Academies launch scheme supporting cross-discipline blue skies research

7 Nov 2016

A new grants scheme, the APEX awards (Academies Partnership in Supporting Excellence in Cross-disciplinary research award) offers established independent researchers using cross disciplinary approaches the opportunity to pursue interdisciplinary and curiosity-driven research to benefit society. With generous support from the Leverhulme Trust and the partnership of the British Academy, the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society, in the first year the scheme will distribute five awards of up to £100,000. Applications open today (07 November 2016).

The scheme aims to:

  • Support outstanding interdisciplinary research which is unlikely to be supported through conventional funding programmes

  • Promote interdisciplinary collaboration with a particular emphasis on the boundary between science and engineering and the social sciences and humanities

  • Support researchers with an exceptional track record in developing their research in a new direction through interdisciplinary collaboration

  • Enable these researchers to focus on advancing their innovative research through seed funding

Alun Evans, Chief Executive of the British Academy, said:

“In the wake of the Brexit referendum, supporting innovative research that spans the humanities and social sciences, as well as science and engineering, is crucial to tackling the complex challenges we face. Yet, interdisciplinary research is often in danger of being marginalised - as the British Academy’s report, Crossing Paths, pointed out. I am pleased that the national Academies are partners in the APEX award to give a platform to outstanding interdisciplinary research, thanks to the support of the Leverhulme Trust.”

Professor Dame Ann Dowling OM DBE FREng FRS, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said:

“Many of the challenges facing society cannot be tackled alone but require a joined-up, interdisciplinary approach. It is vital we are supporting and funding research of this nature if we want to realise the very best of what our excellent researchers have to offer. The APEX awards provide a great new way to nurture this research, encouraging the UK's creative and innovative academics to pursue new ideas. We are so grateful for the support of the Leverhulme Trust, and pleased to work with our sister Academies to support talented engineers, scientists and social scientists as they collaborate on new projects together.”

Venki Ramakrishnan, President of the Royal Society, said:

“I am delighted that the Academies have joined together with support from the Leverhulme Trust to launch the APEX awards. The important challenges and questions facing society today increasingly require interdisciplinary approaches. APEX aims to support creative research that may not easily attract conventional funding, and in doing so creates a way to support collaboration across traditional disciplinary boundaries for finding solutions to societal challenges. We encourage talented and creative researchers across all areas of science to apply.”

Find further details about the scheme, including information on how to apply and the assessment criteria are available here. Applications close on 13 January 2017.


1. The British Academy for the humanities and social sciences. Established by Royal Charter in 1902. Its purpose is to inspire and support high achievement in the humanities and social sciences throughout the UK and internationally, and to promote their public value. For more information, please visit
Follow the British Academy on Twitter @britac_news.

2. Royal Academy of Engineering. As the UK’s national academy for engineering, we bring together the most successful and talented engineers for a shared purpose: to advance and promote excellence in engineering. We provide analysis and policy support to promote the UK’s role as a great place to do business. We take a lead on engineering education and we invest in the UK’s world-class research base to underpin innovation. We work to improve public awareness and understanding of engineering. We are a national academy with a global outlook.

We have four strategic challenges:

  • Make the UK the leading nation for engineering innovation

  • Address the engineering skills crisis

  • Position engineering at the heart of society

  • Lead the profession

For more information please visit

3. The Royal Society is a self-governing Fellowship of many of the world's most distinguished scientists drawn from all areas of science, engineering, and medicine. The Society's fundamental purpose, reflected in its founding Charters of the 1660s, is to recognise, promote, and support excellence in science and to encourage the development and use of science for the benefit of humanity. 

The Society's strategic priorities are:

  • Promoting science and its benefits

  • Recognising excellence in science

  • Supporting outstanding science

  • Providing scientific advice for policy

  • Fostering international and global cooperation

  • Education and public engagement

For further information please visit Follow the Royal Society on Twitter at or on Facebook at

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