Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Funding large or complex scientific projects

Apply for funding to develop a large or complex scientific project.

You must be based at a UK research organisation eligible for UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) funding.

Your project must be focused on one of the following:

  • particle physics
  • nuclear physics
  • astronomy
  • particle astrophysics
  • accelerator physics
  • computing for physics.

Large projects could involve:

  • participating in new experiments or missions
  • developing new instruments
  • upgrading existing detectors
  • the ongoing operation of existing facilities.

You must discuss your ideas with one of our programme managers before applying.

Who can apply

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

Speak to your programme manager (see the ‘contact details’ section) for advice on:

  • specific eligibility requirements
  • whether to submit a statement of interest to the STFC Science Board.

Academic applicants

Academic applicants must meet the normal eligibility requirements for STFC research grant funding.

Check if you’re eligible for funding.

What we're looking for

STFC provides research grant funding opportunities that are reviewed through frequent Projects Peer Review Panel (PPRP) rounds.

STFC supports large or complex projects that have significant scientific priority in one of the following:

  • particle physics
  • nuclear physics
  • astronomy
  • particle astrophysics
  • accelerator physics
  • computing for physics.

Large projects could involve:

  • participating in new, or developing existing, high priority experiments or missions
  • developing new instruments or accelerator technologies
  • developing new, or upgrading existing, detectors
  • purchasing new, or upgrading existing, major high performance computing facilities
  • the ongoing operation of existing facilities
  • developing new initiatives in the field of e-science, including modelling and data management.

UK Space Agency (UKSA) projects

UKSA funds any projects that fall within its remit. This may include:

  • the development of space technology (above TRL 4)
  • space exploration, within UKSA’s Aurora programme
  • post-launch support for space missions during their operational phase.

Visit the GOV.UK website for full details of UKSA’s remit.

STFC project management framework

The STFC project management framework sets out the control environment within which science projects are appraised, managed, monitored and evaluated.

It also contains useful advice on writing proposals and good project management practice.

See the STFC project management framework.

How to apply

To apply, you must follow these steps:

  • contact the relevant programme manager (see the ‘contact details’ section) for advice and eligibility information
  • submit your statement of interest to the Science Board.

If you are successful, you will then be invited to submit a full proposal to the PPRP.

Before submitting your statement of interest

To help STFC with financial planning, you must let STFC know if you wish to apply for funding for any future research projects.

This is most important for large projects where you are likely to apply for substantial funding from STFC. You must let STFC know by contacting the appropriate programme manager (see the ‘contact details’ section) who will advise you on the next steps.

If you are looking to submit a statement of interest with the intention of developing a full proposal shortly afterwards, you must also contact the relevant programme manager.

Programme managers will:

  • discuss the submission process with you
  • ensure that you are aware of all components of the statement of interest
  • ensure that you understand all stages of STFC’s peer review process
  • advise you on the fit of your project into the STFC strategic context.

Where appropriate, programme managers can give you advice to ensure your proposal provides sufficient information for effective peer review.

Once the programme manager agrees, they will invite you to submit a statement of interest to the STFC Science Board.

Completing your statement of interest

The statement of interest is made up of two components:

  • a dedicated template (pro-forma), consisting of specific questions
  • a two-page scientific justification.

Additional supporting information, such as a letter of support, is not required and will not form part of the STFC Science Board consideration.

If you have any queries about the questions or the scientific justification, please contact the relevant programme manager (see the ‘contact details’ section).

Scientific justification

The scientific justification should include the following information:

  • a strong science case (forming the majority of the scientific justification)
  • the scientific competitiveness and track record of the group
  • how the project relates to STFC priorities
  • the economic and societal impact (who might benefit from this project and how the potential impacts of the project will be realised)
  • an estimate of the total full economic cost of the project.

The scientific justification may be used to provide more detailed information relating to any of the questions on the dedicated template. You should ensure that the STFC Science Board has sufficient evidence to make an informed recommendation.

Science case

The principal focus of the scientific justification is the science case and this should form the majority of the content.

‘Scientific excellence’ is the main criterion on which the STFC Science Board will base its decision.

The justification should focus on the science that would be delivered by the project and what the impact of that science would be (or what the impact would be should the UK not invest).

