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Forthcoming sandpit opportunity

Hydrogen sandpit (May 2023)

We are delighted to organise this sandpit in partnership with Hydex: Hydrogen Development and Knowledge Exchange.

The sandpit topic will be broadly around Hydrogen, however the details of the topic will be available following the C-DICE Town Hall on 31 January 2023. Do you want to help set the sandpit question? Then join the online C-DICE/HyDEX Town hall here. Closing date for applications is 27 January 2023.

This sandpit invites postdoctoral researchers to join interdisciplinary teams to propose projects to explore this challenge, with the aim to develop solutions to better understand the interactions and support decision making. Proposals arising from the sandpit will be expected to have a clear multidisciplinary nature including input from a number of relevant disciplines (e.g., engineering, economics, geography or computer science).

If this sandpit 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.


HyDEX is a Research England funded project designed to address a market failure and challenge: How do you rapidly build a new business, industrial and manufacturing sector when very little exists already?

HyDEX aims to support and foster the creation of a new hydrogen industrial economy in the Midlands. This will be achieved by working with SMEs, established Midlands-based and UK commercial partners, and multinationals to accelerate innovation, build markets and support the required skills transition.

As part of this three-year programme, eight universities all associated with the Midlands-based Energy Research Accelerator (ERA) will make available their hydrogen facilities, research capability and expertise, and large-scale hydrogen demonstrators.

Sandpit session dates and mode of delivery

Sessions and mode of deliveryDateTime
Session 1 (in person, at Loughborough University)23 May 202310am – 5pm
Session 2 (in person, at Loughborough University)24 May 20239am – 4pm
Optional group work25 May 2023Each group to decide
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 deadline07 July 2023
Presentation to Hydex representatives19 July 202310am-12pm
(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 BOTH in-person sessions. These sessions will take place in person at Loughborough University campus.

The session on 25 May 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 register your interest

Applications for this sandpit will open in early February 2023. If you would like to receive more details shortly after applications open, please register your interest via the ‘Expression of interest: C-DICE and HyDEX hydrogen sandpit’ activity on Inkpath.

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 before being asessed.

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.
  • The ability to attend both sessions in person.
  • The ability to work in a team.
  • The ability to communicate research to a wide audience.
  • Support from your institution to take part.

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

Caring Support Fund

If you are accepted to join the sandpit but your caring responsibilities could present a barrier to sandpit participation, you can apply for the Caring Support Fund meet additional costs. The purpose of the C-DICE Caring Support Fund is to help postdoctoral researchers with caring responsibilities to offset the additional costs of caring incurred by taking part in a C-DICE activity. More details can be found here.

Travel fund

C-DICE has established a fund to help postdoctoral researchers attend face-to-face C-DICE events where they may otherwise not have the funds to do so. C-DICE will contribute up to £150 towards the cost of travel and/or an overnight stay. Attendance at Sandpit 6 is eligible for a C-DICE travel grant. More details can be found here.

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 Hydex members on 19 July 2023.

It is anticipated that participants will be provided with funding decisions within nine 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.