UK-Canada sustainable critical minerals research partnerships (Grant)

Apply for funding to collaborate with a Canadian Alliance Missions critical minerals project to develop UK-Canada partnerships supporting research to enhance resilience and sustainability of critical minerals supply. You must be based at a UK research organisation eligible for NERC funding.

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Contents

Summary

Apply for funding to collaborate with a Canadian Alliance Missions critical minerals research project to develop partnerships to address key critical minerals research priorities around optimising efficiency and minimising environmental impact across critical minerals value chains.

You must be:

  • based at a UK research organisation eligible for NERC funding

  • in a role that meets the individual eligibility requirements

The full economic cost (FEC) of your project can be up to £240,000. We will fund 80% of the FEC.

Your project must start by 1 May 2025, and last up to 24 months.

Eligibility

All UK applicants must partner with a Canadian project funded under the NSERC Alliance Missions critical minerals grants (subsequently referred to as Canadian research partner), and provide a ‘project partner letter of support’ from the Canadian research partner principal investigator, using the required template (in English (DOCX, 48.3KB) or in French (DOCX, 42.7KB)). Further details can be found in the ‘How to apply’ section.

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) will provide supplemental funding to the Canadian research partner projects associated with successful UK applications (for further information see ‘Canadian research partner eligibility’).

UK eligibility

Before applying for funding, check the following:

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has introduced new role types for funding opportunities being run on the new UKRI Funding Service.

For full details, visit eligibility as an individual.

Canadian research partner eligibility

Only those researchers in receipt of an NSERC Alliance Missions critical minerals grant are eligible as Canadian research partners for this opportunity.

For the Canadian research partner to be eligible for additional NSERC funding of up to $50,000 CAD that can be spent over years two and three of their NSERC Alliance Missions project, the following must be included in a letter of support submitted with the UK application, using the required template (in English (DOCX, 48.3KB) or in French (DOCX, 42.7KB)):

  • the name and affiliation of the UK project lead and title of the UK-led project

  • confirmation that the research partner has received an Alliance Missions grant (provide NSERC application number)

  • whether the Alliance Missions grant or proposed additional partnership work with UK applicants aims to advance any of the listed Sensitive Technology Research Areas under the Government of Canada’s Policy on Sensitive Technology Research and Affiliations of Concern, and any required attestation forms for all researchers in named roles (UK and Canadian researchers, applicant, co-applicant, collaborators, project partners). See the listed Sensitive Technology Research Areas, and the Government of Canada’s Policy on Sensitive Technology Research and Affiliations of Concern on the Government of Canada website

  • a brief description of how the Canadian and UK project teams are engaged, and how they intend to work together to the benefit of both countries

  • an outline of the additional activities to be undertaken by the Canadian research partner

  • the amount of supplemental funds in Canadian dollars (CADs) requested by the Canadian research partner in years two and three of their project

  • a detailed justification of how the supplemental funds will be used

This NSERC supplemental funding is intended to cover the direct costs of the research for the Canadian research partner. It is expected that any travel and travel-related subsistence expenditures for the UK project team will be requested through the UK funding opportunity. NSERC-eligible direct costs of research could include, for example:

  • activities that support collaborations and knowledge mobilisation related to the project, including the costs associated with building the international collaboration with UK research teams

  • activities to develop and grow the research collaborations with UK research teams

In addition, Canadian and UK research teams will be required to adhere to both the Government of Canada’s Policy on Sensitive Technology Research and Affiliations of Concern (STRAC Policy), following the tri-agency guidance on the STRAC Policy, and UKRI trusted research and innovation principles. Further details can be found in ‘What we are looking for’ within the ‘Trusted research and innovation’ and ‘Canada’s Policy on Sensitive Technology Research and Affiliations of Concern’ subsections.

Who is eligible to apply

This funding opportunity is open to research groups and individuals.

We:

  • encourage multidisciplinary research and collaborations with other UK organisations

  • welcome applications from individuals at any career stage, subject to Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) eligibility criteria

In addition, you may include other project partners in your application.

Project partners fund their own involvement. We will only fund minor incidental expenses, such as some travel costs, if needed for project partners.

Who is not eligible to apply

The following are not eligible to apply:

  • UK researchers may be involved in no more than two applications submitted to this funding opportunity, only one of these can be as project lead

  • the Canadian research partner will only be eligible to receive additional funding from NSERC for involvement in one partnership project. Additional collaborations are permitted but no further additional funding support from NSERC or UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) will be available

Equality, diversity and inclusion

We are committed to achieving equality of opportunity for all funding applicants. We encourage applications from a diverse range of researchers.

We support people to work in a way that suits their personal circumstances. This includes:

  • career breaks

  • support for people with caring responsibilities

  • flexible working

  • alternative working patterns

Find out more about equality, diversity and inclusion at UKRI and NERC’s diversity and inclusion action plan.

