Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Strategic infrastructure for engineering and physical sciences: Oct 2023

Apply for funding to purchase strategic infrastructure including equipment, resources or both. The funding seeks to improve UK scientific capability and enable cutting-edge research of high priority to EPSRC.

This funding opportunity is for invited applicants only.

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

This funding is for either:

  • purchase and set-up of equipment
  • resources to support existing equipment

The cost of the equipment requested, including VAT, must be at least £400,000.

The resources only applications must have a maximum duration of two years.

Who can apply

You can only apply for this funding opportunity if we have invited you to do so following a successful outline application.

Before applying for funding, check the Eligibility of your organisation.

EPSRC standard eligibility rules apply. For full details, visit EPSRC’s eligibility page.

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has introduced new role types for funding opportunities being run on the new UKRI Funding Service.

For full details, visit Eligibility as an individual.

International applicants

The UKRI-RCN Money Follows Cooperation Agreement does not apply to this funding opportunity. As such grants submitted to this funding opportunity cannot include a Norway-based project co-lead (international).

Resubmissions

We will not accept uninvited resubmissions of projects that have been submitted to UKRI or any other funder.

Find out more about EPSRC’s resubmissions policy.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

We are committed to achieving equality of opportunity for all funding applicants. We encourage applications from a diverse range of researchers.

We support people to work in a way that suits their personal circumstances. This includes:

  • career breaks
  • support for people with caring responsibilities
  • flexible working
  • alternative working patterns

Find out more about equality, diversity and inclusion at UKRI.

What we're looking for

Scope

You can apply for two funding routes via the strategic infrastructure opportunity:

  • route one: purchase and set-up of strategic infrastructure
  • route two: resources to support existing strategic infrastructure

These two funding routes have different scopes but the application and assessment processes are via the same opportunity.

Strategic infrastructure

Strategic infrastructure is intended to enhance UK scientific capability and support cutting-edge research of high priority to EPSRC. The request should fit within the host institution strategy and enable research that predominantly falls within EPSRC’s remit.

Strategic infrastructure includes a wide range of capital infrastructure and justified non-capital costs. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • equipment enabling technology that increases novel research capability; for example, capital infrastructure enabling transformative research of high importance to EPSRC and the UK, or capital infrastructure empowering the UK to become world leading as a result of the enabled research
  • equipment enabling research through increased capacity; for example, high-specification capital infrastructure that enables faster, higher resolution or more cost-effective results
  • non-capital costs where there is a clear requirement and should only be used to support the capital infrastructure requested

All strategic infrastructure requests should include:

  • justified cost
  • appropriate use
  • appropriate strategy

Find more details on the scope of the strategic infrastructure funding opportunity.

Resources to support existing strategic infrastructure

This funding route is only for invited applicants where strategic needs are identified. You must be invited by the relevant EPSRC theme lead to submit an application.

Resources to support existing strategic infrastructure is intended to maximise usage of existing equipment that has already been procured, delivered and installed. This funding opportunity supports improved access and approaches to enable a better sharing of existing capital infrastructure. We expect that funding will provide seed or invest-to-save funding to initiate increased use and sustainability of the existing infrastructure.

The existing infrastructure may have been funded by EPSRC or other sources. The research enabled by the infrastructure must be within the EPSRC remit.

We do not expect that you will need more funding through this funding opportunity after the first application. You must articulate clear plans for sustainability in your application. We will not accept further applications to support sharing of the same item or items of capital infrastructure.

Find more details on the scope of the resources to support existing strategic infrastructure funding opportunity.

Duration

Strategic infrastructure

The duration must reflect that this is an infrastructure grant and not a research grant, and should cover the procurement, delivery, installation and set-up of equipment.

If it is appropriate, the length of the funding can include:

  • the development of methods, protocols and access models
  • a small amount of time for pump-priming projects to maximise usage of the infrastructure

The duration should not include time for research projects.

Resources to support existing strategic infrastructure

Resources to support existing strategic infrastructure applications should be for a maximum duration of two years, unless agreed otherwise with EPSRC.

Funding available

What we will fund

Strategic infrastructure

Strategic infrastructure includes both capital and digital infrastructure:

  • capital infrastructure includes capital equipment
  • digital infrastructure includes central processing units and computing hardware

Funding is available for items of infrastructure over £400,000, including VAT.

The £400,000 minimum threshold can be met by a single item of equipment or by several items that are clearly intended to be combined in a single asset. The threshold cannot be met by the accumulated total of a number of individual items of standalone equipment.