Estimate of the total full economic cost

This must include the capital construction phase and, where possible, the exploitation phase.

In all cases, costs should be broken down by heading (for example, university and STFC laboratory staff effort, equipment, travel and consumables) and must be sufficiently detailed to show that estimates are reasonable.

Please note that the cost of the project must not exceed that given in the statement of interest by more than 15%. Should project costs increase by more than this, the STFC Science Board may need to reconsider the statement of interest, taking into account the amended costs.

Formatting

The scientific justification must be no longer than two pages in length.

In line with the standard UKRI specification for Je-S documents, the scientific justification should:

  • be written in Arial (or equivalent) size 11 font
  • have a minimum of 2cm margins around each page.

Submitting your statement of interest

You can submit a statement of interest at any time.

Submit the documentation electronically to the relevant programme manager. This should be in DOCX or PDF format, copied to Rachel Leader, STFC Science Board secretariat (see the ‘contact details’ section).

If you would like the statement of interest to be considered at a particular STFC Science Board meeting, see the relevant dates below.

Statement of interest deadline Science Board meeting
17 January 2022 15 and 17 February 2022
14 March 2022 12 to 13 April 2022
30 May 2022 28 to 29 June 2022
12 September 2022 12 to 13 October 2022
7 November 2022 6 to 7 December 2022

Proposals received after the submission deadline for a particular STFC Science Board meeting will be carried over for consideration at the following meeting.

You are required to meet any specified deadlines so that an efficient and effective review process can take place.

Rejections and delays

In exceptional cases, programme managers may reject proposals where there are clear reasons for doing so. Examples include:

  • where the statement of interest does not meet the submission criteria
  • where the statement of interest is out of the scope for the funding opportunity or the science is outside the remit of STFC.

Where the programme manager has not been consulted prior to submission, the statement of interest may be delayed until the programme manager has had an opportunity to discuss and review the proposal with you.

In this case, the statement of interest may not meet the deadline for a particular STFC Science Board meeting. It is therefore particularly important that you consult with STFC prior to submission.

UKSA submissions

Statements of interest for proposals within the remit of the UKSA should be emailed directly to UKSA (see the ‘contact details’ section).

UKSA can provide further information about the expected content of the statement of interest.

Submitting your proposal

If your statement of interest is successful, then you will be invited to submit a full proposal. You will be asked to contact the relevant programme manager to find out about submission dates for the full proposal.

If the scope of the project changes significantly from the statement of interest, STFC will request that a new statement of interest is considered by the STFC Science Board.

It is essential that you seek advice from programme managers about any changes to the scope and cost of the project that might affect consideration of the proposal.

The STFC Science Board will also agree any issues for PPRP to resolve or explore during consideration of the full proposal.

Agreeing a submission date

This submission date will relate to the dates of future PPRP meetings.

Proposals should be submitted to the agreed deadline to help prevent the costs and scope of the project varying significantly between the statement of interest approved by the STFC Science Board and the proposal reviewed by PPRP.

If the full proposal is not submitted within the agreed deadline, you may be asked to submit a new statement of interest for review by the STFC Science Board.

If more than six months have elapsed, it is generally expected that a second statement of interest will need to be submitted to ensure that the STFC Science Board has the most appropriate and up to date information.

Please discuss with the relevant programme manager whether or not a second statement of interest needs to be submitted (see the ‘contact details’ section).

Submitting to PPRP rounds

If invited to submit a full proposal, you should apply for one of the following rounds:

Round Opportunity opens on Je-S Opportunity closes on Je-S PPRP meeting
PPRP round one 2022 22 October 2021 7 December 2021 8 March 2022
PPRP round two 2022 9 December 2021 27 January 2022 27 April 2022
PPRP round two 2022 (ATLAS) 3 February 2022 22 March 2022 28 April 2022
PPRP round three 2022 27 January 2022 10 March 2022 15 to 16 June 2022
PPRP round four 2022 26 April 2022 7 June 2022 7 September 2022
PPRP round five 2022 8 June 2022 20 July 2022 20 to 21 October 2022
PPRP round six 2022 21 July 2022 1 September 2022 1 to 2 December 2022

These PPRP meetings are scheduled in advance and STFC makes every attempt to ensure that the review process is carried out in a timely way. Should STFC need to cancel any meetings, you will be informed as soon as possible with an explanation of any delays.

