Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Pre-announcement: business and academia prosperity partnership: round 2

Apply for funding to support established or high-potential research partnerships between business and academic institutions.

Bids must be led by the business lead at the outline stage. Business leads must be:

  • UK-based or have UK-based research activity
  • in the private sector driven by profit, or from an organisation with a commercial arm which generates independent revenue
  • able to contribute to the UK national prosperity through increasing their investment in research and development activities and subsequent product, service, or technology development

We will fund 80% of the full economic cost (100% for skills and talent training costs).

Your project can be up to five years.

This is a pre-announcement, and the information may change. The opportunity will open during late September 2023. More information will be available on this page then.

Who can apply

Business organisations

At the ‘outline stage’, bids must be led by the business lead (the primary business partner in the partnership). However, the submission of the documentation will be undertaken through the UKRI Funding Service by the academic project lead (PL).

Businesses can act as the ‘business lead’ if they are:

  • a UK-based business or have UK-based research activity
  • a business in the private sector driven by profit, or from an organisation with a commercial arm which generates independent revenue
  • able to contribute to the UK national prosperity through increasing their investment in research and development activities and subsequent product, service, or technology development in the UK.

Businesses may be a contributor to other bids as a project partner. Other businesses can collaborate in the partnership as project partners, but the majority of the matched contribution is expected from the business lead.

Academic organisations

Research organisations can act as ‘project lead’ (the primary academic partner in the partnership) if they are eligible to receive research council funding. The following organisations are eligible:

  • UK higher education institutions
  • research council institutes
  • UKRI-approved independent research organisations
  • public sector research establishments
  • NHS bodies with research capacity

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

If your bid is successful, the grant will be awarded to the project lead, and they will manage the funding and project on behalf of all project co-leads (PcL). A research organisation may lead or partner on more than one bid, and bids may comprise more than one research organisation.

At the ‘full proposal stage’, bids will be submitted by the project lead via the Funding service.

Primary business and academic project leads

This programme has a ‘business lead’ and an academic ‘project lead’. In the Funding Service, the project lead will be notified as the academic one, but all assessment stages will consider both the business and project lead.

Check if you’re eligible for BBSRC funding as a project lead.

The suitability of both the business and project leads to lead the prosperity will be assessed during the outline stage.

Any proposal related to a previously unsuccessful grant application to any UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) research council must comply with BBSRC’s resubmission policy (see BBSRC’s research grants guide). You are advised to contact us at BBSRC prior to submitting an application if you are concerned that your project may be considered a resubmission. Applications that are deemed to constitute uninvited resubmissions will be rejected prior to assessment.

Resubmissions will only be considered where they have been explicitly invited by a committee or panel for resubmission, or if the application has changed substantially in terms of objectives or work to be carried out. In which case, permission from BBSRC must be obtained prior to submission and the application must include a covering letter declaring it as a resubmission and detailing the modifications which merit its reconsideration.

If your proposal is based on a prior EPSRC Prosperity Partnership submission in any way, please contact us at BBSRC before progressing an application.

UKRI has introduced new role types for funding opportunities being run on the new Funding Service.

For full details, visit Eligibility as an individual.

Equality, diversity, and inclusion

We recognise that excellence in science requires diversity and equality to promote innovation and creativity. To do so effectively, all available talent must be harnessed. We expect equality and diversity to be an integral part, at all levels of research practices as a part of our funding portfolio.

We seek to ensure that equality principles are applied to all funding activities and consider that no one should be excluded or hindered from a career in science because of their sex, ethnic background, age, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief, pregnancy or maternity, marriage, or civil partnership (protected characteristics as defined in the Equality Act 2010).

We are committed to supporting the research community, offering a range of flexible options which allow you to design a package that fits your research goals, career, and personal circumstances, for example career breaks, caring responsibilities, flexible working, and alternative working patterns. Therefore, these aspects should be strongly ingrained into the projects proposed for this opportunity. One common approach is to reference institutional strategies and policies related to equality, diversity and inclusion and indicate that the prosperity partnership would be delivered in alignment with these activities.

Learn more about our equality, diversity, and inclusion strategy.

What we're looking for

Business-led, co-created and co-delivered

The prosperity partnership funding opportunity aims to fund business-led research that arises from an industrial need, with the work being co-delivered between the business and project leads.

The opportunity is aimed at supporting excellent, world-leading discovery research and innovation, which has clear benefit to the businesses involved, resulting in accelerated impact arising from the new knowledge, innovations, or technologies.

