Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Set up a Rocketry Research, Training and Teaching Hub (R2T2)

Apply for funding to develop and deliver rocketry PhDs as part of the Rocketry Research, Training and Teaching (R2T2) Hub.

Research organisations must be eligible for STFC funding.

You will be required to deliver both academic and skills-based elements of rocketry, including opportunities for students to spend time in industry.

The funding will cover the full cost of:

  • 10 rocketry PhDs at the existing rate of £75,000 per student
  • consumables at £90,000 per student to build the PhD project.

This opportunity is subject to change and funding approval.

See ‘additional info’ for more details on the webinar.

Who can apply

This initiative is open to UK academic institutions with rocketry programmes or having the necessary resources and expertise to deliver rocketry PhDs.

Your research organisation must be eligible for STFC funding.

Check if your research organisation is eligible.

Institutions will need to demonstrate:

  • experience of delivering PhD programmes
  • experience of delivering taught rocketry programmes
  • availability of rocketry knowledge and expertise in the department
  • availability of workshop and testing facilities for the PhD programme
  • existing industry engagement and private sector support, supporting them in providing students with industry experience and practical skills.

Academic institutions are welcome to apply individually or as part of a group as they will be encouraged to collaborate as part of the UK R2T2 Hub.

It should be noted that this is subject to business case approval.

Non-UK organisations are not eligible to apply.

Public sector equality duty

You must demonstrate compliance with the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED), equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) and institutional EDI plans extending to all staff and contracts involved in the delivery of the programme, as well as all students engaged in the programme, in line with the 2010 Equality Act. This must be shown in your application.

What we're looking for

The UK Space Agency (UKSA) will support the academic sector to develop rocketry PhDs as part of the R2T2 Hub, collaborating with STFC as the delivery partner.

R2T2 has the purpose of delivering PhDs with both academic and skills-based elements, providing students with the opportunity to participate in the practical aspects of rocketry and spend time in industry.

This opportunity aims to reduce the skills shortage in the space launch sector, ensuring the necessary skills are available in the UK to deliver a commercially sustainable launch market.

A key aspect to be included in the proposals is industry engagement and support, aiming to demonstrate how students will develop practical skills and experience of directly working with industry partners.

The universities partnering under the R2T2 Hub should collaborate and share lessons learned.

Funding available

The funding provided by UKSA will fund 10 rocketry PhDs per cohort (at the existing rate of £75,000 per student), to cover the full life-cost of the PhD including:

  • tuition fees
  • annual stipend
  • bench fees.

The cost of consumables at £90,000 per student will also be covered to provide the students with the necessary funds to build their PhD projects. The consumables cost might be subject to project documentation justifying the requested funds, to be submitted to STFC, as UKSA’s programme delivery partner.

You are expected to provide a detailed funding profile for the consumables and PhD expenditure and how the consumables will be reimbursed if not entirely used.

Duration

The academic institutions are expected to commence the R2T2 PhD programme in September 2023, and advertise the programme in a timely manner, in accordance with the starting date. You are also expected to provide a timeline of the proposed PhD programme.

How to apply

You must apply using the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system.

You can find advice on completing your application in the:

We recommend you start your application early.

Your host organisation will also be able to provide advice and guidance.

Submitting your application

Before starting an application, you will need to log in or create an account in Je-S.

When applying:

  1. Select ‘documents’, then ‘new document’.
  2. Select ‘call search’.
  3. To find the opportunity, search for: UKSA R2T2 CDT Call 2022.

This will populate:

  • council: STFC
  • document type: studentship proposal
  • scheme: Centre for Doctoral Training
  • call/type/mode: UKSA R2T2 CDT Call 2022.

Once you have completed your application, make sure you ‘submit document’.

You can save completed details in Je-S at any time and return to continue your application later.

Deadline

STFC must receive your application by 1 November 2022 at 00:00.

You will not be able to apply after this time. Please leave enough time for your proposal to pass through your organisation’s Je-S submission route before this date.