You can also request items of equipment under £400,000 that are essential to the running of the larger equipment.

You can request funding for up to 100% full economic cost (FEC) of the equipment. However, contributions from the host organisation would be expected to be in line with the scale of the proposal. The host institution should demonstrate the strategic importance and commitment to the proposed infrastructure.

Contributions do not have to be direct contributions to the cost of the equipment and can be towards non-capital costs. Further information on university contributions.

Non-capital costs can be included where there is a clear requirement and should only be used to support the equipment requested. These will be funded at 80% FEC.

Eligible non-capital costs include:

  • staff time:
    • investigator time: this should be associated with the management of the equipment or promotion of the equipment to maximise its usage
    • research technical professionals time: as well as time associated with the management and promotion of the equipment, you should consider the professional development and sustainability of any technical staff associated with the equipment
  • impact-related activities:
    • travel costs to support engagement with existing partners
    • engagement activities: for example, workshops, seminars, networking events, exhibitions, meetings or people exchange to develop new partnerships. Engagement with expert staff can also be included. For example, knowledge exchange professionals, consultants, business planning support, commercialisation professionals or research software engineers
    • training for researchers. For example, public engagement, entrepreneurship or media
    • development or design input. For example, proof of concept, prototype or demonstrators
    • marketing design, video, web content
    • sharing of novel tools and techniques. For example, where these could be applied in other disciplines
    • data management. For example, sharing of datasets

Quotes for equipment do not need to be included in your application, but please retain quotes for equipment costing more than £138,000 as we may ask for these at post-panel stage before releasing funds.

Read more about EPSRC’s approach to equipment funding.

Resources to support existing strategic infrastructure

Funding via this route should provide additional underpinning infrastructure or staff support that improves the current use of infrastructure, or both. You will be required to demonstrate the added value of the funds for increasing equipment utilisation, and the strategic demand for this.

Examples of resources that you can request include, but are not limited to:

  • pump-priming funds
  • provision of training or research services, or both, not previously available through:
    • additional roles
    • increased technician time. For example, if a technician is currently allocated 20% time to the equipment and you wish to increase this to 100%, you should request 80% of their time
  • additional investigator or staff time associated with the running of the existing equipment or provision of general support for equipment users, including training where there is a clear requirement
  • improved booking software
  • improved advertisement of capabilities
  • impact related activities listed in the ‘Strategic infrastructure’ section

All non-capital costs will be funded at 80% FEC.

For both strategic infrastructure and resources to support existing strategic infrastructure routes, the overall cost of the proposed infrastructure should not change by more than 10% in either direction compared to the outline stage. If you believe that the total cost will increase by more than 10%, contact EPSRC as soon as possible at epsrcequipmentfunding@epsrc.ukri.org

What we will not fund

Strategic infrastructure

We will not fund:

  • costs associated with the support of individual research projects: for example, project lead time for research and project specific consumables are not an allowable cost on this funding opportunity. It would be for the university to consider how best to cover research project consumables through usage and charging arrangements
  • laboratory refurbishment, modifications or redevelopment to install equipment: these costs are considered a host institution contribution and would be considered out of scope unless in exceptional circumstances. The exceptional cases would require discussion with EPSRC
  • underpinning equipment that we would expect to see in a well-found lab
  • software, research software development or cloud computing credits

You should submit any application focused on creating novel instruments or performing modifications to an existing instrument through standard mode as instrument development.

Resources to support existing strategic infrastructure

We will not fund:

  • capital costs: for example, items of equipment over £10,000. Individual items with a value less than £10,000 are not considered to be equipment
  • long-term research projects: for example, we do not expect to see postdoctoral researcher effort requested as part of an application. Costs for individual research projects are only eligible when these are short-term seed projects to support new users. These costs should have been proposed at the outline stage
  • replacement of existing support, maintenance, service contracts, or capital costs: for example, current staff costs for time assigned to the equipment are not eligible. It is expected that awards will provide seed funding to initiate increased use

Supporting skills and talent

We encourage you to follow the principles of the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers and the Technician Commitment.

International collaboration

If your application includes international applicants, project partners or collaborators, visit UKRI’s trusted research and innovation for more information on effective international collaboration.

Find out about getting funding for international collaboration.

How to apply

We are running this funding opportunity on the new UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Funding Service. You cannot apply on the Joint Electronic Submissions (Je-S) system.

The project lead is responsible for completing the application process on the Funding Service, but we expect all team members and project partners to contribute to the application.

Only the lead research organisation can submit an application to UKRI.

