Provide a scanning transmission electron microscopy national facility

Apply for funding to provide a national research facility in scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM).

You must be a researcher at a UK organisation eligible for UKRI funding.

The facility must be available to international researchers.

Your proposal must include an approach to recovering your costs. You must identify other sources of funding, in case you do not meet your cost-recovery targets.

We will provide up to £3.9 million for the resources needed for the STEM service. The equipment costs will be confirmed at the intent to submit stage.

We will fund the facility for five years.

Who can apply

Applicants should aim to begin the project in April 2022.

Please ensure sufficient time to create Je-S accounts for investigators who do not currently have one.

Standard EPSRC eligibility rules apply. Research grants are open to:

  • UK higher education institution
  • research council institute
  • UKRI-approved independent research organisation
  • public sector research establishment
  • NHS body with research capacity.

For information on the eligibility of organisations and individuals to receive EPSRC funding, read the EPSRC funding guide.

Read the guidance on institutional eligibility.

You can apply if you are resident in the UK and meet at least one of these criteria:

  • employed at the submitting research organisation at a level equivalent to lecturer or above
  • hold a fixed-term contract that extends beyond the duration of the proposed project, and the host research organisation is prepared to give you all the support normal for
  • a permanent employee
  • hold an EPSRC, Royal Society or Royal Academy of Engineering fellowship aimed at later career stages
  • hold fellowships under other schemes. Please contact EPSRC to check eligibility, which is considered on a case-by-case basis.

Holders of postdoctoral level fellowships are not eligible to apply for an EPSRC grant.
In line with the UKRI diversity principles, equality and diversity must be embedded at all levels and in all aspects of research practice. We are committed to supporting the research community in the diverse ways a research career can be built with our investments. This includes:

  • career breaks
  • support for people with caring responsibilities
  • flexible working
  • alternative working patterns.

With this in mind, we welcome applications from academics who:

  • job share
  • have a part-time contract
  • need flexible working arrangements
  • are currently committed to other longer, large existing grants.

For further information, see equality, diversity and inclusion at EPSRC.

This call will not count towards the EPSRC Repeatedly Unsuccessful Applicants Policy.

What we're looking for

Following a successful ‘statement of community need’ bid, EPSRC wishes to support a national Scanning Transmission Electron Microscopy (STEM) service.

EPSRC will support the facility with a five-year grant which will undergo a mid-term review at the two and a half to three-year stage.

The EPSRC convened a specification panel for each facility at which the statement of community need was used to develop these detailed facility requirements, which applicants are expected to meet.

1. Key requirements for the proposed facility

The core purpose of the STEM national facility should be primarily the provision of:

  • a high-quality STEM facility enabling sub-angstrom imaging and associated spectroscopic techniques as a key capability
  • high precision spectroscopic capability
  • a STEM service that reaches beyond the capabilities of those available at an institutional level
  • internationally leading energy resolution
  • a service that maintains its capabilities by incorporating and developing next generation STEM techniques.

The facility should offer the ability to undertake experiments:
over a wide range of controlled temperature and magnetic field conditions
with in-situ sample stimulation (for example, optical, electrical).

Instrumentation and technical capability

The instrument specification should be internationally leading and should demonstrably match the needs of the future UK research landscape.

To provide researchers with an appropriate level of service, the core facility must offer the following technical capabilities, with specifications that are competitive with the international state of the art:

  • monochromation
  • STEM probe abberation correction
  • an electron energy loss spectrometer capable of meV energy resolution and high speed, low noise operation
  • variable acceleration voltages (for example, 30-200 kEV)
    controllable temperature down to liquid helium levels and including high temperature capabilities
  • state of the art detector technologies for high speed, low noise imaging, ‘4D STEM’ techniques and spectroscopy
  • a range of sample holders offering capabilities to facilitate experiments with controllable sample temperatures down to liquid helium levels and up to high temperatures.

Desirable capabilities:

  • simultaneous energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX) and electron energy loss spectroscopy (EELS) spectrum acquisition
  • optical and/or electrical sample stimulation and spectroscopy
  • controllable magnetic field at sample including low or zero field.

