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The deadline for submissions to round 2 of the Bristol Sustainable Energy Research Fund was 14 June 2020.

The Bristol Sustainable Energy Research Fund is not currently accepting applications for round 3.

The fund's objective

The objective of the fund is to support researchers wishing to investigate or evaluate topics that contribute to the development of a more sustainable, equitable and democratically accountable energy system in the South West of England. 

We are particularly interested to hear from researchers with proposals that support practical steps to building a more sustainable economy. Applicants do not have to be based in South West England, so long as their research outcomes are relevant and applicable in that region.


The fund is open to individuals who are experienced researchers at postdoctoral level and above (if applying from within an academic setting), and who have a relevant publication record to support their application. Beyond demonstrating experience, eligibility is not limited to those of any particular status (e.g. lecturer, professor etc). Self-employed, independent researchers not associated with an academic institution are also eligible to apply. 

Applications from PhD students will not normally be successful, unless the applicant can demonstrate significant research experience and a publication record of at least five relevant papers. All applicants require a letter of support from their institution or employer if their time on the proposed research project will impact their availability to carry out their contracted duties.

Applicants must be ordinarily resident in the UK. The fund is designed to support individual research, but collaborative projects between two researchers, or between a researcher and community group are equally welcome if there is a clear benefit to the collaboration. Collaborators can be from outside the UK, but the grant payments can only be made to the lead researcher, who must be UK-resident with a UK bank account.

Grant applications should be for a clearly defined, discrete piece of research, which will have an identifiable outcome on completion

Level of award

BSERF grant programme will fund a small number of research projects, with a maximum grant available per application of £5,000.  Applications are welcome for grant amounts between £500 and £5,000. Maximum grant awards will only be made for exceptional proposals.

What can the award be used for?

The funds can be used to cover:

Direct costs incurred in carrying out the research, limited to:

  • Travel and subsistence directly related to the research (for researcher and any research subjects or participants).

  • Materials, printing and publication costs.

  • Venue hire, catering and other costs directly associated with research meetings such as focus groups.

  • Software licences under £500.

Directly allocated salary costs:

These should be represented as a standard charge out rate against estimated number of days allocated to complete the work. Estimated time allocations should be represented as a multiple of 7.5 hour days.  You are not required to submit timesheets.  

The funds cannot be used for:

  • The sole purpose of organising conferences (in the UK or overseas).

  • The sole purpose of covering the cost of attendance at conferences organised by a third party.

  • To support general exchange visits between UK-based researchers and those from other countries, unless it forms a specific activity that meets a clearly specified research objective within the grant application. 

  • For costs already incurred, regardless of whether these are directly related to the research proposal.

  • To cover the cost of teaching buy-out for applicants from academic institutions.

  • Computer hardware, or software licences more than £500. 

Full economic costing applications from academic institutions are not accepted – the grants are made to the award holder directly, not to the host institution.

How will grants be paid?

Grants will normally be paid in two instalments – 50% at grant award and the remaining 50% on acceptance of the final report by the fund. Alternative arrangements can be made where this process will cause cashflow issues for independent researchers. In the case of collaborative applications, grants will be made to the lead applicant only, and subcontract arrangements between the lead researcher and collaborator need to be arranged separately from the fund.

Grant conditions

If your application is successful, you will be required to submit an interim and final report about your results. Timings of these reports will be agreed with you on release of the first grant instalment. Your final report must not be more than 30 pages and suitable for consumption by an educated lay audience (i.e. not written in a formal academic style suited to journal publication). 


This final report should be accompanied by a summary report of not more than four sides of A4, which briefly covers the rationale and methodology but principally focuses on the findings and outcomes. A style guide and report template will be provided.

The fund may publish the report in full, or in summary, on the fund website and in associated fund literature. The fund reserves the right to reproduce the report (or extracts thereof) in perpetuity without requiring copyright permissions from the author(s). Researchers and authors will always be credited by the fund when using material from reports funded via one of our grants. If you also publish the results of your work in alternative formats (such as academic journals), you should credit the fund.

Grant awardees will be required to attend an event in Bristol to present the findings of their work. This event will be held in January each year. Applicants should ensure they have included costs for attendance in their grant application, if they are not already resident in the Bristol area.

If you have any questions about the application process please contact the Centre for Sustainable Energy on 0117 934 1400 or

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