The aim of the UK SKA Regional Centre (SRC) open funding opportunity is to invite proposals from consortia to deliver the objectives of the UKSRC strategy.
The goal of this opportunity is to identify a single consortium to undertake the work.
The scope of the proposal will encompass the UK’s SRC efforts, which will contribute to the SRCNet, as well as deliver on the priorities and needs of the UK community.
The proposal will demonstrate the delivery of UKSRC’s strategy vision, which is for the SRC network (SRCNet) to meet the needs of the UK science community, providing seamless access to SKA data and support, and enabling UK scientists to lead exploitation.
The proposal will aim to maximise the return to the UK through a contribution to the SRCNet at a level commensurate with the UK’s leading role in the project, and to deliver a UKSRC node, enabling the UK to maximise scientific return and drive innovation in data science.
The UKSRC node will form a key component of the SRCNet. It should help deliver the major SRCNet functionalities identified within the SKA SRC white paper (PDF, 406KB).
It will be compliant with the SRC global architecture and standards, whilst providing local operational infrastructure commensurate with the scientific needs of the UK SKA community.
Your proposal should be clear and concise and cover the full request for support, including an explicit analysis of costs, risks and benefits.
Grants should commence no sooner than 1 October 2022 and no later than 31 March 2023.
Proposals should justify your requested start date.
Case for support
Guidance on the contents of the case for support include the following information.
Aims and objectives
The intended outputs and outcomes of the project should be stated clearly, so that the success or failure of the project can easily be determined at the end of the funded period.
The scope of the project should be described, setting out the key work areas and international landscape. Highlight what will be delivered and on what timescale.
Strategic fit and relevance
You must include a science case summary stating the main science goals and objectives of the UK SKA community in terms of the STFC particle physics, particle astrophysics, astronomy and nuclear physics (PPAN) science themes.
Awareness and context
Describe the current status of related activity nationally and worldwide and how this proposal builds on the previous work.
Justify the proposed start dates of the grants and include how responsibilities are to be shared among the collaborators, both within the UK and internationally.
The proposal will promote strong community engagement throughout the project. Explain how the project will have a strong supportive user base among the relevant community both in the UK and internationally.
Describe the proponents track record in this field. A list of UK participants should be provided with justification for STFC support. Explain why the consortium is the best or most appropriate to carry out this project.
The management and reporting structure of the project should be outlined. This will include the setting up of a project office.
Information should be given about the way in which the project is to be led and managed. This must describe the following information.
Project organisation and participants
Provide a project structure diagram and organogram identifying key individuals or bodies (for example, programme board, Project Manager, Community Director) and reporting lines.
Arrangements should be described to enable project progress and performance to be managed effectively. The key stakeholders in the project should be identified
Project monitoring and reporting
The proposal should define the methods to be used for progress reporting and control. The plan includes frequency and attendance for progress meetings, the acceptance process for key deliverables and milestones, and the frequency and content of progress reports
Work breakdown structure (WBS)
Setting out the key work-packages together with a description of the key deliverables and tasks required to deliver them. The WBS should be broken down sufficiently to allow key work-packages and activities within the project to be understood.
Scheduling and resourcing
Milestones and deliverables should be defined in sufficient detail so that it is clear when they have been met and be sufficiently frequent to enable effective monitoring of the project.
A risk register must be provided. The management of risks must be described.
The full economic cost of your project can be up to £8,625,000 (resource) for three years (£2,875,000 per year). STFC will fund 80% of the full economic cost.
It is expected that STFC IRIS (the digital research infrastructure for STFC science and a coordination body that organises the sharing of resources and expertise across STFC and is preparing STFC for integration into UKRI-wide infrastructure) will provide capital and operational costs for computing, storage, system support and data centre expenses.
Therefore, these need not be requested in this proposal. However, the requirement from IRIS should be referenced.
Separate to the IRIS support, a small portion of capital can be made available to support activities that meet the remit of this opportunity if the need is demonstrated.
This capital request should be approximately £100,000 per year (cost to STFC), at approximately £300,000 total, and should cover items, such as network connectivity, where there is no provision in the current planned IRIS support.
Projects must start between 1 October 2022 and 31 March 2023.
You should include a narration of the financial request.
The total cost of the project to STFC must be shown, including the following information.
Staff resource plans
Staff resource plans that should include a brief description of the activity staff will undertake and the need for each post. Resource tables should specify the staff category, and the fraction of the time they will spend on the project or work package.
All costs associated with the proposal must be justified, with the exception of university estates and indirects. An explanation for all costs requested on the Je-S form must be given in the case for support.
Each directly incurred post must be given a name or, for unnamed posts, a unique number (for example, RA1, RA2.).
Working allowance which 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 (for example, greater than 75%) that the project can be completed within the budget of the base cost plus the working allowance, it is awarded as part of the grant at announcement (at 100%).
Contingency which should not be requested on the Je-S form.
It is for the unexpected things that can occur within a project and which could not reasonably be predicted, the cost of which is likely to be over and above that covered by the working margin.
It should be calculated on the basis of an understanding of the risks of the project and 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 de-scoping the project.
You must include a set of demonstrator cases with particular relevance to the scientific interests and requirements of the UK community, complete with timelines, that define the user requirements (for example, what the researchers do) for working through these demonstrator cases.
There should be six to eight of these and each should be no more than one page long. These should encompass the UK Science Communities research interests. They will be used to test the proto-SRCs technical functions and efficacy.
Describe those activities that will be undertaken to support outreach and public engagement activities. Include how the potential impacts of the work, including knowledge exchange, will be realised. You should list relevant publications and references.
All details relating to the funding opportunity costs can be found in the grants handbook.
STFC template finance tables should be completed for each institute and work package.
Awards will be for three years and finance tables should be completed for this duration.
The cost to STFC (80% of the full economic cost) should be shown in the case for support.
STFC laboratory costs should be shown as 100% in the case for support. No overheads will be attracted.
Inflation (for example, indexation) should be included for STFC labs. Inflation should not be included for universities. Grant costs will be indexed by STFC, using the rates extant at the time.
Je-S forms should also be completed and match the funding requested in the case for support.
Guidance and information on completing the Je-S form can be found under ‘Applying for a grant’ in the STFC grants handbook.
Data management plan
You are required to provide a data management plan. Further information can be found in the grants research handbook.