Early technology development and equipment for STFC grant holders

Apply for funding for equipment to support the development of basic technologies in areas such as sensors, imaging and detectors.

You must currently hold an STFC core programme grant in one of these areas:

  • nuclear physics
  • particle physics and particle astrophysics
  • astronomy and space science
  • accelerators, and computing in support of these.

The full economic costs of your project can be up to:

  • £200,000 for equipment and technology development
  • £5,000 for commissioning-related activities.

STFC will fund 80% of the full economic costs.

You must receive the equipment by 31 March 2022.

Who can apply

Proposed activities must include a principal investigator from either:

  • an STFC-funded department at an eligible research organisation
  • an STFC laboratory or facility.

The lead principal investigator must be employed within a research organisation group previously or currently funded by the STFC core science programme:

  • nuclear physics
  • particle physics and particle astrophysics
  • astronomy and space science
  • accelerators, and computing in support of these.

Only academic partners may request funding. If there are any queries around eligibility, please contact stfchorizons@stfc.ac.uk

For further information on eligibility, applicants should refer to:

What we're looking for

This funding opportunity will support early technology development that builds upon STFC’s core capabilities and core programme.

In this opportunity, ‘early technology development’ includes:

  • transformative technologies, which are the underpinning technologies of the future, for example, artificial intelligence, quantum and so on
  • basic technologies, which are the earliest stage of the emerging technologies pipeline.

Applications are expected to demonstrate how early-stage technology development has the potential to:

  • result in transformative, enabling, or critical technologies, applicable across disciplines
  • contribute to fundamental knowledge, world class infrastructure, or enhancing the environmental sustainability of the research base.

Proposals for funding must clearly demonstrate the link to the science, technology, applications and expertise originating from either:

  • STFC core science programme
  • STFC core programme research conducted at the STFC national facilities and laboratories (CERN, European Southern Observatory, European Synchrotron Radiation Facility are also welcome).

STFC core science programme includes:

  • nuclear physics
  • particle physics
  • astrophysics
  • space science
  • accelerator science, or computing in support of these.

Funding available

This is a funding opportunity for existing STFC projects to request up to £200,000 of capital funding for equipment purchases and technology development. Applicants can also request up to £5,000 of resource funding to support commissioning-related activities.

Applicants are allowed to request a maximum of three items of equipment. No single piece of equipment should cost more than £138,000.

The maximum award available for each successful proposal will be £205,000. Successful grants can have a duration of up to six months and must start before 1 January 2022. The total budget available is expected to be approximately £1 million.

Spending timeline

Any capital funding that is awarded will be profiled in this financial year and must be used by the end of the current financial year, 31 March 2022. This is a fixed date. Any capital funding unspent by this date will be lost.

The applicant must:

  • have the resources available to use the purchased equipment and
  • be able to demonstrate that the equipment they are requesting can feasibly be received and receipted before 31 March 2022 (for example, lead times provided by supplier).

Successful projects should expect to submit a mid-term expenditure statement in late February 2022.

Equipment funding

This is predominantly an equipment grant round and, when preparing submissions, applicants should refer to STFC guidance on equipment funding.

‘Equipment’ means any individual items of equipment costing £10,000 (inclusive of VAT) or more. Please note, if the item being requested is for a prototype and needs individual components, the prototype as whole is classified as a single item.

Capital requests can be for up to 80% full economic cost final purchase price and STFC will expect the research organisation or project partner to contribute the remainder. Matched funding from industrial partners or research institutions for more than 20% is welcomed and will be considered during assessment. STFC contribution to the resource funding will be at 80% full economic cost.

Contributions of at least 20% of the full cost of the equipment will be expected from the research organisation or project partner. The full economic cost value in the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system should be the total, quoted cost of the equipment. The research council contribution should be the amount requested from STFC, that is, 80%. Applicants must attach a letter of support from the research organisation or project partner detailing the proposed contribution to the cost of the equipment.

Individual items of minor research equipment below £10,000 (inclusive of VAT) cannot be requested as part of this equipment round.

How to apply

Final proposals should be submitted online using the Joint Electronic Submission system (Je-S).

Once logged in, follow the steps below to start your application.

  1. Documents screen: select ‘New Document’.
  2. Add new document screen: Select ‘Call search’ (highlighted at top of screen).
  3. When prompted, type in the opportunity title “STFC Horizons (Open) Call” and select from the list created.

The remaining three selection fields will be automatically populated. These should read:

  • council: STFC
  • document Type: Standard Proposal
  • scheme: Futures
  • select the ‘create document’ button.

