International Investment Initiative (I3) Fund

The International Investment Initiative (I3) fund aims to support the scaling up of existing strategically significant, internationally collaborative research relationships between English HEPs and universities and research organisations outside the UK. To scale up existing collaborations, the scheme focuses on HEPs that can demonstrate existing research excellence, strategic alignment with partners, and evidence of an existing productive collaboration.


The objectives of the I3 are to:

  • Increase the scale and impact of existing international research collaborations that are based on excellent research
  • Strengthen the contribution of international collaborations involving English HEPs to our society, pushing the frontiers of human knowledge, delivering economic impact and creating societal impact by supporting communities to become enriched, healthier, resilient and sustainable
  • Contribute towards the delivery of government strategy, including the Industrial Strategy, by supporting sustained improvements in institutional capacity and capability in England.

Working with Universities UK International

Research England works with Universities UK International (UUKi) in the delivery of I3. UUKi advised on the development of the fund and provided advice and support to the assessment and panel process.

International Investment Initiative Fund FAQs

Which projects are you currently funding?

A total of £3.6 million has been awarded to 8 successful HEPs via a competitive scheme. Awards are allocated over up to 5 years and must be led by an English HEP with a minimum of one international university or research organisation as a partner.The 8 bids to receive funding from Research England’s International Investment Initiative (i3) fund are summarised below.

Brunel University London
Bid title: UK and Finland: Research Collaboration for Prosperity and Health
Partner(s): Tampere University (Finland)
Investment: £343,918
Summary: The award will accelerate the development of a strategic partnership between Brunel and Tampere University in Materials & Manufacturing, Biomedical Engineering, Structural Integrity, Digital Technology, Water Resources and Ageing & Wellness. It will deliver benefits to the UK and Finland in the form of research competitiveness, societal impact and innovation.

Imperial College London
Bid title: Data 4.0: leading the fourth industrial revolution with data-driven technologies
Partners(s): Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS, France), Technical University of Munich (Germany), Nanyang Technological University (Singapore)
Investment: £500,000
Summary: Imperial will establish Data 4.0 clusters in: Mathematical sciences, with France’s CNRS; AI and robotics, with Germany’s Technical University of Munich; Technology and healthcare, with Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University. Each cluster will; develop flagship international studentships, expand academic exchange, accelerate frontier research with seed funding, and launch bespoke doctoral programmes.

Liverpool John Moores University
Bid title: i-CARDIO – International Collaboration Assessing novel health models: A Research Design Intervention Opportunity
Partners(s): University of Western Australia (Australia)
Investment: £488,829
Summary: The UK faces a growing crisis of physical inactivity and associated disease risk. In Australia "registered exercise professionals" support the healthcare system and have reduced healthcare costs. This system does not exist in the UK and this award will evaluate healthcare model development in Australia and pathways to changes in the UK.

Loughborough University
Bid title: An International Research Centre to study the effects of Connected and Autonomous Vehicles on Vulnerable Road-Users
Partners(s): Queensland University of Technology (QUT, Australia), Tongji University (China)
Investment: £436,067
Summary: This project will scale up an existing strategic, international collaboration between 3 world-leading research centres - Loughborough University (UK), Queensland University of Technology (Australia) and Tongji University (China). It will establish a new International Research Centre to study the impacts of Connected and Autonomous Vehicles on Vulnerable Road Users’ safety.

Newcastle University
Bid title: Newcastle University/Monash Academic Track (NUMAcT) scheme
Partners(s): Monash University (Australia)
Investment: £500,000
Summary: Building on the recently launched and extremely popular NUAcT scheme supporting researchers making the transition to independence, NUMAcT will allow investigators to work in two long-standing partner Universities, Newcastle and Monash. The initial focus on drug discovery provides complementary access to world-class facilities, expertise, and bespoke training and mentorship.

University of Birmingham
Bid title: Industrialisation of Energy, Waste and Recycling
Partners(s): Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental Safety and Energy Technology (UMSICHT, Germany), Jiangsu Industrial Technology Research Institute (JITRI, China)
Investment: £499,099
Summary: Investment of £2.6 million, made up of nearly £0.5 million from Research England, and £2.1 million co-investment, over 5 years will scale up the partnerships between the University of Birmingham, Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety, and Energy Technology, and Jiangsu Industry Technology Research Institute. This three-way multi-country bridge will provide a comprehensive research and innovation pipeline from fundamental research to close-to-market innovation.

University of Brighton
Bid title: 3DMed - Anglo Canadian Collaboration on Interface Science for Medical Innovation
Partners(s): York University (Canada)
Investment: £455,080
Summary: 3DMed scales up a well-established strategic collaboration between University of Brighton, UK and York University, Canada. The project will capitalise on the synergy between programmes of excellent research in engineering and biomedicine to develop industrial applications and novel research skills in 3D bio-printing and additive biomedical manufacturing technologies.

University of Hull
Bid title: Building Critical Mass for Palliative Care Research through Collaborative Support, Exchange and Challenge
Partners(s): University of Technology Sydney (Australia)
Investment: £403,510
Summary: This award will increase the scale and impact of our international collaboration between the Wolfson Palliative Care Research Centre, University of Hull, and the Improving Palliative and Chronic Care Through Clinical Research and Translation group, University Technology Sydney, forming critical mass to drive societal benefit through high-quality palliative care research.

How do we apply for the International Investment Initiative Fund?

The I3 fund is now closed for submissions. The deadline for the I3 fund was noon on Thursday 28 February 2019, and no further applications are being accepted beyond this date. The outcomes of this funding scheme were announced in Summer 2019.

Will there be future rounds of funding for I3?

The funding award process for round one of I3 funding has been completed. A future round of this fund has not been confirmed and we are not currently accepting applications.

Who is on the I3 panel?

  • Dr Richard Armour (Chair)
    Dr Richard Armour is a member of the Research England Council, and formerly Secretary-General of Hong Kong’s University Grants Committee (UGC).
  • Professor Nora de Leeuw
    Nora de Leeuw is Professor of Computational Chemistry at Cardiff University, where she also serves as Pro-Vice Chancellor International.
  • Ms Vivienne Stern
    Vivienne is the Director of Universities UK International (UUKi) which represents UK universities around the world and works to enable them to flourish internationally.
  • Professor Richard English
    Richard English is Professor of Politics at Queen's University Belfast, where he is also Distinguished Professorial Fellow in the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice, and the University's Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Internationalization and Engagement.
  • Professor Federica Di Palma
    Prof Federica Di Palma is the Director of Science at the Earlham Institute, and director of the BRIDGE Colombia Global network of researchers across the UK and Colombia.
  • Mr Dan Shah
    Dan Shah joined the British Council as Director Research in December 2018, leading a strategic programme of research underpinning and supporting the cultural relations vision and mission of the British Council.
  • Professor Michael J Roberts
    Prof Michael Roberts holds a UK-SA Bilateral Research Chair between the National Oceanography Centre (NOC), the University of Southampton (UoS) in the UK and the Nelson Mandela University (NMU) in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
  • Professor Claire O’Malley
    As Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Global) at Durham University, Claire is responsible for leading the University’s international strategy. 
  • Professor James Smith
    Prof James Smith was appointed Vice Principal International at the University of Edinburgh in November 2014, having held his personal chair in African and Development Studies since 2010.
  • Professor Simon Gaskell
    Simon Gaskell has had an academic career (with multiple industrial connections), both in the UK and US. He served as chair of the Higher Education Statistics Agency from 2013-17. He retired from full-time roles in 2017.