SCGC Fund for Innovation and Research in Sustainability and Technology (SCGC-FIRST): Application Guideline
Please reference this guidance when making applications to the SCGC-FIRST.
1. Overview of Award
MPLS Division and SCG Chemicals Public Company Limited (SCGC) are delighted to announce the launch of the annual SCGC Fund for Innovation and Research in Sustainability and Technology (SCGC-FIRST). This internal University administered fund aims to support visionary and imaginative solutions relevant to global challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.
ASEANS's leading innovation company in chemicals, SCGC, takes a special responsibility to tackle these challenges (e.g. global warming and plastic waste); towards this end, SCGC has publicly committed to achieve a low-carbon and environmentally friendly society by 2030, and achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. SCGC believes strongly that innovations based on chemistry, materials, and novel processes are key to meeting these bold commitments. To this end, SCGC has made an initial commitment of £1 million to create a University fund, SCGC-FIRST, which will run over four years and support applications from across the University. Successfully executed projects may be considered for substantial follow-on funding directly from SCGC.
The creation of SCGC-FIRST builds on a decade-long and highly productive strategic partnership between the Department of Chemistry and SCGC, which resulted in the establishment of the SCG-Oxford Centre of Excellence. However, the magnitude of the current challenges requires a broader collaboration among a range of relevant disciplines within the University, including cutting-edge manufacturing technology and machinery, digital systems to control manufacturing processes, and a low environmental footprint approach to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with clean and renewable energy sources.
SCGC-FIRST is seeking to support innovative projects that demonstrate distinct advantages in cost and environmental footprint over competing approaches which are already available in the marketplace or opportunities for those to be adapted to the SCGC context below. Projects should be outcomes-driven, leading toward potential solutions or inventions.
Broad areas and topics of interest to SCGC include, but are not limited to:
Energy and carbon reduction
- carbon neutrality through reduction of GHG emissions, carbon capture, storage and utilisation, and emissions monitoring
- low cost, low carbon footprint hydrogen production
- materials for environmental sustainability
- sustainable supply chains and logistics
- novel approaches to utilisation of energy sources
- sustainable finance and carbon accounting tools for decision-making
- water and energy reduction, recovery, and reuse; wastewater and effluent treatment prior to discharge
- circular economy of plastics: up-cycling of polymer materials and the creation of markets
- new materials for sustainable outcomes
- client and consumer behaviour and novel interventions to influence change
- open call for applications on any topic of innovation relevant to SCGC but not covered in the topics listed above
2. Introduction to SCG Chemicals Public Company Limited (SCGC)
SCGC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Siam Cement Public Company Limited (SCG) located in Thailand, is one of the largest integrated chemical companies in Asia and a key industry leader. As such, it strives to become a 'Chemicals Business for Sustainability', responsibly addressing the impact of its business on the environment and society while adhering to a commitment of transparent and fair governance of its operations.
SCGC recognises the importance of the circular economy as one of the keys to delivering on its ESG commitments, with the concept having been introduced to its business operations to increase global competitiveness and long-term sustainable growth.
3. Support Scheme
SCGC-FIRST is looking to sponsor projects which may run for up to 12 months. For the 2023/24 application round, SCGC-FIRST will look to fund projects up to £80,000 each. Funding for a project exceeding the funding threshold may be considered but must be discussed with the SCG-Oxford University Centre of Excellence Alliance Manager. The funding opportunity is open to researchers of all Divisions, and interdisciplinary collaborations between different departments and across divisions are encouraged.
4. Dates for SCGC-FIRST Call
Call Open: 10.11.2023
Application Deadline: by 16:00, 20.12.2023
5. Funding Terms & Conditions
You will need to meet the following criteria to apply:
- PIs must be Oxford University academic staff holding a contract of employment extending to at least the end of the proposed project and be hosted by a department of the University.
- Applications from Early Career Researchers who hold independent externally funded fellowships must have their fellowship funding extending to at least the end of the proposed project.
- Applicants seeking to establish independent research careers are encouraged.
You are not eligible to apply if you are:
- Researchers holding honorary, visiting positions, and PDRAs.
Additional notes on eligibility:
Applicants should clarify their eligibility with departments, and departmental approvers are required to check the eligibility of their applicants before advancing any applications.
5.2 Application Review Process:
All proposals will be subject to confidential peer review. The SCGC-FIRST Prioritisation Panel will be chaired by the Director of the SCG-Oxford Centre of Excellence (CoE), Prof Dermot O'Hare. Membership of the Prioritisation Panel will be made available on the CoE website. The Panel reserves the right to seek additional expert opinion on a confidential basis if required. Oxford researchers supported by the SCGC-FIRST will be invited to meet SCGC staff when they visit Oxford to outline and discuss their projects.
