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COVID-19 pandemic recovery

The Challenge Fund’s COVID-19 pandemic recovery call is now paused and not open to new concept notes at the present time while we focus on establishing and supporting projects that have received funding. If you have any further questions, please contact [email protected].


The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to acute challenges facing physics and the physics community across the UK and Ireland, and worldwide.

We consulted IOP members about the impacts of COVID-19 early in the pandemic. We know that these impacts, from both the virus itself and the restrictions introduced to lessen its spread, have been felt widely in business and industry, education and research, and by individuals and families.

COVID-19 has affected homes, schools and workplaces, and society and the economy at large. And we are aware of the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on people from Black and minority ethnic backgrounds or disadvantaged backgrounds, who may require particular support and who we wish to see better represented within an inclusive physics community.

We have worked to provide support for the physics community throughout the crisis, for example by switching to online provision of many of our services, by developing content to support home learning, by offering support for career development, skills training, and mental health and wellbeing, and by actively promoting the Benevolent Fund as a means to offer direct assistance to those facing hardship.

However, the situation continues to evolve. While some of the challenges and impacts became apparent immediately, others are likely to emerge and be felt over much longer periods of time – and in ways we have not yet detected.

We now want to throw the weight of the IOP's Challenge Fund behind innovative work addressing some or all of the challenges that have arisen for the physics community because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Challenge Fund is about accelerating the achievement of the aspirations set out in our strategy ‘Unlocking the Future’. Overcoming the affects of COVID-19, its legacy and its impact on the physics community is vital to achieving this.

What we’re looking for

We are inviting concept notes from prospective partners, whether organisations or consortia, to work with us on the next phase of our response to COVID-19. Proposals should provide evidence for the need/s they seek to address, and identify the beneficiaries of the work.

Proposed activities should align with the IOP's strategy and accelerate the achievement of any or all of the IOP’s strategic ambitions. Concept notes should also demonstrate how outcomes and benefits will be sustained beyond the end of the project.

Activities should be accessible, inclusive and seek to increase participation from under-represented groups. Equality, diversity and inclusion must be clearly defined in concept notes.

We would especially welcome concept notes that focus on supporting those in their early or mid-career in physics and/or ideas for projects that work with at least one IOP group, branch or national committee.