Research organisation eligibility
The research councils promote and support research, postgraduate training and associated activities in UK research organisations. These may be supported in any field or discipline at the instigation of the Investigator (Responsive Mode) or at the instigation of the research council (research programmes or Managed Mode).
All UK Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are eligible to receive funds for research, postgraduate training and associated activities. The Higher Education Funding Councils determine whether an organisation meets the criteria as an HEI. Research Institutes (RIs), for which research councils have established a long term involvement as major funder as part of the national research base (and which are listed on the RCUK eligibility pages), are also eligible to receive research funding.
Other Independent Research Organisations (IROs) may also be eligible to receive funding for research, if such research extends and enhances the national research base. The organisations must satisfy all the following conditions:
- Organisations which are, or which are constituent parts of, a charity registered with the Charities Commission; or associations which are eligible for exemption from Corporation Tax under schedule 508 of the Income and Corporation Taxes 1988; or organisations which are wholly owned subsidiaries of an association approved under section 508 of the Income and Corporations Taxes Act whose articles of association require that all profits are returned (gift-aided) to the section 508 association.
- The organisation must be a legal entity which is not:
- established; or
- primarily funded for research purposes
- The organisation must be able to demonstrate an independent capability to undertake research in the field or discipline in which it wishes to be funded, and lead the research for which funding is received.
IROs are eligible to receive funding from a research council in its managed mode or in response to a specific Call for proposals. Unless specifically stated by an individual council, access to Responsive Mode funding is limited to HEIs and RIs. Organisations currently recognised as IROs are listed on the Research Councils UK eligibility pages.
Organisations that are eligible to apply for research council funding may work in partnership or collaboration with any other organisation, irrespective of its eligibility status, subject to the conditions of any grant awarded.
In unusual cases research councils may have requirements for the development of equipment or facilities, needed to pursue their research priorities, for which there is no capability in HEIs, RIs or IROs. In these specific circumstances, the research councils will issue a call for proposals and may fund organisations which do not otherwise satisfy the conditions for eligibility.
The research councils will jointly consider eligibility of IROs for research funding, normally on an annual basis, and eligibility may be restricted to certain research councils. This review will also need to determine that the IRO is able to meet the accountability and audit requirements. An IRO can approach any council. The Research Administration Convergence Network (RACN) will coordinate this assessment to ensure consistency of approach between councils. BIS will be invited as observers to these meetings. The list of eligible organisations will be published on the RCUK website. A change in the status of an IRO would require re-consideration of an IRO's eligibility. Otherwise, once eligibility has been granted, it will continue unless the IRO has received no funding during the previous five years.
Full details of the eligibility criteria for both individual applicants and research organisations, can be found in the NERC Research Grants & Fellowships Handbook.