COVID-19 – UK research funding

UK Funder Guidance

Follow the links to view up to date research funder guidance on the impact of Covid-19 for research funding applicants and grant holders.

Research funder guidance on COVID-19

Applying to Covid-19 funding schemes

If you are interested in applying to any Covid-19 funding schemes please read the 'COVID 19 approvals process map' which details the University of Leeds approval process for applying for Covid-19 research funding and additional information on certain schemes. Details of UKRI Research Council and NIHR funding schemes are below.

COVID 19 approvals process map- please read

UKRI Research Councils

The expression of interest: emergency route for time-critical COVID-19 research funding call from UKRI is now live.


Proposals submitted under this route are expected to focus on rapid turnaround researchurgent data or sample collection, and essential initial analysis to either: inform urgent policy or national decision making, or secure data for future research use.


This is a rarely awarded emergency route for exceptional circumstances.

There are strict criteria for this call. To apply, you must:

  • demonstrate the time-critical nature of the research or data/sample collection
  • demonstrate a clear and rapid route to impact through existing partnerships
  • show why a normal grant timeframe is unsuitable
  • justify why you did not apply through any of the previously available UKRI COVID-19 funding schemes


The maximum funding that may be sought is £80K (80% full economic cost), including any facilities costs. The usual duration will be 3 months, with a maximum of up to 6 months when necessary.


UKRI have stated research organisations should actively triage ideas before applications are submitted. Therefore, if you wish to apply to this call, you must:

  1. Check that your proposal doesn’t duplicate already funded projects:
  2. Discuss your plans with your Director of Research and Innovation to ensure fit to the scheme criteria and UKRI priorities.
  3. Develop your one-page expression of interest document in consultation with your Faculty Research Innovation Office who can advise on costs.
  4. Ensure that all the institutional resources and approvals (for example, ethical approval, costings) you need to carry out your project are in place, including approval from your Head of School.






The UKRI Rapid Response to COVID-19 rolling call closed on 15th December 2020.


For more information on submitting COVID-19 proposals after the close of the rolling call please see details on the UKRI website.


NIHR COVID 19 ​Urgent Public Health Research National Prioritisation 

In March 2020 the NIHR implemented a UK-wide portal for applying for funding and prioritised support for urgent public health research into COVID-19.  This portal provided a mechanism to apply for funding and also obtain prioritised CRN support for COVID-19 studies.

NIHR have now changed this process and as of 1 July 2020 the NIHR portal is only to be used for studies that already have funding and require prioritised CRN support for their COVID-19 studies. 

NIHR’s Rapid Response COVID-19 calls have now closed and NIHR advise those seeking funding to apply through NIHR research programme researcher led calls which welcome COVID-19 research within the remits of their programmes.

NIHR Funding opportunities can be found here

NIHR’s response to COVID-19 and further information can be found here.

Frequently asked questions

New Awards

Should I delay the start of my new research project?

Yes where possible. Permission should be sought from the funder to defer the project due to start in the next 3 months where possible. Exceptions to this include projects which:

• are directly supporting the national response to Covid-19
• can be initiated and undertaken remotely (at least in the initial phase) either at Leeds or in a collaborating organisation (for joint projects).

Please contact your FRIO in the first instance for advice.

Management of Live Awards

How will the University cost control measures impact my grant-funded research project?

Externally funded research can continue where work can progress without access to on-campus facilities. This includes recruitment of new staff on research grants (to be agreed by DVC R&I; please refer to guidance on approvals for recruitment of new staff) and non-staff spend where the project can continue remotely. Equipment purchases on external grants are also allowed but staff should avoid ordering equipment that requires receipt of delivery while we do not have access to campus.

My project’s progress is being adversely impacted by the COVID-19 closures. What should I do?

Most Funders are encouraging PI’s to inform them if there is an immediate impact on their funded projects. We encourage all PI’s to engage with their funder(s) if full or partial remote progress is not possible. This is particularly important for projects ending in the immediate to short-term (i.e. between now and September), or for any project where disruption is significant (e.g. cessation of clinical trials or where research is particularly time-sensitive), irrespective of project stage. Where possible researchers should seek to operate within the originally awarded budgets and timelines. Where this is not possible, alternative options should be explored with the funder including but not limited to (1) Exceptional repurposing of project budgets; or (2) Supplementary funding. Note: any extension can only be agreed if the costs can be absorbed within the original funding envelope. Please contact your HoS, DoRI and FRIO for project specific advice, and please keep them updated on developments with your Funders.

I am unable to meet agreed project milestones due to Covid-19. What should I do?

It is recognised that some research projects will be significantly impacted due to the scale and reach of the Covid-19 crisis that far extends the immediate lockdown impact. Where possible, permission to defer deliverables should be secured at project or funder level. Such projects will need to be assessed on a case-by-case basis over the coming weeks. If your research project has an imminent contractual deadline (e.g. for reports or other milestone deliverables) which cannot be met owing to COVID-19, we would recommend that you contact your HoS, DoRI and FRIO as soon as possible to discuss your options.

My Funder has contacted me and advised that my project may be suspended and / or that costs incurred during Leeds closure are not eligible? What shall I do? What does this mean for my project funded staff?

Please contact your FRIO to discuss. If your research project is being continued remotely, costs should still be eligible. Until we have clear instruction from the funder, project-funded staff should continue to be charged to their original project(s).

Project travel plans and other confirmed activities have had to be cancelled and my project has lost money. Will the project be reimbursed?

We anticipate that funders will adopt a pragmatic approach on this, however it is likely to be variable, as such please refer to the individual funder’s guidance. For all travel cancelled by Key Travel on the University’s behalf, Key Travel are requesting reimbursement from the provider in the form of a full refund, however, where a full refund is not available the University is looking to secure a full value credit with acceptance of a voucher being a last resort. Further information on progress of reimbursements through Key Travel is expected in the coming weeks and bookers will be contacted in due course.

I have field work (including interviews and observations) that is currently underway or about to start. What should I do?

Where fieldwork cannot be undertaken remotely it will need to be rescheduled for later in the year if possible. If your fieldwork is dependent on the time of year, then you may need to consider alternative arrangements and discuss this directly with your Funder.

I need to return back to clinical duties but this will impact my research project. What should I do?

We are receiving confirmation from some funders that they fully support this and will provide extensions to projects where staff have returned to clinical duties to support the Coronavirus pandemic. There is an expectation from funders that the NHS will ultimately reimburse the project for associated salary costs incurred. Please keep your HoS and FRIO informed so they can make necessary arrangements.

Can I proceed with recruitment to any grant-funded posts?

Yes, you can proceed. However, careful consideration should be given to the start date of any new staff, informed by the extent by which the project can be undertaken remotely. Please seek further advice from your FRIO and HR Business Partner.

I have been contacted by my Funder to consider Furloughing project staff, what shall I do?

The University is currently considering the feasibility of the furlough scheme for our staff and further information will be released as details emerge. Please contact your HoS and HR Business Partner in the first instance.

My funder has contacted me regarding a no cost extension, what should I do?

The cost of any extensions should fall within the original funding envelope – this should include DI staff costs e.g. PDRA time – careful consideration should be given to the impact of any extension on DA staff costs e.g. PI and CoI time. Please contact your FRIO to discuss.