2018 CDT Exercise - Frequently Asked Questions

This page will be updated throughout the duration of the call.

Artificial Intelligence

Q: Will the Artificial Intelligent CDT applications be considered by an EPSRC panel? Will the panel expertise reflect the need to consider applications outside of the EPSRC remit?

The panel considering the Artificial Intelligence CDT panel will be specifically assembled to reflect the wider remit of the call and the diversity of expertise required to effectively review the applications. The EPSRC is managing the application process on behalf of UKRI and using the current EPSRC CDT call model for efficient delivery process, but for this strand partners across UKRI are nominating panel members, and peer reviewers, to ensure that the disciplinary and interdisciplinary expertise is reflected within the peer review process.

Q. I can't find all of the assessment/application details in the UKRI AI call document. Where do I find this information?

A. The UKRI AI call document is a supplement. This covers the remit/priority area coverage expected, for example, and the deadline. The main conditions of the call and information about costings, funding available, assessment, and documentation etc. can be found in the EPSRC CDT call document. The only conditions written into the EPSRC CDT call which are not applicable to UKRI AI applications are 1) the requirement to be at least 50% in EPSRC remit - UKRI AI proposals do not have to contain any EPSRC remit. 2) Demand management - there is no restriction on the number of applications that an institution can submit as the lead applicant to the UKRI AI CDT call.

Q. Where is the UKRI AI CDT call on Je-S?

A. UKRI asked EPSRC to administer the call and integrate it into the existing EPSRC CDT process. For administrative purposes only you should submit the proposal to EPSRC, through the EPSRC 2018 CDTs Outline call.

Q. I have a predominantly EPSRC CDT proposal focussing on Artificial Intelligence. Which outline panel meetings will my application be considered at?

A. All Artificial Intelligence CDT applications, regardless of Research Council remit, will be considered at the May outline panel meetings. The final decision on both Council remit and degree of focus on Artificial Intelligence (AI) rests with the Research Councils.

Q. I have a predominantly EPSRC CDT proposal focussing on Artificial Intelligence. Which deadline should I submit to?

A. Providing the proposal is at least 50% Artificial Intelligence (i.e. related to either the Enabling Intelligence and/or the Application and Implications of Artificial Intelligence priority areas) it may be submitted by the 28 March. This includes those proposals predominantly in EPSRC remit. The final decision on both Council remit and degree of focus on Artificial Intelligence (AI) rests with the Research Councils.

Q. My CDT bid includes some Artificial Intelligence but I'm not sure it's at least 50% of the proposal. What should I do?

A. Application not sufficiently focussed on AI and submitted after 13 March will be rejected, irrespective of Research Council remit. Applicants submitting proposals predominantly in the EPSRC remit are therefore advised that where there is uncertainty about the degree of focus on AI e.g. where a proposal spans AI priorities and other CDT priority areas (such as 'Robotics and Autonomous Systems') they should submit to the 13 March deadline.

Q. What happens if the Research Councils decide that an application is insufficiently focussed on Artificial Intelligence?

A. A number of outcomes exist:

  1. If there is insufficient focus on Artificial Intelligence and the majority of the proposal is not in EPSRC's remit - it will be rejected
  2. If the majority of the proposal is in EPSRC's remit but it was submitted after 13 March but is insufficiently focussed on Artificial Intelligence - it will be rejected
  3. If the majority of the proposal is in EPSRC's remit and it was submitted by 13 March but is insufficiently focussed on Artificial Intelligence - it will be redirected to the EPSRC CDT call and considered at the April panel meetings where it will count towards the institutional quota. If a redirection results in an institution going over its quota that institution will be contacted and asked which of its applications should be rejected/withdrawn.

The final decision on both Council remit and degree of focus on Artificial Intelligence (AI) rests with the Research Councils.

Post-launch additional questions

Q. My CDT proposal is predominantly in the remit of a Research Council other than EPSRC. Can I submit it?

A. Proposals predominantly (>50%) in a Research Council remit other than EPSRC will only be accepted against the Application and Implications of Artificial Intelligence priority area. The final decision on both Council remit and degree of focus on Artificial Intelligence (AI) rests with the Research Councils.

Q. Can we request enhanced stipends?

A. Yes, but as this increases the total cost of the studentships it will also increase the minimum expected contribution from non-RCUK sources.

