The BBSRC-STFC facility access funding for bioscience partnerships opportunity is a joint funded programme by BBSRC and STFC. It will support UK bioscience researchers and businesses in accessing and benefitting from access to STFC skills, expertise, capabilities and world class facilities.
This funding opportunity aims to fund academic-industry collaborative research and development (R&D) partnerships undertaking industrially relevant research and innovation on bioscience and biotechnology within BBSRC’s remit.
The programme is intended to foster impactful collaborations, supporting excellent, world-leading discovery research and innovation. This has clear benefit to the businesses involved, through direct access and use of STFC facilities and expertise.
The programme is setup specifically to assist academic-industry collaborative R&D partnerships in accelerating the development of new products or services which require further research and innovation at proof-of-concept stage.
These collaborations will be supported in accessing and working with STFC’s large scale facilities, advanced analytical technologies, and high-performance computing or data expertise.
The programme provides support and access to advanced analytical technologies, expertise, and capabilities, located at STFC’s large scale science facilities around the UK including Harwell, Daresbury, and Whitby.
- study structure and dynamics of materials at the atomic scale, including organic systems, the interaction of antimicrobials with pathogen membranes, or toxins from pathogens with models of mammalian and plant membranes
- acquire high resolution data to understand the structure and function of macromolecular complexes to accelerate drug discovery, design and development
- investigate formulation microstructure and behaviour under a range of conditions, follow chemical changes in biologically relevant processes or to visualise the effect of vaccines or therapeutics within whole cells
Extensive laser-based techniques to:
- understand everything from single-molecule transport in biological systems to environmental changes and chemical pathways in cells, tissues and biomaterials
- watch how chemical and biochemical changes in materials happen in real-time
High performance computing
You can have access to computing resources, including:
- classic computing for molecular simulations (for example, structural drug representations and molecular docking)
- data analysis of complex datasets looking for significant correlations
- drug interaction and stability both in the formulation and in solution
You can have access to:
- advanced computing expertise and digital research infrastructure
- expertise in developing software for processing experimental biological data, high-performance computing infrastructure, data storage systems and artificial intelligence for science
Working with the Scientific Computing department contributes to the fundamental understanding of how genes and proteins operate, and has applications in drug development, crop science and environmental monitoring.
Deep underground science facility
A rare opportunity to undertake science in an ultra-low background environment, largely free of interference from natural radiation on the Earth’s surfaces.
You can use gamma spectroscopy to study and measure trace levels of radioactivity in samples with various biological tracing and authenticity applications, or study the effect of radiation in biological matter.
You are invited to submit expressions of interest aiming to address industry challenges relating to BBSRC’s three strategic challenges:
- integrated understanding of health
- advanced manufacturing and clean growth
- sustainable agriculture and food
Through feedback gained from the pilot round of the programme, previous research and innovation carried out at the facilities has been used to develop illustrative examples. These are based on work that has been previously undertaken at a selection of the facilities which is of relevance to bioscience and biotechnology supported across the breadth of BBSRC remit.
These are examples which are only intended to inspire and inform collaborations and discussions, helping to guide the development of proposals on a wide variety of ideas that explore biology, or apply the biosciences to solve significant challenges.
An integrated understanding of health
- using small angle X-ray scattering to characterise the solution structure of biopharmaceuticals under close to native state conditions to contribute to the understanding of enzyme behaviour
- using advanced computer platforms to investigate genomic signatures of food borne pathogens, such as E. coli or campylobacter, to understand pathogenicity in relation to food safety
- using small-angle neutron scattering to obtain in-depth information on the structure of drug delivery systems. For example, nucleic acid-based nanomedicines with the aim of rationally designing formulations for improved and targeted delivery
- using 2D IR-spectrometry to investigate the dynamics of complex biological systems such as proteins to support drug design
Advanced manufacturing and clean growth
- using X-rays to investigate and understand the behaviour of biobased formulation ingredients in developing sustainable cleaning products
- using simulations and high-performance computing to understand the balance of proteins and vitamins in the skin microbiome to develop new skin hygiene products
- using a low background radiation underground laboratory environment to study the effects of radiation on biological matter
Sustainable agriculture and food
- using high-performance computing and machine learning to analyse large datasets about the soil microbiome to explain causal relationships that determine crop yield and soil health
- using neutron tomography to visualise plant roots and water distribution in three dimensions, to better understand interactions between plant roots and the soil around them
- using fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy to investigate the cell wall structure between different potato breeds to determine how to reduce oil content in crisp production
- using shielded low background gamma-ray spectrometers to analyse naturally occurring radioactive isotopes to prove the authenticity of Welsh lamb
The duration of this award is up to one year.
Projects can be undertaken any time over a 12-month period (subject to scheduling of STFC facilities) starting 1 April 2024 and ending 31 March 2025.
Projects must end by 31 March 2025.
We will cover 100% of the facility costs, and 80% of the full economic cost of the academic component.
The maximum award for your project is £100,000, including academic costs (at 80%) and facility costs (at 100%).
Companies are expected to provide a contribution (that may be in kind or direct) based on a percentage of the STFC facility cost. This is dependent on company size, as seen in the following table.
||Company size criteria
||Company contribution to total project cost (based on STFC facility costs)
||Staff headcount less than 10
Turnover less than or equal to £2m or balance sheet total of less than or equal to £2m
||Staff headcount less than 50
Turnover less than or equal to £10m or balance sheet total of less than or equal to £10m
||Staff headcount less than 250
Turnover less than or equal to £50m or balance sheet total of less than or equal to £43m
||Staff headcount more than 250
Turnover more than £50m or balance sheet total of more than £43m
This may be an in-kind or direct cash contribution to the project cost.
What we will not fund
We will not fund:
- market analysis
- fundamental research which is not industrially relevant
- standard testing and measurement services readily available commercially or via academic partners
This competition provides funding in line with the UK’s obligations and commitments to subsidy control.
Under the standard terms and conditions for this competition, you are wholly responsible for declaring and managing all potential subsidy control matters as part of the assessment process.
Further information about the UK subsidy control requirements can be found within the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation agreement (PDF, 444KB) and the subsequent guidance from the department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
Please be aware that EU state aid rules now only apply in limited circumstances. Please see our general guidance to check if these rules apply to your organisation.
If you are unsure about your obligations under the UK subsidy control regime or the state aid rules, you should take independent legal advice. We are unable to advise on individual eligibility or legal obligations.
You must at all times make sure that the funding awarded to you is compliant with all current subsidy control legislation applicable in the UK.
This aims to regulate any advantage granted by a public sector body which threatens to, or actually distorts competition in the UK or any other country or countries.
If there are any changes to these requirements that mean we need to change the terms of this competition, we will tell you as soon as possible.
UK Research and Innovation requires research to be conducted to the highest ethical standards. Researchers must provide clear justification in their proposals for the use of animals in research.
Proposals received to this funding opportunity which make use of animals will be reviewed for adherence to appropriate guidelines.