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Research Operations Office

 

The Office for Translational Research (OTR) has a webpage dedicated to COVID-19 funding calls.

Here are some general FAQs for current Grant Holders and Department Staff. Research funders continue to update their guidance for researchers and listed below the FAQs are the major sponsors with a summary of their current position.

Q. The research project that I am working on has been disrupted by the COVID crisis. Will it be possible to extend the award in order to complete the research?

Most funders are offering significant flexibility with regards to researchers requesting no-cost extensions to awards that have been interrupted by the current pandemic. The flexibility is dependent on the availability of financial resources for the funders, with some charities suggesting that the pandemic has significantly impacted their income. Similarly, funder guidance around researchers requesting costed extensions is unclear and most funders state that these requests will only be considered on a case-by case basis. Overall we know that funders will try to be pragmatic and wish to support the research community as best as their funds allow.

In the first instance we ask that you discuss with the research supervisor or group head and Departmental Administrator the type of extension required and ensure that you are aware of your funders’ policy around cost and no-cost extensions. Links to the latest guidance from funders can be found below.

 

Q. Who is responsible for asking an external funding body to extend to my award?

Every funder has set up their own mechanism, so please check out the funders’ links below to ensure the correct mechanism is being used. Generally though, the PI of the award is responsible, with the support of their departmental research / finance team and the University’s Research Office team.

 

Q. As a clinician will my research project funder support me being seconded to the NHS to work on front line service delivery in response to COVID-19? What will happen to my grant and how will my salary be covered?

Most funders are fully supportive of clinical academics being seconded back to the NHS supporting front line services. The only exceptions may be for situations where there would be duty of care for patients in certain clinical trials, however funders expect these decisions to be made locally. The expectation is that the NHS will cover the clinical academic’s salary while working on the COVID-19 pandemic. Please talk to your Departmental administrator and finance officer about what is required for salary reimbursement.

 

Q. The COVID-19 crisis has created additional administrative work managing my research. Can this time be charged to my grant?

This will vary dependent on the funder, what costs have already been incurred on the project, and how much budget remains. Some funders who ordinarily only pay personnel costs for project-specific activities (for example, those with specific timesheet requirements) may not fund additional administrative work. It is advisable that you check with your DA and the ROO, but ultimately with the funder to see if this is possible.

 

Q. Can I be furloughed?

The University has undertaken the process of identifying the research posts that can be furloughed. All affected staff should have already been contacted by HR. Posts that can and staff who are willing to be furloughed are being processed. If you funder has been in touch requesting the furlough of staff on your award or if you think, as PI, that you wish to furlough staff on your grant then please get in touch with the DA about the next steps.

 

Here are the major sponsors with a summary of their current position

 

Alzheimer's Research UK (ARUK)
Current Award Holders Applications COVID-19 Research

They will support requests for no-cost extensions.

They will continue to be flexible with budget virements to ensure that any underspend can be fully utilised to cover unexpected costs caused by COVID-19.

They will consider requests to temporarily suspend grants for a period of up to 3 months.

ARUK have had to postpone their response-mode programme indefinitely. This means that:

  • The Grant Review - Board meeting in January 2021 will be cancelled.

  • All applications currently under review have the option to be reviewed at the Grant Review Board meeting in June 2021.

  • Any disruptions to research funding activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic will be taken into consideration by the Board to make appropriate adjustments when assessing record of outputs, research achievements, and career progression.

The full statement for researchers is available on ARUK's website.

 -
https://www.alzheimersresearchuk.org/

 

AMRC

The Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) membership has grown to over 140 charities and supports them in saving and improving lives through research and innovation. Key organisations and sector bodies are publishing statements and guidance which the AMRC has collated on their website.

