Building Back Better open call

Open to all University of Edinburgh staff

As part of the Scottish Funding Council Covid-19 Recovery funding to the University of Edinburgh, the Data-Driven Innovation initiative has been allocated up to £500,000 for small grants to support staff at the University applying data-driven innovation ideas to support the Scottish Funding Council’s aim of promoting job security, creation and retention within universities and economic and social recovery from the pandemic across the wider Edinburgh and South-East Scotland Region 

About the open call

The University’s Data-Driven Innovation initiative is hoping to fund circa 20 £10,000 projects, up to six £25,000 projects, and up to three £50,000 projects through our Building Back Better Open Call. These projects should ideally align to one of four themes (Smarter Places; Creative and Cultural Recovery; Climate, Food and Sustainability; and Health and Wellbeing) or can be based on another topic that aligns to the outcomes of the DDI initiative through at least one of the DDI Innovation Hubs. Projects must be completed by 31 July 2021.

The open call includes two submission rounds:
• The first round closes at 3pm on 11th December 2020, and will allocate up to £250,000. Projects will have a target start date of 11th January 2021.
• The second round closes at 3pm on 15th January 2021, allocating all remaining funding. Project will have a target start date of 8th February 2021.

Please read the guidance information before downloading and completing the application form


For more details on the open call read the guidance information, or contact:

Gemma Cassells: | Microsoft Teams

Public Sector Lead, DDI

Ailsa Falconer: | Microsoft Teams

Business Pipeline Manager, DDI

The DDI Programme will be providing office hours from 11am-12pm every Wednesday from the launch of the call until it closes on 15 January, where staff will be available to answer questions via Microsoft Teams. Details can be found in the guidance information.


About the Scottish Funding Council  programme

The Scottish Funding Council has provided £75m funding to boost the Scottish university research, to contribute to the mitigation of effects of Covid-19 pandemic. The University of Edinburgh received £23.2m of these funds.

One of the goals set by Scottish Funding Council to fund translation of research into action, to support our region’s recovery. The University of Edinburgh has allocated £4m fund for this purpose, to be coordinated as part of the Data-Driven Innovation initiative.

Activity supported by this fund is split into three strands (see below) and delivered in coordination between the DDI hubs (the Bayes Centre, Edinburgh Futures Institute, Usher, Easter Bush and Edinburgh International Data Facility), Edinburgh Innovations and the DDI initiative office.

Through these activities we aim to deliver impact for communities, services and businesses, maintain or generate new jobs in the University and wider City Region.


The three strands of opportunities in the University of Edinburgh DDI Beacon Programme supported by the SFC fund:

‘Building Back Better Open Call’

One part of the portfolio is an Open Call to academic and professional services staff within the University of Edinburgh under the theme of ‘Building back better’, welcoming proposals from across the University as of Wednesday 11 November 2020 around four main themes:

• Smarter Places

• Health, Wellbeing & Care

• Cultural & Creative Recovery

• Food, Climate and Sustainability

• Wild card on aligned themes

The total budget for the call is £500,000, which will be used to fund a range of projects. The majority of these will be in the region of £10,000, with some funding reserved to support a limited number of larger projects, worth £25k and £50k.


Supporting recovery and growth through entrepreneurship

Edinburgh Innovations will be working with the DDI hubs on the delivery of this strand, launching The Data-Driven Entrepreneurship Programme in mid December 2020 to help upskill and support undergraduates, PhD candidates and researchers across the University to commercialise key research expertise and develop new digital start-ups. This Programme will include: Incubators, accelerators, venture builder workshops, PhD incubation programme, digitech work placements, and a programme of Students as Change Agents (SAChA) challenge projects.

For more details on the entrepreneurship strand, contact:

Charlotte Waugh:

Enterprise and Innovation Programme Lead, Edinburgh Innovations or the DDI hub leads.


Adapting to new ways of operating

These are three themed Projects/Activities designed and created by the DDI hubs (Bayes Centre, Edinburgh Futures Institute, Usher, Easter Bush) linked to regional impact and lead by specific Hubs but delivered collaboratively. The three themed projects are:

• Smarter & creative places (lead jointly by the Bayes Centre & Edinburgh Futures Institute)

• Climate, food and sustainability (lead Easter Bush)

• Health, well-being and care (lead Usher Institute)

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Application form

Download the Word doc application form for the Building Back Better open call.

Guidance form

Download the Word doc guidance form for the Building Back Better Open Call.