Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Develop solutions for endemic livestock disease

Apply to develop research ideas for addressing endemic diseases in livestock.

Anyone with an interest in this area can get involved, for example:

  • farmers
  • businesses
  • veterinary practitioners
  • researchers from any discipline.

The first stage is a series of online workshop sessions over 2 weeks where:

  • farmers explain challenges relating to endemic diseases
  • groups develop ideas for proposals based on these challenges.

BBSRC will then invite some groups to submit proposals for funding. Your proposal must be led by researchers eligible to apply for BBSRC funding.

The full economic cost of your proposal project can range from £125,000 to £250,000. BBSRC will fund 80% of the full economic cost.

Who can apply

Workshop stage

The workshop is open to a range of stakeholders within the UK who have an interest in tackling livestock endemic disease, including but not limited to:

  • farmers
  • businesses of any size
  • innovators
  • veterinary practitioners
  • data management service providers
  • researchers.

Grant application stage

Grant applications resulting from the workshop must be within the standard BBSRC eligibility criteria.

Organisations eligible for funding include:

  • UK higher education institutions
  • research council institutes
  • UKRI-approved independent research organisations
  • UKRI-approved public sector research establishments (PSREs)

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

To be eligible as a principal applicant and co-investigator you must be:

  • resident in the UK (spend 183 or more days in the UK in the tax year) at the time of application or will be moving to the UK to take up an already agreed contract at an eligible organisation (the contract must not be dependent on the outcome of the application), and will remain resident in the UK for the duration of the proposed project
  • employed (or scheduled to move to) an eligible research organisation submitting the proposal and hold a research staff appointment there (academic lecturer level or equivalent) which is resourced from the central funds of the organisation.

If not employed by the submitting organisation (providing they are not in receipt of funding by non-eligible organisations), the applicant must have an existing written formal arrangement with the organisation confirming that the research will be conducted as if the applicant were an employee at lecturer level or equivalent but without salary costs.

Project collaborators

Project collaborators are crucial participants in the workshop and grant proposals. They may encompass a wide range of stakeholders, including farmers, businesses of any size, innovators, veterinary practitioners and data management service providers.

Project partners are expected to have attended the workshop. Groups may decide to involve partners, collaborators or contractors who do not attend the workshop, but this must be justified based on the project needs. Further information about proposal submission will be given to workshop participants.

Collaborators are eligible to act as either project partners or subcontractors.

A ‘project partner’ is a third party person who is not employed on the grant, or a third party organisation, who provides specific contributions either in cash or in kind, to the project.

A ‘sub-contractor’ is a third-party individual not employed as staff on the grant, or a third-party organisation, who is subcontracted by the host organisation to deliver a specific piece of work

Collaborators can be ’dual role’ and may act as a project partner on parts of a project and a sub-contractor on others, but this must be fully justified

More detailed guidance on organisational and individual eligibility guidelines can be found in section 3 of the BBSRC research grants guide.

If you have any further queries, please contact BBSRC:

What we're looking for

‘Priming Partnerships in Endemic Livestock Disease’ workshop

The goal of this workshop is to bring different communities and disciplines, such as technology companies, computer science and the social sciences, together to:

  • build up thoughts on how the UK livestock endemic disease challenge can be addressed
  • develop their innovative ideas and activities into research projects.

The workshop will be held virtually over 2 weeks from 5 to 26 November. It will consist of 6 3-hour group sessions, with extra time for independent working (updated 5 October 2021: the session length has been increased from 2 hours to 3 hours following discussion with the facilitators).

A diverse group of participants from a range of disciplines and backgrounds will get together over 2 weeks to immerse themselves in collaborative thinking processes in order to develop innovative solutions.

The workshop will be an intensive, interactive and free-thinking environment.

The workshop will be led by facilitators, who will be supported by a team of expert mentors.

Please be advised attendance at all 6 workshop sessions is expected. However, we acknowledge that people may have unavoidable commitments, so please do not let them prevent you from applying if you believe you can fully embrace the collaborative nature of the workshop.

Applications will be developed in a process that will involve:

  1. defining on-farm challenges around endemic livestock disease.
  2. evolving common languages and terminologies amongst people from a diverse range of backgrounds and disciplines.
  3. sharing understandings of the challenges and the expertise brought by the participants to the workshop.
  4. break-out sessions focused on the challenges, using creative thinking techniques to co-create research to begin tackling the challenges.
  5. developing proposals for highly innovative, collaborative and multidisciplinary research or translation projects.
  6. submitting proposals by 14 December 2021.

