Funding Available for Artificial Intelligence Research to Help Achieve UK’s Net Zero Target

UKRI launches scheme for research into the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in addressing net zero challenges across four themes of energy, transport, environment and agricultural and food systems.

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has launched an opportunity to support research into finding solutions for net zero challenges through the development and use of artificial intelligence (AI). Research will be supported across four themes of: energy; transport; environment; and agricultural and food systems.

Projects may use current AI or develop and apply new AI capabilities to address net zero challenges. The opportunity is led by the EPSRC and is intended to include research that also involves NERC, BBSRC, and ESRC remits. Projects must be interdisciplinary and include research elements relevant to at least two councils’ remits.

Proposals should seek to develop tools, techniques and capabilities in AI that address greenhouse gas emissions to meet net zero targets and focus on supporting activities that can make substantive progress towards delivery of real-world solutions, working closely with end users such as industry and policymakers.

Co-creation between the AI community and other disciplines and sectors to create novel and bespoke solutions which can progress both the technology and its application to net zero contexts is essential.

Proposals could employ AI to:

  • Advance understanding.
  • Develop novel solutions.
  • Make or improve decisions.
  • Inform and enhance policy.
  • Enable rapid progress towards net zero.

In doing so, it is anticipated that projects will also address key underpinning barriers to AI in a net zero context, such as the need to:

  • Increase adoption.
  • Deliver improved interoperability and labelling of datasets.
  • De-risk adventurous approaches.
  • Integrate across data sources and types, enabling better use or reuse of data.
  • Crowd-in diverse expertise, disciplines and stakeholders needed to achieve a step-change in the field.

Net zero solutions must also consider key health, nutrient, and food safety needs, and the need to maintain and improve the natural environment and biodiversity.

Standard UKRI eligibility rules apply. Full details of institutional eligibility criteria are available here.

Applicants must be resident in the UK and meet at least one of the following conditions:

  • Be employed at the submitting research organisation at a level equivalent to lecturer or above.
  • Hold a fixed-term contract that extends beyond the duration of the proposed project, and the host research organisation is prepared to provide all the support normal for a permanent employee.
  • Hold an UKRI, Royal Society or Royal Academy of Engineering fellowship aimed at later career stages.
  • Hold fellowships under other schemes (applicants should contact EPSRC to check eligibility, which is considered on a case-by-case basis).

Applicants can be named investigators in a maximum of two proposals, but named as a principal investigator on only one proposal.

The total funding available is £13 million. Individual applicants can apply for between £1 and £2.5 million at 80% full Economic Cost (fEC).

Projects have a fixed start date of 1 May 2023 and end date of 31 March 2025.

Applicants should submit an intent to submit form by the 20 December 2022 (16:00 GMT) deadline.

Full applications should be submitted by 2 February 2023 (16:00 GMT).

(This report was the subject of a ResearchConnect Newsflash.)