Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Work with US-based researchers on environmental science research

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Apply for funding to work with US-based researchers on an environmental science application.

Collaborative work is governed by an agreement between NERC and NSF.

You must be:

  • based at a UK research organisation eligible for NERC funding
  • employed at lecturer (or equivalent) level or above.

If successful, you will be supported by NERC. The US-based researchers will be supported by NSF.

NERC will fund UK applicants at:

  • 100% of the full economic cost for equipment
  • 80% of the full economic cost for other costs.

Who can apply

UK-based applicants must meet the NERC and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) eligibility criteria.

Learn about individual researchers’ eligibility in NERC’s guidance for applicants.

Eligible UK research organisations include:

  • higher education institutions
  • research council institutes
  • recognised independent research organisations
  • public sector research establishments.

Learn more about eligible organisations.

US-based applicants whose costs are being sought from NSF must be eligible for funding from the relevant NSF solicitations, as their costs will not be covered by NERC.

Involvement in a NSF-NERC full application will count towards any individual’s limit on application submissions, whether submitted to NSF or NERC. For UK-based applicants, a submission through NSF as the lead agency will count towards the following NERC ‘pushing the frontiers’ funding opportunity deadline as a co-investigator.

What we're looking for

Collaborative research applications may be submitted in any disciplinary or interdisciplinary subject where the majority falls within the remit of both agencies:

  • NERC
  • NSF GEO or BIO.

This must be in line with the applicable funding schemes listed in the summary section.

NERC will fund UK applicants at 80% of the full economic cost for:

  • directly incurred costs, such as:
    • staff payroll
    • travel and subsistence
    • consumables
  • directly allocated costs, such as:
    • investigators’ salaries
    • estates costs
    • shared resources
  • indirect costs, such as:
    • research organisation administration.

Equipment is funded at 100% of the full economic cost.

You cannot request associated studentships through this funding opportunity.

The combined budget for NSF and NERC funding must be within the relevant limits of the targeted funding scheme for full applications.

For NERC-led applications, the NSF DEB contribution is limited to $500,000; whilst there is no cap for the NSF GEO contribution. However, you must meet the combined budget requirements and NSF may limit their contribution to any project in line with their normal processes.

For NSF-led applications, the UK applicant may request up to £300,000 (100% FEC). NERC ‘ship time’ is prohibited on NSF-led applications, and any ‘marine equipment pool’ requirements, NERC facilities or Antarctic logistics must be included within the £300,000 limit.

How to apply

This is an open funding opportunity for NERC or NSF led opportunities with a two-stage application process:

  • expression of interest
  • full application

If expression of interest approval has not taken place prior to a full application submission, then the application will be returned without review.

This does not represent a separate research funding scheme. Full applications must be submitted under existing programmes at the relevant lead agency:

  • NERC
  • NSF GEO or BIO.

Namely, these existing programmes are:

  • NERC’s ‘pushing the frontiers’ and ‘large grants’ funding opportunities
  • NSF’s GEO and BIO core solicitations, specifically those in the:
    • GEO Divisions of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences, Earth Sciences, Ocean Sciences, and Polar Programs
    • BIO DEB.

Applications are required to adhere to the remit, funding limits, and grant durations of the NSF and NERC schemes from which funding is sought and must represent an integrated collaborative effort.

Expression of interest

Before applying, discuss with your research team whether the lead agency should be NERC or NSF.

You should base this decision on where you plan to carry out the majority of research, or which agency is expected to provide the majority of the funding.

Where advice is required about the lead agency or fit of the application to applicable funding schemes, the applicant should email the relevant contact at the proposed lead funding agency to discuss the research project.

NERC applications

If your application is for NERC as the lead agency, you will need to submit an expression of interest form. The deadline for submitting the form is a minimum of three months prior to the closing date for the full application.

NSF applications

If your application is for NSF as the lead agency, then you need to submit an expression of interest to either nsfgeo-nerc@nsf.gov or nsfdeb-nerc@nsf.gov as appropriate.

Expression of interest inclusions

In all cases, the expression of interest should include:

  • the research teams (principal investigators, co-investigators and named researchers) that are involved in both the UK and US
  • a brief summary of the proposed research, including:
    • the main objectives
    • the methodologies to be used
    • the outputs, impact and beneficiaries
  • any NERC research facilities required
  • estimates of total funding to be requested from both the NSF and NERC, following the financial rules for each agency (including all research-related and institutional administrative costs for the US budget request).

The combined budget for NSF and NERC funding must be within the relevant limits of the targeted funding scheme for full applications.

For NERC-led applications, the NSF DEB contribution is limited to $500,000; whilst there is no cap for the NSF GEO contribution. However, you must meet the combined budget requirements and NSF may limit their contribution to any project in line with their normal processes.

For NSF-led applications, the UK applicant may request up to £300,000 (100% FEC). NERC ‘ship time’ is prohibited on NSF-led applications, and any ‘marine equipment pool’ requirements, NERC facilities or Antarctic logistics must be included within the £300,000 limit.