Equipment location

Applicants should demonstrate how the building housing the facility meets manufacturer’s recommended technical specifications.

Applicants should demonstrate that the facility and its site are easily accessed and clarify how they would support user needs in an equitable manner to provide a positive user experience.

Users of the STEM facility require access to appropriate software to analyse their results offsite and should be offered remote access offline post acquisition.

Technical, scientific, and training support for users

It is expected by EPSRC that all users will have access to expert advice including but not limited to:

  • training provision in equipment use in accordance with their needs to include:
    • face-to-face training
    • support by email
  • a process via which users can raise a request, complaint or issue about any aspect of the service, and a procedure for resolution
  • site safety training at levels relevant to the users
  • experimental design and feasibility
  • data interpretation and advice regarding results
  • sample preparation and storage.

Applicants are expected to provide details of user training provision, including the expertise and experience of those involved in training for the different levels of users.

This should take into account the needs of different user groups, for example:

  • students
  • academic researchers
  • private sector customers
  • researchers in or outside the host organisation
  • new users
  • experienced users.

This should include how the facility will engage with future generations of researchers, including EPSRC Centres for Doctoral Training.

It is expected by EPSRC that all users will have access to expert advice including but not limited to:

  • training provision in equipment use in accordance with their needs to include:
  • face-to-face training
  • support by email
  • a process via which users can raise a request, complaint or issue about any aspect of the service, and a procedure for resolution
  • site safety training at levels relevant to the users
  • experimental design and feasibility
  • data interpretation and advice regarding results.

Applicants should detail how they can support sample preparation offsite. Including how users will be supported to prepare, store and transport samples to the site when utilising the facility.

Access to appropriate:

  • sample preparation
  • sample storage and cleaning (specifically, oxygen free storage)
  • should be provided.

Desirable additionality:

  • onsite sample preparation facilities.

Remote access and web interface

EPSRC expects the facility proposed by the applicants to have a website that provides information on the facility and remote access to data, software for data processing and analysis and expert advice.

It is essential that users can perform basic analysis offsite, and therefore access to both software and training is required.

It is important that data is provided in an appropriate format to allow use of Open source software.

The facility should offer the capability for staff, on site, to run experiments in collaboration with virtual users. Remote user interaction with the facility is an important aspect.

2. Operational Considerations

Utilising equipment

The service must aim to utilise any equipment to a maximum extent, including the possibility of weekend and overnight access. It should consider different types of user and incorporate their needs.

Applicants should ensure the proposed facility offers a level of capacity and service that will match a reasonable estimation of demand from existing and future user communities.

Application document

The application document must detail and justify the following, referencing the planned cost sharing strategy (section four) as appropriate:

  • expected proportion of facility use by user type:
    • novice, experienced, expert
    • from or outside host organisation(s)
    • industrial
    • application areas, for example EPSRC or other UKRI council remit.
  • range of time durations for experiments on specific instruments, including a target for percentage utilisation (in working hours and 24/7 use, as appropriate) specifying time required for instrument maintenance and calibration
  • a target for time from request for access to carrying out an experiment.

Engagement and publicity

Applicants should provide an engagement and outreach plan addressing how they will identify and reach:

  • academic users
  • non-academic users
  • industrial users.

As part of their engagement plans, applicants should consider how they will develop a diverse and inclusive user base.

The facility should incorporate educational and training opportunities as part of their offering to the community (for example, summer schools).

Plans should be tailored to both existing and new users.

Diversification of the user base

The facility is expected to grow and diversify the user base (new universities, new research organisations, different research communities and new industrial users) over the lifetime of the grant. The application should provide details on:

  • how the facility would assess the current and future size of the user base
  • their communication and engagement strategy to reach new user communities
  • what growth they expect to achieve in the user base.

Maintenance, upgrades, and servicing

EPSRC expects that the proposed facility will be sustainable and that the applicants will provide a plan providing details on how the capability of the facility and the related storage, preparatory and ancillary equipment would be maintained. This should include:

  • details of agreements with the appropriate equipment vendors for upgrading and developing the equipment and facility
  • basic details for routine service (daily, weekly, and monthly) and preventative maintenance (quarterly, annually) should be provided.

