SLU is announcing a call for applications for infrastructure grants for 2017. Here you will find the full call.
Last date for submission of applications 2017 is September 15.
The purpose is to:
- offer an opportunity for funding of research infrastructure at SLU
- promote high quality research, and
- promote greater internal cooperation and efficient use of resources (co-utilisation).
News and changes in the 2017 call:
- A ceiling of SEK 10 millions has been introduced for applications from the Infrastructure Fund. A minimum amount of SEK 2 millions remains.
- A clarification has been introduced into the main criteria for being granted support. The first criterion "Provide conditions for world-class research" is made clearer by emphasizing that the applied grant to a proposed infrastructure first of all shall create new conditions for world-class research. The meaning of this change is to elucidate the aim with the strategic initiative for support for research infrastructure. It is therefore important to, in the application, describe the new hypotheses that can be tested with the proposed development/purchased research infrastructure.
- The process of assessment has been modified in order to create a more explicit material for decision-making. This include both the process for selecting external reviewers, and also that assessment criteria and instructions for the external reviewers have been made more clear.
- In addition, minor changes have been made in the three additional criteria, assessed by the internal review panel, which take into account internal preconditions specific for SLU (more information in the call below).
The infrastructure funding is a strategic initiative introduced due to the fact that the options for acquiring external funding for research infrastructure are limited nowadays. This is linked to the SLU strategy for 2013–2016, where the development of and access to advanced infrastructure are given high priority. The vice-chancellor has also established university-wide guidelines for research infrastructure management.
Preliminary funds available in this year's call is a total of 25 million SEK, divided over the period 2018–2022. The call for applications is planned to take place every year.
The infrastructure grant is intended for infrastructure which provides new conditions for world-class research. The infrastructure may be a system, database, instrument, special laboratory, etc. The crucial factor is that it must meet the criteria specified below. Infrastructures which fail to meet these requirements should seek other forms of funding (see SLU's guidelines for research infrastructure management (in Swedish only)).
Infrastructures which may be considered for funding from the Swedish Research Council can also apply for infrastructure funding. However, these will be assumed to apply for funding from the Swedish Research Council if the opportunity is presented, and if an application to the Swedish Research Council is successful the issue of SLU's co-financing will be dealt with separately in each individual case.
To be considered for funding, the infrastructure must normally meet the following primary criteria:
- Provide new conditions for world-class research
- Be utilised by a number of research teams with highly qualified research projects
- Be open and readily accessible to users outside the own department/team
- Have a long-term plan for scientific objectives, funding and utilisation, including support for and training of users
- Have specifically appointed personnel who are responsible for operation, and also for training of and support for users
- Apply user charges which are of an equal level for all users at SLU
- Have an organisation (steering committee, etc.) which is responsible for scientific leadership and continuous evaluation, including intelligence analysis
Infrastructure funding may be granted for either or both of the following categories:
a) Acquisition/establishment of new infrastructure, or alternatively upgrading and supplementation or replacement of existing infrastructure (investments, installations, service contracts, etc.).
b) Developing availability of the infrastructure and user support (payroll expenses for TA staff directly linked to the infrastructure that are necessary to make the infrastructure available to new potential users, including training and user support).
Funding will not be granted for research salaries or other direct research expenses, or for the renovation of premises, fittings, etc.
Infrastructure funding may be granted for a maximum of 5 years. The minimum amount per grant totals SEK 2 million over 5 years. An upper limit of SEK 10 million per grant has been set. The grant will normally not cover the entire cost of the infrastructure; the proportion of funding granted in relation to the amount applied for will be determined in each individual case. Participating departments are responsible for finding supplementary funding through other funding sources.
Infrastructure for which funding has been granted for one period may apply for new funding, but the application will be examined in competition with other applications.
Applications may be submitted by individual researchers/research teams or departments. If several departments apply jointly, this is normally an advantage. It is possible to apply for contributions for all or part of the cost of the infrastructure. The person who is to bear scientific responsibility for the infrastructure should be the primary applicant. A maximum of 5 applicants who will be included in the scientific and operational management of the infrastructure may be named as co-applicants.
Applications must be in English and include the following:
1. Cover sheet containing information about:
- Title of the application/name of the infrastructure
- Abstract (the intention with the application by answering the questions; What and Why? max. half a page).
- Name, title and full contact details of the primary applicant
- List of co-applicants (name, title, department, email address)
2. Description of the infrastructure (totaling max. 8 pages incl. key references) with the following headings:
- Technical description (function, capacity, estimated service life, etc.; why has precisely this infrastructure been selected, where will it be located - physically and administratively?)
- Scientific significance (the scientific targets of the infrastructure; description of the research field(s) requiring the infrastructure, including key publications relevant to the infrastructure; description of hypotheses, especially new ones, that can be tested using the proposed infrastructure; where relevant, also give examples of key publications made possible by similar infrastructure;).
- Justifications for an SLU initiative (description of existing and potential user groups within and outside SLU; is there any infrastructure at nearby universities/departments which can be utilised as an alternative? Is there an option for coordination with other universities?)
- Plan for accessibility and user support (how the infrastructure is to be made available to potential users (marketing, principles for prioritisation among users, user charges); training of users, support, etc.)
- Proposed management (responsible for procurement, installation, operation and phasing out)
- If the application relates to the upgrading of an existing infrastructure, a description of the present status and reasons for the upgrade must also be enclosed. Information on the degree of utilisation at present and after the planned upgrade must be included.
