BBSRC Launch Crowd-Sourcing for Biological Sciences Call

Concert Crowd Osheaga 2009 30000 waiting for Coldplay by Anirudh Koul CC BY-NC 2.0BBSRC have just launched a new call aimed at harnessing crowd-sourcing approaches to tackle large and complex scientific problems, which have relevance to one or more of their strategic priorities:

BBSRC: Crowd-sourcing for biological sciences

What are they looking for?

Successful proposals will involve a range of disciplinary approaches, including bioscience expertise, ICT, design and possibly management. Projects will establish the software (this could be built on existing platforms), organise and conduct crowd sourcing, generate high quality bioscience data and create new knowledge. Individual bids can be of any scale appropriate to the activity described, but are not expected to go beyond £1M over 3 years. Potential applicants should be aware that BBSRC have allocated £2M in total for funding bids to this call. The problems addressed must fit with the BBSRC strategic priorities which include:

  • Food security: including crop science, animal health and welfare, soil science, and healthy and safe food
  • Bioenergy: generating new replacement fuels for a greener, more sustainable future
  • Ageing: lifelong health and well-being
  • Global Uncertainties: specifically BBSRC seek research on the proliferation of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) weapons and technologies
  • Living with Environmental Change: specifically agricultural productivity, insect pollinators, flowering time, soil biological processes and interactions, pests and diseases of crops and livestock

There are a number of cases which are excluded from this call, including projects supporting community annotation of an existing resource, continued support of an existing crowd-sourced project, and open competition approaches to crowd sourcing where a cash prize is offered to solve a particular problem. BBSRC encourage potential applicants to get in touch with them at an early stage. Contact details are provided on the call page.

How do I apply?

The call has a two-stage application process:

  1. Intentions to submit must be submitted to by 5 March 2013, 4 pm. The intention to submit form is a short form (no more than 2 pages) which summarises the applicants, partners, costs, an outline of the project and its strategic relevance to BBSRC. It will not form part of the assessment process but will allow BBSRC to monitor demands on funds, overlapping applications and fit to strategic priorities. Feedback will be given on these issues where appropriate in advance of the full application deadline.
  2. Full applications must be submitted using the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system by 9 April 2013, 4 pm. Note that full stage applications will be assessed by a “fast-track” panel of experts covering the domains of biosciences, IT, design and societal aspects of the call.

Detailed guidance on bids as well as a copy of the intention to submit form are both available from the BBSRC. Please get in touch with RBS at an early stage if you intend to apply.


Digging Into Data: International Research Funding

Big data water wordscape by Marius B CC BY 2.0Round 3 of the Digging into Data Challenge opened yesterday.

This international research funding competition, representing funders from 10 countries including JISC, AHRC and ESRC, has been held every two years since 2009 and seeks to “explore how computationally intensive research methods can be used to ask new questions about and gain new insights into our world.” This year’s Challenge focuses on how “big data” changes the research landscape for humanities and social sciences.

“Now that we have massive databases of materials available for research in the humanities and the social sciences–ranging from digitized books, newspapers, and music to information generated by Internet-based activities and mobile communications, administrative data from public agencies, and customer databases from private sector organizations-—what new, computationally-based research methods might we apply? As the world becomes increasingly digital, new techniques will be needed to search, analyze, and understand these materials. Digging into Data challenges the research community to help create the new research infrastructure for 21st-century scholarship.”

Projects must involve international collaborations between research teams in two to four countries. The deadline for applications is 15th May 2013. UK teams can be composed of individual or multiple universities and the award limit reflects this: for a single institution awards for the UK component of activity range from £15,000 to £100,000; if the team consists of members from two or more institutions then this limit is raised to £150,000. The UK element must be costed using FEC methodology in the same way as a standard JISC application. Institutions from other countries in the consortium must follow the rules of the relevant national funder, all of which are available on the Digging into Data website, alongside the main call [PDF].

Please get in touch with RBS if you would like to discuss an application to this call.


Northumbria Kit Catalogue Released

Northumbria University has compiled a searchable database – or Kit Catalogue – of our extensive research equipment, facilities and associated expertise to undertake a range of scientific and technical testing and analysis.

The catalogue includes pictures of the relevant kit, a description of what it can do, and a contact point. Disciplines covered by the catalogue include: Engineering and Computing, Chemical and Biological Sciences, Environmental Science and Energy systems.

The equipment and facilities support our research and teaching activity and are also available for consultancy work and collaborative projects with small and large organisations, locally, nationally and internationally. The catalogue is comprehensive but does not yet contain all our testing and analysis facilities so please get in touch with any enquiries, comments or queries. We can put you in touch with a member of staff experienced in a particular discipline or type of investigation.


