Researcher Resilience Sustainability Fund 2021

This call has now closed. Applicants will be notified of the outcomes the week commencing 11 October.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on higher education and the research environment in particular. In 2020, U21 launched the Researcher Resilience Fund to support the development of the network’s PhD and early career researchers to work and collaborate virtually.

The fund enabled a cohort of nearly 70 researchers to take advantage of global partnerships in the U21 network and strengthen their research and international collaborations. We are now entering a new phase of the pandemic with digital and ‘hybrid’ engagement as the norm. U21 has launched a follow-up fund, the Researcher Resilience Sustainability Fund, which offers awards of up to US$10,000 (with a total of US$30,000 available) to recipients of the 2020 Researcher Resilience Fund. This new fund encourages recipients to scale up the impact of their projects and extend existing networks.


Only existing project groups from the previous round of the Researcher Resilience Fund can apply for this award. They will continue to work together, with new additional project partners, to find ways of demonstrating impact beyond what was stated in the original project. In this award, we consider ‘impact’ to mean the reach of your project and the difference it has made to project partners and beneficiaries. As with the previous award, this is open to doctoral candidates and early career researchers (ECRs). Proposals can feature both doctoral candidates and ECRs together.

The U21 Researcher Resilience Sustainability Fund will make awards of up to US$10,000 per project that demonstrates wider impact (in relation to the original project) through scaling up and continued adaptation to ongoing change. The new projects need to have a lifespan beyond the initial 12 months of funding. It is expected that the project outputs will be shared within the U21 network as examples of best practice. Projects might choose to expand the number of participating institutions (within the U21 network), to increase the number of participating faculty and students within the existing partnership or broaden the impact of the project by increasing the number of beneficiaries in some other way.

In order to apply for this new round:

  • Your new project will need to feature the original project group partners. However, you can assign a different project lead from within that group.
  • Your original project must be on track for completion by 1 November 2021 (this will need to be verified by the lead supervisor or equivalent).
  • Where the original RRF required a minimum of 2 project partners from across 2 countries, this new application will need to include new project partners. Applications featuring two or more additional U21 universities from across 2 or more additional countries will be prioritised.
  • The deadline for completion will be 31 October 2022. No extensions will be given.  

The projects from 2020 created resources such as subject-specific networks and communities of practice, shared databases and podcasts. Funding may be used for outreach projects, mentoring, further skills development and training, and technology set-up costs. Examples include:

  • Digital training workshops
  • Subscriptions for online platforms for network-building (note that this platform would need to be sustainable and accessible beyond the funding period)
  • Costs associated with developing a subject-specific support network for COVID-19
  • Adding expertise in the form of speakers/workshop leaders/designers/editors

Projects that enable doctoral candidates or ECRs to support undergraduate students will be considered. Projects that combine existing Researcher Resilience Fund projects will also be considered. Note that the funding cannot be used to pay for staff on fractional contracts or cover overheads/research office administration fees, nor act as substitute funding. Please check that all partners on your application are based at one of the U21 member institutions before you apply. While open-access resources and activities are encouraged, note that any form of network creation or data-sharing should be between U21 member universities only. If you have any queries about this criteria please contact to discuss your ideas.

In thinking about your proposal, consider the following points:

  • who else could benefit from your outputs?
  • what difference will your outputs make to those involved?
  • how can it be disseminated via U21?
  • how will your project help create a sustainable research/researcher environment for the future?

Preference will be given to proposals which 

  • Create examples of good research practice that can be easily shared and replicated by other researchers across the network.  
  • Address current researcher needs shared by other U21 universities.   
  • Produce shareable outcomes in a relatively short period of time (e.g. 6 - 9 months).
  • Demonstrate a lifespan beyond the initial funding period.
  • Feature two or more additional U21 universities from across 2 or more additional countries.  
Additional Criteria

Proposals must meet the following criteria: 

  • Demonstrate the involvement of new project partners.
  • Demonstrate project growth in terms of broader reach and impact.
  • Demonstrate an innovative approach to research practice.   
  • Deliver/specify tangible outputs within twelve months (maximum) of receipt of funds.
  • Outputs must be accessible to all university members of U21 and will be shared via the U21 website or internal U21 e-learning platform, U21 Community.  

Deadline for submission: Friday 24 September Successful applicants notified the week commencing 11 October Funds must be transferred to institutions no later than Friday 29 October 2021

Applications should be sent to Dr Connie Wan, Senior Manager (Network Development and Researcher Engagement) via


Can our application feature non-U21 universities?

The project partners listed in your application should not feature universities that are not in the Universitas 21 network (you can check who is in the network here). While your project should aspire to reach out to universities outside of the network, for the purpose of this proposal, benefits to network members should be prioritised first and foremost.

Is there a maximum limit on the number of project partners?

There is no maximum limit on the number of project partners you can include in your application but it is recommended that you consider your capacity to oversee the work of all the partners. You should be realistic about how many partners you are able to manage. Partners should only be included if they are genuinely adding value to your project.

Can our application include non-Higher Education Institution partners?

Reaching out to industry experts (for example) outside of the university setting is encouraged but note that we will not consider them as new additional project partners. Your application will only be prioritised if your application features two or more additional U21 universities from across 2 or more additional countries.

Can we involve researchers from non-U21 universities for consultation purposes?

Making use of expertise from outside of the U21 network for consultative purposes is allowed. Note that these individuals should not feature as new additional project partners, nor as beneficiaries of your project in your application.

We are considering replicating our original project, but on a larger scale. Would this be accepted?

We would like your new project to demonstrate greater impact through a wider reach and for it to make a demonstrable difference to your project partners and beneficiaries, beyond what was stated in your original project. While replicating your original project on a larger scale will reach a wider audience, what difference will it make, in addition to the impact you have already achieved in your original project?

How can U21 help us disseminate information about our projects?

We are able to share information about your projects via the U21 website, social media channels and via our e-newsletter ‘Connect’. If at any point you would like us to share your resources, or even calls for participation, please email in the first instance.

We are a group of Early Career Researchers and we would like to develop our project to include undergraduate students. Would this be accepted?

We understand that an important part of the ECR experience involves teaching undergraduate students. Including them in your proposal would be accepted, as long as you demonstrate that the project will have impact on the ECR community as well as the undergraduate students.


We are yet to submit our final report form from the original project. Will this jeopardise our RRSF application?

This will not jeopardise your application as long as you indicate when it will be submitted (no later than 1 November). As stated in the call, your original project must be on track for completion by 1 November 2021 (this will need to be verified by the lead supervisor or equivalent) in order to be eligible for this award.