Support for collaborative networks academia-users in chemical biology webinar

We will be holding a webinar (an interactive online meeting) sessions to give potential applicants an opportunity to learn more about this call, to include:

  • Background information
  • Vision and objectives of the call
  • Eligibility and funding restrictions
  • Assessment criteria

There will be an opportunity to ask any questions you might have about this activity.

If you would like to attend please register your interest by emailing by 16:00, 13 September 2010 at the latest.

We would particularly like to encourage potential applicants from who did not attend the Cross-Council Chemical Biology workshop on 10 June 2010 to attend this webinar.

Further details of this event will be provided to registered attendees in due course. Depending on demand, we may need to limit the number of participants. It would be helpful if institutions could coordinate their participation.

A list of frequently asked questions is presented below based upon the discussion at the chemical-biology webinar on 30 September 2010.

Q: How many Networks are expected to be funded and how much funding is each Network expected to receive?

It is expected that five to eight Networks will be funded, and that Networks will receive between £50,000 and £200,000 of funds. It is possible that a Network could receive more than this if a very thorough justification was provided.

Q: How long should a Collaborative Network last?

While we expect Networks to last for at least 12 months, there is no limitation on how long they may continue. Networks funded through previous schemes have been most successful when they have maintained their activities for twelve months to three years. Essentially, each network should last for as long as is appropriate for the achievement of its objectives.

Q: Can the Networks be used to fund staff, such as a postdoctoral researcher, to engage in research?

Yes – We would expect that the Network activities, which may include research, should start promptly after the grant is awarded, and so any staff that are to conduct research to meet the Network’s objectives should be named in the grant application, there should also be an explanation of how this spending will be made accountable.

Q: Can the Networks be used to fund staff, such as an Event Administrator, to coordinate activities?

Yes - Networks funded through previous schemes have been most successful when they have funded dedicated support staff to coordinate and run activities. There is no limit on how much of the grant may be spent on this kind of facilitation but the amount should fit the Network objectives.

Q: Can the Networks be used to fund secondments?

Yes – The call text specifically states that networks can fund placements or exchanges that will enable the Network objectives to be met, and this may be extended to include secondments.

Q: Are there any restrictions on the size or remit of companies that should be engaged?

Companies that are included on a network may range from large multinationals, through to SMEs, and the sectors that they are engaged in may be equally varied. The key requirement is that they should be able to add value to the Network and make a contribution to the outcomes. It is also worth noting that Networks are encouraged to add new members after they have begun.

Q: Are there any restrictions on the type of end-user organisations that should be engaged?

While one of the primary aims of the Networks is to promote collaboration between academia and industry, if this dialogue would be improved by engaging with other end-user organisations, such as Hospitals or Patient Groups, then they may also participate, especially if this added interaction would facilitate the achievement of the Network objectives. There are no specific limitations on participation but there is an expectation that members would be able to add value to the Network, and, as with companies, Networks are encouraged to add new members after they have begun.

Q: How will the members of the Expert Panel that will review the applications be selected?

The members of the expert panel have not been selected yet. The core membership will consist of members of existing BBSRC, EPSRC and MRC committees. Based on the applications that are received, additional members may be invited to ensure that there is adequate expertise on the panel to review the applications fully.

Q: Is there a requirement for Networks to investigate emerging or developing research areas, as opposed to well-established areas?

There is no specific requirement for Networks to consider areas that are not well-established, for example, it is possible that a Network could aim to explore a research area that is well-established in Academia but has not yet been taken up in Industry. The key point is that Networks should engage in activities that add value to both Academia and Industry so that further collaborations are encouraged.

Q: Is there scope for the outcomes of the Collaborative Networks to inform funding priorities for the Research Councils?

Yes – This is an area of joint interest to BBSRC, EPSRC and MRC, which together invest approximately £100 million in research at the interface between chemistry and biology. The outputs of Networks that sought to define and explore new research challenges could be of interest to the Research Councils in developing strategies to support this area.