Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Mid-range equipment for biosciences research: ALERT 2022

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Apply for funding for mid-range equipment for research across BBSRC’s scientific areas. This is the latest round of ALERT funding.

You must be a researcher or a research technical professional from an eligible UK research organisation to apply for funding.

You can only lead on one application.

The full economic cost of your equipment can be up to £1.5 million. We will fund up to 100% of the full economic cost.

Awards must start by 1 August 2023 and last for 12 months.

Who can apply

The ALERT 2022 opportunity is open to institutions, researchers and research technical professionals normally eligible to apply to BBSRC, as described in the BBSRC guidance for applicants.

As an individual you can only lead on one submitted application.

As principal investigator on one proposal you can still be a member of a consortium on a different application, as long as you do not take the lead. However, as such applications will be in direct competition, this is not recommended unless the applications are in very different areas.

Building on the Technician Commitment UKRI Action Plan, BBSRC particularly encourages applications from research technical professionals as either principal investigators or co-investigators.

All principal investigators and co-investigators must meet the eligibility criteria.

Check if you are eligible for funding.

An institution may submit more than one application, but we strongly encourage institutions to discuss and prioritise their submissions given the limited budget available.

What we're looking for

Scope

Advanced research equipment and the development of capability in this area is a key component in maintaining the competitiveness of the UK research base.

BBSRC recognises that new technologies, tools and approaches, often spanning several disciplines, are revolutionising biology. They are providing unprecedented opportunities to:

  • advance understanding of the complex, dynamic processes that govern life
  • apply that knowledge for the benefit of society and the economy

To support this approach, this funding opportunity, like previous opportunities of this nature, encourages you to apply for:

  • equipment that is widely used and underpins capability across all scientific areas within BBSRC remit (relevance to the priority areas in BBSRC’s strategic delivery plan is particularly encouraged)
  • the use of emerging advanced research technology or utilisation of equipment in new ways, specifically ‘lab-to-field’ equipment which enables the translation (or applied use) of laboratory scale experiments to real-world settings or environments
  • equipment that promotes collaboration and increased access to users within industry, public sector and other institutes, for example equipment-sharing and access to equipment

The maximum duration of grants is 12 months and grants must start by 1 August 2023 at the very latest.

Funding available

The indicative capital budget for ALERT 2022 is approximately £20 million.

Applications may seek the cost of capital equipment between £200,000 and £1.5 million including VAT, requested under the ‘directly incurred equipment’ heading only. No other cost types are eligible under this opportunity. Any applications submitted with costs in any other heading will be rejected without consultation.

Costs such as initial installation or service maintenance contracts can be included if they are one-off costs and part of the manufacturer’s offer. These costs should be included in the equipment quotation.

Contributions from the host institution or institutions and other external sources are encouraged but not mandatory. These may take the form of cash contributions, running costs, or staff resourcing associated with the equipment, for example, managing, operating, or providing training on the equipment.

Equipment requests

Only one piece of capital equipment may be funded, although this can include equipment that requires assembly or involves several components (not necessarily physically linked) provided they constitute one of the following:

  • a pipeline: an end-to-end experimental process made up of several components that may require assembly
  • a platform: a single piece of experimental equipment that may be constituted from multiple parts

If you plan to request several components that could constitute a pipeline or platform, your application should provide robust justification for why it should be considered as such. Relevant applications considered not to meet either of these definitions will be rejected. If you are unsure whether your proposed application meets either of these definitions, please contact BBSRC at bbsrcalert@bbsrc.ukri.org

In a large multi-component application that is otherwise in scope, one or more small components costing under £10,000 can be supported. These must be from the same supplier and form a single invoice. If they cannot be sourced from the same supplier, your research organisation will need to fund the sub £10,000 components.

All equipment must be on the market at the time of the opportunity closing date to be considered for funding.

Additional funding considerations

Costs such as initial installation or service maintenance contracts can be included if they are one-off costs and part of the manufacturer’s offer. These costs should be included in the equipment quotation.

