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Bioinformatics and Biological Resources Fund

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Call status: Closed
Previous call: 12 June 2017 - 28 September 2017

Summary

The Bioinformatics and Biological Resources (BBR) Fund aims to:

  • support the bioscience research community with the establishment, maintenance and enhancement of infrastructures
  • support high quality bioinformatics and biological resources that align with our updated Strategic Plan: The Age of Bioscience (see related links)
  • supply long-term funding and provide a stable environment for resource development and provision.

The 2017 BBR call includes a highlight for proposals relevant to the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF, see below and specific guidance). However, applications are welcome in all areas of our remit.

The indicative budget for the call is up to £6 million, subject to the quality of applications received. Additional funding for GCRF components will be available.

  • For applicants planning to submit under the GCRF highlight it is mandatory to submit an Expression of Interest (EoI) first. The purpose of the assessment at the EoI stage is to determine fit to scope of the call, fit to our remit and alignment with ODA expectations. Please see the specific guidance for more details about the highlight (see application downloads below)
  • Applicants who do not plan to submit under the highlight do not need to submit an Expression of Interest; they only need to submit a full application
  • Applicants who plan to apply for continuation funding to support an existing resource should ensure sufficient data demonstrating usage of this resource is provided and long-term sustainability beyond BBSRC funding is considered.

Background

The BBR Fund was established to tackle a strategic need to provide 'proper support for resources such as databases, genetic resources and culture collections which require long term maintenance and curation'.

Our Strategic Plan (see related links) has a key priority to 'provide bioinformatics and biological resources required by the UK research community to stay internationally competitive' and the Delivery Plan 2016-20 (see related links) states that we will take a strategic approach to investment in research capability, to ensure that the UK bioscience community has access to the infrastructure, facilities and resources necessary to carry out ground-breaking research.

The current call is the eleventh round of BBR funding; grants awarded under previous calls can be viewed using our Portfolio Analyser (see 'Search awarded grants' in related links).

Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF)

GCRF is a 5-year £1.5 billion resource funding stream, announced as part of the 2015 spending review, to ensure that UK research takes a leading role in addressing the problems faced by developing countries. The GCRF will deploy the UK’s world-class research capability to address the challenges faced by the developing world. The funding is protected science spend and the research councils are primary delivery partners. The GCRF is also part of the UK government’s commitment to Official Development Assistance, promoting the welfare and economic development of developing countries.

Official Development Assistance

All research funded through the GCRF stream will form part of the UK’s Official Development Assistance (ODA). Therefore, research proposals submitted under the GCRF highlight should clearly demonstrate that the primary purpose is to promote the economic development and welfare of countries on the DAC list of ODA recipients as its main objective. More information is available in the FAQs, the specific GCRF guidance (see application downloads below) and the RCUK ODA guidance document (see external links).

Full proposals submitted under the GCRF highlight that do not clearly articulate how the proposed research will address near-term or long-term benefits to the welfare or prosperity of countries on the DAC list will be rejected from this call.

Scope

Bioscience researchers have a continuing and growing need for access to state-of-the-art bioinformatics and biological resources:

  • For bioinformatics resources (for example databases, software suites), there is a need to enable the management, analysis and sharing of large and/or complex datasets. There is a continuing need for novel software solutions that can enable deeper analysis of datasets and facilitate greater understanding of biological systems
  • For biological resources, access to materials that underpin cutting edge bioscience research is required for example culture and germplasm collections, mutant lines, DNA samples, clones, genetic libraries etc.

Despite this need, the provision of resources for the benefit of the bioscience research community remains challenging because:

  • Resources may already exist but are not readily available (for example arising from work carried out during a project grant rather than being funded as a community resource)
  • Resources may have been established as a community resource for a fixed term and require more sustainable funding
  • Researchers may need a resource that does not currently exist
  • Existing resources may require development if they are to meet the needs of the UK bioscience community.

Applications for biological resources may have a bioinformatics element included (for example to facilitate accessibility).

The BBR Fund has a key role to play in implementing our data sharing policy (see related links) and we anticipate continuing demand for community data sharing infrastructures, responding to the opportunity generated by next generation sequencing and other high-throughput technologies.

