Call for application for infrastructure grants for 2016.
SLU is announcing a call for infrastructure grant applications. 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 2016 call:
- The most prominent change in the 2016 call is that allowed costs will be the same for acquisition/establishment of new infrastructure, as for upgrading/supplementation of existing infrastructure. Moreover, funding can be applied specifically for developing availability of the infrastructure and user support. See heading A - Funding conditions for more information.
- Two changes have been made in how the application should be structured. Firstly, the cover sheet must include an abstract, approximately half a page, answering the following two questions; what the funding applied for will finance, and why. Secondly, the budget must now include a specification and justification of each item included in the budget. See heading B - Instructions on the structure of applications for more information.
- The criteria used by the external reviewers in their assessments have been restructured to include three criteria instead of four. The motive for this is to create a better balance between assessing the potential of the infrastructure, the scientific quality, and the merits of the applicants. Furthermore, the criterion Potential of the infrastructure has been supplemented with assessment of conditions for a broad use of the proposed infrastructure.See heading C - Assessment and prioritisation of applications for more information.
- The additional criterion Relevance to SLU, which is assessed by the internal review panel, has been supplemented with an assessment of areas of national interest where SLU has world-leading research. The aim is to include also areas that are not by necessity of broad interest within SLU, but where SLU in a national perspective could have a pivotal role. See heading C - Assessment and prioritisation of applications for more information.
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 are a total of 25 million SEK, divided over the period 2016–2020. The call for applications is planned to take place every year.
Last date for submission of applications 2016 is September 12.
The infrastructure grant is intended for infrastructure which provides conditions for world-leading 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).
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 conditions for world-leading 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 (TA staff or researchers) 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 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. No upper limit has been set, but will be determined by the number and quality of applications and the amount available. 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 a positive thing. 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; where relevant, also give examples of key publications made possible by similar infrastructure; description of existing and potential user groups within and outside SLU).
- Justifications for an SLU initiative (will new research be facilitated at 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" (in Swedish only, see:https://internt.slu.se/en/research-education--ema/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 firstname.lastname@example.org by 12 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. The criteria used by the external reviewers are:
- The potential of the infrastructure – assessing if the proposed infrastructure could enable world leading 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 for development of the infrastructure
The internal review panel will assess three additional criteria, which take into account internal preconditions specific for SLU.
- Relevance to SLU – The significance of the infrastructure to SLU's potential to conduct high-quality research, and in line with the mission and strategy. If the scientific field is of broad interest to SLU. Alternatively, if the scientific field is of national interest and SLU conducts world leading research within the field.
- Cooperation – The importance of the infrastructure to promote internal cooperation. Possible interest from other universities, and option for co-financing. Access to equivalent infrastructure at other universities, etc.
- Feasibility – Scope and potential of the user base. Realism of the funding plan. Support for users
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.
- 12 September 2016: Final date for submission of applications.
- End of September 2016: Decision on which applications that will be externally reviewed.
- Oct/Nov 2016: Decision on appointment of external reviewers.
- Nov/Dec 2016: External reviewers submit their written assessments.
- Jan/Feb 2017: The proposal for allocation of funding is presented and discussed in the Vice-Chancellors management council.
- Feb 2017: 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 2017: 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)