Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: BBSRC standard research grant

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Please note the 23RM dates are subject to change due to the transition to the new funding service.

From October 2022, we will be piloting a new Responsive Mode Spotlight mechanism that will signal areas of particular strategic interest in a more agile format. Each Spotlight will run across multiple rounds, typically three rounds, and will replace the previous standing responsive mode priorities and single-round highlight notices. Find out more on our research portfolio and priorities page.

Our standard research grants are for researchers at eligible organisations that include:

  • higher education institutions
  • research council institutes
  • approved independent research organisations
  • public sector research establishments

We will award 80% of the full economic costs of your research, and your organisation must agree to find the balance.

Projects can range in size up to £2 million and last up to 5 years. Funding can support a range of activities from research projects to technology development, new infrastructure and equipment, use of equipment and facilities, networks, and summer schools.

Who can apply

You can apply if you:

  • are resident in the UK for at least 183 days in a tax year
  • hold a lecturer or lecturer-equivalent position at a:
    • UK higher education institution
    • research council institute
    • UK Research and Innovation approved independent research organisation

Principal applicants must be employed at the submitting research organisation at lecturer level, or equivalent, or due to move to the organisation before the start date of the grant. Or if not employed, applicants must have an agreement that the research will be conducted at the submitting research organisation as if they were an employee at lecturer level, or equivalent.

Co-applicants must be employed at an eligible organisation and meet the same employment criteria.

Check if you’re eligible for funding.

New investigator scheme: early career researchers

You can secure your first major element of research funding through the new investigator scheme.

This applies if you are an early career researcher who has not received competitively obtained research or support funding from any source as a principal investigator, where such funding includes or included postdoctoral research assistant staff support costs.

You must be able to satisfy the normal eligibility requirements as outlined above and detailed in the research grants guide.

Please note the 3-year time limit for new investigator applicants has been removed.

You will be assessed following the same procedure as other applications.

However, research potential rather than track record will be considered.

Industrial partners

Industrial partners are encouraged on all research grant applications. There are, however, 2 formal ways to seek support for your research if you are working with an industrial partner:

  • industrial partnership awards: academic-led research with significant industrial involvement and where an industry partner contributes in cash at least equivalent to 10% of the full economic costs of the project
  • stand-alone LINK: collaborative research with at least 1 company where at least 50% of the full project cost comes from industry either in cash or in-kind

We do not fund the work of your industrial partners. Industrial partners must agree ownership and exploitation of the intellectual property at the outset and clearly define the proposed scientific and commercial results in a management framework.

What we're looking for

This scheme supports excellent investigator-led research across the breadth of our scientific remit.

Funding of up to £2 million is available for up to 5 years for:

  • research projects, including technology development projects
  • equipment or use of existing facilities
  • new facilities or infrastructure
  • research networks and coordination
  • summer schools

You can apply to undertake biotechnology or biological research in:

  • plants
  • microbes
  • animals and humans
  • tools and technology underpinning biological research

Investigations within and across scales are supported, from molecules and cells, to tissues, whole organisms, populations and landscapes.

We welcome multidisciplinary proposals that cross into other research council areas but expect the primary focus of your work to fall within BBSRC’s remit.

We work with other research councils to ensure that applications close to remit boundaries are assessed by the most appropriate lead council. Please contact remit@bbsrc.ukri.org with any queries about the suitability of your application before applying.

We have a strong commitment to funding curiosity-led research and advancing excellent bioscience across our portfolio.

You are encouraged to consider the relevance of your proposed work in line with the long-term research and innovation priorities set out in BBSRC’s strategic delivery plan 2022 to 2025.

Spotlight mechanism

From October 2022, we are replacing the previous system of standing Responsive Mode priorities and periodic single-round research highlights with a new Responsive Mode spotlight mechanism, initially on a pilot basis and subject to review.

The aim of the new spotlights mechanism is to provide simpler and more agile and dynamic targeting of particular areas of timely strategic interest, opportunity or need. It also recognises that the forward look for UK bioscience and the BBSRC strategic delivery plan 2022 to 2025 now function in concert to set out our longer term and overarching strategic research priorities.

In addition to the spotlight areas advertised at any one time, we continue to:

  • encourage proposals aligning with these broader priorities (which are largely inclusive of the previously articulated research priority areas)
  • welcome investigator-led applications across all areas of BBSRC research remit

For more information on the Responsive Mode spotlight mechanism and for a full list of current spotlights, please see our remit, programmes and priorities page.

Working with Brazilian researchers

You can apply to work on projects with Brazilian researchers based at higher education and research organisations eligible for support from the State of São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP).

Proposals must be in fields supported by both BBSRC and FAPESP. Funding for the work of Brazilian scientists on the project is funded by FAPESP.

More about working with Brazilian scientists (PDF, 34KB).

More about FAPESP.

How to apply

You must apply using the Joint Electronic Submission system (Je-S) before 4pm on the day of the deadline.

When applying select:

  • council: BBSRC
  • document type: standard proposal*
  • scheme: responsive mode
  • call/type/mode: select appropriate call

*Please note that you do not need to indicate on Je-S if your proposal aligns to a current Responsive Mode spotlight. Alignment to spotlight areas will be identified and monitored by the office.

If you are applying for the new investigator, State of São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP), LINK or industrial partnership awards, you should also select ‘grant type’ in the document menu and then select the relevant classification: new investigator, FAPESP, LINK or industrial partnership award.

Applications for LINK and industrial partnership awards should also be accompanied by letters from the institution’s technology transfer office and from the industry partner outlining the terms, value and benefits of the partnership.

You must nominate the relevant BBSRC research committee to review your application. Our scientifically qualified staff will check your choice and make a final decision on which research committee should peer review your application.