GCRF

Resource provision has a strong international dimension and we view the BBR Fund as a contribution to the global infrastructure required in order to underpin modern bioscience research. Applicants may wish to consider how resources with a global reach can contribute to development in countries currently on the ODA DAC list. Further, they may wish to consider how existing resources can be extended to those countries, or where access has been limited, how resources or services can be improved. Funding is available for direct extensions to existing resources (including those already in receipt of BBR funding) or specific projects related to improving or extending access.

Smaller scale, pump priming funding is also available for pilot projects or scoping activities like workshops or other mechanisms to establish feasibility or user need.

Please contact us well in advance of the deadline if you are unsure whether your application fits within the scope of the call (see contacts below).

Scientific objectives

Applicants can apply for funding for the following types of applications:

  • Establishment and maintenance of a new resource that would be applicable to a broad BBSRC user community
  • Maturation and subsequent maintenance of a project-based resource into a community-based one
  • Development and subsequent maintenance of an existing community resource to increase its relevance to a broad BBSRC user group
  • Interfacing and integrating resources to better meet user need.

Demonstrating strong demand from the targeted bioscience community (either in the UK or in the ODA country/ies) together with an appropriate usage and access policy is essential for both new and existing resources.

For applications under the GCRF highlight, it is essential to address the impact that the resource being provided will have in the country/ies in question.

The following options are available as part of this BBR call.

Option EoI required
Full BBR proposal - not relevant to GCRF No
Full BBR proposal - relevant to GCRF Yes
GCRF-relevant component related to new or existing (currently active) BBR proposal* Yes
New GCRF-relevant pump-priming activity Yes

* In case of a significant difference in quality between the components, and if either component could be feasibly funded without the other, the assessment panel can recommend partial funding of one or the other component proposals.

Flowchart to show if your proposal is relevant to the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF). Copyright: BBSRC
Flowchart showing the options available as part of this BBR call. If you require an accessible version please contact us. Copyright: BBSRC

Depending on the chosen option the GCRF relevance needs to be addressed accordingly and the submission of an Expression of Interest might be required. Please see the GCRF specific guidance for more information (see application downloads below).

Full BBR grants are available for up to five years and up to £2 million FEC to provide high quality, accessible, community resources that meet key UK needs.

GCRF components that provide high quality, accessible, community resources that meet key ODA needs and represent an integral part of either an existing BBR grant, or a BBR grant that is submitted as part of the current call, will be considered together with the main BBR award and are subject to the normal BBR financial limits, i.e. are available for up to five years with the total of submitted BBR grant and GCRF component not exceeding £2 million FEC.

Where the GCRF activity is considered pump priming, these awards are available for up to 12 months and up to £150,000 FEC.

This applies in all cases where call text and supporting documents refer to 'GCRF components' and 'pump priming activity'.

Resources often thrive best when they are alongside and/or closely informed by research groups that actively use them. While the focus of this fund is on resource provision, an element of research can be included. However, this should be focused on technological development of the resource features so they continue to meet user need.

Renewals

Renewals for awards previously supported under the BBR Fund are permitted under the current call. These applications should continue to maintain and develop the resource. The expectation is for long-term sustainability of the resource beyond BBSRC funding to be considered. Applicants should demonstrate a full understanding of the true cost of running and maintaining the resource and include cost recovery plans where appropriate. Where cost-recovery is not possible or only partially possible, applicants should set out their plans for supporting the resource beyond the period of BBSRC support and how they will transition to this model. If cost-recovery/ longer-term sustainability is not possible, applicants should clearly set out the arguments as to why BBSRC should continue to support the resource. Renewals will be assessed in competition with all other proposals submitted to the call.

Applicants who plan to apply for continuation funding to support an existing resource should ensure sufficient usage data for this resource is provided. Some examples of the types of data to be included are:

  • Independent users/sites accessing the resource (for example number of requests for biomaterials, website analytics, user location)
  • Citations or acknowledgements
  • Independent groups supporting the resource
  • Other public resources providing links to the resource
  • New acquisitions captured by the resource (for example major new data sources or biological samples).

BBSRC also encourages the parties providing letters of support as an indication of community demand to include similar supporting data (for example their own usage statistics, papers that critically relied on the resource).

Exclusions

The BBR Fund aims to support community resources and not research project grants.