Service maintenance contracts may extend a maximum of 24 months past the end date of the award (36 months in total), but the contract cost must be paid within the lifetime of the grant (12 months). Where a compelling case can be made for warranties and service contracts extending beyond 36 months, these will be considered if appropriately justified.

BBSRC expects that institutions will make longer-term arrangements to ensure appropriate ongoing support over the lifetime of the equipment. Separately negotiated service contracts are not eligible for this opportunity.

If you expect that a significant portion of the equipment user base will be undertaking research in areas outside BBSRC remit, you must seek an appropriate level of additional contributions and support from external sources, and provide information on this external support in the application.

Read more about the BBSRC remit.

Exclusions

Applications in the following areas will not be accepted and BBSRC withholds the right to reject these applications without consultation:

  • applications that request any other costs apart from capital funding
  • equipment requested valued below £200,000 including VAT
  • proposals that exceed 12 months in duration
  • applications for single-user or single-project instruments
  • requests for funding for equipment that is scheduled for market release after the opportunity close date
  • principal beneficiaries outside the UK
  • principal beneficiaries outside BBSRC’s remit
  • establishment of generic computing platforms (for example high performance computing clusters) when the intended use largely extends beyond research areas that are within the BBSRC remit
  • requests for contributions to very large facilities or to the purchase of equipment that constitute normal elements of a well-founded laboratory (centrifuges, fridges, incubators and so on) or for buildings and other types of infrastructures
  • proposals for the development of new technology are outside of the scope of this opportunity and will be rejected, although the use of new or emerging technologies is encouraged
  • proposals to develop software packages
  • proposals that do not provide quotes for the requested equipment
  • applications of the same nature that at the same time have also been submitted to other award schemes (including research council grant schemes)
  • unsolicited resubmissions of proposals that have previously been considered by BBSRC or any other funder

How to apply

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

You can find advice on completing your application in:

We recommend you start your application early.

Your host organisation will also be able to provide advice and guidance. Please consider the time required by your research office to process the application as late submissions will not be accepted.

Submitting your application

Before starting an application, you will need to log in or create an account in Je-S.

When applying:

  1. Select ‘documents’, then ‘new document’.
  2. Select ‘call search’.
  3. To find the opportunity, search for: 22ALERT Mid-range equipment Initiative.

This will populate:

  • council: BBSRC
  • document type: standard proposal
  • scheme: standard
  • call/type/mode: 22ALERT Mid-range equipment Initiative

Once you have completed your application, make sure you ‘submit document’.

You can save completed details in Je-S at any time and return to continue your application later.

Deadline

BBSRC must receive your application by 15 December 2022 at 4:00pm UK time.

You will not be able to apply after this time. Please leave enough time for your proposal to pass through your organisation’s Je-S submission route before this date.

You should ensure you are aware of and follow any internal institutional deadlines that may be in place.

Attachments

Your application must also include the following attachments:

  • application cover letter (mandatory)
  • case for support (mandatory)
  • justification of resources (mandatory)
  • data management plan (mandatory)
  • diagrammatic work plan (mandatory)
  • Résumé for Research and Innovation for named applicants and research staff only (mandatory, total of 3 pages)
  • letters of support for institutional support and any project partners (mandatory)
  • equipment quotations (see guidance)
  • additional letters of support (optional)
  • business case (not needed, but you must attach a blank document)

BBSRC recommends the use of typefaces Arial, Helvetica or Verdana. A strict minimum font size of 11 must be used for the entire case for support, justification of resources and CVs (excluding text on diagrams and the use of mathematical symbols).

A minimum of single line spacing and standard character spacing must be used. Margins must not be less than 2cm.

You should discuss your application with your relevant procurement and finance officers prior to submission, particularly bearing in mind the EU tender and procurement rules.

Applicants should detail how staff roles will support the use of the equipment and how they will be supported in their careers. Please refer to the UKRI statement of expectations for technology and skills specialists.

If you expect the expenditure to be challenging within the given time constraints regarding grant duration or start date (for example, because the equipment may require an export license or involves lengthy customisation or construction times) you must contact BBSRC before submitting an application.