To apply

  1. Confirm you are the project lead.
  2. Sign in or create a Funding Service account. To create an account, select your organisation, verify your email address, and set a password. If your organisation is not listed, email support@funding-service.ukri.org
  3. Answer questions directly in the text boxes. You can save your answers and come back to complete them or work offline and return to copy and paste your answers. If we need you to upload a document, follow the upload instructions in the Funding Service. All questions and assessment criteria are listed in the ‘How to apply’ section on this Funding finder page.
  4. Allow enough time to check your application in ‘read-only’ view before sending to your research office.
  5. Send the completed application to your research office for checking. They will return it to you if it needs editing.
  6. Your research office will submit the completed and checked application to UKRI.

Watch our research office webinars about the new Funding Service.

Deadline

EPSRC must receive your application by 20 December 2023 at 4.00pm UK time.

You will not be able to apply after this time.

Make sure you are aware of and follow any internal institutional deadlines.

We will not be returning applications for amendment. If an application is withdrawn prior to peer review or office rejected due to substantive errors in the application, it cannot be resubmitted to the opportunity.

Personal data

Processing personal data

As part of UKRI, we will need to collect some personal information to manage your Funding Service account and the registration of your funding applications.

We will handle personal data in line with UK data protection legislation and manage it securely. For more information, including how to exercise your rights, read our privacy notice.

Publication of outcomes

As part of UKRI, we will publish the outcomes of this funding opportunity at Grants on the Web.

If your application is successful, we will publish some personal information on the UKRI Gateway to Research.

Summary

Word limit: 550

In plain English, provide a summary we can use to identify the most suitable experts to assess your application.

We may make this summary publicly available on external-facing websites, so make it suitable for a variety of readers, for example:

  • opinion-formers
  • policymakers
  • the public
  • the wider research community

Guidance for writing a summary

Clearly describe your proposed infrastructure in terms of:

  • context
  • the challenges the infrastructure addresses
  • aims and objectives
  • potential applications and benefits

Core team

List the key members of your team and assign them roles from the following:

  • project lead (PL)
  • project co-lead (UK) (PcL)
  • researcher co-lead (RcL)
  • specialist
  • grant manager
  • professional enabling staff
  • research and innovation associate
  • technician
  • visiting researcher

Only list one individual as project lead.

Postdoctoral research assistants

These should be included on the grant as research and innovation associate.

Research technical professionals

A research technical professional can be listed as a project lead or project co-lead (UK), provided that:

  • their appointment is resourced from the central funds of their institution at the time of application
  • their level of responsibilities and duties is appropriate to a person with substantial research experience
  • their contract extends beyond the duration of the project

Please do not add industry project partners in this category, as these should be added in the ‘project partner’ section instead.

Find out more about UKRI’s new grant roles.

Purpose: strategic infrastructure funding route

Word limit: 750

Why is this infrastructure needed and why should EPSRC support it?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Use this section if you are applying for the strategic infrastructure funding route.

Enter ‘N/A’ in the text box and do not upload an attachment for this section if you are applying for the resources to support existing strategic infrastructure funding route, then move onto the next section.

Explain how the infrastructure sought will:

  • meet national needs by establishing or maintaining a unique or world leading activity, or both
  • enhance and complement the existing regional or national research capability
  • evidence the strong demand and community need from a diverse and inclusive user base
  • meet the strategic aims of the funding organisation

Describe alternative plans for how the research would be achieved should the equipment not be funded. The plans should reflect:

  • host organisation strategies for this infrastructure
  • institutional commitment to the infrastructure landscape
  • how the infrastructure sought is different from what is already available in the wider research landscape

You should input your response to this section in the text box.

Within this section you also have the option to upload a single PDF ensuring it is no larger than 8MB, including support letters or emails from organisations that have shown a clear intention to use the infrastructure.

The PDF attachment should only include letters that are selective and adding significant support.

Applicants are advised to only include letters from a cross-section of key users, rather than from every user. These may represent different universities within or outside any regional alliance, or may indicate relevance to key collaborators within industrial sectors. Only one letter is permitted per organisation.

Each letter or email you provide should clearly explain the value, relevance and possible benefits of the work to users.

Please do not include letters of support from project partners in this section. We have a separate section for ‘Project partners: letters or emails of support’.

For the file name, use the unique Funding Service number the system gives you when you create an application, followed by the words ‘<Purpose: letters of support from key users>’.

Unless specifically requested, please do not include any personal data within the attachment.

If the attachment does not meet these requirements, the application will be rejected.

