UK Digital Economy Theme Launches Call for Sustainable Digital Society

The Digital Economy Theme, led by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), in close collaboration with the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and Innovate UK, has launched a call to support around six sociotechnical, interdisciplinary, co-created, novel research projects that explore user-focused, transformational digital technologies and services to achieve a Sustainable Digital Society.

In 2020, the Digital Economy Theme developed five new priority areas. One of these priority areas, ‘Sustainable Digital Society’, is the focus of this call. This call uses a targeted approach and is not intended to cover the entire scope of the Sustainable Digital Society priority area, and instead focuses on environmental sustainability. Social and economic sustainability are interconnected with environmental sustainability, so exploration of these aspects of sustainability is welcomed, provided environmental sustainability is the primary focus.

The call seeks to support sociotechnical, interdisciplinary, co-created, novel research projects that explore user-focused, transformational digital technologies and services that address the Sustainable Digital Society priority area in at least one of the following three specified Research Challenge Areas:

Embedding environmental sustainability throughout digital technologies and services, taking into account technology/service design and end use, and the social, economic and/or policy context.

Digital technologies and services to facilitate behaviour change at all levels of society, leading to decision-making that promotes environmental sustainability at scale.

Digital technologies and services to enable one or more of the following:

A circular economy.

Environmentally sustainable supply chains.

An environmentally sustainable built environment.

Environmentally sustainable organisational processes within the public, private and/or third sectors.

Projects should also consider how to undertake the research in an environmentally sustainable manner by adopting research and innovation practices that seek to protect/enhance the environment as far as possible. EPSRC welcomes applications that are adventurous and ambitious, in which the balance of risk against potential outcomes has been carefully considered.

It is expected that proposals will be co-created by interdisciplinary research teams, in which collaborations are synergistic and symbiotic. Applicants should also engage with research users in the conception and implementation of the proposed projects. For information on the eligibility of organisations and individuals to receive EPSRC funding, see the EPSRC Funding Guide. Applicants must ensure that any single Investigator appears on only one proposal, either as a Principal Investigator or Co-Investigator.

The Digital Economy Theme welcomes multi-disciplinary research that spans the whole of the remit of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), however, the research must be at least 50% within EPSRC’s remit to qualify for funding.

A total of £5 million (at 80% fEC) is available for around six projects under this call. Projects may be of any length and applicants should request the amount of time they feel is necessary to achieve the objectives of the proposed research.

Interested applicants should first complete the mandatory intent to submit form on the call webpage by the 3 September 2020 (16:00) deadline.

Principal Investigators should then submit full applications by the 1 October 2020 (16:00) deadline.

More information about this research funding opportunity and the application process is available on the RESEARCHconnect funding information platform. RESEARCHconnect provides up-to-the minute content, insight and analysis on research funding news and policy. To find out more about how RESEARCHconnect can keep you in the know, and subscription fees, contact us today.