The ESRC is pleased to invite applications for a Productivity Network.

Productivity has a major bearing on sustainable economic growth. The UK’s ongoing low levels of productivity, especially in comparison with international competitors, are of critical concern and require affirmative action on the part of both government and business. To aid progress, the UK needs research to help understand and explain the factors affecting productivity levels, and to provide robust evidence to inform policy and practice. The complex nature of the productivity challenge requires a multi-perspective, interdisciplinary approach.

To this end, the ESRC will fund an interdisciplinary 'Network Plus' as a first step to developing the capacity needed to sustain a substantive multidisciplinary and policy-orientated research programme. The network will include representatives from the policy community and the private sector, as well as academics from a range of disciplines. It will connect interdisciplinary research groups and networks from academia, policy and business; complement and collaborate with existing capacity and current research agendas (whether or not ESRC-funded); and develop an understanding of the current state of productivity research. It will promote methodological innovation and develop a series of small-scale studies. The Network Plus will also play a role in co-ordinating the ESRC's data strategy for productivity, including by encouraging the exploitation of existing data resources and feeding into the development of new data infrastructure.

The call is for a leadership team for a single network, with funding available of up to £1.8 million (100 per cent fEC) over 36 months.

Consortium-building event

We are holding an informative consortium-building event in Birmingham on 6 April 2017 from 10.00-14.00.

The aim of the event is for potential applicants to learn more about our expectations for a productivity network, as well as to meet potential collaborators. We strongly encourage at least one member of any proposed leadership team to attend this event.

In the case of any oversubscription, we will limit the number of attendees per organisation. If we cannot accommodate you at the meeting we will inform you on 30 March. We encourage individuals to co-ordinate across their organisations before registering for the event.

We welcome attendance from potential applicants and collaborators from within and beyond academia.

You can register for the event by emailing us at, and providing the following information:

  • Your name
  • Your institution or organisation and department
  • Up to ten keywords to describe your research interests

This information along with your email address will be used in the delegate list at the event. If you do not want your details circulated please inform us.

Registration for this event will close at noon on 27 March.

How to apply

Outline proposals must be submitted through the Research Councils’ Joint Electronic system (Je-S). Applications will be assessed by members of a commissioning panel. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to submit full proposals in July 2017. Successful applicants at the full stage will be interviewed in November 2017.

The closing date for outline applications is 16.00 on 17 May 2017.

Call documents

Provisional key dates

  • Call for outline proposals - 16 March 2017
  • Closing date for outline proposals - 16.00 on 17 May 2017
  • Call open for full proposals by shortlisted applicants - 14 July 2017
  • Closing date for full proposals - 14 September 2017
  • Panel interviews - November 2017
  • Decisions to applicants - end November 2017
  •  Launch of Network - 1  January 2018