Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Host the UK plant and crop phenotyping infrastructure scoping activity

Apply for funding to host the UK plant and crop phenotyping infrastructure (UKPCPI) scoping activity.

To apply, you must be:

  • a researcher or a research technical professional based at a UK research organisation eligible for BBSRC funding
  • associated with a UK plant and crop phenotyping programme or facility

The scoping activity will address challenges of crop resilience and global food security.

The full economic cost of the UKPCPI scoping activity must be £2.4 million. BBSRC will fund between 80% and 100% of the full economic cost depending on costs applied for.

Funding is available over the next 3 years with a start date in financial year 2022 to 2023.

Who can apply

Standard eligibility criteria apply to this funding opportunity, as set out in the BBSRC research grants guide.

To apply, you must be:

  • a researcher or a research technical professional based at a UK research organisation eligible for BBSRC funding
  • associated with a UK plant and crop phenotyping programme or facility

Institutions and researchers normally eligible for BBSRC funding include, but are not limited to:

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

Check if you and your organisation are eligible for research and innovation funding.

What we're looking for


Supporting and enabling world leading capability in plant and crop phenotyping is a priority for BBSRC. BBSRC has secured £2.4 million to undertake a scoping activity in plant and crop phenotyping to de-risk potential future investment in a national infrastructure for plant and crop phenotyping.

This will take advantage of the diverse expertise, facilities and variety of field sites (with differing soil and environmental conditions) across the UK.

It will support the development of testbeds for trialling new plant and crop varieties, including higher yield varieties, climate resistant varieties, and testing response to pathogens.


The aims and objectives for the UKPCPI scoping activity are to:

  • assess the feasibility of a mechanism for national plant and crop phenotyping facility access (the trial scheme should be based on the successful European Plant Phenotyping Network (EPPN) Transnational Access model, or similar)
  • pilot proof-of-concept digital infrastructure to address current phenotyping data management and analysis limitations, thus enabling FAIR data access to collaborators
  • coordinate the UK plant and crop phenotyping community and prepare for a UK EMPHASIS node as identified in the ‘UK’s research and innovation infrastructure: opportunities to grow our capability’ report
  • demonstrate an increase in novel, multidisciplinary approaches to phenotyping and associated advanced technology development by broadening the efforts of the UK Research and Innovation funded Technology Touching Life project PhenomUK
  • increase community engagement with industry to exploit the potential to contribute to the bioeconomy, through the development, commercialisation, and industrial uptake of new knowledge, methods, and technology

You will need to demonstrate how you will deliver against each of these aims and objectives.

The application must be submitted as a single community consortium bid. This applies even if it involves two or more collaborating organisations. Joint applications are not permitted.

All delivery partners (co-investigators) should be listed on a single ‘small grants proforma’.

Funding available

The full economic cost of the UKPCPI scoping activity must be £2.4 million. BBSRC will fund between 80% and 100% of the full economic cost depending on costs applied for.

Any expenditure that is directly related to the establishment of the UKPCPI can be claimed. This includes, for example:

  • equipment
  • hardware
  • software
  • directly incurred or directly allocated staff costs

Host contributions towards the UKPCPI scoping activity are welcome but not mandatory.

You must contact BBSRC prior to submission if you intend to apply for these costs.

How to apply

Submitting your application

You must apply by submitting your application directly to BBSRC through the research infrastructure team mailbox.



BBSRC must receive your application by 31 October 2022 at 4pm.

You will not be able to apply after this time.


Your application must also include the following attachments:

  • application cover letter (mandatory)
  • small grants proforma (mandatory)
  • UK plant and crop phenotyping infrastructure (UKPCPI) proforma which includes:
    • case for support (mandatory)
    • justification of resources (mandatory)
    • data management plan (mandatory)
  • diagrammatic work plan (mandatory)
  • CVs (resume for research and innovation format is recommended) for named applicants and research staff only (mandatory)
  • letters of support from non-applicant community members and institutions (mandatory)
  • letters of support from applicant institutions and any project partners (mandatory)
  • equipment quotations (optional)
  • business case (not needed, but you must attach a blank document)

BBSRC recommends the use of typefaces Arial, Helvetica or Verdana. A strict minimum font size of 11 must be used for the entire case for support, justification of resources and CVs (excluding text on diagrams and the use of mathematical symbols).

A minimum of single line spacing and standard character spacing must be used. Margins must not be less than 2cm.

You should discuss your application with your relevant procurement and finance officers prior to submission, particularly bearing in mind the EU tender and procurement rules.

You should read all the opportunity guidance specifically noting the UKPCPI pre-submission checklist within the UKPCPI proforma carefully and ensure their submission is compliant with the requirements of the opportunity.

How we will assess your application

Applications will be assessed by an international, multidisciplinary panel of experts covering scientific, technical, managerial, and user aspects of equipment provision and management.

While no financial contribution from host institutions is mandatory, statements of support are essential, in particular, those that provide assurances of continued commitment to plant and crop phenotyping, and UKPCPI aims and objectives.

External reviews will not be sought.

BBSRC expects to communicate the opportunity outcomes in the week commencing 3 January 2023.

Assessment criteria

The following assessment criteria (not listed in order of priority) will also apply.

Scientific and technical excellence

Applications will be assessed based on scientific and technical excellence, ability to offer access and support to external users, and expanding research capabilities in the field.

Capability to deliver

Amongst the consortium you must show evidence of:

  • the capacity to deliver and coordinate excellent research, and where possible, experience directly relevant to this opportunity. For example, a track record in managing facilities or national networks is strongly encouraged
  • a leadership role in international research programmes focused on plant and crop phenotyping infrastructure and large-scale community experiments
  • experience of implementation of digital infrastructure (or information systems)
  • in-depth knowledge and understanding of challenges facing modern plant and crop phenotyping and complementary network or infrastructure activities, both nationally and internationally

Where you do not have prior experience, you should be able to clearly demonstrate your potential relevant to these points.

Long-term institutional commitment to plant and crop phenotyping

A long-term sustainable approach will form a critical aspect of the successful proposal; thus, applicants should make clear how the host institution has prioritised plant and crop phenotyping. Contributions from the host institution or institutions (or other external sources) are welcome but not mandatory.

Applicants should also detail how UKPCPI will contribute to promoting environmental suitability with specific reference the priority areas and objectives set out in the UKRI Environmental Sustainability Strategy.

Provision for development

Provision for community member development, training, and sustainability, specifically the professional development of research technical professionals and early career researchers will be part of the assessment by the panel and will inform the assessment.

Applicants should detail how UKPCPI can contribute to the interventions set out in the Technician Commitment UKRI Action Plan.

Ethical and societal issues

Consideration will also be given to any ethical and societal issues that may be raised by the proposal.

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

BBSRC research infrastructure team


We aim to respond within 5 working days.

This is the website for UKRI: our seven research councils, Research England and Innovate UK. Let us know if you have feedback or would like to help improve our online products and services.