Application process

How to apply?


An application form will be available on this webpage soon. 

The deadline for receipt of applications for the 2025 Award is 2nd December 2024 with the intention of granting the Award by the end of April 2025

There is no limit to the number of times you can apply for the ITOPF R&D Award.

If you have any questions regarding the Award or if you are unsure whether your project will qualify, please don’t hesitate to contact us at any time, either at or

Download ITOPF R&D Award application form (for information only, a new application form will be available soon for the 2025 Award.)

Who can qualify?

The ITOPF R&D Award is open to any reputable R&D establishment or other organisation worldwide intending to fund a candidate (individual or project team) to undertake research. Applications are invited from all academic disciplines, although preference will be given to those with an applied scientific focus, such as marine biology, chemistry, ecology, physics, engineering and economics.


The ITOPF R&D Award provides financial support for projects which have the potential to lead to improvements in our knowledge and understanding of issues related to accidental marine pollution from ships such as spill preparedness and response, techniques for monitoring, clean-up, resource protection and restoration, etc.

For individual projects, funding is capped at the following levels:

Short-term projects - up to £60K

This can be spread over 1-2 years and can include research costs, staff costs and overheads, and travel expenses.

- The proposal may include permanent staff, and/or one or more junior researchers recruited for the research.

- The time to be spent on the project by the permanent staff, including overhead and management costs, but excluding profit.

-  Project equipment/hardware costs, eg materials, laboratory costs, equipment hire etc.

-  Required travel expenses and consumable items, at cost.

A full breakdown of the cost of the project must be included in the proposal.

PhD research projects - up to £40K plus a student stipend and university fees

This sum (grant) is provided for research costs in instalments for the duration of the PhD. Additionally, a competitive annual stipend (living expenses) and contribution towards tuition fees are payable to the successful candidate each year for the duration of their research (up to 4 years).  The exact amount awarded is dependent on the location of the institution where the research is undertaken and will increase annually with local inflation. All amounts are capped annually as per the UK Research and Innovation reference values for the same items.

The grant can be used for:

-  Acquisition of project equipment/hardware costs, eg materials, laboratory costs, equipment etc.

-  Travel expenses (accommodation and flights) for student training and conference attendance.

-  Fieldwork expenses (except subsistence)

-  Consumable items, at cost.


A full breakdown of the cost of the project must be included in the proposal.                                                                                                                   

The ITOPF R&D Award is not intended to finance investment, nor depreciation of research equipment.


How is the project assessed?

Your project will be assessed on the basis of the following criteria:

i) Relevance and appropriateness of the proposed research to communities, the environment and shipping.

ii) Originality and innovation.

iii) Capability of the research institute/individual/s to undertake the research.

iv) Feasibility and likelihood of achieving the objectives of the proposal within the time and budget provided.

v) Applicability of results for practical purposes elsewhere

vi) Cost-effectiveness of the proposed financial support.

vii) The ability to publish or publicise the findings of the research.

Each criterion will be ranked by different members of ITOPF’s Technical Team. The total ranking awarded will be used to indicate those proposals with the greatest merit. The highest-ranked proposals will then be reviewed by the R&D Award Committee for a decision.

Composition of the R&D Award Committee

The ITOPF R&D Committee is comprised of objective scientists and professionals with a wealth of experience in maritime and environmental issues and a keen focus on developing young talent in these areas. Currently, seven people sit on the Committee:

  • Five members of ITOPF, one of them being the Technical Director.
  • Two well-respected external and independent members of the scientific community; one from the IMO with a strong background in the chemical industry and involvement in IMO’s R&D activities (acting as the Committee Secretary) and an independent consultant with a long history in the field of spill preparedness and response.

What are ITOPF's expectations if you are successful?

The successful candidate/s will enter into an Implementation Agreement with ITOPF, through which they will be expected to provide the Secretary of the ITOPF R&D Committee with a progress report every 6 months.

Each progress report should be stand-alone, ie it will contain the description of the work undertaken and results achieved since commencement of the implementation agreement and address any issues or questions previously raised. The last progress report will act as a draft final report, to be substituted by a final report once the last questions/comments have been addressed to the satisfaction of the Committee. In addition, ITOPF requests the production of an executive summary document (maximum of four pages), which summarises the findings of the project. The successful candidate/s will also be expected to consider how the results of the work will be published and to prepare a project results dissemination plan. Candidates may also be asked to present the results of the work to ITOPF directors.