COVID-19: Rapid Response Research Opportunities

Written by Ruth, Updated 16 July, 2020

Covid-19 Nurse

Researchers from across the world are currently coming together to help in the fight against novel Coronavirus, and to increase the resilience of countries and health systems in tackling the on-going pandemic.

New health, social, environmental and economic problems mean new research opportunities. In this article we highlight some of these research opportunities that can be funded through UK funding bodies.

The Sustainable Innovation Fund

Innovate UK, as part of UK Research and Innovation, is investing up to £55 million to fund research and development projects as part of the Sustainable Innovation Fund. Single and collaborative projects will be considered, and all projects must be led by a business including one SME. The aim of this competition is to help all sectors of the UK to rebuild after Covid-19.

Proposals must:

There are three rounds to this competition:

Grant range: Between £100,000 and £500,000. Each funded partner can claim a maximum of £175,000 against their eligible project costs.

Project Duration: Between 3-9 months. Projects must be ready to start by 1 October 2020.

Applications must be submitted via the Innovation Funding Service. There are three parts to the application, including (i) Project Details (ii) Application Details and (iii) Finances.

UKRI GCRF/Newton Fund Agile Response call to address COVID-19

This call is designed to address global challenges through disciplinary and interdisciplinary research and strengthen capability for research and innovation within both the UK and developing countries. It is funded through the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) and the Newton Fund.

Intended beneficiaries of the funding: Short-term projects addressing and mitigating the health, social, economic, cultural and environmental impacts of the Covid-19 outbreak in countries identified on the OECD DAC list of ODA recipients. The primary benefit of proposals should be to any countries on this list that are likely to be negatively impacted by Covid-19.

Key criteria:

To apply, you must send the new Proposal Application Form, saved as a PDF to

Grant range: No specific budget. Research of any scale that can demonstrate it will deliver impact during the lifetime of the project may be funded.

Project Duration: Up to 18 months.

Closing Date: 31 July 2020, 16:00 BST

Ministry of Defence Open call for innovation – covid-19 fast track

This Open Call is looking for innovative ideas to improve the defence and security of the UK. Ideas could be a concept, technology, or service. There are two categories of proposal: Emerging Innovations and Rapid Impact. The former, Emerging Innovations, includes proposals at Technology Ready Level (TRL) 3 or 4. No funding limit is specified. However, funding would typically be between £50K - £100K, with the project lasting 3-10 months. The latter, Rapid Impact Innovations, would be expected to be at TRL level 6 or 7. Typical funding would be between £100K - £350K, and projects should have a realistic prospect of achieving impact within 3 years.

Although this is an Open Call, periodic deadlines for fast track applications have been imposed. The next deadline is 28/04/2020.

The competition assessment process comprises 10 steps.

To apply you must register and submit your proposal via the DASA Enterprise Collaboration Service.


Proposals are invited for projects of up to 18 months to address the health, social, economic and environmental impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak. Proposals must meet at least one of the following criteria:

There is no closing date for this call therefore you can apply at any time. There is also no specific budget – research of any scale may be funded if it can deliver demonstrable impact within 12-18 months, and 80% of costs will be funded.

UKRI has a dedicated Coronavirus Hub detailing their current responses to Coronavirus, including information concerning available grants and awards. You can also apply to switch your existing funding to Covid-19 priority areas.


COVID-19 Urgent Public Health Research is being prioritised to gather the necessary clinical and epidemiological evidence that will inform national policy and enable new diagnostic tests, treatments and vaccines to be developed and tested for COVID-19.

The Government has established a single point of entry for applications – all proposals must be submitted via a single online application form to avoid the duplication of ideas, and to allow prioritisation of the COVID-19 studies which hold the most potential for tackling the virus.

NIHR have released the following list of nationally prioritised projects for which universities and health care providers are being urged to prioritise support.


Funded as a part of the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), the Urgency Grants Pilot is an open, responsive mechanism through which arts and humanities researchers can respond to unanticipated urgent research needs. The call is now open to applications addressing the Covid-19 pandemic and associated international development challenges and impacts.

The primary focus of this scheme is to provide an accelerated route for funding projects where there is a time-limited window of opportunity to conduct research or deliver project impact/outputs. Applications must demonstrate how the project meets the urgency requirements of the scheme.

The closing date for expressions of interest is 31/10/2020. Projects will receive up to £150,000 of the full economic cost (fEC), and projects should be up to 12 months in duration.


Time is of the essence: millions of pounds worth of funding has already been awarded to projects across the UK and EU . We will keep you updated on new funding opportunities as they emerge, or possibly re-open. For example, the Wellcome Trust’s Epidemic Preparedness: COVID-19 funding call is currently closed due to high levels of interest, however new applications may be accepted in the future.

If you would like to respond to these or any other Covid-19 Rapid Response calls, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us at and we will help you to craft a strong and persuasive funding bid.