Submitting your proposal through Je-S

You must submit your proposal online using the Joint Electronic Submissions (Je-S) system. There are links to tutorials and help areas on the system.

You should select the following options in Je-S when submitting your proposal:

  • council: STFC
  • document type: standard proposal
  • scheme: PPRP
  • call: PPRP (round number) (year).

Failure to select the options displayed above may result in the proposal not reaching the correct research council or department. Your Je-S proposal could also be rejected and need to be recreated as part of the correct scheme.

It is the responsibility of the principal investigator to ensure that the institution’s administration department submits the proposal before 16:00 (UK time) on the deadline day. This deadline will be strictly enforced.

You can view the status of the proposal online by logging into the Je-S system.

STFC is unable to view the proposal until it has been submitted by the institution’s administration department.

Councils operate a ‘page’ restriction policy on attachment length. Proposals that exceed the page limits on any part of the submission will be returned for amendment (if time permits) but run the risk of being rejected.

The completed Je-S proposal form will require an accompanying case for support and data management plan. For information on other supporting documents, please see the STFC guidance for applicants.

Case for support

The case for support must be a PDF attachment. It must be submitted by 16:00 (UK time) on the closing date.

It should not exceed 40 pages (not including technical appendices). STFC-specific page format and style guidance is available in the Je-S handbook.

The case for support can be seen as the equivalent of a business case document. The business case is the key baseline document for the project and defines:

  • why the project should be undertaken
  • what benefits would be derived
  • what level of resources is likely to be required.

It evaluates the strategic fit, value for money, affordability and deliverability of the project.

The finance tables, risk register and list of acronyms should be appended to the case for support or included as separate documents. They are not included in the 40-page limit.

The case for support should be clear and concise with minimal technical jargon, and should include sections explicitly addressing the following points. Proposals which do not include detailed sections under all of these headings will be returned for amendment.

Scientific needs: objectives

Provide a description of the intended end result of the project. This description should not just encompass the scientific work of the project but should also articulate the value and benefits of investing in the project.

This end result should be clearly stated so that the success or failure of the project can easily be determined at the end of the funded period. Any intermediate results upon which the final result depends should be identified.

Scientific needs: project description

Provide a description of your proposed contribution to the project. The stage of the project (for example, research and development, construction) should be specified.

The document should highlight any unique contributions, likely global impact and aspects of UK leadership.

Scientific needs: work package breakdown

Provide a breakdown of the work packages of the proposal, including a short summary description of the work and overall cost of each package.

Optionally, a work breakdown structure can also be included as part of this section, where appropriate.

Scientific needs: STFC science and strategy

Identify the specific STFC science opportunities that this project addresses:

  • how does this relate to STFC priorities
  • what aspects are particularly relevant
  • what is its potential scientific impact
  • are there any long-term implications or liabilities that may be generated as a result of investing in this project?
Scientific needs: awareness and context

Describe the present status of related research and development worldwide:

  • where is this research field likely to be in 10 years’ time
  • what is the current state of play
  • how important is it that we act now
  • does the project have a strong supportive user base among the relevant community, both in the UK and internationally?
Scientific needs: competing research

Provide a summary of any competing experiments or research and level of investment.

There should be some analysis of the benefits of this particular research against similar past and current research worldwide.

Scientific needs: track record

Explain your track record in this field:

  • why do you consider your group the best or most appropriate to carry out this programme
  • how should the panel be confident that you would be able to deliver the project
  • what is the competency of your group to perform this work?
Scientific needs: impact

PPRP applications should demonstrate the potential for impact. You must consider how you will or might achieve impact throughout your project. This detail should be included as part of the case for support.

The most important thing to remember is that impact planning is meant to be a forward-looking exercise. It allows you to say what you are going to do to maximise the likelihood of a range of anticipated impacts arising from your proposed project.

It is your chance to be specific and to ask for the resources you need to put your plan into action.

Activities to realise impact do not have to be cost-incurring, but costs which are included must be fully justified.