Co-creation of the research programme is essential. We expect programmes funded through this opportunity to:

  • drive forward shared research challenges
  • demonstrate impact beyond the partners
  • provide benefits to the businesses involved

The programme should contribute positively to the overall strategic partnership framework which exists between the parties.

It should be clear that both the business and academic researchers are making distinct intellectual contributions to the partnership.

Where an individual is discharging responsibilities within both a business and a research organisation, for example, as a consequence of being involved in university spin-outs), clarity on separation of duties and managing conflicts of interest is essential.

If the proposal is deemed appropriate for our support, a collaboration agreement will be requested before the grant is authorised.

Strategic considerations

The research challenges to be addressed in the prosperity partnership should:

  • be relevant to stimulating innovation aimed at tackling major problems faced by the UK and the world
  • drive capability in key technologies and scientific advancements

We recognise that the specific outcomes will be unique to each project, but you should consider how you might:

  • deliver new or improved products or services
  • drive efficiencies or cost reductions
  • enable expansion to new sectors or markets while also jointly authoring high-impact publications

Ultimately, the project should seek to provide economic impact and prosperity that wouldn’t exist without the partnership.


We seek to foster greater collaboration and networking between researchers, business, and civic bodies to deliver research, skills, and innovation vital to the long-term prosperity of communities and regions of the UK.

While not an assessment criterion, we encourage you to consider and articulate how your partnership potentially aligns and supports both industrial and civic ambitions or priorities for regional economies.

Where applicable, you are also asked to demonstrate what place-based outcomes might be expected to arise from your projects, both in the short and longer term. These may include (but are not restricted to):

  • local and regional economic growth, skills development, job creation or retention
  • critical mass activities leading to increased private investment, including foreign direct investment, in a specific place
  • contributions to cluster development through, for example, knowledge diffusion, supply chain development, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME) growth, generation, or growth of spin outs

Responsible innovation

You are expected to work within the UKRI framework for responsible innovation.

You should consider and implement plans for responsible innovation throughout the research project, and include details of these plans in the application, including specific actions that will be taken.

International collaboration

Applicants planning to include international collaborators on their proposal should view our trusted research guidance on getting the most out of international collaboration while protecting intellectual property, sensitive research, and personal information.


The primary balance of research and innovation should be focused on bioscience and biotechnology which covers BBSRC’s remit (at least 50%). Other research and innovation areas supported by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) may be included if they clearly strengthen the research, innovation, or partnership.

We encourage multidisciplinary research and recognises that many prosperity partnerships will involve multidisciplinary research and innovation.

Business and academic project leads should ensure that:

  • the business and academic partners have a demonstrable, established and research-based relationship
  • there are clear plans to evolve this relationship via user-inspired shared research challenges and the prosperity partnership is a key component of the plans to evolve and strengthen this relationship
  • both partners are committed to the co-creation of a jointly delivered large scale research programme at technology readiness levels (TRL) one to four
  • the business and academic partners can commit to matching funding for the prosperity partnership with at least a matched contribution in cash (in-kind contributions are permitted but cannot form part of the matched component)
  • a definitive list of eligible cash contributions is set out in the ‘Definitive list of eligible cash contributions for business leads and partners’ section
  • no UKRI, public, or government funding will be used as co-investment, and the partners are able to clearly demonstrate an auditable transfer during the grant duration

The business lead must be:

  • from a business in the private sector driven by profit or from an organisation with a commercial arm which generates independent revenue
  • in a position to contribute to the nation’s prosperity through increasing their investment in UK based research and development activities and subsequent product development in the UK.

The topic of the research and innovation programme is primarily focused on bioscience and biotechnology within BBSRC’s remit. Multidisciplinary projects are welcomed and funding from other UKRI councils may be sought as long as more than 50% of the topics or work lies within BBSRC’s remit. This will be built into the assessment process, and we will provide indications to relevant councils immediately after the ‘outline stage’.

Matched cash contribution

Our funding is at 80% of the full economic cost with exceptions for skills and talent training costs (100% full economic cost).

The funding we provide must be (as a minimum) matched with commercially generated revenue in cash by the business lead (in single lead bids). In multi-partner bids, this contribution can be collectively provided, but the majority has to come from a single business lead.

Cash contributions will count against the matched contribution.

