1st Internal PETRAS Strategic Fund Call for Project Proposals: CALL CLOSED

Issue date: 22 December 2016

Version number: v2.0 (released on 13th Feb. 2017)

Closing date: 10.00 GMT on 01 March 2017

Download this funding call as a PDF here.

Download Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for this funding call as a PDF here: FAQ file – click me


PETRAS invites proposals from its academic members for collaborative projects in the Cyber Security of the Internet of Things (IoT) research to be undertaken jointly with User Partners[1].

The PETRAS Hub brings together a large community with nine UK academic institutions and over 50 User Partners from various industrial sectors, government agencies, and NGOs, providing a collaborative platform to undertake impactful world class research and knowledge development in the IoT security domain.

This call provides an opportunity for the Hub to continue actively engaging with the user community and effectively responding to the IoT developments during its funded lifetime, dealing with new areas and gaps identified through its research programme.


Currently, c. 20 existing PETRAS projects explore a range of issues in the Cyber Security of IoT research domain in collaboration with technical and social science experts and stakeholders, and flexible wider engagement with centres of excellence in the UK. These projects are grouped into ‘constellations’ of core technologies and application, and have been and will continue to feed into five core thematic ‘challenge streams’ of research: Privacy and Trust; Safety and Security; Adoption and Acceptability; Standards, Governance, and Policy; and Harnessing Economic Value. Outputs from the projects and thematic streams will provide new solutions to pervasive IoT issues, with many generalisable to problems in other sectors.

As the research landscape moves, the Hub has devised a flexible fund (just over £2M) to expand its portfolio of projects to address gaps identified in collaboration with User Partners and to extend current projects where appropriate. Two strategic fund (SF) calls for projects are planned to be issued during the funded lifetime of PETRAS. In this first PETRAS SF call the Hub will allocate a total of £1,726,202 to support both extension of current projects and establishment of new projects. There is further £250,000 pledged by the Lloyd’s Register Foundation (LRF) available to support successful proposals, see LRF Funding for International Collaboration section below for further details.

Whilst PETRAS will not mandate the duration of projects, it is anticipated that projects will have a varying duration of 6-18 months. The maximum duration allowed is 18 months, as all Hub activities will need to be finalised by PETRAS’ current official end date (28th February 2019).

PETRAS is committed to have at least 4 consolidated demonstrator projects that will bring together the outputs of several projects into a concrete experimental and demonstration platform. Thus, the second call, currently planned to be issued towards late 2017 – early 2018 will focus on funding demonstrator projects that will maximise the Hub’s impact. Whilst PETRAS is not looking to award funds for the second call now, applicants are encouraged to outline in their proposals how the outcome(s) of their projects could potentially be integrated in one of the Hub’s future demonstrators and/or one of the IoTUK demonstrators (e.g., CityVerve Smart City Demonstrator, NHS Diabetes West of England Testbed, and NHS Dementia Surrey Testbed).


Total PETRAS funding available for the 1st SF call is £1,726,202. The funding model for projects are summarised below:

Duration: Multiples of 6 months, with duration of 6-18 months.

Applicants: Each project should involve at least one, ideally two or more, User Partner(s) from industry or public sector with strong background in the Hub’s research programme. Proposals must be co-created with the User Partner(s) and convincing of the depth of the partner commitment. Whilst matched funding is not required, it is highly recommended. Projects must be led by an investigator from one of PETRAS’ existing nine academic partner institutions, who is eligible to hold an EPSRC grant. He/she would be responsible for the development and delivery the project, and for reporting on the outcomes and budget.

Award: The indicative budget per 6-month project block is £67,430 full Economic Cost (fEC), of which 80% fEC £53,944 will be awarded. It is planned that approximately 32 of these 6-month project blocks of varying sizes (in multiples of 6 months) will be awarded in the 1st SF call.

