Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Flexible Talent Mobility Accounts (FTMA)

Flexible Talent Mobility Accounts (FTMAs) will commit £3 million over three years to support placements and exchanges for bioscience research staff from and to universities, BBSRC institutes, businesses, policy, or other settings, in the UK and overseas.

You must be based at a UK research organisation (RO) eligible for BBSRC funding. Eligible ROs must form a partnership of at least two RO partners.

The full economic cost (FEC) of your project can be up to £412,500 over three years. BBSRC will fund 80% of the FEC. At least 70% of the FEC must support activities within one of the priority areas indicated.

Who can apply

Before applying for funding, check the Eligibility of your organisation.

Applications must be from partnerships or consortia of eligible ROs with an interest in the bioscience research. These must consist of a minimum of two partners. There is no maximum limit on the number of partners. An eligible RO cannot be in multiple FTMA partnerships for this funding opportunity and therefore must only submit one application.

The partnership shall have a lead partner, who will be in charge of submitting the application. Only the lead partner’s project lead will be able to access the application site.

Mobility placements and exchanges can be delivered with collaborators from organisations such as businesses, academia, the public sector and the third sector to support international and interdisciplinary knowledge exchange. These collaborators are not considered partners on the grant.

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has introduced new role types for funding opportunities being run on the new UKRI Funding Service.

For full details, visit Eligibility as an individual.

Who is eligible to benefit from FTMAs

Any research staff, or supporting staff, working within the biosciences or pursuing an FTMA activity within the biosciences, including but not limited to:

  • postdoctoral researchers
  • research technical professionals (including technicians)
  • academic research staff
  • knowledge exchange and commercialisation professionals
  • professional enabling staff
  • staff from non-academic organisations

This extends to international and UK staff.

Who is not eligible to benefit from FTMAs

  • Students (including undergraduate, masters or PhD)

Equality, diversity and inclusion

We are committed to achieving equality of opportunity for all funding applicants. We encourage applications from a diverse range of researchers.

We support people to work in a way that suits their personal circumstances. This includes:

  • career breaks
  • support for people with caring responsibilities
  • flexible working
  • alternative working patterns

Find out more about equality, diversity and inclusion at UKRI.

Applications will be assessed on their plans for considering equality, diversity and inclusion in delivering the award.

An equality impact assessment (PDF, 225KB) was conducted during the design of this funding opportunity.

What we're looking for

Aim

Flexible Talent Mobility Accounts will enable cross-sector and interdisciplinary knowledge exchange within the biosciences by facilitating mobility between academic, business, public sector and third sector organisations. The ambition of these awards is to enhance sector porosity and allow movement between fields as well as providing professional development opportunities for bioscience research staff, and supporting staff, at all career stages.

Scope

We are inviting partnerships or consortia of eligible research organisations to deliver awards of up to £412,500 full economic cost (FEC) each, to deliver short-term mobility activities for bioscience research staff and supporting staff across different career stages.

The awards will provide flexibility to meet skills needs, but activities undertaken must support the mobility and development of a full range of research professionals and innovators including, for example:

  • investigators
  • postdoctoral research staff
  • research technical professionals
  • venture capitalists, technology transfer office, or other knowledge exchange and commercialisation professionals.

The awards cannot be used to support students (including PhD students). You should consider how the award will support individuals in their career development, in line with the principles of the Researcher Development Concordat and the Technician Commitment where applicable.

What we will fund

Short-term placements and exchanges of up to six months duration are permitted. Funds can be used to support outgoing or incoming research professionals to undertake an exchange. The activities should aim to establish or further develop partnerships between academic, business, public sector and third sector organisations. Activities could include (but not be limited to):

  • exchanges between academic institutions and businesses, public sector and third sector organisations
  • interdisciplinary academia to academia exchanges
  • international placements and exchanges
  • placements and exchanges with policymakers
  • shorter placements, for example, day releases
  • longer placements, up to six months maximum
  • Secondments, up to six months maximum
  • technology transfer and knowledge exchange development opportunities

Flexible Talent Mobility Accounts can be used to support existing investments or partnerships or establish new collaborations. The funds should be used to build and further develop those collaborations to enable knowledge exchange between sectors and institutions. Eligible investments are encouraged to include a broad range and diversity of partners or suggested partners within their bid.

