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The C-DICE Sandpits are closed for new applications, check back for sandpits 3 & 4 coming in 2022.

What is a sandpit?

Sandpits are defined by UKRI as having “…. a highly multidisciplinary mix of participants, some active researchers and others potential users of research outcomes, to drive lateral thinking and radical approaches to address research challenges”. They are a means to develop novel interdisciplinary research

What is a C-DICE sandpit?

A C-DICE sandpit is exclusively available to postdoctoral researchers to win up to £30k in seed-corn funding

A C-DICE sandpit is a unique opportunity for teams of exclusively postdoctoral researchers to develop a collaborative research idea to win seed-corn funding and develop the idea further. Awards of up to £30K will be available. The sandpit themes will be around net zero for infrastructure, cities and energy.

C-DICE will be running a number of sandpits, if the two advertised below are 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

The complete C-DICE sandpit objectives.

Am I eligible for a C-DICE sandpit?

Postdoctoral researchers at any C-DICE partner university (UKCRIC or ERA) are eligible to apply. Further details below.

Industry/academics who would like to get involved

There are opportunities for industry partners, academics, project leaders to join in the C-DICE sandpits as mentors, stakeholders, peer reviewers and sponsors. Contact us if you’d like to get involved.

Have an idea for a sandpit? Contact C-DICE for further information on how to get involved.

The C-DICE Sandpit

C-DICE is working to support the development of postdoctoral researchers whilst accelerating progress towards research and innovation towards net zero carbon. C-DICE will be running a series of at least 8 developmental sandpits to create innovative approaches to net zero carbon research and innovation in the area of infrastructure, cities and energy, providing a unique developmental opportunity for postdoctoral researchers to gain multidisciplinary and cross-sector skills and expertise. The sandpits will be held virtually, time commitment will be 4 x half days and 1 x full day, dates of sandpits 1&2 can be found here.

Sandpit 1 (November 2021)

Maximising progress towards net zero in cities and infrastructure industries while promoting convergence to a circular economy.

This sandpit focused on net-zero solutions that are compatible with promoting circular economy convergence. 

Sandpit 2 (December 2021)

Unlocking user power and behaviour to promote and enable systematic transformation towards a net zero future.

This sandpit explored approaches to promoting  user-driven adoption of net-zero solutions or changes in user behaviour instrumental to achieving net zero targets.

This could include, for example, disruptive business models or value propositions that create incentives for user adoption, policies and governance models that empower and/or incentivise users, technologies that shift the adoption responsibility to individual users, and assessment of the impact of the systemic or combined application of user-driven measures, as described above. Distributional and energy justice considerations would also be relevant.

Proposals arising from the sandpit are expected to have a clear multidisciplinary nature including input from a number of relevant disciplines (e.g., behavioural and social science, psychology, economics and engineering).

Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

How to apply

More details will be provided when registration for Sandpits 3 and 4 is open in 2022.

The C-DICE sandpits are for postdoctoral researchers, typically research staff, based at C-DICE partners (see list) They are an opportunity particularly for those 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:


Physical Sciences

Mathematics and Computer Science

Business Studies & Social Sciences


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

We are not defining the disciplines that should be represented but asking applicants 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 the problem.

How we will assess your application

Applications to attend the sandpit will be assessed by a selection panel consisting of the sandpit director, Dr Dave Filipovic-Carter, and C-DICE 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:

  • A interest in developing new, adventurous, and highly original research ideas.
  • A interest in partaking in innovative research at the interface between disciplines.
  • A willingness to engage fully 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.

Within the applicants selected based on these assessment criteria, the selection panel will look to ensure a mix of discipline and experience, although all participants should be at the postdoctoral level. 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 reserve 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.

C-DICE post-sandpit assessment

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 two 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.

It is planned that participants will be provided with funding decisions within four 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.

Sandpit Dates in 2021

Sandpit 1

1Wednesday 3 November 202110am – 1pm
2Friday 5 November 202110am – 1pm
3Friday 12 November 202110am – 4.30pm
4Wednesday 17 November 20211.30pm – 4.00pm
5Friday 19 November 202110am – 1pm
(C-DICE reserve the right to make changes the programme due to circumstance beyond its control i.e. COVID-19).  

Sandpit 2

1Wednesday 1 December 202110am – 1pm
2Thursday 2 December 202110am – 1pm
3Monday 6 December 202110am – 4.30pm
4Wednesday 15 December 202110am – 12.30pm
5Thursday 16 December 202110am – 1pm
(C-DICE reserve the right to make changes to the programme due to circumstance beyond its control i.e. COVID-19).  

Sandpit Objectives

The broad aims of the sandpit are to allow researchers to develop interdisciplinary, creative and innovative solutions to the problem, to develop (in teams) a proposal for using the seedcorn funding which can form new collaborations, propose topics, deliver a plan, a final product and a plan for future direction e.g. £30k to leverage £1m, create new and innovative research ideas in infrastructure, cities and energy research challenges. The sandpits will provide postdoctoral researchers with the experience of developing and pitching an interdisciplinary funding application, and the opportunity to reflect on the skills developed in that process.

The objectives of the C-DICE sandpit are to:

  • Enable researchers to develop interdisciplinary, creative and innovative solutions to the problem.
  • Develop in teams a proposal for using the seedcorn funding (C-DICE, or C-DICE plus external sponsor?).
  • Propose topics, deliver plans and/or a final product, and plan for future direction e.g. £50k to leverage £1m.
  • Provide developmental opportunities for postdoctoral researchers whilst addressing ‘real-world’ problems and leading to ‘real-world’ outcomes.
  • using peer-review to develop the quality of the projects and engaging in a funding application process as both a learning opportunity and the chance to be awarded seed-corn funding to enable the research ideas generated in the process to be further developed.
  • To develop your research skills, in particular project development, collaboration and applying for funding.