Computer darkened
UK Research and Innovation's Future Leaders Fellowship scheme is a fantastic opportunity for us to develop those early career researchers who are ready to transition to or establish their research independence. Not only is this an opportunity for us to support our rising stars, but it is also an opportunity for external candidates to join the research community at the University of Plymouth. The fellowships are open to applicants from varied backgrounds and career paths, and we welcome all applications, including those who are looking to return to research after a break or time in other roles.
Round 8 of this scheme closed on on 4 July 2023 and we are expecting Round 9 to open in early 2024. UKRI have not yet been able to confirm that Round 9 will go ahead, or whether the opportunity will have any changes to previous rounds. However, we would like to run our expression of interest process regardless due to the likelihood that the scheme will run or a similar one in its place. If for any reason Round 9 does not run in 2024, we will guide all applicants to this process through a pathway of support for making an appropriate application to an equivalent and relevant scheme. The FLF scheme is usually demand managed by UKRI so we are limited on the number of applicants we can support. Therefore we are running an internal competition to identify the strongest candidates, both at the University of Plymouth and elsewhere. The deadline for applications to the internal competition is 09:00 Monday 11 December 2023. 
Please note that applications to UKRI where the fellowship is intended to be held at the University of Plymouth must be made via the process outlined below to ensure you have approved support from the proposed host Department.
This is a popular scheme designed to develop the most promising early career researchers, who also have very strong support of their host institutions. As such, we are running an internal competition so that the University can identify the strongest candidates. 
If you have any queries on the process, please email the Research Funding Managers at
Female working at laptop
Please expand the sections below for information on how to apply to the competition for both prospective internal and external fellowship candidates.

Institutional support

Internal applicants should have the support of their Faculty’s Associate Dean for Research (ADR) before submitting to this sift, so please arrange appropriate discussions with your ADR in advance of your sift application.
External applicants please contact someone in your relevant research area ahead of your sift application, to ensure support from the relevant department that would be hosting your fellowship. You can browse our current research activity, institutes and departments on our Research and expertise pages. If you are unsure who best to contact, please email and we will be happy to guide you.
The Faculty of Science and Engineering have specified some research areas of interest around which we would particularly welcome applications that align with these topic areas. This is not at the exclusion of others, but applications around these themes would fit particularly well with the Faculty's research strategy:
  • Maritime decarbonisation
  • Marine conservation
  • Marine and terrestrial autonomous sensing
  • Maritime cybersecurity
  • Offshore Renewable Energy
  • Environmental health and governance
  • Sustainable food production systems


This scheme is for early career researchers and innovators who are either:
  • transitioning to or establishing independence
  • may be developing their own original and ambitious plans within a commercial setting.
You do not need to hold a PhD and there are no eligibility rules based on the number of years since your PhD. However, if you do not hold a PhD, you must be able to demonstrate equivalent research or innovation experience or training.
There are no eligibility rules based on whether you currently hold a permanent or open-ended academic position or job role. You can find more information about eligibility rules on the Round 8 call page for this opportunity

How to apply

Interested applicants should submit the following documents to by 09:00 on Monday 11 December 2023:
Please complete the internal sift application Word document, which includes summaries of the following details
  • applicant details, including details of significant research grants held
  • project details
  • a project summary (550 words)
  • research and innovation excellence
  • impact
  • applicant and development
  • research and innovation environment.
You can refer to the previous round's call guidance and specific ‘case for support’ advice listed on page 21 of the call guidance for academic applicants to ensure your proposed project meets the required likely assessment criteria.
There is no requirement to submit a CV, UKRI have moved to the 'Capability to Deliver' model of narrative CV for applications, and we have included relevant questions around this within the sift application form.

Assessment and decisions

Decisions on the supported applicants will be made after panel assessment, representative membership from each Faculty and R&I will be ensured. When applicants have received confirmation of support for the full application, there will be further communications on internal deadlines for a draft of the full application, to ensure time for feedback and peer review. 
Please note that as no information about Round 9 has been released by UKRI yet, timelines after this internal deadline are to be decided. If we receive information that Round 9 will not go ahead, we will support all applicants to this sift in working towards or applying to another relevant fellowship opportunity.
There are resources available on our webpages to help applicants prepare their proposals – see guidance resources. Please ensure that you have read the previous FLF round 8 UKRI information for applicants.