Funds can be used to cover the direct costs of mobility activities, for example, travel, accommodation, reasonable subsistence, training, consumables, salary. Funding can also be used to support secondary activities which are associated with the primary mobility activities, (for example, hosting conferences for those involved in the placements and exchanges to share your knowledge with your wider network.

Funds can be used to support non-UK nationals to undertake short-term placements and research collaborations that are hosted within a UK research organisation, subject to UK visa requirements.

Funds can be used for training courses and producing training materials.

Funds may be used to support costs associated with the administration of the short-term mobility activities. Administrative costs must be included within the overall award value, noting the maximum permitted (£15,000 FEC, of which we will fund 80%). Justification of these costs must be included in the justification of resources and will be considered as part of the assessment.

Costs for small grant specific consumables, for example, laboratory consumables or costs for transcription services, are also eligible. We expect these costs to be around 15% of the award but larger costs will be taken into consideration if duly justified.

What we will not fund

Capital (equipment) costs are not eligible under this funding opportunity.

Activities (placements and exchanges and training) for students, including PhD students, are not eligible under this funding opportunity.

Disability-related costs

Disability-related costs may be included in the grant in the following circumstances:

  • if a person benefitting from an FTMA is already employed at the organisation before working on the grant:
    • the employer should absorb the costs for disability related costs if these do not increase as a result of the person working on the grant
    • if the individual has disability related support for their day-to-day activities, but this increases as a direct result of them working on the award, for example, having an assistant travel with them for fieldwork, then these additional costs can be charged to the project
    • if the individual does not normally require disability related support in their day-to-day activities but will require this support as a direct result of their work on the project, for example, having an assistant travel with them for fieldwork, then this would become an eligible cost
  • if the person is employed by the organisation specifically to work on the award:
    • disability related costs can be charged to the grant; however, these costs should be attributed at the FTE % they are working on the award for.

Priority areas

To ensure the effective allocation of available funding and address the strategic training requirements of the bioscience’s workforce, we have identified six key priority areas.

The identified priority areas are a combination of cross-remit topics focused on the development of skills and research areas related to global objectives aligned with the UKRI strategic themes. The identified priority areas are given as follows, alongside guidance and examples of what they might include.

Please note that research areas aligned with the strategic themes but different from the examples presented shall also be considered, as long as they fall within our remit.

While applications covering multiple priority areas are welcomed, you must select a single priority area for your submission out of the following:

Cross-remit: data-intensive bioscience

Proposals focused on providing training in how to develop and use computational technologies and analytical approaches for large-scale bioscience data, for example, application of AI to bioimaging, -omics and multimodal data, complex systems modelling, training in emerging methods, software engineering or data stewardship including the FAIR data principles.

Cross-remit: engineering biology

Proposals focused on providing training for designing and fabricating biological components and systems that may be applied to a range of areas, including food systems, biomedicine, clean growth, and environmental solutions.

UKRI strategic theme: securing better health, ageing, and wellbeing

Proposals focused on providing training to staff working on biosciences research areas related to ageing and health across the life course, health inequalities, and food and nutrition for health.

UKRI strategic theme: tackling infections

Proposals focused on providing training to staff working on biosciences research areas related to infectious animal diseases and welfare, plant health, zoonosis and antimicrobial resistance including anthelmintic and fungal resistance.

UKRI strategic theme: building a green future

Proposals focused on providing training to staff working on biosciences research areas necessary for meeting our net zero targets, including bioscience underpinning nature-based carbon sequestration and advanced manufacturing and net zero agri-food systems.

UKRI strategic theme: building a secure and resilient world

Proposals focused on providing training to staff working on biosciences research areas necessary for increasing the resilience of supply chains that are dependent on bio-based materials and reducing vulnerabilities. This includes increasing resilience of the food system, from production to consumption, with a focus on the bioscience underpinning resilient food production, food safety and food and nutrition security.

FEC

A minimum of 70% FEC of the award must support activities within the chosen priority area. This could be through:

  • enabling mobility of individuals to pursue work within the priority area remit, whether the individuals themselves already work within that remit or not
  • training individuals who work within the remit of the priority area (and can include transferrable skills training, for example, leadership or project management)
  • training individuals who do not work within the remit of the priority area in skills directly relevant to the priority area

The remaining 30% of the award can be used to support any activities outside of the scope of the priority area, provided they are within the broader spirit of the award.

