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UK BBSRC-US NSF/BIO Lead Agency Pilot

Call status: Open
Application deadline: 2 June 2015

Background

The US National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Research Councils UK (RCUK) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Research Cooperation. The MoU provides an overarching framework to encourage collaboration between US and UK research communities and sets out the principles by which jointly supported activities might be developed.  The MOU does not provide for new funds nor does it introduce new research initiatives. It does, however, define a novel lead agency arrangement whereby proposals for joint US-UK projects may be submitted to either NSF (via FastLane) or one of the UK Research Councils (via Je-S) and decided under a single, coordinated review process. 

The NSF Directorate for Biological Sciences (NSF/BIO) and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) are pleased to announce a pilot program for the NSF/BIO – BBSRC lead agency arrangements under the NSF/RCUK Research Cooperation MoU. The pilot program allows for reciprocal acceptance of peer review through unsolicited mechanisms and its goal is to help reduce some of the current barriers to working internationally.

Scope

The pilot will allow US and UK researchers to submit a single collaborative proposal that will undergo a single peer review process. The pilot will operate for Autumn 2014 and Autumn 2015 submissions and proposals will be accepted for UK-US collaborative projects in the areas of intersection between NSF/BIO and BBSRC (responsive mode only) as set out below:

Proposals are expected to adhere to the remit, funding limits and grant duration for BBSRC responsive mode and NSF/BIO program(s) from which funding is sought. Guidelines for the preparation, submission, peer review, and award of NSF/BIO-BBSRC Collaborative Proposals can be found in the downloads section.

Successful proposals will be supported by NSF/BIO (US organisations) and BBSRC (UK organisations). 

How to apply

There is a 2-stage application process (see timeline below).

  1. Letter of Intent
    • Prior to submission of a full proposal, proposers (applicants) will need to discuss within their research team where they feel the largest proportion of research lies and agree on a proposed lead agency (either NSF/BIO or BBSRC).
    • BBSRC proposers will then be required to submit to the prospective lead agency a PDF Letter of Intent (LOI, see BBSRC LOI template in downloads) of no more than 2 pages (A4/letter) that sets out:
      • a brief description of the proposed collaborative research project
      • the names, institutions and qualifications of the applicants and project partners
      • an estimate of the funding to be requested from NSF/BIO and BBSRC (a detailed budget is not required at this time)
    • NSF proposers will be required to submit a Letter of Intent that contains the same information as the BBSRC LOI. The LOI submission through fastlane should be no more than 2 pages and include:
      • a brief description of the proposed collaborative research project
      • the names and institutions of the applicant and project partners
      • a brief description of the qualifications of project participants
      • an estimate of the funding to be requested from NSF/BIO and BBSRC
    • If BBSRC is the prospective lead agency applicants should submit the LOI through Je-S; (see guidance notes). If NSF is the prospective lead agency applicants should submit the LOI through fastlane.
    • The LOI will be shared between BBSRC and NSF/BIO to check for eligibility (namely whether the proposed research fits within the participating agencies' portfolios, the scope of the pilot and whether the proposed researchers and institutions meet the agencies' funding eligibility requirements). The LOI will also be used to gauge proposal pressure by program and assist programs with budget planning.
    • Following consultation between NSF/BIO and BBSRC feedback will be provided to the lead applicant (generally within 15 working days) on whether or not the proposed submission can proceed.
  2. Full proposal
    • Upon confirmation from the lead agency that the proposed collaborative research is appropriate for the UK-BBSRC-US NSF/BIO Lead Agency Pilot Opportunity, researchers may submit a full research proposal to the lead agency via the appropriate mechanism.
    • If BBSRC is the lead agency, proposers must comply with the proposal preparation requirements outlined in the BBSRC Grants Guide and proposals should be submitted via the Research Councils Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system using the BBSRC's Responsive Mode Research Grants scheme. UK proposers should follow the directions set out in the document 'BBSRC guidance notes for the BBSRC-NSF-BIO Lead Agency Pilot Application Procedures'.  If both agencies approve funding for the project,  US proposers will be provided contact information for  a program officer in NSF BIO who will provide guidance on submitting a proposal for their portion of the project to NSF via fastlane.
    • If NSF is the lead agency, proposals should be submitted to the appropriate program identified above and must comply with the proposal preparation requirements outlined in NSF's Grant Proposal Guide and any specific requirements of that solicitation. If both agencies approve funding for the project,  UK proposers will be provided contact information for  a program officer in the BBSRC who will provide guidance on submitting a proposal for their portion of the project to BBSRC via Je-S.
    • The proposal should include a description of the full proposed research program and research team and describe the total resources for the joint project (that is, the funds requested from both NSF/BIO and BBSRC). However, the budget forms submitted to the lead agency should only indicate the amount requested from that agency. A copy of the proposed requested budget of the non-lead agency as well as Biosketches for participants in the non-lead country  should be included as part of the full proposal as supplementary documentation.
    • The proposal should indicate the proposal is to be considered under the lead agency arrangements by prefacing the title with 'Bilateral BBSRC NSF/BIO'. 

How to submit a full proposal to BBSRC

  • Read BBSRC's 'Guidance notes for the BBSRC-NSF-BIO lead agency pilot application procedures' (see downloads).
  • Read the 'NSF/BIO-BBSRC Lead Agency Management Plan' (see downloads).
  • Complete an online application through Je-S (see external links).

Eligibility

  • The standard eligibility criteria apply for BBSRC applicants.
  • US partners should contact the NSF-BIO Directorate for details of their eligibility criteria.

Peer review

NSF/BIO-BBSRC collaborative proposals will be reviewed alongside all other standard proposals received in the same funding cycle and will not undergo a separate or special review process. Proposals will be reviewed in accordance with lead agency's review criteria.

For further information about NSF-BIO Directorate visit the NSF website (see external links).

Timeline for submissions to BBSRC

Deadline for Letter of Intent 2 June 2015, 4pm
Deadline for full proposal 23 September 2015, 4pm
Proposal assessed by BBSRC February 2016 TBC
Applicants notified of outcome March 2016 TBC