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Follow on Funding (FoF)

FoF is a ‘proof-of-concept’ model, where further work on an idea will make any commercial potential evident to the market and so secure, for example, a spin-out (seed/venture finance) or licensing opportunity or provide the necessary information to bid for IPS support. This often takes small amounts of funds to enable activities essential to preparing a robust business plan.

The scheme is designed support a range of relevant activities (e.g. market assessments, development of IP etc.) and enable the development and examination of a concept to establish its commercial feasibility and scientific and technical merit. FoF is designed for early stage TRL which can then feed in to a subsequent full IPS grant.

Key Dates

Call opens Call closes Estimated date of panel meeting Outcome announced
4 December 2019 20 February 2020 May 2020 July 2020
3 June 2020 3 September 2020 December 2020 January 2021

Case studies

Killing microbes, not the taste

 

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

Guidance Notes

STFC offers a diverse portfolio of knowledge exchange schemes, designed to allow funding of projects from initial development right through to commercialisation. These schemes are designed to facilitate the transfer of STFC funded research into an industrial setting over a number of different stages of commercialisation.

  • Innovation Partnership Scheme (IPS)
    To transfer technology and expertise developed through STFC funding to the marketplace in partnership with industry and other academic disciplines
     
  • Follow‐on Funding (FoF)
    To support proof of concept for a project following on from STFC funded research. Partner not permitted
     
  • IPS Fellowships
    To develop an institution’s capacity for knowledge exchange and commercialisation from STFC‐funded research.
     

A full breakdown on the differences between the schemes is listed below. Please note, that each scheme has a separate application process/guidance details, and applicants are ask to ensure they have selected the right scheme when submitting proposals through Je-S.

 

IPS

Follow-on-funding

IPS Fellowships

Max duration

36 months

12 months

48 months

Max cost

£450,000

£110,000

None

Max STFC contribution
(80% fEC)

£360,000

£88,000

None

Industry support

Required

Not required

Not permitted

IP status

IP established

Plan to consider IP protection

Plan for identifying and assessing IP

Extension available?

No

No

Yes

Follow on fund

Follow on funding (FoF) is intended to provide financial support at very early or pre-seed stage of turning research outputs into a commercial application. The idea must have a clear potential for commercialisation. Proposals should not exceed a total value of £110K at 100% of fEC, and should be no longer than 12 months long.  STFC will award 80% fEC.  

FoF is a ‘proof-of-concept’ model, where further work on an idea will make any commercial potential evident to the market and so secure, for example, a spin-out (seed/venture finance) or licensing opportunity or provide the necessary information to bid for other KE schemes e.g. IPS, CLASP. This often takes small amounts of funds to enable activities essential to preparing a robust business plan.

Follow-on funding is designed support a range of relevant activities to enable the development and examination of a concept to establish its commercial feasibility and scientific and technical merit. Industrial partners are not required as part of Follow-on Fund applications, however industrial, non-governmental organisations or academic partners from other higher education institutes are welcome where appropriate. Whilst other funding is not a prerequisite, Follow-on Fund grant applications which have secured funding from elsewhere e.g. host institution, will be looked upon favourably. N.B. Funding from third parties must be additional to the funds requested.

Funding can be used for

  • Undertaking further scientific and technical development of an idea.
  • Improving an intellectual property (IP) position, through for example, supporting further work to exemplify or broaden patent claims. All intellectual property arising from a Follow-on Fund grant will rest with the institution to which the grant is awarded.
  • Gaining further information about the market for the new product or process.
  • Identifying potential licensees or opportunities for joint ventures.

Follow-on Funding will not support:

  • ‘Blue sky’ research.
  • Associated intellectual property costs e.g. patent costs.

Proposals for projects must clearly demonstrate that the science, technology and expertise involved originated from the STFC core Science Programme. As such, the lead applicant must have previously or currently hold STFC funding from the core Science Programme (nuclear physics, particle physics & particle astrophysics, astronomy & space science, and accelerators & computing in support of these), and be employed with an eligible Research Organisation (RO). 