The application is expected to provide full justification and costing for capital expenditure of equipment upgrade and provide a timeline for capital investments over the duration of the grant to keep the facility at the cutting edge.

Application process

It is essential to EPSRC that the proposed facility can be accessed for the full period of the contract by students, post-doctoral researchers and academic researchers in the physical sciences, biological and engineering communities in the UK.

It is important to EPSRC that access to the proposed facility is fair and transparent for all potential users. EPSRC needs to understand how access to the proposed facility will be managed by the applicants. The applicant should describe the formal procedure for accepting and prioritising applications providing details of the quality assessment of the applications through all access routes.

The applicants should give details of any options for a percentage of the facility to be open to researchers in areas beyond EPSRC’s remit, for example, interdisciplinary researchers and business customers.

National and international research landscape

The application document should give details about how the facility will be positioned on the national and international research landscape, and how it would engage with the rest of the research community.

Usage statistics

The facility is expected to collect usage statistics in line with relevant General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and grant conditions.

The service must be able to report on individual users and record which equipment and services they used, including training courses, the number of experiments carried out, and whether they obtained the data they sought.

The facility should be able to exemplify for example:

  • how the research community could or should be grown?
  • what research communities and research fields are using the facility?
  • how many are new users?
  • to what extent is the facility pump-priming research grant funding?

The facility is encouraged to publish the statistics on its website. The usage data will be used to feed into annual reports and steering committee meetings should inform decision making regarding user engagement, service improvements and future provision.

Data management policy

The application must include a data management policy that is compliant with UKRI open data policy and extends beyond the duration of the grant.

The facility must have appropriate and robust systems and procedures to ensure data protection during collection, storage, processing, remote access and secure downloads of research data, including:

  • intellectual property (IP) sensitive results
  • confidential access to data
  • secure downloads.

The facility should be able to provide users with advice on appropriate ways to publicly archive data produced and enabling open access.

Risk assessment and management

The application must include a risk assessment and a risk management strategy focused on achieving the highest productivity of the facility.

3. People and management arrangements

The service must meet the following management requirements:

Excellent team

The facilities must be led by an excellent team that is capable of:

  • community building
  • assessing community scientific needs
  • managing the operational aspects of a facility to meet user and staff requirements
  • have the confidence of the community as experts in STEM, or in their respective operational roles.

The team will need to work constructively with multiple stakeholders and funders. For grant purposes the application will have a named eligible principal investigator (PI) with other team members listed as co-investigators. Requested PI time should be fully justified with respect to duties to be performed.

Technical or operational director

There must be a nominated technical or operational director who will manage and lead the delivery of the service. This may or may not be the same person as the nominated-director (PI). The application must:

  • clearly identify who will take these posts
  • provide CVs
  • provide evidence of their ability to accomplish their roles.

Governance structure

The governance structure should include:

  • a management board (MB), including:
    • the facility director
    • the technical or operational director
    • others as appropriate
  • an independent steering committee (SC) that reflects the user community.

The independent steering committee should include external advisors, international representation, and industry representation. The process for identifying and approving steering committee membership should be defined. A member of EPSRC must also form part of the steering committee.

The panel will discuss any specific governance requirements for this facility that should be included in the call and monitored for the subsequent grant. An organogram of the proposed structure should be included. The remit of each such body and their membership (and duration of office) are to be published on the facility webpage. The proposed membership at the start of the grant should be stated in the application

An organogram of the proposed structure should be included. The remit of each body and their membership (and duration in office) are to be published on the facility webpage. The proposed membership at the start of the grant should be stated in the application.

Support and development of professionals

The facility is expected to provide ongoing support and development for research technical professionals (RTPs) and post-doctoral research assistants (PDRAs) involved in the running of the facility which UKRI recognize as being core to the successful running of the facility.

