Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Strategic longer and larger grants (sLoLa): frontier bioscience 2022 to 2023

Apply for funding for adventurous fundamental bioscience research at the frontiers of human knowledge.

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

Your project:

  • should have the potential to lead to major breakthroughs in our understanding of the rules of life
  • must demonstrate a team science approach
  • must demonstrate the need for longer and larger scale funding to deliver a novel and fully integrated research programme.

The full economic cost of your project must be over £2,000,000. BBSRC will fund 80% of the full economic cost.

Projects can be up to five years in duration.

Who can apply

This opportunity is open to teams of eligible researchers at:

  • higher education institutions (HEIs)
  • research council institutes (RCIs)
  • approved independent research organisations (IROs)
  • public sector research establishments (PSREs).

Check if you’re eligible for research and innovation funding.

Principal and co-investigators must meet our standard eligibility criteria, as outlined in section three of our BBSRC research grants guide.

Principal investigators or co-investigators based outside the UK are not permitted.

The principal investigator must not already be a principal investigator on an active sLoLa grant unless the grant is in its final year.

Multiple applications with the same principal investigator are not permitted within the same funding round, but co-investigators may participate in multiple applications. Teams can include any number of co-investigators.

Please contact us prior to submission if you need advice on eligibility of team members.

What we're looking for

Scope

Proposals must be focused on frontier bioscience (leading-edge discovery research that addresses significant fundamental questions in bioscience).

Curiosity-driven research at the limits of our current understanding has a strong record of revealing, or rewriting, fundamental ‘rules of life’ that are applicable across living systems.

Through an ambitious and fully integrated research programme, your ideas must have the potential to lead to a major contribution to biological knowledge, commensurate with the scale of support provided.

To achieve transformative outcomes, strategic longer and larger (sLoLa) grant proposals typically take a multidisciplinary approach, combining diverse inputs and perspectives. Teams will use or develop cutting-edge research technologies, methods and approaches to unlock and explore original avenues of investigation.

Your team is expected to bring together a new, distinctive and world-class bioscience research capability within the UK. We welcome applications working across any scale of biological organisation and particularly those employing quantitative approaches that integrate research from different fields and disciplines to advance bioscience.

Requirements

Proposals must fully address the scope of the sLoLa scheme, clearly demonstrating a primary focus on generating a significant advancement in fundamental bioscience knowledge.

The work to be undertaken must be primarily within BBSRC’s remit. We encourage multidisciplinary proposals, but we strongly advise potential applicants to contact us before submission if significant aspects of the proposal are outside of our remit.

Proposals must provide a clear justification for the necessity for funding through the sLoLa scheme to deliver the programme of work, to the extent that the work could not be undertaken through funding a series of separate smaller awards.

Your proposal must demonstrate overall coherence, connectivity, coordination and integration of the work to be carried out. This includes how your team aims to deliver substantively different and synergistic outcomes than could be achieved through the individual efforts of members of the team.

A strong case must be made regarding:

  • the transformative potential of the research
  • how the proposal will enhance the UK’s international position
  • the wider legacy and benefits of the project for UK bioscience.

There is no expectation for proposals to address our responsive mode priorities or have a direct line of sight to application.

Exclusions

BBSRC takes a strategic approach to investment, considering the overall balance of our portfolio in world-class bioscience research.

Proposals in areas in which there is already substantial BBSRC investment are therefore likely to be at a competitive disadvantage and may be excluded at the registration or outline stages. This includes existing sLoLa-scale awards or research in areas covered by current BBSRC institute strategic programme grants.

See the list of currently active BBSRC grants over £2,000,000 (PDF, 126KB).

Proposals that are not primarily motivated by fundamental advances in biological knowledge are excluded, for example, proposals where the primary aim is to tackle a user-driven challenge from within industry or that address applied challenges such as the sustainable development goals.

Work that is potentially impactful within one or more of the BBSRC strategic challenges set out in the BBSRC ‘a forward look for UK bioscience’ is not excluded, but the primary driver must be to make fundamental advances in biological knowledge with potential for broad implications for the discipline.

Team composition

Teams should draw on the breadth of expertise available within the UK. Typically, this will span several departments and research organisations.

Teams can include researchers at a variety of career stages. Fellows, technical staff and postdoctoral scientists who are not eligible to apply as a co-investigator can be included as researcher co-investigators where they play a distinctive role.

Principal investigators are not required to have held a similar sized award before. However, leading larger-scale team science involves additional challenges in comparison to smaller research projects.

A sLoLa team (principal investigator and co-investigators collectively) will therefore need to demonstrate competency in leadership and management relevant to more complex multi-investigator and multi-site research.

Teams should identify any recent professional development, plans for mentoring or shared responsibilities (for example, co-principal investigators) that will enhance the effectiveness of their leadership. Dedicated project management support can also be incorporated into proposals.

You should consider the expectations laid out in the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers (Vitae), to which BBSRC is a signatory.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

BBSRC is committed to encouraging equality, diversity and inclusion by eliminating unlawful discrimination in accordance with the Equality Act 2010.

You are encouraged to leverage the full strengths of the UK’s diverse research and innovation community from the earliest stages of assembling your teams through to the delivery of awarded projects.

Consideration of equality, diversity and inclusion is important for all applications to BBSRC for funding, but particular care should be taken for projects taking a team science approach involving multiple co-applicants, such as those supported through the sLoLa scheme.

We expect sLoLa teams to be exemplars for best research practice by promoting a positive research culture and providing an inclusive environment which promotes equality and diversity.

How to apply

Attend a webinar

The opportunity launch is supported by a webinar (two dates available) that will present an overview of the strategic longer and larger grants (sLoLa) scheme followed by an opportunity to ask questions. A copy of the material presented will be provided here after the live sessions.

