The Natural Environment Research Council has revised its responsive mode funding streams to better encourage “adventurous, technology-led and multi-disciplinary proposals”.
Responsive mode is the funding stream that supports research in response to unsolicited ideas from research groups, consortia and individuals, and is intended to provide support for cutting-edge areas of science.
The new guidelines are intended to encourage “adventurous research” which NERC defines as being innovative and high-risk, and “technology-led proposals” that focus on technological applications of research.
Technology-generating research was not specified as a target area for funding on the council’s Funding Streams and Categories webpage of September 2008. Here the research council defined the responsive mode stream as encouraging blue-skies research: “supporting original investigation and training undertaken to gain, advance or expand knowledge and understanding”.
The new guidelines also encourage collaboration across and within disciplines and institutional boundaries as well as with international and non-academic partners.
The change comes as a result of NERC's 2004 Blue Skies Review that found that the research community has a varied understanding of what responsive mode is and what it is for.
The new definition was formed following a consultation exercise including two current Science and Innovation Strategy Board members and is one of the main actions identified in the research council’s 2009 Responsive Mode Action Plan.