See the STFC guidance for applicants for further information.

Business needs: project management plan

The STFC project management framework sets out the programme management framework within which projects are appraised, funded and managed by STFC. It must be followed for all funded projects and programmes.

To set out how the proposal meets these requirements, sections which address the following must be included.

Business needs: project organisation and participants

Proposals should identify the implementation strategy, duration, project deliverable ownership and work packages.

You should list all funded UK participants, their staff category, full-time equivalent project or work package allocation per year, activity and justification for each post.

Key individuals, such as the UK spokesperson and project managers (those responsible for ensuring that the project and its constituent parts are kept on schedule and in budget) should be identified. This section should include a diagrammatic organisational chart.

Business needs: roles and responsibilities

The ultimate success of the project, delivery to time, cost and specification relies on the quality of the planning and management, and the people involved.

To ensure the best possible chance of success, it is important that everyone knows what they are responsible for and what they should be doing.

The roles that are found in all projects are:

  • customer
  • project sponsor
  • project manager
  • team member.

In the STFC research environment, it is also necessary to define the role of the principal investigator.

Business needs: scheduling and resourcing

A milestone plan is the minimum requirement for any project. It lists key events in the project with dates.

Milestones are, in the main, concerned with the project schedule and mark the completion of significant events such as decision points (for example, moving from one phase of the project to the next) or deliverables (such as completion of preliminary design, placing of contracts or equipment installation).

Milestones should be defined in sufficient detail so that it is clear when they have been met. They should be sufficiently frequent to enable effective monitoring of the project.

Business needs: Gantt chart

Most projects should use a Gantt chart or network diagram for more detailed planning.

They can be used to illustrate simple time dependency or full resourcing and costing.

A useful technique is rolling wave planning, where projects are planned in detail in the early stages and at a higher level in the remaining stages.

Business needs: change control

An effective, formal change control procedure is essential to successful project management.

The procedure must ensure that the project manager, and the customer or project sponsor, take into account the impact of the change on all aspects of the project and then agree and sign off the change.

Business needs: justification of resources

Costs must be clearly defined and spend planned, including in-kind contributions.

The STFC finance policy for costing projects requires all projects to be approved on the basis of the full cost to STFC over their entire life, from conception to completion.

Time and cost estimates should:

  • be based upon experience
  • be initially top down
  • include an agreed amount of contingency resulting from risk analysis
  • not include ‘hidden contingency’.

Projects should be pragmatic in their use of staff resource planning. For much of the work that we undertake, it is not realistic to turn staff on and off projects on a day-by-day basis or split their effort over a number of tasks.

Where projects look to make use of effort funded through consolidated grants, it is important that this section also includes a case for utilising this resource so it can be assessed by PPRP.

Other resources (such as equipment, consumables, accommodation and travel) should also be considered.

See further guidance on STFC staff and investigator costs.

Business needs: project monitoring and reporting

The proposal should define the methods to be used for progress reporting and control.

The plan should include:

  • frequency and attendance for progress meetings
  • the acceptance process for key deliverables and milestones
  • the frequency and content of progress reports.

Projects which are considered to be business critical to STFC will be required to provide monthly project reports to the STFC project review committee, as well as reports to an oversight body.

These are either project boards, responsible for overseeing the delivery of the project, or oversight committees which provide independent scientific, technical and management advice to STFC.

Business needs: scope

Where proposals have undergone processes of iteration (including after consideration of the statement of interest), these can be detailed as part of this section for PPRP’s information.

Whatever the process of iteration prior to invitation to PPRP, it is mandatory for proposals to be submitted at the level invited by the STFC Science Board. However, additional ambition over and above this can be discussed as part of this section.

In addition, within this section, proposals are required to include consideration of a descope scenario to lower the ambition of the project by 10% of the requested budget.

As part of this section, please outline what cuts would be made to the amount requested (including the cost of each) and the effect to the project and UK leadership and scientific return of such reductions.

This scenario does not need to be detailed in finance tables but should be clear on what the proposed cuts are. It should also include an accompanying narrative of their impact on the project.

Any reduction scenario does not negate the need for all costs proposed to be fully justified, as outlined in the ‘justification of resources’ section above.

