Bioinformatics and biological resources: 2021

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Apply for funding to establish, maintain and enhance bioinformatics and biological resources to support the UK bioscience research community.

You must hold a research staff appointment at lecturer level, or equivalent, at a research organisation eligible for UKRI funding.

Your project must involve a new or existing community resource that:

  • has significant demand or an established user base
  • is within the remit of BBSRC.

The full economic cost of your project can be up to £2 million. BBSRC will fund 80% of the full economic cost.

Projects must start no earlier than 1 July 2022 and can last up to five years.

Who can apply

Standard eligibility criteria apply to this funding opportunity, as set out in Section 3 of the BBSRC research grants guide.

Principal investigators and co-investigators must hold a research staff appointment at least lecturer level (or equivalent) and meet the standard BBSRC eligibility criteria.

Institutions and researchers normally eligible for BBSRC funding include, but not limited to:

  • higher education institutions
  • strategically funded institutes
  • eligible independent research organisations
  • public sector research establishments.

Applications from organisations or individuals that are not eligible will be rejected without reference to peer review.

Check if you and your organisation are eligible for research and innovation funding.

Research technical professionals

BBSRC recognises the value of technical expertise to the UK research workforce. The potential for staff development and training (including postdoctoral, technical and support staff) will be assessed by the panel.

BBSRC particularly supports recognition of the contributions of research technicians and technology and skills specialists and encourages you to cost them appropriately on applications. Please refer to the UK Research and Innovation statement of expectations for technology and skills specialists (PDF, 30KB).

BBSRC information on research technicians and technology and skills specialists.

As the first funder to sign the Technician Commitment, UKRI recognises the value of technical expertise to the UK research workforce and is committed to ensuring ‘visibility, recognition, career development and sustainability for technicians working in higher education and research, across all disciplines.

Research software engineers

BBSRC notes the significant contribution of staff such as research software engineers and equivalent roles to interdisciplinary computational projects. We support recognition of their contributions and encourage applicants to name and cost them appropriately on applications.

For any queries about eligibility, please contact eligibility@bbsrc.ukri.org before submitting your application.

What we're looking for

In order to facilitate ground-breaking research in an internationally competitive environment, BBSRC recognises the UK bioscience community need for access to state-of-the-art bioinformatics and biological infrastructure, facilities, and resources.

The Bioinformatics and Biological Resources (BBR) Fund addresses this need by providing support to both bioinformatics and biological resources.

Bioinformatics resources enable:

  • management, analysis and sharing of large or complex datasets
  • development of novel software solutions that enable deeper analysis of existing datasets and greater understanding of biological systems, for example databases or software suites.

Biological resources provide access to materials that underpin cutting edge bioscience research, for example:

  • culture and germplasm collections
  • mutant lines
  • DNA samples
  • clones
  • genetic libraries.

Scope

The BBR Fund supports the following types of applications:

  • establishment and maintenance of a new and innovative resource that will be beneficial to a broader BBSRC user base
  • maturation and subsequent maintenance of a project-based resource into a community-based one
  • further development or essential maintenance of an existing community resource, with well-established access mechanisms, to increase its relevance to a broader BBSRC user community, for example, enhancing utility by enabling the resource to meet FAIR (findable, accessible, interoperable, reusable) principles
  • association, or integration, of distinct resources that will enhance their utility and create an upgraded resource with a greater value than the sum of the parts.

Proposals should ensure that the majority of the supported research and user community is within the remit of BBSRC.

In particular, proposals for biomedical resources should ensure that the majority of their user community is relevant to bioscience underpinning health.

For more information about BBSRC-relevant research, please refer to the Forward look for UK bioscience (PDF, 2.17MB)

While support for resources through the BBR Fund are intended to mainly benefit UK researchers, it is recognised that internationally leading resources will also have significant portions of their user base outside of the UK.

Resources with a significant impact and demand from the available potential users within the UK research base fit the scope of the opportunity better than resources that serve a broad international community in which the UK has a relatively small user base.

The overall size of the community served by a particular resource should not be seen as the sole indicator for potential or demonstrated impact. Instead, the relative importance of a resource to a particular community should be considered.

For example, a particular resource that impacts a relatively small number of researchers but encompasses the majority of potential users and has a significant benefit to that research community.

This opportunity will follow the standard guidelines for research grant applications for BBSRC as described in the BBSRC research grants guide.

Out of scope

Proposals in the following areas will not be accepted:

  • proposals where the majority of the supported research and user community falls outside of the remit of BBSRC
  • resources for uses which are exclusive to or majority within the medical community fall outside the scope of this funding opportunity
  • projects with an exclusive research focus, some elements of research can be included but they should be in support of development of the resource to address developing user needs
  • projects that focus solely on data creation without addressing wider resource aspects, for example, sequencing projects without direct engagement in the resource (in the UK or globally) that will hold the data
  • resources already suitably supported via other means
  • principal beneficiaries are outside of the UK
  • archive-only resources without active usage
  • collections of preserved, non-recoverable specimens, for example, herbaria, formalin-fixed material.

If you are unsure whether your application fits within the remit of BBSRC or the scope of the opportunity, please contact us well in advance of the deadline at bbr.fund@bbsrc.ukri.org.

You should note:

  • the New Investigator, Industrial Partnership Award and LINK schemes do not apply to this opportunity
  • requests for studentships should not be included as part of a BBR Fund application.

