Types of funding

NERC has several support mechanisms for different kinds of research.

Some of our funding is strategically-directed towards research into a particular area or issue; some is available to respond to urgent research priorities as they arise, or to ensure our researchers have the skills and experience they need to carry out world-class science.

National capability

NERC national capability lets the UK deliver world-leading environmental science, support national strategic needs, and respond to emergencies. It includes the research and development activities which keeps this capability at the cutting edge.

Strategic research

NERC's strategic research is designed to address major scientific questions that are important for the UK's prosperity and wellbeing in the 21st century - many of them revolving around how we can manage environmental change, make the best use of scarce resources and build resilience to natural hazards. As well as directing funds into important areas of fundamental science, it also supports training and helps to build strong research communities by bringing together academics from different disciplines with potential users of their science.

Discovery science (responsive mode)

Research that is driven by curiosity rather than by a strategic agenda can have enormous benefits far beyond the advancement of knowledge, and often they are least expected. We don't know which projects will eventually make a major impact on our society and economy, but we know some will. NERC is fully committed to supporting this kind of science.

Innovation funding

NERC doesn't only fund science; it also helps turn that science into action, connecting researchers with those who can put their knowledge and skills to use, whether in industry, government or the third sector. Our knowledge exchange (KE) schemes provide an array of ways to support this flow of ideas and expertise. They are tailored to suit different situations, from co-designing and co-delivering research specific to our partners' needs to helping researchers commercialise their work. KE funding is also occasionally available as part of NERC research programmes.

Postgraduate training

We nurture the next generation of researchers so that the UK can continue producing world-leading environmental science into the future. Our studentships and training grants are designed to do just that, and to prepare their recipients for careers in academia and beyond. Studentships and training grants are also made available under NERC research programmes.


Funding to support outstanding environmental scientists and enable them to develop their research, start to build a research group and become internationally recognised. Fellowships aimed at developing research leaders in areas of strategic importance are also made available under NERC research programmes.

Capital funding

To maintain and strengthen the excellence and impact of UK environmental science, NERC needs to invest in new technologies, equipment, infrastructure, facilities and estates. This includes providing capital support for our existing assets as well as identifying new priorities, including those at our research centres, at universities and other research organisations.