Funding for international collaborations

The collaboration between NERC and the US's National Science Foundation (NSF) under the Lead Agency Agreement is continuing following a successful initial two-year phase (2015-2016). Updated guidance for applicants can be found below.

We work internationally with other funding organisations to help support excellent research collaborations. Agreements exist with priority funders to allow researchers to submit a single collaborative proposal. These agreements help minimise the risk of double jeopardy - instead of being reviewed by both funders, each collaborative submission is reviewed by a single panel, avoiding duplication of effort for applicants and peer reviewers. These agreements do not represent additional funding, their aim to make routes to collaboration as 'normal business' as possible.

National Science Foundation

NERC and the US's National Science Foundation (NSF) have agreed to work together to make it easier for world-leading environmental scientists to collaborate on discovery science projects and tackling global environmental challenges. Proposals must be an integrated UK-US effort to address a research topic of interest to both NERC and a relevant NSF division that would benefit from a collaborative approach.

Agreements operate with the NSF division of environmental biology (DEB) and the NSF directorate for geosciences (GEO) through NERC's discovery science schemes and NSF's equivalent schemes in 2015 and 2016, using existing budgets and peer review mechanisms. NERC will accept invited full proposals under both agreements from July 2015.

The guidance for applicants below explains how to submit a discovery science proposal using the NERC-NSF DEB or NERC-NSF-GEO agreement. Please refer to both the guidance document and the separate flowchart of the lead agency process for information.

NERC-NSF Guidance for applicants (PDF, 106KB)

NERC-NSF lead agency process flowchart (PDF, 154KB)

UK budget form (NSF-NERC) for NSF lead agency proposals (Word, 26KB)

US budget form (NSF-NERC) for NERC lead agency proposals (Word, 96KB)

Early contact with the funders is essential to help you through the steps required before a full proposal can be submitted. The first step it to identify the 'lead agency' as proposals can be submitted to NSF or NERC depending on where the largest proportion of the research is based.

For guidance from NERC please contact .

For guidance from NSF please contact either or as appropriate.


NERC and our RCUK partners have a Memorandum of Understanding with FAPESP - external link, the Research Council for the State of São Paulo, Brazil. This removes barriers to collaboration by enabling a single review process for joint applications in discovery science, and in selected research programmes. See the RCUK guidance - external link - for information on how to submit a proposal to NERC in collaboration with FAPESP funded researchers.

Fonds National de la Recherche (FNR)

NERC and our RCUK partners work in partnership with Fonds National de la Recherche (FNR) - external link in Luxembourg, to encourage and support proposals that involve international collaborative teams. This agreement not only avoids double jeopardy in funding applications, it also demonstrates our commitment to an open and inclusive European Research Area by removing some of the barriers facing international research collaboration. See the RCUK guidance - external link for information on how to submit a proposal to NERC in collaboration with FNR funded researchers.