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NERC's discovery science (responsive mode) funding stream supports excellent environmental research that is driven by curiosity rather than by NERC's wider strategic priorities. Asking fundamental questions about how the world works often turns out to have wide-ranging social and economic benefits.

Discovery science can support pure, applied, technology-led or policy-driven research, but it must address - or provide the means to address - clearly-defined scientific questions.

Adventurous research, multidisciplinary research and collaborations with international and non-academic partners are encouraged.

NERC's research grant schemes provide financial support for environmental scientists to carry out research projects of international quality at UK universities and other approved research institutions.

Types of research grant

Our grants fall into three main categories:

  • Standard research grants (including New Investigator grants).
  • Large research grants, intended to support complex, large-scale research.
  • Urgency grants, for work that exploits unexpected and short-lived research opportunities, such as those offered by natural events like earthquakes or volcanic eruptions.

Funding across research councils

We work with other research councils at the boundaries of our remit to make sure that there are no gaps in funding.

Demand management measures

Demand management measures for NERC discovery science (responsive mode) funding schemes were introduced with effect from 1 April 2012.