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Challenge Led Applied Systems Programme (CLASP)

STFC runs a Challenge Led Applied Systems Programme (CLASP) to support the application and commercialisation of STFC research in four key global research challenge areas; Energy, Environment, Healthcare, and Security.

CLASP 2021; Healthcare and Energy

The key challenge areas for CLASP 2021 have been identified as Healthcare and Energy. Call guidance and potential themes to follow.

Key Dates

  Call opens Call closes Estimated date of panel meeting Outcome announced
EOI stage 10 November 2020 14 January 2021 February 2021 late February 2021
Full stage 11 March 2021 20 May 2021 August 2021 September 2021

Guidance notes


STFC runs a Challenge Led Applied Systems Programme (CLASP) to support the application and commercialisation of STFC research in four key global research challenge areas; Energy, Environment, Healthcare, and Security. Each call will be directed towards two of these challenge areas which will rotate biennially.

CLASP is intended to support the de-risking of R&D processes for industry through the development of technology demonstrators and industry-ready prototype systems (moving STFC research outputs from TRL 3 approximately). The brief for the projects is left open to allow projects to request the timescale and resources they feel is necessary for the work. The total budget of the scheme per annum is in the region of £2M and it is expected that this will fund a small number of projects ranging from short feasibility studies to larger developmental projects against key milestones.

Applications should aim to address market needs by working closely with the end users, with support/collaboration from appropriate industrial partners to ensure route to market. It is recommended that applicants seek letters of support from any relevant parties to show their support. Although this is not mandatory for the scheme, this is highly encouraged and will significantly strengthen applications. Furthermore, applications should also consider data ownership, ensure ethical innovation practises and appropriate regulatory pathways where appropriate. Applicants are encouraged to read the research grants handbook for details on STFC grants, as well as terms and conditions.

CLASP 2020: Security and Environment

For the CLASP 2020 call, the key challenge areas have been identified as Security and Environment. Applications are invited to be submitted to address a specific challenge within one (or both) of these themes. The remit of these themes is broad and can include any relevant area such as, but not limited to:


  • Cyber security
  • Food security
  • Nuclear security
  • Border security
  • National/international security
  • Responding to security disasters
  • Monitoring chemical exposure


  • Natural environment
  • Air quality
  • Space environment
  • Urban environment
  • Waste management
  • Predicting and/or responding to environmental disasters
  • Pollution monitoring

Please note, a proposal submitted to CLASP does not have to align with these examples, and applications in other security and environment sectors will be accepted.


Proposals for projects must clearly demonstrate that the science, technology and expertise involved originated from the STFC core Science Programme or the STFC facilities and laboratories, CERN, ESO or ESRF.

Lead Applicants

Lead applicants need to demonstrate that the project idea is linked to STFC research. As such, CLASP is normally only open to current or past STFC grant-holders (core research grants, or studentships only) who meet the eligibility criteria defined in the Research Grants Handbook. If an applicant has received STFC funding, but not in his/her name (for example through a post-doc position) then they are still eligible to apply for the CLASP scheme, provided they are attached to an eligible RO and can show they will remain under contract for the length of the grant. If this is the case, please contact the office with a grant reference number(s) so we can confirm eligibility. Industrial applicants are not permitted to be lead applicants, and should be listed as project partners.

STFC employees working at one of the national laboratories are fully eligible to apply, however must demonstrate the clear transfer of technology to commercialisation.

Lead Research Organisation

The RO must be eligible to hold UKRI grants; i.e. be an approved UK Higher Education Institution (HEI), Research Council Institute (RCI) or Independent Research Organisation (IRO) eligible for UKRI funding. Full details of approved RCIs and IROs can be found on the UKRI website. For further information applicants should refer to the STFC Research Grants Handbook.

Non‐Academic Organisations

Given that CLASP is designed to transfer STFC research and technology to help solve a specific challenge, the lead applicant should be from an eligible academic institution. Non-academic organisations may apply for CLASP funding as part of a joint proposal, as long as they are eligible to hold UKRI grants. Please see the webpage for a full list of current institutions.

