BBSRC launches new responsive mode spotlight pilot

A female scientist using a computer and a digital microscope in a laboratory with her colleague in the background

Responsive mode spotlight replaces standing priority areas and periodic single-round research highlights to allow more timely targeting of strategic topics.

From October 2022, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is launching a new responsive mode spotlight mechanism to better signal and communicate areas of strategic interest to the bioscience community.

It will also allow more flexible and dynamic targeting of areas of timely strategic interest, opportunity or need.

Initially, the new responsive mode spotlight mechanism will run on a pilot basis. The operation and outcomes will be reviewed in due course to guide potential continuation.

Strategic research priorities

BBSRC’s strategic delivery plan 2022 to 2025 and Forward Look for UK Bioscience now function in concert to set out our longer term and overarching strategic research priorities.

These priorities are broadly inclusive of BBSRC’s previous suite of responsive mode research priorities.

We continue to encourage proposals aligning with these priorities and also welcome investigator-led applications across all areas of BBSRC’s research remit.

Longer lead time

A small number of responsive mode spotlight areas will be active at any one time and new spotlights will be added into rotation on a round-by-round basis.

Spotlights will typically be active for a year, or 3 responsive mode rounds.

This will provide prospective applicants a longer lead time to hone their proposals than single round research highlights have previously allowed.

Initially, applicants will not need to formally identify their proposals as belonging to a spotlight area and should simply submit them as normal.

They may wish to signal in the case for support any strong alignment to a current spotlight area, as they might signal alignment to broader BBSRC strategic priorities, but this is not essential.

BBSRC will do the rest, identifying and monitoring relevant proposals through the peer review process.

Open competition

Applications falling within a spotlight area will be assessed in open competition with other responsive mode proposals.

Research committees will consider alignment to spotlight areas as part of their overall assessment of relevance to BBSRC strategy.

Live spotlights

The first 3 spotlight areas are now live and will be active for the next 3 responsive mode rounds (23RM1, 23RM2 and 23RM3).

The spotlights are:

  • building stronger biological understanding of the role of nutrition on human health across the life course
  • bioelectricity as a holistic approach to understand diverse (microbial) cell behaviours
  • fundamental research to improve animal welfare outcomes

Top image:  Credit: katleho Seisa, E+ via Getty Images

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