Leadership

EPSRC expects the service to take a leadership role in the physical sciences, life sciences and engineering communities. Leadership in this context might involve:

  • uniqueness of service (no equivalent elsewhere internationally)
  • outreach
  • demonstrating value of service to community (need and usage)
  • owned by the users.

Future roadmaps

EPSRC expects the facility to take a leadership role in the community supporting the development of future roadmaps or strategy and to work with other bodies in the community to facilitate this as a key contributor. The facility should retain knowledge of the international landscape, where they sit within it, and how this feeds into the facility strategy.

Key performance indicators (KPIs) and service level agreements (SLAs)

The expectation of EPSRC is that as a result of this opportunity any grant awarded will include KPIs and SLAs that the facility will aspire to meet. These may include but are not limited to those given as standard. The following KPIs and SLAs could be considered:

  • number of users, for example, expert and non-expert, return or new
  • department and university profile of users and number of industry users
  • number of samples, with broad indication of time
  • percentage usage of different instruments, in working hours and 24/7, as appropriate
    user satisfaction average scores
  • number of complaints
  • list of papers and highlights
  • grant applications and success rate
  • cost recovery via grants.

Feedback and complaints

EPSRC expects that a proposed facility will have a process in place for complaints and monitoring of user satisfaction.

The applicants should give an explanation and provide details of the proposed feedback processes and how feedback will be used to implement improvements.

The facility should also describe the escalation procedure for user complaints, indicating who to contact in specific cases, with this clearly set out on the facility webpage.

4. Charging models and sustainability

EPSRC is committed to providing cost effective services. The application must include a realistic approach to cost recovery. EPSRC expects applicants to identify non-UKRI sources of funding to underwrite the cost-recovery plan in the event of targets not being met which should be documented in letters of support.

The proposal should include details of the charging model, and how it would operate for different types of user and different access routes. A per hour or per day or per sample rate should be specified as appropriate, indicating what is included in the rate, for example, running costs and staff costs. Specifically it should include:

  • the definition of the different charging-categories in the charging models
  • consideration of how charged usage will dovetail with free-at-the-point of access facility usage
  • how this may affect prioritisation of experiments.

Applicants should describe how different access routes will be managed to protect the proposed balance of different users as detailed in operational requirements. Any risks to usage of the service need to be mitigated.

If, following peer review, EPSRC considers that insufficient effort has been made to detail a cost-effective facility it may, in discussion with the PI, alter the profile of a successful grant to return maximum value to UK research users.

In line with other NRFs EPSRC will not fund the entirety of the facility. By year five the EPSRC’s direct support of the recurrent (resource) costs for the facility operation should have been reduced as cost recovery increases.

For the avoidance of doubt, in this context, recurrent costs mean operational expenditure that is not equipment spend. This target must not preclude proof-of-principle and first-time usage.

Applicants may wish to propose multiple targets and are welcome to describe how further savings might be made and used to fund enhanced facility activities and capabilities. These should be reflected in the proposed grant payment profile that will need to be provided as part of the grant application. An example is shown below.

Year EPSRC contribution to recurrent costs Cost recovery
1 80% 20%
2 80% 20%
3 70% 30%
4 60% 40%
5 50% 50%

Progress towards increased sustainability will form a key KPI of the successful grant and will be reviewed by the independent steering committee and at the mid-term review.

5. Host organisation support

The facilities should be run for the benefit of the national research community. EPSRC is therefore paying the equipment costs at 100% full economic cost (FEC). However, it is important that the host organisations also commit to fully supporting the bids, as detailed in the host organisation letters. As a minimum, they must commit to:

  • relinquishing rights to university-owned equipment for external users at the levels detailed in the application
  • underwriting the meeting of cost-recovery targets, in order to provide staff and other resource costs if targets are not met
  • providing appropriate support and development opportunities for all staff, including instrument scientists and research technical professionals (RTPs) associated with the operation of the facilities
  • long term (beyond the length of the grant) data storage and retrieval facilities in line with UKRI data policies
  • supporting the facilities to develop and implement policies that provide safe, secure and legal access for external users to the facilities
  • supporting the facilities in the creation and administration of the website.