Organisations not eligible to hold UKRI grants, such as industrial organisations, research/training organisations and not‐for‐profit operations, must apply in collaboration with a lead academic partner and demonstrate that they possess the relevant technical capabilities and capacity to meet the scheme's objectives. These collaborators are expected to be Project Partners – donating funds or aid in kind to a project. Furthermore, as this scheme is UK funded, the organisation must have a strong presence and benefit the UK economy. The industrial supporter may be based outside the UK but the expected value added to the UK economy, both within the project timescale, and as a result of the work completed, will play an important part in the assessment of the worth of the project. The greater the value to the UK the more highly rated the project will be at the time of assessment for funding.

Applications will be assessed by the STFC External Innovations office staff for eligibility following submission and can be rejected at this early stage if not fulfilling the requirements of the scheme. These will be viewed as an office return, not as a panel rejection, and if submitted with revisions will be treated as a first submission in subsequent calls.

The call will open following the for EOI applications on 6th November. Successful applicants will then be invited to submit a full application. The call opening and closing dates can be found on the call webpage, and other key dates will be circulated amongst eligible applicants shortly after the EOI call closes. Applicants should be aware that submitting a proposal in Je-S sends the application to the Universities Research Office, not UKRI. Please allow enough time before the deadline to allow the proposal to process through the Universities internal submitter pool. Please see the call webpage for more details on UKRI/STFC deadlines including the closing date and latest time for receipt of proposals. Proposals submitted after these deadlines will not be accepted.

The CLASP application is a two-stage process. Applicants are invited to submit an initial Expression of Interest (EOI) application, which will be assessed by the CLASP panel for technical feasibility, impact, and cost effectiveness. Please note, the EOI application is not sent to peer review.

Shortlisted applicants will then be invited to develop full proposals with available assistance and advice from STFC External Innovations staff and CLASP panel members if they wish. At this stage, applications will be sent for external peer review, followed by invited PI response. Applicants may be invited to present their final proposals directly to the CLASP Panel, followed by a short question and answer session. All proposals will then be assessed by the panel, and a final ranking list produced. All applications must be submitted using Je-S (Joint Electronic Submission) for both the EOI stage and the full stage. Further details on the application process can be found below. Applicants should be aware that submitting a proposal in Je-S sends the application to the Universities Research Office, not UKRI. Please allow enough time before the deadline to allow the proposal to process through the Universities internal submitter pool. Please see the call webpage for more details.

Only the lead PI can submit an EOI application, which should consist of the following documents:

  • Je-S pro forma
  • Two page case for support (Mandatory)
  • Project Partner Letter of Support (Recommended, if relevant)
  • Letter(s) of Support from users/other interested parties (Recommended)*
  • Other (Optional. Please note, any document uploaded under “other” will not be seen by external reviewers or the panel)

*Please note, only one letter of support is allowed to be submitted in Je-S. If you wish to submit more than one, please merge them together into a single file.

Joint applications are allowed into the CLASP scheme, provided both leading organisations are eligible to hold UKRI grants (please see above for more details). Any industrial collaborators should be listed as project partners, and should not submit as a joint proposal. Please note, only the PI should submit the EOI application. A full application (stage 2) should be later submitted by all parties requesting funding, if invited.

EOI Case for Support

Applicants are encouraged to consider the final scoring criteria, but will not be expected to meet them in full at this time.

The case for support should be max 2 pages, and conform to the standard requirements laid out by UKRI (font Arial size 11, with a minimum of 2 cm margins around each page). The documents should contain sufficient detail to allow the panel to make an informed decision over whether the application is strong enough to be invited for a full submission. The case for support should include:

  • Technical Outline - explain the technical background of the project, its link with STFC funded research, and the degree of novelty and/or improvement over current technologies or processes
  • Impact on the challenge area - describe the ultimate goal of the project and detail the way in which development of this technology will address the sectorial challenge(s) identified. This should include evidence of the route to implementation, the commercial potential of the idea, and potential exploitable outputs from your project. You should:
  • Explain how this project addresses a clear operational and/or business opportunity, and the size of the market opportunity.
  • Describe the market potential estimated on the basis of potential beneficiaries. This can be a niche or global market.
  • Describe the economic and societal impacts that the project is expected to deliver to those inside and outside of the consortium and over what timescale.
  • Outline the route or potential route to exploitation of outcomes post project completion, including further development and financing requirements.
  • Timescale and Outline work plan - briefly describe the time scale of the project, and what steps will be taken to develop the technology over its course. Include the justification for any collaborations and project partners who will also be involved
  • Estimated costs – provide the estimated cost of the project, a breakdown of how they will be used, and any contribution from project partners. Any capital requests should also be stated here. Please note, these costings are not final and can change when a full stage application is made. These costs should be updated for the full submission.

