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Research equipment guidance

1. Introduction
2. BBSRC new process
3. Consideration of business cases for equipment over £135,688 (inc VAT)
4. Instrument development
5. What this now means for applicants to BBSRC
6. Review
7. Contact

1. Introduction

1.1. From 1 May 2011, changes in how equipment is requested on Research Council grants came into effect across RCUK. These changes had to be made urgently in response to the Wakeham Review, which highlighted the need for increased efficiency in research funding, and in response to the reduction in capital budget by 50% across the Research Councils. The changes are summarised in section 2.

1.2. The Je-S forms now reflect the changed process.

1.3. Advice for applicants is given in the following sections and also on the RCUK website:  www.rcuk.ac.uk/documents/publications/Equipment_Guidance.pdf (external link, PDF). Applicants should read the information on the RCUK website, to which this BBSRC-specific information is supplementary.

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2. BBSRC new process

2.1. The new process must be used for all applications submitted to closing dates on or after 1 September 2011

2.2. Equipment below £10k

  • Individual items of equipment below £10k will continue to be included in proposals for individual research projects at 80% FEC. They should be included in Other Directly Incurred costs. If VAT and/or Import Duty do not apply, a value of zero should be entered in these fields.

2.3. Equipment between £10k and £135,688 (incl VAT)

  • For single capital items of equipment between £10k and £135,688 (incl VAT) additional justification of the requirement for these items, and details of the proposed contribution to the cost of the equipment, must be provided in the justification of resources as detailed in the RCUK guidance: www.rcuk.ac.uk/documents/publications/Equipment_Guidance.pdf (external link, PDF). Applicants should read carefully the section on how to apply in Je-S.
  • Proposals must include a letter of support from the appropriate institution authority detailing the proposed contribution to the cost of the equipment. BBSRC will contribute no more than 50% of the final purchase price of any item between £10k and £135,688(incl VAT) and will expect the research organisation to contribute the remainder. This contribution must not be conditional e.g. on the success of other applications for support, and must not be from other BBSRC grants. The peer review committee or panel will be asked to consider the proposed contribution in relation to the value for money of the proposal and this may influence the final position of the proposal in the rank ordered list. The final decision on the percentage contribution will be made by BBSRC taking into account the available capital budget.
  • For joint proposals, we expect the applicants and their research organisations to agree amongst themselves the levels of contribution from the different organisations, and the ownership and hosting arrangements for the equipment. Information should be provided in the justification of resources.

2.4. Equipment above £135,688 (inclusive of VAT)

  • In common with other Councils and in line with the Wakeham Review BBSRC is moving towards primarily funding equipment over £135,688 (incl VAT) only where there is a clear case that the equipment will benefit a range of research, to encourage a culture of equipment sharing. This could include research across a number of HEIs, or across a number of departments within a single HEI. It can include both existing and potential research projects. The purpose of this is to allow us to use our limited budget as strategically as possible to support biotechnology and biological sciences research.
  • Applications for research projects seeking single capital items of equipment above £135,688 (incl VAT) must include the required business case, separately for each item. As described above, the expectation is that the equipment will underpin a range of research including both existing and potential future research projects.
  • A business case for a single capital item of equipment for an individual research project can still be submitted where there is a genuine requirement for dedicated equipment. This case will be judged in competition with the cases for equipment that will underpin a range of research.
  • Until changes to the Je-S form are in place, the business case(s) should be submitted as additional pages to the Case for Support, using the template for the Business Case that can be found can be found in the RCUK guidance: www.rcuk.ac.uk/documents/publications/Equipment_Guidance.pdf (external link, PDF). Letters of support should be attached to confirm the contribution from the institution, any support from elsewhere, particular interest from other potential users etc.

2.5. A "single capital item of equipment" in this context includes any set of components which together constitute a complete instrument or an upgrade, repair or refurbishment to an instrument. It is not possible to avoid the implications of the new policy by breaking down the cost of capital equipment into smaller individual items.

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3. Consideration of business cases for equipment over £135,688 (inc VAT)

3.1. The case for any item of equipment over £135,688 (inc VAT), and of the resources associated with its operation, sought as part of responsive mode grant applications and that have been recommended for funding by the peer review committees will be considered at the meeting of Committee Chairs. The arrangements for consideration of any such equipment sought in response to initiatives or other targeted calls will be explained in the relevant call information.

3.2. Proposals must include a letter of support from the appropriate institution authority detailing the proposed contribution to the cost of the equipment. Single capital items of equipment over £135,688 (incl VAT) will normally be funded at 50% of total cost and the institution will be expected to provide the remaining 50%. This contribution must not be conditional e.g. on the success of other applications for support, and must not be from other BBSRC grants. BBSRC may agree a contribution of up to 100% where the application and business case demonstrates that the instrument(s) will enhance national capability in meeting a strategically important need by the BBSRC research community, and the case shows a clear ongoing commitment to maintain and operate it for this purpose. Final funding decisions will need to take into account the capital allocation available to the BBSRC, and may require negotiation with the institution.

3.3. Proposals will be considered according to the following criteria, taking into account the advice of the peer review committee:

  • The quality, breadth and strategic relevance to BBSRC of the science that will be enabled by the equipment
  • The plans to maximise access to the equipment. This may include consideration of the geographical location of the equipment in relation to the likely user community, and in relation to similar instrumentation that might be available elsewhere
  • The proposals for the management and resourcing of access to the facility, including training where necessary
  • Value for money - including the efficiency and affordability of running and access costs, the extent of non-BBSRC contributions, and discounts on capital purchase costs etc.

3.4. BBSRC may seek further information in relation to any of the above assessment criteria, or any other aspect of the case, before reaching a decision.

3.5. The location and support for access to these larger items of equipment is a strategic decision taken with a view to maximising the benefit to national capability. Consequently, BBSRC may decide e.g. that equipment may be co-located with existing provision elsewhere, or located somewhere it considers more suitable. It may also decide to seek other proposals to host the items concerned before taking a decision.

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4. Instrument development

4.1. Equipment over £10k to be used for instrument development is not affected by the new rules for equipment funding. More detail on what constitutes instrument development can be found in the RCUK guidance: www.rcuk.ac.uk/documents/publications/Equipment_Guidance.pdf (external link, PDF).

4.2. This exception only applies to applications for equipment to be used in the development of new instruments. It does not cover equipment associated with the adaption of existing hardware or the development of software etc.

4.3. Items of equipment for instrument development lmay be funded at 100% FEC, although BBSRC reserves the right to request institutional contributions in exceptional circumstances.

4.4. Applicants should note that the guidance applies to individual pieces of equipment. i.e. other equipment requested on the proposal but not related to the instrument development will be subject to the new rules for equipment funding.

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5. What this now means for applicants to BBSRC

5.1. Additional time for assessment

The new procedures, in particular for single capital items over £135,688 (inc VAT), may involve additional assessment steps. Applicants may wish to take that into account in setting a reasonable start date for proposed projects and making submissions well in advance.

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6. Review

These policies and procedures will be reviewed at the end of 2013.

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7. Contact

Please email research.committees@bbsrc.ac.uk.

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Contact

Research Committees