EPSRC Capital Award for Core Equipment 2022
Oxford has been invited to apply for up to £1.1m to refresh and update underpinning multi-user equipment. Oxford can submit a single bid requesting multiple items of equipment, with each individual item capped at £400k (100% fEC, including VAT and delivery costs). The award will cover capital costs only - no resource funding is available.
At present only £550k is assured, with a further £575k dependant on EPSRC finding sufficient budget (which will be known after the EPSRC closing date).
A coordinated bid process will be run to identify the package of equipment that most closely aligns with the call aims and assessment criteria, and will therefore maximise the competitiveness of Oxford’s submission. The sift panel will be chaired by Prof Laura Herz, Associate Head of MPLS (on behalf of Prof Patrick Grant, who will be PI on the award). Groups/departments with high-priority investment needs that meet the call criteria are asked to submit a short EOI (details below) by 12noon on Thursday 11th August.
Scope of the call
To refresh and update underpinning, multi-user equipment in HEIs, which provides core capacity across the breadth of the engineering and physical sciences research portfolio, supporting research that is very clearly centred in EPSRC’s remit.
- This can include renewal, upgrades, capacity building, and lower specification/workhorse instrumentation.
- Multi-user equipment may include:
- Equipment meeting particular department or discipline requirements
- Equipment for multi-disciplinary research areas (e.g. spanning several departments, or for research centres)
- Equipment that will be used across a national or regional grouping of universities
- Only capital funding is available through this call: all running costs must be met by the HEI (or from other sources of external funding).
- There must be a clear demonstration that the funds will used in addition to investments that the institution would normally make towards supporting core equipment.
- Only items of equipment over £10k and under £400k (including VAT) are eligible.
EPSRC have set a challenging spend profile with 66% of the award to be spent by 31 March 2023 with outcomes from the call not to be announced until mid-November. Bids will need to demonstrate an ability to spend on this timescale.
Key Assessment Criteria
Alignment with the objectives of the call – will the funding be used to procure underpinning equipment that benefits multiple users, enhances sharing, usage and collaboration?
Sustainability - How appropriate is:
- The plan for recovery of running costs (maintenance, repairs, consumables staff time) beyond the lifetime of the grant;
- The charging model;
- The support and development of any technical staff beyond the grant period;
- The plans for sustaining and evolving a diverse and inclusive user base beyond the lifetime of the grant.
Plans for realising benefits of the investment - Plans for identifying and realising the benefits of the investment should be described. To what extent are these plans realistic, measurable and deliverable and over what timescale?
Added value of the investment - What evidence is provided that the funding is in addition to existing investment? How will this equipment enable the university to do things that they otherwise couldn’t currently do? How does the equipment add value to previous EPSRC investments (capital or resource)?
Ability to meet the challenging spend profile - EPSRC have set a challenging spend profile with 66% of the award to be spent by 31 March 2023 with outcomes from the call not to be announced until mid-November. Bids will need to demonstrate an ability to spend on this timescale.
Expressions of Interest
Interested groups/departments should submit a brief* EOI via the IRAMS submission system which answers the following questions, in addition to one quote for the equipment, as a single combined PDF.
(* Note: For the internal sift, polished prose is not required; bullet point format is fine. The crucial point is to ensure you provide evidence for how your proposed investment fits with the call aims and criteria.)
1. About the equipment:
a. Briefly describe the equipment (in a manner that will be intelligible to a non-specialist reader)
b. Approximate cost
c. The lead time for delivery
d. Typical lead time for delivery
e. Proposed location: Where? Is any enabling work required in order to house the equipment?
2. Added value: In the context of Oxford’s (and the UK’s) existing equipment base, how will this equipment enable the university to do things that otherwise couldn’t currently be done? How does the equipment represent added value above and beyond exisiting or planned investments?
3. User base:
a. Which fields of research within the EPSRC remit will the equipment support? (noting EPSRC research areas).
b. How large is the pool of potential users, and what is the rough split between: researchers in the host department; other Oxford researchers; users from other HEIs; industry users?
c. List some of the key users and note exisiting EPSRC funding where held. For a selection of the primary users, briefly explain how the proposed investment will enhance their research and/or its impact.
4. Urgency of need: What is the opportunity cost to Oxford’s EPS research if this investment is not made?
5. Management and sustainability:
a. What are the support and running costs associated with the equipment (staff, consumables, utility costs, etc.)? How will these be met?
b. How will you maximise the use of the equipment (including through training of new users) and manage access?
c. What plans do you have in place for long-term financial sustainability of the equipment?
Please contact Martin Edmunds if you have any queries.