The Funding Service will provide document upload details when you apply.

Purpose: resources to support existing strategic infrastructure funding route

Word limit: 750

Why is this resource needed and why should EPSRC support it?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Use this section if you are applying for the resources to support existing strategic infrastructure funding route.

Enter ‘N/A’ in the text box and do not upload an attachment for this section if you are applying for the strategic infrastructure funding route, then move onto the next section.

Explain how the equipment sought will:

  • meet national needs by establishing or maintaining a unique or world leading activity, or both
  • enhance and complement the existing regional or national research capability
  • evidence the strong demand and community need from a diverse and inclusive user base
  • meet the strategic aims of the funding organisation
  • result in significant efficiencies, increased usage or greater capacity, or both, compared to the current situation

Describe alternative plans for how the research would be achieved should the equipment not be funded. The plans should reflect:

  • host organisation strategies for this equipment
  • institutional commitment to the equipment landscape

You should input your response to this section in the text box.

Within this section you also have the option to upload a single PDF ensuring it is no larger than 8MB, including support letters or emails from organisations that have shown a clear intention to use the infrastructure.

The PDF attachment should only include letters that are selective and adding significant support.

Applicants are advised to only include letters from a cross-section of key users, rather than from every user. These may represent different universities within or outside any regional alliance, or may indicate relevance to key collaborators within industrial sectors. Only one letter is permitted per organisation.

Each letter or email you provide should clearly explain the value, relevance and possible benefits of the work to users.

Please do not include letters of support from project partners in this section. We have a separate section for ‘Project partners: letters or emails of support’.

For the file name, use the unique Funding Service number the system gives you when you create an application, followed by the words ‘<Purpose: letters of support from key users>’.

Unless specifically requested, please do not include any personal data within the attachment.

If the attachment does not meet these requirements, the application will be rejected.

The Funding Service will provide document upload details when you apply.

Vision

Word limit: 10

What research will be enabled by this infrastructure?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Explain how the infrastructure sought will enable research that:

  • is high quality, novel and transformative
  • is timely, given current trends and context
  • is relevant to identified stakeholders, including users
  • will have a measurable impact beyond the immediate team, with an appropriate approach to achieving impact

Upload a PDF file of your Vision statement that is a maximum of 8MB and not more than three sides of A4, single spaced in paper in 11-point (Arial or equivalent sans serif font) with margins of at least 2cm. You may include images, graphs, tables.

For the file name, use the unique Funding Service number the system gives you when you create an application, followed by the words ‘<Vision>’.

Unless specifically requested, please do not include any personal data within the attachment.

If the attachment does not meet these requirements, the application will be rejected.

The Funding Service will provide document upload details when you apply.

In the text box for this section, enter ‘attachment supplied’.

Approach

Word limit: 10

What are your plans to manage the proposed infrastructure?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Explain how your approach includes:

  • a credible plan for managing the infrastructure, including a work plan with Gantt chart, associated risks, milestones and deliverables
  • a plan for prioritising access to and maximising usage of the infrastructure. This should include any application and assessment processes and an estimate for the balance of users from the host institution, academics from external institutions and industrial users
  • a plan for data management and accessibility

Upload a PDF file of your Approach statement that is a maximum of 8MB and not more than three sides of A4, single spaced in paper in 11-point (Arial or equivalent sans serif font) with margins of at least 2cm. You may include images, graphs, tables.

The file should include a detailed management plan up to one page and a project work plan up to one page. The work plan should include milestones and timelines in the form of a Gantt chart or similar.

For the file name, use the unique Funding Service number the system gives you when you create an application, followed by the words ‘<Approach>’.

Unless specifically requested, please do not include any personal data within the attachment.

If the attachment does not meet these requirements, the application will be rejected.

The Funding Service will provide document upload details when you apply.

In the text box for this section, enter ‘attachment supplied’.

Sustainability

Word limit: 750

What are your plans for sustainability of the proposed infrastructure beyond the end of this funding?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Explain how your plans for sustainability include:

  • an appropriate cost recovery model
  • a plan for training and development of specialist technical staff
  • a plan for the development or expansion of the user base after the initial period of funding and any “free-at-the point of access” period

Applicant and team capability to deliver

Word limit: 1,500

Why are you the right individual, team and place to procure and manage this infrastructure?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Evidence of how you, and if relevant your team, have:

  • the relevant experience, appropriate to career stage, to deliver the proposed infrastructure
  • the right balance of skills and expertise to cover the proposed infrastructure, including the appropriate leadership and management skills to deliver the work and your approach to develop others
  • contributed to developing a positive research environment and wider community

The word count for this section is 1,500 words; 1,000 words to be used for R4RI modules and, if necessary, a further 500 words for Additions.