Webinar on 3 May 2022 at 10:00

Webinar on 12 May 2022 at 14:00

After signing-up, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Application stages

There are three mandatory stages to the application process.

Stage one: registration

Potential applicants (principal investigators) must register their interest in the opportunity by completing and submitting a short online survey that will be reviewed by programme managers. These programme managers will provide initial feedback on remit and fit to scope.

Complete a short online survey on SurveyMonkey to register your interest.

If you are unable to submit the survey via the link above, please contact the sLoLa team at bbsrc.lolagrants@bbsrc.ukri.org

When registering, principal investigators will be asked to provide:

  • information about the anticipated team
  • information about the scientific rationale for the proposed programme of work, including how it meets the frontier bioscience scope of the sLoLa call (maximum of 250 words)
  • information about the anticipated objectives of the programme (maximum of 150 words)
  • a brief explanation about why a sLoLa grant is required to address the research challenge (maximum of 150 words).

No financial information is required at the registration stage.

Registration is intended to ensure outlines are appropriately targeted to this funding opportunity and to provide an early indication of the level of demand, team composition and research areas.

We encourage potential applicants to submit a registration as early as possible in order to allow sufficient time for consideration of any feedback prior to submission of their outline application.

Registrations submitted after 14 June 2022 at 16:00 will not be accepted.

Some applicants may be advised that their proposal is unsuitable for the scheme.

Stage two: outline proposal

The outline stage is only open to applicants who have registered for the sLoLa opportunity.

Proposals will be considered by a single multidisciplinary panel, the Strategic LoLa Committee (SLC).

Proposals will consist of a case for support and sLoLa Team Résumé for Research and Innovation template (see sLoLa submission document guidance).

Applying through Je-S

Proposals must be submitted through the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system. Outline submissions must be made on a single Je-S form with one research organisation identified as the lead. This research organisation will be responsible for the management of the award.

The closing date for the outline stage is 17 August 2022 at 16:00.

When applying, select:

  • council: BBSRC
  • document type: outline proposal
  • scheme: standard outlines
  • call/type/mode: 2022 strategic Longer and Larger (sLoLa) grants outlines.

Please note that only overall indicative costs are requested at the outline stage of assessment.

Changes to project costs are permitted between the outline and full stages, so research organisations are advised to take a pragmatic approach to estimating costings at the outline stage.

A single principal investigator and lead research organisation must be specified in Je-S for administrative purposes.

Stage three: full proposal (invitation only)

Only proposals shortlisted by the SLC will be invited back as full proposals.

Applying through Je-S

Proposals must be submitted through the Je-S system. Full stage submissions must be made on a single Je-S form with one research organisation identified as the lead. This research organisation will be responsible for the management of the award.

The closing date for the full stage is 1 February 2023 at 16:00.

When applying, select:

  • council: BBSRC
  • document type: Standard Proposal
  • scheme: Responsive Mode
  • call/type/mode: 2023 strategic Longer and Larger (sLoLa) grants.

The launch of the full stage is supported by a webinar that will cover:

  • what BBSRC is looking for in full applications to the opportunity
  • general feedback from the outline assessment committee
  • frequently asked questions and common issues.

The webinar will be followed by an opportunity to ask questions.

An invitation to join the webinar will be sent to applicants who are successful at the outline stage.

How we will assess your application

Outline proposals

Outline proposals will be assessed by SLC. Highly rated proposals will be invited to make a full application.

Full proposals

Full proposals will be assessed in two phases.

Phase one

Phase one involves:

  • a full external peer review followed by assessment by a multidisciplinary panel
  • highly rated proposals being shortlisted for interview (phase two).

Phase two

The SLC will:

  • conduct interviews with the shortlisted applicants
  • make a final funding recommendation to BBSRC.

Assessment criteria

Proposals will be assessed with reference to the scope of the opportunity and against the following six assessment criteria:

  • research excellence
  • importance and transformative potential
  • added value of funding via sLoLa grant
  • capability to deliver
  • management strategy (full stage only)
  • resources (full stage only).

Please refer to the ‘sLoLa submission document guidance’ for assessment criteria and scoring definitions.

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

Strategic Longer and Larger grants team

Email: bbsrc.lolagrants@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

Frontier bioscience: understanding the rules of life

This funding opportunity is related to the ‘frontier bioscience: understanding the rules of life’ area of investment and support.

Frontier bioscience is pioneering, innovative and creative research that can lead to far-reaching discoveries. The support for this area is central to BBSRC’s mission to advance knowledge and technology.

COVID-19

We recognise that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused major interruptions and disruptions across our communities. We are committed to ensuring that individual applicants and their wider team, including partners and networks, are not penalised for any disruption to their career, such as:

  • breaks and delays
  • disruptive working patterns and conditions
  • the loss of ongoing work
  • role changes that may have been caused by the pandemic.

Panel members will be advised to consider the unequal impacts that COVID-19 related disruption might have had on the track record and career development of those individuals included in the proposal. They will be asked to consider the capability of the applicant and their wider team to deliver the research they are proposing.

Where disruptions have occurred, you can highlight this within your application, if you wish, but there is no requirement to detail the specific circumstances that caused the disruption.

Supporting documents

sLoLa submission document guidance (PDF, 197KB)
sLoLa Team Résumé for Research and Innovation template (DOCX, 23KB)
Summary of currently active BBSRC grants over £2 million (PDF, 165KB)
BBSRC research grants guide
Frequently asked questions (PDF, 187KB)
Equality impact assessment (PDF, 154KB)
Je-S handbook
Registration survey (DOCX, 256KB)
2022 to 2023 sLoLa grants: frontier bioscience webinar slides (PDF, 487 KB)

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