Application guidance and eligibility requirements

You can find application guidance and eligibility requirements for impact funding from the Photonics and Quantum Accelerator (PQA) below.

1. Eligibility Requirements

Eligibility Requirements

Project Eligibility

Remit – All projects funded by PQA must:

  • Fall within the technological remit of PQA, that is, photonic technologies and their applications. For the purposes of PQA this means the application of generation, detection, and manipulation of light and includes quantum technologies based on light.
  • Have the potential to lead to economic and/or societal impact in Central Scotland. For the purposes of PQA, Central Scotland is defined to be the region encompassing the area from Helensburgh to Montrose (the Highland Boundary Fault) and from Girvan to Dunbar (the Southern Uplands Fault).
  • Build upon underpinning research which falls within the EPSRC remit (but does not necessarily need to have been funded by EPSRC).

PQA will not fund new research projects, but rather the translation of research towards impact. Awards can add value to existing UKRI support and enable multidisciplinary working and collaboration with non-academic partners. Applicants must explain how their project fits within the defined scope of PQA and provide a short overview of the underpinning research upon which the project builds. The PI on a PQA project does not necessarily need to be (or have been) the PI or collaborator on the underpinning research. PhD projects are also eligible as underpinning research.

Project partners are not mandatory, but there must be the potential for the impact of the project to have social and/or economic benefit within Scotland’s Central Belt. Typically, eligible partners are research users: including companies, local or regional or national government bodies and other public-sector organisations including the NHS, charities, NGOs and other third-sector organisations. A formal collaboration agreement will be required with external partners before commencing your project. It is recommended that you discuss this with your partner at an early stage of the proposal development.

Proposals must be submitted on the PQA application form and:

  • describe the area of knowledge, capability, or technology to be developed.
  • have a single, named PI who is responsible for the project, who must be a member of staff at a UK University.
  • provide a title by which the project will be known.
  • state the proposed start date and duration of the proposed project.
  • outline the research base on which it builds.
  • describe the current stage of development and how it will be moved forward by the proposed PQA project.
  • provide details on the opportunity that will be addressed by this project, backed up by evidence of demand from the market and / or stakeholders and any other impact drivers.
  • outline the current barriers to exploitation / application.
  • fully justify the nature and costs of all resources requested.
  • provide details of anticipated project outcomes and impacts, including how they will be achieved, within what timescales, what mechanisms might be adopted to realise them, and how they will be measured.
  • address projects risks and outline appropriate mitigation strategies.
  • demonstrate that an appropriate IP strategy is being adopted.
  • outline how principals of trusted research, responsible innovation, sustainability and ED&I will be incorporated into the project.

Proposals which do not address these criteria will be deemed ineligible and be rejected without going to the review panel. It is strongly recommended that you discuss your proposal with a member of the PQA Team prior to submitting a proposal.

Standard projects will be of six months duration or less, but there will be a small number of longer strategic projects that will be developed in collaboration with the PQA management team. All projects must be complete before 31 January 2028.

Individual Eligibility

All UK university staff are eligible to hold a PQA award. Award holders must comply with the standard EPSRC eligibility criteria.

Some PQA calls for proposals are open exclusively to staff from the PQA partner institutions (Universities of Glasgow, Heriot Watt, St. Andrews, and Strathclyde), whereas some calls are open to applicants from any UK University. We may also periodically issue directed calls designed to target specific technologies, applications, groups or type of activity. Please check the scope of the specific call before applying. Please note that in all cases the impact of the proposed project must fall within the stated technological and geographical remit of PQA as highlighted above.

All staff wishing to receive PQA funding must have completed all relevant mandatory institutional training required to hold funding, for example: in Equality, Diversity & Inclusion; Research Integrity; GDPR / Information Security; etc.

For mobility projects, all staff must comply with visa and immigration requirements. Please check with your local HR team.

2. Costing and Eligible Costs

2. Costing and Eligible Costs

Eligible Costs

The level of funding available will be defined for each call – please see the specific call for details. In general, PQA available funding is based on the size of the project and its duration, as summarised on the table below. The value of the funding award sought should be proportionate to the scope, stage and scale of the project.

