Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: High end computing consortia research

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Apply for funding to facilitate world-class high end computing research through a consortium.

You must be based at a UK research organisation eligible for EPSRC funding.

You must either:

  • be employed at the submitting research organisation at a level equivalent to lecturer or above
  • hold a fixed-term contract that extends beyond the duration of the proposed project
  • hold an EPSRC, Royal Society or Royal Academy of Engineering fellowship aimed at later career stages
  • hold fellowships under other schemes.

We will support the following through two different funding streams:

  • new or emerging consortia
  • established consortia.

Who can apply

Standard EPSRC eligibility rules apply. Research grants are open to:

  • UK higher education institutions
  • research council institutes
  • UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)-approved independent research organisations
  • eligible public sector research establishments
  • NHS bodies with research capacity.

Read the guidance on institutional eligibility.

You can apply if you are resident in the UK and meet at least one of the criteria below:

  • are employed at the submitting research organisation at a level equivalent to lecturer or above
  • hold a fixed-term contract that extends beyond the duration of the proposed project, and the host research organisation is prepared to give you all the support normal for a permanent employee
  • hold an EPSRC, Royal Society or Royal Academy of Engineering fellowship aimed at later career stages
  • hold fellowships under other schemes (please contact EPSRC to check eligibility, which is considered on a case-by-case basis).

Holders of postdoctoral-level fellowships are not eligible to apply for an EPSRC grant.

Submissions to this funding opportunity will count towards the EPSRC repeatedly unsuccessful applicants policy, but only at the full proposal stage.

If you are currently restricted under the repeatedly unsuccessful applicants policy, you may submit unlimited outlines.

However, you will only be able to submit one full proposal (as principal investigator or co-investigator) during the 12-month restricted period.

What we're looking for

This funding opportunity is to fund a range of high end computing (HEC) consortia, spanning EPSRC’s remit.

This is for communities that currently gain significant benefit, or are seeing rapidly increasing benefit, from the use of high performance computers (HPC) for modelling and simulation.

An HEC consortium is defined by EPSRC to be a network of computational researchers who are provided with a portion of EPSRC’s HPC resource, which it distributes among its members.

Each HEC consortium must be associated with a different research area within EPSRC’s remit and serve as a forum to share knowledge and develop software.

Proposals should be based on a clear and demonstrable need for HEC in the research area.

Each consortium will help bring HEC to a wider community, including non-traditional users and traditional experimentalists, to facilitate world-class research using the UK’s national computing resources.

Scope

Through this funding opportunity, EPSRC will aim to fund a portfolio of HEC consortia that aligns with the current digital research infrastructure landscape and continues to support and develop thriving HPC user communities.

The aims of this funding opportunity are to:

  • provide key engineering and physical sciences research communities with flexible science-led access to the UK national HPC service that will enable world-class and world-leading scientific output
  • support community networks that promote the highest quality science and provide leadership in developing a strategic agenda for the representative communities
  • ensure greater scientific productivity on the UK national HPC service by making sure that the code base for computational science and engineering is fit for purpose, internationally competitive, responsive to technological developments and are sustainable for the future
  • broaden the HPC user base and provide appropriate training, expanding the UK computational science and engineering skills base
  • maximise the impact that the UK national HPC service is having by promoting strong links with industrial collaborators and users.

The consortia funded from this funding opportunity will need to create and maintain close relationships to existing activities in synergistic areas of computational research.

Proposals should, therefore, discuss the broader needs and existing funding for software development, support and maintenance. They should show how requested resources for the consortium will complement existing activities and be used effectively to build those close relationships.

Proposals submitted to this funding opportunity will need to clearly articulate why the consortium model is an appropriate one to support the users and the research community that it represents.

This will require the community, whether established or emergent, to have an appropriate level of maturity to be able to take full advantage of the resources provided as part of this funding opportunity.