In practical terms this means that all applicants should cost their projects using the same process as they would cost an EPSRC grant. It must be recognised that an application to this call requires a commitment to provide the remaining 20% of fEC from their own resources. All costs should be inclusive of VAT and/or any other applicable tax. A guide of fEC and the EPSRC’s position on its payment is available at: https://www.epsrc.ac.uk/funding/howtoapply/fundingguide/& http://www.rcuk.ac.uk/funding/grantstcs/.

Eligible costs: Costs under a new or extended project may include staff time for postdoctoral research associates (PDRA), associated indirect costs, travel and subsistence, and consumables and equipment for the project, all subject to EPSRC rules and requirements. In line with the current projects, it is expected that investigator time will form part of the partner institutions’ contribution to PETRAS and will not be funded separately under this call. See below for detailed breakdown of a 6-month project block under relevant major spend categories:

Table 1 – Breakdown of a budget of 6-month project block 

Academic Salaries (PDRA time only) £25,952
Travel & Subsistence £2,400
Other Costs* £3,200
Indirect £22,392
Total £53,944

* Including consumables and equipment costs.

Details on how to access funding will be provided to those departments that have received awards. Awardees will be expected to manage the accounts as per normal EPSRC rules.

LRF Funding for International Collaboration

For those applicants wishing to prepare proposals for the research topics tagged with “(LRF)” under the Topics for the 1st SF Call section, there is additional funding from Lloyd’s Register Foundation (LRF) to support international collaboration.

If you are going to submit proposals for the “(LRF)” tagged research topics and would like to include a collaborator outside the UK, as part of your proposal you can request up to £50k additional funding from the PETRAS-LRF funds to support your international collaborator’s activities. This additional funding would cover 100% of your non-UK based collaborator’s direct costs up to £50k, but exclude their indirect costs / overheads.

Should you wish to benefit from this opportunity, please complete “the 1st SF Call – International collaborator info sheet” below and attach it to your main proposal template: PETRAS-LRFfunds-temp-v1.0

For the avoidance of doubt, project submissions from the PETRAS UK partners that fit under the LRF-tagged topics but do not necessarily include the overseas collaboration aspects will be welcomed and considered for the PETRAS-LRF funds too. Please note, the PETRAS-LRF funds would cover 100% of your proposed project’s direct costs (up to £50k project budget), but exclude indirect costs / overheads.

You may need to sign separate contracts, which will address (without limitation) issues of project related intellectual property and publication.

Topics for the 1st SF Call

  • Human factors in IoT security and safety – Empirical studies e.g.: Latent security design failures and User (human) awareness of risk; Acquiring, maintaining and contextualising users’ trust in algorithmic approaches (e.g., AI, ML). Visibility of proxy actions taken by IoT networks; Understanding the obtrusiveness of IoT technologies and security and their impact on user wellbeing and adoption; Conveying risks and potential consequences to users.
  • Threats to user privacy and expectations of privacy e.g.: Managing the balance between consent and ethical approval, ensuring data minimisation throughout the entire data life cycle; Enabling ‘privacy by design’ in IoT systems. Balance of ethics, privacy and trust versus government needs; Predicting the evolution of consent and access models.
  • Economies of implementation e.g. in terms of code processing demands and bandwidth. Distributed ledger technologies and their role in IoT security.
  • Ensuring the resilience of IoT systems to threats e.g.: Enabling systems for operation in the presence of partial compromise; Measuring the health of IoT systems; Scale factors for very small or very large systems (e.g., city or nationwide deployments). Identifying anticipated attack vectors and surfaces in IoT security.
  • Response to complex malicious threats – Modelling and analysing the effects of, and in, critical infrastructure systems combining physical, digital and human elements, including sensitivity and interdependency effects resulting from a coincidence of natural and human threats. Study of interdependence and cascade of effects. Anomaly detection algorithms – Evaluating robustness in response to malicious threats. (LRF)
  • Vulnerabilities of industrial and building control – Empirical studies addressing the systems in complex critical infrastructure such as energy, transportation, food, water and communications. Data flows, paths, information and contextualisation in the context of secure inter-domain IoT deployment. Retrofitting legacy systems (and in particular control systems) for safety and security in BMS and critical infrastructure systems. (LRF)
  • Addressing the balance between risk, assurance and insurance e.g.: Evaluating emergent risk and uncertainties from unanticipated use and misuse; Assurance of algorithmic approaches, of the expected and the unexpected, evaluating impact in large scale (complex) systems; Risk implications, provenance, and economics of data and equipment supply chains. Ownership of risk, liability and data.
  • Achieving better understanding of the social impact of secure IoT and the creation of economic value; Realising non-disruptive routes to IoT adoption. Emergent societal behaviours.
  • Enabling the business value of industrial IoT security and resilience e.g.: Validating new business models that address issues such as fragmented ownership and hidden costs; Policy models that enable business and innovation. Secure IoT as an enabler of servitised capital assets.
  • Governance, standards and economic models e.g.: Trade-off analyses for increased resilience in critical infrastructure systems and supply chains. Knowledge gaps in the translation of research into standards, policies, rules, methodologies. Methodologies to determine the most appropriate interventions, including public awareness and professional training.
  • Understanding the role of IoT in existing and new crimes e.g.: Crime intelligence-gathering and prevention, deterrence and attribution. Implications in legislation and criminal law. Pre-emptive standards and policy interventions that ensure the security of IoT and the avoidance of crime.
  • Evaluating the impact of strategic technologies on the cybersecurity of IoT systems e.g.: LiFi, LoRA, Hypercat, LPWAN, and the role of the Cloud in the security of IoT.
  • Other topics – relating to proposers’ research interests or those of User Partners, where these pertain to topics not covered in the existing suite of PETRAS projects.