Participants should be able to apply their knowledge, skills, and experience to develop innovative research arising from a systems perspective, with the potential to deliver results focused on tackling endemic livestock disease.

As the workshop progresses, participants will form multidisciplinary teams and build up thoughts on how the identified ‘challenges’ may be addressed and develop their innovative ideas and activities into research projects. These projects will contain genuinely novel and speculative research and should aim to:

  • reduce the overall levels and impact of endemic disease on the livestock sector productivity
  • improve the health and welfare of animals in the UK herd.

At the end of the 2-week workshop, groups will share their ideas with all workshop participants, and be provided with feedback from the mentors and director. Some participants will then be invited to develop their research proposal for submission between the end of the workshop and 14 December 2021.

Strategic themes

This list of themes is not comprehensive, nor should they be siloed. The scope is solutions-focused. Proposals for the ‘Priming Partnerships in Endemic Livestock Disease’ funding opportunity will be developed during the workshop.

Research and translation activities that cut across the themes are recommended and encouraged.

Behaviour change should be an important research output, not a research subject. We welcome participation of social scientists in the workshop and in proposals to ensure the behaviour change aspect of research translation is shown proper consideration.

During the workshop, there’ll be opportunities for applicants to engage farmers in their research to understand what behaviour change is realistic or desirable in order for their research to make a difference, even for those projects years away from market. The extent of this engagement will vary depending on the research subject.

Digital agriculture

Technology development, data generation and data platforms, and the underpinning biology necessary to apply digital technology, are all in scope for this opportunity.

For example:

  • sensors to monitor and control environments can help prevent disease outbreaks
  • cameras monitoring animal behaviour can provide an early indicator of disease and a baseline for welfare assessment
  • modelling of data from these and a myriad of other sources can predict outbreaks and provide valuable decision support tools.

Breeding for disease resistance

There are knowledge gaps that prevent the use and application of modern breeding techniques to endemic livestock disease prevention, and specific challenges relating to technology and practices for sheep and beef cattle.

We encourage proposals that:

  • improve understanding of the genetics determining response to infection and co-infection
  • explore immunology and immune function
  • identify gene targets through whole genome sequencing and phenotyping
  • applying genome editing technology to endemic livestock disease management.

Farm management

Evidence-based on-farm management practices are essential and may be the most realistic way to mitigate against certain endemic livestock diseases, which have a welfare impact on the herd.

The adoption and implementation of new solutions by farmers is an important consideration, as well as structural factors, such as policies and regulations influencing farm management to drive improvements in animal health (for example, Red Tractor Food Assurance).

Collaborations with farmers exploring practice-based approaches to endemic livestock disease prevention and treatment are strongly encouraged in this opportunity.

Vaccine platforms and technologies

There are many vaccines available for livestock, however they are not all used effectively for multiple reasons including:

  • impractical delivery systems
  • resource and time requirements
  • perceived and real issues with efficacy
  • in some instances, vaccination interfering with diagnosis during an outbreak.

Proposals that develop ‘differentiating infected from vaccinated animals’ (DIVA) technologies and those which explore alternative, efficient, reliable vaccine delivery mechanisms are therefore particularly welcome. Development and adaptation of universal vaccine platforms for livestock endemic disease are also encouraged.

Novel approaches

Novel approaches aiming to reduce application of traditional medicines and antibiotics, including nutrition, precision and microbiome approaches, are encouraged.

Research on general animal nutrition is not in scope for this funding opportunity.


Many endemic livestock diseases are chronic and lower the immune system, making the animal susceptible to establishing other infections that might not be severe in healthy individuals.

The high frequency of co-infections also drives ineffective treatment practices, such as the use of broad-spectrum antibiotics for animals diagnosed with viral infections.

Some of the most significant endemic livestock diseases, such as mastitis and lameness, are now understood to be infections with multiple organisms, which inhibits and complicates prevention and treatment.

Co-infections are not well understood and so research leading to more effective treatments for complex diseases and the reduction of antibiotic use is needed.

Funding available

It is expected that up to £1.95 million will be available to fund up to 15 successful research proposals.

Participants with successful proposals resulting from this workshop should aim to start their project by May 2022 and complete their project within 1 year.

The full economic cost of each project can range from £125,000 to £250,000. BBSRC will fund 80% of the full economic cost (£100,000 to £200,000) of each project.

If academic applicants are part of a successful project, their institution will be required to fund 20% of the full economic cost project costs (as standard).