Project durationPQA funding available
Up to 1 monthUp to £5,000
Up to 3 monthsUp to £25,000
Up to 6 monthsUp to £50,000
Up to 12 monthsUp to £100,000
Up to 24 monthsUp to £200,000

While PQA funding will not cover Full Economic Cost (FEC), it is designed to be flexible and can cover items such as:

  • University staff to undertake the project (Researchers and other staff, but not PI or Co-I time)
  • Consumables
  • Travel, accommodation and subsistence costs (in line with your institutional policy on such costs)
  • Costs associated with staff mobility between academia and industry
  • Costs associated with external partner engagement, such as travel to meet with or visit an industry partner or attend an industry event
  • Public engagement where interaction is key to informing the research impact such as user or patient engagement as a critical pathway to achieving societal and/or economic impact
  • Small capital equipment items. Any single item purchased using a PQA award must be less than £10,000 in value (incl. VAT). PQA funds cannot be used to make a contribution to the cost of an individual item of equipment which costs £10,000 or more (incl. VAT).
  • Cost for the use of and access to specialist facilities
  • Sub-contracting costs
  • Training costs (for training directly related to impact generation activities only)
  • Commissioning expert consultants to undertake specialist tasks such as market research / analysis, product design, industry engagement or a commercial champion to support the development of impact, in line with your institutional procurement policy, in particular, taking account of purchasing thresholds.

The following items are not eligible for PQA funding:

  • New, fundamental research
  • Impact activities that should already have been anticipated and supported through standard routes, e.g. impact activities costed as part of basic research proposals or CDTs
  • PI and Co-I salary costs
  • Indirect and estates costs
  • Undergraduate activities, Master’s training
  • Academic research or the development of tools exclusively for use in further research
  • Academic publication costs
  • Academic conference attendance
  • Costs for the delivery of research conferences targeted solely at an academic audience
  • Costs which solely for the benefit an external partner, including university spin out companies
  • IP and patent costs – any costs relating to Intellectual Property protection including but not limited to registering, maintaining or supporting patents or property rights
  • Projects designed to bridge a funding gap between research projects
  • Projects with the sole aim of retaining a member of University staff such as a research associate
  • PhDs and costs directly associated with studentships
  • Standard desktop, laptop and tablet computers and associated IT equipment
  • Single items of equipment with a value of £10,000 or more (incl. VAT)
  • Contributions to the cost of purchasing equipment with a value of £10,000 or more (incl. VAT)
  • Contributions to KTPs

Other Points to Note on Project Costs

In line with the sustainability goals of the universities involved and EPSRC, all travel undertaken using PQA funds must be fully justified and done using the most appropriate mode available, taking into account cost, circumstances and sustainability.

All resources purchased for PQA projects must done in line with your institutional procurement policy, in particular, taking account of purchasing thresholds.

Please contact the PQA team for advice on preparing your project costing.

3. Funding Arrangements

3. Funding Arrangements

It is preferable that collaboration partners contribute cash to a project, although “tangible” material contributions are also welcome. Acceptable equivalent value partner in-kind contributions could be in the form of specific staff time undertaking part of the project, access to equipment, provision of materials, consumables, or other items. These commitments should be backed up by a letter of support which should be submitted along with your proposal.

PQA projects must specify a proposed start date and project duration. No-cost project extensions are possible, with the approval of the PQA Project Manager. All projects must be completed by 31 January 2028. Extensions beyond this date are not possible.

PQA funding is only awarded to UK Universities. Non-academic organisations cannot be a recipient of PQA funding, although they can be paid for services provided and goods supplied, in line with your institutional procurement policy, in particular, taking account of purchasing thresholds.

4. Intellectual Property Rights, Contracts and Agreements

4. Intellectual Property Rights, Contracts and Agreements

Ownership and use of any new intellectual property developed during a PQA project will be negotiated by your university in consultation with the award holders. If an external partner organisation is involved a signed Collaboration Agreement will need to be in place prior to the project starting – please contact your university contracts team for advice and assistance with this.

Where projects involve partnership-building or collaborative working that lies outside the scope of a formal collaboration agreement, the external collaborator should have sight of the application, workplan and budget in advance of submission.

All commercialisation projects should be developed in consultation with your institutional IP and Commercialisation team.

5. Mobility Projects

5. Mobility Projects

PQA can support both outgoing and incoming mobility of staff with external partner organisations. It can also be used to enable placements, secondments, internships, and co-location of partner organisations for the purpose of project delivery. Staff mobility is flexible – it can be short and focused, or can be a component of a larger project. They can be full time or part time. PQA will cover the salary costs for university staff seconded to external organisations for the time spent with the host. PQA funds can also be used to fund travel and subsistence costs, as well as any other resources required by the secondment project.

