Page: Research Funding Priorities


Research funding organisations are important actors with responsibility for distributing large amounts of financial support for research and innovation activities. There a several different types of research funding organisations. Some research funders are public organisations that are part of national or regional administrations, while others are private.

Research funders play a vital role in shaping research cultures and practices. This is due to their capacity to set research topics, priorities, and assessment criteria that influence which research projects and researchers will receive grants and other types of support. Research funders’ policies on topics such as gender equality, open science, and research integrity directly influence researchers’ planning and designing of their research proposals. Research funders also contribute to research cultures and practices by how they organise key aspects of their work, particularly how they conduct assessments of researchers and projects.

Reaching out to funders

More than 50 funding organisations participated in providing information on how they support open and responsible research and innovation. Work was carried out by country correspondents across Europe and internationally. The first stage involved collecting and analyzing research funders’ policies and major funding Call documents. The second stage involved an interview with a funding organisation representative.

A document archive and a written case report was produced for each funding organisation. Each report summarised the work the funding organisation is doing to promote open and responsible research and innovation through its funding priorities, instruments, and assessments.


An overview of participating funders (Change from Panorama…)

A great variety of research funders participated in providing information on their activities. A majority were various types of public sector organisations responsible for disbursing government funds for research and innovation. Around one-fifth of the participating organisations were private foundations. Among public sector funders the main types of participating organisations were research councils, delegated state agencies, and departmental funders.

Participating research funders are based in 30 different countries, including 28 countries in Europe.

Openness and responsibility in research funding

The are many avenues through which research funders can influence research and innovation cultures and practices in order to enhance openness and responsibility. The data and information gathered about research funders activities includes their policy development activities regarding:

  • Gender equality
  • Open science
  • Public engagement
  • Research ethics and integrity
  • Societal impact

Research funders can directly shape research and innovation by what topics and priorities they fund, the criteria for funding they include in funding calls, and the characteristics of the assessment processes that they run to allocate project grants and researcher fellowships.

Research funding priorities in perspective

There are numerous factors which affect what priorities research funders set. Many public funders’ priorities reflect closely the preferences of their national government. Others are negotiated in close collaboration with representatives of scientific communities. Private funders have more autonomy to prioritise those topics or challenges that concern them. Many research funders also include stakeholders from society in governance or advice structures, providing opportunities for voices distinct from politics and science to contribute to the strategic direction and funding priorities of funders.

Information on the presence of scientific and societal stakeholders on formal advice bodies or committees can be considered a simple indicator of research funders’ access to ideas or priorities from these different perspectives.

PROMOTE HERE:         Priority setting

Priority setting x Type of formal advice


A range of open resources are available are available for those who are interested in open and responsible research funding.


Detailed descriptions of the collection of the data and information about open and responsible research funding shown at can be found here.

Open data on national research funding can be found at COKI

A range of position papers and other resources about trends in research funding from the perspective of public research funding organisations can be found at Science Europe.

Private research foundations’ activities and discussions about funding can be found the European Foundation Centre.