Collaborations - BBSRC

There several ways that the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) supports collaborations with other research organisations and industry partners

Joint research projects

Joint research projects provide researchers from two or more eligible institutions with an opportunity to apply for resources and funding for the same research project with a view to undertaking specific areas of the research project at each institution. Where this is the case, funds may be requested in either of two ways:

  • submitting one research grant application from the lead institution
  • submitting a research grant application from each institution.

Collaborative research grants

Collaborative research grants provide researchers in eligible institutions with an opportunity to participate with other organisations in research projects. BBSRC funds part or all of the work carried out by the applicant, but does not fund the collaborating partner. Examples of collaborative research grants are Industrial Partnership Awards and LINK.

Applicants must ensure that they have obtained the permission of any other person named on the proposal form (for example any co-investigators or project partners) for the provision of their personal information to UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) and the processing of their data by UKRI for the purpose of assessing the application and management of any funding awarded.

Collaborations with institutes

These are intended to encourage, for mutual benefit, the use and development of complementary experience and skills and experimental facilities between university researchers and researchers from BBSRC strategically-sponsored institutes. Applicants must:

  • demonstrate that the proposed research will provide added value over and above what would have been achieved from two separate contributions, and;
  • clearly show a commitment to joint working from both the university and institute researchers
  • identify a programme co-ordinator, but overall the research should be managed in concert.

Applications must contain the written support of the institute director. If a BBSRC sponsored institute is applying for funding, the application should be a joint proposal.

Where the work is in collaboration with an institute or unit of another research council or with an organisation that is not a UK university, BBSRC sponsored institute or main research providers (MRP), the extent and reasons for the collaboration must be explained.

Details of the staff expertise and facilities that will be provided by the collaborator or collaborators must be included in the case for support. For collaborations with MRPs, the director must confirm that the necessary funding for the MRP part of the collaboration will be available from the Scottish Government.

Project partners

Applicants may name formal project partners. This could be a:

  • third party person who is not employed on the grant
  • third party organisation, who provides specific contributions either in cash or in kind, to the project.

Entitlement to the outputs of the project or intellectual property (IP) will be determined between the parties involved, however any access to project outputs and IP must be in line with any relevant subsidy control regulation.

As a rule project partners are expected to provide contributions to the delivery of the project and should not therefore be seeking to claim funds from UKRI. However, where there are specific circumstances where project partners do require funding for minor costs such as travel and subsistence, this will usually be paid at 80% full economic costing (FEC) unless otherwise stated by us. Any applicable subsidy control regulation and HMRC guidance will also be taken into account which may affect the percentage of these costs that we will fund. These costs should be outlined and fully justified in the proposal and will be subject to peer review.

Those not eligible to be project partners are:

  • UKRI head office staff acting in their capacity as a UKRI employee
  • organisations that are applicants on the project, including non-lead applicant organisations.

It is the responsibility of named project partners to read and comply with the terms and conditions relating to applications for research grants.

Project partner information in the application

Each project partner must confirm, where appropriate, the availability of the necessary facilities, resources and infrastructure in a project-specific letter of support of up to two pages in length.

The letter should:

  • be on headed paper, dated within six months of the date of submission of the proposal
  • have the signature of the named contact in the partnering organisation
  • confirm the organisation’s role in and commitment to the proposed project and explain how it will contribute to the impact of the project.

The partnering organisation’s involvement in the project including their contributions to it, whether in cash or in kind, should also be explained in detail in the case for support, including the equivalent value of any in-kind contributions. In-kind contributions can include but are not limited to:

  • staff time
  • access to equipment
  • sites or facilities
  • the provision of data
  • software or materials.

The cash or in-kind values must not be included in the costs claimed on the Je-S form. Project partner contributions in cash or in-kind are not considered part of the FEC of the project. For completion of the relevant part of the Je-S form see the Je-S help text under the ‘project partners’ sub heading of ‘guidance on completing a standard grant application’ of the Je-S handbook.

In instances where a collaboration is restricted to intellectual input into a project or the provision of materials, for example cell lines, by a researcher or their organisation at no cost, a letter from the researcher or organisation confirming the extent of the collaboration is required.

Other collaborations

Potential principal applicants who wish to collaborate with researchers at other institutions and those from other countries are advised to contact the appropriate BBSRC team prior to submitting an application. The extent and reasons for any collaboration must be described fully in the case for support.

In all instances of collaborative activity both applicants and collaborators or project partners must be aware that any costs incurred, direct or otherwise, by either collaborators or collaborators institutions (project partners) in connection with collaborations, cannot be met by BBSRC.


BBSRC considers eligible institutions to be best placed to determine how their work is undertaken. A subcontractor can be either a:

  • third-party individual not employed as staff on the grant
  • third-party organisation, who is subcontracted by the host organisation to deliver a specific piece of work. This will be subject to the procurement rules of the host organisation.

All costs that support the delivery of the subcontract are eligible and will be paid at 80% FEC unless otherwise stated, these should be outlined and fully justified in the proposal and will be subject to peer review. Entitlement to the outputs of the project and IP will be determined between the parties involved, however any access to project outputs and IP must be in line with any relevant subsidy control regulation.

Except in instances where the service provider is from the public sector, the conferring of any IP, author or other rights to it by the contractor in relation to the research grant application for which it was contracted to provide a service, is not permissible. The inclusion of an acknowledgement in any resulting material of the sub-contracted organisation’s contribution to the research is however acceptable. Should there be an intimation or desire on the part of the contractor or subcontractor not within the public sector, for other than such an acknowledgement, for example, co-author status on resulting publications, then the interaction between the parties concerned would be deemed to equate to a collaboration.

Dual roles

An organisation or individual can act as both a project partner and subcontractor, however this must be fully justified and will be subject to peer review.

This enables the organisation or individual to receive recognition as a project partner for the elements of their contribution to the project that is in an integral or meaningful capacity, which they wouldn’t get if they were needing to be included only as a subcontractor. As a rule we would expect project partner related costs to be minor. Where the project needs work to be undertaken that is more significant and includes costs other than travel and subsistence, then the organisation or individual to be contracted may need to be included as both a project partner and a subcontractor. An example of where dual roles might be required is when an organisation or individual is giving to the project in-kind but are also selected to deliver other work to the project involving non-minor costs to be covered via a subcontract.

Last updated: 15 January 2024

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