Funding available

Applicants are required to contact EPSRC regarding their intent to submit a proposal.

EPSRC is awarding up to £3.9 million of resource funding for the STEM facility.

Applicants should request different levels of capital investment.

One level should be based on the capital required to deliver the core provision for the facility.

Other levels of capital request should detail the additional capital investment required to provide enhanced levels of service.

Applicants should provide details of the resources required for each of the levels of capital investment (up to the maximum value of £4 million). Applicants must show how the equipment and resources requested meet the core and enhanced capability requirements.

The final capital allocation will be based on recommendations from the panel and negotiations with EPSRC.

Applicants are advised to speak to their research office for support in completing their resource costings.

Investigator time and public engagement costs should be requested at 80% FEC.

Equipment costs should be requested at 100% FEC and recorded in Je-S under the ‘equipment’ heading.

All other resource costs are expected to relate to the running of the national facility and be recorded under the ‘exceptions’ heading. These costs should be requested at 100% FEC, but reduced to reflect the cost sharing target.

Applicants, as part of the grant application, must propose a grant payment profile that sets out the expected pattern of expenditure over the lifetime of the grant, The payment profile for the facility must reflect the cost recovery targets for the recurrent (resource) costs set out in the cost sharing, and the planned schedule for capital and equipment expenditure over the duration of a five-year grant.

EPSRC guidance for equipment funding.

Grant Additional Conditions can be found in Additional information.

How to apply

Applicants should ensure they are aware of and comply with any internal institutional deadlines that may be in place.

Intent to submit

Applicants should first submit an ‘intent to submit’ document by 14 July 2021. This should contain:

  • the name of a nominated principal investigator and their host organisation
  • details of any co-investigators or partners on the grant.
  • an estimation of the overall cost of the project.

Applying through Je-S

You must apply through the Joint Electronic Submission system (Je-S).

When applying select:

  • document
  • new document
  • council: EPSRC
  • document type: Standard Proposal
  • scheme: Standard
  • call/type/mode: Physical Sciences National Research Facilities Call 2021

After completing the application you must ‘submit document’ which will send your application to your host organisation’s administration.

Your host organisation’s administration is required to complete the submission process. Applicants should allow sufficient time for your organisation’s submission process between submitting your proposal to them and the closing date.

EPSRC must receive your application by 16:00 on 4 August 2021.

Applicants should use the Je-S application form to address the opportunity specifications.

The following documents must also be submitted.

Please note that on submission to EPSRC all non-PDF documents uploaded onto Je-S are converted to PDF, the use of non-standard fonts may result in errors or font conversion, which could affect the overall length of the document.

You should attach your documents as PDFs to avoid errors.

Case for support

This is a mandatory document. The primary supporting document will be of a longer format than those submitted for standard proposals.

The overall page length will be up to 20 pages, and must include the following sections in single-spaced Arial 11 font or similar-sized sans serif typeface.

Track record of applicants

Up to a maximum of two pages.

Service description

Applicants should use this section to:

  • describe and detail the service they propose to provide covering the elements detailed in key requirements for service
  • include details of their long term vision and must describe how it sits within the national and international crystallography infrastructure landscape.

Operational details

Applicants should use this section to:

  • detail how they will meet the operational requirements
  • provide a clear transition plan to cover the period between the end date of the current UK National Crystallography Services national research facility (April 2022), and the transition to a new facilities provider enabling a smooth transition and continuity of service
  • provide a clear communication and engagement strategy. It is necessary that sufficient detail is provided for assessors to understand how information about the available capabilities and access to the service will be disseminated including:
    • website
    • user meetings
    • outreach events
    • dissemination material.

People and management

Applicants should use this section to:

  • detail how they will meet the people and management arrangements
  • as part of this section applicants should provide an organogram of the proposed organisational structure for the facility showing lines of authority, responsibility of key posts, and details of any identified deputies:
    • justification for the number and allocation of staff
    • plans for staff development and training
    • detailed arrangements for career progression for staff
    • information on how changes in key service staff will be handled, (continuity plans, short-term cover, contingency plans for unexpected loss of key staff). Recruitment policy and procedures
  • provide details of the risk management strategy which they will have in place
    provide details of their proposed user training provision, including the expertise and experience of those involved in training for the different levels of users. This should consider the needs of different user groups, for example:

    • postgraduate or doctoral researchers
    • academic researchers
    • industrial users.

