Business-led, co-created and co-delivered
The Prosperity Partnerships funding opportunity aims to fund business-led research that arises from an industrial need, with the work being co-delivered between the business and academic partners.
The opportunity is aimed at supporting excellent, world-leading discovery research and innovation, which has clear benefit to the businesses involved, resulting in accelerated impact arising from the new knowledge, innovations or technologies.
Co-creation of the research programme is essential. BBSRC expects programmes funded through this opportunity to:
- drive forward shared research challenges
- demonstrate impact beyond the partners
- provide benefits to the businesses involved.
The programme should contribute positively to the overall strategic partnership framework which exists between the parties.
It should be clear that both the business and academic researchers are making distinct intellectual contributions to the partnership.
Where an individual is discharging responsibilities within both a business and a research organisation (for example, as a consequence of being involved in university spin-outs) clarity on separation of duties and managing conflicts of interest is essential.
If the proposal is deemed appropriate for BBSRC support, a collaboration agreement will be requested before the grant is authorised.
The research challenges to be addressed in the Prosperity Partnership should:
- be relevant to stimulating innovation aimed at tackling major problems faced by the UK and the world
- drive capability in key technologies and scientific advancements.
BBSRC recognises that the specific outcomes will be unique to each project, but you should consider how you might:
- deliver new or improved products or services
- drive efficiencies or cost reductions
- enable expansion to new sectors or markets while also jointly authoring high-impact publications.
Ultimately, the project should seek to provide economic impact and prosperity that wouldn’t exist without the partnership.
BBSRC seeks to foster greater collaboration and networking between researchers, business and civic bodies to deliver research, skills and innovation vital to the long-term prosperity of communities and regions of the UK.
While not an assessment criterion, we encourage you to consider and articulate how your partnership potentially aligns and supports both industrial and civic ambitions or priorities for regional economies.
Where applicable, you are also asked to demonstrate what place-based outcomes might be expected to arise from your projects, both in the short and longer term. These may include (but are not restricted to):
- local and regional economic growth, skills development, job creation or retention
- critical mass activities leading to increased private investment, including foreign direct investment, in a specific place
- contributions to cluster development through, for example, knowledge diffusion, supply chain development, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME) growth, generation or growth of spin outs.
You are expected to work within the UKRI framework for responsible innovation.
You should consider and implement plans for responsible innovation throughout the research project, and include details of these plans in the application, including specific actions that will be taken.
Applicants planning to include international collaborators on their proposal should view our trusted research guidance on getting the most out of international collaboration whilst protecting intellectual property, sensitive research and personal information.
Equality, diversity and inclusion
BBSRC recognises that excellence in science requires diversity and equality to promote innovation and creativity. To do so effectively, all available talent must be harnessed. We expect equality and diversity to be an integral part, at all levels of research practices as a part of our funding portfolio.
BBSRC seeks to ensure that equality principles are applied to all funding activities, and considers that no one should be excluded or hindered from a career in science because of their sex, ethnic background, age, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief, pregnancy or maternity, marriage, or civil partnership (protected characteristics as defined in the Equality Act 2010).
We are committed to supporting the research community, offering a range of flexible options which allow you to design a package that fits your research goals, career and personal circumstances. Therefore, these aspects should be strongly ingrained into the projects proposed for this opportunity. One common approach is to reference institutional strategies and policies related to equality, diversity and inclusion and indicate that the Prosperity Partnership would be delivered in alignment with these activities.
Learn more about our equality, diversity and inclusion strategy.
The primary balance of research and innovation should be focused on bioscience and biotechnology which covers BBSRC’s remit (at least 50%). Other research and innovation areas supported by UKRI may be included if they clearly strengthen the research, innovation or partnership.
BBSRC encourages multidisciplinary research and recognises that many Prosperity Partnerships will involve multidisciplinary research and innovation. For example, EPSRC’s Prosperity Partnership scheme has been highly successful and has funded 47 partnerships to date. BBSRC has supported and co-invested at least £3.5 million in several of these partnerships to date.
Business and academic leads should ensure that:
- the business and academic partners have a demonstrable, established and research-based relationship
- there are clear plans to evolve this relationship via user-inspired shared research challenges and the Prosperity Partnership is a key component of the plans to evolve and strengthen this relationship
- both partners are committed to the co-creation of a jointly delivered large scale research programme at technology readiness levels (TRL) one to four
- the business and academic partners can commit to leveraging BBSRC funding for the Prosperity Partnership with at least a matched contribution in cash (in-kind contributions are permitted but cannot form part of the matched component)
- a definitive list of eligible cash contributions is set out in the ‘Definitive list of eligible cash contributions for business leads and partners’ section
- no UKRI, public or government funding will be used as leverage and be able to clearly demonstrate an auditable transfer during the grant duration.
