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Cambridge Language Sciences

Interdisciplinary Research Centre
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The Language Sciences Incubator Fund is a small projects fund to foster innovative and interdisciplinary research in the language sciences. 

The Incubator Fund, established by Cambridge Language Sciences with additional funding from the Isaac Newton Trust and Cambridge University Press, is a small grants fund designed to foster innovative interdisciplinary research in the language sciences. 

Since the Incubator Fund was established in 2016, over £74,500 of seed funding has been awarded across 25 projects. As well as the opportunity to develop new ideas, collaborations and approaches, Incubator Fund projects can provide proof of concept or evidence of collaboration for larger grant applications. Other positive outcomes include knowledge exchange studentships, publications, fellowships and further career opportunities for researchers involved.

The Incubator Fund has been put on hold temporarily because of the restrictions which are currently in place. A new call will be opened as soon as it is feasible to do so.

Any updates will be posted on the website and via the Cambridge Language Sciences mailing list.

Eligibility & funding criteria

Since launching the Incubator Fund a total of £74,500 has been awarded to the following projects.

Awards in 2019-20

Crosslinguistic influence in L2 word processing and learning Dr. Francesca Branzi (MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit), Dr. YaNing Chang (MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit), Dr. Dora Alexopoulou (Theoretical and Applied Linguistics, MMLL)

The evolution of speech: insight from variation in primate laryngeal anatomy Professor Marta Lahr & Dr Jacob Dunn (Archaeology), Dr Andrew Gillis (Zoology), Professor Tecumseh Fitch (University of Vienna)

Eye-tracking methods for lexical complexity assessment Dr Ekaterina Kochmar (Department of Computer Science and Technology / ALTA Institute), Ms Sian Gooding (Department of Computer Science and Technology), Dr Elaine Schmidt (Cambridge Assessment English)


Awards in 2018-19

Developing a large scale online study of L1 and L2 speech perception Dr Brechtje Post (Theoretical & Applied Linguistics), Dr Elaine Schmidt (Cambridge Assessment English), Dr Matt Davis & Dr Becky Gilbert (MRC Cognition & Brain Sciences Unit)

Named-Entity Recognition in Tibetan and Mongolian Newspapers Dr Hildegard Diemberger, Dr Thomas White (Mongolian & Inner Asian Studies Unit, Dept. of Social Anthropology), Dr Marieke Meelen (Theoretical & Applied Linguistics). Collaborators: Dr Robert Barnett (Visiting Scholar, Pembroke College), Dr Nathan Hill (SOAS) 

Collecting a Dialogue Corpus for Language Learning Dr Andrew Caines, Dr Helen Yannakoudakis, Dr Paula Buttery (Dept. of Computer Science & Technology); Dr Pascual Pérez-Paredes (Faculty of Education); Prof. Bill Byrne (Dept. of Engineering)

Talk about mind and space: paternal and maternal contributions to school readiness Dr Elian Fink (Centre for Play in Education, Development & Learning), Prof. Claire Hughes (Centre for Family Research), Dr Henriëtte Hendriks (Linguistics)

Cognitive differences between bilingual and monolingual 'struggling learners' Curtis Sharma (Linguistics), Dr Joni Holmes (Centre for Attention, Memory & Learning, MRC-CBU), Dr Napoleon Katsos (Linguistics), Dr Jenny Gibson (Faculty of Education), Dr Jacalyn Guy (Centre for Attention, Memory & Learning, MRC-CBU)

The costs of faking it: exploring the role of accent in human social signalling Prof. Robert Foley (Leverhulme Centre for Human Evolutionary Studies), Jonathon Goodman (Leverhulme Centre for Human Evolutionary Studies), Prof. Ian Roberts (Linguistics), Prof. Francis Nolan (Phonetics Lab, Linguistics)

Automatically standardising two multilingual code-switched corpora Dr Theresa Biberauer (Computer Science & Technology/Linguistics),  Christopher Bryant (Computer Science & Technology), Li Nguyen (Linguistics), Sana Kidwai (Linguistics)

Computational psycholinguistic investigations of semantic graph representations Dr Andrew Caines (Computer Science & Technology), Dr Mirjana Bozic (Psychology), Giulia Boloventa (Linguistics), Dr Paula Buttery (Computer Science & Technology)


Awards in 2017-18

Language, Brains & Machines: an initial literature review Anna Samuel, Dr Andrew Caines, Dr Paula Buttery (Dept. of Computer Science & Technology)

