MMU Research and Knowledge Exchange Blog

Funding opportunities, news and guidance from RKE at Manchester Metropolitan University


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BBSRC Future Priority Areas for Funding

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On 27th September the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) released a report, Forward Look for UK Bioscience, which is the first strategy update since the creation of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

Forward Look identifies the backbone of BBSRC’s strategy and maps out key areas of direction for future funding, identifying three challenge-led priorities in which it believes UK research can deliver strong and sustainable impact:

  • Sustainable agriculture and food security.
  • Renewable resources and clean growth.
  • Integrates understanding of health.

It seems the theme of future funding will be focused on advancing the frontiers of bioscience discovery, tackling strategic challenges and building strong foundations.

“There is a real opportunity for BBSRC to ensure the strength of the UK biotechnology and biological research and skills base continues to be selected as partner of choice globally and to harness the power of biology to drive a more healthy, prosperous and sustainable future” – Melanie Welham, Executive Chairwoman UKRI – BBSRC

You can read more about the BBSRC Forward Look report here and take a look at the full report here.

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Know Your Funder: The Wellcome Trust

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Research Professional recently posted an article which gave some insight into who The Wellcome Trust are and what they’re looking for in the applications they receive. To read the full article visit here, for a brief summary read on!

Some quick facts and figures about the trust

  • They’re the worlds second largest research charity.
  • Their remit isn’t just Biomedical sciences it also includes “humanities and social science research to improve and inform human health”
  • They offer 15 different schemes (although some are only available to current award holders)
  • The funding ranges from £5k – £7m
  • Most schemes are based on a responsive mode but occasionally there are themed calls available, as well as awards for career development.

What makes a good proposal and what are they looking for?

Whilst, like every funder, Wellcome are looking for an ambitious project it must also be feasible. Overall what the committee members want to see is:

  • Novel, ambitious ideas answering a specific research question.
  • A well thought out team with the knowledge and expertise needed to answer that question.
  • Robust and appropriate methodology.
  • Value for money.

Thinking of applying to Wellcome?

You can find what funding is currently available via the Wellcome Trust website.

If there is something you’d like to apply for, or simply want to discuss a potential Wellcome proposal then please get in touch with your Research Development Team.


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ESRC Secondary Data Analysis – changes to eligibility including increase in £ and project duration

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As of 17 May 2018, eligibility criteria for the ESRC Secondary Data Analysis Initiative (SDAI) will be changing.

Since December 2015, SDAI has operated alongside ESRC’s Research Grants open call. Following ESRC’s internal review of the Initiative, including an analysis of the volume and review outcomes of applications received so far, along with feedback from external stakeholders, it was concluded that changes to the Initiative were needed to improve the quantity and quality of proposals submitted.

As a result, the following changes to the SDAI have been introduced and will apply as of 17 May 2018:

  • The maximum funding threshold for applications will increase from £200,000 (100% fEC) to £300,000 (100% fEC)
  • The maximum duration of proposals will increase from 18 months to 24 months.
  • Previous eligibility criteria to (a) use only one of ESRC-funded data resources and (b) to include at least one named early career researcher as principal investigator or co-investigator have been relaxed.
  • Instead, as of 17 May, the ESRC will welcome proposals that aim to exploit secondary data from a range of UK and international data resources funded by ESRC and by other agencies, given sufficient justification and confirmation.
  • ESRC will continue to encourage applications that include a named early career researcher as principal investigator or co-investigator and/or applications that seek to use one or more ESRC-funded data resources.

These changes to the eligibility criteria will allow applicants greater flexibility when utilising existing UK and international data resources to deliver high-quality and high-impact research. This also provides a huge opportunity for comparative analysis into some of the most pressing challenges facing society in the UK and internationally.

Please see

https://esrc.ukri.org/funding/funding-opportunities/secondary-data-analysis-initiative-sdai-open-call/

 


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The Minister, the Civil Servant and the Vice Chancellor

I am afraid this is not the start of a salacious tale but actually a reflection of some of the meetings I’ve been to recently.  And at each of them, I’ve been left feeling hopeful about European & International funding, whatever the Prime Minister does (or does not) say in her latest Brexit speech (2 March).  And here’s a few reasons why:

  1. European and International Research is valued at the heart of Government. 

When Sam Gyimah, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, took questions at Manchester Met last week, he emphasised the importance of research and the importance of continued participation in Horizon 2020.  He’s working with his EU counter-parts towards continued UK participation, contingent on excellence and value for money, as well as establishing research agreements with countries such as China, the USA and Israel.

