Confidentiality and prior disclosure

Potential patent rights

In the UK, potential patent rights will be prejudiced by publication, public announcement, or non-confidential disclosure of a discovery before filing a patent application. Publication is interpreted broadly, covering anything made publicly available orally; in writing; by use or demonstration; or any other way before protection is sought. Confidential disclosure to an individual is possible, but must be accompanied by a clear statement that disclosure is on a privileged and confidential basis. Confidentiality must be agreed to be enforced.

Confidential disclosure agreements

When you are discussing a potential project with a company or university, you may want to sign a Confidential Disclosure of Information Agreement so that all partners can talk freely about the proposed research. These agreements are generally short and straight-forward.

Confidentiality of our assessment process

EPSRC assess all the grant applications received through our peer review process. Generally, proposals are sent to reviewers for comment, and then considered for funding in competition with other proposals at a prioritisation panel.

We treat proposals ‘in confidence’, meaning we do not distribute proposals to third parties other than to reach funding decisions, but it does not carry the same weight as a signed Confidentiality Agreement. We ask reviewers and panel members to treat the proposal in the same way.

If a referee wishes to consult a colleague who may be able to provide useful insight to help with the assessment, they must contact us and get written permission first.

What to include in a proposal

Describe the proposed research project in sufficient detail for reviewers to assess the application. However, we recommend that potentially patentable results are not included in proposal until after a patent application has been filed.

EPSRC Grants on the Web

Information on all funded grants made is publicly available on our website. For each funded grant, we publish the project title and abstract, participants, length, and value of the grant.

Freedom of Information

EPSRC, as a public body, is governed by the Freedom of Information Act. We will only disclose information that is:

  • Already in the public domain or gets into the public domain through no fault of our own.
  • Lawfully provided to us by any third party, and who did not require us to hold it in confidence.
  • Already rightfully in our possession and not confidential at the time of its receipt, or that is made publicly available under the terms and conditions of submitting proposals to us.