This should include how the service will engage with future generations of researchers, including the Centres for Doctoral Training (EPSRC).

Governance plan

Applicants should use this section to:

  • identify a governance structure for the service will be put in place
  • provide details of this structure, which should include an independent steering or advisory committee, composed of independent or external representatives from relevant communities to review and advise on provision, performance, and strategy for the service
  • identify a comprehensive set of KPIs that the service will aspire to meet
  • identify the process in place for complaints and monitoring of user satisfaction, and
  • provide details of the proposed feedback processes and how feedback will be used to implement improvements.

Additional documents

In addition to the case for support, applicants must provide:

Justification of resources

Mandatory, with a longer format of up to 4 pages.

The justification of resources should explain the necessity of your requested resources for service provision, including implementing the impact activities. This helps reviewers make informed judgements about whether the resources requested are appropriate and justified
EPSRC recommends that you follow the ‘Cost to the Proposal’ headings used in the application form. For more information on what to do, see how to write a justification of resources (EPSRC).

EPSRC will expect the applicants to have looked at cost savings where possible to bring down the total costs. Applicants may wish to provide cost recovery options that could request different amounts of resource funding from EPSRC, with the maximum being £3.9 million.

Workplan

Mandatory, one page.

The work programme should be illustrated with a simple diagrammatic work plan, such as a Programme Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT) or Gantt chart.

Grant payment profile (additional document)

Mandatory, one page.

Applicants must provide a grant payment profile that details the planned expenditure against each recurrent or resource and capital cost heading over the lifetime of a five-year award.

The panel will consider the applications and will favour cost recovery plans which are maximised and realistic.

The final profiles and percentages awarded are subject to negotiation with EPSRC.

CVs, where appropriate

Up to two pages each.

CVs should be submitted as separate attachments using Attachment Type ‘CV’ in Je-S, and are required for key named personnel, for example:

  • director
  • deputy director
  • technical director
  • facility or service manager.

Equipment business case, where appropriate

Required for any items or combined assets with a value above the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) limit.

Proposal cover letter

Optional. Applicants can use the proposal cover letter to set out any other information they feel is relevant to their application. As the applicant is applying for a grant which has an interview assessment stage, they should inform EPSRC of any personal circumstances for EPSRC to consider.

This letter will only be seen by EPSRC and will not be sent to peer review. For sensitive information, the applicant should state clearly whether the information is confidential
The proposal cover letter should also be used to highlight anything that has been discussed and agreed with EPSRC staff beforehand. For example:

  • declaration of interest
  • additional information about eligibility to apply that would not be appropriately shared in the track record
  • conflicts of interest for EPSRC to consider in reviewer or panel participant selection.

If you wish to attach any other document that does not fit the above types, please submit it under ‘Other Attachment’. This will not be seen by reviewers or panel members.

Further guidance

Read our advice on writing proposals (EPSRC).

All relevant parts of the ethical information section must be completed. Read further guidance on the ethical information section of the Je-S form.

EPSRC guidance can be found under Additional information.

How we will assess your application

Proposals will be submitted via Je-S.

Each proposal will be initially assessed by postal peer review. Applicants will then be invited to respond to the reviewers’ comments.

Following this, an expert panel will interview applicants and score the applicants against the following assessment criteria, using the:

  • proposal
  • reviews
  • PI response
  • responses at interview.

The interview panel will make the final recommendations to the EPSRC theme lead. EPSRC will aim to inform applicants on the decision outcome within eight weeks of the panel.

Standard assessment criteria

Applicants should note that the assessment criteria differ slightly to the standard EPSRC criteria due to the nature of the programmes of work to be funded.

We also wish to highlight that due to the increased importance of appropriate management and governance procedures for a national research facility, the secondary major criterion is ‘resources and management’ not ‘national importance’.