Enterprise secondments can enable a member of staff to take up a post with a university spin-out company, or gain experience and commercial skills with an industry partner. Enterprise secondments can be delivered in tandem with an Enterprise Fellowship from The Royal Society of Edinburgh or the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Each institution has its own rules and processes relating to staff mobility. In addition, visa and immigration status of individuals involved must be taken into account for mobility projects. Please consult the relevant department (e.g. HR) at your institution for advice prior to application.

6. Assessment of Applications

6. Assessment of Applications

Project applications will be assessed by the PQA Review Panel, a group comprising of both academics and experienced industrialists. Applicants should write their proposal for a non-specialist audience and avoid using discipline-specific terminology and acronyms.

Application assessment will take into account (in no particular order):

  • The link to the photonics and quantum research base to be exploited, its quality, and the potential scope and likelihood for impact to be realised (i.e., new products or processes, jobs created or safeguarded, cost savings, increased profits, new policies, improved healthcare, etc.)
  • A clear explanation of how funding will be used to achieve impact
  • The potential for impact in Central Scotland
  • Strength of involvement of external partners
  • Potential benefits to the universities involved, the project partners, external stakeholders and end users
  • Quality of the business case for the project, including:
    • evidence of demand from companies, stakeholders or end-users
    • a definition of the requirement or need
    • a plan of activities, outcomes and project milestones explaining how they will contribute to meeting that requirement or need
    • a clear plan for follow-on activities and how they may be funded
    • a well-defined vision for the products, processes or services being developed or technology to be created
  • Proposed project implementation including project plan, tasks, outputs, milestones and how their achievement will be measured
  • Potential for securing or leveraging additional funding or investment
  • Risks involved in the project and how they are assessed and mitigated. A high level of risk is not necessarily a bad thing if the potential impact is high
  • Value for money including justification of resources requested and contributions in cash or in-kind from partners
  • Implementation of good practice in responsible innovation, environmental sustainability and equality, diversity and inclusion.

Assessment Criteria

During application assessment, Reviewers are asked to score each of the 5 review criteria out of 10. We provide the following questions for them to consider under each criteria. These are provided to the Reviewers as guidance and not all questions under each criteria will apply to every proposal. Reviewers are asked to provide comments and note particular strengths or weaknesses, and if they recommend the applicant receives mentoring.

1. Engagement

  • If project involves collaboration, what is the strength of involvement of external partners in project? Are there clear benefits to both the partner AND the host University?
  • Does the proposal provide evidence of high quality engagement with end users / external stakeholders / impact beneficiaries for the technology or innovation being developed?
  • Does the proposal describe an appropriate plan for engagement with end users / external stakeholders / impact beneficiaries during the project and in the longer term?
  • Where applicable, are letters of support with tangible contibution to project and / or evidence to substantiate claims made in proposal provided?
  • If subcontracting, consultancy, or the comissioning of an external consultant is proposed, have the required capabillities / skillsets been defined? Have any suitable potential suppliers been identified and / or approached?

2. Understanding of need and implementation

  • Does the proposal demonstrate an understanding of the opportunity and the market/end user need, and provide evidence for this?
  • Is there evidence of a demand for the proposed solution from relevant stakeholders (customers, industry, end users, clinicians, patients, etc)?
  • Is the approach adopted to address this need appropriate and justified?
  • Are appropriate project objectives, tasks, deliverables, milestones and expected outputs and outcomes described in the proposal?
  • Have competing technologies or solutions (on the market or under development) been considered and assessed? Is the current state of the art well understood?
  • Does the proposal consider the current state of the art and does it demonstate how this project will move beyond the state of the art?
  • Does the proposal provide relevant market information / data and is it taken into account appropriately in the project proposal?
  • Is the proposed project plan and implementation of the project appropriate and well described in the proposal? Are there defined tasks, outputs and milestones and does the proposal explain how these will all contribute to meeting the need / opportunity identified?
  • Are project risks identified, assessed and appropriately mitigated?

3. Potential for future Impact

  • Is there a strong likelihood for impact to be realised (i.e., new products or processes, jobs created or safeguarded, cost savings, increased profits, new policies, improved healthcare, etc.);
  • Is there a clear path from research outputs to impact? Has an appropriate route to market for the technology/solution been identified and is there a suitable roadmap?
  • Is there a defined vision for the proposed impact (e.g. a product, process, service, etc. being developed; or for the technology being created)
  • What are the barriers for the realisation of this solution and how will they be overcome? (e.g. regulation, standards, ethics, market acceptance, etc.)
  • Are the plans for the next phase of the project beyond the PQA reasonable and have suitable and realistic funding mechanisms identified?
  • Has the project IP strategy been considered and are the plans outlined appropriate?

