Closing date for submission: 20 October 2020, 16:00 UK time.
Full proposals must be submitted using the Research Councils’ Je-S system.
It will not be possible to submit to the call after the closing date or time. Applicants should leave enough time for their proposal to pass through their organisation’s Je-S submission route before this date.
Any proposal that is incomplete, or does not meet NERC’s eligibility criteria or follow NERC’s submission rules (see NERC grants handbook), will be office rejected and will not be considered for funding.
All attachments submitted through the Je-S system, with the exception of (1) letters of support, (2) project partner letters of support and (3) equipment or built infrastructure quotes, must be completed in single-spaced typescript of minimum font size 11 point (Arial or other sans serif typeface), with margins of at least 2cm.
Please note that Arial narrow, Calibri and Times New Roman are not allowable font types and any proposal which has used any of these font types within their submission will be rejected.
References and footnotes should also be at least 11point font and should be in the same font type as the rest of the document. Headers and footers should not be used for references or information relating to the scientific case.
Please note that on submission all non-PDF documents are converted to PDF, the use of nonstandard fonts may result in errors or font conversion, which could affect the overall length of the document.
Additionally, where non-standard fonts are present, and even if the converted PDF document may look unaffected in the Je-S System, when it is imported into the Research Councils grants system some information may be removed.
We therefore recommend that where a document contains any non-standard fonts (scientific notation, diagrams), the document should be converted to PDF prior to attaching it to the proposal.
This is a non-standard call for proposals, as such applicants must adhere to the guidance provided in this document, including the strict character or line limits.
Guidance to complete the Je-S proforma
For each proposal submitted, all relevant sections of the Je-S proforma should be completed and character restrictions adhered to. For particular sections, some requirements may differ from the standard Je-S application requirements and these are therefore detailed below.
Please note: the panel are not obligated to check websites or hyperlinks provided in proposals.
Project title (up to 150 characters)
- Include applicant names, research organisation and department. Please note when completing the mandatory field ‘How many hours a week will the investigator work on the project?’ state ‘0’ (zero hours). No investigator costs can be claimed for this nonstandard call.
Objectives (up to 2000 characters):
- Bullet point the main objectives of the proposed asset in order of priority.
- Please state clearly here if equipment is being purchased for a NERC S&F. Please see section ‘Research Council Facilities’ for further information.
Summary (up to 3000 characters):
- Provide a plain English summary using language that could be publicised to a general non-academic, non-scientific audience which describes the proposed need for the asset and its primary functions. Please note: this section will be made available on the Gateway to Research database, therefore applicants should ensure confidential information is not included in this section.
Academic beneficiaries (up to 4000 characters):
- Describe and evidence actual and potential community demand and beneficiaries of the asset (this does not have to be solely academic, please include business, industrial, innovation and other links where appropriate). This should include the likely number of beneficiaries and named institutes and research groups that will use the asset, and in which research areas they specialise in. Discussions with industry should be evidenced through a letter of support.
- Where the proposal is for equipment: provide details of any associated training (supported by the host research organisation or other sources) that, if appropriate, will be provided for researchers using the asset.
- Where the proposal is for built infrastructure: if appropriate, provide details of how the asset will support training (supported by the host research organisation or other sources).
- This section will self-populate with the total cost figure added to the “Equipment” section of the Je-S form. There must be no costs outside of “Equipment.”
- Please provide details in compliance with standard Je-S guidance.
- Please note that equipment here also includes built infrastructure elements.
- Costs can include justified labour costs required for building the asset and, or installation costs associated with the creation of the asset. Evidence is required that details why these costs cannot be met elsewhere, for example by the host research organisation or a project partner. These labour and, or installation costs should be included in the total equipment cost figure requested and also detailed in the case for support document under: ‘breakdown of asset components’.
- All costs must be under the equipment header, there must be no costs associated with resource (if resource is requested for procurement purposes, please categorise this with equipment). Applications requesting resource will be office rejected.
- For all items of equipment requested, three quotations must be provided. Where you believe that there are less than three potential suppliers for an item, you should upload documents as equipment quotes that provide a brief explanation as to why fewer than three quotations were obtained.
- For all built infrastructure proposals, three quotations must be provided. Where you believe that there are less than three potential suppliers for the built infrastructure, you should upload documents that provide an explanation as to why fewer than three quotations were obtained. Where accurate quotations are not able to be obtained, indicative quotes will be considered. In this instance, the applicant must demonstrate that efforts have been made to obtain full quotations, including for example, supporting evidence of conversations with suppliers or estates attached as a letter of support. Indicative quotations will require approval from the Institute’s Estates Director and Finance Director or equivalents, these should be submitted as an attachment to the proposal as a letter of support. If an indicative quotation is used, successful PIs will need to obtain a final quotation within two months of award acceptance. If the final cost of the grant differs significantly from the initial quote, NERC will endeavour to fund the final cost of the grant but reserves the right to amend the total grant value, taking into account the overall funding available for this call.
- This non-standard call does not require a separate equipment business case to be submitted as part of the Je-S application process. Therefore, if prompted to include a business case, please upload a blank document.
Research Council facilities:
- Applicants cannot request the use of NERC S&F under this call.
- If equipment is being purchased for a NERC S&F this must be stated in the objectives section of the Je-S form. Where the application is not from the PI of the facility, but from, for example, a node of the facility or external to the facility, a letter of support must be included from the NERC S&F and the relevant centre contact must be informed of the proposal. The letter of support must be signed and dated within six months of the proposal submission.
- Please provide details in compliance with standard Je-S guidance. For each named project partner, Project Partner Letters of Support (dated within six months of the proposal submission) should be added, confirming clearly in bold at the beginning of the letter whether this is a cash or in-kind commitment from the partner.
