ESRC centres are major ESRC strategic investments, funded at £2.5 - £10 million (100% of full economic costs (fEC)) over five years. ESRC funds these investments, as standard, at 80% fEC.

In addition to taking forward an ambitious research agenda and making significant economic or societal impact, centres add value by increasing research infrastructure, building capacity, encouraging interdisciplinary working in social science and beyond, and enabling research collaboration in the UK and internationally.

The ESRC review of centres policy

We have recently reviewed and revised our centres policy with the aim of fostering and sustaining a larger number of centres over the longer term. 

Further information about the review and the background and principles behind the revised funding model are detailed in our Centres Policy summary (PDF, 50Kb).

The new funding model introduces two funding tracks, for ESRC centres and ESRC institutes:

ESRC centres

ESRC centres offer graduated support to help centres establish a self-sustaining funding model once ESRC funding comes to an end. A typical funding pathway for a new centre under this new policy would be as follows:

  • Centres competition
    The centre is funded for five years following success in an open centres competition
  • Centre Transition Review
    Towards the end of its grant the centre successfully applies for ESRC transition funding, which is supplemented by a commitment from their host research organisation. Together this provides the centre with funding worth a minimum 45% of its centres grant for a further three to five years.
  • Legacy Centre Status Review
    Towards the end of the transition funding the centre applies for a further period of recognition as an ESRC centre to help it leverage funding from other sources and in communicating and engaging with research users.

Further information on each of these phases of ESRC centre funding and support can be found in the Centres Policy summary (PDF, 50Kb).

ESRC institutes

Institutes provide longer-term fully-funded support for a small number of strategically valuable 'ESRC institutes' that have been persistently successful in open centres competitions.