Q. Which minimum fee and stipend rates should we use?

The 2018/19 rates, published on the RCUK website

Q. What should I fill in under the Resource Summary section on the Je-S form?

A.

  • Directly Incurred - 0
  • Directly Allocated - 0
  • Indirect Costs - 0
  • Exceptions - The total requested from EPSRC
  • Total cash contribution from project partners - 0
  • Total in-kind contribution from project partners - 0

Q. Can investigators be on multiple bids?

A. The investigators listed on a grant should represent the core team who will deliver the CDT. It is acceptable for investigators to be part of more than one bid. However, should all of those bids be successful we would expect that person to have the capacity to meet the commitments set out in each. It is therefore up to the university and individual to ensure they are not being over-committed.

Q. Can the taught component be delivered as a Master's programme and can we ask for Master fees?

A. CDTs use a number of models to support a four-year doctoral programme. There is no right or wrong model as it should be what is best to deliver the training needs identified and the objectives of the centre. A 1+3 model is acceptable. However, it should be noted that EPSRC only supports Master's training where this forms part of a broader, doctoral level, research training programme. Therefore, EPSRC would not generally expect to support students at rates higher than that for doctoral training. As indicated in the call document, higher rates can be requested if you think you have an exceptional case and you will need to fully justify this to peer review.

Q: Can facilities or independent research organisations (IROs) that are eligible to apply for RCUK funding lead, or be a Co-I, on a CDT application?

A: Yes. They must ensure partnerships are in place with degree-awarding bodies where students will be registered and that students receive appropriate supervision as well as a recognised research doctoral training qualification.

Q: Can contributions from institutions/facilities who receive funding support from RCUK count towards the % of funding that must be provided by a non-RCUK source?

A: In order for contributions to a CDT application to be considered as leverage, they must come from non-RCUK sources. Institutions/facilities who receive funding support from RCUK will need to demonstrate when required (e.g. as part of a CDT full proposal application, or post-award funding assurance exercise) that the indicated leverage is not utilising this funding.

Q: How will international students be considered?

A: International students can be considered as part of the minimum 50 students. Where a university wishes to use EPSRC CDT funding to support them, there is a university-wide ability to use up to 10% of EPSRC studentship funding to support international students. More details on use of this flexibility can be found on the EPSRC website. Please note that no additional (international) fees will be allowed in relation to these students.

Q: Can the additional costs of supporting international students be considered as part of the minimum leverage requirements?

A: No, contributions towards the minimum leverage requirements will be considered to be contributions towards eligible EPSRC costs. International fees will therefore not count. For example, if an international student is part of the CDT cohort and fully funded by the university/partner, only the 'home' fee, stipend and project costs will be counted towards the minimum requirement.

Q: Can I ask for coordination and management costs for the Centre?

A: Yes. Delivery costs of a CDT can be sought alongside a proportion of the studentship costs.

  • Start-up/set up costs (e.g. taught course development) for new centres only.
  • Other costs for the whole centre e.g. delivery, coordination and management such as costs associated with delivery of the taught training; centre director, administrative staff support and applicants' time specifically devoted to the delivery of the centre. NB: this could be an average figure given that the actual expenditure (on coordination for example) will be distributed over the full duration (i.e. 102 months) of the CDT award.

CDT Call Logistics

Q: When will the call be launched?
A: The call was launched 17 January 2018

Q: Will new and existing CDT bids be treated the same?
A: All applications will be treated the same.

Q: How many CDTs are EPSRC likely to fund?
A: We are expecting to fund 90-120 CDTs, but this is subject to final confirmation of the budget for the call, and the leveraged funding secured by applicants.

For the UKRI AI CDT call we expect 10-20 centres to be funded.

Call Details

Leverage

Q: What expectations are there on leveraging?
A: All applications will need to have secured additional support for 20-40% of the total studentship costs.

Q: Does the requirement for leveraging favour CDTs in more applied areas?
A: Leveraging will be expected to be whatever is appropriate for the specific CDT.

Q: How can SMEs engage in CDTs?
A: Current CDTs use a number of models to engage with SMEs. CDT applicants should consider what the benefits of the partnership are, and what model would best support this.

Demand Management

Q: Will Demand Management apply to lead institutions only?
A: Yes, there will however be no restrictions on the number of applications that eligible institutions can partner on.