Classification of the proposal:
- Please provide details in compliance with standard Je-S guidance. Applications for built infrastructure should consider what it will be used for.
Other support, related proposals and collaborative centres:
- Please leave this section blank.
Guidance to complete the case for support proforma
For each proposal submitted, all relevant sections of the ‘case for support’ proforma should be completed. Please see the ‘supporting documents’ section below to download the proforma.
Guidance to complete the form is included below. Please save the completed proforma as a PDF entitled “CfS – (title of the equipment or built infrastructure)”. Upload the file to Je-S as the ‘case for support’ attachment.
Please note that the character limits or line lengths, font, font size (Arial, size 11) and formatting must be strictly adhered to. Proposals which exceed any stated limits or adjust formatting will be office rejected. The case for support must not exceed 6 pages in length.
1. Asset description and location (max. 5 lines total)
- For equipment: provide the title, manufacturer and model where relevant.
- For built infrastructure: provide a high-level description of the infrastructure (for example, DNA lab transformation) and location.
- Both: Provide the location where the asset will be located at a department and institute level.
- Please note, a full breakdown of the asset is requested in question 9.
2. Science background and need (max. five lines for each question)
a) What are the top two science questions that this proposed asset will address or enable?
b) How will the asset enable these questions to be addressed? Or How will the asset improve research capability and scientific output?
c) If the proposed asset already exists elsewhere, please outline what or where the other asset(s) is or are and what this asset provides that the other(s) does or do not.
d) How does the asset fit to the delivery of NERC research and the requirements of this call?
e) How does the asset support NERC research and innovation specifically?
f) To your knowledge, is any funding held, or being sought, for research that the asset relates to (for example, peer-reviewed research, publications, plans to obtain funding, relevant national/international activities, well-aligned assets or proposals)? Please provide details if so.
3. Importance and timeliness (max. five lines for each question except 3a which is max. eight lines)
a) How will the asset create or support a step change in world class environmental science?
b) How does the asset complement existing assets in the host institute?
c) How does the asset provide a unique capability or improve existing capabilities? Please use quantitative answers (for example, reduces analytical time by hours to seconds per analysis, rather than faster).
d) Why is it essential this proposal is funded now?
e) What is the impact if this asset is not funded (for example, samples can be outsourced to different laboratories)?
4. User demand and usage (max. five lines for each question)
a) What is the community demand for the proposed asset?
b) How will this asset meet this demand?
c) Provide a total estimate of the percentage usage of the asset (100% being used as much as possible). Please then break this down into use across the host institute (for example, user profile – student, postdoc, industry), and where this is less than 100%, other, external users.
d) What long- and short-term plans are in place to enable maximum usage?
e) Where relevant, please demonstrate that asset sharing has been adequately considered to ensure long-term improvements to the regional or national environmental research landscape and identified stakeholders.
f) Provide a plan that shows how the asset will be made available to use by others. Where charges will be incurred for external use, please provide an estimated cost of use. If charges will be levied for internal users, please also specify this and the associated costs.
5. Sustainability (please refer to max. lines for each section below)
a) What steps and considerations have been taken to ensure that the asset is as sustainable as possible (environmentally, economically and socially)? (max. eight lines).
b) How is the proposed asset complementary to NERC or host institute carbon reduction targets? Note: NERC centres should detail how the project is complementary to the NERC commitment to have net zero emissions for all operations by 2040. Non-NERC funded applicants should note how the project complements the carbon reduction targets of the host organisation, where applicable, and state what this is (max. five lines).
c) What is the expected lifetime of the asset? (max. one line).
d) Will the proposed asset need to be decommissioned at any point, and if so, how will this be done sustainably? (max. five lines).
e) How will you ensure maximum value for the lifetime of the asset? (max. five lines).
f) How will the long-term operational and maintenance costs, including staffing, beyond the procurement stage and remit of this call will be funded? Clearly outline any additional financial support provided by the host institute or elsewhere (max. five lines).
g) Will the proposed asset be integrated into an existing NERC service, facility, HEI equipment pool, or similar? If so, how? (max. five lines).
6. Impact (max. five lines for each question)
a) How will the asset generate wider impact (for example, make data produced from equipment open source; create employment or training opportunities; stimulate economy)?
b) How will the natural environment be positively impacted by the asset?
c) Does the asset have high potential to deliver large scale impacts, including social, environmental and, or economic benefits? If so, what are these and how will the asset support the delivery of these?
d) Does the asset have potential to stimulate innovation? If so, what sorts of innovation and how?
7. Costs (please refer to max. lines for each section below)
a) State the overall cost in pounds sterling (£), this cost should align with at least one of the quotes attached to the application. If the host organisation is providing additional funding for the proposal, clearly state how much the host organisation is providing and the total funding requested from NERC. (max. one line).
b) Justified labour costs that are required for procuring and installing the asset may be included within the funds requested. In this instance, please ensure these costs are clear and include a justification that details why they are required and cannot be met elsewhere (max. three lines).
8. Spend profile (see table. Max five lines for 8a)
- Please provide an estimated spend profile taking account of different variables (for example, procurement timescales). Please include VAT in these estimates where applicable.
- Please note that NERC reserves the right to work with successful applicants in the funding frame to determine the spend profile.
a) Will a change in the spending profile significantly impact the asset as outlined in the proposal? If so, how?
9. Breakdown of asset components (character limits identified in table)
If the proposal comprises a suite of components that will work collaboratively to function as one larger asset, clearly state the estimated cost of each component and provide justification of how the components work within the asset applied for, and if applicable, the number of components required to function. Rows may be added to the table to allow for listing of all components.