3. Budget details
a) Calculation showing the total cost, specified cost elements, the amount applied for and clear information on funding beyond the grant applied for. Use SLU's "Project calculator" ( see:https://internt.slu.se/en/support-services/external-funding/general-tools/project-calculator/). When procuring equipment, etc., depreciation costs must be specified in accordance with normal practice.
b) Specification and justification for each cost item in the budget. Add a new worksheet in the budget form and briefly describe each cost item.
c) Description of a plan for long-term funding following the end of the funding period
4. CV enclosure – Max. 2 pages per person, including 10 peer-reviewed publications relevant to the application. To be enclosed for both the primary applicant and co-applicants.
5. Certificate in which the head of the department with primary responsibility supports the application.
6. Supporting letter from intended user groups (max. 5). Every supporting letter must be no more than 1-2 pages long, including 5-10 key references. The supporting letters must provide a representative view of the intended users of the infrastructure and the scope of the research.
Note that applications must be formatted as follows:
- A collective PDF file which includes all text sections (parts 1, 2, 3c, 4, 5 and 6 above)
- An Excel file containing the application calculation (part 3a and 3b above)
Applications must be submitted to email@example.com by 15 September.
An internal review panel appointed by the vice-chancellor is responsible for reviewing and prioritising the applications.
The internal review panel will be assisted in their assessments by international and/or national external reviewers. Some of the external reviewers are experts in their respective area of the infrastructures in question, and some of the external reviewers are generalists with a broad competence and experience of questions related to research infrastructure. The two groups partly assess different criteria. The criteria used by the external expert reviewers are:
- Is the proposed infrastructure optimal for the scientific hypothesis/es described in the application?
- Are the scientific hypotheses in the forefront of the research field?
The task of the generalists is, with support from the assessments made by the experts, to assess all the applications with respect to:
- The potential of the infrastructure – assessing if the proposed infrastructure could enable world-class research within the scientific field, and the conditions for a broad use of the proposed infrastructure.
- Scientific quality – assessing the scientific quality of the research which the infrastructure is intended to support.
- Merits of the applicants – assessing whether the participating scientists together are at the forefront of the scientific field, and the applicants expertise and capability to establish and manage the infrastructure.
The internal review panel will assess three additional criteria, which take into account internal preconditions specific for SLU.
- Feasibility – Realism of the funding plan. Relevant support for users.
- Relevance to SLU – Scientific field in line with SLU´s mission and strategy. The scientific field is of national interest and SLU conducts world leading research within the field.
- Cooperation – The userbase of the infrastructure, and the significance of the infrastructure to promote internal cooperation. The importance for the proposed infrastructure for the role of SLU in the sector ("sektorsrollen"). Possible interest from other universities, and option for co-financing. Access to equivalent infrastructure at other universities, etc.
Process for assessment and prioritization of applications
In the first stage of the process the internal review panel will assess if the applications meet the formal criteria for the call:
- The application is complete and framed according to the instructions,
- The application concerns infrastructure according to the criteria mentioned in the call.
For applications that meet these conditions, internal review panel makes an overall assessment of the competitiveness of each application based on the main criteria. The assessment also includes the internal assessment criteria: Feasibility, SLU relevance, and cooperation. The assessment then forms the basis for which applications are submitted for expert review.
Each application submitted for external review is then reviewed by an expert from the respective area and at least two generalists.
Following presentation and discussion of the proposed allocation of funding in the Vice-Chancellors management council, the Vice-Chancellor will decide on whether any adjustments should be made to the proposal. The proposal will then be reported to the departments with primary responsibility for the applications. When department heads have confirmed that they can implement the initiative with the proposed funding, the allocation of infrastructure grants is formally decided by the Vice-Chancellor.
Funding granted is allocated directly to the department with primary responsibility, which distributes funding to other participating departments where applicable.
Finally, the internal review panel makes a balanced assessment based on expert opinions and its own assessment of the SLU-specific additional criteria. This assessment forms the basis for a prioritization of the applications and a proposal for allocation of funds.
- 15 September 2017: Final date for submission of applications.
- End of September 2017: Decision on which applications that will be externally reviewed.
- Oct/Nov 2017: Decision on appointment of external reviewers.
- Nov/Dec 2017: External reviewers submit their written assessments.
- Jan/Feb 2018: The proposal for allocation of funding is presented and discussed in the Vice-Chancellors management council.
- Feb 2018: The primary responsible departments are asked if they can implement the initiative with the proposed funding. If necessary, the draft decision is revised. The Vice-Chancellor establishes the final allocation of infrastructure grants.
- Mars 2018: Payment of the infrastructure grants begins.
Infrastructures that have been granted funding for a period of more than three years are required to submit a brief report after three years before the remaining funding will be made available. If the report indicates that operations are not following the plan or have been delayed for longer than is deemed to be reasonable, the Vice-Chancellor may decide that funding for the remaining years will be withheld.
Within six months following the end of the funding period, the responsible departments are required to submit a brief report on the use of the grants and statistics concerning degree of utilisation, who the users were, etc.
The internal review panel is responsible for follow-up with the support of the Division of Planning.
Internal review panel, REB 2016-04-19 (in Swedish only)
Decision in REB 2015-05-11
(in Swedish only)
Guidelines for research infrastructure management (in Swedish only)
(Appendix 1 to the REB decision)
Model for the financing of SLU infrastructure for excellent research (in Swedish only)
(Appendix 2 to the REB decision)
Support decision for 2015 (in Swedish only)