Use the Résumé for Research and Innovation (R4RI) format to showcase the range of relevant skills you and, if relevant, your team (project and project co-leads, researchers, technicians, specialists, partners and so on) have and how this will help deliver the proposed infrastructure. You can include individuals’ specific achievements but only choose past contributions that best evidence their ability to deliver this infrastructure.

Complete this section using the R4RI module headings listed. Use each heading once and include a response for the whole team, see the UKRI guidance on R4RI. You should consider how to balance your answer, and emphasise where appropriate the key skills each team member brings:

  • contributions to the generation of new ideas, tools, methodologies, or knowledge
  • the development of others and maintenance of effective working relationships
  • contributions to the wider research and innovation community
  • contributions to broader research or innovation users and audiences and towards wider societal benefit
Additions

Provide any further details relevant to your application. This section is optional and can include up to 500 words. You should not use it to describe additional skills, experiences, or outputs, but you can use it to describe any factors that provide context for the rest of your R4RI (for example, details of career breaks if you wish to disclose them).

Complete this as a narrative. Do not format it like a CV.

Within this section you can also demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. If using visual elements, you must:

  • use images sparingly and only to convey important information that cannot easily be put into words
  • insert each new image onto a new line
  • provide a descriptive legend for each image immediately underneath it (this counts towards your word limit)
  • files must be smaller than 8MB and in JPEG, JPG, JPE, JFI, JIF, JFIF, PNG, GIF, BMP or WEBP format

UKRI has introduced new role types for funding opportunities being run on the new Funding Service.

For full details, see Eligibility as an individual.

Resources and cost justification

Word limit: 1,500

What will you need to procure and manage the proposed infrastructure and how much will it cost?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

In the text box, provide justifications of:

  • the cost of the proposed infrastructure
  • any resources (for example staff or maintenance costs) associated with the infrastructure
  • any resources requested for activities to expand the user base, increase impact, for public engagement or to support responsible innovation
  • the nature and level of contributions from your partner organisations if applicable

For each of these, demonstrate how the resources you anticipate needing:

  • are comprehensive, appropriate and justified
  • represent the optimal use of resources to achieve the intended outcomes
  • maximise potential outcomes and impacts

Note that due to limited functionality on the new Funding Service, you can only request the infrastructure at either 80% or 100% FEC at this round of the application.

Within the ‘Resources and cost justification’ section we also expect you to:

Provide a short summary of quotations from at least three suppliers for all items of equipment costing more than £25,000. If there are only one or two suppliers for any piece of equipment, state this and explain why.

You can watch the video on managing resources and cost section in the Funding Service.

Your organisation’s support

Word limit: 1,000

Provide details of support from your host institution.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Provide a Statement of Support from your host institution detailing why the proposed infrastructure is needed. This should include details of any host institution contributions that will be provided to support the infrastructure and any support that might add value to the work.

The assessors will be looking for a strong statement of commitment from your host institution on:

  • how its contributions are in line with the scale of the proposed infrastructure, including evidencing the strategic importance of this infrastructure to the institution
  • why your host institution is the most appropriate place for the proposed infrastructure
  • how your host institution will use its existing inventory to best complement the proposed infrastructure
  • how your host institution will support the team to meet the proposal objectives
  • the plans to support sustainability and management of the proposed infrastructure

Applicants are encouraged to discuss this section with both the Research Offices and Senior Management Team prior to submitting applications.

EPSRC recognises that in some instances, this information may be provided by the Research Office, the Technology Transfer Office (TTO) or equivalent, or a combination of both.

You must also include the following details:

  • a significant person’s name and their position, from the TTO or Research Office, or both
  • office address or web link

Upload details are provided within the service on the actual application.

Project partners

Add details about any project partners’ contributions. If there are no project partners, you can indicate this on the Funding Service.

A project partner is a collaborating organisation who will have an integral role in the proposed research. This may include direct (cash) or indirect (in-kind) contributions such as expertise, staff time or use of facilities.

Add the following project partner details:

  • the organisation name and address (searchable via a drop-down list or enter the organisation’s details manually, as applicable)
  • the project partner contact name and email address
  • the type of contribution (direct or in-direct) and its monetary value

If a detail is entered incorrectly and you have saved the entry, please remove the specific project partner record and re-add it with the correct information.