Please note, if an applicant has received STFC funding and is applying to further that technology, but not in his/her name (for example through a studentship) then they are still eligible to apply for the FoF 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.

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 RCUK funding. Full details of approved RCIs and IROs can be found on the UKRI website. STFC employees working at one of the national laboratories are not eligible for this scheme, and should apply for the internal proof of concept fund.

For further information applicants should refer to the STFC Research Grants Handbook.

All the KE schemes have two closing dates a year, and are assessed by a panel of experts typically around 10-12 weeks after the closing date. Key dates can be found on the call webpage, and will be circulated to all eligible applicants following submission. 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.

Applications will be assessed for eligibility and sent for peer review, after which the lead PI will be invited to respond to the comments. Please note, in accordance with UKRI guidelines, applicants have 5 days to respond to these comments, unless otherwise agreed with the STFC office. Proposals will then be sent to the panel for review, and final decisions made.

There is a limited budget for Capital/Equipment in these schemes, and applicants should contact the office to discuss their request before applying. Please see the Capital guidelines in the STFC Grants Handbook for the latest terms and conditions.

All applications should be made via the Joint Electronic submission (Je-S) platform. Je‐S is a web based system which allows you to enter information about the project overview, investigators and project finances. The required documents (listed below) should be uploaded through Je-S, and labelled accordingly. Any documents not listed, such as CVs, extra results, list of publications etc. will be removed and not sent for review.

  • Je-S pro forma
  • Six page case for support (Mandatory)
  • One page Gantt chart (Mandatory)
  • Data management plan (Mandatory)
  • Letter of Support from Technology Transfer Office (Mandatory)
  • Letters of Support from organisations interested in the project (Recommended)
  • Letter of Support from each Project Partner (If necessary)
  • 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.

Case for Support

The case for support should be no longer than six pages.

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 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. The summary should provide sufficient detail for referees to assess fully the technical aspects of the proposed project.
     
  • Business Plan
    Please describe how you will investigate the development of a business plan, which will include a route to market. Describe the commercial opportunity and the predicted investment and mechanism required post-project to take forward to commercialisation. This should also include a summary of the current IP position (further detailed in the Letter of Support from your TTO).
     
  • Work Plan and Risk Analysis
    Detail specific work packages, assigning responsibility between partners if appropriate. Applicants should show that they have identified risks and developed alternative strategies to mitigate these. The applicants should consider both technical, programmatic and, where relevant, commercial risks.
     
  • Resources
    State the resources requested by the applicants and provide justification for them. The Panel can reduce resource requests if they feel there is insufficient justification. Describe what the added value of STFC funding will be.
     
  • Project Deliverables
    Identify what the direct outputs will be at the end of this grant (please be specific).
     

Letters of Support

Technology Transfer Office (mandatory)
A letter of support from an applicant’s Technology Transfer Office (or equivalent) must be included with each FOF application. It should relate specifically to the proposal (i.e. should not be a generic letter of support). The letter should include:

  • Support (if any) from the office already provided (such as financial or resource)
  • Support that will be provided if the application is successful
  • Outline of current and anticipated future IP position (has a patent been filed / granted)

Project partners (optional)
Letters of support must be included from any named partners. These must:

  • Be either formal letters of support (on headed paper and signed by a senior member of staff or director), or via e-mail
  • 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

Supportive organisations (optional)
Letters of support can be included from other relevant parties not directly involved in the project but who support the objectives, for example, potential end users. Letters should:

  • Can be either formal letters of support (on headed paper and signed by a senior member of staff or director), or via e-mail
    • Be dated within 6 months of submission
    • 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 could commercialise the technology beyond the project

For more information, please see details in the research grants handbook

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 Je-S pro forma is mandatory for all FOF 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. Further details can be found in the grants handbook.

Collaboration Agreements

For all Follow-on Fund projects that involve more than one HEI, a collaboration agreement between all named organisations involved in the project must be signed and a copy sent to the STFC office before the project start date. This should include 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

Follow on fund applications are assessed by an independent panel comprised of members from industry and academia. View the current membership below. STFC reserves the right to change the panel membership if required.

