NBIC 5th Proof of Concept Funding Call – Now Open!

Our 5th Proof of Concept (PoC) funding call is now open.

This call is for projects from interested parties who have the experience and knowledge necessary to investigate and exploit areas in which biofilms play a central part.

All project proposals will be considered and ranked based on their merit and several criteria, with the intention that the selected projects will form a high-quality portfolio.

All applications must be submitted via the online application form by Friday 12 April 2024 at 23:59 GMT.

 

Scope

In this PoC call we are looking for proposals that are a collaboration between at least one company (micro, SME or large) or stakeholder with a UK presence and one (or more) UK university/ research institution (Please refer to eligibility criteria for more information).

Proposals

The project will be expected to develop a concept, idea or technology from any application sector which can be in a laboratory, model or real world setting to give confidence for further work. The PoC programme is not aimed at basic research, but is expected to build on existing research, findings or technology and show how the collaboration will move the research towards practical exploitation in a specified application. In Technology Readiness Level (TRL) terms these projects are likely to be at levels 2-6*. The project may be the first between a set of collaborators or may come from an existing relationship.

In light of the current global focus on environmental sustainability, we are particularly keen to receive collaborative project applications fitting our scope (defined above) that consider either or both of the factors below:

  • Projects focused on marine, water management, food & agriculture sectors.
  • Environmental focused projects.

These two elements will be considered by assessors, but overall projects will still be judged primarily on quality.

We expect to fund up to 20 projects lasting up to 12 months and for NBIC contribution to be on average between £25-75K in total for each project. 

Projects are expected to propose additional sources of funding either as in-kind and/or financial support that will enhance the quality of the bid and the outcomes anticipated. The level of funding from collaborators will be used as a key part of the assessment process of the project. Historically successful projects have contributions from collaborating partners that amount to an average of 30 percent of total project value.

*= TRL is commonly used to evaluate the maturity of the technology in research and development projects. TLR2:Technology concept and/or application formulated. TRL6: System/subsystem prototype demonstration in a relevant test environment.

Eligibility

To be eligible for NBIC PoC funding, applicants must comply with the following requirements:

  • Research organisation is an acceded NBIC member OR is on track to accede by the time funding is decided.
  • Collaboration must be between company of any size and an NBIC academic partner.
  • The project lead must be from an NBIC acceded research organisation or from industry.
  • Any individual can only be project lead on 1 PoC grant.
  • If successful, industry will be required to register for NBIC Membership and include a cash match in their funding application.

Project Agreement and IPR

NBIC has a standard approach to project agreements to ensure we are consistent and fair with our collaborators. This ensures that basic terms, such as the definition of confidential information and Intellectual Property Rights meet the requirements set out by UKRI and Subsidy Control Act 2022. Our consortium members have agreed to the terms of NBIC Consortium Agreement, the IPR guidelines and the use of NBIC POC Project Agreement for contracting awarded Proof of Concept projects.

Funding Level

Research institutions, where we expect the majority of the funding to end up, if successful, would receive funding at 80% of the Full Economic Cost (FEC) for their activity as costed by the university finance teams.

  • Large companies would receive no direct funding from NBIC.

  • Micro businesses (<10 employees) can receive up to 50% of directly incurred project costs (capable of audit).

  • SMEs (as defined by the EU <250 employees) can receive up to 50% of directly incurred project costs (capable of audit).

Full definitions for SME/micro businesses can be found here.

Key Dates

  • Call opens: 02/02/24.
  • Call closes: 12/04/24 23:59 GMT.
  • Decision and offer letters will be sent towards the end of June 2024.

Instructions

  • You must fill in the online application form to apply formally for the award once the portal opens and before the end of 12/04/24. No applications received after this time will be considered. Please do not send us your application via email/mail.
  • The collaborative PoC application should be jointly written but must be submitted by the project lead via the online application form.  
  • For any queries regarding the PoC call, please contact us at nbic@biofilms.ac.uk

Supporting Documentation and Information

  • Please fill in the application form with as much information and as accurately as you can. The information we asked for will help our assessors and panel to evaluate your project.
  • You are requested to provide your research institution’s financial approval and Letter of Support from collaborators, as attachments after you have completed your application. Please start to obtain these as soon as you can. Please ensure that your costings include a details breakdown rather than headline figures for staffing, materials etc.

FAQ’s

General

1.    What documents will I need to provide to support my application?

You will be required to provide all of the following:

  • A detailed financial breakdown of your costs including staffing and
  • Letters of support from call collaborating institutions (on institutional headed paper).
  • A letter from your home institution confirming support and agreeing the budget associated with the project (on institutional headed paper).

2.    I’m unable to provide a supporting document on institutional headed paper; are you able to accept an email instead?

We can accept emails as long as the full name and job title of the author are clearly stated in the footer of their email.

3.    How will the assessment of the projects work, and will confidentiality agreements be put in place?

There will be an independent panel that assesses the project. The final decision will be ratified by NBIC’s Non- Executive Board. Confidentiality agreements will be required for all assessors and panel members.