In particular, proposals will need to justify:

  • the benefits that the community anticipates receiving from the requested resources
  • that the requested resources will be effectively utilised by the user base
  • that the resources will be allocated in an inclusive manner.

Category of consortia

There will be two distinct streams for support through this funding opportunity. It will be up to you to contact EPSRC if you are unsure which category you should be applying to. The categories are as follows.

New and emerging communities consortia

This category is aimed towards communities that are already using HPC to enable research that would not otherwise be possible, even in only a limited capacity.

New and emerging communities may be small and growing or rely on computational resources and expertise that are not broadly accessible beyond individual grant awards or within a limited range of groups and institutions.

These communities will be able to:

  • demonstrate a growing demand for computational resources
  • evidence that the consortium will derive substantial benefit from gaining a reliable source of HPC access and technical support, which will have a transformational impact on the research capability of the community.

Established communities consortia

This category is aimed towards communities where extensive and widespread usage of the UK’s top tier HPC services is already evident. Also where usage of HPC is a well-established and crucial enabler of research.

Established communities may not be covered by an existing HEC consortia but must be able to demonstrate a critical mass of activity that justifies the substantial resources available through this funding opportunity. This includes evidence of existing collaborative activity and demand for resources.

These two categories will be assessed distinctly with the funding and HPC and technical resource split to be decided once the outline stage has been assessed.

Objectives and outcomes

The objectives and outcomes of the funded HEC consortia can be split up into the following headings:

Community

  1. To serve as a forum to communicate research and HEC expertise within the relevant community. To also help UK growth in this area of research by synthesising and disseminating good practice from the global user community.
  2. To offer to consortia members:
    • networking, mentoring and awareness of training and career development opportunities
    • travel grants for code development and engagement with industries
    • support towards tier 0, 1 and 2 applications
    • access and core support to a suite of complementary flow solvers.

Software development

  1. To develop, port, optimise and benchmark software that will enable new research areas to be tackled and will prepare the UK’s user communities to benefit from future high end computing architectures.
  2. To expand the breadth of the work of the community that the consortium would support. Focusing on cutting-edge applications, and building collaborations with experiments and industry, to achieve maximum impact from EPSRC’s investment in the ARCHER2 and tier-2 services.
  3. Develop tools to assist large-scale simulation. For example, for tools to allow interoperability between different software packages, and the exchange of data and metadata and contribute to the development of data standards.
  4. Develop tools to facilitate analysis of the large volumes of data produced by simulations at large length and timescales.

Core support

  1. To provide a central core of support needed to accommodate a critical mass of activity within the community considering the big challenges posed by and to the community or
  2. To create and maintain information on best practice for high end computing modelling and simulation, including code-specific guidance for the community.
  3. To disseminate scripts, code and results within the consortium and to develop and provide advice on optimum job parameters for software on ARCHER2 and tier-2 services.

Management and governance

  1. To have a clear management and governance structure for the allocation and application procedures of the consortium. This must include transparent policies for allocation panel membership and open application routes for members and non-members of the consortium. Decisions should follow a peer-reviewed process that embodies EPSRC principles and standards.
  2. To have a flexible plan for resource utilisation over the consortium’s lifespan, aimed at maximising the consortium’s ARCHER2 and tier-2 allocation, including any changes to that allocation.

Funding available

Subject to quality, funding of up to £3 million is available through this funding opportunity.

Additionally, a block of computing allocations on the UK national HPC services ARCHER2 and the portfolio of tier-2 services will be available.

Finally, technical computational support is also available through this funding opportunity.

This can either be internally sourced and costed appropriately, or available from staff at Computational Science Centre for Research (CoSeC), where up to £700,000 per annum across all HEC consortia is available.

Please make contact with CoSeC by 13 May.

We encourage applicants to continue to work with CoSeC throughout both stages of proposals.

EPSRC expects to support approximately seven to 10 developed consortia and a number of new and emerging community consortia through this funding opportunity.

HEC consortia supported through this funding opportunity must support research and research communities within the EPSRC’s remit and will have a duration of no longer than four years.