Learning a language at your brain's pace Dr Henriëtte Hendriks (Linguistics), Prof. Zoe Kourtzi (Psychology), Dr Vicky Leong (Psychology), Dr John Williams (Linguistics) 

Neural encoding of semantic and syntactic information in bilingualism Dr Mirjana Bozic (Language Brain and Bilingualism Lab, Psychology), Andrea Olguin (Language, Brain and Bilingualism Lab, Psychology), Tristan Bekinschtein (Cambridge Consciousness & Cognition Lab, Psychology) 

'Bhavishya Shakti'- Constructs of a novel education intervention in urban slums Prof. Sumantra Ray (NNEdPro Global Centre for Nutrition and Health), Prof. Ianthi Tsimpli (Linguistics), Dr Minha Rajput-Ray (NNEdPro), Ms Ananya Ria Roy (NNEdPro) 

Multilingualism and subjective wellbeing in the family: a systematic review Dr Napoleon Katsos (Linguistics), Dr Jenny Gibson (Education) 

A personalised literacy and numeracy teaching app for mobile devices Dr Andrew Caines (Linguistics/ALTA); Dr Paula Buttery, Russell Moore, Dr Andrew Rice (Computer Science & Technology); Prof. Ianthi Tsimpli (Linguistics) 

A collaborative game-based approach to documenting linguistic variation in Brazil  Dr Ioanna Sitaridou (Spanish & Portuguese), Dr Paula Buttery (Computer Science & Technology), Dr Andrew Caines (Linguistics/ALTA)


Awards in 2016-17

Neural correlates of selective attention in bilingualism Dr Mirjana Bozic, Andrea Olguin, Dr Tristan Bekinschtein (Psychology); Dr Napoleon Katsos (Linguistics) 

Crowdsourcing an error-annotated corpus of spoken learner English Dr Andrew Caines  (Linguistics) & Dr Marek Rei (Computer Laboratory) 

Towards a parsed corpus of historical Welsh Dr David Willis (Linguistics), Dr Sheila Watts (German & Dutch), Prof. Paul Russell (Anglo-Saxon, Norse & Celtic) 

The relationship between vision and reading in global and local language processing Dr Elaine Schmidt, Dr Luca Cilibrasi, Dr Ana Pérez, Prof. Ianthi Tsimpli (Linguistics); Dr Andrew Welchman, Prof. Zoe Kourtzi (Psychology) 

Historical codeswitching and language mutability in the history of English Dr Laura Wright (English) & Professor Ian Roberts (Linguistics). 

Multisensory semantic integration in inferential comprehension Dr Ana Pérez, Dr Elaine Schmidt, Dr Luca Cilibarasi, Prof. Ianthi Tsimpli (Linguistics); Dr Andrew Welchman, Prof. Zoe Kourtzi (Psychology) 

Multi-word expressions in spoken learner English Dr Paula Buttery (Computer Lab) & Dr Andrew Caines (Linguistics) 



Proposals are evaluated by a review panel. Priority will be given to those which

  • Promote interdisciplinary exchange and collaboration

  • Address emerging themes

  • Develop novel methodological approaches or tools

  • Are likely to lead to the development of further research grant proposals.


  • Applicants must be full members of the University of Cambridge for the duration of the project, but external collaborators may be included

  • Each proposal should be submitted by co-applicants from at least 2 different research groups.

  • Postdoctoral researchers are eligible in principle, but should check with their department. Applications should include a supporting letter from your research supervisor (where applicable).

  • Travel costs and workshops/events will not be funded under this scheme.

 Conditions of funding

  • Projects must be completed within 6 months of notification of the award.

  • A brief report must be completed within 9 months of notification of the award

  • Successful applicants will be required to present their research at the next Language Sciences Annual Symposium following completion of their project.

  • Financial support from Cambridge Language Sciences and the Isaac Newton Trust should be acknowledged in any outputs from a grant under this scheme.

NOTE: Employment of research assistants usually needs to be done through TES. Please seek HR advice before including personnel costs as part of a proposal.



Since the Incubator Fund grant, we've been contacted by the Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies, University of Wales to collaborate on a related project using the techniques we've developed

Dr David Willis, Theoretical and Applied Linguistics ("Towards a parsed corpus of historical Welsh", 2016-17 award)


Preliminary data are novel and very promising, showing that bilingualism modulates the neural mechanisms for selective attention. […] The first manuscript based on this data set is currently under review and the second one is in preparation.

Dr Mirjana Bozic, Dept. of Psychology ("Neural correlates of selective attention in bilingualism", 2016-17 award)


We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Isaac Newton Trust and of Cambridge University Press in supporting this programme.