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Innovations Partnership Scheme (IPS)

The Innovations Partnership Scheme (IPS) is designed to transfer technology and expertise developed through STFC funding to the marketplace in partnership with industry and other academic disciplines. STFC technology or expertise must be integral to the project.

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

From Space science to space age medicine

Lasers keep greenhouse gases on the radar

Call Guidance Documents

IPS

This is the standard IPS call. Please note, requests for capital are allowed in this call and should be included in the IPS application.

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 asked to ensure they have selected the right scheme when submitting proposals through Je-S and read the appropriate guidance document.

 

IPS

Follow-on-funding

IPS Fellowships

Max duration

36 months

12 months

48 months

Max cost*

£450,000

£110,000

N/A

Max STFC contribution

(80% FEC)

£360,000

£88,000

N/A

Industry support

Required

Not required

Not allowed

IP status

IP established

Plan to consider IP protection

Plan for identifying and assessing IP

Extension available?

No

No

Yes

* Please note the max cost does not include any capital requested. Capital/equipment costs should be listed on top of this.

Innovation Partnership Scheme (IPS)

IPS supports the transfer of technology and expertise from STFC research to the marketplace. This scheme provides funding for a maximum of £450,000 (£150,000 per year) fEC for up to 3 years to take existing STFC research and expertise into a commercial environment. This includes technologies or ideas originating from the core STFC funded areas of nuclear physics, particle physics & particle astrophysics, astronomy & space science, and accelerators & computing in support of these.

As IPS is aimed at higher TRL levels, one of the requirements for IPS funding is that there is a linked project partner from industry or other non-academic institution(s) (for example, government departments, charities, NHS foundations etc.). This partner should provide either financial or in-kind contributions to the project, and have a vested interest in its outcomes. For projects at a lower TRL level, before the market has been identified, then please use Follow-on-funding instead of an IPS grant.

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, IPS 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 IPS 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

Industrial organisations, including 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 Support 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 returned 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.

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 shortly after.

For this call it is possible to include an application for Capital equipment. Applicants are encouraged to take advantage of this, especially when looking to purchase consumables for building prototype devices. Where any project is proposing to apply for capital, applicants are encouraged to contact the STFC office before submitting a proposal. Value for money along with the other assessment criteria will be applied by the panel when assessing applications. Please see the Capital guidelines in the STFC Grants Handbook for the latest terms and conditions. Applicants are reminded that the max cost of £450,000 (fEC) does not include capital. Any requests for capital are done so on top of this.

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)
  • Project Partner Letter of Support from each Project Partner (Mandatory)
  • Letter(s) of Support from organisations interested in the project (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

A project partner is mandatory for an IPS project, as the schemes are designed to support knowledge exchange. This should be included under “project partners” in the Je-S form. Resources to be provided by any project partners, whether in cash or in‐kind contributions, should be clearly identified in the proposal. STFC will pay up to 80% of the total costs of the project excluding the project partner contribution. Project partner’s contributions in cash or in‐kind should be seen as additional to the STFC’s contribution and are not considered part of the fEC of the project. It is the responsibility of the lead applicant to ensure that the total budget requested by all members of a project (i.e. joint applications) is within the financial limits of IPS.

Information for project partners

It is expected that project partners will contribute an appropriate level of support throughout the project, and have a vested interest in any outcomes. This information should be detailed in the Je-S application and through a letter of support. The primary investigator, who is applying through Je-S, must submit this information on behalf of the supporting partner.

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 the knowledge exchange with the project partner? What knowledge exchange has taken place between the applicants and the project partner to date? 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 with your partner. This should include justification of why you and your partner are best placed to carry out the knowledge exchange. The summary should provide sufficient detail for referees to assess fully the technical aspects of the proposed project.

  • Business Plan

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. This should also include a summary of the IP position (further detailed in the Letter of Support from your Technology Transfer Office).

  • Work Plan and Risk Analysis

Detail specific work packages, assigning responsibility between partners. 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 if relevant, the project partner, and provide justification for them. The IPS Panel can 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).

Letters of Support

Project partners

Letters 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 on headed paper and signed by a senior member of staff or director (the capacity in which the supporter is signing off the letter should be stated)
  • 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

Technology Transfer Office

A letter of support from an applicant’s Technology Transfer Office (or equivalent) must be included with each IPS 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 IPS 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.

Collaboration Agreements

For all IPS projects a collaboration agreement between all named partners involved in the project must be signed and a copy sent 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.

Panel assessment

IPS applications are assessed by an independent panel comprised of members from industry and academia. View the current membership below. STFC reserves the right to make changes to the panel if required.

  • Mr S McGeoch – Thales Group (chair)
  • Dr A Spencer – University of Liverpool
  • Prof. D Jenkins – University of York
  • Prof. D Reid – Heriot-Watt University
  • Dr B Seitz – University of Glasgow
  • Prof. R Seviour – University of Huddersfield
  • Prof. R Sharples – Durham University
  • Prof. R Walsh – University of Central Lancashire
  • Dr C Weatherup – e2v
  • Dr Jon Burns – AWE

Confidentiality and Peer Review

STFC takes all reasonable steps to ensure that the contents of applications submitted to IPS 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 referees, one of whom must be nominated by the applicant. The applicant’s nominated referee 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 referees or include this in a covering letter attached to the application and uploaded through Je-S.

Criteria for Assessment

As IPS is designed to achieve impact, applications will be assessed against the following criteria. Each criteria will be assigned a score 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 Feasibility

The proposed project must be based on STFC research and include a program of excellent technical development.

  • Knowledge Exchange and Commercialisation

The extent to which the project has a clear, well defined mechanism for achieving its objectives in knowledge exchange and commercialisation.

  • Economic and Societal Impact

The extent to which the outputs of the proposed work show direct potential for economic and societal benefit. Please note the emphasis will be on economic impact to the UK.

  • Added Value

The extent to which the resources requested, relative to the anticipated outputs, represent an appropriate investment of STFC funds.

The individual nature of proposals submitted to IPS, means that the partner’s contribution will vary in context and each application will be assessed on its own merit. The Assessment Panel will be seeking evidence of commitment from the project partner, through the use of direct funding and/or in-kind support, and whether this commitment is substantially justified. Applicants are advised to obtain the necessary clearances from collaborators with a commercial interest in the content of the application before submitting it.

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 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 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.

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 request from the Panel.

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 IPS 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 IPS Panel will monitor outputs on all IPS 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 applicants may find useful when applying for STFC grants:

 

IPS Guidance Notes

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

Documents

IPS Equality Impact Assessment (PDF, 128 KB)

Last updated: 07 November 2019

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