High performance fibre-reinforced polymer composites are the current state-of-the-art for lightweight structures and their use is rising exponentially in a wide range of applications from aerospace to sporting goods. NextCOMP is a five-year, £6.2m ‘programme grant’ from the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/T011653/1), focussed on the development of the next generation of fibre composite materials. NextCOMP specifically tackles the challenge of improving the absolute performance of composites in compression, both to address practical limitations of current materials, and as a demonstration of the value of quantitative hierarchical design. The programme will benefit from a highly creative and interdisciplinary approach amongst the core project team, led by Imperial College London and partnered by the University of Bristol, in collaboration with leading international experts. A network of industrial partners will contribute to the project, and help to develop the outputs, building on concept demonstrators designed during the programme.