You should ensure you are aware of and follow any internal institutional deadlines that may be in place.

How we will assess your application

All proposals will be assessed by a panel consisting of experts from the academic community, UK Space Agency (UKSA) and STFC, as well as colleagues from industry or third sector organisations.

The process will take approximately three to four months and the decision will be communicated through email.

Criteria

Proposals will be assessed using the criteria and scoring scale shown below, designed to identify those proposals which offer the best value for money overall:

  • benefit to the UK and relevance (20% weighting in overall score)
  • partnership and engagement (20% weighting in overall score)
  • quality of training environment (20% weighting in overall score)
  • quality of the research environment and team (20% weighting in overall score)
  • management and delivery (20% weighting in overall score).

Benefit to the UK and relevance

Your proposal will be assessed on the following criteria:

  • consideration of UK-based employment and contract opportunities that will arise from the PhD programme
  • evidence of how investment sought from UKSA represents value for the UK public and how the proposal will benefit the UK economy
  • evidence of applicability of the skills to spaceflight, including the extent to which the skills developed may improve the UK’s spaceflight offering and the future UK workforce.

Partnership and engagement

Your proposal will be assessed on the following criteria:

  • the relevance and strength of the links formed with other organisations (particularly local small and medium enterprises) and other potential users
  • the extent of their involvement in determining and providing input to the proposed training programme, in mentoring and co-supervising students and in exploiting the outcomes of the research and training, and overall involvement in helping to manage the centre
  • evidence of the plans in place to match students to placements and monitor their progress, and proposed metrics to monitor and evaluate the research innovation arising from such placements
  • evidence of existing engagement with industry in the sector and their interest in supporting the skills development of the PhD students
  • evidence of how individual universities or groups of universities partnering under the R2T2 Hub will collaborate and share lessons learned.

Quality of training environment

This includes the approach to support an inclusive centre.

Your proposal will be assessed on the following criteria:

  • the overall quality of the research training environment, and cohort approach to training focused on the student experience
  • the degree to which you are supporting a healthy and inclusive research and innovation culture, including, for example, the approach to equality, diversity and inclusion, and innovation
  • level of industry engagement and support, demonstrating how students will develop practical skills and experience of directly working with industry partners.

Quality of the research environment and team

Your proposal will be assessed on the following criteria:

  • the quality and diversity in the scientific area of rocketry to be addressed by the centre
  • the alignment of the centre to wider host institution strategies
  • the potential impact which could arise as a result of the centres success, both in terms of academic or scientific benefit, and wider economic or societal benefit
  • the extent to which responsible research and innovation will be supported and delivered in the centres research activities.

Management and delivery

Your proposal will be assessed on the following criteria:

  • evidence of whether there is a sufficient contingency plan for the funding allocated to students who do not complete the PhD programme
  • evidence of the effectiveness of the plans for the management and governance of the centre including the suitability and commitment of the director and senior management team, plans for obtaining independent strategic oversight and the involvement of students in the management process
  • evidence of a timeline of the proposed PhD programme for commencement in September 2023
  • information on the levels of support offered to fund additional studentships, placements, associated training activities, contributions from external sources, and the level of commitment from the institutions applying to host the centre.

Contact details

Ask about this funding opportunity

UK Space Agency team

Email: spaceflight@ukspaceagency.gov.uk

Include ‘R2T2’ in the subject line.

We aim to respond within five working days.

Diana Lunca, UK Space Agency

Email: diana.lunca@ukspaceagency.gov.uk

Include ‘R2T2’ in the subject line.

We aim to respond within five working days.

STFC studentships team

Email: studentships@stfc.ukri.org

Include ‘R2T2’ in the subject line.

We aim to respond within five working days.

Additional info

Webinar

There will be a webinar to discuss this funding opportunity on 6 October 2022. Email Diana Lunca (diana.lunca@ukspaceagency.gov.uk) to register your interest.

Supporting documents

Funding opportunity guidance (PDF, 311KB)

Additional guidance and clarification (PDF, 116KB)

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