Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: BBSRC-STFC facility access funding for bioscience partnerships

Apply for funding to support UK business and bioscience academic partnerships in accessing and benefitting from STFC skills, expertise, capabilities and world class facilities to find solutions to industrially-relevant challenges.

The initial application process requires companies to submit a ‘challenge statement’ describing your problem.

You do not need an academic partner to submit an expression of interest, but it is required for the full proposal stage.

The maximum award of your project can be up to £100,000. BBSRC and STFC will cover 100% of the facility costs, and 80% of the full economic cost of the academic component.

Who can apply

Expression of interest stage

At the expression of interest stage, challenge statements must be submitted by the business partner. You do not need an academic partner to submit an expression of interest.

To be an eligible business for funding you must:

  • be a UK based business registered at Companies House
  • have a manufacturing base for the relevant product in the UK or provide the relevant service in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results in the UK

Full proposal stage

To be eligible for funding at this stage, we require an academic-business partnership. We will be able to provide advice and guidance into finding an academic partner if you do not already have one.

To be eligible as the academic partner, you must be from 1 of the following organisations:

  • UK higher education institutions
  • research council institutes
  • UK Research and Innovation approved independent research organisations
  • public sector research establishments
  • NHS bodies with research capacity

Please note, STFC facility staff are not eligible as academic partners.

Check if your institution is eligible for research and innovation funding.

At the full proposal stage, applications will be submitted by the academic lead via the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system.

What we're looking for

Programme overview

The BBSRC-STFC facility access funding for bioscience partnerships opportunity is a joint funded programme by BBSRC and STFC. It will support the UK bioscience researchers and businesses in accessing and benefitting from access to STFC skills, expertise, capabilities and world class facilities.

Overall, the ambition is to support businesses and academic researchers to undertake collaborative research and development (R&D) which is focused on solving industrially-relevant research and innovation challenges. This will be through engaging with the unique national capabilities and facilities at STFC.

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, and Daresbury, specifically including:

  • neutrons: 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
  • X-rays: acquire high-resolution data to accelerate drug discovery, design and development. This includes gathering 3-dimensional structure data of macromolecular drug targets and their ligands for drug target identification, and investigate the size, stability and conformation of macromolecules in solution
  • lasers: 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. Or watch how chemical and biochemical changes in materials happen in real-time
  • high performance computing: access to computing resources, from classic computing for molecular simulations (for example, structural drug representations and molecular docking), to data analysis of complex datasets looking for significant correlations, to drug interaction and stability both in the formulation and in solution

Projects are expected to cost up to £100,000. They can be undertaken any time over a 12-month period (subject to scheduling of STFC facilities) starting 1 April 2023 and ending 31 March 2024.

Projects must consist of a partnership between at least 1 eligible academic organisation and at least 1 eligible business organisation.

Funding overview

This programme will fund access to STFC facilities and staff expertise as part of the total project cost. BBSRC and STFC will cover 100% of the facility costs, and 80% of the full economic cost of the academic component.

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 Company size criteria Company contribution to total project cost (based on STFC facility costs)
Micro Staff headcount less than 10

Turnover less than or equal to £2m or balance sheet total of less than or equal to £2m

30%
Small Staff headcount less than 50

Turnover less than or equal to £10m or balance sheet total of less than or equal to £10m

30%
Medium Staff headcount less than 250

Turnover less than or equal to £50m or balance sheet total of less than or equal to £43m

40%
Large Staff headcount more than 250

Turnover more than £50m or balance sheet total of more than £43m

50%

This may be an in-kind or direct contribution to the project cost.

The programme will cover the academic component at 80% full economic cost, with your research organisation covering the other 20%.

Project scope

This pilot funding opportunity aims to fund academic-industry collaborative 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, which 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.

Business applicants need to clearly articulate how solving their challenge will create wider economic, societal, or commercial outcomes, and routes to market or use.

We will not fund projects relating to:

  • market analysis
  • fundamental research which is not industrially relevant
  • standard testing and measurement services readily available commercially or via academic partners

Subsidy control

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, applicants 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.

Further information

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.

Ethical considerations

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 (section 4.14 to 4.40).

How to apply

Application process

Stage 1: expression of interest

The initial expression of interest stage requires companies to submit a concise (approximately 500 words) ‘challenge statement’ describing their problem. The challenge statement application form can be found under ‘additional documents’.