The business lead partner must be:
- from a business in the private sector driven by profit, or from an organisation with a commercial arm which generates independent revenue
- in a position to contribute to the nation’s prosperity through increasing their investment in UK based research and development activities and subsequent product development in the UK.
The topic of the research and innovation programme is primarily focused on bioscience and biotechnology within BBSRC’s remit. Multidisciplinary projects are welcomed and funding from other UKRI councils may be sought as long as more than 50% of the topics or work lies within BBSRC’s remit. This will be built into the assessment process and BBSRC will provide indications to relevant councils immediately after ‘outline stage’ approvals).
Matched cash contribution
BBSRC funding is at 80% of the full economic cost with exceptions for skills and talent training costs (100% full economic cost).
The funding provided by BBSRC must be (as a minimum) matched with commercially generated revenue in cash by the business lead (in single lead bids). In multi-partner bids, this contribution can be collectively provided, but the majority has to come from a single business lead.
Cash contributions will count against the matched contribution.
A definitive list of cash contributions can be found in the ‘Definitive list of eligible cash contributions for business leads and partners’ section. Any contribution from business or other project partners not included in the cash contribution list will count as ‘in-kind’.
BBSRC is happy to discuss contribution details prior to submission.
Where a Prosperity Partnership has a single business lead
The full matched cash contribution (as a minimum) should be provided by the business lead.
Where a Prosperity Partnership has multiple business partners
The combined cash contributions from the business partners must, at a minimum, match the BBSRC funding. The majority of this matched funding is required to be provided by the primary business lead for the partnership.
It is permissible for the lead business to provide the entirety of the matched cash contribution and also have additional project partner contributions. Once the matched cash contribution has been reached, additional contributions can be in cash or in-kind.
For both single and multiple partner Prosperity Partnerships, there can be complex arrangements and objectives. Where appropriate and necessary, BBSRC would be happy to consider and potentially discuss any necessary elements of proposals prior to submission.
Cash contributions from all partners can exceed the matched cash contribution project requirement.
In-kind contributions are any non-cash contribution from business, academic or other project partners not included in the definitive list of eligible match contributions. In-kind contributions such as data, software, management time and facilities access are strongly encouraged and can help show additional and varied business commitments to ensure the success of the project. However, they will not count towards the matched cash contributions, but are strongly encouraged.
Any academic partner cash contributions (including those of the academic lead) will not contribute to the matched cash funding project requirement.
No UKRI or other UK government money, as part of baseline funding or otherwise, may be used or included to form part of the matched cash contribution requirement.
BBSRC will not mandate a specific audit format for the business contributions to a project. However, a formal record must be produced upon request. This must be able to demonstrate a continuous auditable cash transfer, or staff time-record, by the business partner per year in each year of the programme.
As an exception, requests for skills and talent training are covered at 100% full economic cost, so these need to be costed appropriately and considered for total matching of grant funding by the business partner.
Definitive list of eligible cash contributions for business leads and partners
The following is the definitive list of eligible cash contributions. These are in addition to providing an auditable cash transfer to the academic organisations.
BBSRC expects the time of researchers, postdoctoral research associates, technicians, business-funded doctoral students and the project manager to be fully costed onto projects depending on how much time a person would spend on it.
In the application, it is expected that the role and responsibilities of costed persons are detailed and it is demonstrated clearly how their experience and skills are linked to work packages and outcomes. The appropriateness of the time devoted to the project will be assessed in the panel interview and peer review (at the full proposal stage).
Gross salary can be claimed as matched funding (that is, including indirect costs such as pension, National Insurance and taxes) but not business overheads or profits. The salary of a single member of staff (researcher, postdoctoral research associates or project manager) can be covered in partnership by the business lead and BBSRC funds in a ratio that best suits the project.
Below we state the eligible cash contributions for business leads and partners
All or part of the pro rata, gross salary cost associated with researchers employed by universities (including co-investigators).
Postdoctoral research associates’ salaries
All or part of the gross salary cost associated with research associates employed by research organisations to work exclusively on the Prosperity Partnership.
Research associates can also be employed directly by the businesses in the partnership and the appropriately costed gross salary can be claimed as a cash contribution depending on how much time the person spends on the Prosperity Partnership.
Professional project manager salaries
Pro rata gross salary cost of a professional project manager.
Pro rata gross salary cost of technicians.
New software licences needed for the project and their maintenance cost for the duration of the grant. Software licences or intellectual property (IP) owned by the business which are already accessible by the partners will apply at marginal cost, not at market rate.