TSB wants feasibility studies for energy efficient computing

The Technology Strategy Board, together with EPSRC and DSTL, have issued a call for feasibility studies to encourage technologies which can promote energy efficient computing and communications devices.

For many years, electronic and computing systems and the software which runs on them have been designed with a view to ever-improved performance. However, there is now greater focus on improving energy efficiency of the system as a whole. By devising more energy efficient computing devices and software, we can reduce the global energy burden of such systems and increase customer satisfaction by extending battery life, reducing device size and other measures.

This collaborative demonstrator competition focuses on the design and development of energy-efficient hardware and software, not only for large-scale systems relying on computing capacity but also for mobile devices and embedded chips.

Who’s eligible and how do I apply?

Proposals for feasibility studies must be made by a consortium of at least two partners led by a business of any size. One of the partners can by an academic organisation.

£1.25M is available and each grant must not exceed £100K in total so this is for short-term focused demonstration projects rather than longer-term research and development.

The competition is one stage and closes on 5th December 2012. However, applicants must register an intention to submit by 28th November 2012. A competition briefing will be held in London on 23rd October to explain the process and TSB strongly recommends that potential applicants attend this.

What are they looking for?

The competition brief [PDF] has the full details, but in summary they are looking for demonstration projects which address the following challenges which are a mixture of hardware- and software-based issues:

  • design and development of novel computer architectures to optimise energy efficiency
  • enabling energy-optimised software through new techniques and algorithms
  • developing low-power designs for digital signal processing, energy-efficient chip-to-chip interconnects and cross-layer chip optimisation

Priority will be given to demonstration projects able to showcase prototypes that have a clear and unambiguous energy
consumption measure, with a view to setting a standard of device and software efficiency. TSB will welcome projects which address both hardware and software issues together.

For further advice and discussion, Northumbria researchers should contact RBS at an early stage.


Google Research Awards

The next deadline for the Google Faculty Research Awards is 15th October 2012.

Google Faculty Research Awards

The awards support the work of world-class full-time faculty members at top universities around the world. Up to US$150,000 is available per award (which last for one year) but typical awards are in the region of US$40K – US$70K. In general, awards are usually about the amount it takes to support a graduate research student for a year.

The research should be on one of the topics which is of interest to Google. The full list is below, covering an extensive range of research areas:

  • Economics and market algorithms
  • Education innovation
  • Geo/maps
  • Human-computer interaction
  • Information retrieval, extraction, and organization
  • Machine learning and data mining
  • Machine perception
  • Machine translation
  • Mobile
  • Natural language processing
  • Networking
  • Policy and standards
  • Privacy
  • Security
  • Social networks
  • Software engineering
  • Speech
  • Structured data and database management
  • Systems (hardware and software)

The application form will be available by 1st October 2012, but the format and required content is already available on the Google Research pages. There is also some handy advice on writing a good proposal.


EPSRC release raft of new calls

Over the past couple of weeks, EPSRC has released a raft of new calls for proposals across its research remit. The calls range from expressions of interest to attend early stage scoping workshops to large scale centres of excellence. I’ve summarised the key points for each below with a link to find out more. If you’re a Northumbria researcher interested in any of these calls, you should get in touch with RBS at an early stage.

Energy and International Development: Understanding Sustainable Energy Solutions in Developing Countries

Full details: Link

Type of call: Expressions of interest to attend a workshop

Summary: The call has been released in conjunction with DfID. The selected workshop participants will get a chance to refine research priorities in the area of sustainable energy and international development. The overarching goals of the programme are to increase access to clean energy as well as to improve resilience and wealth creation in developing countries. This research will be multidisciplinary and will create transnational research partnerships. Only those who attend the workshop can submit full proposals, which will be due 8th February 2013.

Deadline: 28th September – the workshop takes place 12-14 December in Nairobi, Kenya. The application form is online at the URL above, and is not submitted via Je-S.

Towards an Intelligent Information Infrastructure: Call for Expressions of Interest

Full details: Link

Type of call: Expressions of interest to attend a workshop.

Summary: The theme of intelligent information infrastructures (TI3) has been identified as a priority by EPSRC. This is about planning for a future in which ubiquitous computing, transfer of large amounts of data, and mobile computing are all increasingly prevalent. The workshop is an opportunity to help shape the theme TI3 at a very early stage. It is likely that this would put you in a good position to bid for future funding opportunities which arise in this area, as well as develop networks and partnerships with others in this emerging field. There will be a £5M call for funding in early 2013.

Deadline: 10th October – the workshop takes place 3-4 December in Birmingham. The application form is online at the URL above, and is not submitted via Je-S.