PPRP and the STFC office reserve the right to request descopes in addition to this, specific to the context of the proposal.

For more guidance on these elements, please refer to the STFC project management framework.

Finance tables

Finance tables must be appended to the case for support.

Cost tables should be completed for each work package.

Advice on costing should be sought from the relevant programme manager (see the ‘contact details’ section). All project costs should be presented in a clear and understandable way, and all resource requests must be fully justified.

Failure to provide full and explicit resource justification is likely to result in resource requests being rejected.

All costs in the finance tables must be in agreement with the funding requested within the Je-S form. There should not be any discrepancies as the proposal will be returned where there are inconsistencies.

Working allowance

This is used to cope with the uncertainties that occur in all projects, such as increased cost of materials, complexity of design and manufacture of components.

It can be calculated in a number of ways and should take account of the project risks and their mitigation.

There should be a reasonable chance (greater than 75%) that the project can be completed within the budget of the base cost plus the working allowance. The working allowance is awarded as part of the grant at announcement (at 100%).

Contingency

This should not be requested on the Je-S form. It is for the unknown and unexpected things that can occur within a project and which could not reasonably be predicted.

It should be calculated on the basis of an understanding of the risks of the project. There should be a high expectation that the project can be completed without the use of contingency.

Contingency will only be released on the approval of the STFC executive after it has considered advice from the STFC oversight committee or project board and explored the possibilities of descoping the project.

STFC laboratory costs

Costs for STFC laboratories must be shown as 100% in the finance tables and must include staff costs and overheads. These always count as ‘new’ costs.

Please consult the programme manager (see the ‘contact details’ section) for the latest advice on STFC costs and costing.

Risk management

The systematic identification and analysis of the strategic, financial and operational uncertainties associated with the proposal helps devolve the responsibility for risk management to the appropriate level.

It is a requirement for a risk register to be included, identifying the proposal’s risks, mitigation activities and associated schedule or financial impact, along with an explanation of how these have been calculated.

Further information about risk management and a risk template can be found in the ‘additional information’ section.

Collaborative projects

Describe linkages or collaborations with key collaborators or external players in this section.

Include a description of how responsibilities are to be shared among the collaborators, both within the UK and internationally.

For international collaborations, you should give:

  • the membership of the international collaboration
  • a brief breakdown of responsibilities within it
  • information on how the significance of the UK contribution to the project fits relative to the contribution from other countries.

The status of approval and funding of any international experiments should be provided.

Key stakeholders and cross-council involvement

The key stakeholders in the project should be identified.

Describe any links to other (non-STFC) research councils or research establishments. For example, the:

  • Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)
  • Ministry of Defence (MOD)
  • Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

Data management plan

The data management plan must be a PDF attachment. It must be submitted by 16:00 (UK time) on the closing date.

PPRP grants will not be allowed to start without an acceptable data management and sharing plan.

Learn more about the data management plan.

How we will assess your application

Assessing statements of interest

The appropriate programme manager will review your statement of interest to ensure that the data required for its consideration is complete. They will then pass your statement of interest to the STFC Science Board for review.

You will receive feedback on your statement of interest from the office of the Executive Director of Programmes (on behalf of STFC). STFC aims to provide feedback within 20  working days.

Any STFC Science Board member with a personal conflict of interest will withdraw from the review process for the duration of the consideration of your proposal.

Learn more about the UKRI assessment criteria.

UKSA assessments

The UKSA reviews statements of interest and full proposals for any projects within its remit. Final decisions on them will be taken by the UKSA executive.

UKSA will provide feedback on whether or not you are invited to submit a full proposal.

The STFC Science Board will also provide strategic scientific advice to UKSA if appropriate.

You will receive full details of the assessment process if you are invited to make an application. UKSA will inform applicants directly about any funding decisions.

The peer review of full proposals for space science and exploration projects will be carried out by a UKSA peer review panel. The peer review panel will report to the UKSA Science Programme Advisory Committee or the Aurora Advisory Committee as appropriate on the outcome of the review.

The UKSA executive will make a final decision on funding a project, drawing together all advice received.

Learn more about the UK Space Agency on the GOV.UK website.

