International Investment Initiative (i3)

The International Investment Initiative (I3) is designed to support the scaling up of existing strategically significant internationally collaborative research relationships between English Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and universities and research organisations outside the UK.

Introduction

Background

The International Investment Initiative (I3) is a £4m fund which aims to support the scaling up of existing strategically significant, internationally collaborative research relationships between English HEIs (HEIs) and universities and research organisations outside the UK. To scale up existing collaborations, the scheme focusses on HEIs that can demonstrate existing research excellence, strategic alignment with partners, and evidence of an existing productive collaboration.

I3 is a single-stage competitive scheme and a maximum of £500,000 may be applied for, to be allocated over up to five years (AY 19/20, 20/21, 21/22, 22/23, 23/24). Awards must be led by an English HEI with a minimum of one international university or research organisation. An HEI may only lead one bid to this scheme, but may participate as a partner HEI in multiple proposals, whether leading on a separate proposal or not.

The primary use of the I3 awards must be for scaling up international research collaboration at the institutional or organisational unit level (e.g. faculty). Awards will be for a period of five years, allowing successful bidders time to scale up activity and build quality. The I3 funding must be matched by bidders through cash and/or in-kind contributions. Funds are not available through this scheme to fund capital investment.

Research England is working with Universities UK International (UUKi) in the delivery of I3. UUKi have advised on the development of the fund and will be providing advice and support to the assessment and panel process.

Aims of the initiative

As part of UK Research and Innovation’s investment in international research collaborations, the Research England I3 will support approaches in English HEIs that lead to increased scale of effective and sustainable research collaborations at an organisational level that enhance sector practice and research outcomes. The initiative’s objectives 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 HEIs to our society, pushing the frontiers of human knowledge, delivering economic impact and creating social impact by supporting communities to become enriched, healthier, more 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.

Contact

Applicants are advised to refer to the applicant guidance and the Frequently Asked Questions tab in the first instance. Queries not covered by these documents should be directed to the Research England International Policy Team.

How to apply

Universities wishing to apply to I3 should read the applicant guidance and complete the application template in Annex C of the applicant guidance and the Annex C – Section 6 – financial information template. The applicant guidance contains information on scheme policies, objectives and methods for allocation of an additional £4m funding, and details the eligibility and funding criteria, application and assessment processes for the fund.

I3 is a competitive scheme, comprising a single-stage application process (full bids only). Bids must comply with the submission process, I3 objectives, eligibility and funding criteria laid out in the applicant guidance. Co-investment by all participating institutions in a bid, as detailed in the applicant guidance, is a requirement of this scheme.

All Research England-funded Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are eligible to lead bids to this competitive scheme (referred to as the ‘lead’). Proposals should have the strategic support of the leadership of all partners and only bids submitted through the Office of the Vice-Chancellor or equivalent at the leading institution will be accepted.

HEIs should submit no more than one bid as a lead HEI. HEIs may participate as a partner HEI in multiple proposals, whether leading on a separate proposal or not. All bids must include at least one university or research organisation from outside the UK as a partner. Overseas partners may be HEIs, independent institutes or independent research organisations.

Applying HEIs should ensure that they will be able to meet the requirements for the fund as outlined in the applicant guidance and the terms and conditions for Research England funding, prior to submitting a bid to this scheme.

Full bids to I3 must be emailed to the Research England International Policy Team by noon on Thursday 28 February 2019.

Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the International Investment Initiative (I3) can be found on this page, which will be updated at regular intervals should additional questions arise.

Before submitting a bid to I3, applicants should first refer to the full applicant guidance, which contains information on the objectives of the scheme, application and assessment processes, and the eligibility and funding criteria.

If your query is not covered by the full applicant guidance or the FAQs below, please contact the Research England International Policy Team.

Changelog

I3 FAQs version Date Changes

1.0

15/11/2018

None – original document

1.1

30/11/2018

Addition – ‘Costing’ questions section

Eligibility

Who is eligible to apply to I3?
All Research England-funded HEIs are eligible to apply as the lead organisation. Only applications submitted through the Office of the Vice-Chancellor or equivalent will be accepted.