A definitive list of cash contributions can be found in the ‘Definitive list of eligible cash contributions for business leads and partners’ section. Any contribution from business or other project partners not included in the cash contribution list will count as ‘in-kind’.

We are happy to discuss contribution details prior to submission.

Where a prosperity partnership has a single business lead

The full matched cash contribution (as a minimum) should be provided by the business lead.

Where a prosperity partnership has multiple business partners

The combined cash contributions from the business partners must, at a minimum, match the BBSRC funding. The majority of this matched funding is required to be provided by the business lead for the partnership.

It is permissible for the lead business to provide the entirety of the matched cash contribution and also have additional project partner contributions. Once the matched cash contribution has been reached, additional contributions can be in cash or in-kind.

For both single and multiple partner prosperity partnerships, there can be complex arrangements and objectives. Where appropriate and necessary, we would be happy to consider and potentially discuss any necessary elements of proposals prior to submission.

All bids

Cash contributions from all partners can exceed the matched cash contribution project requirement.

In-kind contributions are any non-cash contribution from business, academic, or other project partners not included in the definitive list of eligible match contributions. In-kind contributions such as data, software, management time, and facilities access are strongly encouraged and can help show additional and varied business commitments to ensure the success of the project. However, they will not count towards the matched cash contributions, but are strongly encouraged.

Any academic partner cash contributions (including those of the academic project lead) will not contribute to the matched cash funding project requirement.

No UKRI or other UK government money, as part of baseline funding or otherwise, may be used or included to form part of the matched cash contribution requirement.

We will not mandate a specific audit format for the business contributions to a project. However, a formal record must be produced upon request. This must be able to demonstrate a continuous auditable cash transfer, or staff time-record, by the business partner per year in each year of the programme.

As an exception, requests for skills and talent training are covered at 100% full economic cost so these need to be costed appropriately and considered for total matching of grant funding by the business partner(s).

Definitive list of eligible cash contributions for business leads and partners

The following is the definitive list of eligible cash contributions.

We expect the time of researchers, postdoctoral research associates, technicians, business-funded doctoral students, and the grant manager to be fully costed onto projects depending on how much time a person would spend on it.

In the application, it is expected that the role and responsibilities of costed persons are detailed, and it is demonstrated clearly how their experience and skills are linked to work packages and outcomes. The appropriateness of the time devoted to the project will be assessed in the panel interview and peer review (at the full proposal stage).

Gross salary can be claimed as matched funding (that is, including indirect costs such as pension, National Insurance, and taxes) but not business overheads or profits. The salary of a single member of staff (researcher, postdoctoral research associates or grant manager) can be covered in partnership by the business lead and BBSRC funds in a ratio that best suits the project.

Below we state the eligible cash contributions for business leads and partners.

Researcher salaries

All or part of the pro rata, gross salary cost associated with researchers employed by universities (including co-investigators).

Postdoctoral research associates’ salaries

All or part of the gross salary cost associated with research associates employed by research organisations to work exclusively on the prosperity partnership.

Research associates can also be employed directly by the businesses in the partnership and the appropriately costed gross salary can be claimed as a cash contribution depending on how much time the person spends on the prosperity partnership.

Professional grant manager salaries

Pro rata gross salary cost of a professional grant manager.

Technician salaries

Pro rata gross salary cost of technicians.

Software licences

New software licences needed for the project and their maintenance cost for the duration of the grant. Software licences or intellectual property (IP) owned by the business which are already accessible by the partners will apply at marginal cost, not at market rate.

New equipment

Equipment may be sought as part of the prosperity partnership and the equipment requested must be necessary to the successful delivery of the proposed research.

Items of multiple-use equipment (where the equipment is necessary for the pursuit of the proposed research but will not be fully occupied on it) may also be sought.

The application must set out the other proposed uses and explain the overall benefit to BBSRC science of the equipment investment being sought. Find out more in the BBSRC research grants guide.

Equipment produced by the business

Equipment produced by the business is only claimable at the cost of manufacture (not market) rate.

Access to equipment and facilities

Access to specific equipment and facilities critical to achieve the outcomes of the project. If the facility is based at the academic project or business lead’s facility, the cash contribution will be valued at cost.

Facilities development

Facilities development can be an eligible business cash contribution if the upgrade will increase the capability of the facilities with specific benefit to the proposed work. This contribution must be justified in addition to any estate costs already factored in. Any facilities development contributions require discussion with us prior to submission.