5.3 Assessment criteria
Awards will be assessed against the following criteria:
- Excellence and intrinsic merit of the innovative idea or concept
- Potential for realisable outcomes and long-term impact to SCGC and society
- A clear science-based, time-bound plan to achieve the project aims
- Represent good value
5.4 IP rights
The University will own any IP that arises as a result of support from the SCGC-FIRST. SCGC will have rights of first refusal to take an exclusive option of the arising IP generated by the SCGC-FIRST and to support further research under a sponsored collaboration agreement (FCA 2.0) within six months of the completion of the relevant project. Additional support will be subject to a separate collaboration agreement between Oxford University and SCGC.
5.5. National Security and Investment Act (NSIA)
SCGC acknowledges that the Arising Intellectual Property from each Project and any licence granted further to the Arising Intellectual Property may be a qualifying acquisition within scope of the National Securities and Investments Act 2021 (the 'NSIA'), under which the UK Government could exercise its powers to make an order to void and invalidate any licence granted. As the acquirer of such an asset, SCGC will comply with the NSIA and consider all steps necessary to mitigate the risk of an acquisition being called in, including where appropriate by making a notification to the Investment Security Unit of the UK Government ahead of any licence being concluded.
5.6 The project final report and financial statement
At the end of each project, the project team has one (1) month to submit a short account of the outcomes, publications, project highlights, and a financial statement. The project report and financial statement will be submitted to MPLS Division, reviewed by Prof Dermot O’Hare or his nominee, and then forwarded to the Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer, SCGC.
Oxford researchers should acknowledge support from the SCGC-FIRST in any scientific papers, trade articles or presentations that arise directly from the award. Follow-on projects that build upon the project should continue to acknowledge SCGC-FIRST alongside any additional sponsorship.
6. Costing an application
All proposals must be accompanied by a proposed budget prepared using X5, with the budget details output onto the X5 Admin output (AO). In addition, the MPLS Division requires written evidence of departmental approval by the Head of Department for each individual costing (so this must be obtained for all the departments involved in an internal collaboration).
- All proposed investigator(s) need to seek approval from their respective Head of Department(s) (or nominee(s)).
- A trial costing should be created in X5, using the funder SCGC-FIRST (short name SCGC-F) and the Generic scheme. The Excel output must be attached. Investigators can be named in both proposal and X5 if necessary.
Please contact your department’s finance officer for a proposed budget prepared using X5. Download the SCGC-FIRST Costing Guideline for Finance Officers (Word document). You can also view the Costing Guideline as a webpage.
6.1. Costing the Proposal
Awards will be made only for the directly incurred (DIC) costs of research and DA Estates: Any unspent balances at the end of the grant period should be returned to the fund.
For clarity, the following costs are allowable:
Directly Incurred costs (DIC) (staff and non-staff):
- student stipends
- salaries of postdoctoral researchers (full- or part-time)
- minor equipment (equipment with a value of £10,000 or more would require clear justification)
Directly Allocated costs (DAC)
- estates costs
- overhead costs
- DA infrastructure technicians
- Principal Investigator and Co-Investigator’s time
- travel to conferences
Note: The visa process for employing a PDRA without a current visa (right to work) can take approximately 3-4 months, so please take that into consideration when setting project start dates. To ask advice please get in touch with your department’s HR office or the University Staff Immigration Service.
Any unspent balances at the end of the grant period should be returned to the fund.
7. How to Apply
Applications for SCGC─FIRST funding should be made through the online Internal Research Awards Management System (IRAMS), which can be accessed using your Single Sign-On (SSO) details. Once you are logged in, please choose the correct item from the list to start your application. For the correct scheme, search 'SCGC-FIRST'. If required, IRAMS guidance in the form of quick reference guide (QRG) documents for applicants can be found on the Research Support pages.
Applications must be reviewed online by departmental approvers and, where approved, submitted for review by the SCGC-FIRST Prioritisation Panel before 16:00 on 20 December 2023.
If you have a potentially impactful project that falls within SCGC’s research areas but does not fit with the SCGC-FIRST, please reach out to the SCG-Oxford Centre of Excellence and/or SCGC-Alliance Manager.
SCGC-FIRST Prioritisation Panel hopes to meet in late January/early February 2024 to consider the proposals.