Future Leaders Fellowships

Future Leaders Fellowships is a £900 million fund that is helping to establish the careers of world-class research and innovation leaders across UK business and academia.

The fellowships were announced by the Secretary of State in June 2018.

This cross-UK Research and Innovation scheme supports early career researchers and innovators with outstanding potential in universities, UK registered businesses, and other research and user environments including research councils' institutes and laboratories.

The support will enable each fellow to tackle ambitious and challenging research and innovation and develop their own careers.

Fellows will benefit from:

  • A scheme that is committed to supporting excellent researchers and innovators regardless of their background.  Fellowships can be held on a part-time basis for personal commitments and/or as part of a job share.
  • Networking across their cohort of some of the UK’s most talented researchers and innovators from different disciplines and sectors, putting them at the forefront of modern, interdisciplinary research.
  • A career boost, including time and investment for training and professional development, providing a route to an open-ended contract for academically hosted fellows (in line with organisational policies and practices).

Academic hosts will benefit from:

  • Support for early career researchers and innovators on their route to independence, providing an opportunity for them to establish new research teams within their institution.
  • Funding available for up to seven years, on a 4(+3) basis, allowing long term focus on a particular research or innovation problem.  
  • The opportunity to attract and retain the most talented international researchers to their institution.

Business hosts will benefit from:

  • Funding of up to £1.5 million over a four-year period, but with considerable flexibility available.
  • The ability to attract an individual, or develop an existing employee, who will help create innovative solutions for their business. This could include bringing the most talented international innovators to work in their business in the UK.
  • A new Reduced Hours Fellowship, in which fellows are able to spend up to 40 percent of their time focused on other activities within the business in order to enhance their career.
  • The option to collaborate with other organisations (business, academic,  public, and third sector)

Organisations can also be involved with Future Leaders Fellowships through collaborations and partnerships.

For full details of how a Future Leaders Fellowship could benefit you, see the call documents.

Who can apply?

The support of a UK based host organisation is essential for all applications to the Future Leaders Fellowships scheme. To apply to the FLF scheme, the organisation must be eligible to receive Research Council funding or be a UK based business or Catapult eligible to receive Innovate UK funding. (Further information on organisations eligible to receive funding)

Applicants from both the UK and elsewhere are welcome to apply for a fellowship supported by a UK host organisation.

Future Leaders Fellowships support applicants from diverse career paths, including those returning from a career break or following time in other roles. We also encourage applications from those wishing to work part-time. Our assessors will take into account time spent outside an active research or innovation environment, whether through career breaks, flexible working or time spent working in other roles. 

This is a single scheme which covers the entire UK Research and Innovation remit, with no ringfenced budgets for specific areas and no barriers to interdisciplinary or cross-sector research.

For more information on what type of individual is eligible to become a fellow, please see the person specification (PDF, 239KB).

Objectives of the scheme

The objectives of the Future Leaders Fellowships are:

  • to develop, retain, attract and sustain research and innovation talent in the UK.
  • to foster new research and innovation career paths including those at the academic/business and interdisciplinary boundaries, and facilitate movement of people between sectors.
  • to provide sustained funding and resources for the best early career researchers and innovators.
  • to provide long-term, flexible funding to tackle difficult and novel challenges, and support adventurous, ambitious programmes.
Application date
4+3 years
Social sciences