The lead agency will share the expression of interest with the non-lead agency to check for eligibility and to confirm support for the application.

If the application meets both agencies requirements, then you will be invited to submit a full application to the relevant funding scheme. Otherwise, you will be notified your expression of interest has been rejected.

NERC and NSF aim to respond to all expression of interest submissions within one month.

Full application

You will be notified when your expression of interest has been approved and you are clear to submit a full application to the relevant lead agency.

We expect that full applications will be submitted within one year of receiving expression of interest approval. If more time is needed for application preparation, an additional expression of interest will be required.

The application should indicate it is to be considered under this lead agency agreement by prefacing the title with ‘NERC – NSFGEO or NSFBIO’ (as appropriate).

If NERC is the lead agency, applicants must comply with the application preparation requirements for the appropriate scheme. Applications should be submitted through the UKRI Funding Service in line with the relevant funding finder entry.

For NERC-led applications, the total combined budgets for both NSF and NERC contributions must be within the funding limit for projects under the applicable funding opportunity. Resources being requested from NSF should be entered on the separate NSF budget form (Word, 33KB).

If NSF is the lead agency, proposers must comply with the application preparation requirements outlined in NSF’s application and award policies and procedures guide.

The application must be submitted through NSF’s FastLane system, Grants.gov, or Research.gov to the appropriate programme. UK personnel should be listed as ‘unfunded collaborators’ and follow NSF guidance on required documents.

For NSF-led applications, resources being requested from NERC should be entered in a separate NERC budget form (Word, 27KB). Additionally, any planned use of NERC facilities must be applied for in the normal way and any required forms included as part of the application to NSF. Failure to do so may result in NERC not supporting your access to the requested facilities.

In all cases, the costs of the US and UK organisations must be clearly differentiated and justified in the application. We will reject any applications that request duplicate funding.

All NSF and NERC requirements for data management are applicable to awards funded by the respective agencies.

Resubmissions

In addition to meeting the normal resubmission rules for both agencies, any applicant wishing to resubmit a previously unsuccessful lead agency agreement application must submit a new expression of interest first. This applies in all cases regardless of whether your expression of interest was previously accepted.

Involvement in a application submitted to the lead agency will also count as a submission to the non-lead agency for purposes of resubmission monitoring. Both agencies reserve the right to reject an expression of interest that does not meet their resubmission criteria.

Any resubmission that does not submit a new expression of interest will be rejected.

How we will assess your application

Your application will be reviewed by the lead agency using their standard review processes.

For NERC, this entails a peer review with a panel drawn from the NERC Peer Review College. NERC may include reviewers from outside the college where required.

Applications sent to the following will undergo NSF’s merit review process:

  • NSF GEO
  • NSF BIO.

Reviewers will evaluate the proposed project on both scientific merit and broader impacts.

If the application is reviewed by NERC, the principal investigator will be given the chance to respond to the peer review comments on behalf of both the UK and teams. For applications submitted to the NSF, there is no such response phase in the assessment process.

The lead agency will inform the lead principal investigator whether your application has been successful or not. Unsuccessful applications will be closed in the normal way at this point.

Successful applications

The lead agency will inform the non-lead agency after they have completed their assessment process.

If the application was successful, then the non-lead agency will contact their principal investigator with instructions for uploading their application to their own grants system to administer the funding. This is an administrative process and the applications will not undergo further peer review.

If you are the non-lead principal investigator, please wait for your national funding agency to contact you. Do not contact them first, as the two agencies need to communicate before your application can progress.

Contact details

Get help with developing your application

For help and advice on costings and writing your application please contact your research office in the first instance, allowing sufficient time for your organisation’s submission process.

Ask about this funding opportunity

UK enquiries

Email: leadagency@nerc.ukri.org

Additional info

You will be expected to comply with the grant conditions and reporting requirements of the agencies you receive funding from.

You will also be required to acknowledge both NSF and NERC in any reports or publications arising from the grant.

When extensions are granted, each funding agency will directly advise the relevant principal investigator of the proper procedure for processing these. Due to UKRI constraints, extensions over 12 months will only be considered in exceptional circumstances.

Requests for changes to awards pertaining to the scope of research or significant changes or delays to the research will be communicated to counterpart funding agencies.

In accordance with NSF and NERC standard procedures, awards are announced publicly.

What we will do with your information

Data is shared between UKRI and NSF to enable the secure and efficient processing of expressions of interest and full applications for this funding opportunity.

Data shared includes expressions of interest, application attachments, peer reviews and panel comments. Data will be shared by email and a secure extranet where appropriate.

UKRI and NSF are committed to maintaining data confidentiality and privacy. We intend to fully abide by applicable laws and policies concerning the sharing of data in our collaborative activities. All personal data provided will be processed by both parties in accordance with current data protection legislation.

Further information on how we process personal data can be found in the UKRI privacy notice.

Supporting documents

NSF budget form (Word, 33KB)

NERC budget form (Word, 27KB)

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