PPRP proposal assessment framework

The framework contains five areas for consideration:

  • scientific and technical excellence (specific objectives of the project)
  • international competitiveness
  • strategic value within the STFC programme
  • leadership, planning and project management
  • social and economic impact from the proposed research.

Although each area is considered during the assessment process, scientific and technical excellence is considered to be the most important.

These criteria align with the STFC assessment criteria but include specific bullet points for PPRP.

Learn more about the STFC assessment criteria.

Scientific and technical excellence

This relates to the specific objectives of the project and:

  • its scientific merit
  • its potential to make a significant difference to the discipline and contribute to addressing STFC’s science challenges
  • the technical importance of the project
  • the benefits of the project compared with past, current and future planned experiments worldwide
  • the timeliness of the project.

International competitiveness

This relates to the international relevance of the project and UK leadership within the field, in both European and global arenas.

Strategic value within the STFC programme

This relates to:

  • the extent to which the project and facility benefits from or contributes to coherence
  • synergies or linkages with other programmes and facilities, including international subscriptions.

Leadership, planning and project management

This relates to:

  • the competency, track record and appropriateness of the collaboration to undertake the proposed work
  • the level of scientific standing, UK leadership and return to the UK generated by the proposed work
  • the quality of project management, including the project schedule and justification of the financial requests, including assessment of the descope options
  • evaluation of the risks (including technical risks) associated with implementation of the project, the economic and societal impact, leadership objectives and appropriateness of the requests for working allowance and contingency.

Social and economic impact from the proposed research

This relates to:

  • the potential application of the proposal’s technologies in other fields
  • third party professional sector engagement and outreach opportunities (for example, business or government)
  • engagement with non-governmental organisations
  • the development of transferable skills supported by STFC
  • inspiring young people to value science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills and consider STEM careers
  • engaging wider society and specific interested or affected demographics with the themes, progress and outcomes of the research
  • creating opportunities for two-way interactions between the research community and society.

PPRP proposal assessment

Your proposal will be assessed by PPRP through Je-S. The panel’s findings are reported to the STFC Science Board, which makes a recommendation to the STFC executive.

Reviewers submit written comments on the proposal. You will be given the opportunity to see and respond to all reviewer comments.

There is a half a page limit per review for responses, which can be employed holistically to respond to the reviews. Responses are not needed for all reviews and should only be used to provide further clarification and rectify misunderstandings on points raised by reviewers.

Any questions of a more substantive nature can be addressed during the PPRP meeting. Responses should be returned within five working days of receipt.

Project management and delivery review

Each proposal is also subject to a project management and delivery review. This is undertaken by a relevant project management expert, who will be given access to the proposal through the peer review extranet.

The default approach is for this review to be undertaken by an appropriate member of PPRP. Where this is not possible, alternative reviewers will be sourced who will conduct the review under the same protocols as PPRP members (agreement to these protocols will be sought prior to the review being conducted).

The review will be sent to applicants through Office Message Encryption (OME) by the PPRP secretariat around two weeks before the panel for the applicants to provide a response.

This response should be returned by OME within five working days of receipt.

In order to assist PPRP with its deliberations, the project management reviewer (whether or not a PPRP member) will attend the meeting to raise questions on the project management aspects of the proposal.

You are asked to engage positively with these questions, which form a key part of PPRP’s consideration of proposals.

Preliminary assessment of the proposal and resource work packages will be made by STFC staff. You will be contacted directly if there are any areas of the proposal that require more detail or rework in advance of the PPRP meeting.

PPRP meeting

The PPRP meeting takes place to assess the proposal and question the applicant. The meeting consists of open sessions (where you will give a presentation and members of the public can attend) and closed sessions.

In its assessment of proposals, the panel will look at each category referred to in the STFC assessment criteria to ensure all requirements are met.

If undergoing the non-light touch process (see the ‘light touch process’ section below), feedback questions from the meeting are sent to the applicants to respond to ahead of the visiting panel. This includes requests for descopes (see the ‘descopes’ section below).

These responses are assessed at the visiting panel meeting.

Visiting panel meeting

The visiting panel meeting carries out a detailed assessment of the proposal. The meeting consists of panel experts and members of PPRP (a subset of those who attended the full meeting).