In order to ensure compliance with basic requirements of the opportunity, you should refer to the ALERT 2022: pre-submission checklist (PDF, 78KB) and all associated guidance before submitting your application. Once the application has been submitted, no further modifications can be made.

How we will assess your application

Applications will be assessed by a multidisciplinary panel of experts covering scientific, managerial, technical and user aspects of equipment provision and management. External reviews will not be sought.

BBSRC expects to communicate the opportunity outcomes in the week commencing 1 May 2023.

Assessment criteria

The following assessment criteria (not listed in order of priority) will also apply.

Impact of the investment

This includes the:

  • research it will enable
  • benefit to or involvement of a wider user community
  • anticipated extent of usage

Scientific quality and strategic relevance

Scientific quality and strategic relevance of the proposed research to be conducted using the equipment.

Arrangements for the management and support of the equipment

In particular, the arrangements to secure the expertise in its operation and to provide access to the equipment and expertise in its use.

Arrangements for managing access to the equipment and the prioritisation of its use

Award holders will be expected to put arrangements in place for providing advice and support to others wishing to assess the potential of the technology for their own research.

Provision for development

Provision for staff development, training and sustainability for staff employed to operate and manage the equipment, including the professional development of technical and support staff will be part of the assessment by the panel and will inform the final score.

The contribution the investment will make to the physical research infrastructure

The contribution the investment will make to the physical research infrastructure in the applicant institution or institutions and in the UK (for example, how the equipment will complement related infrastructure and equipment) and the broader environment in which the equipment will be placed (for example, lab space, running costs, technical support, scientific expertise, data management).

Capability to deliver

Evidence of the capacity to deliver excellent research and, where possible, experience directly relevant to this opportunity, for example a track record in managing facilities is strongly encouraged. Where applicants do not have prior experience, they should be able to clearly demonstrate how they will secure the necessary expertise.

Value for money

This includes the credibility of the financial and management proposals. Contributions from the host institution or institutions and other external sources are welcome but not mandatory.

Environmental sustainability

Applicants should also detail how your application will contribute to promoting environmental suitability with specific reference the priority areas and objectives set out in the UKRI environmental sustainability strategy (PDF, 1.5MB).

Ethical and societal issues

Consideration will also be given to any ethical and societal issues that may be raised by the proposal.

Contact details

Get help with developing your proposal

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.

Ask about this funding opportunity

Email: bbsrcalert@bbsrc.ukri.org

Please provide as much information as possible in your email.

We aim to respond within 5 working days.

Ask a question about eligibility

Email: eligibility@bbsrc.ukri.org

Get help with applying through Je-S

Email

jeshelp@je-s.ukri.org

Telephone

01793 444164

Opening times

Je-S helpdesk opening times

Additional info

Eligibility for future new investigator schemes

If you are successful in your application as a principal investigator for ALERT, this will not affect your eligibility for a new investigator scheme. This is because there are no postdoctoral research assistant costs associated with the ALERT scheme that would disqualify you.

Researcher co-investigators

Post-doctoral research assistants (PDRAs) may be included as researcher co-investigators. A researcher co-investigator is a PDRA who merits appropriate recognition for making a significant contribution in the preparation of the proposal and the ensuing research. They will be identified as a key intellectual contributor to the project and employed on the project by and based at the institutions of the principal investigator or any co-investigators.

As staff costs are not eligible under ALERT 2022, support for research co-investigators should be provided in the form of host institution contribution(s).

Issue registering a researcher co-investigator in Je-S

If you have been unable to enter a figure of 0 in Je-S for the researcher co-investigator’s salary, entering a nominal value of 0.01 should fix this issue.

Supporting documents

BBSRC research grants guide
ALERT 2022: opportunity guidance (PDF, 200KB)
ALERT 2022: pre-submission checklist (PDF, 78KB)
ALERT 2022: justification of resources (PDF, 152KB)
ALERT 2022: equality impact assessment (PDF, 158KB)

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