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UKRI to stop its rolling Covid-19 rapid-response call in December

Funder transitions to ‘longer-term approach as world learns to live with and manage pandemic’

UK Research and Innovation is planning to stop its ongoing Covid-19 rapid-response call in December as it transitions to a “longer-term approach” on coronavirus, the funder announced on 27 October.

UKRI launched the Covid-19 rapid-response research call on 31 March to fund short-term projects that address the impacts of the pandemic, and later said it was seeing “an extremely high level of interest” in the fund.

However, applicants have complained of delays after some researchers waited three months for a verdict on their bids.

In July, UKRI announced changes to the call, with rapid review only to be applied to projects deemed urgent.

Now the funder has announced it will stop accepting new proposals through the call altogether by mid-December.

“We are preparing to move from the initial phase, which required an urgent response to this crisis, to a longer-term approach as the world learns to live with and manage the pandemic,” said Charlotte Deane, Covid-response director at UKRI. “This means we are closing the rolling call before Christmas.”

UKRI is now advising anyone who plans to submit any further proposals to do so well ahead of the closing date to avoid a late surge in applications.

Any proposals received close to the deadline, it said, will be processed in January, “unless absolutely essential”.

“A late surge will potentially overload our programme managers and, importantly, our many peer reviewers, who have been working incredibly hard over the past six months,” said Deane. “Close to the festive season, processing and response times will be longer than usual.”

In the future, researchers and businesses interested in applying for Covid-related funding will be encouraged to apply through standard schemes.

UKRI is expecting to publish further details later this week.

The funder also said it is planning to launch further UKRI strategic Covid-19 funding calls in 2021.