The final recommendation usually takes place at the end of this meeting during a closed session.

PPRP report

A report from the visiting panel is written by the PPRP secretary in conjunction with the STFC programmes directorate and agreed and finalised by the visiting panel chair.

The report presents the visiting panel’s findings and is submitted to the next STFC Science Board meeting.

STFC Science Board meeting

At the STFC Science Board meeting, the meeting chair presents PPRP’s recommendations. The Science Board provides strategic advice and recommendations on the proposal, which are shared with the executive board and council.

Outcome of the proposal

Following the Science Board’s recommendations, the STFC executive will make a funding decision on the proposal and will inform the applicant and research organisation of STFC’s decision.

This will include any relevant information from the Science Board’s consideration of the proposal. On average, a successful proposal will take six to nine months to go through the process (excluding the grant being awarded).

Informing PPRP

PPRP will be informed of the recommendations made by the Science Board (and the actual funding decisions made by the STFC executive) at the next PPRP meeting.

Light touch process

PPRP has a light touch process which skips the visiting panel, with all recommendations reached within the PPRP meeting.

Where this process is utilised, you will be asked by the PPRP secretariat to respond to clarification questions generated by the PPRP assessor and panel experts ahead of the meeting. You may also be asked about additional descope scenarios.

Questions will be sent by and should be responded to through OME. This is in addition to the postal peer review comments and project management and delivery review in the full process.

Applicants who are subject to this process will be informed by the relevant programme manager.

Descopes

As an essential test of value for money, it is a key part of the PPRP process to request ‘descope’ (reduction) scenarios for all proposals.

Such scenarios are requested whether or not there is sufficient budget to fund the proposal in full and are in addition to any reductions in scope made prior to PPRP (such as in the consideration of the statement of interest).

You are requested to fully engage with this process in preparing credible scenarios for the cuts requested. Artificially inflating the grant or not engaging with these requests seriously runs the risk of the panel recommending cuts not in your control.

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

STFC

Chris Woolford, Head of Astronomy Facilities

Email: chris.woolford@stfc.ukri.org

Roy Stephen, Programme Manager

Email: roy.stephen@stfc.ukri.org

David Brown, Senior Programme Manager Accelerators and Digital Research Infrastructure

Email: david.brown@stfc.ukri.org

Karen Clifford, Head of Nuclear Physics and Particle Astrophysics

Email: karen.clifford@stfc.ukri.org

Rachel Leader, STFC Science Board secretariat

Email: rachel.leader@stfc.ukri.org

Sarah Garlick, Senior Programme Manager Digital Research Infrastructure

Email: sarah.garlick@stfc.ukri.org

Sarah Verth, Head of Particle Physics

Email: sarah.verth@stfc.ukri.org

UKSA

Louise Ingram, Science Programme Manager

Email: louise.ingram@ukspaceagency.gov.uk

Rosemary Young, Science Programme Manager

Email: rosemary.young@ukspaceagency.bis.gsi.gov.uk

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

Forthcoming PPRP meeting, June 2022

The PPRP meeting scheduled for June 2022 will be held at Polaris House, North Star Avenue, Swindon SN2 1FL. The meeting will be face to face, the applicant’s presentation and the follow up Q&A sessions are open to members of the science community to observe.

The panel will be reviewing two proposals over two days period.

Anyone who wishes to attend should contact either Nicola Hedges (nicola.hedges@stfc.ukri.org) or Roy Stephen (roy.stephen@stfc.ukri.org) who will organise necessary arrangements to admit them at the meeting venue.

The proposals being reviewed, and time for public observations are as follows.

UK Involvement in LSST: Phase C

15 June 2022, from 11:30 to 13:00.

We propose a continuation of the programme enabling UK participation in the Vera C. Rubin Observatory’s Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST), one of the most ambitious science projects planned for the next decade, and a key part of the astronomical landscape in the 2020s and 2030s. The Rubin Observatory’s Simonyi Survey Telescope will have both a large collecting area and a wide field of view, giving it an etendue more than an order of magnitude larger than any current or planned facility.