As these are community-based consortia, only one HEC consortium will be supported per thematic area.

Resources designated for the above objectives and outcomes should be requested as one of the three types of support available through this funding opportunity:

  • management, administrative and networking costs
  • compute allocation on the UK national HPC services
  • software development and code support.

Management, administrative and networking costs

Requests for funding may include:

  • investigator salaries: principal investigators and HEC consortium chairs can request funds to cover their salary costs for the time spent setting up, managing and coordinating the HEC. Requests can be made for co-investigator time, however this should be restricted to individuals that are heavily involved in the management and co-ordination of the HEC consortium and the compute allocation. Salary costs of HEC consortia members and users should not be included in the proposal
  • administrative support: funding for administrative support can be requested to help in the co-ordination of the consortium and its allocation management and networking activities
  • workshop and meeting costs: including funding for workshops and events, cross-consortia or collaborative computational project activities and community training
  • travel and subsistence
  • dissemination and communication activities: including web-based dissemination and impact activities such as collecting and publishing case studies
  • industrial outreach: including short-term pilot projects and secondments.

HPC allocation request

In the outline stage, you should provide information on the requested compute allocation for the entire duration of your grant based on the existing ARCHER2 allocation unit compute units (CU) and available tier-2 resource.

ARCHER2 compute is a finite resource and the service is currently heavily utilised. In this context, you should:

  • carefully consider and justify the current and future compute requirements of your members and the research communities that you represent
  • specify why resource on the UK national HPC service is required.

You should also carefully consider how your consortium will manage the six monthly allocations, both in terms of allocating resource to support high quality research and managing the usage of your members.

All potential consortia must obtain a service-specific technical assessment for the requested compute resource.

EPSRC reserves the right to alter and adjust the requested compute allocations based on the available resource. This includes moving allocations between their portfolio of HPC services and delaying the start dates of projects where circumstances require.

EPSRC encourages applicants to consider whether the level of resource they are requesting is realistic and reasonable, and to refine this whilst completing their outline application.

The services available other than ARCHER2, are the EPSRC funded tier-2 HPC services:

Please see the websites of the services for further information on the capabilities available.

The indicative computational allocation available for the cohort of successful consortia is approximately 65% of EPSRC’s overall HPC resource.

This equates to around 22.5 million CU per year, measured in ARCHER2 compute units, although small amounts of graphics processing unit access are also available. Precise levels are subject to variations in the current usage of the services.

Please also note that services will expect users to either use existing software on the system or build their own software, but will provide support where possible.

If you have any queries, please contact the relevant services or view their websites when preparing your proposals, to determine what is feasible.

The start date of each funded project must be within two months from the notification of outcome.

If the relevant service is not operational at the time of notification, then applicants are expected to start their project within two months of the start of service as determined by EPSRC.

Equipment over £10,000 in value (including VAT) is not available through this funding opportunity. Smaller items of equipment (individually under £10,000) should be in the ‘directly incurred, other costs’ heading.

Learn more about EPSRC’s approach to equipment funding.

Responsible innovation

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

International collaboration

Applicants planning to include international collaborators on their proposal should visit Trusted Research for guidance on getting the most out of international collaboration whilst protecting intellectual property, sensitive research and personal information.

How to apply

Please identify which category of consortia you wish to apply under in the case for support. You can find the descriptions of these categories in the ‘what we are looking for’ section.

If you have any further queries, you should contact the EPSRC research infrastructure team for guidance (see the ‘contact details’ section).

You should ensure you are aware of and comply with any internal institutional deadlines that may be in place. You should prepare and submit your proposal using the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system.

When adding a new proposal, you should select:

  • ‘create new document’
  • council: ‘EPSRC’
  • document type: outline proposal (for the outline phase) or standard proposal for the full proposal stage
  • scheme: ‘standard, outline, …’
  • the ‘HEC Consortia Call 2022’ funding opportunity (on the ‘project details’ page).