Objectives

Aim

Applicants to this call will partner with Canadian research teams funded through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Alliance Missions grants in critical minerals, to extend and add value to the established Canadian research projects in line with UK expertise, and to foster skills sharing and knowledge exchange.

The programme will support connections and partnerships between UK and Canadian researchers, providing the opportunity for enhanced collaboration, coordination, and knowledge and skills sharing across disciplines and sectors related to responsible and sustainable mining. Research addressed by the UK-Canada partnerships will focus on optimisation of efficiency and minimisation of environmental impacts across critical mineral value chains and support development towards a circular economy for critical minerals, as well as building the foundation for future collaborative research.

Context

Mineral resources are central to manufacturing and infrastructure development essential to achieve the green and digital economy (see UK Critical Minerals Strategy (PDF 1,826 KB)). Many of these minerals are designated critical due to their importance and the potential for disruption of supply. See British Geological Survey: UK criticality assessment of technology critical minerals and metals and UK Task & Finish Group report on Industry Resilience for Critical Minerals (PDF, 8.2MB).

Global demand and international competition for technology-critical mineral resources is expected to quadruple by 2040. Current demand is already outstripping the rate of mineral production, further increasing pressure on the natural environment. We face a critical resource challenge in responsibly and sustainably securing the mineral resources needed to reach net zero, whilst protecting the future growth and resilience of the UK economy and achieving global sustainable development goals.

The UK Critical Minerals Refresh published in March 2023 sets out UK Government ambitions to improve the resilience of critical minerals supply chains. To achieve these ambitions, significant research challenges remain that need to be addressed to secure supply for critical UK growth sectors and in support of the transition to net zero.

In March 2023 the UK and Canada agreed a landmark agreement to co-operate on critical minerals (see UK-Canada critical minerals dialogue press release). The focus of the dialogue is to deepen Canada–UK engagement on critical minerals, prioritise critical mineral security of supply and joint economic prosperity, and attain high environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards and innovation throughout the value chain. Following this, the UK-Canada Joint Science and Technology Cooperation Committee held in April 2023 identified key joint UK and Canada research priority areas for integrated research on critical minerals to develop solutions for responsibly securing mineral resources. These include responsible and sustainable mining and developing a critical mineral circular economy. In January 2024 the UK and Canada signed a refreshed partnership to further strengthen wider collaboration on science and innovation, identifying several key priority technology areas, including semiconductors and clean energy technology, which rely on critical minerals.

Scope

This programme will support UK researchers to partner with Canadian research teams funded through the NSERC Alliance Missions grants in critical minerals, to build on the research being undertaken in shared priority research areas of responsible and sustainable mining and developing a critical mineral circular economy. UK researchers will collaborate with a relevant Alliance Missions research project (from year two of the project) to add value to the research, expanding the project in line with UK expertise and priorities, and forging new partnerships and collaborations. A key aspect of the collaborations will be the promotion of knowledge and skills exchange between UK and Canadian research communities, laying the foundations for future collaborative research.

Your applications must be at least 50% within Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) remit and address research aligning with one or both of the following research challenge areas of the NSERC Alliance Missions grants:

Challenge one

This challenge aims to minimise the environmental impacts of mining, optimise efficiency and support data-driven decision making across critical mineral value chains from exploration to recycling and recovery, through the development or advancement of:

  • knowledge and understanding

  • models

  • processes

  • tools and technologies

Challenge two

This challenge aims to develop efficient options to advance to a circular economy with less reliance on primary mineral resources which take into consideration the environmental trade-offs, co-benefits and potential unintended consequences of a given approach, for example through (but not limited to):

  • mine reclamation

  • critical mineral recycling

  • reprocessing of critical mineral stocks and valorisation of residual mining waste

Prioritised minerals

You should focus on one or more of the following prioritised minerals:

  • cobalt

  • copper

  • gallium

  • germanium

  • graphite

  • lithium

  • magnesium

  • nickel

  • niobium

  • rare earth elements

  • tellurium

  • titanium

  • vanadium

  • zinc

These minerals have been identified as shared priorities for UK and Canada, due to both:

Outcomes

The outcomes expected to be delivered by the projects are:

  • excellent research to improve knowledge, capabilities and innovations to optimise efficiency, minimise environmental impacts and advance a circular critical mineral economy, utilising the strengths of the UK and Canadian research communities, resulting in greater impact than could be achieved alone

  • enhanced collaboration and synergy between UK and Canada critical minerals research communities

  • strengthened capacity and capability for UK and Canadian researchers to support future partnership

  • enhanced knowledge and skills transfer between UK and Canadian researchers

  • identification of shared future research priorities related to critical minerals

You will need to co-develop your application alongside the Canadian research partner, to expand the Canadian project utilising the expertise of the UK researcher or researchers and promoting UK-Canada knowledge and skills exchange.

Your application should clearly demonstrate how the partnership will add value to the funded NSERC Alliance Missions critical minerals project and how the outcomes will be met through your proposed project.