Eligibility and Project Requirements

Successful applicants must demonstrate they meet the following requirements:

  1. Projects must be led by a PETRAS academic partner, who must be eligible to hold an EPSRC grant and will be responsible to undertake the delivery of the project work and required reporting requirements. For information on the eligibility of organisations and individuals to receive EPSRC funding, see the EPSRC Funding Guide: http://www.epsrc.ac.uk/funding/howtoapply/fundingguide/.
  2. Projects must address intellectually inspiring and user-led challenges in the Cyber Security of IoT.
  3. Projects must demonstrate how their impact will be maximised through the project plans, for example by addressing clearly defined research challenge(s), demonstrating how they have been co-created with the end-user(s), through undertaking research and appropriate knowledge exchange and early stage ‘proof of concept’ activities.
  4. Substantial support from User Partners must be demonstrable (including the details of leveraging and additional funding), as well as collaboration and engagement with innovative businesses including SMEs.

How to Apply

Completed applications must be submitted by 10.00 GMT on 1st March 2017 to h.uzuner@imperial.ac.uk. Please write: “1st PETRAS SF Call Project application” in the email subject header.

The electronic application submission must be in a single document. Applicants must ensure their proposal conforms to the format and the page limits specified in Appendix 1 of this call and they use the word document template provided to prepare their applications.

Proposals that do not fulfil the format requirements, or are submitted after the deadline, will not be considered. This includes proposals that are over length or submitted as multiple documents. Proposals must be costed and approved by the applicants’ organisation authority before submission. The costings submitted should represent the 100% fEC of completing the project, but applicants should recognise that they will receive only 80% fEC in accordance with normal EPSRC practices (see section on Funding).

Table 2 – 1st SF Call for Proposals deadlines


Activity Date
Call launched 22 Dec. 2016
Deadline for questions and queries** 22 Feb. 2016
Closing date to submit proposals 01 Mar. 2017
Proposals reviewed Mar. 2017
Funding decision Apr. 2017
Expected start of awarded projects Jun. 2017
Expected latest start of awarded projects 01 Sept. 2017

** Note: Questions will not be answered between 22nd December 2016 and 9th January 2017 inclusive.

Review and Selection of Applications

All applications will be reviewed on an individual basis by a panel of reviewers (2 academics and 2 User Partners, who will be drawn from the PETRAS Hub) against the Assessment Criteria given below. The 1st SF Call Project Review Board will undertake the final selection the reviewed project proposals and be academically driven with senior industrial technical expertise. The members of this Board, will be selected from the PETRAS academic and User Partner member institutions and stakeholders. Decisions are expected to be made within 4-6 weeks of the deadline (see the deadline timetable above).

Assessment Criteria

We strive to achieve a balance across the entire PETRAS portfolio and intersection with the thematic streams as well as address key gaps and User Partner priorities. Applications will be assessed by reviewers and the 1st SF Call Project Review Board against the following criteria, however, there will be more of an emphasis on the quality of research:

  • Quality of research, including:
    • Novelty, relationship to the context, and timeliness;
    • The ambition, adventure and transformative aspects identified;
    • Appropriateness of proposed methodology;
    • Intersection with PETRAS thematic streams and call topics.
    • Value of collaborations across disciplines, institutions and with User Partners.
  • Importance of research, including:
    • Contributes to Cyber Security of the Internet of Things (IoT) research in line with PETRAS activities, addressing key priorities and end user needs, and challenges;
    • Complementarity to the PETRAS project portfolio and other UK research already funded in the area.
  • Potential research impact, including:
    • Relevance and appropriateness of the research outputs to any beneficiaries or collaborators (e.g. User Partners, upstream engagement / co-design);
    • Plans for dissemination and knowledge exchange;
    • Undertaking activities designed to maximise impact and user engagement (for example demonstration of research challenge(s) being co-created by end-user(s)) and have specific project plans in place to deliver this;
    • Project’s ability to facilitate deployment of IoT technologies and to have relevance or value to the IoTUK demonstrator projects (e.g., CityVerve Smart City Demonstrator, NHS Diabetes West of England Testbed, and NHS Dementia Surrey Testbed).
  • Ability of applicant team to deliver the research
  • Resources and management, including:
    • Effectiveness of planning and resource management strategy;
    • Degree of User Partner support and matched contribution;
    • Appropriateness of resources requested.


  1. The grants will be awarded according to the standard fEC model, covering 80% of eligible costs.
  2. The terms of the Research Hub Collaboration Agreement dated 29 February 2016 will apply to any successful applicant.
  3. The grant funds may not be used for capital expenditure, i.e. no single items of equipment above the £10k threshold are permitted.
  4. The projects will start no later than 1st September 2017 and must end by 28th February 2019. The end of the grant is non-negotiable and the grant cannot be used to pay for the activities beyond the end date of the grant – 28th February 2019.
  5. Any member of staff (PDRAs) that you may want to employ on a project funded from 1st SF call needs to be available to start before or on 1st September 2017. No extensions or delays to the start date for any reason including delays in recruitment will be accommodated. The grant must end and funds must be spent by 28th February 2019.
  6. If the project proposal is for an extension of an existing project, the applicants can only bid for an extension in the call that will start after the end of their previously approved project end date to avoid funding overlap. Successful applicants of extension of existing projects will be required to produce a financial statement showing their spend on the initial project that is being applied to be extended.
  7. PETRAS wishes to encourage applicants to include User Partners in their proposals. Applications involving User Partners should make the role of the User Partner explicitly stated, and no terms may be entered into with User Partners which conflict with the terms of the Research Hub Collaboration Agreement. PETRAS shall have the right to require contracts engaged in with User Partners to ensure compliance. Joint or partial funding of projects is permitted where the role of the other funder is clearly stated and the other funding terms do not conflict with the EPSRC funding requirements and the Research Hub Collaboration Agreement.
  8. The applicant must provide the PETRAS Programme Manager with a brief announcement (approx. 300 words) of the funded research within one month after the start of the project. This announcement must be agreed with PETRAS and suitable for publication on the PETRAS website.
  9. Comply with all PETRAS quality assurance and reporting processes and requirements and also provide PETRAS with a final report at latest, one month after the end of the project. The final report will include mention of any papers or reports in preparation, and any plans for follow-up research funding. A financial statement will also be required within 30 days of project completion.
  10. Any publication resulting from the project must acknowledge EPSRC funding via PETRAS. The recommended text to be used is as follows: “This work has been funded by the UK EPSRC as part of the PETRAS IoT Research Hub – Cybersecurity of the Internet of Things grant no: … .” The grant numbers to be used for each academic partner are as follows: UCL: EP/N02334X/1, Imperial: EP/N023242/1, Warwick: EP/N02298X/1, Lancaster: EP/N023234/1, Oxford: EP/N023013/1, Cardiff: EP/N022785/1, Surrey: EP/N023358/1, Edinburgh: EP/N02317X/1, Southampton: EP/N022912/1.