Submission guidance

Failure to select the correct options at this stage could result in your application not reaching the correct council or opportunity. This will lead to your application not being considered for this opportunity.

Applicants must ensure that they have obtained permission of any other person named on the proposal form (for example any co-investigators or project partners) for the provision of their personal information to UKRI and the processing of their data by UKRI for the purpose of assessing the application and management of any funding awarded.

Any co-investigators that will be named on the application must have an individual Je-S account for themselves or will need to create an account in order to be added to an application.

All documents should use 11pt Sans Serif font throughout, with a minimum of 2cm margins around each page. Please submit all application attachments in PDF format to Je-S to avoid any issues with corrupt files. Refer to the Je-S Handbook for details.

We recommend you start your application early. You can save completed details in Je-S at any time and return to continue your application later. When you submit the application, it will first go to your host organisation for review. Please allow sufficient time for this.

Your proposal must be submitted by 16:00 on 18 October 2021.

Joint proposals

Finances that are associated with the STFC laboratories should be separated from those of the UK research organisations. This is best done by submitting joint proposals with lead and non-lead organisations.

There is no specific condition on who should be the lead organisation. This is entirely up to the project team and how the project is designed.

It is mandatory for the non-lead application to submit a completed Je-S proposal form. This form will not include all the sections which are available to the lead. It is most important to complete the sections on finances.

Attachments

You should attach the following documents to your application:

  • Je-S pro forma
  • case for support
  • project partners letter of support (from the research organisation or project partner detailing the proposed contribution to the cost of the equipment, up to three attachments permitted)
  • data management plan
  • Gantt chart
  • covering letter (optional, this will not be seen by external reviewers or panel)
  • other (any document uploaded under “other” will not be seen by external reviewers or the panel).

Case for support

Should include two sections:

Project overview

Two pages.

This section should be a description of the STFC project or projects that the capital funding will support, highlighting any key findings to date, and if the project is on track.

This will be used to determine if the requested capital can be justified within the remit of the project as a whole. You should include:

  • how the equipment requested will support early technology development within the project
  • how the resource requested will support equipment commissioning activities within the project
  • the link to science, technology or expertise capabilities arising from either:
    • STFC core science programme (nuclear physics, particle physics, astronomy, space science)
    • core programme research in the national facilities (CLF, ISIS, Diamond Light Source)
  • demonstration of the existence of an active relevant STFC core programme grant that would be supported by this funding.
Equipment justification

One page per item.

Applicants are allowed to request a maximum of three items of equipment. Applicants must ensure full justification (including commercial value) for the items is clearly stated in the case for support.

This section should describe:

  • the cost of the equipment, including any quotes already obtained
  • a brief business case stating:
    • why the equipment is needed
    • how it will add value to the project.

Please note, if the item being requested is for a prototype and needs individual components, the prototype as whole is classified as a single item.

The quotation information you need to provide depends on the equipment value (equipment values include VAT):

  • equipment £10,000k to £25,000 do not require quotes
  • equipment £25,000 to £138,000 require three verbal quotes to be detailed. Written quotes are optional. If there is a sole supplier or fewer than three quotes this should be justified.

This opportunity does not allow for individual items of equipment worth more than £138,000.

Letter of support

Applicants must attach a letter of support from the research organisation or project partner detailing the proposed contribution to the cost of the equipment.

Please include letters of support (dated within three months) from:

  • the partner country institutions involved in the project
  • any organisations entered on the Je-S form as project partners (a project partner is an organisation which contributes in cash or in kind to the project, but which is not requesting any money)
  • the lead institution’s finance or procurement team (or research office) stating that they agree and understand that the equipment must be received by 31 March 2022.

Letters of support can be an email.

How we will assess your application

Your application will be assessed by an independent panel made up of experts in the field.

We are expecting peer review decisions to be communicated to the applicants in December 2021 so projects can start by 1 January 2022.

Assessment criteria

Your application will be assessed on the following criteria.

Strategic value within the STFC programme

This includes fit to the scope of the opportunity and application of STFC capabilities and expertise.

Timeliness

This includes demonstration that the equipment they are requesting can feasibly be received and receipted before 31 March 2022.

Contact details

Ask about this funding opportunity

Kamalam Vanninathan, Programme Manager

Email: kamalam.vanninathan@stfc.ukri.org

STFC Horizons Programme team inbox

Email: stfchorizons@stfc.ac.uk

Get help with applying through Je-S

Email

jeshelp@je-s.ukri.org

Telephone

01793 444164

Opening times

Je-S opening times

Additional info

Supporting documents

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