Faraday Discovery Fellowships

The Faraday Discovery Fellowships are prestigious long-term awards that will support emerging research leaders to undertake high-quality, original research. The programme is aimed at outstanding mid-career STEM researchers and will provide grants of up to £8m over a ten-year period to support the development of world-leading research groups in UK Universities and Research Institutes.

Status: Closed Opening: 14 August 2024
Career Stage: Mid career
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About the scheme 

The Faraday Discovery Fellowships are supported through a £250m fund from the Department of Science Innovation and Technology (DSIT). They are large, investigator-led grants awarded to a single Principal Investigator (PI) to enable them to establish an outstanding team of researchers to address challenging research questions.  

The programme will provide the most talented mid-career researchers with the time and freedom to focus on their research, providing long-term, stable funding to allow them to tackle difficult and intractable problems.  

The Faraday Discovery Fellowships does not operate thematic priorities, as with all Royal Society funding, we will consider applications from all areas of science (STEM) that are covered by the Royal Society remit. This may include, although is not limited to, the following examples: 

  • Frontiers of Science – examples might include research into quantum, materials, earth observation, engineering biology and understanding the microbial world. 
  • Science for Resilience and Prosperity - examples might include research into waste, future telecoms, scarce resources, protecting planetary life support systems, life in extreme environmental conditions, science and engineering of cutting-edge technologies, batteries, AI and Net Zero. 

The above are examples only. Applications that do not fit under the headings of Frontiers of Science and Science for Resilience and Prosperity are welcome. The Society will assess applications in all areas of STEM purely on the basis of the track record of the candidate and the quality and vision of the proposed research. 

The aims of the Faraday Discovery Fellowships are to: 

  • Support emerging research leaders to be based in the UK – Both attracting outstanding mid-career researchers from overseas and retaining outstanding researchers in the UK, as well as their groups/teams. 
  • Fund high-quality original research – Providing long-term funding to enable talented mid-career researchers to focus on their research vision and address the most challenging research questions (including supporting translation or commercialisation where those are part of their long-term vision for their research). 
  • Develop world leading research groups/teams in the UK - Providing long-term, stable levels of support to enable UK-based Principal Investigators to establish world-leading groups/teams and pursue their research. 
  • Train the next generation – Supporting the development of the next generation of research leaders in their field through a programme of training and support for members of the research group (including early career researchers, PDRAs, PhD students and technicians ) funded on the grants.  

The Royal Society recognises that diversity is essential for delivering excellence in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The Society wants to encourage applications from the widest range of backgrounds, perspectives and experiences to maximise innovation and creativity in science for the benefit of humanity. We regularly review and revise policies and processes to embed equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) principles in all aspects of the grant making process and ensure all talented applicants have an equitable chance to succeed as per the assessment criteria. 

See below for details of adjustments we can provide for disabled applicants. 

Register at the top of the page for updates about this scheme. 

What does the scheme offer

Applicants can apply for up to a maximum of £8 million over ten years. Where applicants require less than the maximum value, they should request only the funding required, all funding requests will need to be justified. Full funding details including details of eligible costs will be found in the scheme notes and funding guidance, to be published soon.

We provide flexibility to accommodate personal circumstances including part-time working, sabbaticals and secondments. There is provision for maternity, paternity, shared parental, adoptive or extended sick leave, as well as financial support for childcare costs that arise from attending conferences and research visits. 

Royal Society Research Fellows also have the opportunity to access a range of career development and engagement opportunities.

This scheme is for you if: 

  • You are a mid-career researcher (see definition below)
  • Your primary area of research is within the Royal Society’s remit of natural sciences, which includes but is not limited to biological research and biomedical sciences, chemistry, engineering, mathematics and physics. For a full list, please see the breakdown of subject groups and areas supported by the Royal Society.

Definition of mid-career

  • We would expect applicants to this scheme to have 10-20 years research experience post-PhD or equivalent research experience (exceptional candidates with fewer years’ experience will be considered). Candidates who have had changes in discipline or research direction, or time working on industrial research, will be welcomed. As standard, career breaks and non-linear career paths will be taken into consideration. 
  • Candidates will be required to meet the following criteria:
    • Be a recognised research leader within their field, with experience of managing significant research grants as the Principal Investigator. Candidates should hold a permanent academic post or be in the latter stages of a recognised long-term research fellowship (such as a Royal Society University Research Fellowship or an equivalent externally- or university-funded fellowship) or have equivalent research experience. We would expect candidates to have experience of managing a research group, which should include training and supervising PhD students and junior staff, or equivalent examples of relevant leadership activities. 
    • Demonstrate significant and original research contributions - The Principal Investigator should have an exceptional track record of outputs commensurate with their research experience and be able to demonstrate significant research contributions in the last 10 years.
    • Be well-established internationally. The programme is intended to support mid-career researchers in STEM who are seeking to consolidate their independence and progressing to become international research leaders in their field. Candidates should have well-established international networks and plans to consolidate their independence. 
  • Demonstrate significant contributions to research, research impact and research culture – for example public engagement, schools’ engagement, knowledge exchange, industry collaboration, team leadership, commercialisation or broader business activity, peer review and committee membership.

Applicants can be of any nationality. 

Read the scheme notes for further information on eligibility and remit.  Please ensure that you meet all eligibility requirements before applying.

You will apply through our application and grant management system, Flexi-Grant®.  

See the ‘Application and assessment process’ page for a general overview of the application and selection steps and below for details specific to this scheme.  

Applications are processed through a two-stage selection process.

  • The first stage will involve the submission of the applicant's CV and a summary of their proposed research. 
  • Applicants selected to proceed to the second stage will be invited to submit a full application.
  • Full applications will be reviewed by the appropriate Faraday Committee, who will shortlist applications for independent peer review
  • Shortlisted full applications will undergo rigorous peer review. There are no interviews for the Faraday Discovery Fellowships, but applicants will be invited to submit a response to reviewers’ comments before the final assessment of the proposal. 

Assessment of your application will be overseen by the Faraday Discovery Fellowships Selection Committees - membership will be published in due course. 

Further detail on the application and assessment process will be available in the scheme notes. 

The Royal Society welcomes applications from disabled applicants and provides adjustments to ensure that they can participate fully in the selection process. If you need an adjustment when accessing the application form, attending interviews if applicable, or for any other part of the application process, please contact the Faraday Fellowships team on faraday@royalsociety.org or call +44 20 7451 2666. Adjustments can include but not limited to: 

  • Extension of the deadline; 
  • Additional support to complete the application form;
  • Technical support during interviews for candidates with hearing or visual impairments; 
  • Support during interviews for neurodiverse candidates and those with mental health conditions.

If you have further questions regarding the scheme, please contact the Grants team on faraday@royalsociety.org or visit our contact us page.