The ACORN Fund Round 4 is Now Open for Applications!

The ACORN Fund (Acceleration Of Research & Networking) for Early Career Researchers Round 4 is now open for applications.

This round slightly differs from previous rounds. Two options for ECRs are available – Standard Grants up to £5,000 that can be delivered before the end of July 2022 and Large Grants up to £10,00 for projects to be completed within 12 months. For more details, refer to the ACORN Fund Policy Autumn 2021 document.

Each applicant is allowed to only submit one proposal for Round 4 and should use one of the supplied templates accordingly. The closing date is Friday, 10th December 2021 (5pm); to be considered eligible, all applications must be submitted to the email account before the deadline.

This scheme will provide c. five awards, of up to £5,000 each and up to two awards, of up to £10,000 each, to support BU’s ECRs, with the most promising talent, to gain experience of managing and leading their own pilot research projects. These awards support BU’s commitment to the Concordat to Support to Career Development of Researchers and are made possible by BU’s QR (Quality Research) allocation for 2021/22 financial year.

For eligibility, you must be able to comply with the following:

  • Applicant must have completed their PhD;
  • Applicant must have a post at BU (established or fixed term) for the full duration of the award and the post-award commitments or longer;
  • To be considered an early career researcher (ECR), applicant should have held a 0.2 or above research contract for no more than six years in total, excluding periods where the applicant was involved in non-research employment or not at work (e.g. caring responsibilities);
  • ACORN award holders cannot hold more than one BU internal award concurrently.

Note that open access publication costs are not eligible, but these can be requested from the BU Open Access Publication Fund (OAPF). Any planned travel expenses are subject to COVID restrictions and, generally, are not recommended.

Following links, you can find ACORN Large Grant and Standard Grant application forms. In addition, to assist with the budget section, please refer to the RKE Internal Funding Sample Costs. As this does not require Full Economic Costing, you should not contact your faculty’s Funding Development Officer to complete the costing for you. Please address any queries as below.

Applications require support from faculty and mentor, so please start your application early and obtain all approvals as soon as possible. Applicants are responsible for obtaining faculty sign-off before submitting the application.

For those interested to find out more, we will be running a workshop led by the ACORN Panel Chair Prof Jan Wiener on Tuesday 23th November 2021 from 2pm to 4pm. Workshop will take place in a face-to-face setting, please come to F106 (Fusion Building) with your questions.

Please address any further queries to RDS via

Putting the ACORN Fund into strategic context, under BU2025, the following funding panels operate to prioritise applications for funding and make recommendations to the Research Performance and Management Committee (RPMC):

  1. HEIF Funding Panel
  2. Research Impact Funding Panel
  3. Doctoral Studentship Funding Panel
  4. ACORN Funding Panel
  5. Research Fellowships Funding Panel
  6. Charity Support Funding Panel
  7. SIA Funding panel

These panels align with the BU2025 focus on research, including BU’s Research Principles. Specifically, but not exclusively, regarding the ACORN Fund, please refer to:

  • Principle 5, which sets of the context for such funding panels;
  • Principle 6 and Outcome 9, which recognise the need for interdisciplinarity and the importance of social science and humanities (SSH);
  • Outcomes 4 and 5, where ECRs are provided with the mechanisms for support such as mentors and, through schemes including the ACORN fund, gain budgetary responsibility experience.