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Current sandpit opportunities

Dispersed industrial decarbonisation sandpit (March 2023)

We are delighted to organise this sandpit in partnership with The Association for Decentralised Energy (ADE).

Many parts of UK industry remain dependent on fossil fuels for power, from small industrial sites to large refineries. These industrial sites need to decarbonise, but in a way that does not significantly impair competitiveness. The journey to decarbonisation of these dispersed industrial sites may include different alternative energy sources, which could include electrification or hydrogen. This sandpit will examine the barriers and opportunities to electrification for dispersed industry, to explore alternatives, and inform policy for a net zero future. Research proposals emerging from the sandpit may include technological or policy-based approaches.

If this opportunity is not relevant to you, do join our mailing list (in the footer) or register on Inkpath to be kept up to date with the next sandpits. You can read more about what a C-DICE sandpit is and its objectives here.

Aerial shot of Wissington factory (August 2012)

The Association for Decentralised Energy

The Association for Decentralised Energy (ADE) is the leading trade association for decentralised energy, representing more than 130 interested parties from across the industrial, commercial and public sectors.

ADE are driving the decarbonisation of heat, championing the role of industry in the green transition and pushing for UK homes, places of work and public services to be energy efficient and smart.

“Only by getting users engaged and investing in energy efficiency, low carbon heat and providing smart flexibility will the UK truly be able to decarbonise its energy system. For this to happen, energy must work for the user.”

ADE engage with government and key decision makers to advocate for decentralised energy. “We provide a conduit between the sector and government, providing members with insight into policy developments and government with insight based on our members’ experience”.

Sandpit 5 session dates and mode of delivery

Sessions and mode of deliveryDateTime
Session 1 (online)13 March 202310am – 1pm
Session 2 (online)14 March 202310am – 1pm
Session 3 (online)17 March 202310am – 4.30pm
Optional group work20 MarchEach group to decide
Session 4 (online)21 March 202310am – 1pm
Session 5 (online)23 March 202310am – 1pm
Budgeting Workshop (online,
optional but strongly recommended)
w/c 17 AprilTBC
Workshop on EDI (online,
optional but strongly recommended)
w/c 24 AprilTBC
Funding proposal submission deadline05 May 20235pm
Presentation to ADE representatives22 May 202310-1pm
(C-DICE reserves the right to make changes the programme due to circumstance beyond its control i.e. COVID-19).

Participants are expected to attend ALL 5 sandpit sessions.

Medical or urgent appointments may be accommodated if you contact C-DICE as soon as possible. The session on 20 March is optional and can be used by participants to work on the first draft of their project.

Eligibility criteria for a C-DICE sandpit

  1. Applicants must have either a PhD or at least four years’ experience as a postdoctoral researcher in a relevant field. PhD students are eligible to apply but must have passed the viva with minor corrections before sandpit sessions start.
  2. Applicants must be currently enrolled or employed by a C-DICE partner university or funded by the Faraday Institution or Alan Turing Institute. The list of C-DICE partner universities is available here.

If you are a postdoctoral researcher at a UK university that is not a C-DICE partner, or work in industry, but would like to join a C-DICE sandpit, please contact the C-DICE team to arrange for a preliminary meeting to discuss the alignment of interests. You can apply if this is indicated after the meeting.

How to apply

The application form is available via Inkpath, our researcher development platform.

Step 1

If you already have an Inkpath account, please go to Call for applications – ‘Dispersed industrial decarbonisation’ Sandpit activity.

If you do not have an Inkpath account, you need to create one. Guidance on how to register and add the C-DICE affiliation is available at After you create the account, please go to Call for applications – ‘Dispersed industrial decarbonisation’ Sandpit activity on Inkpath.

Please get in touch, if you have any problems accessing the activity or registering with Inkpath.

Step 2

Book onto the activity on Inkpath. After booking is completed, you will receive a link to the Microsoft form application.

Step 3

Fill in the Microsoft application form. You will be asked to:

  • describe your primary research area for a non-expert (100 words)
  • describe your eligibility for a C-DICE sandpit and explain how you meet the assessment criteria (maximum 300 words)
  • identify what aspects of this C-DICE sandpit topic are of interest to you (100 words)
  • identify what skills and expertise you have you think will be relevant to the C-DICE sandpit (100 words)
  • identify how you might incorporate Equality, Diversity and Inclusion aspects in this C-DICE sandpit topic (100 words)

If you need to access the application form in a different format, please get in touch with the C-DICE team.

Application deadline: Thursday 26 January 2023, 5pm.

The C-DICE sandpits are an opportunity particularly for postdoctoral researchers, typically research staff, at an early career stage. Achieving the sandpit aims will require participants from an appropriate mix of diverse backgrounds and relevant disciplines including, but not limited to:

  • Engineering
  • Physical Sciences
  • Mathematical and Computer Science
  • Business Studies & Social Sciences
  • Humanities

We encourage people from diverse backgrounds to apply for the sandpit. Diversity of backgrounds will be considered when selecting participants to attend.

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How we will assess your application

Applications to attend the sandpit will be anonymised and then assessed by C-DICE and academic partners.

As a sandpit is predicated on an ethos of innovative collaborative working, applicants must demonstrate both enthusiasm and appropriate personal attributes for cross-disciplinary collaborative research, and a willingness to engage in professional development. The sandpit approach is about bringing together people who would not normally interact.

The assessment criteria for participant selection are:

  • An interest in developing new, adventurous, and highly original research ideas.
  • An interest in partaking in innovative research at the interface between disciplines.
  • A willingness to engage online (camera on and open microphone) with appropriate technology to access online webinars and tools.
  • The ability to work in a team.
  • The ability to communicate research to a wide audience.
  • Support from your institution to take part.
  • Commitment to taking part in all the sessions.

The selection panel will look to ensure a mix of discipline and experience. It is therefore important to give evidence of how you meet the criteria listed above in your application.

We are not defining the disciplines that should be represented but asking potential participants to indicate how their expertise can address the challenge.

Applicants need not have worked on the problem before. However, emphasis will be placed on working across disciplines to foster new collaborations and bring new thinking to a problem.

In the event of this opportunity being substantially oversubscribed, C-DICE reserves the right to modify the assessment process.

Please note that we will not be able to give individual feedback to unsuccessful applicants, however we will provide some general points of feedback.

Support available to sandpit participants

Post-sandpit assessment

Stage 1

Following the sandpit, investigators involved in those projects recommended for seedcorn funding will be tasked with writing a full proposal covering their intended activities as identified at the sandpit.

The deadline for submission of full proposals will be around five weeks after the close of the sandpit, to be advised in the sandpit.

Successful proposals will demonstrate:

  • novel, highly multidisciplinary research projects, clearly reflecting the distinctive opportunity for creating such projects that the sandpit provides
  • clear evidence that the team have the capability to deliver their project as a high-quality multidisciplinary activity, provided both through the proposal and their activity during the sandpit
  • clear relevance to and the potential to make a distinctive and novel contribution to addressing the research challenges in this area

Stage 2

As part of the assessment process, the teams submitting full proposals will present their project to C-DICE and ADE members on 22 May 2023.

It is anticipated that participants will be provided with funding decisions within ten weeks of the end of the sandpit, although these will be conditional upon the subsequent receipt of a fully, worked up proposal document.

Any collaborative project funded through the C-DICE programme must have a signed collaborative agreement between the partners before the start of any grant.

Please note that attendance at the sandpit does not guarantee C-DICE funding.