BHF

Current Award Holders

Applications COVID-19 Research
  • Continue to pay salaries for staff on grants and clinical studies for that duration
  • For clinical research staff funded on grants who are re-deployed to front line NHS, records for the duration need to be kept so that salary contributions can be recovered from the NHS. 
  • Will support requests for no-cost extensions
  • Will consider costed extensions on a case by case basis

Standard grant schemes remain open and applications to be submitted via normal process with flexibility for supporting documentation

The NIHR-BHF Cardiovascular Partnership,supported by the British Cardiovascular Society, has established a framework for rapid set-up and delivery of research projects that address high-priority questions on Covid-19 and cardiovascular health. Details of the new framework and guidance on submission of proposals are available at https://www.bhf.org.uk/for-professionals/information-for-researchers/new-framework-for-covid-19-research

Clinical researchers whose posts are directly funded by the BHF may devote their time and the time of any support staff in their award to Covid-19 research, until they are able to return to their normal research activity.

https://www.bhf.org.uk/for-professionals/information-for-researchers/bhf-research-position-statement-on-covid-19

 

British Academy
Current Award Holders Applications COVID-19 Research
  • They are encouraging award holders to investigate all possible alternative ways of continuing to progress their research. However, they understand the impact of the pandemic on research and will treat all requests for no-cost extensions and requests for virement of funding between cost headings sympathetically.

  • If you have been unable to recover costs from a travel operator or insurance, costs can be charged to grants.

  • Grants often end with an underspend and they expect award holders to be able to absorb these costs through this and other re-arrangements in their budgets.

The British Academy Flexi-Grant system is accessible from anywhere with an internet connection. The deadlines for currently open calls can be found on the BA website and applicants should submit their applications through Flexi-Grant in the normal way. https://www.thebritishacademy.ac.uk/funding/

 
https://www.thebritishacademy.ac.uk/news/coronavirus-covid-19/

 

CRUK
Current Award Holders Applications COVID-19 Research

A recent press release about the impact of COVID-19 on funding is available on their website https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-us/cancer-news/press-release/2020-07-15-cancer-research-uk-plans-to-rebuild-and-adapt-to-changed-world-following-ps300m-drop-in-income

 

CRUK estimates at 20-25% drop in income FY20/21 are are being forced to look for savings across their current portfolio. The expect to have written to their grant holders in April & May 2020 to inform them if their grant has been affected.

They are offering to delay start dates, no cost extensions and to suspend grants.

CRUK is supportive of no cost extension requests but they are prioritising grants with less than 18 months left of the Grant Award Letter.

CRUK will not be offering costed extensions.

https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/funding-for-researchers/applying-for-funding/policies-that-affect-your-grant/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-grant-applicants-and-grantholders

 

The Spring funding round of panel and committees has been deferred until the Autumn. If you submitted an application for the current Spring funding round it will considered alongside those in the Autumn funding round. Cancer Research UK (CRUK) institutes and laboratories are repurposing their resources to help the COVID-19 response.

https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/funding-for-researchers/research-features/2020-04-06-covid-19-open-letter-to-cancer-researchers

 

European Funding

For Horizon 2020 and EU funded projects, in the absence of any instruction to the contrary from the EC, participants should continue to advise the Project Officer and/or (in the case of a collaborative project) the Coordinator in the case of any circumstance that is likely to affect the implementation of the project. 

 

Frequently Asked Questions on Horizon 2020 Projects

The European Commission has published answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on COVID-19 and its impact on Horizon 2020 projects and calls for proposals. These pages are being updated on a regular basis so it is advised to re-visit guidance if in doubt.

In relation to the eligibility of costs beneficiaries must keep appropriate and sufficient evidence to prove the eligibility of all cost declared, proper implementation of the action and compliance with all the other obligations under the grant in accordance with Article 18 of the H2020 general model grant agreement. Given these exceptional circumstances, beneficiaries might have to depart from their usual records or supporting documents and it is important to keep all documents necessary to prove the eligibility of the costs incurred (like any other costs incurred under the action) as well as all documents proving that they have taken all necessary steps to limit any damage due to force majeure. For instance, emails aiming at cancelling the train/flight ticket, claiming the reimbursement from the cancellation insurance (if applicable), changing the flight/train ticket (if possible), etc.