Whilst applications must outline work which is at least 50% within NERC remit, interdisciplinary partnerships are encouraged where these will enhance the delivery of the above outcomes.

Duration

The duration of this award is up to 24 months.

Projects must start by 1 May 2025.

Funding available

The full economic cost (FEC) of your project can be up to £240,000.

We will fund 80% of the FEC with the following exceptions:

  • Canadian research partners associated with successful UK applications are not eligible to receive funds from NERC, but will receive funding from NSERC, subject to meeting NSERC conditions and eligibility criteria. Up to $50,000 CAD is available per project, for up to five projects. Eligible costs for the Canadian research partner are as per NSERC Alliance Missions grants and eligibility requirements are outlined in the ‘Who can apply’ section

  • justified equipment would be funded at 50%. Equipment costs are not expected to form a substantive part of this funding. Requests for equipment of over £10,000 must be fully justified

What we will not fund

  • PhD studentship costs (but funds may be requested for exchanges of students supported from other sources)

  • NERC aircraft, ship time or use of NERC marine equipment

Services and facilities

You can apply to use a facility or resource in your funding application.

You should discuss your application with the facility or service at least two months before the funding opportunity’s closing date to:

  • discuss the proposed work in detail

  • receive confirmation that they can provide the services required within the timeframe of the funding

The facility will provide a technical assessment that includes the calculated cost of providing the service. NERC services and facilities must be costed within the limits of the funding.

You should not submit the technical assessment with the application, but you must confirm you have received it.

For more information, see the NERC research grants and fellowships handbook.

Read the full list of NERC facilities that require a technical assessment.

High Performance Computing (HPC) and the large research facilities at Harwell have their own policies for access and costing.

Supporting skills and talent

We encourage you to follow the principles of the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers and the Technician Commitment.

Data management

You must adhere to UKRI open research policy and NERC data policy and complete the ‘Data management and sharing’ question.

For details of data centres, see the NERC Environmental Data Service.

We will pay the data centre directly on behalf of the programme for archival and curation services, but you should ensure that you request sufficient resource to cover preparation of data for archiving by the research team. Additional services from the data centres, such as database development or a specialist in project data management during your project, will need to be discussed with the relevant data centre prior to submission, costs for additional services will need to be funded from your grant.

Responsible research

Through our funding processes, we seek to make a positive contribution to society and the environment. This is not just through research outputs and outcomes but through the way in which research is conducted and facilities managed.

All NERC grant holders are to adopt responsible research practices as set out in the NERC responsible business statement.

Responsible research is defined as reducing harm or enhancing benefit on the environment and society through effective management of research activities and facilities. Specifically, this covers:

  • the natural environment

  • the local community

  • equality, diversity and inclusion

You should consider the responsible research context of your project, not the host institution as a whole. You should take action to enhance your responsible research approach where practical and reasonable.

Should your proposed research include collaboration with indigenous peoples or communities (such as indigenous or northern community groups), we encourage you to consult the following resources:

Research involving indigenous peoples or communities should adhere to the principles and best practise as described in these documents, including engagement and collaboration with relevant representatives from the indigenous community groups in the development and design of your application.

Trusted research and innovation

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is committed in ensuring that effective international collaboration in research and innovation takes place with integrity and within strong ethical frameworks. Trusted research and innovation (TR&I) is a UKRI work programme designed to help protect all those working in our thriving and collaborative international sector by enabling partnerships to be as open as possible, and as secure as necessary. Our TR&I Principles (PDF, 49KB) set out UKRI’s expectations of organisations funded by UKRI in relation to due diligence for international collaboration.

As such, applicants for UKRI funding may be asked to demonstrate how their proposed projects will comply with our approach and expectation towards TR&I, identifying potential risks and the relevant controls you will put in place to help proportionately reduce these risks.

Read further guidance and information about TR&I, including where applicants can find additional support.

Canada’s Policy on Sensitive Technology Research and Affiliations of Concern

You should be aware that the researchers associated with the Canadian research partner project, including any UK researchers involved in the activities supported by the NSERC grant, will be required to adhere to the Government of Canada’s Policy on Sensitive Technology Research and Affiliations of Concern (STRAC Policy).

Following the tri-agency guidance on the STRAC Policy, the lead applicant from the Canadian research partner project will be required to determine and indicate in their letter of support whether their Alliance Missions grant or proposed additional partnership work with UK applicants aims to advance any of the listed Sensitive Technology Research Areas.

If the proposed work will not aim to advance any of these areas, then no further requirements apply under this policy.