After completing the application, you must select ‘submit document’, which will send your application to your host organisation’s administration.

Your host organisation’s administration is required to complete the submission process.

You should allow sufficient time for your organisation’s submission process between submitting your proposal to them and the funding opportunity closing date.

Other documents

As well as the Je-S application form, the following documents must be submitted.

Outline stage

The following must be submitted:

  • high level case for support (four pages): please use this document to articulate how the proposed consortium addresses the assessment criteria at outline stage
  • letters of support from CoSeC if requesting CoSeC resource (no page limit)
  • technical assessments for facilities listed as requiring one in the Je-S guidance (no page limit)
  • workplan (one page)
  • justification of resources (two pages).

Full proposal stage

The following must be submitted:

  • case for support (eight pages): two on your track record and six on the scientific case
  • CVs (up to two A4 sides each only for named postdoctoral staff, researcher co-investigators (research assistants who have made a substantial contribution to the proposal and will be employed on the project for a significant amount of time) and visiting researchers)
  • host organisation letter of support (two pages)
  • cover letter (no page limit): optional attachment and not seen by peer review.

You should attach your documents as PDFs to avoid errors. They should be completed in single-spaced Arial 11 font or similar-sized sans serif typeface.

Read the advice on writing proposals for EPSRC funding.

Ethical information

EPSRC will not fund a project if it believes that there are ethical concerns that have been overlooked or not appropriately accounted for. All relevant parts of the ‘ethical information’ section must be completed.

Guidance on completing ethical information on the Je-S form.

EPSRC guidance can be found under ‘additional information’.

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

The assessment will be a two-stage process. The first stage is an expert outline stage, and if the outline proposal is invited, there will be a full proposal stage.

The assessment criteria for each stage is listed below. The details of page limits and what to include are in the ‘how to apply’ section.

Guided by the findings of the outline stage, EPSRC may make advancement to full proposal stage conditional on the reconfiguration of consortia.

This includes changes to their composition and work plans where two or more proposals sit in the same thematic area.

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

We do not expect to see large changes in requested resources from outline to full proposal. For example, a bid should not request one postdoctoral research associate at the outline stage but increase this to three at the full proposal stage.

Assessment criteria

Outline stage

Consortia vision and strategy: how the consortium will support and show leadership for the community

Making reference to:

  • the scientific demand from the community
  • the feasibility of the consortium model to the community
  • an inclusive approach to developing and serving the community
  • the opportunities and benefits realised for the community and the UK.
Resources and management: the effectiveness of the proposed planning and management and whether the requested resources are appropriate and have been fully justified

Making reference to:

  • all HPC resource requested for activities evidencing one of the following, with the request being appropriate for the consortium:
    • supporting towards tier-1 and tier-2 applications for members
    • creating and maintaining information on best practice for high end computing modelling and simulation, including code-specific guidance for the community
    • disseminating scripts, code and results within the consortium and to develop and provide advice on optimum job parameters for software on ARCHER2 and tier-2 services
  • a developed and inclusive management and governance structure, including the allocation and application procedures of the consortium and a transparent resource allocation panel
  • all other resource requested, which is well-justified and shows an understanding of the available resources and how these resources will help the community the consortium serves.

Full proposal stage

Quality and research excellence (primary)

Making reference to:

  • the ambition, adventure and transformative aspects to expand the breadth of the work of the community that the consortium would support, focusing on cutting-edge applications, and building collaborations with experiments and industry, to achieve maximum impact from ARCHER2 use
  • the relationship to the context, timeliness and relevance to the given community, to help UK growth in this area of research
  • the suitability of the approach to provide a central core of support needed to accommodate a critical mass of activity within the community considering the challenges and outcomes posed by and to the community or consortium.
National importance (secondary major)

How the proposed consortium:

  • shows suitability and potential impact of the proposed software development and maintenance, enabling new research areas and production codes used in the UK to capitalise on future HEC architectures
  • contributes to future UK economic success and development of the given community and helps maintain the health of the given community
  • contributes to expanding, in an inclusive manner, the HEC capabilities of the community that the consortium serves within the UK
  • complements other UK research funded in the area, including any relationship to the EPSRC portfolio.
Applicant and partnerships (secondary), and the ability to deliver the proposed project

Making reference to:

  • appropriateness of the track record of the applicants
  • balance of skills of the project team, including collaborators
  • potential for transformative aspects or significant potential outcomes
  • suitability of governance, management and advisory arrangements, including allocation processes that conform to established good practice and align to UKRI’s principles of peer review assessment and decision making.

Feedback

Feedback from the expert outline panel will be given to successful applicants who are invited to submit a full proposal.

Feedback on the full proposal from the interview panel will be provided (in addition to EPSRC’s Grants on the Web).

Occasionally, there is specific feedback from the interview panel which will be passed to the applicant. The rank order list information will be published on the Grants on the Web system shortly after the meeting.

Guidance for reviewers

Learn more about:

Contact details

Get help with developing your proposal

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

EPSRC Research Infrastructure Team

Email: researchinfrastructure@epsrc.ukri.org

Billy McGregor, Portfolio Manager

Email: billy.mcgregor@epsrc.ukri.org

Get help with applying through Je-S

Email

jeshelp@je-s.ukri.org

Telephone

01793 444164

Opening times

Je-S helpdesk opening times

Additional info

Background

Computer-supported modelling and simulation is now widely recognised as the third pillar of scientific method, alongside theory and experimentation.

Through the digital research infrastructure programme, UKRI and EPSRC are strongly committed to supporting computational science and engineering. Together, we have published the:

  • EPSRC and e-infrastructure roadmaps
  • EPSRC strategy for the developing landscape of tier-2 HPC in the UK
  • EPSRC software as an infrastructure strategy, outlining EPSRC’s ongoing plans and investments in HPC infrastructure and research software development support.

EPSRC-funded HEC consortia provides their members and users with access to computing resources on the national HPC service, enabling research in a certain area of science or engineering.

The consortia have provided effective and flexible access to computing resources. They have driven the establishment of long-lived communities, expanding the existing user base and facilitating collaboration, software and code development.

They have also shared technical knowledge across the UK research base.

The overall vision for ARCHER2 is for the UK to continue to be recognised as a leader on the international scene for computational science and engineering.

In order to achieve this, UK researchers must be able to carry out internationally competitive research across the remit of EPSRC and the Natural Environment Research Council.

The full business case for ARCHER2 gives the key benefits from the establishment of the next generation national HPC service. In summary, these are:

  • world-class and world-leading scientific output
  • greater scientific productivity
  • training support for graduates and post doctorates
  • an increase in the UK’s computational science and engineering skill base
  • increased impact and collaboration with industry (updated to recognise ‘impact’ of HPC across the wider economic, societal and environmental metrics)
  • a strengthening of the UK’s international position for producing world-class science.

EPSRC must therefore work closely with ARCHER2 users in their community to fully understand the benefits and impact of the ARCHER2 service.

A large part of EPSRC’s ARCHER2 resource is currently allocated via EPSRC-supported HEC consortia.

It is therefore essential that the consortia continues to leverage their ARCHER2 allocation and funding to continue to enhance the UK computational science and engineering communities.

Find out more about ARCHER2.

Responsible innovation

EPSRC is fully committed to develop and promote responsible innovation.

Research has the ability to not only produce understanding, knowledge and value, but also unintended consequences, questions, ethical dilemmas and, at times, unexpected social transformations.

EPSRC recognises that they have a duty of care. To promote approaches to responsible innovation that will initiate ongoing reflection about the potential ethical and societal implications of the research that they sponsor and to encourage their research community to do likewise.

Supporting documents

Equality impact assessment guidance and template (DOCX, 63KB)

This is the integrated website of the seven research councils, Research England and Innovate UK.
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