To apply, you must follow these steps:
- contact the relevant programme manager (see the ‘contact details’ section) for advice and eligibility information
- submit your statement of interest to the Science Board.
If you are successful, you will then be invited to submit a full proposal to the PPRP.
Before submitting your statement of interest
To help STFC with financial planning, you must let STFC know if you wish to apply for funding for any future research projects.
This is most important for large projects where you are likely to apply for substantial funding from STFC. You must let STFC know by contacting the appropriate programme manager (see the ‘contact details’ section) who will advise you on the next steps.
If you are looking to submit a statement of interest with the intention of developing a full proposal shortly afterwards, you must also contact the relevant programme manager.
Programme managers will:
- discuss the submission process with you
- ensure that you are aware of all components of the statement of interest
- ensure that you understand all stages of STFC’s peer review process
- advise you on the fit of your project into the STFC strategic context.
Where appropriate, programme managers can give you advice to ensure your proposal provides sufficient information for effective peer review.
Once the programme manager agrees, they will invite you to submit a statement of interest to the STFC Science Board.
Completing your statement of interest
The statement of interest is made up of two components:
- a dedicated template (pro-forma), consisting of specific questions
- a two-page scientific justification.
Additional supporting information, such as a letter of support, is not required and will not form part of the STFC Science Board consideration.
If you have any queries about the questions or the scientific justification, please contact the relevant programme manager (see the ‘contact details’ section).
The scientific justification should include the following information:
- a strong science case (forming the majority of the scientific justification)
- the scientific competitiveness and track record of the group
- how the project relates to STFC priorities
- the economic and societal impact (who might benefit from this project and how the potential impacts of the project will be realised)
- an estimate of the total full economic cost of the project.
The scientific justification may be used to provide more detailed information relating to any of the questions on the dedicated template. You should ensure that the STFC Science Board has sufficient evidence to make an informed recommendation.
The principal focus of the scientific justification is the science case and this should form the majority of the content.
‘Scientific excellence’ is the main criterion on which the STFC Science Board will base its decision.
The justification should focus on the science that would be delivered by the project and what the impact of that science would be (or what the impact would be should the UK not invest).
Estimate of the total full economic cost
This must include the capital construction phase and, where possible, the exploitation phase.
In all cases, costs should be broken down by heading (for example, university and STFC laboratory staff effort, equipment, travel and consumables) and must be sufficiently detailed to show that estimates are reasonable.
Please note that the cost of the project must not exceed that given in the statement of interest by more than 15%. Should project costs increase by more than this, the STFC Science Board may need to reconsider the statement of interest, taking into account the amended costs.
The scientific justification must be no longer than two pages in length.
In line with the standard UKRI specification for Je-S documents, the scientific justification should:
- be written in Arial (or equivalent) size 11 font
- have a minimum of 2cm margins around each page.
Submitting your statement of interest
You can submit a statement of interest at any time.
Submit the documentation electronically to the relevant programme manager. This should be in DOCX or PDF format, copied to Rachel Leader, STFC Science Board secretariat (see the ‘contact details’ section).
If you would like the statement of interest to be considered at a particular STFC Science Board meeting, see the relevant dates below.
|Statement of interest deadline
|Science Board meeting
|23 January 2023
|21 to 22 February 2023
|11 April 2023
|10 to 11 May 2023
|5 June 2023
|4 to 6 July 2023
|25 September 2023
|24 to 25 October 2023
Proposals received after the submission deadline for a particular STFC Science Board meeting will be carried over for consideration at the following meeting.
You are required to meet any specified deadlines so that an efficient and effective review process can take place.
Rejections and delays
In exceptional cases, programme managers may reject proposals where there are clear reasons for doing so. Examples include:
- where the statement of interest does not meet the submission criteria
- where the statement of interest is out of the scope for the funding opportunity or the science is outside the remit of STFC.
Where the programme manager has not been consulted prior to submission, the statement of interest may be delayed until the programme manager has had an opportunity to discuss and review the proposal with you.
In this case, the statement of interest may not meet the deadline for a particular STFC Science Board meeting. It is therefore particularly important that you consult with STFC prior to submission.
Submitting your proposal
If your statement of interest is successful, then you will be invited to submit a full proposal. You will be asked to contact the relevant programme manager to find out about submission dates for the full proposal.