Quality (primary)

Assessors will be asked to comment on the excellence of the application making reference to:

  • the ambition, long-term vision, and transformative aspects identified
  • the appropriateness of the proposed approach(es) and fit to the key facility
  • requirements and operational requirements sections
  • the quality of the science enabled
  • engaging and adapting to the needs of a diverse user community.

Resources and management (secondary major)

Assessors will be asked to comment on:

  • the effectiveness of the proposed planning, management and governance and the fit to the people and management arrangements section
  • whether the requested resources are appropriate and have been fully justified and cost recovery plans are maximised and realistic
  • an unsatisfactory governance (including KPI’s) plan will result in a delayed start for a successful proposal until the plan has been updated
  • any resources requested for activities to either increase impact, for public engagement or to support responsible innovation.

National importance (secondary)

Drawing upon what the applicant has said, assessors will be asked to comment on:

  • how the proposed facility contributes to, or helps maintain the health of other research disciplines, contributes to addressing key UK societal challenges, contributes to current or future UK economic success or enables future development of key emerging industry(s)
  • the extent to which the facility proposed has the potential to meet national strategic needs by establishing or maintaining unique world leading research activity (including areas of niche capability)
  • how the facility fits with and complements other UK research funded in the area or related areas, including any relationship to the EPSRC portfolio and our stated strategy.

Applicant and partnerships (secondary)

Including:

  • appropriateness of the track record of the applicant(s) to deliver the facility
  • balance of skills of the project team, including collaborations.

Call specific assessment criteria

Advocacy for engineering and the physical sciences (secondary)

The proposal must demonstrate how the group will be advocates for the engineering and physical sciences. Applicants should specifically address how they will influence its policy makers on the importance of engineering and physical sciences.

Applicants will be assessed on:

  • appropriateness of advocacy and public engagement approaches identified.
  • their plans to engage with policy makers.

This criterion will be solely assessed at the interview stage.

Feedback

Feedback on the decision will be given by email after interview.

Nominating reviewers

As part of the application process you will be invited to nominate up to three potential reviewers who you feel have the expertise to assess your proposal. Please ensure that any nominations meet the EPSRC policy on conflicts of interest.

For more information about the reviewer selection process please see the related content links.

Guidance for reviewers

For more information about the EPSRC peer review process, read our guidance for reviewers (EPSRC).

A standard reviewer form will be used for this call, however reviewers should note the nature of a National Research Facility when considering quality.

As such, reviewers are requested to comment on the quality of the potential research enabled by having such a facility in the UK. Within the quality field, reviewers should comment on how the proposed facility meets the key requirements of the facility including technical, operational and management aspects as detailed in the call document.

Read our guidance for reviewing standard grants (EPSRC).

Contact details

For help and advice on costings and writing your proposal please contact your research office in the first instance, allowing sufficient time for your organisation’s submission process.

Get help with Je-S

The Je-S helpdesk is staffed Monday to Thursday 08:30am to 17:00 and Fridays 08:30 to 16:30 (excluding bank holidays and other holidays).

Ask a question about this opportunity

Caitlin McAuley

Email: caitlin.mcauley@epsrc.ukri.org

Simon Crooke

Email: simon.crook@epsrc.ukri.org

Additional info

EPSRC national research facilities (NRF) are defined as research facilities that provide resources that are of limited availability to UK researchers for one of several reasons including:

  • the relative cost of the equipment and the supporting infrastructure required
  • dedicated equipment and supporting infrastructure is not required in every university
  • particular expertise is needed to operate the equipment or interpret the results
  • progress is enhanced by sharing information or software.

EPSRC initiated an annual call for statements of community need to identify community requirements for NRF in 2020. The statements of community need were prioritised by an expert panel. This process assessed the:

  • quality
  • usage
  • national importance
  • strategic case and context
  • impact
  • justification for an NRF
  • sustainability
  • charging and access of the submitted ‘statements of community need’.

