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Centre for Advanced Photonics and Electronics


Supporting innovative research from young researchers: CAPE has created a special funding scheme, the CAPE Acorn Fund, to support innovative research initiatives from young researchers, in parallel or complementary with their current research.

The circulation of a new call occurs three times a year for three categories of researchers:


 Postdoctoral Blue Sky Award For Research Associates from the Cambridge University Engineering Department. The award is £20,000 for a 12-month Blue Sky research project. The deadline is at the end of August with up to two of the most innovative projects awarded.   More details

CAPE Postgraduate Award (CAPA) For PhD students from all University of Cambridge Departments. The deadline is in March and multiple winners – individuals or small teams can receive awards up to £2,000 for 6-month projects. More details


CAPE Undergraduate IIB Award (CAUPA) For Engineering 3rd year undergraduate students who are aiming for IIB project in their upcoming year. The prize is £500 (£250 is a cash prize and £250 towards research). Applicants may enter with any topics they would like to pursue for their 4th year Type-B engineering project in the next academic year as part of their studies towards their degree. The duration of the project is 9 months and the deadline to apply for this call is in January in the applicants’ 3rd year. Thus far, the Acorn Awards have received positive feedback from students and research associates. More details


CAPE Grand Challenge

The Acorn Fund also offers special Awards to the submitters of a project outline to the Grand Challenge that is developed into a project with a CAPE Partner. 

The CAPE Grand Challenge Award is a competition for the best project outlines aligned with strategic research themes proposed by the CAPE partners. The winning submissions will be developed into full CAPE project proposals in collaboration with one (or more) CAPE Partners; this could lead to a seed project (i.e. ‘proof-of-concept’) or a larger project as appropriate. The competition is open to researchers and academics in the University of Cambridge.

Objective of  the Grand Challenge Calls

  1. Formulate new CAPE projects that are well aligned with CAPE Partner’s strategic interests and drawn from a wide cross section of the University
  2. Increase engagement with CAPE from the Partners
  3. Expand scope of CAPE projects into new areas of interest to the Partners
  4. Increase interdisciplinary participation in CAPE projects.

More details

Blue Sky Research Award Winner

Kun Li

The experience of winning the CAPE Acorn Blue Sky Research Award has been very rewarding, it’s a huge encouragement for me personally and I feel confident to pursue the proposed work when the CAPE committee affirms our proposed concept. The award provides financial support that was required to develop the concept for a 'Full 360° 3D Light Field Capture and Display System.'

More importantly, the award provides me with experience, the experience of working on research of my interest and the experience of managing my time and resources

Within an everyday work schedule, I need to think harder on how to work more efficiently and when I can spare a few hours to work on the research of my interest. The key is to do it consistently and once we did, the results were rewarding. This year, we managed to carry out simulation and experimental works, file patent applications and publish an invited journal article in Journal of the Optical Society of America A.

Dr Kun Li, Research Associate, Electrical Engineering