All proposals shall highlight the importance of technology development (tools, resources, and wider technical skills).

Support balancing

  • We expect at least 25% FEC of the award to be spent in the development of early career researchers
  • We expect at least 25% FEC of the award to be spent in the development of research technical professionals, including lab-based staff and infrastructure investment workforce

Duration

The duration of this award is three years.

Funding available

The FEC of your project can be up to £412,500.

We will fund 80% of the FEC.

Funding will be delivered quarterly and in arrears, with all spending to be completed prior to April 2027. You will be expected to submit annual reports and undergo light-touch annual monitoring to receive successive funding instalments, which could include a funding uplift or reduction.

Supporting skills and talent

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

International collaboration

If your application includes international applicants, project partners or collaborators, visit UKRI’s trusted research and innovation for more information on effective international collaboration.

Find out about getting funding for international collaboration.

How to apply

We are running this funding opportunity on the new UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Funding Service. You cannot apply on the Joint Electronic Submissions (Je-S) system.

The project lead is responsible for completing the application process on the UKRI Funding Service, but we expect all team members and project partners to contribute to the application.

Only the lead research organisation can submit an application to UKRI.

To apply

Select ‘Start application’ near the beginning of this Funding finder page.

  1. Confirm you are the project lead.
  2. Sign in or create a UKRI Funding Service account. To create an account, select your organisation, verify your email address, and set a password. If your organisation is not listed, email support@funding-service.ukri.org
  3. Answer questions directly in the text boxes. You can save your answers and come back to complete them or work offline and return to copy and paste your answers. If we need you to upload a document, follow the upload instructions in the UKRI Funding Service. All questions and assessment criteria are listed in the How to apply section on this Funding finder page.
  4. Allow enough time to check your application in ‘read-only’ view before sending to your research office.
  5. Send the completed application to your research office for checking. They will return it to you if it needs editing.
  6. Your research office will submit the completed and checked application to UKRI.

Watch our research office webinars about the new UKRI Funding Service.

Costs should be provided under their appropriate headings.

Deadline

We must receive your application by 28 November 2023 at 4.00pm UK time.

You will not be able to apply after this time.

Make sure you are aware of and follow any internal institutional deadlines.

Personal data

Processing personal data

BBSRC, as part of UKRI, will need to collect some personal information to manage your UKRI Funding Service account and the registration of your funding applications.

We will handle personal data in line with UK data protection legislation and manage it securely. For more information, including how to exercise your rights, read our privacy notice.

Publication of outcomes

BBSRC, as part of UKRI, will publish the outcomes of this funding opportunity in our news section.

If your application is successful, we will publish some personal information on the UKRI Gateway to Research.

Summary

Word limit: 550

In plain English, provide a summary we can use to identify the most suitable experts to assess your application.

We may make this summary publicly available on external-facing websites, so make it suitable for a variety of readers, for example:

  • opinion-formers
  • policymakers
  • the public
  • the wider research community

Guidance for writing a summary

Clearly describe your proposed work in terms of:

  • aims and objectives
  • your chosen priority area
  • how you will manage the award (assessment and dissemination)
  • roles of likely beneficiaries (postdoctoral researchers, technicians, etc.)
  • potential collaborators

Core team

List the key members of your team and assign them roles from the following:

  • project lead (PL)
  • project co-lead (UK) (PcL)

Only list one individual as project lead.

The project lead (PL) shall be the representative of the lead RO and who will submit the application. The project co-leads shall be the representatives of the other ROs involved in the partnership

Find out more about UKRI’s new grant roles.

Priority area

Please indicate the priority area of your submission out of those indicated in the ‘What we are looking for’ section.

Proposed activities

Word limit: 1,000

What are the types of activities you will support with this award and how they align with the objectives of the opportunity

What the assessors are looking for in your response

  • a general description of activities you might support with the award, for example, specific identified training needs for specific roles, rather than detailed descriptions of every individual activity
  • how short-term exchanges and placements will meet skills development needs across a diversity of eligible roles and career stages
  • how the award will add value to existing investments or establish new collaborations
  • alignment of activities with the aims and objectives of FTMAs, including appropriate use of funds
  • alignment with the selected priority area
  • any planned competitive funding cycles for mobility placements during the three-year award
  • the feasibility of delivering the proposed activities during the duration of the award
Guidance

You may want to include a diagrammatic workplan illustrating the project, including project-specific timelines and milestones.

