TWINE Demonstrators: Digital Twins for Environmental Science – New NERC/Met Office Funding Scheme

Support to produce a digital twin pilot project that uses Earth Observation (EO) data and emerging digital twinning technologies to transform environmental science in the priority areas of climate change, biodiversity and ecosystems, and natural hazards.

The TWINE Demonstrators: Digital Twins for Environmental Science call is being delivered by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) in conjunction with the Met Office as part of the Twinning Capability for the Natural Environment (TWINE) programme. Funding is available to deliver a digital twin pilot project that demonstrates how environmental science can be transformed by research using Earth Observation (EO) data and emerging digital twinning technologies.

The aims of the TWINE programme, and the projects that are successful through this funding opportunity, are to:

  • Harness the UK’s leading position at the nexus of environmental, observational and computational sciences, and bring together multidisciplinary teams to realise the value of digital twinning technology to address environmental challenges.
  • Improve the understanding, modelling and prediction of events, inform future decision-making, and test the impacts of different scenarios and interventions to help make better decisions on improving the environment.
  • Build the foundations of a coherent and lasting landscape of digital twins for environmental science, with a high level of cross-fertilisation of learning and a focus on design for interoperability with current and future activities.

All applications must be developed to address all three of the aims of the TWINE programme and pilot projects funded through this call must address at least one of the following three priority areas:

  • Climate change, mitigations and adaptation.
  • Biodiversity and ecosystems.
  • Natural hazards, including weather, and their mitigation.

Projects will form part of the wider TWINE programme and contribute to developing a federated cyber-physical infrastructure ecosystem. In terms of project outputs, successful applicants must compile a report documenting learning from the project and produce evidence pieces which will be used in the communication and dissemination of the project findings.

Projects are required to have a project lead based in a UK research organisation eligible for UKRI funding (ie approved higher education institutions, research council institutes, independent research organisations, public sector research establishments and catapults). NERC individual eligibility rules apply (refer to Section C of the NERC research grant and fellowships handbook).

Applications are encouraged from interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research groups in collaboration with a range of stakeholders in the EO community and organisations across the environmental science, environment-focused informatics and wider data science communities.

The call’s total budget is £2 million. The full economic cost of the project can be up to £700,000 (at 80% fEC). The minimum award is £250,000. Eligible costs for international project co-lead involvement will be funded at 100%. The duration of this award is 15 months. Projects must start by 2 January 2024.

A webinar for potential applicants will be held on 4 September 2023 (14:00) to provide more information about the funding opportunity and answer questions. Registration is required to attend. A recording of the event will be available.

There is a two-stage application process consisting of a mandatory Expression of Interest proposal followed by a full application. Expressions of Interest must be submitted by the deadline of 8 September 2023 (16:00).

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