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Research and Development Enabling Fund

Have you developed an innovative idea that needs funding to get it off the ground? Are you working on a project that needs financial help to complete?

If so, an ICE R&D Enabling Fund grant could help.

The fund was set up more than 20 years ago to help civil engineers develop new and innovative ideas and tackle problems in design or construction. It is managed by ICE’s Research, Development and Enabling Fund.

We aim to provide readily accessible funding to the engineering community and collaborators and to help deliver on ICE’s business plan by enabling the built environment community to address its key aims.

During its history, the Fund has supported a great many projects, tackling some of the most important issues facing engineers. ICE’s Trustees and expert Knowledge panels, in partnership with the Fund’s dedicated review panel, use information gathered from our membership and community to identify the Fund’s current calls.

The Fund is open to anyone working on projects for the benefit of our members and the infrastructure community, and at any stage in your career. We welcome those from across the whole industry spectrum, both ICE members and non-members - from engineers to academics, procurement and legal experts, to architects and surveyors.

What sort of projects will the fund back?

Put simply, the R&D project applied for must be of benefit to the ICE membership. In addition, each year the Fund’s panel identifies crucial topics for the engineering community and issues a call for applications, detailing the themes ICE is keen to champion for the coming year and beyond.

The panel welcome applications within the following research areas:

  • Data and digital: Digitisation of the construction process and of infrastructure services.
  • Decarbonisation: Reducing and measuring whole-life carbon emissions from infrastructure.
  • Driving productivity: Process innovation that will driver significant improvements in productivity in the construction sector.
  • Engineering fundamentals: Improvements to the standards of engineering excellence in the design process, with a focus upon engineering safety.
  • Flooding: Sustainable ways of reducing flood risk.
  • Low-carbon energy: Affordable ways of accelerating the transition to a low-carbon energy system.
  • Structures and geotechnical: New materials and processes to improving the efficiency and sustainability of infrastructure assets.
  • Sustainable, resilient infrastructure: Ensuring provision of sustainable infrastructure services, even when systems are subject to threats and shocks.
  • Transport and mobility: Delivering active and affordable travel options that meet net-zero targets.
  • Water and sanitation: Eliminating sewer overflows, improving river water quality, reducing leakage and enhancing asset performance for water and sewer networks.

How much funding can I apply for?

For funding that directly answers one or more of the three call themes, funding is limited to a maximum of £25,000 in the first instance unless exceptional circumstances can be demonstrated, with additional funding available up to a total of £50,000 if appropriate (e.g. where findings from initial work demonstrate a clear need).

For exceptional projects where the panel have agreed an exact alignment with ICE’s strategic goals, it is possible to apply for more. Grants above £50,000 are reserved for special cases in which the Fund’s panel have identified a specific need for a particular piece of research.

There are a small number of Terms & Conditions for successful applicants.

How can I apply for funding?

The application form asks a series of questions and explains what information the panel requires. Applications are then assessed based on the whether they answer the current calls and the likelihood of project delivery.

The fund’s panel will assess each application (there are no deadlines to apply) and aim to make a decision within one month of submission.

If successful, funding will be released when key project milestones are met.

Please read the below documents thoroughly before applying, and get in touch if you have any questions:

Spotlight on a project funded by the Research and Development Enabling fund

An excellent example of work co-funded by the Research and Development Enabling Fund is Useful Project’s recently published research on maximising social value.

This report - Maximising Social Value from Infrastructure Projects – outlines an array of changes required to ensure such projects are creating additional social value and deliver wide-ranging, socio-economic benefits for individuals, communities and local economies.

These findings show that infrastructure should go beyond basic functionality and work to improve socio-economic inequalities, create jobs for previously unemployed people and provide broader benefits for communities based on local needs.

Read more about the report and the wider topic of social value in infrastructure via Jo Dobson’s Civil Engineer blog.

Panel Chair

Professor Jim Hall FREng FICE

Professor Jim Hall is Professor of Climate and Environmental Risks in the University of Oxford. Before joining the University of Oxford in 2011 to become Director of the University’s Environmental Change Institute, Prof Hall held academic positions in civil engineering departments in Newcastle University and the University of Bristol.
Jim Hall

Other panel members

Name Employer
Chris Rogers University of Birmingham
Ian Nicholson Building Research Establishment
Patricia Carrillo Loughborough University
Dr Andy Moores CIRIA
Dr Das Mootanah Metro Express LTD ( MEL)
Dr Stergios Aristoteles Mitoulis University of Birmingham
Lara Lightfoot BAM Nuttall
Panagiotis Stratos SNC Lavalin Atkins
Vishal Dudhee V-LAB Limited
Maisie England UKRI Research and Innovation (UKRI) EPSRC

Further information

To find out more about the Enabling Fund contact the team: