Shoot for the moon – government wants your bold ideas

UKRI and DSIT call for ambitious ideas to solve today’s major global challenges in accessible new programme that aims to develop ideas and get them funded. 

Where can research and innovation tackle the challenges facing us today? How can the UK lead groundbreaking innovation to make a significant impact? These are the questions being asked by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) – and they want to hear your answers.

Astronaut Gene Cernan driving lunar rover on the Moon, 1972 

They’re keen to hear your idea for a ‘moonshot’ project, the name of course taken from the 1960s space programme when the US committed to getting people to the moon – and home safely again – within just a decade. 

The idea of the Moonshots engagement programme is to develop the best ideas and help to secure funding, making your vision into reality. 

This is not a bidding process for funding. The aim is to identify projects that could be supported through public funding in the UK and then support the development of the idea as an investment opportunity. The team behind the scheme say a good moonshot project should: 

  • Excite and inspire the public, academia, and industry 
  • Help solve an important societal issue 
  • Be truly disruptive and groundbreaking 
  • Focus on areas where the underpinning science is at a stage to make a major breakthrough feasible 
  • Be specific and well defined in what it sets out to achieve, with a clear timeframe for completion 
  • Take advantage of areas where the UK is, or is poised to be, a world leader 
  • Generate significant additional benefits 

They’re also keen to see projects that match the four strategic priorities of the government’s Pioneer Innovation prospectus, launched in April. These are: 

  • Health innovations (human, animal and plant) 
  • Green industrial growth 
  • Resilient UK 
  • Transformative technologies 

The deadline for submitting ideas is 10 July. After that, those who’ve submitted the most ambitious and inspiring projects (in line with the above criteria) will be invited to meetings with experts in research and innovation to develop their ideas. Working with UKRI and DSIT, these developed proposals can then be put forward to ministers. 

Funding models for these projects will depend on whether the UK is or isn’t part of Horizon Europe – which is still being negotiated. If not, public funding will be organised through Pioneer Innovation. For more information about the scheme and to submit your idea for moonshot project, see UKRI’s New Moonshots engagement programme. 

In related news, the government recently announced £4.3m for space-based solar power, while a report by the UK Space Agency advises investors to ‘Put your money in space.’

Photo by NASA


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