Within this section you can also demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant:

  • use images sparingly and only to convey important information that cannot easily be put into words insert each new image onto a new line
  • provide a descriptive legend for each image immediately underneath it (this counts towards your word limit)
  • files must be smaller than 8MB and in JPEG, JPG, JPE, JFI, JIF, JFIF, PNG, GIF, BMP or WEBP format

FTMA partnership and potential collaborators

Word limit: 500

Who are the proposed partnership of ROs applying for the award and potential collaborators and how the award will benefit from their working together.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

  • how the award will benefit from the RO partnership
  • a diverse range of collaborators appropriate to your proposed activities and identified skills development needs
Guidance

In this section we also expect you to include:

  • any current or potential collaborators who will host exchanges and placements within the lifetime of the award
  • details of your strategy for developing effective relationships with collaborators and how you might identify further potential collaborators over the lifetime of the award. Collaborators may be within or across sectors and disciplines as appropriate, including businesses, public sector and third sector organisations, venture capitalists, or knowledge exchange (KE) and technology transfer offices (TTO).

Within this section you can also demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant:

  • use images sparingly and only to convey important information that cannot easily be put into words insert each new image onto a new line
  • provide a descriptive legend for each image immediately underneath it (this counts towards your word limit)
  • files must be smaller than 8MB and in JPEG, JPG, JPE, JFI, JIF, JFIF, PNG, GIF, BMP or WEBP format

Operations and governance

Word limit: 800

What is the governance, management and reporting processes which will be in place for the FTMA.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

  • strong governance (who is responsible for delivery within the partnership), project management/coordination, monitoring, and evaluation
  • scalability of the proposed programme, indicating how 10% additional funding, should it be made available, would be invested over the lifetime of the award
  • the expected quantifiable outputs and resulting outcomes of the investment
  • a description of what measures of success will be used to benchmark the impact of the FTMA and how these could influence the annual development of the award
Contextual information

The actual value awarded to each successful application will be decided based on the above criteria, at a baseline of £28,125/quarter FEC and up to £34,375/quarter FEC, with us funding 80% of the FEC. Additional funding may also become available during the lifetime of the award.

Guidance

Within this section you can also demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant:

  • use images sparingly and only to convey important information that cannot easily be put into words insert each new image onto a new line
  • provide a descriptive legend for each image immediately underneath it (this counts towards your word limit)
  • files must be smaller than 8MB and in JPEG, JPG, JPE, JFI, JIF, JFIF, PNG, GIF, BMP or WEBP format

Equality, diversity and inclusion

Word limit: 800

What are the plans for equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) including how you will embed EDI principles at all levels and in all aspects of the FTMA.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

  • should demonstrate a commitment to promoting EDI through the proposed work and to championing equality, diversity and inclusion by removing barriers in the research environment and promoting an open and inclusive research community
  • should demonstrate clear links between activities, governance and workplan to ensure integration of EDI principles throughout
  • should demonstrate a commitment to ensure support for mobility is accessible and selection processes are fair and transparent to help ensure the diversity of those benefitting from the mobility opportunities, with consideration of balanced distribution of placements across career stages and types of role
  • should demonstrate what EDI data will be captured and how this could be used to influence the award over its lifetime
  • how the strategy ensures the award is inclusive of different parts of the workforce and career stages, including technicians, researchers and innovators at all levels, and knowledge exchange (KE) and technology transfer offices (TTO) professionals where relevant
Contextual information

Please note that we will be monitoring the diversity of people funded for placements and exchanges through the FTMAs, as part of the post-award reporting process for this funding programme. We will request equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) data of the people supported across the award. At a minimum this should include the number of supported individuals with the following characteristics:

  • ethnicity (Asian/black/mixed/not disclosed/other/white)
  • gender (female/male/not disclosed)
  • age (29 or less/30-39/40-49/50-59/60+/not disclosed)
  • disability (disabled/not disabled/not disclosed)
  • role (postdoctoral researcher/research technical professional/KEC staff/other research staff/other professional services staff)

EDI information provided will be used in part of a broader assessment by us to understand the effectiveness of our policies and procedures in eliminating unlawful discrimination and promoting opportunities. We will treat this information in confidence.