What is defined as an ‘organisational unit’?
There is an expectation that an ‘organisational unit’ refers to a unit within the HEI of a significant size; for example, a faculty or larger. However, we are conscious that structures and the language to describe organisational units vary between institutions. Bids should be able to justify how the described organisational unit’s partnering represents a strategic partnership at the institutional level. Bids should not represent a single research project.

What activities will I3 fund?
The primary use of the I3 award must be for scaling up international research collaboration at the institutional or organisational unit level (e.g. faculty). Bids should not represent a single research project. Further details on what the Research England award may be used for can be found in paragraph 34 of the full applicant guidance.

Which countries are eligible as partners?
At a minimum, the lead institution must have at least one institution from a non-UK country as a partner.

How many partner organisations can be involved in a bid?
There is no limit to the number of partner organisations that can be involved in a bid, as long as the minimum eligibility criteria for partner countries is met (see paragraphs 20-22 of the full applicant guidance). The co-investment requirements for participating organisations must be met, as stated in the full applicant guidance (Annex B). The lead HEI must be able to clearly justify how and why collaborating with their partner(s) would lead to the scale up of internationally collaborative activity in the context of international collaboration and the priorities of the participating institutions.

Are DAC-list countries eligible as partners? Is I3 only for partnering with non-DAC list countries?
Lead institutions may partner with an organisation from an appropriate country. Universities and research organisations in countries on the OECD DAC list of countries eligible to receive Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) funding are eligible partners.

The primary objective of and justification of proposals to I3 must be the scaling up of existing strategically significant internationally collaborative research relationships between English HEIs and universities and research organisations outside the UK. Although development benefit may be a secondary outcome from a proposed activity, focusing on returning specific development benefit from the international partner(s) as per the objectives of GCRF and the Newton Fund is not expected from bids to this scheme.

Application process

Is it possible to lead on multiple bids?
No – an HEI may only be the ‘lead organisation’ on one bid. However, HEIs are not restricted on the number of bids they may be a partner on, whether they are leading a separate bid or not.

Is there a minimum amount that may be applied for?
The maximum amount an institution can apply for is £500,000. A proposal must be able to demonstrate the ability to scale and sustain the partnership at the increased level. Institutions should take this into account when specifying the level of investment they are requesting.

Costing

Does a Full Economic Cost (fEC) Policy apply?
Research England does not have a full economic cost (fEC) policy as with Research Council proposals. Instead, institutions should consider the financial sustainability of the activities for which they are requesting funding. All bids will be required to be fully costed and you should set out the costs and the basis upon which they have been calculated. You should include transparency as to how these costs are to be met, ie through a mix of dedicated I3 funding or co-investment. Where applicable, they should also make a case for any proposed mix of contributions (e.g. co-investment) to cover these costs. When costing, the bid should follow Transparent Approach to Costing (TRAC) principles, ensuring that total costs are reasonable. Detailed guidance on TRAC.

What are eligible costs for the Research England I3 investment?
We expect the use of the funding to be resource in nature and focused on the scaling up of the partnership with the international institution(s) (e.g. staffing/studentships/fellowships, software, subscriptions, equipment under £10,000, travel, workshops/conferences). Overheads should be listed as unit operating costs.

This investment may not be used for capital (e.g. infrastructure, equipment over £10,000). Bids should not represent a single research project.

The I3 panel will review the costings closely and reach their decisions based on what are deemed reasonable requests.

Can the Research England I3 investment be used to fund new PhD studentships?
Yes – in line with the objectives of the fund, the bid will need to justify how and why the studentship is essential to the scaling up of the relationship with the international partner(s) and how sustainability of the relationship will be supported. We expect applications to I3 to take account of equality, diversity and inclusion at all levels and aspects of research practice.

Are PhD studentships eligible forms of co-investment?
Yes – in line with studentships funded through the Research England I3 investment, the bid will need to justify how and why the studentship funded as co-investment is essential to the scaling up of the relationship with the international partner(s) and how sustainability of the relationship will be supported. We expect applications to I3 to take account of equality, diversity and inclusion at all levels and aspects of research practice.

Can the Research England I3 investment be used for equipment purchase?
Equipment under £10,000 in cost is considered resource and is an eligible cost. However, equipment over £10,000 in cost would be considered a capital purchase and would not be eligible. However, equipment over £10,000 in cost may be funded through co-investment sources and would be counted as an eligible source of matched funding.