4. Value for money

  • Are all resources requested fully justified and appropriate to the project plan provided?
  • Consider the level of PQA funds requested compared to external partner cash and in kind contributions as well as any third party funding leveraged.
  • Is the scale of the potential impact in proportion to the level of PQA funds requested?
  • Are the outcomes and potential impacts described realistic and achievable given the level of PQA investment?
  • Are there clear and reasonable potential benefits to the host University, project partners, external stakeholders or end users?
  • Does the proposal demonstrate potential to leverage further funding or investment?

5. Equality, Diversity & Inclusion; Sustainability; and Responsible Innovation

Does the proposal effectively outline how Responsible Innovation, Sustainability and EDI principals will be incorporated into the project and implemented? Actions and activities should be project-specific and not generic statements like a commitment to follow a standard university procedure or process (which they would have to do anyway)

For example:
Sustainability – Is all travel in the project necessary? Has sustainability of modes of any travel been considered? Are there project resources which could be reduced or sourced in a more sustainable way? Will alternative, more sustainable materials been considered? Has recyclability of materials been considered? Could energy consumption / carbon footprint of the project be reduced?
EDI – Have potential biases been considered in the design of the project? Will any materials produced by the project follow best practice in accessibillity in their design? Is there support for the project team identified?
RI – Does the application include a plan for tackling issues arising from consideration of Responsible Innovation?

7. Project Monitoring and Post-Project Reporting

7. Project Monitoring and Post-Project Reporting

The success of a PQA project will be determined by the quality, scale, and scope of the outcomes and impacts emerging from the activities funded. The PQA Team will work closely with all projects to ensure objectives are achieved, helping to maximise opportunities as they emerge and monitoring progress against pre-defined milestones. Upon finishing your project a completed Project Final Report Form, agreed and signed by all partners, will be required. In addition, you may also be asked to help develop a case study on your project in consultation with the PQA Team which will focus on the outcomes and benefits of the work undertaken. Failure to submit a final project report means you will not be eligible for subsequent PQA funding.

All publications relating to PQA funded projects must cite the PQA EPSRC grant reference number: EP/Y024109/1.

8. Privacy Notice

8. Privacy Notice

Your Personal Data
The University of Glasgow will be what’s known as the ‘Data Controller’ of your personal data processed in relation to applications for Photonic and Quantum Accelerator PBIAA funding. This privacy notice will explain how The University of Glasgow will process your personal data.

Why we need it
We are collecting your basic personal data such as name, email address/contact details, university employer, and, where relevant, limited special categories data (such as disability, ethnicity, other health data) in order to determine if project funding can be awarded by the PBIAA and to monitor the level of under-represented groups receiving funding. We will only collect data that we need in order to provide and oversee this service to you.

Legal basis for processing your data
We must have a legal basis for processing all personal data. In this instance, the legal basis is:

• Legitimate interests – without this information we cannot process your application, as we cannot determine which project partner you work for, if you have applied for funding before, and the outcome of your application, and would not be able to pass on your application to Reviewers for assessment. Our request for special categories data is to demonstrate we are meeting our KPIs in opening up access to under-represented groups to participation in the photonics economy.

What we do with it and who we share it with

  • All the personal data you submit is processed by staff at the University of Glasgow in the United Kingdom. The data will also be shared with Reviewers who assess applications, who are staff at the Universities of Glasgow, Strathclyde, Heriot Watt and St Andrews.
  • Special categories data is processed by staff at the University of Glasgow in the United Kingdom. The data will not be shared with anyone, only the overall statistical data will be shared with the project partners and the funder of the programme (EPSRC).

In addition,

  • The names and employers of successfully funded applications will be used on the PQA website to demonstrate which projects are funded, and their impacts. This should be regarded as being shared worldwide.

How long do we keep it for
Your application data will be retained by the University for seven years after the PQA project ends. After this time, data will be securely deleted.

What are your rights?*
You can request access to the information we process about you at any time. If at any point you believe that the information we process relating to you is incorrect, you can request to see this information and may in some instances request to have it restricted, corrected or, erased. You may also have the right to object to the processing of data and the right to data portability.

*Please note that the ability to exercise these rights will vary and depend on the legal basis on which the processing is being carried out.

If you wish to raise a complaint on how we have handled your personal data, you can contact the University Data Protection Officer who will investigate the matter.
Our Data Protection Officer can be contacted at:

If you are not satisfied with our response or believe we are not processing your personal data in accordance with the law, you can complain to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO)

Our first PQA Call is now open for submissions.