Research and knowledge exchange

UKRI Future Leaders Fellowships

The 8th round of the Future Leaders Fellowships call is open and Sussex is able to submit 4 applications. Details of the internal selection process are below.

Scheme aims and eligibility

UKRI is looking to fund fellowships of up to 7 years to support talented researchers and innovators who are transitioning to research or innovation leadership.  The scheme aims to:

  • develop, retain, attract and sustain research and innovation talent in the UK
  • foster new research and innovation career paths including those at the academic, business and interdisciplinary boundaries, and facilitate movement of people between sectors
  • provide sustained funding and resources for the best early career researchers and innovators
  • provide long-term, flexible funding to tackle difficult and novel challenges, and support adventurous, ambitious programmes

Applications are welcome from the entirity of the UKRI remit. 

UKRI is deliberately vague about the career level, or years post-PhD, that applicants should have reached.  They merely state that applicants must have a PhD or relevant experience and must be able to demonstrate that they have not yet achieved research/innovation independence and thought leadership.  What is clear from the guidance is that applicants should have an outstanding track record, relative to their level of experience, and their accomplishments should be beyond the level normally expected of someone at their career stage.

UKRI note that the strongest applications are those which are best able to demonstrate how the scale, flexibility and duration of a FLF will add value to both the research and the researcher’s career, in a way that no other source of funding could. FLFs are potentially 7 years and as such the research proposal should be ambitious in scale and beyond that of a regular grant proposal.   

To assess your suitability please read the UKRI Guidance for academic-hosted applications 

Funding and school commitment

Funding is for 7 years available on a 4+3 model with a review in year 4.  

Funds can cover usual research council project costs including the Fellow’s salary. There is no minimum or maximum project cost and UKRI is currently supporting FLFs ranging from £300k to £2M.

In order to demonstrate institutional support to the Fellowship, the host School is required to commit to an increased percentage of the Fellow’s salary and to the individual securing an open-ended position at the end of their fellowship.  

As in previous rounds, institutional support will be an important component of these fellowships.  Schools could consider the following: mentorship and coaching, access to networks, potential collaborators; professional development and training opportunities; access to equipment, facilities and space; and PhD studentships to be linked to the FLF programme of work.

Internal selection process

UKRI introduced institutional quotas in Round 7 and Round 8 remains capped at the same level.  There will be a two-stage selection process, first at school level,  followed by a central panel, chaired by the Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor Research.

Each School is invited to submit up to 3 candidates for consideration by the University’s central review panel.  When considering how many applications to submit, we would encourage Schools to think carefully about the readiness and competitiveness of potential nominees.

The deadline for Schools to submit their nominations, on the Internal Expression of Interest form, is 4pm Monday 24 April 2023. Please note this form includes a statement of support from the Head of School. 

The central review panel will be interdisciplinary so applicants should remember that their proposal will not be reviewed by experts in their field.  The composition of this central review panel will primarily draw on the expertise of Sussex colleagues who have been involved in the FLF scheme as either a peer reviewer or a member of the sift and interview panels.

The internal expression of interest form asks School nominated candidates to provide the names and contact details of up to 3 independent experts who they have approached and who have already agreed to provide an assessment of their proposal. For those proposals that are selected by the Sussex panel, Research and Enterprise Services will approach one person from the candidate's list and request an external review to support the development of the bid before onward submission to UKRI.  

Application timetable 

Internal deadline

Applications & the overview of the School’s selection process to be submitted to

4pm Monday 24 April 2023

Internal panel meets to review bids

w/c 15 May 2023

Decision communicated to applicants and Schools

By 19th May 2023

UKRI deadline

4th July 2023

Further information and RES contacts

School nominated applicants should complete the internal Expression of Interest form 

Applications must be submitted via the School on behalf of the potential applicant to by 4pm 24 April 2023.

If you have queries about the internal demand management process please contact Debbie Foy in Research and Enterprise.

Your School's Research Development Manager will be able to support the development of your bid.

Further information is available on the UKRI website.