In order for a new, major project to be considered for funding by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), a Statement of Interest (SoI) describing the proposed project and detailing the full economic cost of the proposed programme, must be submitted for evaluation. Guidelines and the Statement of Interest proforma can be found below.
The consideration of an SoI is the first step in the STFC review of any major, new proposal. An SoI may be submitted to signify the expression of interest of a full proposal.
SoIs may include:
- participation in new experiments or missions
- the further development of existing high priority experiments or missions
- the development of new instruments
- new detectors or accelerator technologies
- upgrades to existing detectors
- the purchase of new, or upgrades to, existing major high performance computing facilities
- new initiatives in the field of e-science, modelling and data management.
SoIs are considered by the Science Board and can be submitted at any time. If you would like the SoI to be considered at a particular Science Board meeting, the dates for these meetings and the respective dates for submission of proposals to these meetings can be found on our Science Board page.
If the Science Board recommends that a full proposal should be invited following the consideration of the SoI, this will be reviewed by STFC’s Projects Peer Review Panel (PPRP).
How to apply
If the SoI application is successful, the Science Board secretary will invite you to submit a comprehensive proposal to PPRP. At this time, you should liaise with the PPRP secretary for an appropriate submission deadline.
The SoI should include a case for support of two pages in length (maximum) together with the following proforma:
The case for support and proforma should be submitted electronically to the relevant programme manager, in Word or PDF format, and copied to Rachel Leader:
SoI application guidance: prior to submission
In order to assist STFC in financial planning, you are asked to inform STFC of any future research projects for which you may be considering making future funding applications. This is most important for large projects which are likely to request substantial funding from STFC. You should do this by contacting the appropriate programme manager who will advise on the next steps.
If you are looking to submit an SoI with the intention of developing a full proposal shortly afterwards, you should contact the relevant programme manager. Programme managers can discuss the submission process and will ensure that you are aware of all components of the SoI and understand all stages of STFC’s peer review process. In addition, they will advise you on the fit of your project into the STFC strategic context.
Where appropriate, they can provide advice to ensure your proposal provides sufficient information for effective peer review.
The SoI comprises two components:
- a dedicated template (pro-forma), consisting of specific questions which is available to download
- a two-page scientific justification. If there are queries about the questions or the scientific justification, please contact the relevant programme manager.
The scientific justification should include the following information:
- a strong science case should form the majority of the scientific justification as scientific excellence is the main criterion on which Science Board will base their 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, conversely, what the impact would be should the UK not invest)
- the scientific competitiveness and track record of the group
- how the project relates to STFC priorities
- economic and societal impact: who might benefit from this project and how; and how will the potential impacts of the project be realised
- an estimate of the total full economic cost of the project. 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 staff effort (university and STFC laboratory staff), equipment, travel and consumables) and must be sufficiently detailed to show that estimates are reasonable.
The scientific justification may be used to provide more detailed information relating to any of the questions on the dedicated template, although the principle focus of the scientific justification is the science case and this should form the majority of the content. You should ensure that Science Board have sufficient evidence to make an informed recommendation.
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) 11 point font with a minimum of 2cm margins around each page. Additional supporting information, such as letters of support, is not required and will not form part of the Science Board consideration.
SoIs can be submitted at any time. If you would like the SoI to be considered at a particular Science Board meeting, the dates for these meetings and the respective dates for submission of proposals to these meetings can be found on our Science Board page. Proposals received after the submission deadline for a particular Science Board meeting will be carried over for consideration at the following meeting.
Once the template and scientific justification are complete, please submit the documentation electronically to the relevant programme manager, in Word or PDF format, copied to Rachel Leader, Science Board secretariat:
SoI application guidance: consideration by Science Board
Once submitted to STFC and prior to consideration by Science Board, the SoI will be reviewed by the appropriate programme manager to ensure that the data required for its consideration is complete.
In exceptional cases, programme managers may reject proposals where there are clear cases for doing so, for example, where SoIs do not meet the submission criteria, the SoI is out of the scope of a particular funding opportunity or the science is outside the remit of STFC.
Where the programme manager has not been consulted prior to submission, the SoI may be delayed until the programme manager has had an opportunity to discuss and review the proposal with the applicant. In this case, the result may be that the SoI will not meet the deadline for a particular Science Board meeting. It is therefore particularly important that you consult with STFC prior to submission.
Any committee member with a personal conflict of interest will withdraw from the meeting for the duration of the consideration of the proposal. Read the assessment framework utilised by Science Board.
Science Board will form a consensus opinion and recommend whether a full proposal should be invited and will agree specific feedback. Where a full proposal is to be invited, Science Board will also agree any issues that they may require PPRP to resolve or explore during the consideration of the full proposal.
Following the Science Board meeting, you will receive feedback relating to the SoI from the office of the executive director of programmes on behalf of STFC. STFC aims to provide feedback within twenty working days.
SoI application guidance: following consideration by Science Board
If the SoI application is successful, Science Board will invite a full proposal and the applicant will be notified of this by the Science Board secretary. The applicant is asked to contact the PPRP secretary, Nicola Hedges, to agree a submission date for the full proposal:
This deadline will relate to the dates of future PPRP meetings and will not normally exceed six months from the date of SoI consideration. This upper time limit is to help prevent the costs and scope of the project varying significantly between the SoI approved by 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 SoI for review by Science Board.
If more than six months have elapsed, it is generally expected that a second SoI will need to be submitted to ensure that Science Board has the most appropriate and up to date information. Please discuss with the relevant programme manager whether or not a second SoI needs to be submitted.
The cost of the project must not exceed that given in the SoI by more than 15%. Should project costs increase by more than this, Science Board may need to reconsider the SoI taking into account the amended costs. If the scope of the project has changed significantly from that in the SoI, STFC will request that a new SoI is considered by Science Board. In the light of this, 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.
Further information relating to the submission of a full proposal to PPRP can be found on the proposal guidelines for applicants.
SoI application guidance: proposals relating to space
SoI for proposals within the remit of the UK Space Agency (UKSA) should be sent directly to UKSA.
UKSA can also provide further information about the expected content of the SoI. The UKSA Science Programme Advisory Committee (SPAC) will review the SoI and UKSA will provide feedback on whether or not a full proposal is invited. STFC Science Board will also provide strategic scientific advice to UKSA if appropriate.
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 SPAC or 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.
UKSA will inform you directly about any funding decisions.
Last updated: 17 August 2023