Call for Fundamental Research and Feasibility Studies

Winning Bids- 2020

5 bids each for £25k have been selected. No £5k bids were funded.

We are pleased to announce that we received very high quality applications. However, we regret to say that had only limited funds and that all applications were reviewed strictly as per the process indicated and ranked on the basis of merit. 

Call open: 4 March 2020
Deadline: 20 May 2020, 5 pm

The EPSRC NetworkPlus in Digitalised Surface Manufacturing will fund up to nine Fundamental Research and Feasibility Studies.

  • Studies may range in duration from 3 to 9 months.
  • Of the potential nine studies to be funded, we propose to fund 4 studies up to £25k each and the remaining studies up to £5k each; each study will be funded at 80% fEC as per EPSRC guidelines and must be completed before the end of 2021.
  • Funding through this call is not available for the purchase of equipment(s) or PhD studentships as set out within the EPSRC funding rules of the Network.


The aim of the feasibility studies is to enable cross-disciplinary research in digitalisation and surface manufacturing. Thus, to be eligible for funding a proposal must demonstrate the potential to significantly improve the technology level of a coating or coating process in relation to digitalisation. Proposals must focus on or address challenges at low Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs 1-3), again in line with EPSRC funding, although building a demonstrative prototype of such technology is also appropriate.


It is expected that Fundamental Research and Feasibility Studies will result in Responsive Mode proposals, and evidence of such activity is expected/ encouraged.

Proposals should demonstrate the potential to have significant wider impact in the digital / surface manufacturing sectors.

Priority will be given to those bids that leverage additional funds for the benefit of the Network and/or are led by ECRs.


The expectation is that up to nine projects will be funded at the first call and a second call for Fundamental Research and Feasibility Studies will be made in early 2022. We also encourage applicants to discuss specific requirements with the Network team.

The following criteria will be used by the review panel when assessing the proposals:

  • Multidisciplinary and clear demonstration of “discipline-bridging” activity
  • Involvement of early career researchers
  • Potential to lead to strong dissemination materials
  • Potential for development of future funding applications from EPSRC (e.g. responsive mode), Innovate UK or other funding streams
  • Demonstration of transfer of concepts from other domains to surface manufacturing
  • Involvement of industry stakeholders
  • Paths to accelerate impact of research to ensure rapid transfer to industry

Eligible organisations include all UK Higher Education Institutions that receive grant funding from one of the UK higher education funding bodies, along with research institutes for which the Research Councils have established a long-term involvement as a major funder. Other independent research organisations (IROs) may also be eligible. Further information on the Eligibility criteria and List of Eligible institutions may be found here.

The budget outline for the proposed feasibility studies can include investigator/ researcher time, travel and subsistence appropriate to delivery of the project, and consumables.

As the grant holder, the DSM Network is responsible for allocating funding to successful proposals and will reimburse subcontracting organisations at 80% full economic costing. Academic institutions will be required to itemise bills based on 100% FEC and then invoice at 80% FEC.

Awards will be made via a short written application.

We value equality and diversity. In order to reduce potential impact of any form of bias and that the selection of projects are on the basis of merit as per the selection criteria, a two part form will be used.  

Part 1 will contain contact details, project team and track record information and Part 2 will be the outline Case for Support, which will be considered anonymously by the expert reviewers. Please make every effort to ensure that no identifying content is included in Part 2. Please ensure that the form is completed in Century Gothic 10 and that Part 1 is no more than 2 pages and Part 2 no more than 4 pages. References can be included as an appendix.

Completed forms should be emailed to by 5 pm on 20 May 2020.

As you will see from the application form, proposals for feasibility studies should include the following content:

Part One

  • Project Title
  • Project start date (approx.)
  • Project duration (weeks)
  • Lead organisation
  • Principal investigator (Address, Telephone, Email)
  • Project team (Please indicate early career researchers)
  • Brief track record in the context of the proposal

Part Two

This proposal can be a maximum of up to 4 pages.

Figures (up to 4) and references can be provided as an appendix.

  • Project Title
  • Project start date (approx.)
  • Project duration (weeks)
  • Context
  • Aims and objectives
  • Benefits of the proposed work
  • A statement of the novelty of the proposed work
  • Details of the proposed work and research methodology
  • Outline project plan and deliverables
  • Current funding available, if any
  • Future funding possibility

Proposal budget

The budget should be submitted as per Je-S requirements, including one page justification of costs document. The budget should clearly indicate- Direct and Indirect costs.

In addition to the specific outputs outlined in your proposal, each feasibility study project team is required to:

  1. Present work (in progress or completed) to annual conferences or Network Events.
  2. Provide the DSM Network with an information sheet on the project and the impact it has made (e.g. outreach, further funding awarded, collaborations made, IPs generated, technology developed) for a ResearchFISH submission to EPSRC as DSM Network contribution until November 2022.
  3. Ensure that the work is acknowledged as being supported by EPSRC and DSM Network when promoting projects. Both EPSRC and DSM Network branding should be visibly included on any presentations.

Call for proposals: 4 March 2020

Deadline for submissions: 20 May 2020, 5 pm (Extended)

Results Announced: 19 June 2020

All feasibility studies should complete within the given time period as per individual project timeline.

If you encounter any issues on downloading docx (Microsoft Word) version of the application forms, please contact

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