Academic Centres of Excellence in Cyber Security Research

Full details: Link

Type of call: Centre of excellence award.

Summary: This is a joint call with GCHQ. This follows the first round in 2011 which announced the first centres of excellence in cyber security in March this year. The purpose is to identify institutions where cyber security research is a particular strength, and to highlight any gaps in this area. Centres of excellence are expected to work closely with government stakeholders and the award will raise a successful institution’s profile in cyber security among government and business. Successful applications will receive funding of £40K to support activities associated with their status as a recognised centre of excellence.

Deadline: 12th December – note that the application must be structured according to the template in the guidance. It is emailed, rather than submitted via Je-S.

New Economic Models in the Digital Economy

Full details: Link

Type of call: Intention to submit form in advance of a full proposal via Je-S, to be released on 2nd October.

Summary: The call, part of the cross-council Digital Economy theme (DET), will build research collaborations between the DET and the research communities in economics and management while also supporting transformative, cross-disciplinary research. The call will include input from ESRC-related disciplines. Several research challenges have been identified which successful applications will need to address. These include: business model adaptation; identity, privacy, regulation and trust; value; the role of ‘big data’; societal economic impacts. Proposals must develop both research and people-based activities, described in detail in the call document.

Deadline: Intention to submit must be completed by 19th November 2012. The full proposal, released on 2nd October, must be submitted via Je-S by 11th December 2012.

NSF/EPSRC Chemistry proposals 2012

Full details: Link

Type of call: Collaborative proposals with US-based researchers in chemistry

Summary: The call is joint with the US-based National Science Foundation, and is for US investigators who wish to collaborate with UK counterparts on a joint research project. Submitted proposals must fall within the remit covered by the NSF’s Division of Chemistry and should also be within the remit of the EPSRC Physical Sciences programme. Proposals must be submitted first to the NSF and then to EPSRC. The two funding bodies will jointly decide which proposals are funded.

Deadline: The NSF proposal must be submitted by 1st October or 31st October (depending on which NSF program is relevant). This must then be submitted to EPSRC by 7th November. The NSF proposal must include a Je-S form and Justification for Resources pertinent to the UK investigator.

EPSRC Frontier Engineering Awards

Full details: Link

Type of call: Major institutional level award – up to £25M is available for 5 awards

Summary: Frontier Engineering Awards are institutional awards with a central thematic research focus. Proposals should include a programme of research-led activities, as well as flexible approaches that facilitate collaborations across disciplines. The research theme must be drawn from the EPSRC’s Shaping Capability map for engineering. The central focus must be ambitious, innovative, novel or creative application of principles and processes. An institution can only be named on one bid. Multi-institutional bids are allowed, but the lead must be in receipt of over £30M of current EPSRC research funding. All institutions must demonstrate a strong track record in the relevant thematic area.

Deadline: Outline proposals must be submitted by 2nd October. Selected applicants will then be invited to submit full stage proposals by 4th December and finally invited to interview in early March 2013.


EPSRC Funding Calls: Early Career Researchers and Working Together in ICT

EPSRC, having recently identified its strategic goals for the next 3 years, have released calls to reflect these aims. Two such goals are reflected in the calls below; developing leaders in the form of its ‘Early Career Forum’ and delivering impact by encouraging collaboration through its ‘Working Together in ICT’ programme.

These calls may be of specific interest to those of you visiting our humble blog from Computing, Engineering and Information Sciences as well as Design.

  • Early Career Forum in Manufacturing Research

Expression of interest: EPSRC seeks expressions of interest for membership of a newly-constituted forum of early career academic researchers in the scope of the Manufacturing the Future challenge theme.

 If you are an Early Career academic with an interest in manufacturing, follow the link to read more. This is not a direct call for funding, more an expression of interest for membership. For those successful, EPSRC will pay travel and subsistence to and from Forum activities as well as considering funding for future Projects, should the Forum develop. The closing date for an Expression of Interest is 14th June 2012.

  • Working together in ICT

 Invitation for proposals: EPSRC’s ICT Theme intends to commit around £5M of funding for research projects which will directly address its Working Together priority.

 £5m worth of funding is available for Projects which are expected to comprise two or more research streams which run concurrently, showing significant mutual benefit to ICT research as the main driver. The Invitation for proposals closes on 10th July 2012. Please follow the link to find out more.


As usual, please feel free to contact RBS at an early stage for support with your application.


Northumbria comes to CHI 2012

Northumbria University is involved in 26 contributions to the prestigious CHI 2012 conference in Austin, Texas. You can read about them all here:

CHI/Northumbria: It’s the Experience

Experts from the Schools of Life Sciences, Design and Built and Natural Environment are taking part in the conference this year, with contributions ranging from digital cheque books for eighty somethings, interventions to change energy usage to teenage cool, killer apps and building design.

