Follow-on Fund

This annual call has now closed and will open late spring 2017.

The Follow-on Fund is a simple and straightforward process which helped us ensure our research had the greatest possible impact. Our two grants have enabled us to conduct applied research as well as further fundamental science. They have also raised our profile in the commercial sector, leading to further projects that have created investment and jobs.

- Professor Tariq Butt, Swansea University

NERC works together with universities and research centres to sustain world-leading research that delivers value and impact for the UK economy and society. The Follow-on Fund is a 'proof of concept' fund to support the commercialisation of ideas arising from that NERC-funded research.

As the name suggests, the Follow-on Fund picks up where research programme and discovery science (responsive mode) grants leave off and enables those research outputs to be further developed so their commercial potential can be realised.

Examples of activities funded include technology licensing, launching technology-based products or services, selling know-how based consultancy services, and the commercialisation of NERC-funded datasets. Proposals are invited for projects pursuing any of these approaches or, indeed, others.

A maximum of £125,000 (£100,000 NERC contribution at 80% full economic cost) may be requested.

In order to recommend you for a Follow-on award, the Proof of Concept Panel will need to be confident that you have a good understanding of the market environment for your technology, a clear idea of who you believe will be interested in it and why, and that you have a credible plan for driving your project towards an appropriate commercial outcome.

If you are uncertain on any of these issues, you are strongly advised to apply for a Pathfinder grant before making an application to the Follow-on Fund.

All follow-on funded projects will be required to submit a final report (see documents below).


You are encouraged to seek input from potential commercial stakeholders and end-users before submitting an application to the Follow-on Fund to help ensure that your proposed project is shaped by and responsive to their needs, thereby increasing the likelihood of it being successful and achieving impact.


The fund is open to researchers with current or past NERC funding.

  • Proposals for Follow-on support must build on the outputs of recent or previous NERC-funded research activity.
  • Proposals must come from a research organisation eligible to apply to NERC; please see eligibility guidance on the RCUK website - external link.
  • Proposals to NERC's Follow-on Fund must fall within NERC's science remit.
  • Planned outcomes must fall within NERC's remit.
  • Projects whose aim is to develop products or services based on NERC-funded research outputs and capabilities ('blue sky' projects and applied research for commercial partners are not eligible).
  • Projects do not have to be based on proprietary, patentable intellectual property. For example, substantial databases and other information sources within the NERC research community might form the basis of successful service businesses. The scale of the opportunity can vary, from relatively modest through to very large.
  • All projects must have demonstrable economic potential, even if only modest, and be likely to deliver some form of societal or environmental benefit.

Please note: Potential applicants from NERC's research centres must contact the commercialisation manager at their research centre before applying:

Matthew Polaine
Innovation manager
Aurora, British Antarctic Survey

Mike Ackroyd
Commercialisation manager
British Geological Survey

Nicholas Corker
Commercialisation manager
Centre for Ecology & Hydrology

Dr Paul T Wilkinson
Commercialisation manager
Innovation & enterprise, National Oceanography Centre

How to apply

Proposals to the NERC Follow-on Fund should be submitted through the Je-S system - external link.

Please select the following on Je-S:

  • Select council - NERC
  • Select document type - Standard proposal
  • Select scheme - Innovation
  • Select call - Follow-on Fund SEP 2016

Applicants or applicants' Technology Transfer Offices are invited to contact NERC to discuss possible proposals before drafting.

Shortlisted applicants will be required to attend an interview with the Assessment Panel in London on 29 November 2016. Applicants can invite partners / end-users to accompany them if they feel it will strengthen their case, but it is not compulsory.


To find out more, please see the following documents:

Follow-on Fund - Guidance for applicants (PDF, 221KB)

Guidance for writing supporting letters (PDF, 12KB)

Follow-on Fund - Final report form (Word, 114KB)

For the pilot Follow-on Fund grant holders (those with grants of over £125,000 or over 12 months in duration), please use the following interim report:

Follow-on Fund - Interim progress report form (Word, 63KB)

NERC has compiled a list of potential funding sources for the exploitation and commercialisation of research:

Potential funding sources (PDF, 334KB)


Tessa Edgecombe
Senior programme manager (innovation)
01793 442610