For audit purposes, UKRI requires formal collaboration agreements to be put in place if an award is made.

Project partners: letters or emails of support

Word limit 10

Upload a single PDF containing the letters or emails of support from each partner you named in the table in the previous ‘contributions’ section.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

If you do not have any project partners, simply add ‘N/A’ into the text box, mark this section as complete and move to the next section.

If you have named project partners in the previous ‘contributions’ section, enter the words ‘attachment supplied’ in the text box.

Each letter or email you provide should:

  • confirm the partner’s commitment to the project
  • clearly explain the value, relevance, and possible benefits of the work to them
  • describe any additional value that they bring to the project
  • refer to the EPSRC’s guidance on project partners letters of support for further information Project partners letter of support

Save letters or emails of support from each partner in a single PDF no bigger than 8MB. Unless specially requested, please do not include any personal data within the attachment.

For the file name, use the unique Funding Service number the system gives you when you create an application, followed by the words ‘Project partners’.

If the attachment does not meet these requirements, the application will be rejected.

The Funding Service will provide document upload details when you apply.

Ensure you have prior agreement from project partners so that, if you are offered funding, they will support your project as indicated in the contributions template.

For audit purposes, UKRI requires formal collaboration agreements to be put in place if an award is made.

Do not provide letters of support from host and project co-leads’ research organisations.

Facilities

Word limit: 250

Does your proposed research require the support and use of a facility?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

If not, enter N/A into the text box, mark this section as complete and move on to the next section.

If you will need to use a facility, follow your proposed facility’s normal access request procedures. Ensure you have prior agreement so that if you are offered funding, they will support the use of their facility on your project.

For each requested facility you will need to provide the:

  • name of facility, copied and pasted from the facility information list (DOCX, 36.7KB)
  • proposed usage or costs, or costs per unit where indicated on the facility information list
  • confirmation you have their agreement where required

If you will not need to use a facility, you will be able to indicate this in the Funding Service.

References

Word limit: 1,000

List the references you have used to support your application.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Include all references in this section, not in the rest of the application questions.

You should not include any other information in this section.

We advise you not to include hyperlinks, as assessors are not obliged to access the information they lead to or consider it in their assessment of your application.

If linking to web resources, to maintain the information’s integrity, include persistent identifiers (such as digital object identifiers) where possible.

You must not include links to web resources to extend your application.

Ethics and responsible research and innovation (RRI)

Word limit: 500

What are the ethical or RRI implications and issues relating to the proposed work? If you do not think that the proposed work raises any ethical or RRI issues, explain why.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Demonstrate that you have identified and evaluated:

  • the relevant ethical or responsible research and innovation considerations
  • how you will manage these considerations

If you are collecting or using data, identify:

  • any legal and ethical considerations of collecting, releasing or storing the data including consent, confidentiality, anonymisation, security and other ethical considerations and, in particular, strategies to not preclude further reuse of data
  • formal information standards with which your study will comply

Additional sub-questions (to be answered only if appropriate) will be included in the Funding Service. These will ask about numbers, species/strain and justification about:

  • genetic and biological risk
  • research involving the use of animals
  • conducting research with animal overseas
  • research involving human participation
  • research involving human tissues or biological samples

Within this section you can also demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. If using visual elements, you must:

  • use images sparingly and only to convey important information that cannot easily be put into words
  • insert each new image onto a new line
  • provide a descriptive legend for each image immediately underneath it (this counts towards your word limit)
  • files must be smaller than 8MB and in JPEG, JPG, JPE, JFI, JIF, JFIF, PNG, GIF, BMP or WEBP format

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

We will assess your application using the following process.

Peer review

We will invite experts to review your application independently, against the specified criteria for this funding opportunity.

You will not be able to nominate reviewers for applications on the new UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Funding Service. Research councils will continue to select expert reviewers.

We are monitoring the requirement for applicant-nominated reviewers as we review policies and processes as part of the continued development of the new Funding Service.

Shortlisting

We will review the comments and scores for each application.

Applications that do not receive sufficiently strong support from reviewers will be rejected at this stage.

Shortlisted applications will go to an interview panel who will make a funding recommendation.

If your application is shortlisted, you will have 14 days to respond to reviewers’ comments.

Panel

For shortlisted applications, an expert interview panel will conduct interviews with applicants after which the panel will make a funding recommendation.

We expect interviews to be held around week commencing 29 April 2024. The exact date and time for your interview will be confirmed one month in advance.