Intellectual property (IP)

The workshop relies on participants being open and honest with each other. Discussions will be open and focused on pre-competitive research. IP arrangements for funded projects should be agreed after the workshop when the proposal is being written.

How to apply

All participants need to apply for the workshop.

Please make sure you fully complete the application form, as this is the only information on which potential workshop attendees will be selected.

No further documentation will be accepted.

Deadline for applications is 8 October (11:59).

Please note that late submissions will not be considered.

How we will assess your application

BBSRC will confirm selected participants and the workshop scheduled in November 2021. Those selected to attend will receive further briefing before the event.

If selected, academic applicants will be required to inform their university research office before the event that they are going to attend the workshop.

Workshop applications assessment

Applications to attend the workshop will be assessed by a selection panel consisting of the workshop facilitators and expert mentors.

Please be advised attendance at all 6 workshop sessions is expected. However, we acknowledge that people may have unavoidable commitments, so please do not let them prevent you from applying if you believe you can fully embrace the collaborative nature of the workshop.

As a workshop with the potential of funding, it is predicated on an ethos of innovative collaborative working. Applicants must demonstrate both enthusiasm and appropriate attributes for collaborative research ideation.

The ability to develop and pursue a new approach as well as traversing the strategic themes will also be a key criterion in selecting attendees.

Applicants should not feel limited by conventional perceptions of research performed in this field. This workshop approach is about bringing together people who would not normally interact.

The criteria for participant selection are:

  • ability to develop new, adventurous, and highly original research ideas
  • potential to contribute to research at the interface between strategic themes and disciplines
  • ability to work in a varied team
  • ability to explain research to non-experts.

After selecting a pool of applicants using these assessment criteria, the panel will then make a final section to ensure a mix of discipline and experience.

It is therefore vital to give evidence of your fulfilment of the criteria listed above in your application.

In the event of this opportunity being substantially oversubscribed as to be unmanageable, BBSRC reserves the right to modify the assessment process.

Please note that because of the large number of applications expected, we will not be able to give individual feedback to unsuccessful applicants.

There will be a maximum of 40 people participating in the facilitated sessions and group work. These will not all be academic researchers. We seek a balanced representation of institutions to fully reflect the breadth and excellence of the UK research base and anticipate a maximum of 5 participants from a single institution.

If the number of suitable applications exceeds the number of participants we can invite from a single institution, the panel will consider the overall balance of the workshop in making their decision.

During the workshop

The workshop will be led by a group of expert mentors. This group is not eligible to receive research funding so act as impartial advisors to assist participants in defining and exploring challenges in the endemic livestock disease area.

Submission and assessment of funding proposals

Following the workshop, investigators involved in projects which are invited to submit a full proposal will be tasked with writing an application covering their intended activities as identified at the workshop. Further briefing on the application process will be provided at the workshop.

The deadline for submission of full proposals is 14 December 2021.

Proposals will be submitted via the research councils’ Joint Electronic Submission system (Je-S). Further guidance on this part of the process will be available at the workshop event.

The primary criteria used throughout the process of developing and assessing the final proposals will be the extent to which proposals address the vision of the opportunity.

We seek to support proposals that show:

  • novel, highly multidisciplinary research projects, clearly reflecting the distinctive opportunity for creating such projects that the workshop provides
  • clear evidence that the team has the capability to deliver their project as a high-quality activity, provided both through the presentation and their activity during the workshop
  • clear relevance to, and the potential to, make a distinctive and novel contribution to addressing the research challenges in this area.

Final funding decisions will be announced in February or March 2022.

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

UKRI 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.

Applicants should be familiar with UKRI requirements relating to the exploitation and impact of standard research grants as explained in in section RGC 12 of the UKRI terms and conditions for research grants.

Please note that attendance at the workshop does not guarantee UKRI funding.

Contact details

For help and advice on costings and writing your proposal please contact your research office in the first instance, allowing sufficient time for your organisation’s submission process.

Ask about this funding opportunity


Get help with applying through Je-S


Telephone: 01793 444164

Opening times: Je-S helpdesk opening times

Additional info

BBSRC will invest £8 million over 5 years to develop a flagship, strategic collaborative research and development programme. BBSRC is pleased to have additional co-funding of up to:

  • £1 million from Defra
  • £400,000 from DAERA
  • £400,000 from Scottish government.

Phase 1 of the initiative is this Priming Partnerships in Endemic Livestock Disease workshop and its associated funding. It aims to build capacity and a community for the farmed animal production research base.

Phase 2 of the initiative will build on the community developed through the first phase to support a portfolio of collaborative research and development projects in this space.

Supporting documents

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