Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: BBSRC Discovery Fellowships 2022

Apply for a fellowship to carry out independent research within a host laboratory and gain leadership skills.

You must show that you have the potential to become a future research leader.

Your project must be within BBSRC’s remit.

The full economic cost of your project can be up to £500,000. BBSRC will fund 80% of the full economic cost.

This is the only Discovery Fellowship opportunity open in 2022. We will fund up to 15 fellowships this year.

Please note that there are some changes to the scheme this year. These relate to eligibility criteria and the CV template. We will publish a new CV template after the webinar on 8 March.

Who can apply

You should be able to demonstrate appropriate and relevant research or innovation experience. This could be through:

  • recent completion of a PhD or other higher qualification
  • relevant employment within a research or innovation environment.

You must also be able to evidence reasonable scientific and technical skills and competencies, in line with the ambitions of the Discovery Fellowships scheme.

Applicants currently studying for a PhD are eligible if they are expecting to have passed their PhD viva before 30 November 2022.

Holders of postdoctoral training fellowships such as the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions can apply. Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkins Fellows who meet the research experience eligibility requirement may also apply

You should not hold, or have held:

  • an academic position at lecturer level (or the equivalent in an institution other than a university)
  • an equivalent competitive fellowship that allows you to establish an independent research group, and therefore independent researcher status.

In addition, you should not have been offered such an appointment before taking up a Discovery Fellowship. This applies to both fixed-term and permanent positions.

If you hold a fellowship where you are eligible to supervise PhD students or submit research grants as a principal investigator (PI), we consider that equivalent to a lectureship. As a result, you are not eligible to apply.

Examples of these fellowships include, but are not limited to:

  • Wellcome Trust Sir Henry Dale Fellowships
  • Medical Research Council Career Development Awards
  • Natural Environment Research Council independent research fellowships.

If you have previously applied for BBSRC grant funding as a PI or co-investigator, you are also not eligible to apply.

Prospective applicants on university ‘tenure track’ fellowships should contact postdoc.fellowships@bbsrc.ukri.org to discuss their eligibility.

Discovery Fellowship applicants are not eligible to apply for a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship in the same calendar year. Please see the BBSRC research fellowships handbook (PDF, 161KB) for further details on eligibility criteria.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

As part of UKRI, BBSRC is working proactively to ensure equality, diversity and inclusion in all we do. This allows for maximisation of the impact of our research and innovation to involve and benefit all parts of society.

Everything we fund must embrace a diversity of thought, people and ideas. BBSRC and Discovery Fellowships uphold this commitment.

BBSRC encourages applications from all individuals who meet the eligibility criteria from all backgrounds regardless of:

  • race
  • religion
  • ethnicity
  • nationality
  • age
  • sex
  • sexual orientation
  • gender identity
  • neurodiversity
  • disability
  • socioeconomic background.

We warmly welcome applications from individuals who may have undertaken non-standard or non-typical academic routes prior to application.

International applicants

We welcome proposals from applicants of all nationalities, subject to the fellowship being hosted by:

  • a UK university
  • a UKRI-sponsored institute
  • an independent research organisation.

All successful applicants who require a visa to work in the UK are eligible to be considered under the Global Talent visa route. This replaces the previous Tier 1 (exceptional talent) route.

In line with the highly prestigious nature of the award, this visa route is designed for international researchers who bring new ideas and perspectives, enriching the UK’s research and innovation workforce.

This visa route also enables the holder to be both adaptable and flexible during their research in the UK.

Read more about the Global Talent route in the guidance on how to get funding and visas to do research in the UK.

The grant of any visa is always subject to the standard Home Office general grounds for refusal of a visa. UKRI can provide additional guidance regarding the appropriate evidence required to complete the visa application process under the Global Talent visa. Please contact globaltalentvisa@ukri.org for further details.

What we're looking for

Through our Discovery Fellowships, BBSRC will invest in researchers who are seeking to conduct their own independent research within a host laboratory.

Applicants must provide strong evidence of working towards this goal, demonstrating an upward trajectory to pursuing independent work within a host organisation. They must show high potential to become future research leaders.

We will fund up to 15 fellowships. The full economic cost of your project can be up to £500,000. BBSRC will fund 80% of the full economic cost.

Awards are for three years.

Funding can be used to support:

  • personal salary
  • travel and subsistence
  • training activities
  • research consumables.

Equipment will not be funded.

In addition to this investment, we expect a substantial demonstration of support from the host organisation. See the ‘value for money’ section for details.

Proposals from candidates seeking flexible working arrangements (for example, part-time working) are encouraged. See the BBSRC research fellowships handbook (PDF, 161KB) for further information.

Value for money

Applicants and host organisations should note that value for money is an essential criterion against which fellowship proposals will be assessed, alongside excellence and other key criteria.