Guidance

Within this section you can also demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant:

  • use images sparingly and only to convey important information that cannot easily be put into words insert each new image onto a new line
  • provide a descriptive legend for each image immediately underneath it (this counts towards your word limit)
  • files must be smaller than 8MB and in JPEG, JPG, JPE, JFI, JIF, JFIF, PNG, GIF, BMP or WEBP format

Resources and cost justification

Word limit: 500

What will you need to deliver your proposed work and how much will it cost?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Justify the application’s more costly resources, in particular:

  • direct costs of mobility activities (for example, travel, accommodation, reasonable subsistence, training, consumables)
  • costs of organising conferences and other events
  • costs of other training activities
  • administrative costs
  • any consumables beyond typical requirements, or that are required in exceptional quantities
  • all facilities and infrastructure costs

Assessors are not looking for detailed costs or a line-by-line breakdown of all project resources. Overall, they want you to demonstrate that the resources you anticipate needing for your proposed work:

  • are comprehensive, appropriate, and justified
  • represent the optimal use of resources to achieve the intended outcomes
  • maximise potential outcomes and impacts

Project partners

Word limit: 500

Provide details of any project partners’ contributions, and letters or emails of support from each named partner.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Download and complete the Project partner contributions template (DOCX, 52KB).

Each letter or email you provide should:

  • confirm the partner’s commitment to the project

Save letters or emails of support from each partner, this is the project lead and the project co-leads, in a single PDF no bigger than 8MB. Unless specially requested, please do not include any personal data within the attachment.

For the file name, use the unique UKRI Funding Service number the system gives you when you create an application, followed by the words ‘Project partner’.

If the attachment does not meet these requirements, the application will be rejected.

The UKRI Funding Service will provide document upload details when you apply.

Ensure you have prior agreement from project partners so that, if you are offered funding, they will support your project as indicated in the contributions template.

For audit purposes, UKRI requires formal collaboration agreements to be put in place if an award is made.

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

We will assess your application using the following process.

Panel

We will invite experts to assess the quality of your application and rank it alongside other applications. The panel will be composed of members with relevant expertise of knowledge exchange, training and development, and intersectoral mobility. Panel membership will consist of members of the research and innovation community and staff from BBSRC.

We will use the recommendations of the panel along with the overall funding opportunity requirements and the available budget in making the final funding decisions. The proposal with the highest score in each priority area will receive an award (subject to quality threshold), while the remaining four awards will be granted based on the overall quality of the proposals.

We will make the final funding decision.

Timescale

We aim to complete the assessment process within four months of the closing date of the funding opportunity.

Feedback

We will give feedback with the outcome of your application.

Principles of assessment

We support the San Francisco declaration on research assessment and recognise the relationship between research assessment and research integrity.

Find out about the UKRI principles of assessment and decision making.

We reserve the right to modify the assessment process as needed.

Assessment areas

The assessment areas we will use are:

  • proposed activities
  • FTMA partnership and potential collaborators
  • operations and governance
  • equality, diversity and inclusion
  • resources and cost justification

Find details of assessment questions and criteria under the ‘Application questions’ heading in the ‘How to apply’ section

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

Email: support@funding-service.ukri.org

Phone: 01793 547490

Our phone lines are open:

  • Monday to Thursday 8:30am to 5:00pm
  • Friday 8:30am to 4:30pm

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 support@funding-service.ukri.org

Include in the subject line: [the funding opportunity title; sensitive information; your UKRI 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

Background

FTMAs will commit £3 million over three years to support placements and exchanges for bioscience research staff from and to universities, BBSRC institutes, businesses, policy, or other settings enabling innovation, in the UK and overseas.

You must be based at a UK research organisation eligible for BBSRC funding. Eligible ROs must form a partnership of at least two RO partners.

Webinar for potential applicants

We held a webinar on 20 September 2023. This provided more information about the funding opportunity.

Watch the webinar on YouTube.

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.

Supporting documents

Equality impact assessment (PDF, 225KB)

Flexible Talent Mobility Accounts (FTMA) – FAQs (PDF, 193KB)

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