CHI is the premier international conference on human-computer interaction, taking place this year between 5th and 10th May. This year’s conference is expected to draw in over 2,500 professionals from over 400 countries.


ARTEMIS 2012 Call: Embedded Systems

The ARTEMIS Joint Undertaking, a European public-private partnership for research funding in embedded systems, has just released its 2012 call for funding. The deadline for full proposals is 6th September 2012.

You can read a summary of the call on the ARTEMIS 2012 call page. Full details can be found on the EU Participant Portal call page – you should read Work Programme Part A if you’re interested in the sub-programmes (areas of research around real-world applications of embedded systems) and Part B if you’re interested in the innovation pilot projects (technology development for user and business needs in the area of embedded systems).

Areas of Interest

The sub-programmes are (see Work Programme Part A for a full explanation of what is expected in each area):

Methods and processes for safety-relevant embedded systems
Embedded Systems for Healthcare and Wellbeing
Embedded systems in Smart environments
Embedded Systems for manufacturing and process automation
Computing platforms for embedded systems
Embedded Systems for Security and Critical Infrastructures Protection
Embedded Systems supporting sustainable urban life
Human-centred design of embedded systems

The innovation pilot programme priorities are (see Work Programme Part B for a full explanation):

Critical Systems Engineering Factories
Innovative Integrated Care Cycles
Seamless communication and interoperability – Smart environments: the Neural System for society
Production and Energy Systems Automation
Computing platforms for embedded systems
“Intelligent-Built” environment and urban infrastructure for sustainable and “friendly” cities

Eligibility Issues

To apply you’ll need at least three organisations from three participating member states (see the eligibility criteria for more on this). For the UK, universities can be involved but you’ll also need a UK-based industrial partner, because the UK element of the call is coordinated by the Technology Strategy Board.

In terms of costs, universities can claim up to 80% FEC, but note that the total consortium funding can only be up to 50% of total project costs – so industrial partners and SMEs would have to claim proportionately less to balance the budget. In addition, UK academics can only apply if they have previously held an EPSRC grant and the ARTEMIS application is a continuation of this research.

Please get in touch for support and advice if you’re interested in developing a project for this call.

What’s an embedded system?

Embedded systems are technologies which are part of everyday artefacts and systems: “from children’s toys and mobile phones to space probes and from transportation vehicles to healthcare systems.” Embedded systems play a key role in the “internet of things” which describes the potential virtual network of connections between real-life objects using, for example, radio frequency ID tags.

One frequently cited example of the benefits of embedded systems within an internet of things is the internet-enabled fridge. If a refrigerator was able to monitor its contents, then it could know when you are running short on milk and notify you to pick some up on your way home – or even automatically place an order with your local supermarket and have it delivered. It’s not just fridges and food, though, embedded systems could potentially revolutionise our way of life, reducing waste and improving a wide range of systems that humans interact with on a daily basis.


Ambient Assisted Living: ICT to enhance quality of life for older people

Ambient Assisted Living Europe (AAL) has recently announced its fifth call for proposals with a closing date of 31st May 2012:

AAL Call 5

This time they’re looking for innovative ICT solutions which enable or sustain older adults to continue managing their daily activities in the home. This includes ordinary activities which most of us take for granted, such as getting dressed, preparing hot meals and doing the shopping. When you need a fast transaction online shopping services. Visit for more details.

The call for proposal text contains some sobering statistics: some 19 million people are involved in informal care for older people across Europe and 80% of all care in Europe is given by unpaid family members. If these trends  continue there will simply not be enough people in future to provide the care required.

In this context, the need to develop innovative technology-based solutions to enable older people to self-manage their life at home is urgent. The projects funded by this call should also support informal carers.

This is an industry-focused call and should have significant SME and business involvement (50% or more), but universities are eligible to apply as part of a consortium. The consortium must include at least 3 partners from 3 eligible countries and the project can last between 1-3 years. Time-to-market for the technology after the project is expected to be between 2 and 3 years.

UK involvement is coordinated by the Technology Strategy Board and they will be contributing €1.2M to the overall AAL budget. This will be used to fund industry involvement at up to 50% funding. EPSRC are contributing an additional €1.2M to fund EPSRC-eligible HEIs at a standard 80% FEC.

The guidance requires that the majority of work carried out by universities on this project should fall within the remit of the Engineering Portfolio at EPSRC, which includes Engineering Design.

Any Northumbria University staff interested in this call who wish to discuss a proposal further should get in touch with Research and Business Services.