Proposals predominantly focussed on Artificial Intelligence will not be counted towards this restriction, even those mainly in EPSRC's remit.

Priority Areas

Q: When will the priority areas be decided and communicated to the community?
A: A document containing the priority area descriptions is available on the CDT 2018 call page alongside the document.

The description of the additional priority area resulting from the additional UKRI Artificial Intelligence (AI) investment can be found in the AI supplementary document.

Q: Will all applications have to contribute towards at least one priority area?
A: The call will have both a Priority Area stream and an Open stream. Applications which do not fit a priority area may be submitted in the Open stream.

To count towards the Artificial Intelligence investment, at least 50% of a proposal must be focussed on, or across, the Enabling Intelligence and Applications and Implications of Artificial Intelligence priority areas.

Q: Can I be in more than one priority area, and how will this affect assessment of the CDT?
A: CDTs may span priority areas, and this will not affect how the CDT is reviewed. It should be noted that CDT applications under the priority area stream should significantly contribute to vision/s for the priority area/s applied against and take account of the specific training requirements identified within the area description. It is therefore expected that the majority of CDTs will apply against one to two priority areas only.

Q: Are applications that span the remit of other Research Councils permitted, and how will they be assessed? Are other RCs involved in co-funding?
A: CDTs must support research training of students at a minimum of 50% EPSRC remit. The priority areas were shared with other Research Councils. NERC has committed £2.2M to the Renewable Energy priority area. Other Research Councils (and NERC for other priority area or open stream proposals) will consider applications on a case -by-case basis.

Proposals submitted to the UKRI Artificial Intelligence (AI) CDT call do not need to meet this minimum EPSRC remit requirement. Proposals sufficiently focussed on AI will be considered at panel meetings separate to the EPSRC CDT call, even if they are predominantly in EPSRC's remit.

Q: Does fixing priority areas limit the flexibility of a CDT to the dynamic research landscape?
A: The priority areas are broad, cross-EPSRC areas which require a breadth as well as depth of training. CDTs will need to significantly contribute to the delivery of a priority's vision and a range of approaches and focusses for individual centres will be appropriate to achieving that vision.

Assessment

Q: How will the balance of CDTs within and across Priority Areas and Open streams be handled?
A: For the EPSRC CDT call, it is expected that the majority ~70% of funding will be committed through the priority area stream with ~30% of funding available through the Open stream. Within each stream it will be up to the applicants to make the case for cohort-based training and the importance of addressing the UK skills needs. All funding decisions will be subject to the overall quality of applications, and therefore EPSRC cannot guarantee the balance between the streams or that a CDT in every priority area will be funded.

Q: Is there a correct size and shape of CDT in order to be funded?
A: It is up to the bidding teams to decide the size and shape of the CDT within any constraints in the call on minimum cohort size or overall number of students in the CDT.

Q: How do we ensure CDT Directors can support the CDT appropriately?
A: It is important that the CDT has the appropriate leadership and that universities think about the need for the Director to have the appropriate skills, support and time to deliver training through an investment of this size. It will be for the applicant team to decide how best to appropriately support the CDT. For example, applicants may wish to provide separate roles for the lead scientific 'advisor', the CDT director/s, and the CDT manager.

Q: Will multi-institution bids be encouraged or discouraged in the call?
A: There is no intention to either encourage or discourage a certain configuration of CDT. It needs to be right for the CDT, and right for the students.

General

Q: How much flexibility will there be - can CDTs add in more partners during the lifetime?
A: CDTs need to ensure that they have appropriate expertise and partnership, however it is reasonable that the team may need to evolve over the lifetime of the Centre. Appropriate mechanisms should be in place to recognise and manage any changes.

Q: How will IDCs/EngDs be included/handled?
A: EPSRC expects to continue its support of a range of CDT type. It is up to the applicants to consider what student experience is most appropriate for the skills being developed, and what qualifications will be offered. EPSRC welcomes equally, centres that offer only one type of doctoral award such as PhD or EngD, or a mixture, providing it is appropriate for the students. Some qualifications require particular criteria to be met and it is the applicant's responsibility to ensure individual student experiences are designed in a way that students can meet these.

Q: What capital can be requested on this call?
A: No capital funding is available through this call.