4.    Can we submit multiple bids, for instance with different companies or are we limited to one bid?

You can submit multiple applications. We do reserve the right to take a portfolio view if we cannot afford to fund all the fundable applications. Our goal is to fund excellent projects independent of location from member institutions. Please note however that applicants can apply for multiple projects but cannot hold more than 1 NBIC PoC Award as a Project Lead plus 3 as Collaborator at any one time.

Timing

5.    What is the application deadline for POC5?

You are required to submit your online application with all the required supporting documentation by no later than 12 April 2024.

6.    When will I receive feedback on my application?

You should expect to receive feedback towards the end of June 2024.

7.    Is it possible for a project to exceed the average project duration of 12 months?

We will consider projects exceeding 12 months if required, however this would be exceptional. Please contact us to discuss further.

Eligibility and Project Partners

8.    Where can I find a list of research institutions that are part of the NBIC consortium?

This is available on the NBIC website here.

9.    Must the industrial partner in the application be UK-based?

The industrial partner should have a UK presence, i.e., having a sales, R&D or manufacturing office set up in the UK.

10.    Would it be acceptable to have 1 UK partner and 1 non-UK (EU) partner?

Yes, but the non-UK partner would not be able to claim funds even if they are SME or Micro-enterprise.

11.    Could you please let me know if the University of xxx has been “acceded to NBIC” as I’m not sure how to check? If it hasn’t, please could you give me more information on how we can make this happen?

This is available on the NBIC website here.

12.    NBIC indicated that applications must be submitted by the Project Lead, am I able to submit this project application in my name as a Post-doctoral Researcher?

Yes, researchers within partner academic institutes are eligible to apply.

Intellectual Property

13.    About ownership of intellectual property and rights to exploitation.

For successful projects, a Project Agreement will be put in place, NBIC will provide a template agreement. This Project Agreement includes negotiable clauses on IP rights based on several scenarios, including ownership, use, protection and exploitation of IP. It would be expected that Background IP would be the sole and exclusive property of the party to whom it belonged prior to the start of the project.  Unless otherwise agreed, all intellectual property shall belong to the party that generated them. Our IP guidelines are available on our website here.

14.    Is there any guideline from the funding body on how to deal with intellectual property rights?

Applicants should contact their organizations’ research contracts/Technology Transfer Office to negotiate IPR in line with our guidelines. It is expected that all parties engaged in the project make every reasonable effort to ensure that the intellectual assets obtained during the course of the project, whether protected by intellectual property rights or not, are used to the benefit of society and the UK economy.

Finance

15.    Who leads the project and how are the funds transferred?

Regarding the leadership of the project; we expect that the PoC be jointly written and submitted by the Project Lead. The funding will be invoiced to the University of Southampton in a schedule that will also be included in the Project Agreement.

16.    Since NBIC is giving funding only to research institutes, does it mean SME & Micro gets their share through the research institute?

The University of Southampton (NBIC) as budget holder would fund the SME/Micro directly against auditable costs.

17.    For Micro Businesses and SMEs, the POC form says they “can receive up to 50% of directly incurred project costs (capable of audit)”. What does this include?

As part of our governance, we can only part support (up to 50%) costs in SME/ Micro businesses that can be directly audited and traced to activity on the NBIC funded projects. This evidence could include documented timesheets (with explanation of hourly rates), invoices from third parties. NBIC will only fund up to a limit (£75K). Then any costs claimed by a Company may reduce the amount payable to the academic partner. The contribution to the project in time and resources can also be indicated on the form (even if not claimed) to demonstrate the commitment of the industrial partner to the project.

18.    An industrial partner can contribute in kind to the proposal but cannot make a cash contribution. Please could you tell me if this is OK?

Contribution of in-kind or cash are both welcome. The level of this contribution is weighted in the assessments. Successful projects have had on average at least 30% of the total project value contributed by the industrial partner either in kind or in cash.

Projects are expected to propose additional sources of funding or support in-kind that will enhance the quality of the bid and the outcomes anticipated. The level of funding from collaborators will be used as a key criterion by indicating the extent of engagement with external stakeholders or industrial partners and their level of commitment (in-kind or finance). See also answer to Q22.

20.    Does the maximum funding level of £75k include the company contribution?

No, it refers to NBIC funding. Please refer to the guidance for examples of funding level.

21.    Can the funding be used to support a PDRA or supplement a student?

This POC is for translational research, so PDRA support, etc. has to be utilised for this purpose but can be deployed to an appropriate researcher e.g., PDRA, PhD.

22.    Do you have any further guidance on funding and or restrictions on the £75K available? The project will be expected to develop a concept, idea or technology from any application sector which can be in a laboratory, model or real world setting to give confidence for further The PoC programme is not aimed at basic research, but is expected to build on existing research, findings or technology and show how the collaboration will move the research towards practical exploitation in a specified application. In Technology Readiness Level (TRL) terms then these projects are likely to be at levels 2-6. A useful guide to TRL levels can be found here.

23.    Are we allowed to allocate some of the funding for public engagement? More specifically, involving an artist to work part-time and a gallery (as a partner) to run art workshops and an exhibition?

On the assumption you are proposing a project that fits the other PoC criteria explained in the guidance and application in terms of its prime objective, then this outreach and communication are fine to include. The application will be assessed on its merits against others.