Applicants will be required to outline the project they want to undertake in the form of a challenge statement, describing the nature of the opportunity or challenge and the value of solving it. You will also be required to indicate any ethical considerations to be taken into account during the full stage application process.

At this stage, applicants do not need an academic partner. However, applicants can indicate whether they have an ongoing academic partnership, or an idea of the academic they would approach for the project.

There is no requirement to provide a workplan at this stage.

During the stage 1 assessment process, an expert panel will provide expertise regarding relevant facilities, equipment, etc. Applicants have the opportunity to describe what they have done previously to try and solve the problem at this stage.

The challenge statement must be emailed to business.unit@bbsrc.ukri.org by the expression of interest closing date, 6 January 2023.

Stage 2: full proposal

If approved, applicants will work together with STFC scientists to develop a fully costed project proposal.

BBSRC and STFC can provide advice and guidance if an academic partner needs to be found.

A link to the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system will be provided to applicants who have been successful in the expression of interest stage.

At the full proposal stage, applications will be submitted by the academic lead via the Je-S system.

Deadline

Stage 1: the challenge statement must be emailed to business.unit@bbsrc.ukri.org by the expression of interest closing date, 6 January 2023.

Stage 2: STFC and BBSRC will inform you of the closing date if you are successful in stage 1.

Attachments

Full proposals should include the following documents:

  • proposal form
  • case for support
  • data management plan
  • CVs for all named applicants and named research staff only (up to 2 sides of A4 each)
  • full proposal stage application form

Intellectual property

Collaboration agreements and arrangements for the management of intellectual property between the academic and business partners must be in place before the project starts.

A non-negotiable STFC facility agreement will be provided following a successful application for the lead partner in the collaboration to enter into with STFC

You may wish to consult the Lambert Toolkit guidance published by the Intellectual Property Office (GOV.UK).

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

The assessment process will be undertaken in 2 stages:

  • expression of interest stage requiring submission of a challenge statement. All challenge statements will be assessed by a specialist panel
  • full proposal stage: successful proposals from the expression of interest stage will be invited to the full proposal stage. Proposals will be assessed by an expert panel review

Assessment criteria

Stage 1: expression of interest

Challenge statements will be assessed by the panel on the following 3 questions:

  1. Can STFC potentially offer a solution for the work that is required?
  2. Do you have an ongoing relationship with an academic research partner and if so, what is the nature or structure of that partnership and how does it relate to the proposed challenge? If there is no pre-existing partnership, how will you identify and build a relationship, in the time available, in a way which will enable effective collaboration for the challenge you have outlined?
  3. Does the proposed idea have a clear benefit and, or, potential for impact?

The expert panel will provide expertise regarding relevant facilities, equipment, etc. that can be utilised as a potential solution to the challenge.

Your ‘expression of interest challenge statement’ will be assessed as to whether it is within BBSRC’s remit. Please check the guidance for more information, or email the BBSRC contact.

Stage 2: full proposal

Invited applications at the full proposal stage will be assessed against the following criteria:

  • scientific and technical excellence and partnership: the extent to which the proposal describes a scientifically excellent approach, the extent to which the partners benefit from the proposed work, and the potential for knowledge exchange
  • potential for impact: the extent to which the proposal demonstrates a clear pathway or mechanism towards a realistic set of anticipated benefits, including evidence of value for money
  • suitability of STFC to solve the problem: the extent to which STFC has the relevant expertise and facilities to tackle the problem
  • project work plan: is the approach described in the proposal logical, reasonable, and clearly defined?

Collaboration agreement

Any collaborative project funded through this initiative must have a signed collaboration agreement between the partners before the start of any grant.

UK Research and Innovation attach great importance to the dissemination of research findings and the publishing of information about the research they support in the public domain. However, all dissemination and publication must be carried out in the manner agreed in the project’s collaboration agreement.

Contact details

Ask about this funding opportunity

Mary Jenkinson-Finch, Business Interaction Unit, BBSRC

Email: business.unit@bbsrc.ukri.org

Include ‘BBSRC/STFC facility fund’ in the subject line.

Annabel Dominey, STFC

Email: annabel.dominey@stfc.ac.uk

Include ‘BBSRC/STFC facility fund’ in the subject line.

We aim to respond within 10 working days.

Get help with applying through Je-S

Email

jeshelp@je-s.ukri.org

Telephone

01793 444164

Opening times

Je-S helpdesk opening times.

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