The University of Southampton

Call for proposals: The Zepler Institute for Photonics and Nanoelectronics Stimulus Fund 2020/21

Published: 22 October 2020
The ZI Research Stimulus Fund fosters great ideas for collaboration

The Zepler Institute Research Stimulus Fund is supported by HEFCE's Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF), awarded to the University to help foster collaborations with industry and other users of research.
A total of £80,000 funding is available in the 2020/21 round, for small-scale research projects and feasibility studies which meet the following criteria:

  • Have strong current relevance, for example meeting industry needs, alignment to Industrial Strategy Grand Challenges and/or key themes of the Government's recently published 10 year R&D Roadmap
  • Are designed to lead on to large-scale research grant applications which involve industry partners and use of the Zepler Institute Cleanroom Complex
In addition, applications are include the following are preferred:
  • Involve interdisciplinary collaborations with investigators based in a School / Faculty outside of the ZIPN
  • Are led by an Early Career Researcher / Research Fellow / Senior Research Fellow

Deadline: Apply by 17:00, Friday 13 November 2020. Application details and terms and conditions below.
Who can apply:
  • Junior staff members (ECRs, Research Fellows and Senior Research Fellows) in the ZIPN are strongly encouraged to apply as the Principle Investigator for the Stimulus Fund project. Where the PI for the Stimulus Fund proposal is a junior member of ZIPN staff, a RCUK eligible PI should be named as a Co-Investigator, in order to support the future progression of the Stimulus Fund project towards a large-scale research grant application.
  • ZIPN applicants are also strongly encouraged to consider submitting interdisciplinary research proposals involving Co-Investigators based in a School or Faculty outside of the ZIPN.
  • Researchers outside of the ZIPN are welcome to apply as the Stimulus Fund project PI. In such instances, the proposal must include a collaboration with at least one ZIPN member as a Co Investigator; at least one of the ZIPN Co-Investigators must also be an RCUK-eligible PI if the Stimulus Fund project PI does not have this status.

How to apply: Submit a one-page case for support using the application template attached. Important guidance on completing the application template:
  • Names and affiliations: Please be sure to state the names and affiliations of all the investigators, including the ZIPN research group for any named ZIPN researchers
  • Scientific case: figures and diagrams are permitted. The scientific case should address research quality (likelihood of resulting in high quality research outcomes e.g. publications, patents etc), novelty (genuine scientific novelty and timelines), ambition (high-risk, high-return feasibility studies are encouraged), potential (is the approach credible)
  • Relevance of the research to current key issues: how is the proposal relevant to the interests of industry, how does it represent an opportunity to address key issues e.g. Industrial Strategy Grand Challenges, trends identified in the UK R&D Roadmap etc
  • Academic and/or industry partners and their contribution: details of any industry partners or academic partners already engaged in the project and their contribution i.e. any direct or in-kind support (letters of support are not required but may be included as appendices)
  • How has this proposal been COVID-19 de-risked: describe how the proposed research has been designed to limit any potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on successful delivery, e.g. limiting travel requirements; the deadline for all projects is 31 July 2021.
  • Plan for pursuing significant follow-on funding: A clear explanation of how the Stimulus Fund project will lead to future large-scale research grant applications with industrial collaborators, to include e.g. details of specific funders and/or calls to be targeted, planned timelines for submission, engaging (additional) collaborators and partners.
  • A costed breakdown of resources: all costings must be pre-approved by Faculty Finance. Applicants should confirm the costings have been checked by deleting Y / N as appropriate, prior to submission.
  • Word count: please adhere to the indicated word counts +/-10% and not exceeding one page for the whole application template.
  • Appendices: i.e. letters of support, may be included but applicants must ensure these are submitted together with the application template in single .pdf file.

Costings Individual awards are expected to be in the region of £10-£15K, although applications for larger grants will be considered in exceptional circumstances. Eligible costs:
  • Researcher time - does not attract overhead. Please note: staff time for existing members of UoS academic staff or staff from other collaborating organisations is not an eligible cost.
  • Equipment (up to £3k)
  • University facilities (e.g. cleanroom)
  • Consumables
  • Travel e.g. to a partner organisation (it will be the researcher's responsibility to assess the risks associated with travelling and where possible to avoid)
All costings must be approved by the PI's Faculty Finance Team, prior to submitting the proposal. The key FEPS Finance contact for the Fund is Jackie Cox
How to submit your application Submit your completed one-page application template, and any appendices (i.e. letters of support), in a single .pdf file to Ruth Churchill by 17:00 Friday 13November 2020.
Assessment process Applications will be shortlisted within each of the four major ZIPN research groups by a team comprising the Head of Research Group and two or three of their nominated senior academic members using the following evaluation criteria: 1. Research Quality: Is the proposal likely to result in high quality research outcomes, in the form of journal publications, patents etc...? 2. Novelty: Does the proposal contain genuine scientific novelty and is the work timely? Is it being addressed elsewhere? 3. Ambition: Does the proposal offer suitable levels of challenge, ambition and risk? High-risk, high return studies are encouraged. 4. Potential: Is the approach credible and will the team be able to deliver? 5. Relevance: Is the proposal relevant to the interests of industrial partners or does it represent the opportunity to address key issues identified in e.g. the Industrial Strategy, UK R&D Roadmap? 6. Future funding: If feasibility is demonstrated is there potential for developing a larger collaborative project and has the applicant considered pathways by which this may be secured? 7. Planning: Are the requested resources appropriate to deliver the proposed programme within the timeframe and have they been 'de-risked' to limit the impact of COVID-19? The shortlisting of applications will then be reviewed by a panel consisting of academic members of the ZIPN Management Board, supported by the ZIPN Business Development Team to ensure a fair process. A decision on the proposal will be communicated to all applicants by email within one month of the proposal deadline.
Terms of the award Awardees will be required to:
  • Spend all allocated funds by 31 July 2021 - this is a hard deadline by which goods must be invoiced and received.
  • Produce a one page interim report by 1 March 2021, to include:
  • o A clear breakdown of the budget spent to date and projected future spending - projects that fail to show a clear plan for spending and evidence that the budget is being spent in a timely manner risk having funds withdrawn. o An appendix comprising a four-page outline for a large-scale grant proposal.
  • Produce a final report by 31 July 2021. Final report to include:
  • o An impact review of the project, covering i) the impact of the grant in enabling the research project ii) scientific outputs of the research, publications, patents etc. and iii) any grant applications submitted/planned supported by the funded research. o A mature large-scale collaborative grant proposal, with a projection for submission.

Contact: If you have any questions about the ZIPN Stimulus Fund please contact Ruth Churchill

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