We expect host organisations to provide additional commitments to our fellows. The reviewers and committee are looking for evidence that the host organisation will contribute significant financial support, in-kind support, or both, if an award is made.

Examples of additional support could be:

  • items of equipment
  • access to additional staff members or students
  • a direct financial contribution.

We expect at a minimum that hosts will provide access to facilities, training courses and support for career development.

To reflect these commitments, proposals require a template to be completed by the host organisation’s head of department. This should give details of the support that the host commits to provide and should be attached as the ‘head of department statement’ (see the ‘supporting documents’ section).

Proposals that do not provide clear evidence that the research programme is highly competitive in terms of value for money, and in the commitment from the host organisation, are unlikely to be successful.

In addition, the ‘justification of resources’ attachment must clearly show why the resources requested are good value for money and why it is in BBSRC’s interests to provide investment.

Letters of support from all parties contributing financial or other support should also be uploaded to the proposal, giving full and accurate details of the commitments to be made.

Research areas

Your project must be within the remit of BBSRC. We encourage projects that fit BBSRC’s strategic priorities:

If you are unsure whether your project is within BBSRC’s remit, please contact postdoc.fellowships@bbsrc.ukri.org.

How to apply

Completing an application

You must complete your application using the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system,

When applying, select:

  • council: BBSRC
  • document type: fellowship proposal
  • scheme: fellowship
  • call/type/mode: 2022 Discovery Fellowships.

Supporting documents

You must also upload the following documents as part of your application:

  • case for support
  • narrative CV template: you should complete the 2022 narrative CV template (Word, 63KB) using the guidance provided. We will not accept standalone CVs or publication lists
  • diagrammatic work plan
  • data management plan
  • head of department statement: BBSRC has now introduced a template for the head of department statement (Word, 30KB), which you must use (we will not accept a standalone statement)
  • statement from the host group’s PI: this person should be in post for the duration of the fellowship and should be at lecturer level at least (or equivalent)
  • justification of resources
  • career development plan: this must be attached to your proposal as type ‘workplan’ to allow submission.

Please see the Discovery Fellowships Je-S guidance (PDF, 363KB) for further details.

The impact of the proposed research, and how an applicant will maximise that impact, is a core consideration for all UKRI funding. Applicants must consider how they will or might achieve impact throughout their project and include this in their case for support.

Animal usage mandatory requirement

For proposals with overseas animal use, please refer to the BBSRC research grants guide for details of the additional information for specific species that must be provided with the proposal.

Applicants whose proposed programme of research involves the use of pigs should refer to the NC3Rs standardised questions on the use of pigs.

All questions relevant to the proposal must be addressed within the Je-S application form and, where appropriate, the case for support and justification for resources attachments.

The NC3Rs will request further details from applicants if they are not satisfied that the questions have been adequately addressed or where applicants have not provided the necessary information.

Start date

You should ensure that your proposed start date is realistic, taking into account the period required for the office to process your proposal. Awarded fellows will be required to commence their fellowship on, or near to, the start date stipulated in their proposal, so you must ensure that you are able to do so.

Requests to significantly alter your stated start date will be considered only in exceptional circumstances. All fellowships must commence by 1 July 2023 at the latest following notification of an award.

Fellowships are awarded on the basis of full economic cost. Support for your proposed research should be costed in line with the BBSRC research grants guide.

Detailed guidance on how to complete proposal forms and attachments, including the career development plan, can be found in the Discovery Fellowships Je-S guidance (PDF, 363KB) and the BBSRC research fellowships handbook (PDF, 161KB).

Please do not use the fellowship help text in the Je-S system.

We do not accept late proposals.

You must ensure that your proposal is submitted to your host institution’s Je-S submitter or approval pool well in advance of the published deadline. Please allow a minimum of five working days. This enables institution checks to be carried out before final submission to BBSRC.

Please also refer to the full UKRI terms and conditions, the BBSRC research grants guide and the BBSRC research fellowships handbook (PDF, 161KB).

How we will assess your application

Assessment criteria

In assessing proposals, the committee will consider:

  • your research proposal
  • your narrative CV
  • your future plans
  • the research environment in which your fellowship will be held.

As such, your research proposal should be sound and of a novelty and timeliness that will add to the understanding of the research area.

You should have an excellent track record (accounting for your research experience) and should have considered your training needs (as detailed in the career development plan).

The research environment should be supportive and the best place for you to carry out your research project and advance your career.

Proposals will be assessed by external reviewers. You will be given the opportunity to respond to comments made by these reviewers prior to the assessment meeting.

Further details of the assessment criteria can be found in the BBSRC research fellowships handbook (PDF, 161KB).

Contact details

Ask about this funding opportunity

Email: postdoc.fellowships@bbsrc.ukri.org

We aim to respond within 10 working days.

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