How to apply

Applications should be made through the Joint Electronic Submission system (Je-S).

When applying select:

  • council: BBSRC
  • document type: Standard Proposal
  • scheme: Bioinformatics and Biological Resources Fund
  • call/type/mode: 2021 Bioinformatics and Biological Resources Fund

Attachments

In addition to the Je-S form, the following attachments should be included:

  • case for support (up to eight pages)
  • justification of resources (two pages)
  • data management plan (DMP) (up to three pages, data management plan template)
    • if you opt not to use the template for your plan, the topics listed in the template must be addressed in the DMP document you do provide
  • diagrammatic workplan (one page)
  • management structure (one page)
  • narrative CV (up to two pages per staff member)
  • community letters of support or demand (up to 10)
  • proposal cover letter.

For detailed guidance on how to prepare each of these attachments, please carefully follow the attached guidance documents and associated downloads.

To ensure a proposal is submitted on time, we suggest that it should be sent to your institution’s Je-S submitter pool in sufficient time in accordance with your institution’s guidance. Please note that we are unable to accept late submissions.

Data management plan template

In response to the recent BBSRC review of data-intensive bioscience (PDF, 4.13MB) and to help contribute towards making data FAIR, BBSRC is trialing the use of a ‘data management plan (DMP) template’ as part of the 2021 BBR funding opportunity.

The DMP offers a mechanism to:

  • enhance data sharing practices
  • emphasise the need to develop and support relevant digital skills
  • encourage planning for data storage infrastructure.

A dedicated DMP is required to ensure applications describe their data management processes in adequate detail, allowing assessors to fully understand:

  • how data is managed, documented or curated
  • the project’s approach to data sharing and access
  • who are the responsible persons for data management activities.

The DMP will also be helpful in addressing the data access statement in the UKRI open access policy.

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

Applications will be subject to external expert peer review and you will be provided with an opportunity to respond to reviewers’ comments.

You will be able to suggest up to four peer reviewers as part of the Je-S proforma.

Overall assessment will be conducted by a panel of experts covering scientific, managerial, technical and user aspects of resource provision. You should expect a decision within eight weeks of the panel meeting.

We do not seek to implement a sift, but BBSRC reserves the right to do so if required to moderate demand to a manageable level.

New and existing resources

Applications for both new and existing resources are assessed as part of the same process. While similar in principle, the potential and promise of a new resource and the demonstrable user need of an existing resource are not necessarily directly comparable.

A ‘new resource’ is defined as a proposal where the ‘project focus is on development of a new resource that:

  • is needed by a community of researchers in the BBSRC remit
  • does not currently exist elsewhere’.

This would usually also apply to the development of a project-based resource into a community-based one.

An ‘existing resource’ is a proposal where ‘project focus is on further development or essential maintenance to safeguard functionality of a resource that has an existing user base’.

An existing resource does not need to have previously received funding by BBSRC or the BBR Fund.

Assessment criteria

Initially the BBSRC office will assess whether applications are within the remit of BBSRC and fit within the scope of the BBR Fund.

Only those proposals falling within scope and within BBSRC’s remit will be sent out to peer review and assessed by the panel.

The panel stage will assess all applications using the following assessment criteria.
More detail on the criteria can be found in the assessment criteria document (PDF, 154KB).

Scientific quality and strategic relevance of the resource

Including:

  • the extent to which the resource meets the highest international standards in resource provision in its field
  • how well the resource is demonstrated to be unique or complementary to other similar existing resources
  • the extent to which the resource addresses the research and policy priority areas of BBSRC.

Cost effectiveness, particularly considerations for long-term sustainability beyond BBSRC funding

The extent to which:

  • the resource delivers value for money relative to the anticipated scientific gains it will provide
  • long term sustainability options have been considered, addressed, and planned where appropriate, particularly for existing resources.

Potential for economic and social impact beyond the academic community

Including:

  • the extent to which the outputs from the resource will contribute to knowledge and potential for economic return or social impact
  • how well the proposal has outlined methods of engagement and measures of success in developing milestones and timelines of associated activities.

Fit to the scope

How well the proposal addresses the scope of the opportunity.

Assessment criteria adapted to new or existing resources

To allow for a more nuanced assessment between new and existing resources, the use of the following assessment criteria will be adapted accordingly.

For new resources, these criteria will assess the ‘plans, potential, and promise’ of the resources.

For existing resources, the following assessment criteria will assess the ‘presented evidence and previous performance’.

Quality of the overall arrangements for resource management, advisory functions, as well as user access and engagement

Including:

  • the extent to which the proposal has evidenced or planned interaction with relevant users and the broader research community to ensure the aims of the resource are realised and there is sufficient uptake and continued development
  • the extent to which adequate user access arrangements have been discussed and considered
  • the set-up of project management and advisory structures of the resource to ensure longevity in delivering the resource to a broad user base.

Need or demand, and potential benefit to the UK academic research community

The extent to which:

  • the community has demonstrated demand for the proposed resource, relative to the total community size (in particular, proposals for new resources should have consulted their prospective community prior to application)
  • the proposed resource will deliver and benefit the wider BBSRC community indicating how the proposed resource will help to deliver high-quality research.

Contact details

Ask about this funding opportunity

Email: bbr.fund@bbsrc.ukri.org

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