If the Alliance Missions grant or proposed additional partnership work with the UK will aim to advance any of the listed Sensitive Technology Research Areas, then additional requirements apply:

  • the Canadian principal investigator and any co-investigators and collaborators listed on the Alliance Missions grant along with the proposed UK research partners will be required to complete an Attestation for Research Aiming to Advance Sensitive Technology Research Areas (PDF 54KB) to certify that they are not currently affiliated with, or in receipt of funding or in-kind support from, any of the listed named research organisations. The Canadian Principal Investigator will be responsible for compiling the necessary attestation forms and combining these with the letter of support as a single PDF file, which the UK applicant will submit as a ‘project partner letter of support’, with the UK application

  • for the duration of their involvement in the activities supported by the grant, regardless of whether an attestation form was required at the time of application, all research team members (including both UK and Canada grant holders) will be individually responsible for ensuring that they do not hold an active affiliation or receive funding or in-kind support from any of the listed named research organisations, following the version of the list that was publicly available on the date that the grant application was submitted

Note that the STRAC Policy only applies to active and ongoing affiliations with, and ongoing financial or in-kind support from, a listed named research organisation. Past affiliations and previous financial or in-kind support are not considered under this policy.

Research disruption due to COVID-19

We recognise that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused major interruptions and disruptions across our communities. We are committed to ensuring that individual applicants and their wider team, including partners and networks, are not penalised for any disruption to their career, such as:

  • breaks and delays

  • disruptive working patterns and conditions

  • the loss of ongoing work

  • role changes that may have been caused by the pandemic

Reviewers and panel members will be advised to consider the unequal impacts that COVID-19 related disruption might have had on the capability to deliver and career development of those individuals included in the application. They will be asked to consider the capability of the applicant, and their wider team, to deliver the research they are proposing.

Where disruptions have occurred, you can highlight this within your application if you wish, but there is no requirement to detail the specific circumstances that caused the disruption.

Dates

Assessment process

We will assess your application using the following process.

Assessment panel

All applications that meet the eligibility criteria of both funders will be assessed by a panel comprised of independent experts with expertise spanning the breadth of the funding opportunity remit to ensure that due consideration is given to all applications. Applications will be assessed against the specified criteria for this funding opportunity. The panel will then recommend the ranking of the applications, taking into account the outcomes of the assessment and the overarching aims of the UK-Canada Sustainable Critical Minerals Research Partnerships programme. Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) will make the final funding decision based on the recommendation of the panel.

The information contained within the Canadian research partners’ letter of support will be used by Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) to confirm eligibility of the project for supplemental NSERC funding for the Canadian research team. Details of what should be included in the letter of support are provided in the ‘How to Apply’ section.

The panel may recommend conditions for the funders to impose before funding is awarded. We reserve the right to seek further information from you before awarding funding.

Timescale

We aim to complete the assessment process within four months of the funding opportunity closing date.

Feedback

We will give feedback with the outcome of your application.

Principles of assessment

We support the San Francisco declaration on research assessment and recognise the relationship between research assessment and research integrity.

Find out about the UKRI principles of assessment and decision making.

We reserve the right to modify the assessment process as needed.

Sharing data with co-funders

We will need to share the following parts of the application, including any personal information contained therein, with NSERC so that they are able to determine eligibility of the Canadian research partner:

  • the letter of support (including attestation forms from each named member of the UK and Canadian research teams if required) from the NSERC Alliance Missions principal investigator, (uploaded as a project partner letter of support)

For more information on how NSERC use personal information, visit NSERC – The Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act (ATIP).

Assessment criteria

The criteria against which your application will be assessed are:

  • vision

  • approach

  • applicants and team capability to deliver

  • ethics and responsible research and innovation (RRI)

Find details of assessment questions and criteria under the ‘Application questions’ heading in the ‘How to apply’ section.

How to apply

Click here to start application on the UKRI Funding Service Are you leading the project? - UKRI Funding Service

We are running this funding opportunity on the new UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Funding Service. You cannot apply on the Joint Electronic Submissions (Je-S) system.

The project lead is responsible for completing the application process on the Funding Service, but we expect all team members and project partners to contribute to the application.

Only the lead research organisation can submit an application to UKRI.

Watch our recording on recording on how to apply for an opportunity in the Funding Service.

To apply

Select ‘Start application’ near the beginning of this Funding finder page.

  1. Confirm you are the project lead.

  2. Sign in or create a Funding Service account. To create an account, select your organisation, verify your email address, and set a password. If your organisation is not listed, email support@funding-service.ukri.orgAllow at least 10 working days for your organisation to be added to the Funding Service.

  3. Answer questions directly in the text boxes. You can save your answers and come back to complete them or work offline and return to copy and paste your answers. If we need you to upload a document, follow the upload instructions in the Funding Service. All questions and assessment criteria are listed in the ‘How to apply’ section on this Funding finder page.

  4. Allow enough time to check your application in ‘read-only’ view before sending to your research office.

  5. Send the completed application to your research office for checking. They will return it to you if it needs editing.

  6. Your research office will submit the completed and checked application to UKRI.

Where indicated, you can also demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. You should:

  • use images sparingly and only to convey important information that cannot easily be put into words

  • insert each new image onto a new line

  • provide a descriptive legend for each image immediately underneath it (this counts towards your word limit)

  • ensure that files are smaller than 5MB and in JPEG, JPG, JPE, JFI, JIF, JFIF, PNG, GIF, BMP or WEBP format

Watch our research office webinars about the new Funding Service.