If the scope of the project changes significantly from the statement of interest, STFC will request that a new statement of interest is considered by the STFC Science Board.
It is essential that you seek advice from programme managers about any changes to the scope and cost of the project that might affect consideration of the proposal.
The STFC Science Board will also agree any issues for PPRP to resolve or explore during consideration of the full proposal.
Agreeing a submission date
This submission date will relate to the dates of future PPRP meetings.
Proposals should be submitted to the agreed deadline to help prevent the costs and scope of the project varying significantly between the statement of interest approved by the STFC Science Board and the proposal reviewed by PPRP.
If the full proposal is not submitted within the agreed deadline, you may be asked to submit a new statement of interest for review by the STFC Science Board.
If more than six months have elapsed, it is generally expected that a second statement of interest will need to be submitted to ensure that the STFC Science Board has the most appropriate and up to date information.
Please discuss with the relevant programme manager whether or not a second statement of interest needs to be submitted (see the ‘contact details’ section).
Submitting to PPRP rounds
If invited to submit a full proposal, you should apply for one of the following rounds:
|Opportunity opens on Je-S
|Opportunity closes on Je-S
|PPRP round 1 2023
|25 August 2022
|27 October 2022
|22 to 23 February 2023
|PPRP round 2 2023
|27 October 2022
|8 December 2022
|19 to 20 April 2023
|PPRP round 3 2023
|29 December 2023
|9 February 2023
|14 to 15 June 2023
|PPRP round 4 2023
|2 Mach 2023
|13 April 2023
|13 to 14 September 2023
|PPRP round 5 2023
|27 April 2023
|8 June 2023
|17 to 18 October 2023
|PPRP round 6 2023
|29 June 2023
|10 August 2023
|28 to 29 November 2023
These PPRP meetings are scheduled in advance and STFC makes every attempt to ensure that the review process is carried out in a timely way. Should STFC need to cancel any meetings, you will be informed as soon as possible with an explanation of any delays.
Submitting your proposal through Je-S
You must submit your proposal online using the Joint Electronic Submissions (Je-S) system. There are links to tutorials and help areas on the system.
You should select the following options in Je-S when submitting your proposal:
- council: STFC
- document type: standard proposal
- scheme: PPRP
- call: PPRP (round number) (year).
Failure to select the options displayed above may result in the proposal not reaching the correct research council or department. Your Je-S proposal could also be rejected and need to be recreated as part of the correct scheme.
It is the responsibility of the principal investigator to ensure that the institution’s administration department submits the proposal before 16:00 (UK time) on the deadline day. This deadline will be strictly enforced.
You can view the status of the proposal online by logging into the Je-S system.
STFC is unable to view the proposal until it has been submitted by the institution’s administration department.
Councils operate a ‘page’ restriction policy on attachment length. Proposals that exceed the page limits on any part of the submission will be returned for amendment (if time permits) but run the risk of being rejected.
The completed Je-S proposal form will require an accompanying case for support and data management plan. For information on other supporting documents, please see the STFC guidance for applicants.
Case for support
The case for support must be a PDF attachment. It must be submitted by 16:00 (UK time) on the closing date.
It should not exceed 40 pages (not including technical appendices). STFC-specific page format and style guidance is available in the Je-S handbook.
The case for support can be seen as the equivalent of a business case document. The business case is the key baseline document for the project and defines:
- why the project should be undertaken
- what benefits would be derived
- what level of resources is likely to be required.
It evaluates the strategic fit, value for money, affordability and deliverability of the project.
The finance tables, risk register and list of acronyms should be appended to the case for support or included as separate documents. They are not included in the 40-page limit.
The case for support should be clear and concise with minimal technical jargon, and should include sections explicitly addressing the following points. Proposals which do not include detailed sections under all of these headings will be returned for amendment.
Scientific needs: objectives
Provide a description of the intended end result of the project. This description should not just encompass the scientific work of the project but should also articulate the value and benefits of investing in the project.
This end result should be clearly stated so that the success or failure of the project can easily be determined at the end of the funded period. Any intermediate results upon which the final result depends should be identified.
Scientific needs: project description
Provide a description of your proposed contribution to the project. The stage of the project (for example, research and development, construction) should be specified.