This grant will have been funded under the NRF scheme and forms part of a portfolio of facilities. In line with the purpose of EPSRCs national importance criteria, investigators and researchers associated with this grant are expected to promote the aims of the associated research programme and be advocates for EPSRC.

Additional grant conditions

Grants will be subject to the standard UK Research and Innovation grant conditions however the following additional grant conditions will be added to this opportunity.

GAC 01 – Purpose of grant funding

1.1 This grant has been funded under the National Research Facilities scheme and forms part of a portfolio of facilities. In line with the purpose of our National Importance criteria investigators and researchers associated with this grant are expected to promote the aims of the associated research programme and be advocates for us.

GAC 02 – Monitoring

2.1 We will nominate a member(s) of our staff (the Project Officers) who will be your primary point of contact with us. The Project Officers will ensure that the project is being run in accordance with the terms and conditions and in line with financial due diligence.

The Project Officer(s) should have access to all documentation of governance and Reporting bodies, in so far as it relates to the administration and application of the grant. As funding administrators, all our staff have agreed to maintain the confidentiality required by all parties involved in our research.

GAC 03 – Research governance

3.1 This grant must establish and run an independent advisory board, or equivalent body, to oversee the day to day running of the project and provide advice on the strategic direction and activities of the project. The terms of reference of this group should be agreed with us and it should have at least 50% independent membership and an independent Chair. The Project Officers will also be expected to attend and participate in Advisory Board and other appropriate meetings for the duration of the grant.

GAC 04 – Accountability

4.1 You should establish an appropriate management structure, which must incorporate independent membership and clear lines of responsibility and authority. This should be in place within six months of the start date of the grant. The terms of reference and membership of any committees established must be agreed in advance with us. The Project Officers will be our main contact with the project, and must receive all meeting minutes of the committees. We reserve the right to attend any meetings.

GAC 05 – Project review

5.1 You must agree to comply with requests for additional financial or non-financial information outside of the stated reporting cycle. Regular monitoring will be conducted through the Project Officer, who will act on behalf of us.

5.2 In addition to the requirements set out in standard UKRI grant conditions RGC 7.5 Disclosure and Inspection, RGC 2.4 Reporting on the Conduct and Results of Research, We reserve the right to instigate a review of all or part of the grant at any stage during the lifetime of the award as well as after the grant has finished.

A mid-term (year three) review of this grant will take place to assess the performance of the grant in line with the peer reviewed body of work, published scheme assessment criteria and key performance indicators. We will give you due notice of the date of any review and will provide details of the terms of reference and documentation required. Any review will be conducted by an expert panel, which will make recommendations to us for the grant’s future.

GAC 06 – Progress reports

6.1 In addition to the requirements set out in the standard UKRI grant condition RGC 7.4.3 Research Monitoring and Evaluation, you are responsible for providing six month progress reports against non-financial performance metrics. A detailed list of performance metrics and instructions for reporting will be agreed with you upon commencement of the grant.

GAC 07 – Monitoring

7.1 notwithstanding the requirements set out in standard grant conditions RGC 7.4, RGC 7.5 and RGC 10, you are responsible for providing to the Project Officer annual progress reports against financial and non-financial performance metrics. A detailed list of performance metrics and instructions for reporting will be agreed with you upon commencement of the grant. We reserve the right to suspend the grant and withhold further payments if the performance metrics requested are not provided by the stated deadlines or are determined to be of an unacceptable standard by our project officer(s).

Additional financial or non-financial information may occasionally be requested outside of the standard annual reporting cycle. You agree to undertake all reasonable endeavours to comply with these requests in a timely manner.

GAC 08 – Grant expenditure

8.1 At the start of the grant, the financial spend profile will be agreed by us.

8.2 In addition to any reporting requirements set out in GAC 05 you must immediately notify the Project Officer(s) of any accumulation, slippage or variation in expenditure greater than 5% of the annual profiled funding. EPSRC reserves the right to re-profile the grant if required.

8.3 Any deviation from the agreed allocation of funding and profiled costs must be negotiated and approved through written consent by us. The approval of profile changes should not be assumed and will be dependent on spend across all associated grants.

Supporting documents

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