Strategic Funding Calls

The second call of the REPHRAIN Strategic Funding programme is now closed. This call was a huge success – thank you to all the applicants! This was an incredibly strong field, with many interesting and significant proposals.

Successful proposals will be announced shortly, with further details regarding the next funding call round expected to open in the summer of 2022.

This strategic funding call is for projects that relate to REPHRAIN’s missions and research challenges. In addition, we particularly encourage proposals that focus on the following topics (which draw upon the Royal Society report on PETs):

Giving public sector organisations expertise and assurance

  • Approaches to systematise engagement between the research community and the public sector with regards to privacy, online harms and adversarial influence – in order to move away from the current piecemeal and transient way which can significantly limit the benefits of research.
  • Research to identify appropriate intermediaries between the academic community and the public sector in terms of knowledge exchange and knowledge management. This can include studies of current stakeholders with responsibility as well as identification of additional or new stakeholders.

Promoting innovative data governance through use of Privacy Enhancing Technologies (PETs)

  • Developing alternative mechanisms to confirm user consent on how their data is stored and used – going beyond the standard T&Cs of the app/platform/tool. This must include critical engagement and discourse with users to determine and understand what is needed.
  • New forms of data governance that are human/behaviour driven and not solely driven by legal requirements.
  • New mechanisms to easily and simply show users how their data is going to be used, including novel approaches for explainability and data governance labelling that is easy to comprehend by users.
  • Case studies on the use of PETs in data governance that highlight the benefits of using PETs to promote and incentivise organisations.

Supporting organisations to become intelligent users of PETs

  • Development of privacy starter packs (or other novel mechanisms) for organisations in order to enumerate the threats specific to them rather than a broad taxonomy of threats. This can be specific to particular sectors and may feed into identification of suitable privacy metrics.
  • Studies contrasting small and large organisations and the challenges of utilising PETs, including but not limited to concerns about cost of technology and resources.
  • Investigation of PETs as-a-service as a means to support organisations in becoming intelligent users of PETs.

Building privacy into infrastructures

  • Mapping of current mechanisms that may support building privacy into infrastructures, including their strengths and limitations as well as their potential for integration to deliver infrastructures that address a range of privacy considerations such as confidentiality, control, transparency and explainability.
  • Developing research platforms to engage a large number of citizens in pro-actively engaging in testing the privacy properties of components to build privacy into infrastructures from – thus engaging diverse perspectives in the design and evolution of such systems. Such research platforms may themselves form interesting basis to evaluate the potential of large- scale citizen engagement activities in a privacy-preserving manner.
  • Approaches to build privacy into the very core of new large-scale initiatives such as the concept of the meta-verse.

The above are indicative topics and we welcome proposals on additional related topics.

The total amount available for this call will be up to £500,000 at 100% full Economic Cost (fEC), of which 80% fEC (i.e., up to £400,000) will be made available to successful applicants. In practical terms, this means that UK HEI researchers should cost their projects using the same process as they would cost a UKRI grant. All costs should be inclusive of VAT and/or any other applicable tax. The duration of work proposed under this call should not last more than 12 months and should run between 1 May 2022 and 30 April 2023. REPHRAIN will not reimburse costs associated with the development or submission of a proposal.

Proposals should be costed and approved by the applicant’s organisation before submission.

Full details of the call can be found in the documents below.

Call Document
Terms and Conditions
Proposal submission template

Proposals should be submitted by 4pm on 28 January 2022.

Call opens: 6 December 2021
Call closes: 28 January 2022
Decision panel: w/c 14 March 2022
Succesful applicants notified: w/c 21 March 2022
Projects to start from: w/c 1 May 2022


Will there be any more funding calls following this one?

This is the second of three expected Strategic Funding Calls. We expect to launch our next call in summer 2022. All details will be published on the website in due course.

Should the £500k cover all projects that are funded or each project that is funded?

For the second Strategic Funding call, £500k is the total fund amount for all projects. This is £500k fEC with REPHRAIN funding at 80% fEC.

How many projects do you expect to fund? Maximum indicative costs of a project?

All proposals will go through peer review and final decision panel and awarded based on their quality against the assessment criteria. We expect (but are not limited too) a maximum award of 100K.

Is there an expected for proposals to have support letters from multiple industry partners at time of submission?

Industry partners cannot be funded directly from the Strategic Funding Call so contribution must be in kind or direct funds. Letters of support should be submitted where required to supplement the proposal.

Can SME companies be involved in the funding call?

Yes, we welcome proposals that involve engagement with external stakeholders including SMEs, although direct funding cannot be provided.