Horizon 2020

Horizon 2020 is the EU’s research and innovation funding programme. It runs from 2014–2020 with a budget of € 70.2 billion covering all research areas. The main aim of the programme is to fund research and innovation in order to drive the creation of jobs and growth.

There are funding opportunities throughout Horizon 2020 for those early in their research career, with the European Research Council Starter and Consolidator Grants and Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions being of particular interest.

European Research Council (ERC)

European Research Council (ERC) grants support individual researchers of any nationality and age who wish to pursue their frontier research. The ERC encourages in particular proposals that cross disciplinary boundaries, pioneering ideas that address new and emerging fields and applications that introduce unconventional, innovative approaches.

Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MCSA)

The Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions (MSCA) provide grants for all stages of researchers’ careers – be they doctoral candidates or highly experienced researchers – and encourage transnational, intersectoral and interdisciplinary mobility. The MSCA enable research-focused organisations (universities, research centres, and companies) to host talented foreign researchers and to create strategic partnerships with leading institutions worldwide.


The Natural and Environmental Research Council (NERC) has a range of support mechanisms.


Similarly to NERC, the Economic and Social Research Council (ERSC) has funding available.

Innovate UK

Innovate UK runs funding competitions which can help you develop your idea and make it successful. These competitions are open for projects led by any UK based companies. Innovate UK awards funding to the winners of these competitions.

Leverhulme Trust

The Leverhulme Trust was established by the Will of William Hesketh Lever, the founder of Lever Brothers. Since 1925, they have provided grants and scholarships for research and education; today,they are one of the largest all-subject providers of research funding in the UK, distributing approximately £80m a year.

Royal Society

About 1,500 researchers are currently funded by the Royal Society, including approximately 700 Research Fellows. Our funding sources include a grant from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) as well as donations from individuals and organisations. Nearly £42 million is allocated each year.

Knowledge exchange and impact: internal university funding opportunities

  • Many universities are given block-funding from individual research councils to support knowledge exchange and impact activities (building on existing research) e.g. Impact Acceleration Accounts.
  • Each university can allocate these funds as they choose, and activities often include secondments, specific engagement activities, short partnership working etc. Projects are often short-term and relatively low budget, and such funds provide a useful opportunity to leverage other funding (and useful experience in developing proposals). Please contact your institution for more details.
  • Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) Fellowships – Policy opportunity for students and young researchers to do work in Government.