Business cash donation

Business cash donations which will be provided to the partner universities, for the universities to manage in line with the project objectives.

Skills and talent training

Extra skills and talent training to support doctoral and research master’s studentships higher apprenticeships, continuing professional development of the project’s research and innovation team, exchanges, and secondments. Skills and talent training may be up to a maximum of 20% of the matching contribution.

Skills and talent training

Workforce development plan

The workforce development plan will set out your aims, objectives, future actions, and anticipated outcomes for developing an excellent, inclusive, and supported team with the right people and the right skills to deliver the strategic objectives of the proposed prosperity partnership.

It will describe any other added value actions the partnership will take to develop skills in the wider research and innovation community. The plan will set out what resources will be required and deployed to meet these goals.

It will consider:

  • the team of people needed to lead, implement, and support the prosperity partnership’s work streams
  • the depth and breadth of skills in the current team and how skills gaps will be addressed through continuing professional development or new recruitment
  • the diversity profile of the team and measures to address any identified social and demographic imbalances
  • opportunities for added value activities to train the next generation of researchers, technical specialists, entrepreneurs, and innovators

To meet the ambitions of the workforce plan, skills and talent training activities should be costed into the main grant. Examples of these activities include doctoral and research master’s studentships, higher apprenticeships, continuing professional development of the project’s research and innovation team, exchanges and secondments, and the development of training resources.

These activities may be targeted to the core team assembled to deliver the prosperity partnership, or for the purpose of developing new talent for the sector at all levels and in all roles needed.

Note that any requests for doctoral or research master’s studentships or higher apprenticeships must ensure that the projects allocated to these trainees will not be critical to the successful delivery of the prosperity partnership’s strategic objectives.

For any doctoral studentships requested, we expect that they receive cohort-based training by either aligning them with existing doctoral investments within the research organisation (for example, a Doctoral Training Partnerships or Collaborative Training Partnership) or through new plans in this prosperity partnership for cohort-based training. Details of these approaches will be required.

We encourage you to follow the principles of the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers and the Technician Commitment.

Funding available and timeframe

The full funding amount of up to £15 million will be delivered in a single round with projects being up to five years in length.

BBSRC funding is at 80% full economic costs with exceptions for skills and talent training costs (100% full economic cost).

Requested funds may include:

  • staff costs
  • equipment and other items required to carry out the project
  • costs related to impact
  • travel and subsistence
  • skills and talent training costs

Please see the BBSRC research grants guide for guidance on equipment funding.

How to apply

This funding opportunity will include an outline and full stage. Details of how to apply for funding will be released when the funding opportunity is launched.

How we will assess your application

This information will be released when the full funding opportunity is launched.

Contact details

Get help with your application

For help on costings and writing your application, contact your research office. Allow enough time for your organisation’s submission process.

Ask about this funding opportunity

We aim to respond to emails within two working days.


Phone: 01793 547490

Our phone lines are open:

  • Monday to Thursday 8:30am to 5:00pm
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Sensitive information

If you or a core team member need to tell us something you wish to remain confidential, email the UKRI Funding Service helpdesk on

Include in the subject line: the funding opportunity title; sensitive information; your Funding Service application number.

Typical examples of confidential information include:

  • individual is unavailable until a certain date (for example due to parental leave)
  • declaration of interest
  • additional information about eligibility to apply that would not be appropriately shared in the Applicant and team capability section
  • conflict of interest for UKRI to consider in reviewer or panel participant selection
  • the application is an invited resubmission

For information about how UKRI handles personal data, read UKRI’s privacy notice.

Additional info

Supporting links

Webinar for potential applicants

We will hold on 5 September 2023. This will provide more information about the funding opportunity and there will be an opportunity to ask questions.

Register for the webinar

Research disruption due to COVID-19

We recognise that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused major interruptions and disruptions across our communities. We are committed to ensuring that individual applicants and their wider team, including partners and networks, are not penalised for any disruption to their career, such as:

  • breaks and delays
  • disruptive working patterns and conditions
  • the loss of ongoing work
  • role changes that may have been caused by the pandemic

Reviewers and panel members will be advised to consider the unequal impacts that COVID-19 related disruption might have had on the capability to deliver and career development of those individuals included in the application. They will be asked to consider the capability of the applicant and their wider team to deliver the research they are proposing.

Where disruptions have occurred, you can highlight this within your application if you wish, but there is no requirement to detail the specific circumstances that caused the disruption.

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