Following the EOI stage, successful applicants will be invited to submit a full proposal though Je-S. This application should consist of:

  • Je-S pro forma
  • Six page case for support (Mandatory)
  • One page Gantt chart (Mandatory)
  • One page data management plan (Mandatory)
  • Two page knowledge exchange plan (Mandatory)
  • Letter of Support from Technology Transfer Office (Mandatory)
  • Letter of Support from each Project Partner (Mandatory, if relevant)
  • Letter(s) of Support from any interested organisations/potential users (Recommended)
  • Covering Letter (Optional. Please note, cover letters will not been seen by external reviewers/the panel)
  • Other (Optional. Please note, any document uploaded under “other” will not be seen by external reviewers or the panel)

All documents should conform to the guidelines described in the Je‐S help text. Any additional documents such as CVs, extra results, pathways to impact statements, list of publications etc. will not sent for review.

If this is a joint proposal where funds will be held by more than one institution, the PI from each institution must submit a separate Je-S application with a common title and Case for Support. Only the lead application should submit the Gantt chart, Data Management Plan and any letters of support. See Je-S Helptext for setting up joint proposals.

Full application Case for Support

The case for support should be no longer than six pages and conform to the font and margin guidelines in the Je‐S help text.  It is the responsibility of the principal applicant to ensure that information is worded in such a way as to protect commercial, confidential, or sensitive data. STFC will assume that the applicant has obtained necessary permissions from any party that may be involved in the application. The six page Case of Support must include information under the following headings. Applications WILL BE REJECTED by the office for non‐compliance with these directions.

  • Background and Aim

What is the STFC funded research that will form the basis of this project? What knowledge exchange has taken place between the applicants and industry/policy makers/any other relevant users (if any)? What is the aim of this application? Who will benefit from this project and subsequent commercialisation?

  • Technical Summary

Provide a detailed account of the  current  status  of  the  technology  you  are  proposing  and  the plan for development. This should include justification of why you and are best placed to carry out the work. The novelty of the proposal and/or the expected improvement over current technologies or process relevant to a challenge.

  • Business Plan

Where possible, this should include a description of the target market, route to market, expected customers and projected sales. Describe the competitors in the market and how the proposed technology would offer a commercial advantage. Describe the predicted investment and mechanism required post‐ project to complete commercialisation, where possible. Please note, a separate 2 page business case should be submitted alongside the case for support (see below for details).

  • Work Plan and Risk Analysis

Detail specific work packages, assigning responsibility between partners (if required). Applicants should show that they have identified risks and developed alternative strategies to mitigate these. Applicants should consider both technical, programmatic and, where relevant, commercial risks.

  • Resources

State the resources requested by the applicants and if relevant, the project partner, and provide justification for them. The CLASP Panel may reduce resource requests if they feel there is insufficient justification.

  • Project Deliverables

Identify what the direct outputs will be at the end of this grant (please be specific).        

  • Software development plan (if applicable)

Where the proposal includes software development, a plan should be submitted with detail relative to the significance of the software development in the project, see Annex 2.

Knowledge exchange plan

A 2 page business plan should be submitted alongside the case for support. In Je-S, this should be attached as “Knowledge exchange plans,” and should contain information on:

  • Freedom to operate

Provide evidence that you have freedom to operate (e.g. a summary of the results from patent searches), identification of any IP and detail how it will be protected. Please note, a summary of the IP position should be further detailed in the Letter of Support from your Technology Transfer Office.

  • Market research

Applicants should describe the size of the market opportunities which may open up as a result of this project. This should include details on; the current nature, size, and growth of the market, and the predicted market share taken by the outcomes of the project. Applicants are encouraged to seek advice from the Research Office and/or Technology Transfer Office for advice on market research.