This will enable it to survey the whole visible sky every few days, leading to both a stacked sky survey of great depth, and the ability to find moving, variable, and transient objects. It will make advances over a large range of science, from Potentially Hazardous Asteroids, through the structure of the Milky Way, to the most distant quasars, and the nature of dark matter and dark energy – all areas where UK astronomers stand poised to make leading contributions.

The breadth of LSST science led to the formation, in 2014, of the LSST:UK Consortium, which comprises every astronomy group in the UK. The Consortium defined a four-phase programme for the LSST:UK Science Centre (LUSC), which would prepare for, and, subsequently, support scientific exploitation of LSST data by the UK community. STFC has funded the first two phases of this programme, and the current proposal seeks funding for the third (Phase C).

US agencies are funding the construction of the Rubin Observatory and the bulk of the cost of Rubin operations, with international partners earning data rights through in-kind contributions to Rubin operations and most of the LUSC Phase C programme now comprises components of the UK’s in-kind package. This package consists of three main strands of work:

  1. Taking a 25% share of the annual Data Release Processing workload
  2. Operating a Data Access Centre
  3. Developing software to generate derived data products for use by the international LSST Science Collaborations.

These three significant strands of work, together with a few smaller activities, comprise a substantial contribution to Rubin operations, which we hope will secure LSST data rights for the whole UK community and earn the UK a place as an International Affiliate Partner in the Rubin operations consortium.

Simons Observatory: UK UKRI Infrastructure Fund Proposal

16 June 2022 from 11:30 to 13:00.

During the last three decades, measurements of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) have been the driving force in establishing the standard cosmological model. UK scientists have played a pivotal role, particularly in recent times with major roles in ESA’s Planck mission.

These advances have been hugely important but the CMB’s greatest contribution to fundamental physics could well be yet to come. The field is now turning to the search for primordial gravitational waves, which, if present, would imprint a very specific pattern (termed “B-modes”) on the polarisation of the CMB. This signal is predicted to be present in many theories of inflation, a period of rapid expansion thought to have occurred at the very beginning of our Universe.

Observing primordial B-modes would thus provide a probe of physics at very early times – or equivalently at very high energies, far beyond the energies accessible to ground-based particle physics experiments. A detection of the B-mode signal would open a unique observational window on fundamental physics and would almost certainly result in a third Nobel prize for the field of CMB studies.

In addition, by measuring the effects of gravitational lensing on the CMB, future experiments will also provide unique insights into neutrino physics, cosmic acceleration and dark energy, the nature of dark matter, and the end of the dark ages.

The Simons Observatory (SO) is a US-led international project to construct a group of CMB telescopes in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile. It has been designed to address these new science challenges, and is due to begin operations in 2023. Here we propose a major UK contribution to SO. Specifically we will build, deploy, commission and operate an array of three small aperture telescopes (the SO:UK instrument) to complement the existing (US) SO instrument plans.

The UK instrument will form a major component of the SO, providing 50% of its sensitivity to primordial B-modes. The additional sensitivity that will be provided by the SO:UK instrument has the potential to bring a compelling class of inflation models within our reach, for the first time.

In building the instrument, we will incorporate a number of innovative features including the first use of a new detector technology (Kinetic Inductance Detectors, KIDs) in a CMB B-mode experiment. In addition to KIDs, the instrument work also includes the development and demonstration of novel meta-material (MM) quasi-optical components and high-performance detector readout technology. Demonstrating the compelling advantages of these UK-driven technologies as part of the leading CMB experiment of the 2020s will be a powerful argument for their adoption in future CMB projects, including the $600M+ CMB-S4 project towards the end of this decade and a possible future ESA-led satellite mission, as well as in future projects in other high-profile areas of extra-Galactic astronomy and cosmology.

Supporting documents

How we make decisions

Je-S handbook

PPRP equality and inclusion impact assessment (PDF, 243KB)

Project risk management guidance

Projects Peer Review proposal: guidance for applicants

STFC data management plan

STFC guidance for applicants

STFC peer review and assessment

STFC project management framework

STFC Projects Peer Review Panel

STFC Researchfish

STFC Science Board

Work package cost tables

This is the integrated website of the seven research councils, Research England and Innovate UK.
Let us know if you have feedback or would like to help us test new developments.