RICHeS - Research Infrastructure for Conservation and Heritage Science

The value of investment in heritage science research and innovation infrastructure is increasingly being recognised by research funders.

From 2022 to 2025, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) plans to invest a total of £481 million into a portfolio of research and innovation infrastructure investments to maintain the UK’s position as a research and innovation superpower.

As part of the UKRI infrastructure investment portfolio, AHRC plans to establish the Research Infrastructure for Conservation and Heritage Science (RICHeS). RICHeS will be a network of facilities and expertise in the interdiscplinary field of heritage science.

RICHeS will create clusters of excellence, unlocking the potential for heritage assets to contribute to innovation in areas such as:

  • digital twins
  • artificial intelligence
  • robotics
  • bioimaging.

As a ‘hub and spoke’ infrastructure, RICHeS will bring together UK heritage organisations and research organisations and provide them with access to state-of-the-art infrastructure to analyse, digitise and archive national treasures.

By creating an ecosystem in which multidisciplinary research and innovation can happen at scale, RICHeS will drive innovation both in the preservation and understanding of heritage and beyond. Subject to business case approval, funding will be  £15.8 million over the next three years with £59.5 million from the Infrastructure Fund in total including future funding years. Project start date: financial year 2024 to 2025.

This web page will be updated with information about RICHeS on a regular basis. The additional information has not been produced by NHSF but is being made available through this website for the use of the wider heritage science community.

Call for Expressions of Interest in RICHeS

AHRC (Arts & Humanitities Research Council) is inviting expressions of interest in Research Infrastructure for Conservation and Heritage Science (RICHeS) funding.

Organisations across Conservation and Heritage Science, including but not limited to universities, galleries, libraries, and museums are encouraged to express interest, even if they are not usually eligible for direct UKRI funding. AHRC held a question & answer webinar on 14th July to address questions about this EoI invitation. A recording of the webinar will be available soon on the UKRI website (Funding Finder).

Expressions of interest at this stage are important in helping AHRC to secure the funding for this infrastructure investment programme, which aims to secure the UK’s reputation for excellence in heritage science and to further capability beyond the sector, unlocking opportunity for innovation.

Responding to the Expression of Interest questionnaire will help AHRC to understand the current landscape of heritage science research facilities (equipment and skills), the extent of scientific reference collections (e.g. samples, data) that could be made available for access, where there is potential to develop capability in heritage science, and understand existing connections within the community as well as the potential to form new partnerships. A response to the Expression of Interest (EoI) is not a commitment to participate in the infrastructure and organisations with any level of interest in participating in the future are strongly encouraged to contribute to the EoI at this stage. The EoI will close on 1st August 2022.

Expression of Interest in RICHeS: UKRI funding finder - RICHeS Expression of Interest (closes 1st August 2022)

A 'worked example' of the questionnaire is available here in pdf format to show the questions asked in the survey: RICHeS EoI Questionnaire (pdf)

Even if your organisation does not currently possess heritage science capability, but would like to develop it, or holds heritage assets or collections that could form part of a connected heritage science research base, please complete the EoI.

Background on the RICHeS consultations to 2021 is available here: Scoping a UK Heritage Science Infrastructure. Priorities, Risks and Values. A report to the Arts and Humanities Research Council

UKRI factsheets on research infrastructure are available here: UKRI infrastructure factsheets

UKRI research and innovation infrastructure: Landscape mapping (2019) and Opportunity report (2020)


For more information about the RICHeS announcement and other UKRI infrastructure fund projects, see the UKRI website.

The heritage science community, including NHSF, has contributed to consultations that shaped the AHRC plans for RICHeS. Membership of NHSF will not be a pre-condition for applying for RICHeS' support.


Information on other infrastructure initiatives is available here.


Box image: "microscope" by liverpoolhls is licensed under CC BY 2.0.