UKRI 'Investigator-led' and 'Directed' funding

Closed 13 Sep 2023

Opened 5 Jul 2023

Feedback updated 9 Nov 2023

We asked

For opinions on the definition and scope of a categorisatino of UKRI funding as either 'Investigator-led' or 'Directed'.

You said

Only 8 responses were received, and there was no clear consensus on many questions. Most respondents were from universities.

We did

In the absence of opinion to the contrary we will continue to develop and apply the indicator to all UKRI funding. It will be applied as a binary indicator.

Results updated 9 Nov 2023

Survey responses are in this pdf.



UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is the UK’s largest public funder of research and innovation.  We support individuals, teams and organisations as they pursue their own ideas, as well as investing in priority areas to address specific challenges.

To better understand and explain how we work we would like to be able to report the proportion of our spending that we allocate through these two complementary approaches: ‘Investigator-led’ and ‘Directed’. This survey seeks your views on how we might apply this categorisation to UKRI funding streams.

We are asking for feedback on three aspects of our proposal:

  • the premise of having an ‘Investigator-led’/‘Directed’ categorisation
  • the definitions of the two categories and
  • the scope of application.

If we implement the categorisation there will be no additional burden on applicants or organisations as the work required will be done by UKRI internally.

This categorisation will also allow us to identify ‘Responsive’ and ‘Managed’ UKRI funding streams, something which we know to be of external interest. ‘Investigator-led’ research that is readily accessible – perhaps but not exclusively through funding opportunities that are always open for new proposals – can be described as ‘Responsive’.  The identification of ‘Investigator-led’ funding is a necessary first step for identifying ‘Responsive’ funding.

We will continue to monitor, through other processes, the balance of UKRI funding in relation to both the UK dual support mechanism (often referred to as the provision of hypothecated and un-hypothecated/Quality-Related funding) and the OECD “Frascati” definitions (which categorise research and development into either basic research, applied research and/or experimental development.) If you have an opinion on the value of these two related categorisations, but not on the proposed new categories, there is no reason for you to complete this survey.

Why your views matter

Your feedback will help us to establish whether this new approach, when applied to UKRI funding data, will be of interest to the research and innovation community. We need to know whether it captures a concept that community recognises and finds useful. It will also help us to refine the definitions of the categories and the guidance that would be needed to implement it.

What happens next

The responses to this survey will be used to inform our thinking about a new ‘Investigator-led’ and ‘Directed’ funding indicator for UKRI. An analysis of them will be published so that you can see what other respondents said.


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