Thursday, 28 March 2019

Research England Launches 'Old MacDonald' Funding Suite

On the farm: E-I--E-I-O
(Photo by Stijn te Strake on Unsplash)
Regular readers will know that there's a special place in our hearts for funders and policymakers who use random letters of the alphabet to name their initiatives. The European Commission are past masters at this, realigning all of their thematic directorates to the letter P in February, and launching a '3 Os' agenda in 2016.

Not to be outdone, the newly-flush Research England is making great headway in getting on this bandwagon being a leader in this field. Keen eyed applicants may have noticed that their two most recent schemes, Expanding Excellence in England (E3) and International Investment Initiative (i3), are a bold and brave attempt to shoehorn a vaguely descriptive title into a single vowel.

It's a clear statement of intent, which was confirmed by Death Star House yesterday. 'I'm glad you noticed,' cooed Mr Gimlet. 'Yes, we've ditched the whole 2.4% thing in favour of randomly lettered funding initiatives. For Research England, we're planning the 'full Old MacDonald'.

'There'll be second rounds of E3 and i3 next year, and it will be followed swiftly by an Original and Organic Organisations (O3) scheme in the Summer. We will then have completed the full suite: E, I, E, I, O.'

Gimlet continued, 'The O3 call will run for three weeks in the middle of August. £500k will be available through a two stage application process, with interview. We will expect universities to match fund with the weight of their VCs in gold. Annually. Over the next 10 years.

'We're hoping to introduce similar schemes across all of the UKRI members. For instance, the AHRC will be rolling out a funding scheme based around the nine films with single letter titles. The first will be named after Fritz Lang's M. It will offer £2,000 (with £1m match funding expected by the host institution) for research on great British products and their cultural significance in a post-Brexit globalised world. Think Marmite, Mars Bars and Marmalade.

'Yes, we may be turning our backs on Europe, but on this one the EC has it spot on.'

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