Working with business:

'Stand-alone' LINK

Call status: Open
Application deadline: as per next responsive mode

LINK applications involve collaborative research with at least one company and one science-base partner (projects with SMEs are particularly favoured) where at least 50% of the full economic cost of the project comes from industry (see FAQs for example calculations). Applications should be for pre-competitive research that would not be undertaken in this form without LINK support.

Applications are assessed by our Research Committees, alongside standard applications, using the same criteria. LINK projects are normally funded in preference to standard grants of equivalent scientific merit.

Partners must agree ownership and exploitation of intellectual property arising from the project at the outset. An appropriate management framework must be in place with defined scientific and commercial deliverables.

Benefits for company partners include:

Essential criteria

Before applying

The company partner should be registered in the UK or have a UK R&D or manufacturing site. Where a suitable company cannot be found in the UK, an overseas company may be used. However, such collaborations are judged on a case by case basis, and clear justification must be provided. We strongly encourage you to contact us (contact details below) prior to submission if you wish an overseas company to be an industrial partner under this scheme.

Applicants should describe the value of the partnership and its mutual benefits. Applicants should include a letter from their university's Technology Transfer office stating that should the LINK application be funded, a collaborative agreement will be put in place with the industrial partner before commencement of the project. The letter should:

Please consult the FAQs in the downloads section for calculating grant costs and contributions.

If you are interested in submitting an application for a LINK project please contact a Programme Manager (contact details below) to discuss your application.

How to apply

Visit our 'Apply for funding' section to submit your application through our electronic submission system.

For more specific guidance about applying to this scheme, please consult the FAQs (see downloads).

The schemes are dictated when selecting classification as follows:

Applications are processed alongside other responsive mode applications. Application deadlines are therefore the same as responsive mode applications. Responsive mode deadlines can be found on our 'Apply for funding' page (see related links above).

Case study

Rapid test for poultry disease

A rapid test for Marek’s disease in chickens has been developed by researchers at The Pirbright Institute using their ‘stand-alone’ LINK award, in collaboration with Fort Dodge Animal Health, one of the world’s largest poultry vaccine manufacturers. This test allows farmers to work out how much of the disease is present in their flocks and provides information about how well the Marek’s disease vaccine is working.

Feather sample collection. Image: Sue Baigent, The Pirbright Institute
Feather sample collection. Image: Sue Baigent, The Pirbright Institute

“We are very pleased with this outcome because the industry can follow up animals at hundreds of thousands of farms around the world,” says Professor Venugopal Nair from The Pirbright Institute, the lead researcher on the project. “A patent application for this test has been filed and the test has been applied in many countries in Europe, North and South America where the disease is a major problem.”

Read the full case study at IPA and ‘stand-alone’ LINK schemes cultivate academic-industry partnerships.

LINK programs

BBSRC has previously supported LINK projects through the Defra-led LINK programmes. These LINK programmes are no longer open to consider new applications. Further information on these programmes can be found in external links above.

Case studies

QUOATS - Harnessing new technologies for sustainable oat production and utilisation

A five-year Sustainable Arable LINK project launched in September 2009, QUOATS is led by Aberystwyth University (IBERS) and is jointly sponsored by:

  • BBSRC
  • Defra 
  • Welsh Assembly Government's Academic Expertise for Business (A4B) programme with European Regional Development funding  
  • Scottish Government Contract Research Fund
  • AHDB and industry partners
Dr Athol Marshall examining an oat stem
Dr Athole Marshall of IBERS, Aberystwyth University leads the QUOATS project © IBERS

Harnessing the unique properties of oats both as a plant and a grain we can address some of the emerging problems with cereal cultivation and at the same time deliver an environmentally benign crop which offers considerable health benefits for human and livestock consumption.

The QUOATS project seeks to develop oats with the agronomic qualities, yield, economic competitiveness and quality traits that meet the need of growers and industrial end-users. It is developing powerful enabling technologies for the identification of specific genes and molecular markers associated with key traits. In collaboration with academic partners and industrial end-users across the whole production chain.

The project capitalises on the value of oats as a profitable component of sustainable arable production for human and livestock consumption and for industrial end uses as proven by the earlier, and very successful, OatLINK project.

For more information visit the project website at www.quoats.org.

Conversion of high sugar grasses to alcohol based transport fuel (Grassohol)

A 3-year Renewable Materials LINK project launched in April, 2009 focusing on sugar-rich varieties of perennial ryegrass, developed at Aberystwyth University's Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS), as a raw material for producing bio-ethanol. With funding from Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and the BBSRC, the project brings together the expertise of 8 partners from industry. Project Director Dr Joe Gallagher. "It offers significant potential for biofuel production and the involvement of each partner demonstrates the commercial importance of the research as we move inexorably towards a bio-based economy".

Project Director Dr Joe Gallagher and colleague
Image: IBERS

The team are experimenting with different soils, fertilizers and companion crops such as white clover, with the aim of reducing dependency on artificial oil-based fertilizers. Early results are promising and indicate that up to 4,500 litres of ethanol per hectare of ryegrass could be produced every year, comparable with other energy crops but with the advantage of being environmentally friendly, capable of growing on poorer land and with cheaper management costs.

Controlling supply, quality and waste in brassica vegetables: Understanding the genetics of maturity to breed varieties in response to climate change

Uneven flowering of broccoli highlights scheduling issues
Image: Sue Kennedy, Elsoms

A Horticultural LINK project launched in July 2009 and funded solely by us in collaboration with industry partners from Bejo Zaden B.V., Weatherquest and Elsoms Seeds.

Project leader Dr Judith Irwin from the John Innes Institute is coordinating a consortium that is working on controlling supply, quality and waste in brassica vegetables, and understanding the genetics of maturity to breed varieties in response to climate change.