Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: BBSRC-Defra global coronavirus research and innovation network

Apply for £500,000 to establish a single international network for research into coronaviruses. The network may run for up to four years.

You must be of lecturer level (or equivalent) and based at an eligible UK research organisation.

Your proposal should seek to coordinate research in the following areas:

  • pathogen biology (including the seasonality, transmission, ecology and evolution of coronaviruses)
  • host response
  • effective intervention strategies.

Who can apply

Consortia of academics based internationally may apply, with one UK principal investigator acting as the network director.

For UK-based network directors, BBSRC standard eligibility criteria will apply, as set out in the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)-BBSRC grants guide (Section 3).

Principal investigators (network directors) must be of at least lecturer level (or equivalent), be based at a UK research institution and meet the standard UKRI-BBSRC eligibility criteria.

Institutions and researchers eligible for UKRI-BBSRC funding under this call include:

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

The network director (principal investigator) can be assisted by one, UK-based network co-director (co-investigator). It is expected that the day-to-day management of each network will be undertaken by a suitably qualified network manager.

What we're looking for

Proposals should seek to coordinate research in the following areas:

  • pathogen biology (including the seasonality, transmission, ecology and evolution of coronaviruses)
  • host response
  • effective intervention strategies.

This research should support an integrated ‘one health’ approach to tackling existing and emerging coronaviruses, utilising comparative biology between animal and human coronaviruses, and encouraging data use, sharing and accessibility across public and veterinary healthcare.

International partners

The funded network can work with multiple international partners, but will be particularly encouraged to partner with the following regions:

  • China
  • North America
  • Europe
  • South East Asia
  • Africa.

Note that funding cannot be sought for, or transferred to, international partners. Please see the call guidance (PDF, 169KB) for information on eligible costs.


The funded network will draw together the major global research and industry players working on veterinary and human coronaviruses to compare, contrast and advance the understanding of coronaviruses.

The main aims of the network should be to embrace a one health approach to understanding coronaviruses, to facilitate research collaborations, and serve as a communication gateway for the global coronaviruses research community.

The expected outcomes of this network activity are as follows:

  • increased integration of human-veterinary coronaviruses research and innovation capacity and capability (one health approach)
  • deeper understanding of coronaviruses
  • strengthening understanding of ecologies at the animal-human-environment interface
  • enhancing understanding of coronaviruses and possible intervention tools.

Please see the call guidance (PDF, 169KB) for more information.

How to apply

Applications will be submitted via a Je-S proforma.

Applications which include multiple institutions must be submitted on a single Je-S proforma. Applications submitted on multiple forms will not be accepted.

Applicants must complete all sections of the Je-S proforma.

Please download the call guidance (PDF, 169KB) and 100% FEC exceptions spreadsheet (Excel, 29KB) to ensure you have all the information you need before you begin your application.

Documents to include

Proposals must include the following attachments:

Case for support

The case for support (up to a maximum of eight sides of A4, the page length includes references, figures and so on) should include the following information:

  • track record of the principal investigator and, if applicable, the co-investigator
  • the intended focus of the proposed network, clearly articulating how the network will achieve the expected outcomes and scope of the call
  • the proposed network management structure:
    • how will the network operate?
    • what will be the roles of the network director, co-director and management board?
    • how will the network build an interdisciplinary community?
    • who will comprise the membership of the network?
    • what will be the spread of disciplines, expertise, capabilities and infrastructure in the network?
    • how will the network engage with members and stakeholders in partner countries?
    • how will the network engage members with a range of disciplines and experience?
    • what activities or events will the network organise?
    • how will new members be able to join the network?
    • what are the expected outcomes and outputs of the network?
    • how will the proposed network add value above and beyond existing activities?

The application should include all standard attachments:

  • data management plan (max one side A4)
  • diagrammatic work plan (max one side A4)
  • justification of resources (max two sides A4).

Information about how to complete these documents is available from the BBSRC website.

Additional documentation to include with the application

The following documents should be uploaded using the attachment type ‘Other attachment’:

100% full economic cost exceptions spreadsheet

Costs requested at 100% full economic cost (FEC) (see ‘Eligible costs’) should be detailed in the 100% FEC exceptions spreadsheet (available as a link in ‘Additional info’ section of the call announcement). The calculated total value of exceptions must be entered under the ‘Exceptions’ heading on the Je-S proforma.

Curricula vitae

The principal investigator, co-investigator and members of the network management board should provide their CVs, which must be no more than two sides A4 per person.

List of the initial members of the network management board

An expanded table of the initial members of the network management board should be submitted using the format below. For the “Expertise” column please state the participants’ general area of expertise, for example: veterinary science, medical science, social science, policy, industry and so on.

Name Institution Position Expertise

Letters of support

Letters of support should be provided by the following:

  • each member of the management board
  • project partners offering in kind or cash contributions
  • head of department or equivalent from the lead institution.

How we will assess your application

Proposals will be assessed by peer review with an opportunity to respond to reviewer comments.

Reviewed proposals will be assessed by an independent panel in March 2021 before a final funding decision is made within approximately four weeks of the panel meeting.

Assessment criteria

Proposals will be assessed on the following criteria:

  • the relevance of the proposed work programme and activities to the call objectives and expected outcomes as outlined by the funders, and the feasibility of delivering the proposed programme within the four-year timeframe of the funded grant
  • the suitability of scientific expertise and experience of the principal investigator and co-investigator to leading the coordination of a global network of coronaviruses researchers, and to delivering against the objectives for this call
  • the relevance and breadth of expertise (academic, industry/commercial, policy and so on) of the network management board, which should fully support and enhance the ability of the network principal investigator to deliver against the objectives of this call.

Contact details

For queries, please email Dr Elly Tyacke, BBSRC:

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