The document should highlight any unique contributions, likely global impact and aspects of UK leadership.
Scientific needs: work package breakdown
Provide a breakdown of the work packages of the proposal, including a short summary description of the work and overall cost of each package.
Optionally, a work breakdown structure can also be included as part of this section, where appropriate.
Scientific needs: STFC science and strategy
Identify the specific STFC science opportunities that this project addresses:
- how does this relate to STFC priorities
- what aspects are particularly relevant
- what is its potential scientific impact
- are there any long-term implications or liabilities that may be generated as a result of investing in this project?
Scientific needs: awareness and context
Describe the present status of related research and development worldwide:
- where is this research field likely to be in 10 years’ time
- what is the current state of play
- how important is it that we act now
- does the project have a strong supportive user base among the relevant community, both in the UK and internationally?
Scientific needs: competing research
Provide a summary of any competing experiments or research and level of investment.
There should be some analysis of the benefits of this particular research against similar past and current research worldwide.
Scientific needs: track record
Explain your track record in this field:
- why do you consider your group the best or most appropriate to carry out this programme
- how should the panel be confident that you would be able to deliver the project
- what is the competency of your group to perform this work?
Scientific needs: impact
PPRP applications should demonstrate the potential for impact. You must consider how you will or might achieve impact throughout your project. This detail should be included as part of the case for support.
The most important thing to remember is that impact planning is meant to be a forward-looking exercise. It allows you to say what you are going to do to maximise the likelihood of a range of anticipated impacts arising from your proposed project.
It is your chance to be specific and to ask for the resources you need to put your plan into action.
Activities to realise impact do not have to be cost-incurring, but costs which are included must be fully justified.
See the STFC guidance for applicants for further information.
Business needs: project management plan
The STFC project management framework sets out the programme management framework within which projects are appraised, funded and managed by STFC. It must be followed for all funded projects and programmes.
To set out how the proposal meets these requirements, sections which address the following must be included.
Business needs: project organisation and participants
Proposals should identify the implementation strategy, duration, project deliverable ownership and work packages.
You should list all funded UK participants, their staff category, full-time equivalent project or work package allocation per year, activity and justification for each post.
Key individuals, such as the UK spokesperson and project managers (those responsible for ensuring that the project and its constituent parts are kept on schedule and in budget) should be identified. This section should include a diagrammatic organisational chart.
Business needs: roles and responsibilities
The ultimate success of the project, delivery to time, cost and specification relies on the quality of the planning and management, and the people involved.
To ensure the best possible chance of success, it is important that everyone knows what they are responsible for and what they should be doing.
The roles that are found in all projects are:
- project sponsor
- project manager
- team member.
In the STFC research environment, it is also necessary to define the role of the principal investigator.
Business needs: scheduling and resourcing
A milestone plan is the minimum requirement for any project. It lists key events in the project with dates.
Milestones are, in the main, concerned with the project schedule and mark the completion of significant events such as decision points (for example, moving from one phase of the project to the next) or deliverables (such as completion of preliminary design, placing of contracts or equipment installation).
Milestones should be defined in sufficient detail so that it is clear when they have been met. They should be sufficiently frequent to enable effective monitoring of the project.
Business needs: Gantt chart
Most projects should use a Gantt chart or network diagram for more detailed planning.
They can be used to illustrate simple time dependency or full resourcing and costing.
A useful technique is rolling wave planning, where projects are planned in detail in the early stages and at a higher level in the remaining stages.
Business needs: change control
An effective, formal change control procedure is essential to successful project management.
The procedure must ensure that the project manager, and the customer or project sponsor, take into account the impact of the change on all aspects of the project and then agree and sign off the change.
Business needs: justification of resources
Costs must be clearly defined and spend planned, including in-kind contributions.
The STFC finance policy for costing projects requires all projects to be approved on the basis of the full cost to STFC over their entire life, from conception to completion.
Time and cost estimates should:
- be based upon experience
- be initially top down
- include an agreed amount of contingency resulting from risk analysis
- not include ‘hidden contingency’.
Projects should be pragmatic in their use of staff resource planning. For much of the work that we undertake, it is not realistic to turn staff on and off projects on a day-by-day basis or split their effort over a number of tasks.
