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Cambridge Zero Demonstrators Lab Programme Pilot 

The Cambridge Zero Demonstrators Lab Programme will begin its first cohort recruitment in Michaelmas 2021, initially funded from the EPSRC IAA Adventurous Impact Award secured by Dr Aga Iwasiewicz-Wabnig and Dr Emily Shuckburgh OBE.


Focussed project work will require a ringfenced and sustained time commitment over a fixed amount of time, which is why the programme can offer a part-time salary buy-out from your University of Cambridge day job.

We can offer ~10 funded places in this round, covering part-time salary buy-out of up to £3,000 per person (for direct cost only) over a three month period. 

Recognising diversity of the research funding landscape, we are prepared to also accommodate a small number of participants who may wish to opt-out from the programme's buy-out funding, either in part or in full. This may include PDRAs and academics who already have other funding in place, or may wish to volunteer some of their time. Opt-out applications will be conidered subject to applicants providing a confirmation (and approval from line manager in case of PDRAs/research fellows) that they are still able to make a robust time commitment (including during normal working hours to match the team effort), and are happy to be bound by the programme rules in the same way as the fully-funded cohort members. 

NB: all applicants will be considered on merit, and as such applying for or opting out from funding does not affect your chances of success.

Who should apply


The programme accepts applications from University of Cambridge researchers, whose employment contracts run until at least the end of March 2022. The programme is aimed primarily at PDRAs/Research Fellows. We welcome applictions from academics, but we are currently not able to accept student applications.

Applying PDRAs/Research Fellows need to obtain permission from their supervisor or line manager, which will need to be evidenced in the application (see How to apply below)

Due to funder's conditions the work undertaken in the Pilot Programme cohort needs to fall under the EPSRC remit and have a link to previous EPSRC funding, however the nature of the link can be flexible. The participants do not need to have been previously funded by the EPSRC to be eligible.

Expected commitment

Programme cohort members time commitment can be at the level of 0.1-0.3 FTE (typically 0.2 FTE = one day a week) over a period of ~3 months of the Pilot programme timeline: 

  1. Team building, challenge scoping and selection of projects (early to mid-December 2021)
  2. Cohort project work (January to mid-March 2022)
  3. Programme showcase event (tentative: afternoon of 25 March 2022) 

You will be expected to participate in your team project work, take part in informal progress meetings with the Programme Team, and contribute to the sprintshop project final report, summarising findings, recommendations and future plans (for projects that should carry on within the CZ Demo Lab setting or elsewhere). We will also ask for your feedback on the programme to fine tune its future editions.

You will gain

  • Experience of challenge-led work and proof-of-concept co-creation
  • Embedded and lasting mindset of climate-conscious work ethos
  • Satisfaction of making a tangible difference
  • Skills and confidence to select and engage with a project (which may be outside of your own scientific background and/or comfort zone) 
  • Opportunity to work collaboratively with your team, applying your specialist and transferrable skills
  • Experience of seeking advice from experts and engaging prospective delivery partners and early adopters of the proposed solutions
  • Access to support from specialist mentors and facilitators within Cambridge Zero, Maxwell Centre, Energy IRC, Global Challenges Initiative and the broader Knowledge Exchange Network
  • Opportunity to expand your professional network of connections

Terms and conditions 

Standard EPSRC grant conditions apply, including:

It is the responsibility of the Research Organisation, and all engaged in the research, to make every reasonable effort to ensure that the intellectual assets obtained in the course of the research, whether protected by intellectual property rights or not, are used to the benefit of society and the economy. Research outcomes should be disseminated to both research and more widespread audiences, for example to inform potential users and beneficiaries of the research.

Unless stated otherwise, the ownership of all intellectual assets, including intellectual property, and responsibility for their application, rests with the University that generates them. The University of Cambridge IP Policy shall apply.

How to apply

Application process is light touch and not very onerous - to be considered please apply online, providing:

  1. Your motivation: A cover letter - explaining your motivation to take part in the Programme, what skills and experience you wish to contribute with, and anything else you want the selection panel to consider. (in pdf, up to 10MB)
  2. Your availability: A completed and signed Participant Commitment form (saved in pdf format, up to 10MB) - download the Participant Commitment form in Word format to fill in from here.
  3. Your details: Online application form - attaching the two documents prepared for points 1 and 2.  

Application deadline: 12 noon on 30 November 2021

In case of difficulties with the application process please contact