For more guidance on the Funding Service, see:

References

Applications should be self-contained, and hyperlinks should only be used to provide links directly to reference information. To ensure the information’s integrity is maintained, where possible, persistent identifiers such as digital object identifiers should be used. Assessors are not required to access links to carry out assessment or recommend a funding decision. You should use your discretion when including references and prioritise those most pertinent to your application.

Reference should be included in the appropriate question section of the application and be easily identifiable by the assessors for example (Smith, Research Paper, 2019).

You must not include links to web resources to extend your application.

Deadline

We must receive your application by 3 October 2024 at 4.00pm UK time.

You will not be able to apply after this time. Make sure you are aware of and follow any internal institutional deadlines.

Following the submission of your application to the funding opportunity, your application cannot be changed, and applications will not be returned for amendment. If your application does not follow the guidance, it may be rejected.

Personal data

Processing personal data

Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), as part of UKRI, will need to collect some personal information to manage your Funding Service account and the registration of your funding applications.

We will handle personal data in line with UK data protection legislation and manage it securely. For more information, including how to exercise your rights, read our privacy notice.

NERC, as part of UKRI, will need to share the following parts of the application, including any personal information contained therein, with Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) so that they are able to determine eligibility of the Canadian research partner:

  • the letter of support (including attestation forms from each named member of the UK and Canadian research teams if required) from the NSERC Alliance Missions principal investigator, (uploaded as a project partner letter of support)

For more information on how NSERC uses personal information, visit NSERC – The Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act (ATIP).

Publication of outcomes

NERC, as part of UKRI, will publish the outcomes of this funding opportunity on What NERC has funded.

If your application is successful, we will publish some personal information on the UKRI Gateway to Research.

Summary

Word count: 550

In plain English, provide a summary we can use to identify the most suitable experts to assess your application.

We usually make this summary publicly available on external-facing websites, therefore do not include any confidential or sensitive information. Make it suitable for a variety of readers, for example:

  • opinion-formers

  • policymakers

  • the public

  • the wider research community

Guidance for writing a summary

Clearly describe your proposed work in terms of:

  • context

  • the challenge the project addresses

  • aims and objectives

  • potential applications and benefits

Core team

List the key members of your team and assign them roles from the following:

  • project lead (PL)

  • project co-lead (UK) (PcL)

  • project co-lead (international) (PcL (I))

  • specialist

  • grant manager

  • professional enabling staff

  • research and innovation associate

  • technician

  • visiting researcher

  • researcher co-lead (RcL)

Only list one individual as project lead.

The Canadian research partner principal investigator should be listed as project co-lead (international). No other members of the Canadian research partner team should be included.

The project lead is responsible for setting up and completing the application process on the Funding Service.

Find out more about UKRI’s core team roles in funding applications.

Application questions

Vision

Word limit: 1,500

What are you hoping to achieve with your proposed work?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Explain how your proposed work:

  • is of excellent quality and importance within or beyond the field(s) or area(s)

  • has the potential to advance current understanding, or generate new knowledge, thinking or discovery within or beyond the field or area

  • is timely given current trends, context, and needs

  • impacts world-leading research, society, the economy, or the environment

Within this section we also expect you to:

  • describe how your project will deliver the intended outcomes of the programme, as outlined in the funding opportunity

  • identify the potential direct or indirect benefits of the partnership to UK and Canadian research communities, such as fostering skills sharing and knowledge exchange

  • summarise how interdisciplinary expertise and methodologies will enrich the outcomes of your proposed research (if applicable)

You may demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. Further details are provided in the ‘How to apply’ section.

References may be included within this section.

Approach

Word limit: 1,500

How are you going to deliver your proposed work?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Explain how you have designed your approach so that it:

  • is effective and appropriate to achieve your objectives

  • is feasible, and comprehensively identifies any risks to delivery and how they will be managed

  • uses a clearly written and transparent methodology (if applicable)

  • summarises the previous work and describes how this will be built upon and progressed (if applicable)

  • will maximise translation of outputs into outcomes and impacts

Within this section we also expect you to:

  • describe how your selection of Canadian research partner project is appropriate, including an explanation of how the UK and Canadian teams will work together to add value through collaboration

  • describe how your project encourages knowledge and skills sharing and capacity development as part of, and not separate to, the stated research approach

  • demonstrate access to the appropriate services, facilities, infrastructure, or equipment to deliver the proposed work

  • describe any metrics through which you will monitor progress and success of the project (if applicable)

You may demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. Further details are provided in the ‘How to apply’ section.

References may be included within this section.