Shortlisted proposals submitted under the resources to support existing strategic infrastructure route will either be invited to an interview panel or a prioritisation panel, depending on the size and scope of the proposal. You will be informed whether you are required to attend an interview when you are invited to submit a full proposal.

Resources to support existing strategic infrastructure proposals that are invited to interview will be assessed using the same process as strategic infrastructure proposals but on a separate funding list. Funding decisions for resource only strategic infrastructure proposals are independent of funding decisions for strategic infrastructure proposals.

The EPSRC research infrastructure theme lead will make the final funding decision based on interview panel funding recommendation and budget available.

Feedback

If your application was discussed at interview, we will give feedback with the outcome of your application.

Principles of assessment

We support the San Francisco declaration on research assessment and recognise the relationship between research assessment and research integrity.

Find out about the UKRI Principles of Assessment and Decision Making.

We reserve the right to modify the assessment process as needed.

Assessment criteria

The criteria we will assess your application against are:

Purpose: strategic infrastructure funding route

This section only applies to the strategic infrastructure funding route. A separate ‘Purpose’ assessment criteria section is available for the resources to support existing strategic infrastructure funding route.

To what extent has the applicant demonstrated that the infrastructure sought will:

  • meet national needs by establishing or maintaining a unique or world leading activity, or both
  • enhance and complement the existing regional or national research capability
  • evidence the strong demand and community need from a diverse and inclusive user base
  • meet the strategic aims of the funding organisation

To what extent has the applicant described alternative plans for how the research would be achieved should the equipment not be funded? The plans should reflect:

  • host organisation strategies for this infrastructure
  • institutional commitment to the infrastructure landscape
  • how the infrastructure sought is different from what is already available in the wider research landscape

Purpose: resources to support existing strategic infrastructure funding route

This section only applies to the resources to support existing strategic infrastructure route. A separate ‘Purpose’ assessment criteria section is available for the strategic infrastructure funding route.

To what extent has the applicant demonstrated that the resource sought will:

  • meet national needs by establishing or maintaining a unique or world leading activity, or both
  • enhance and complement the existing regional or national research capability
  • evidence the strong demand and community need from a diverse and inclusive user base
  • meet the strategic aims of the funding organisation
  • result in significant efficiencies, increased usage or greater capacity, compared to the current situation

To what extent has the applicant described alternative plans for how the research would be achieved should the resource not be funded?  The plans should reflect:

  • host organisation strategies for this infrastructure
  • institutional commitment to the infrastructure landscape

Vision

To what extent has the applicant explained how the infrastructure sought will enable research that:

  • is high quality, novel and transformative
  • is timely, given current trends and context
  • is relevant to identified stakeholders, including users
  • will have a measurable impact beyond the immediate team, with an appropriate approach to achieving impact

Approach

To what extent has the applicant demonstrated that their approach includes:

  • a credible plan for managing the infrastructure, including a work plan with Gantt chart, associated risks, milestones and deliverables
  • a plan for prioritising access to and maximising usage of the infrastructure. This should include any application and assessment processes and an estimate for the balance of users from the host institution, academics from external institutions and industrial users
  • a plan for data management and accessibility

Sustainability

To what extent has the applicant demonstrated how their plans for sustainability include:

  • an appropriate cost recovery model
  • a plan for training and development of specialist technical staff
  • a plan for the development or expansion of the user base after the initial period of funding and any ‘free-at-the point of access’ period

Applicant and team capability to deliver

To what extent has the applicant, and if relevant their team, demonstrated they have:

  • the relevant experience (appropriate to career stage) to deliver the proposed infrastructure
  • the right balance of skills and expertise to cover the proposed infrastructure, including the appropriate leadership and management skills to deliver the work and your approach to develop others
  • contributed to developing a positive research environment and wider community

Resources and cost justification

To what extent has the applicant justified the following:

  • the cost of the proposed infrastructure
  • any resources (for example staff or maintenance costs) associated with the infrastructure
  • any resources requested for activities to expand the user base, increase impact, for public engagement or to support responsible innovation
  • the nature and level of contributions from your partner organisations if applicable

For each of these, to what extent has the applicant demonstrated how the resources they anticipate needing:

  • are comprehensive, appropriate and justified
  • represent the optimal use of resources to achieve the intended outcomes
  • maximise potential outcomes and impacts

Note that due to limited functionality on the new Funding Service, you can only request the infrastructure at either 80% or 100% FEC at this round of the application.