Where projects look to make use of effort funded through consolidated grants, it is important that this section also includes a case for utilising this resource so it can be assessed by PPRP.
Other resources (such as equipment, consumables, accommodation and travel) should also be considered.
See further guidance on STFC staff and investigator costs.
Business needs: project monitoring and reporting
The proposal should define the methods to be used for progress reporting and control.
The plan should include:
- frequency and attendance for progress meetings
- the acceptance process for key deliverables and milestones
- the frequency and content of progress reports.
Projects which are considered to be business critical to STFC will be required to provide monthly project reports to the STFC project review committee, as well as reports to an oversight body.
These are either project boards, responsible for overseeing the delivery of the project, or oversight committees which provide independent scientific, technical and management advice to STFC.
Business needs: scope
Where proposals have undergone processes of iteration (including after consideration of the statement of interest), these can be detailed as part of this section for PPRP’s information.
Whatever the process of iteration prior to invitation to PPRP, it is mandatory for proposals to be submitted at the level invited by the STFC Science Board. However, additional ambition over and above this can be discussed as part of this section.
In addition, within this section, proposals are required to include consideration of a descope scenario to lower the ambition of the project by 10% of the requested budget.
As part of this section, please outline what cuts would be made to the amount requested (including the cost of each) and the effect to the project and UK leadership and scientific return of such reductions.
This scenario does not need to be detailed in finance tables but should be clear on what the proposed cuts are. It should also include an accompanying narrative of their impact on the project.
Any reduction scenario does not negate the need for all costs proposed to be fully justified, as outlined in the ‘justification of resources’ section above.
PPRP and the STFC office reserve the right to request descopes in addition to this, specific to the context of the proposal.
Finance tables must be appended to the case for support.
Cost tables should be completed for each work package.
Advice on costing should be sought from the relevant programme manager (see the ‘contact details’ section). All project costs should be presented in a clear and understandable way, and all resource requests must be fully justified.
Failure to provide full and explicit resource justification is likely to result in resource requests being rejected.
All costs in the finance tables must be in agreement with the funding requested within the Je-S form. There should not be any discrepancies as the proposal will be returned where there are inconsistencies.
This is used to cope with the uncertainties that occur in all projects, such as increased cost of materials, complexity of design and manufacture of components.
It can be calculated in a number of ways and should take account of the project risks and their mitigation.
There should be a reasonable chance (greater than 75%) that the project can be completed within the budget of the base cost plus the working allowance. The working allowance is awarded as part of the grant at announcement (at 100%).
This should not be requested on the Je-S form. It is for the unknown and unexpected things that can occur within a project and which could not reasonably be predicted.
It should be calculated on the basis of an understanding of the risks of the project. There should be a high expectation that the project can be completed without the use of contingency.
Contingency will only be released on the approval of the STFC executive after it has considered advice from the STFC oversight committee or project board and explored the possibilities of descoping the project.
STFC laboratory costs
Costs for STFC laboratories must be shown as 100% in the finance tables and must include staff costs and overheads. These always count as ‘new’ costs.
Please consult the programme manager (see the ‘contact details’ section) for the latest advice on STFC costs and costing.
The systematic identification and analysis of the strategic, financial and operational uncertainties associated with the proposal helps devolve the responsibility for risk management to the appropriate level.
It is a requirement for a risk register to be included, identifying the proposal’s risks, mitigation activities and associated schedule or financial impact, along with an explanation of how these have been calculated.
Further information about risk management and a risk template can be found in the ‘additional information’ section.
Describe linkages or collaborations with key collaborators or external players in this section.
Include a description of how responsibilities are to be shared among the collaborators, both within the UK and internationally.
For international collaborations, you should give:
- the membership of the international collaboration
- a brief breakdown of responsibilities within it
- information on how the significance of the UK contribution to the project fits relative to the contribution from other countries.
The status of approval and funding of any international experiments should be provided.
Key stakeholders and cross-council involvement
The key stakeholders in the project should be identified.
Describe any links to other (non-STFC) research councils or research establishments. For example, the:
- Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)
- Ministry of Defence (MOD)
- Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).
Data management plan
The data management plan must be a PDF attachment. It must be submitted by 16:00 (UK time) on the closing date.
PPRP grants will not be allowed to start without an acceptable data management and sharing plan.
Learn more about the data management plan.