Applicant and team capability to deliver

Word limit: 1,650

Why are you the right individual or team to successfully deliver the proposed work?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Evidence of how you, and if relevant your team, have:

  • the relevant experience (appropriate to career stage) to deliver the proposed work

  • the right balance of skills and expertise to cover the proposed work

  • the appropriate leadership and management skills to deliver the work and your approach to develop others

  • contributed to developing a positive research environment and wider community

You may demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. Further details are provided in the ‘How to apply’ section.

The word limit for this section is 1,650 words: 1,150 words to be used for R4RI modules (including references) and, if necessary, a further 500 words for Additions.

Use the Résumé for Research and Innovation (R4RI) format to showcase the range of relevant skills you and, if relevant, your team (project and project co-leads, researchers, technicians, specialists, partners and so on) have and how this will help deliver the proposed work. You can include individuals’ specific achievements but only choose past contributions that best evidence their ability to deliver this work.

Complete this section using the R4RI module headings listed. Use each heading once and include a response for the whole team, see the UKRI guidance on R4RI. You should consider how to balance your answer, and emphasise where appropriate the key skills each team member brings:

  • contributions to the generation of new ideas, tools, methodologies, or knowledge

  • the development of others and maintenance of effective working relationships

  • contributions to the wider research and innovation community

  • contributions to broader research or innovation users and audiences and towards wider societal benefit

Additions

Provide any further details relevant to your application. This section is optional and can be up to 500 words. You should not use it to describe additional skills, experiences, or outputs, but you can use it to describe any factors that provide context for the rest of your R4RI (for example, details of career breaks if you wish to disclose them).

Complete this as a narrative. Do not format it like a CV.

References may be included within this section.

UKRI has introduced new role types for funding opportunities being run on the Funding Service.

For full details, see Eligibility as an individual.

Ethics and responsible research and innovation (RRI)

Word limit: 500

What are the ethical or RRI implications and issues relating to the proposed work? If you do not think that the proposed work raises any ethical or RRI issues, explain why.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Using the text box, demonstrate that you have identified and evaluated the relevant ethical or responsible research and innovation considerations, and how you will manage them. Including:

  • research involving human participation, including the numbers and diversity of the participants involved and any procedures

  • research involving indigenous peoples or communities

  • consideration for preventing environmental harm and enhancing environmental benefit in line with NERC’s responsible business statement

  • if you are collecting or using data, identify:

    • any legal and ethical considerations of collecting, releasing or storing the data including consent, confidentiality, anonymisation, security and other ethical considerations and, in particular, strategies to not preclude further reuse of data

    • formal information standards with which your study will comply

Should your proposed research include collaboration with indigenous peoples or communities (such as Indigenous or Northern community groups), we encourage you to consult the following resources:

Research involving indigenous peoples or communities should adhere to the principles and best practise as described in these documents, including engagement and collaboration with relevant representatives from the indigenous community groups in the development and design of your application. Your response should clearly outline how you have met these requirements.

State the names of any bodies you will require approval from and whether you already have it. If it is not yet in place, then give an indicative timeframe for when it will be.

You may demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. Further details are provided in the ‘How to apply’ section.

References may be included within this section.

Trusted Research and Innovation (TR&I)

Word limit: 200

Does the proposed work involve international collaboration in a sensitive research or technology area?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

This funding opportunity involves international collaboration in research related to a sensitive research or technology area, namely the ‘Advanced Materials’ area of the UK National Security and Investment (NSI) Act.

Demonstrate how your proposed international collaboration relates to Trusted Research and Innovation, including:

  • list the countries your international project co-leads, project partners and visiting researchers, or other collaborators are based in. This should include all named researchers and project partners associated with the collaborating Canadian research partner project

  • explain whether this project is relevant to one or more of the 17 areas of the UK National Security and Investment (NSI) Act, and list the areas. It is expected that this should include the ‘Advanced Materials’ area of the UK National Security and Investment (NSI) Act.

We may ask you to provide additional information about how your proposed project will comply with our approach and expectation towards TR&I, identifying potential risks and the relevant controls you will put in place to help manage these risks.

You should be aware that to adhere to the Government of Canada’s Policy on Sensitive Technology Research and Affiliations of Concern, following the tri-agency guidance on the STRAC Policy, for the duration of their involvement in the activities supported by the grant, all research team members are individually responsible for ensuring that they do not hold an active affiliation or receive funding or in-kind support from a named research organisation.

Project partners

Provide details about any project partners’ contributions.

Add details about any project partners’ contributions. If there are no project partners, you can indicate this on the Funding Service.

A project partner is a collaborating organisation who will have an integral role in the proposed research. This may include direct (cash) or indirect (in-kind) contributions such as expertise, staff time or use of facilities.

Add the following project partner details:

  • organisation name and address (searchable via a drop-down list or enter the organisation’s details manually, as applicable)

  • project partner contact name and email address

  • type of contribution (direct or in-direct) and its monetary value

If a detail is entered incorrectly and you have saved the entry, remove the specific project partner record and re-add it with the correct information.

