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Pump-priming funding for new research collaborations

The IAA aims to establish closer working partnerships between researchers and business. Partnership Development Awards will pump-prime collaborations with industry partners. The fund is open to research projects within EPSRC remit, and linked to previous EPSRC funded research,which will kick-start collaborations with companies who have significant potential to become new business partners for the University.

Typically, an IAA Partnership Development Award will fund an initial project of interest to a new industrial partner, which will create the basis for a larger and longer-term collaboration which could attract funding either from the company or other external sources (for example Innovate UK). Evidence of real involvement from the industry partner in the project should be provided in the proposal and support letter including estimates of cash or in-kind contributions.  Projects aligned with the Strategic Research Initiatives and Strategic Research Networks are particularly welcomed. A full list of Strategic Research Initiatives and Networks can be found at

Eligible costs

Projects with existing company partners, such as spin-outs or companies which have previously sponsored research within the same research group, will not be supported. Collaborations or partnerships with companies in which a lead applicant is involved in any way (e.g. ownership, science board membership, etc.) are ineligible for the IAA funding. 

For 2020 the terms of these grants have changed. Projects may be from 3-12 months in duration and up to £100 000 grant per project can be awarded. However the industry funder must provide match funding (cash or in-kind) of at least 50% of the grant. Please consult with your departmental finance team to obtain an X5 costing for your proposal. 100% of directly incurred or directly allocated staff costs plus the cost of travel, consumables and other costs can all be supported by these funds. Funds cannot be used for patent costs, estate costs, indirect costs or capital items of equipment. PI time and student fees are also ineligible. The total request should be no more than £100,000; individual items of equipment must cost less than £10,000.

Spending on these awards should be completed by 31st March 2022.

Application process

Potential applicants are encouraged to contact their departmental Knowledge Transfer Facilitator (KTF) for advice. If your Department does not have a KTF, please contact with any queries.

Applicants must ensure they are aware of any internal Departmental deadlines for approval by Head of Department before submission.

Proposals must be submitted on the IAA application form, together with a letter of support from the company partner, confirming details of their contribution to the project.

Proposals should be emailed to by midnight on the closing date.

Assessment process

Funding will be awarded on a competitive basis. Applications will be considered by a cross-disciplinary panel of academics with experience in industrial collaboration.

Applications will be considered against the following criteria:

  • Quality of project plan;
  • Track record/relevance of partners;
  • Contribution and commitment of company partner;
  • Potential benefits to all partners

Post-award guidance

An appropriate collaboration agreement covering IP terms between the University and company must be signed. Please contact the Research Operations Office for advice.

As a matter of good practice, any changes to project timescales or scope should be by prior agreement with the company partner.

As a condition of the grant, progress review meetings must be held at the start of the project and then at least every 3 months with your Departmental Knowledge Transfer Facilitator, or equivalent, to monitor project progress and identify any additional support needs.

A written final report will be required within 2 months of the end of the project.

Any questions regarding the scheme arrangements should be directed to

EPSRC IAA Partnership Development Awards Case Studies

Prof. Paul Linden

Over the past half century, air curtains have found their way into shops and factories over the world, yet the science behind them is less well understood. By working with one air curtain manufacturer, Paul and his colleagues have developed experiments and theory showing how air curtains could be made more energy efficient. 

Read more about Paul's project here.

Prof. Fiona Gilbert

Medical imaging is playing an increasingly important role in finding new drugs for intractable diseases. By bringing together researchers in the Department of Radiology and GSK, this EPSRC IAA Partnership Development Award is yielding new MRI techniques that could make it quicker and cheaper to test new treatments for osteoarthritis. 

Read more about Fiona's project here.

Dr James Woodcock

Cycling is good for health, the environment and the economy, and the UK Government's Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy aims to double cycling by 2025. With funding from the Department for Transport and the EPSRC IAA, the Propensity to Cycle Tool is helping local and regional government to focus investment in cycling infrastructure.

Read more about James's project here.