We hope this summary will be useful in clarifying what research funding is and where it usually comes from.

Funding obtained through an application made as part of a competitive process is generally available through one of two types of calls or modes:

  • Open/responsive - this when a funder invites applications under a general set of criteria at any time or to advertised closing dates.
  • Directed/managed/targeted - if a funder has a specific objective, it may issue a one-off or periodic funding call which has more specific criteria.

You can find opportunities from different funding bodies through ResearchProfessional. Funding may of course also be obtained from industry or business: this is more usually through individual connections but will still require costing and a contract to be drawn up for approval through the institution's processes.

UK funding opportunities

There are three main types of funding body based in the UK:

  • Research Councils
  • Government, NHS and local authorities
  • Grant-giving trusts and foundations

Research Councils

The seven Research Councils are:

The Councils co-ordinate their activities through a partnership body called Research Councils UK (RCUK). RCUK has a number of representative offices overseas, in Beijing, Brussels, New Delhi and Washington DC. The UK Research Office (UKRO) in Brussels provides information and advice on EU funding programmes to subscribers, including City.

Since 2011, Councils have been focusing on fewer strategic areas and their funding will be concentrated in fewer but larger grants to a smaller number of institutions over a longer period. They will increasingly support transformative interdisciplinary research, cross-institutional partnerships and engagement with private, public and voluntary/charity sectors. A greater emphasis is being placed on addressing research challenges on a national basis and within economic and social sectors. Councils are seeking greater societal and economic impact from their investments and applicants are expected to integrate impact activities within their proposals.

We strongly encourage our researchers to speak to us in order to understand how to address the new priorities of the Councils.

Government, NHS and local authorities

Other public bodies, such as Government departments and local authorities, may issue periodic funding calls. The nature and scale of these calls varies between organisations.

Of particular interest to City researchers is the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) which supports health research of benefit to the NHS.

Grant-making trusts and foundations

There are about 8,800 grant-making trusts and foundations in the UK, giving in total about £2.1 billion in grants to charitable causes each year. Some, but not all, can fund academic research. The amounts they offer vary from a few hundred pounds to multi-million pound grants.