For audit purposes, UKRI requires formal collaboration agreements to be put in place if an award is made.

Project partners: letters of support

Word count: 10

Upload a single PDF containing:

This should be uploaded in English or Welsh only. This letter of support must be provided to be eligible for this funding opportunity. We do not require letters of support from any other project partners.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Enter the words ‘attachment supplied’ in the text box. The letter you provide must use the template, and include:

  • the name and affiliation of the UK project lead and title of the UK-led project

  • confirmation that the Canadian research partner has received an Alliance Missions grant (provide NSERC application number)

  • whether the Alliance Missions grant or proposed additional partnership work with UK applicants aims to advance any of the listed Sensitive Technology Research Areas under the Government of Canada’s Policy on Sensitive Technology Research and Affiliations of Concern, and any required attestation forms (PDF, 54KB) for all researchers and collaborators in named roles (UK and Canadian)

  • a brief description of how the Canadian and UK project teams are engaged, and how they intend to work together to the benefit of both countries

  • an outline of the additional activities to be undertaken by the Canadian research partner

  • the amount of supplemental funds in CADs requested by the Canadian research partner in years two and three of their Alliance Missions project

  • a detailed justification of how the supplemental funds will be used

Save the letter of support and any required attestation forms in a single PDF no bigger than 8MB.

For the file name, use the unique Funding Service number the system gives you when you create an application, followed by the words ‘project partner’.

If the attachment does not meet these requirements, the application will be rejected.

The Funding Service will provide document upload details when you apply.

We will share the letter of support including any required attestation forms with NSERC, so that NSERC can confirm eligibility of the Canadian project partner and organise funding if successful.

For audit purposes, UKRI requires formal collaboration agreements to be put in place if an award is made.

Facilities

Word limit: 250

Does your proposed research require the support and use of a facility?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

If you will need to use a facility, follow your proposed facility’s normal access request procedures. Ensure you have prior agreement so that if you are offered funding, they will support the use of their facility on your project.

For each requested facility you will need to provide the:

  • name of facility, copied and pasted from the facility information list (DOCX, 37KB)

  • proposed usage or costs, or costs per unit where indicated on the facility information list

  • confirmation you have their agreement where required

If you have to attach a facility form then upload it as a PDF. If you need to upload multiple forms, then combine them into a single PDF.

If you do not need to use a facility, then simply add ‘N/A’ into the text box, mark this section as complete and move to the next section.

Upload guidance

Upload a single PDF containing facility forms ensuring it is no larger than 8MB, if applicable.

For the file name, use the unique Funding Service number the system gives to your application when you create an application, immediately followed by the words ‘facility forms’. Then use the ‘upload’ button.

Unless specifically requested, do not include any personal data within the attachment.

Once you have uploaded, mark this section as complete and move to the next one.

Data management and sharing

Word limit: 500

How will you manage and share data collected or acquired through the proposed research?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Provide a data management plan that clearly details how you will comply with UKRI’s published data sharing policy, which includes detailed guidance notes.

Indicate:

  • which NERC data centre is required to archive the data

  • whether the total volume of data is likely to be larger than 1TB

  • any other detail on how you will comply with NERC data policy

Resources and cost justification

Word limit: 2,000

What will you need to deliver your proposed work and how much will it cost?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Justify the application’s more costly resources, in particular:

  • project staff

  • significant travel for field work or collaboration (but not regular travel between collaborating organisations or to conferences)

  • any equipment that will cost more than £10,000

  • any consumables beyond typical requirements, or that are required in exceptional quantities

  • all facilities and infrastructure costs

  • all resources that have been costed as ‘Exceptions’

Assessors are not looking for detailed costs or a line-by-line breakdown of all project resources. Overall, they want to be assured that:

  • all resources are comprehensive, appropriate, and justified

  • the project will make optimal use of resources to achieve the intended outcomes

  • maximise potential outcomes and impacts

If you have equipment costs, input these under the ‘Directly Incurred’ heading on the Funding Service. This will allow them to be costed at 50% at the awarding stage (and ignore the 80% FEC displayed on the Funding Service).

Supporting information

This programme is funded by the UK Government’s International Science Partnerships Fund (ISPF). ISPF is managed by the Department of Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT), and delivered by a consortium of the UK’s leading research and innovation bodies, including UKRI. The £337 million fund supports collaboration between UK researchers and innovators and their peers around the world on the major themes of our time: planet, health, technology, and talent.

Virtual networking forum and workshop for potential applicants

Interested parties are encouraged to sign-up to our networking forum on Guild. Further information about a planned virtual networking workshop on 10 June 2024 4:00pm to 6:00pm UK time (8:00am to 10:00am Pacific Standard Time or 11:00am to 1:00pm Eastern Standard Time), will be available on Guild. The workshop will provide an opportunity to connect with researchers from the UK and Canada.Register for GuildRegistration on Guild or attendance at the workshop are not mandatory to be eligible to apply to this funding opportunity but will provide opportunity to connect with Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Alliance Missions grant-holders.