  1. Research underpins multiple UK policies

But it’s not just the Minister for Universities who thinks research is important as it features in other national strategies.  Manchester Met’s Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research & Knowledge Exchange gave a presentation recently about the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy and how it mapped on Manchester Met in terms of our location, research strength and networks.  Likewise, through the Global Challenges Research Fund, research is being linked to international development.  Research remains important to the UK, its economy and its role in the world.

  1. Work is well underway to ensure continued UK participation in EU-funded Research

At a presentation by a Civil Servant from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, it was clear that the department is carefully preparing for a range of scenarios post-Brexit.  There is quiet hope for continued UK participation in EU research projects up to the end of 2020 and detailed work happening to ensure a smooth transition as the UK leaves the EU.  There’s lobbying for continued participation in the Framework 9 programme when it launches in 2021 – and the UK’s and EU’s politicians seem genuinely aware of the importance of British Universities.

  1. Research is at the heart of what we do as a university. 

At his all-staff presentation, the Vice Chancellor talked of Manchester Met as being involved in knowledge generation, dissemination and translation.  He emphasised how our research informs our teaching and, indeed, all our work as an institution.

And there’s some really interesting international activity happening at the moment, ranging from work on historic site preservation in Myanmar to European research infrastructure development, from improving speech & language therapy in Rwanda to creating tools to help Hydrogen Education in Schools.   All these are funded by different funders and are at different stages in the research process: from early stage conception to translation & dissemination.

When closing the Question & Answer session with the Minister for Higher Education, Manchester Met’s Vice Chancellor ended by saying that it is easy to look back but we should look forward as there are many positive things happening in the sector, including in EU & International research. So keep your eyes on this blog for further updates on research policy and funding opportunities as things will continue to evolve rapidly.


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Newton Fund launches in Peru

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Peru has recently become a Newton partner country with the launch of the Newton-Paulet Fund.

This government-level partnership will allow researchers from both countries to work together to promote science and innovation that contributes to economic development, improves the quality of life in Peru and strengthens ties to face future global challenges.

The Newton-Paulet Fund is named in honour of the renowned Peruvian scientist Pedro Paulet. The Fund will focus on research, innovation and capacity building in three priority areas:

  • Health, specifically malnutrition and anaemia
  • Clean water, including the impact of glacier retreat
  • Biodiversity and the unique geography of Peru.

Calls for proposals will be soon launched and promoted by Concytec via its Cienciactiva research funding initiative.

For more information, please visit the Newton Fund.


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Changes to EPSRC and NERC New Investigator Schemes

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From 25 July 2017 a New Investigator Award scheme will replace the First Grant initiative. The New Investigator Award scheme will remove some of the current restrictions and will help improve the quality and ambition of research proposals submitted, recognising that different projects and new investigators have different needs.

For more information, please visit EPSRC.

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The eligibility for the NERC New Investigator scheme has been amended. Applicants must now be within five years (as opposed to the previous three) of first becoming eligible for NERC funding as a Principal Investigator. This applies from January 2018.

For more information, please visit NERC.


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British Academy Moving to Flexi-Grant from August 2017

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The British Academy has announced the implementation of its new Grants Management System, Flexi-Grant, which is currently being developed, and will replace the e-GAP2 system from 1 August 2017.

The main difference between the two systems is the requirement for referees to provide their references before an application can be submitted and approval given.

Flexi-Grant will go live on 1 August 2017 using a phased approach and the estimated timetable for opening calls for various schemes is listed below:

August 2017:

Mid-Career Fellowships call opens

Postdoctoral Fellowships call opens

September 2017:

BA/Leverhulme Small Research Grants (Round 2017-18) call opens

Tackling the UK’s International Challenges (tbc)

GCRF: Sustainable Development Programme (tbc)

October 2017:

BA/Leverhulme Senior Research Fellowships call opens

British Academy Rising Star Engagement Awards call opens

April 2018:

BA/Leverhulme Small Research Grants (Round 2018) call opens