Proposals in the following areas will not be accepted:

  • Continued maintenance of resources that already have suitable provision for example funded from BBSRC institute core support, other research councils, government departments, and/or European funding streams)
  • Resources where the principal beneficiaries will not be the UK bioscience community (excluding those applications submitted as part of the GCRF highlight)
  • Establishment or continued maintenance of resources where the principal users are outside the biosciences (that is medicine, chemistry)
  • Applications that will only archive resources (the focus for the BBR fund is active usage by the bioscience community)
  • Collections of preserved, non-recoverable specimens (for example herbaria, formalin-fixed material)

Eligibility

This call for proposals is open to all institutions normally eligible for BBSRC managed-mode calls, which includes:

  • HEIs
  • Strategically funded institutes
  • Independent Research Organisations (IROs) approved by BBSRC.

For the categories of eligible organisations see our grants guide, section two and for a list of IROs see the RCUK eligibility guidance.

All applicants must be eligible to apply for BBSRC funding. International collaborators from the partnering countries should not be included in the Je-S form as they are ineligible for funding and this will result in the application being rejected. Details of the eligibility criteria can be found in our grants guide, section three.

BBSRC notes the significant contribution of staff such as Research Software Engineers (see external links) to interdisciplinary computational projects such as those typically represented in the BBR fund, supports recognition of their contributions and encourages applicants to cost them appropriately on applications. This includes staff in equivalent roles with other job titles (such as bioinformaticians). For queries about eligibility, please contact us before submitting your application.

How to apply

This call is closed to applications.

In 2017, the GCRF highlight of the BBR Fund will operate through a two-stage application and assessment process (Expression of Interest and full proposals). For all other proposals there will be a single-stage assessment. It is mandatory for applicants planning to submit under the GCRF highlight to submit an Expression of Interest using the form available in the application downloads below.

Expressions of Interest will be assessed internally to determine fit to scope and our remit, as well as ODA alignment. Scientific excellence will not be judged at this point. Expressions of Interest must be submitted using Je-S by 13 July 2017, 16:00.

Full applications will be sent to external peer reviewers prior to assessment by an expert Panel. Applications must be submitted using Je-S by 28 September 2017, 16:00.

GCRF-relevant proposals must not contain requests for equipment above £10,000.

GCRF component proposals must not be part of a joint proposal but instead be submitted as separate proposals.

We advise applicants to read our grants guide before completing their application and to consult the 'how to apply' download for detailed guidance on how to apply.

Application downloads (for reference only)

Bioinformatics and Biological Resources Fund: Call guidance (PDF 163KB)

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Bioinformatics and Biological Resources Fund: GCRF guidance (PDF 92KB)

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Assessment process

Expressions of Interest

The purpose of the assessment at the expression of interest stage is to:

  • Determine fit to scope of the call and fit to BBSRC remit
  • Ensure alignment with ODA expectations.

The research quality will not be assessed at the Expression of Interest stage. Feedback will only be provided where applicable.

Full applications

Full applications will be subject to external review and applicants will have the opportunity to respond to reviewers' comments. Overall assessment will be conducted by a panel of experts covering both the technical and user perspectives of resource provision and drawing on, where appropriate, our Research Committees' core and pool membership.

The criteria used for the assessment of applications are:

  • Scientific quality and quality of the resource provision
  • Strategic relevance to BBSRC (including current Council-wide strategic priorities)
  • UK scientific community need/demand and potential benefit (which should not be the primary focus for GCRF highlight applications)
  • Uniqueness and availability
  • Management (including management arrangements, advisory structure, connectivity to users, user access arrangements, and long-term sustainability beyond BBSRC funding)
  • Value for money
  • Economic and social impact
  • Timeliness and promise
  • Fit to scope of the BBR Fund.

Applications submitted under the GCRF highlight will also be assessed on how well they demonstrate how the proposed resource will provide economic and welfare benefit to countries on the DAC list. To achieve this, you should consider the following aspects when preparing your application:

  • Your proposal should address a specific problem or seek a specific outcome which will impact on the economic development and welfare of countries on the DAC list in the immediate or longer-term
  • You should articulate a clear and specific case for the primary benefit and relevance of the proposed research to the countries on the DAC list
  • Consider the pathway to realising the development impact (even if outside the timeframe of the project).

Timetable

Expression of Interest opens 12 June 2017
Expression of Interest deadline 13 July 2017, 16:00
Full stage opens 3 August 2017
Full stage deadline 28 September 2017, 16:00
Panel meeting 23-24 January 2018

Contact

Bioinformatics and Biological Resources Fund


01793 413240


Related calls: bioinformatics data research facilities GCRF