  • Competitor analysis

Applicants should provide the details of any competitor technology, or alternate solution to the same problem. This should include; name/location/size of the company, the name of the product/service and its cost, along with any strengths and weaknesses, and explain how the project will offer improvement

  • Route to market

Applicants should list any exploitative outputs from the product (e.g what are you going to sell, what the projected sales are and who identify target customers,  what the profile of the customers is (size, geographic location) what the estimated Bill of Materials (BoM) is for the product and what percentage is this likely to be of the selling price).

Provide evidence for your statements about the target market of any product developed based on the potential beneficiaries, and outline your strategy for developing market share and why you have chosen this market method, i.e. what is the proposed channel to market and what are the key barriers to allow entry to the market and how will they be overcome

Describe the predicted investment and mechanism required post-project to complete commercialisation or successfully apply the technology into real practice, e.g. policy, regulation, improvement of existing process, etc. Explain what the estimated costs are and timescale to have a product ready. Details on any regulatory requirements should be included.

For disruptive products/services, details on the route to market, the market size, and how the project will seek to explore the market potential should be provided.

Letters of Support

Project partners

Letters (or e-mails) of support must be included from all named partners. In addition you can include letters of support from other relevant parties not directly involved in the project but who support the objectives, for example, potential end users. Letters should:

  • Be dated within 6 months of the submission
  • Be no more than two sides of A4 in length
  • Detail their interest and involvement in the project in terms of specific objectives and desired outcomes together
  • Detail the projected market size, customers, and sales
  • Describe how the company will commercialise the technology beyond the project
  • Detail specific contributions to the project (either cash or in kind) with a justifiable monetary value. These contributions should be also be stated in the Case for Support

More information on project partners and letters of support can be found in the research grants handbook.

Technology Transfer Office

A letter of support from an applicant’s Technology Transfer Office (or equivalent) must be included with each CLASP application. It should relate specifically to the proposal (i.e. should not be a generic letter of support) and explain in detail how the university sees the project being taken forward and how the university intends to support the work involved. It should also outline the current and anticipated IP position (has a patent been filed / granted) of any involved parties.

Please note, Je-S only allows a max of 3 letters of support to be uploaded, and so letters of support may be merged together into a single document if needed.

Data Management Plan

It is anticipated that all applications will produce or collect data during the course of the proposed project. The development of a data management plan as an attachment to the JeS pro forma is mandatory for all CLASP applications. The plan should be no longer than two pages of A4. The plan, together with any costs associated with it, will be considered and assessed by the normal peer review process. The data management plan should explain how the data will be managed over the lifetime of the project and, where appropriate, preserved for future re‐use. Applications that do not have a data management plan will not be accepted. Please see the research grants handbook for more information.

Collaboration Agreements

If a CLASP project includes more than one organisation (either academic, industry, or eligible research organisation), then a signed collaboration agreement between all named partners must submitted to the STFC office before the project start date. This should include details of how IP will be managed. Grants will not be allowed to start until the agreement is seen by the office.

Example model research collaboration agreements that may be used as a basis for specific agreements between partners have been developed through the Lambert toolkit for collaborative research.

Data Protection

Grants submitted via Je-S are done so under their terms and conditions. Please make sure you have permission from any relevant bodies before submitting any sensitive data. STFC will not be held accountable if data submitted has been done so without the relevant permissions sought.

Ethical considerations

Projects that involve holding sensitive information on individuals (for example facial recognition etc.) should ensure they conform to UKRI’s research integrity policy. Although an ethical statement will not need to be submitted alongside any proposals, all the involved researchers should have a consideration of such requirements. STFC reserves the right to suspend any grants that do not meet these requirements.

Panel assessment

Both the EOI and full-stage CLASP applications are assessed by an independent panel, consisting of standing members and invited experts to the specific themes of the call, from both academia and industry. For this call, there will be representation from both the Home Office and DEFRA on the panel.

