1. This document sets out the arrangements for a fifth round of the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF) from 2018-19 to 2019-20. This is a two-stage process. While funding for this scheme has been announced by the Government, funds have not yet been formally allocated to HEFCE by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills. This document invites higher education institutions (HEIs) with a significant track record of research excellence to submit expressions of interest to apply for the capital grants on a competitive basis. Successful HEIs at the expression of interest stage will be invited to submit a full bid once funding allocations have been formally agreed.
2. Due to the increased amount of funding available, and reflecting feedback that some HEIs have felt constrained by application timescales, the panel will reserve the right to consider bids in two tranches:
- Tranche 1: The panel will consider bids that are at a more advanced stage of development.
- Tranche 2: The panel will consider bids where the expressions of interest have indicated that they are at an earlier stage of development, or where the panel believes this to be the case. The panel may also invite bids that require further development in tranche 1 to resubmit to tranche 2.
3. Both exercises will follow the same rigorous assessment process established in previous rounds of the competition. The independent assessment panel will assess all expressions of interest supported by clear advice from the relevant UK funding body, Research Councils and government department if appropriate. More than half of the funding will be retained for the second tranche of bidding.
4. This call relates to funding of up to £200m available to 2020. A further round of the competition will take place for funding beyond this period.
5. In the 2015 Budget, the Government announced a further £400 million of funding for UKRPIF:
‘…to support capital investment in scientific grand challenges. The Government can confirm that this will focus on proposals that not only meet expectations for excellent research, but also recognise the potential for local economic growth, local collaboration and leverage.’
6. This invitation relates to the funding that HEFCE expects to be available in the financial years 2018-19 to 2019-20. Recognising Government advice, alongside the existing criteria for bids, this round will offer funding for bids of up to £50 million and extend the eligibility for funding so that HEIs will be able to bid in partnership with some other research-based organisations funded from the core Science budget. This will allow the fund to recognise bids which are large scale projects of strategic national interest across disciplines, which seek to address societal challenges, or both. These are reflected in the updated requirements for bids, criteria and wider factors to inform the assessment.
7. The UK Research Partnership Investment Fund is available to all UK HEIs. The objectives of the fund are to:
- enhance the research facilities of HEIs undertaking world-leading research
- encourage strategic partnerships between HEIs and other organisations active in research
- stimulate additional investment in higher education research
- strengthen the contribution of the research base to economic growth.
8. The fund will support large-scale projects that can attract substantial co-investment from private sources, building on the research excellence in the higher education sector.
9. The panel is likely to favour bids which are clear on the following.
- how the proposed facilities will strengthen future research, including developing research collaborations and collaborations with users of research to support innovation and growth
- the benefit to the private partners from the project
- co-investment in the first five years (as well as any over a longer period of time)
- the public benefits of research and broader activities arising from the development.
10. The panel will take the balance of sectors and disciplines into consideration, recognising the spread of successful bids in the previous four rounds of the UKRPIF. Bids which extend the reach of the fund beyond the balance of sectors and disciplines achieved so far will be particularly welcomed. Exceptionally, projects that do not meet the required lower limit for UKRPIF investment may be considered by the panel, if it can be shown that they meet the objectives of the fund and would extend its reach.
11. HEIs are invited to submit expressions of interest using the template at Annex A by noon on Friday 15 April 2016. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your bid and for further information on how to apply.
12. The expressions of interest should comprise a single PDF document covering the submission (Annex A) and evidence to support the case (letters of support from co-investors and the Vice-Chancellor). Proposals should be predominantly text-based and the file size should be no greater than 1MB.