Quality assurance and reporting

Details on PETRAS reporting requirements will be provided to those applicants that have received awards. Awardees will be expected to comply with all PETRAS quality assurance and reporting processes and requirements. In addition to the project deliverables proposed by the applicants, all projects will also be required to provide the following reports:

  • Quarterly activity (update) report – this report takes the form of completing a brief template, is to allow for the early identification of problems so that PETRAS can work constructively and quickly to find solutions. Some of the sections (subject to revision from time to time by PETRAS) include: progress made in the project since the beginning or the previous report, deliverable progress and User Partner engagement updates, challenges faced and risks identified, and plans for the next quarter. A financial update statement will also be required on a quarterly basis.
  • Final project report – Some of the sections (subject to revision from time to time by PETRAS) include: executive summary, project description, details of outcomes and achievements, impact, and future plans. the final report will include also include any papers or reports in preparation as a result of the project work, and any plans for follow-up research funding. A final financial statement will also be required within 30 days of the project completion.
  • Impact database entries – Update PETRAS’s online Impact Database on a frequent basis, which will capture project work, dissemination activities, outcomes, and impact.

EPSRC frameworks on Responsible Innovation, Societal Implications and Ethical Issues 

It is recognised that some areas of the Digital Economy have the potential to raise societal, ethical, philosophical, legal and regulatory issues and risks. Consideration of these issues is essential to ensure that the research carried out is considered within a societal context and that any such issues that are raised are fully explored as the research develops. For further information on responsible innovation and ethical requirements, applicants are referred to the following guidance documents:



Further Information

For the 1st PETRAS SF call related enquiries please contact the following:

General enquiries: Dr. Halil Uzuner (PETRAS Programme Manager), email: h.uzuner [at] imperial.ac.uk, tel: 0207 594 0982

User Partner enquiries: Graça Carvalho (PETRAS Impact Champion), email: graca.carvalho [at] ucl.ac.uk, tel: 0203 108 7386

Scientific enquiries: Dr. Emil Lupu (PETRAS Deputy Director), email: e.c.lupu [at] imperial.ac.uk

Appendix 1 – Response format

All proposals under this call must be completed using the requirements outlined in this Appendix and the proposal template document provided. PETRAS reserves the right to reject any submission that does not conform to these requirements.

All sections outlined below are mandatory, and applications must not exceed the maximum length of each section. Applicants should include the section with the entry ‘Null’ if they do not believe it is relevant to their submission.

Applications must use the word template provided to prepare their applications. The template format, font sizes, margins etc. must not be modified. The use of diagrams, tables, and other graphics that aid comprehension is encouraged.

Download the application template here.

The sections 1-9 in the proposal template above are mandatory and must not exceed 6 pages. Applicants are encouraged to provide a bibliography for the references cited in the proposal in Section 10. In addition to these sections, the applicants are required to provide CVs (maximum two pages) for each named investigator and research staff (PDRA) and short biographies for key industry collaborators in Section 11. If your application will include collaboration with external organisations, which are not PETRAS User Partners, please attach letters of support in Section 12 confirming the nature of the contribution and the estimated amount of matched funding.

[1] In the context of the PETRAS Hub, User Partners are all the organisations that have issued Letters of Support during the proposal phase of the Hub or that have confirmed their willingness to collaborate with the project in written since the project begin in March 2016. Please refer to https://www.petrashub.org/partners/ for more information.