Research funding:

Research equipment guidance

1. Introduction
2. BBSRC new process
3. Consideration of business cases for equipment over £135,688 (inc VAT)
4. Instrument development
5. What this now means for applicants to BBSRC
6. Review

1. Introduction

1.1. From 1 May 2011, changes in how equipment is requested on Research Council grants came into effect across RCUK. These changes had to be made urgently in response to the Wakeham Review, which highlighted the need for increased efficiency in research funding, and in response to the reduction in capital budget by 50% across the Research Councils. The changes are summarised in section 2.

1.2. The Je-S forms now reflect the changed process.

1.3. Advice for applicants is given in the following sections and also on the RCUK website:  www.rcuk.ac.uk/documents/publications/Equipment_Guidance.pdf (PDF). Applicants should read the information on the RCUK website, to which this BBSRC-specific information is supplementary.

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2. BBSRC new process

2.1. The new process must be used for all applications submitted to closing dates on or after 1 September 2011

2.2. Equipment below £10k

2.3. Equipment between £10k and £135,688 (incl VAT)

2.4. Equipment above £135,688 (inclusive of VAT)

2.5. A "single capital item of equipment" in this context includes any set of components which together constitute a complete instrument or an upgrade, repair or refurbishment to an instrument. It is not possible to avoid the implications of the new policy by breaking down the cost of capital equipment into smaller individual items.

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3. Consideration of business cases for equipment over £135,688 (inc VAT)

3.1. The case for any item of equipment over £135,688 (inc VAT), and of the resources associated with its operation, sought as part of responsive mode grant applications and that have been recommended for funding by the peer review committees will be considered at the meeting of Committee Chairs. The arrangements for consideration of any such equipment sought in response to initiatives or other targeted calls will be explained in the relevant call information.

3.2. Proposals must include a letter of support from the appropriate institution authority detailing the proposed contribution to the cost of the equipment. Single capital items of equipment over £135,688 (incl VAT) will normally be funded at 50% of total cost and the institution will be expected to provide the remaining 50%. This contribution must not be conditional e.g. on the success of other applications for support, and must not be from other BBSRC grants. BBSRC may agree a contribution of up to 100% where the application and business case demonstrates that the instrument(s) will enhance national capability in meeting a strategically important need by the BBSRC research community, and the case shows a clear ongoing commitment to maintain and operate it for this purpose. Final funding decisions will need to take into account the capital allocation available to the BBSRC, and may require negotiation with the institution.

3.3. Proposals will be considered according to the following criteria, taking into account the advice of the peer review committee:

3.4. BBSRC may seek further information in relation to any of the above assessment criteria, or any other aspect of the case, before reaching a decision.

3.5. The location and support for access to these larger items of equipment is a strategic decision taken with a view to maximising the benefit to national capability. Consequently, BBSRC may decide e.g. that equipment may be co-located with existing provision elsewhere, or located somewhere it considers more suitable. It may also decide to seek other proposals to host the items concerned before taking a decision.

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4. Instrument development

4.1. Equipment over £10k to be used for instrument development is not affected by the new rules for equipment funding. More detail on what constitutes instrument development can be found in the RCUK guidance: www.rcuk.ac.uk/documents/publications/Equipment_Guidance.pdf (PDF).

4.2. This exception only applies to applications for equipment to be used in the development of new instruments. It does not cover equipment associated with the adaption of existing hardware or the development of software etc.

4.3. Items of equipment for instrument development lmay be funded at 100% FEC, although BBSRC reserves the right to request institutional contributions in exceptional circumstances.

4.4. Applicants should note that the guidance applies to individual pieces of equipment. i.e. other equipment requested on the proposal but not related to the instrument development will be subject to the new rules for equipment funding.

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5. What this now means for applicants to BBSRC

5.1. Additional time for assessment

The new procedures, in particular for single capital items over £135,688 (inc VAT), may involve additional assessment steps. Applicants may wish to take that into account in setting a reasonable start date for proposed projects and making submissions well in advance.

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6. Review

These policies and procedures will be reviewed at the end of 2013.

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