New £25m research and knowledge exchange fund to support innovative projects

New £25m research and knowledge exchange fund to support innovative projects

28 June 2018

Research England today launched a brand new, competitive fund worth £25m at its first ever Engagement Forum in London.

The Research England Development (RED) Fund is set to support innovative projects in higher education institutions that can respond to Research England’s strategic priorities for research and knowledge exchange. 

Research England’s Executive Chair, David Sweeney, said:

‘I’m delighted to be able to announce this new fund to the sector today at our very first Engagement Forum. The fund represents a tremendous opportunity for Research England and universities to support innovative and exciting projects and activities for the benefit of the sector and the country as a whole. It gives us the flexibility to fund projects that would not otherwise be supported from our core funding or through other initiatives.’

The fund will focus on projects and activities that will benefit both the sector and the country. This could be achieved through:

  • Novel approaches from disciplines or types of knowledge exchange that are currently under-utilised in Industrial Strategy development
  • Collaborations that maximise the economic and social benefits of established research units
  • Working with external partners to support a diverse research workforce
  • Collaborations in the UK and internationally

The RED Fund will provide targeted investment for developmental projects led by higher education institutions. Activities that could be supported by the fund include:

  • Developmental work that contributes to Government short and long-term policy priorities
  • Innovative approaches to research and knowledge exchange in higher education institutions
  • Risk sharing, such as where there are financial contributions or investments from appropriate partners and beneficiaries, or where the fund can support higher-risk activities
  • Collaboration between HE institutions or between institutions and partners external to HE

Any Research England-funded institution can bid for funding to lead projects. RED is an open-ended fund, with an initial annual budget of £25m. Institutions that would like to apply for funding should develop project ideas that address our priorities. We envisage that new projects will be evolved iteratively with Research England. We encourage interested institutions to contact us at an early stage of establishing their ideas.

We are particularly interested in supporting collaborations, either with external partners within England, or with other parts of the UK and internationally. Proposals that include contributions from partners and other funders, where the objectives of other funders align sufficiently with the priorities of the fund, are welcome.

Queries on the RED Fund should be directed to:

Research England’s first Engagement Forum took place at the Tower Hotel in London on 28 June 2018. The event brought together senior colleagues from UK Research and Innovation, Research England, and the Higher Education sector to share the latest on Research England’s emerging strategic priorities and UK Research and Innovation’s vision and strategy for UK research and innovation as a whole.


  1. Research England shapes healthy, dynamic research and knowledge exchange in English universities. We are responsible for funding, engaging with and understanding these institutions, and working with devolved funding bodies and the Office for Students to understand their strategies, capabilities and capacity. We support and challenge universities to create new knowledge, strengthen the economy, and enrich society. We distribute over £2.2bn to universities in England every year in the form of quality-related research (QR) funding, and via the Higher Education Innovation Fund. We are responsible for administering the Research Excellence Framework, used to inform QR funding, and for delivering the forthcoming Knowledge Exchange Framework. We also support specific activities with dedicated project funding, including the £900m UK Research Partnership Investment Fund, and the £100m Connecting Capability Fund. The Higher Education and Research Act 2017 established Research England as a Council of UK Research and Innovation alongside the seven Research Councils and Innovate UK.
  2. Research England’s Engagement Forums provide the Higher Education sector with an opportunity to learn about Research England’s emerging strategic priorities and to hear from senior colleagues in UK Research and Innovation about their vision and strategy for UK research and innovation as a whole. These events also provide opportunities for strategic discussion with Research England staff on emerging policy and funding themes including the government’s 2.4 per cent research and development target, balanced funding/dual support, and the forthcoming Knowledge Exchange Framework. Research England’s Executive Chair, David Sweeney, hosted the first forum, with UK Research and Innovation Strategy Director, Rebecca Endean, in London on 28 June 2018.
  3. RED Fund call page
  4. Engagement Forum London event page