We recommend that you apply well before the latest deadlines, these are listed in the timeline.

See the Je-S handbook for advice on completing applications to BBSRC.

Please read the full BBSRC guidance for applicants before applying.

Applying with Brazilian partners

For applications under the FAPESP agreement, you must apply with a joint proposal for both partners and include:

  • a covering letter confirming the proposal is to be considered under the BBSRC-FAPESP agreement (see UKRI-FAPESP lead agency agreement guidance (PDF, 260KB))
  • CVs of all named researchers in both countries
  • a FAPESP-consolidated budget spreadsheet completed by the São Paulo researchers included as a letter of support in Je-S
  • a completed FAPESP research proposal form included as a letter of support in Je-S

Attachments: specific guidance for this funding opportunity

For all forms and CVs, all submissions must:

  • adhere to the stipulated page limits
  • use standard font (size: 11 point. We recommend the use of Arial, Helvetica or Verdana typeface)
  • use standard margin sizes (not less than 2 centimetres)

This excludes text on diagrams and the use of mathematical symbols.

A minimum of single line spacing and standard character spacing must be used.

Applications that do not adhere to these guidelines may be rejected. We recommend that where a document contains any non-standard fonts (scientific notation, diagrams, and so on) and that the document is converted to PDF prior to attaching it to the proposal.

As part of UK Research and Innovation’s commitment to the principles of San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), publication references within the application should be provided as Digital Object Identifiers wherever possible.

Case for support, including track record

Can be up to 8 sides of A4, including references, figures etc.

The suggested track record page length is 1 to 2 pages with the remaining pages being used for the scientific case. The case for support must be self-contained, external links are not permitted.

The track record should provide a summary of the results and conclusions of your recent work in the technological or scientific area that is covered by the research proposal. Include reference to both BBSRC-funded and non BBSRC-funded work.

Details of past collaborative work with industry and, or, with other beneficiaries should be given.

Indicate where your previous work has contributed to the UK’s economic competitiveness or to improving the quality of life and outline the specific expertise available for the research at the host organisation and that of any associated organisations.

CVs (up to 2 sides of A4 each)

CVs are:

  • required for all named applicants and named research staff only
  • not required for named technicians

Please note that as part of our commitment to the DORA, BBSRC applicants are advised not to use journal-based metrics, such as Journal Impact Factors, as a surrogate measure of the quality of individual research articles, to assess an individual scientist’s contributions.

How we will assess your application

Your application is first assessed by external reviewers appointed by us. You must suggest 4 independent reviewers from outside your institution that you have not recently collaborated with. The principal investigator will have an opportunity to respond to comments from reviewers.

Your application will then be considered by our research committees made up of independent experts. These are:

  • committee A: animal disease, health and welfare
  • committee B: plants, microbes, food and sustainability
  • committee C: genes, development, and science, technology, engineering and maths approaches to biology
  • committee D: molecules, cells and industrial biotechnology

The committees have a core membership of relevant UK and overseas experts from academia, government and, or, industry. We also call on a further pool of experts to assess applications.

Your application is assessed on:

  • scientific excellence
  • industrial and stakeholder relevance
  • relevance to BBSRC strategy*
  • economic and social impact
  • timeliness and promise
  • value for money
  • staff training potential of the project (where resources are requested for postdoctoral or other research staff)

*Relevance to BBSRC’s strategic priorities will be assessed based on alignment with research priorities outlined in the BBSRC strategic delivery plan. This also applies to proposals flagged under the Responsive Mode spotlight mechanism.

We lead on assessing joint proposals with Brazilian scientists with input from FAPESP.

Contact details

For queries regarding eligibility, contact: eligibility@bbsrc.ukri.org

For queries regarding scope and remit, contact: remit@bbsrc.ukri.org

For information about collaborating with industry, including lead agency work with NSF FAPESP and SFI contact: industry.collaboration@bbsrc.ukri.org

Contact the policy team on: policy@bbsrc.ukri.org

For questions regarding  BBSRC International Collaborative Agreements, contact: inca@bbsrc.ukri.org

Additional info

Resubmission of applications

Unsuccessful BBSRC research grant proposals must not be resubmitted, unless invited by the committee.

All proposals are checked to identify any uninvited resubmissions which will be rejected. Resubmissions will only be considered where they have been invited by the committee.

Unless specifically invited, proposals that have already been considered by another research council or funding body must not be submitted.

New Investigator webinar

A webinar aimed at future applicants to the new investigator scheme, Responsive Mode (BBSRC standard research grant), was held on 25 October 2021.

The webinar provided an overview of Responsive Mode and the new investigator scheme. It included perspectives from 2 Responsive Mode committee chairs on what makes a successful application, and presentations from 2 successful applicants to the new investigator scheme who shared their experiences. There was a question and answer session at the end of the presentations.

Presenters

Successful new investigator applicants

Dr Rachel Wells: John Innes Centre

Dr Riko Hatakeyama: University of Aberdeen

Responsive Mode committee chairs

Professor Eileen Wall: SRUC (Chair for Committee A)

Professor Richard Emes: University of Nottingham (Deputy Chair for Committee C)

BBSRC

David McAllister: Associate Director, Research and Innovation Talent and Funding Delivery

Avril Ferris: Joint Head of Research and Innovation Funding Delivery

Rachel Warmington: Senior Portfolio Manager, Research and Innovation Funding Delivery

The webinar was recorded and is available to anyone who was unable to attend the live event. Watch a recording of the webinar on Zoom.

Supporting documents

Industrial partnership awards

LINK

FAPESP

Equality impact assessment (PDF, 146KB)

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