Standing CLASP Panel:

Jim Wharfe – Independent environment consultant (Chair)
Giles Hammond – University of Glasgow
Harry Barraza – LGC Group
Peter Jarritt – NHIR Brain Injury Healthcare Technology Cooperative
Peter Huggard – STFC RAL Space
John Allen – Elekta Ltd.
Mark Bray – BAE Systems
Richard Bates – University of Glasgow
Robert Thompson – Heriot-Watt University
Claire Jones – AWE Ltd.
Dhiren Kataria – University College London

Confidentiality and Peer Review

STFC takes all reasonable steps to ensure that the contents of applications submitted to CLASP are treated as confidential. All members of the Panel sign a non‐disclosure agreement and peer reviewers must comply with the Research Councils Reviewer Protocols – details can be found on Je‐S. Reviewers and Panel members are asked to declare conflicts of interest in relation to an application before they are asked to assess.

EOI assessment

Following the EOI submission deadline and eligibility checks, all applications are sent directly to the panel and do not undergo peer review. The panel will then decide which applications should be invited to make a full submission, and which should be rejected.

Full stage assessment

Invited applicants will be assigned a panel member to assist in the preparation of a full proposal. Following the submission deadline, full stage applications will be sent to external peer review, and then by the panel. During this second panel meeting, applicants may be invited to present a brief talk on their project, followed by questions from the panel.

Each proposal will be assessed by external reviewers, one of whom must be nominated by the applicant. The applicant’s nominated reviewer should not be a current or previous collaborator, a personal friend or family member, neither should they be from the applicant’s or collaborator’s home institution. Should it arise the reviewer is in violation of this, the nominated reviewer will not be invited to review. Applicants should use Je-S to indicate their suggested reviewer.

Criteria for Assessment

Proposals must demonstrate that they draw on an area of expertise supported by the STFC core science programme (astronomy & space science, particle physics & particle astrophysics, nuclear physics and the computing and accelerator programmes supporting these) or STFC’s staff in laboratories and facilities.

Proposals will be assessed under the following criteria in the panel meeting:

Scientific and technical merit

  • Scientific quality (current technology status, objectives and deliverables)
  • Technical feasibility
  • Risk management
  • Novelty with regard to any existing technology
  • Suitability of applicants and partners (outline who is doing what)
  • Strategic fit to call

Economic Impact

  • Likelihood of commercialisation and route to market
  • Economic benefit, both UK and globally, including cost savings
  • Business plan (e.g. need, size, competitors, value, and location)
  • IP Management plan

Societal Impact

  • Societal benefit
  • Dissemination plan, including educational benefits
  • Influence on policy making
  • Capacity building

Added value

  • Added value of CLASP funding (what would happen if this was not funded)
  • User engagement
  • Value for money (justification of costs)

If the proposal is from CERN, ESO, or the ESRF, then the extent to which the proposed knowledge exchange collaboration will enable CERN, ESO or ESRF technology to be exploited by UK industry or non‐STFC academic sectors will be considered.

Response to reviewers

Each applicant has the opportunity to respond to the reviewers comments before the panel meeting. Applicants should be aware that we will request your response to reviewer approximately 5-7 weeks following the closing date of the call. All key dates (including an estimated date for this response) will be contacted to any eligible applicants following submission.

The PI Response should be no more than half a page of A4 per reviewer (MAX 2 pages), submitted in Arial font size 11. This should be submitted within 5 working days of receipt.

Please note, a collaboration agreement between all collaborators must be sent to the STFC office, including details on the ownership of any IP, before funding can start. Failure to do so will mean the grant cannot become active. For further details please see the research grants handbook section 7.2 and 7.4.

Grants are awarded under the terms and conditions of UKRI. Please see UKRI privacy note for more details

All award holders are required to submit any outputs from their CLASP project on the Researchfish platform. Award holders are required to provide information about outputs arising from their work annually during the award period, and for at least 5 years after the award has terminated. The CLASP Panel will monitor outputs on all CLASP grants.

We encourage potential applicants to contact the office to discuss their proposal, and the STFC office will be able to help and provide advice on applications where appropriate. Please contact the Programme Manager Helen Randell-Sly (helen.randell-sly@stfc.ukri.org) or assistant programme manager, Ed Mansfield (edward.mansfield@stfc.ukri.org) with any queries.

CLASP Guidance Notes



Case study

Mini hybrid camera improves tumour diagnosis


For any queries over eligibility or for more details about the CLASP scheme, please contact the programme manager Helen Randell-Sly or assistant programme manager Ed Mansfield


Last updated: 23 April 2020


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