Equipment may be sought as part of the Prosperity Partnership and the equipment requested must be necessary to the successful delivery of the proposed research.
Items of multiple-use equipment (where the equipment is necessary for the pursuit of the proposed research but will not be fully occupied on it) may also be sought.
The application must set out the other proposed uses and explain the overall benefit to BBSRC science of the equipment investment being sought. Find out more in the BBSRC research grants guide.
Equipment produced by the business
Equipment produced by the business is only claimable at the cost of manufacture (not market) rate.
Access to equipment and facilities
Access to specific equipment and facilities critical to achieve the outcomes of the project. If the facility is based at the academic or business lead’s facility, the cash contribution will be valued at cost.
Facilities development can be an eligible business cash contribution if the upgrade will increase the capability of the facilities with specific benefit to the proposed work. This contribution must be justified in addition to any estate costs already factored in. Any facilities development contributions require discussion with BBSRC prior to submission.
Business cash donation
Business cash donations which will be provided to the partner universities, for the universities to manage in line with the project objectives.
Skills and talent training
Extra skills and talent training to support doctoral and research Masters studentships, higher apprenticeships, continuing professional development of the project’s research and innovation team, exchanges and secondments. Skills and talent training may be up to a maximum of 20% of the matching contribution.
Skills and talent training
Workforce development plan
The workforce development plan will set out your aims, objectives, future actions and anticipated outcomes for developing an excellent, inclusive and supported team with the right people and the right skills to deliver the strategic objectives of the proposed Prosperity Partnership.
It will describe any other added value actions the partnership will take to develop skills in the wider research and innovation community. The plan will set out what resources will be required and deployed to meet these goals.
It will consider:
- the team of people needed to lead, implement and support the Prosperity Partnership’s work streams
- the depth and breadth of skills in the current team and how skills gaps will be addressed through continuing professional development or new recruitment
- the diversity profile of the team and measures to address any identified social and demographic imbalances
- opportunities for added value activities to train the next generation of researchers, technical specialists, entrepreneurs and innovators.
BBSRC is making available a Flexible Talent Development Account (FTDA) for you to bid into in support of your workforce development plan. The plan should include details of any FTDA funds you wish to apply for and the scalability of these activities.
Flexible Talent Development Account
To meet the ambitions of the workforce plan, a FTDA is being made available. This fund will be competitively awarded to applicants based on the strength of the workforce plan statement, and the impact and feasibility of the activities planned to support it.
The FTDA may be used to support, for example, doctoral and research Masters studentships, higher apprenticeships, continuing professional development of the project’s research and innovation team, exchanges and secondments, and the development of training resources.
It may be targeted to the core team assembled to deliver the Prosperity Partnership, or for the purpose of developing new talent for the sector at all levels and in all roles needed.
The planned activities must indicate scalability on three levels:
- the core FTDA bid (for a notional budget of £200,000)
- a +10% funding scenario
- a -10% funding scenario.
If successful in this FTDA application, BBSRC will decide on the scale of activities under these scenarios to fund.
Note that any requests for doctoral or research Masters studentships or higher apprenticeships must ensure that the projects allocated to these trainees will not be critical to the successful delivery of the Prosperity Partnership’s strategic objectives.
For any doctoral studentships requested, BBSRC expects that they receive cohort-based training by either aligning them with existing doctoral investments within the research organisation (for example, a Doctoral Training Partnerships or Collaborative Training Partnership) or through new plans in this Prosperity Partnership for cohort-based training. Details of these approaches will be required.
FTDAs will be allocated to successful Prosperity Partnerships on a competitive basis following peer review by an expert panel. FTDA funds will only be awarded if:
- the Prosperity Partnership application as a whole is approved for funding
- the workforce development plan and its associated FTDA bid are also approved for funds.
No matter how strong the FTDA component, these funds cannot be awarded in the event of the overall Prosperity Partnership being unsuccessful.
FTDAs will be awarded as either BBSRC training grants (through the grants system) in line with standard terms and conditions, and will be profiled accordingly. The practicalities of how grants will be awarded will be provided to successful applications.
Applicants that receive an FTDA award will be required to provide an update of their activities through the Prosperity Partnership reporting and monitoring process. All outputs should be recorded through Researchfish. Further reporting may be required following the award, as requested by government or UKRI.
Funding available and timeframe
The full funding amount of up to £11 million will be delivered in a single round with projects being up to five years in length.
BBSRC funding is at 80% full economic costs with exceptions for skills and talent training costs (100% full economic cost).
Requested funds may include:
- staff costs
- equipment and other items required to carry out the project
- costs related to impact
- travel and subsistence
- skills and talent training costs.
Please see the BBSRC research grants guide for guidance on equipment funding.