Mr Stephen McGeoch – Thales Group (Chair)
Dr Andrew Spencer – University of Liverpool
Prof. David Jenkins – University of York
Prof. Derryck Reid – Heriot-Watt University
Dr Cliff Weatherup – e2v
Dr Jon Burns – AWE
Dr Karen Aplin – University of Bristol
Dr Simon Aliwell – Zartech Ltd.
Dr Alexander Cherlin – Kromek Group

When appointed to the panel, members are asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement covering all KE applications. Additionally, when any conflicts of interest that arise, the panel member will be excused from any discussion regarding the related proposal.

Confidentiality and Peer Review

STFC takes all reasonable steps to ensure that the contents of applications submitted to FoF 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. Referees and Panel members are asked to declare conflicts of interest in relation to an application before they are asked to assess.

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 referee is in violation of this, the nominated referee will not be invited to review. Applicants can use Je-S to indicate the reviewers or include this in a covering letter attached to the application and uploaded through Je-S.

Criteria for Assessment

Each criteria will be assessed by the panel, based on the information provided by the applicant and feedback from external reviewers. This score will be used to determine which projects receive funding. These assessment criteria are:

  • Technical Excellence
    The proposed project must be based on STFC research and include a program of excellent technical development.
     
  • Commercial potential
    The size of the commercial potential of the idea, including potential benefits to the UK both economic and societal. The clarity of the market need, IPR position and commercialisation strategy should be identified.
     
  • Development plan
    The quality of the plan for technical and commercial development, with evidence of how the project will be managed.
     
  • Added Value
    The extent to which the resources requested, relative to the anticipated outputs, represent an appropriate investment of STFC funds.
     

Response to reviewers

Each applicant has the opportunity to respond to the referee comments before the panel meeting. Applicants should be aware that we will request your response to referees approximately 4-6 weeks following the closing date of the call. All key dates (including an estimated date for this response) will be communicated to all eligible applicants following the closure of the call.

The PI Response should be no more than half a page of A4 per reviewer (Arial font size 11), and be no longer than 2 pages in total, unless otherwise stated by the office. Failure to adhere to these guidelines could result in your PI response not being taken forward to the panel meeting. For more details please see the Je-S helptext.

Unsuccessful applications cannot be submitted again for at least 12 months after submission. Feedback will be given on all applications, and all decisions made by all panel members are final.

Proposals invited for resubmission, may do so to the next call provided all concerns are addressed. Please note that resubmission requires an entirely new submission to Je-S, and will be given a new reference number. It is NOT connected to the previous application, and therefore must contain a new Je-S pro forma, Case for Support etc.

The panel will not have access to the original application during assessment. As such, the applicant should submit a cover letter in which they summarise the responses made to the panel comments, addressing the main concerns raised and how they have been addressed. The resubmission will be peer reviewed again, by the same referee’s as the original proposal where possible, who will be asked to review the changes to the proposal, and assess whether the changes have satisfied the feedback from the Panel.

Grants are awarded under the terms and conditions of UKRI. Please see UKRI privacy note for more details. Please note, a collaboration agreement between all collaborators must be sent to the STFC office, and include 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.

All award holders are required to submit any outputs from their FOF project on the Researchfish platform. Award holders are required to provide information about outputs arising from their work annually during the award period, and normally for at least 5 years after the award has terminated. The KE Panel will monitor outputs on all FoF 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.ac.uk) or assistant programme manager, Ed Mansfield (edward.mansfield@stfc.ac.uk) with any queries.

Below is a list of links which the applicant may find useful when applying for STFC grants:
Peer review framework
Researchfish,
Equality of opportunity
Unconscious Bias
JeS Handbook
STFC Grants Handbook
UKRI Terms and Conditions

Documents

Guidance notes (PDF, 153 KB)

FoF Equality Impact Assessment (PDF, 126 KB)

Last updated: 14 November 2019

UKRI

Science and Technology Facilities Council
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