Information videos

The following video recordings provide information about the funding opportunity, what we hope to achieve, and details of the application process.

Video one: UK funding opportunity background and scope

Watch background and scope UK Canada sustainable critical mineral research partnerships video recording.

Please note, the grants must start by 1 May 2025 rather than 31 May 2025 as shown in the video.

View background and scope UK Canada sustainable critical mineral research partnerships video supporting document (PDF, 1MB).

Video two: background to NSERC Alliance Missions critical minerals grants

Watch NSERC Alliance Missions critical minerals grants background video recording.

View Alliance Missions UK critical minerals grants background supporting document (PDF, 2MB).

Video three: UK funding opportunity how to apply

Watch how to apply UK Canada sustainable critical mineral research partnerships video recording.

View UK-Canada sustainable critical mineral partnerships funding opportunity how to apply supporting document (PDF, 564KB).

Video four: instructions for Canadian research partner

Watch Alliance Missions UK funding opportunity instructions to Canadian applicants video recording.

View instructions to Canadian applicants applying to the NSERC supplement supporting document (PDF, 1MB).

Programme governance

The programme will be overseen by a Programme Advisory Group (PAG), consisting of representatives from Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and NSERC and any additional external experts deemed necessary. The PAG will meet virtually on an annual basis (anticipated Spring 2026 and Spring 2027) to discuss programme progress, provide the opportunity for learning to be shared between projects and for the PAG to give any feedback required to the project teams.

Reporting requirements

Projects funded through this funding opportunity will be required to submit reports twice a year to summarise progress using a specified reporting template; and complete an end of project report in the format of a survey. Results from both will be shared with NSERC. The UK researchers will lead on the completion of the reports on behalf of the UK-Canada partnership. The end of project report will be used by the funders (NERC and NSERC) to review the successes, learning opportunities and impacts of the programme.

UK project leads and Canadian principal investigators associated with the partnership projects will be invited to attend part of the annual Programme Advisory Group meeting; there will be an expectation that the UK project leads attend, outlined in the UK grant Terms and Conditions.

In addition, grant holders will be required to report your research outcomes on ResearchFish in line with the standard UKRI terms and conditions. This is required annually and continues for up to five years after the end of funding.

Project teams will be required to comply with all reporting requirements on research outcomes from UKRI or Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT), which will be detailed in the terms and conditions of UKRI awards.

Our commitment to the principles of the Modern Slavery Act 2015

Modern slavery is a crime and a violation of fundamental human rights. It takes various forms which deprive a person of their liberty in order to exploit them for personal or commercial gain, such as:

  • slavery

  • servitude

  • human trafficking

  • forced and compulsory labour

We are committed to the principles of the Modern Slavery Act 2015, and the abolition of modern slavery and human trafficking.

Supporting documents

Canadian research partner letter of support template (English) (DOCX, 48.3KB)

Canadian research partner letter of support template (French) (DOCX, 42.7KB)

Related content

Get help with your application

If you have a question and the answers aren’t provided on this pageImportant note: The Helpdesk is committed to helping users of the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Funding Service as effectively and as quickly as possible. In order to manage cases at peak volume times, the Helpdesk will triage and prioritise those queries with an imminent funding opportunity deadline and/or a technical issue. Enquiries raised where information is available on the Funding Finder opportunity page and should be understood early in the application process (for example, regarding eligibility or content/remit of a funding opportunity) will not constitute a priority case and will be addressed as soon as possible.

Contact details

For help and advice on costings and writing your application, contact your research office in the first instance, allowing sufficient time for your organisation’s submission process.For questions related to this specific funding opportunity, contact earthenergyresources@nerc.ukri.orgAny queries regarding the system or the submission of applications through the Funding Service should be directed to the helpdesk.Email: support@funding-service.ukri.orgPhone: 01793 547490Our phone lines are open:

  • Monday to Thursday 8:30am to 5:00pm

  • Friday 8:30am to 4:30pm

To help us process queries quicker, we request that users highlight the council and funding opportunity name in the subject title of their email query, include the application reference number, and refrain from contacting more than one mailbox at a time.You can also find information on submitting an application.

Sensitive information

If you or a core team member need to tell us something you wish to remain confidential, email EarthEnergyResources@nerc.ukri.orgInclude in the subject line: UK-Canadian critical minerals; sensitive information; your Funding Service application number.Typical examples of confidential information include:

  • individual is unavailable until a certain date (for example due to parental leave)

  • declaration of interest

  • additional information about eligibility to apply that would not be appropriately shared in the ‘Applicant and team capability’ section

  • conflict of interest for UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to consider in reviewer or panel participant selection

For information about how UKRI handles personal data, read UKRI’s privacy notice.