Host organisation’s support

To what extent has the Statement of Support from the applicant’s host institution detailed why the proposed infrastructure is needed? This should include details of any host institution contributions that will be provided to support the infrastructure and any support that might add value to the work.

To what extent has the host institution support demonstrated:

  • how its contributions are in line with the scale of the proposed infrastructure, including evidencing the strategic importance of this infrastructure to the institution
  • why the host institution is the most appropriate place for the proposed infrastructure
  • how the host institution will use its existing inventory to best complement the proposed infrastructure
  • how the host institution will support the team to meet the proposal objectives
  • the plans to support sustainability and management of the proposed infrastructure

Find details of assessment questions and criteria under the ‘Application questions’ heading in the ‘How to apply’ section.

Contact details

Get help with your application

If you have a question and the answers aren’t provided on this page.

MPORTANT NOTE: The Helpdesk is committed to helping users of the UKRI Funding Service as effectively and as quickly as possible. In order to manage cases at peak volume times, the Helpdesk will triage and prioritise those queries with an imminent opportunity deadline or a technical issue. Enquiries raised where information is available on the Funding Finder opportunity page and should be understood early in the application process (for example, regarding eligibility or content/remit of an opportunity) will not constitute a priority case and will be addressed as soon as possible.

Contact details

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.

For questions related to this specific funding opportunity please contact:

Li Convey, Senior Portfolio Manager, Research Infrastructure

Email: li.convey@epsrc.ukri.org

Stephen Gilligan, Portfolio Manager, Research Infrastructure

Email: stephen.gilligan@epsrc.ukri.org

Any queries regarding the system or the submission of applications through the Funding Service should be directed to the helpdesk:

Email: support@funding-service.ukri.org

Phone: 01793 547490

Our phone lines are open:

  • Monday to Thursday 8:30am to 5:00pm
  • Friday 8:30am to 4:30pm

To help us process queries quicker, we request that users highlight the council and opportunity name in the subject title of their email query, include the application reference number, and refrain from contacting more than one mailbox at a time.

You can also find information on submitting an application here: Improving your funding experience

Sensitive information

If you or a core team member need to tell us something you wish to remain confidential, email the EPSRC Research Infrastructure at researchinfrastructure@epsrc.ukri.org

Include in the subject line: the funding opportunity title; sensitive information; your UKRI Funding Service application number.

Typical examples of confidential information include:

  • individual is unavailable until a certain date (for example due to parental leave)
  • declaration of interest
  • additional information about eligibility to apply that would not be appropriately shared in the ‘Applicant and team capability’ section
  • conflict of interest for UKRI to consider in reviewer or panel participant selection
  • the application is an invited resubmission

For information about how UKRI handles personal data, read UKRI’s privacy notice.

Additional info

Background

For more information about our portfolio and strategies, visit:

We wish to encourage a culture of equipment sharing where appropriate to maximise usage within the research group, across institutions or across the UK. As such, strategic infrastructure should account for the national picture, both in terms of equipment available and research being undertaken.

The £400,000 threshold for items of equipment that you can apply for does not imply any consequences for university procurement and tendering rules.

Grant additional condition

Grants will be subject to the standard UK Research and Innovation grant conditions. The following additional grant condition will be added to this funding opportunity:

We consider the equipment over £400,000 purchased under this grant to be part of your university’s EPSRC capital equipment portfolio. You are required to provide information regarding this equipment as part of your university’s annual equipment report to EPSRC.

Research disruption due to COVID-19

We recognise that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused major interruptions and disruptions across our communities. We are committed to ensuring that individual applicants and their wider team, including partners and networks, are not penalised for any disruption to their career, such as:

  • breaks and delays
  • disruptive working patterns and conditions
  • the loss of ongoing work
  • role changes that may have been caused by the pandemic

Reviewers and panel members will be advised to consider the unequal impacts that COVID-19 related disruption might have had on the capability to deliver and career development of those individuals included in the application. They will be asked to consider the capability of the applicant and their wider team to deliver the research they are proposing.

Where disruptions have occurred, you can highlight this within your application if you wish, but there is no requirement to detail the specific circumstances that caused the disruption.

Supporting documents

Equality Impact Assessment (PDF, 149KB)

Webinar resources

EPSRC held a webinar for full proposal applicants and research officers on 22 November 2023. At the webinar, we provided information about the opportunity details and a chance to ask questions.

View the presentation given at the webinar (PDF, 2.22MB)

View the webinar questions and answers document (PDF, 128KB)

Updates

  • 1 December 2023
    New 'Webinar resources' heading and content added to the 'Additional info' section.

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