Article 51 (Page 347) of the H2020 Model Grant Agreement (H2020 MGA) sets out the general framework and conditions in which the force majeure clause can be used. As a general rule under H2020, in case of force majeure, a party will be excused from not fulfilling its obligations (i.e. there will be no breach of obligations under the GA and none of the adverse measures for breach will be applied). Costs will be eligible, if they fulfil the general eligibility conditions like any other costs incurred under the action. The Research Office will monitor update this page as further guidance from the Commission emerges.

 

Call Deadlines

The recent escalation of restrictions related to the COVID-19 outbreak may impede applicants’ ability to prepare and finalise high-quality proposals. For this reason, some Horizon 2020 call deadlines are being postponed. The precise new deadlines for each call and topic will be published on the call and topic pages on the Funding and Tenders Portal, please also refer to their recently published FAQs for the latest updates.

 

Webinar Slides and Q&As

We are running a number of meetings about COVID-19 and EU Funding. Slides and Q&A with replies can be found on the ROO COVID-19 web page (scroll to end). Timesheet guidance on EU awards during COVID-19 is also available.

 

Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA)

The Research Executive Agency (REA) has updated its pages on business continuity measures.

Evaluations of ongoing and upcoming proposals are being organised remotely. Grant management activities are continuing, however REA response time may be affected due to IT constraints. REA is applying a flexible approach to grant management, while assessing each request on a case-by-case basis. Beneficiaries should get in touch with their Project Officer and check the FAQs on the Funding and Tenders Portal;

Full MSCA guidance

 

ERC

Grant management activities are continuing as usual. Response times may be affected due to technical/IT constraints. They do not currently anticipate any delays to evaluations or application deadlines. ERC acknowledges that funded research projects are facing disruption and delays and have asked grantees and their host institutions to flag any problems to their usual counterparts in the ERC's scientific and granting departments. The agency will try to find solutions on a case-by-case basis, using the flexibility provided by the grant agreement.

Full ERC guidance

 

Erasmus

The Commission has released a statement explaining that it will apply maximum flexibility in the implementation of the programme, within the limits of the applicable legal framework. To deal with participants being unable to travel, or return home, due to COVID-19 restrictions, Erasmus+ National Agencies are now permitted to invoke ‘force majeure’ clauses whereby they may accept additional costs up to a maximum grant amount. Planned activities may also be postponed by up to 12 months per project. Following the Commission's statement, the UK National Agency has published dedicated travel advice for regions affected by the  COVID-19 outbreak.

 

Webinar Slides and Q&As

We are running a number of meetings about COVID-19 and EU Funding. Slides and Q&A with replies can be found on the ROO COVID-19 web page (scroll to end).

Gates Foundation

The Gates Foundation have indicated that in the case of a member of staff whose salary is funded by one of their grants being furloughed (under the government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme), the University can use existing grant resources to pay the balance between the 80% covered by the scheme and their full salary. 

Innovate UK
Current Award Holders Applications COVID-19 Research

Project Change Requests (PCR) - Innovate UK has created a fast track process to facilitate “no cost” time extension requests of up to three months for reasons relating to COVID-19, subject to a valid business case and normal legal and compliance requirements. Loans clients should contact their Credit Specialist in the first instance to understand how this change will be implemented. All other project change requests will follow our existing processes.

Some projects are currently not eligible to be considered for extensions, for example Smart programmes and those that have hard budget deadlines, such as the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF). These projects will now be able to submit PCRs for extensions of up to three months for reasons relating to COVID-19, in line with all other Innovate UK projects.

   
Link to Project Change Requests News Item

 

John Templeton Foundation
Current Award Holders Applications COVID-19 Research

For Grantees with Approved Proposals:

• For an approved proposal which is not yet signed, please contact your program team member if you would like to revise the start date or request a revised project timeline. If no contact is made they will continue to process grant agreements with what was requested in the proposal materials.

• Once you begin your project activities and spend grant funds, they will have much less flexibility to consider no-cost extensions.

For Current Grant Holders:

• They are willing to make adjustments to project timelines and stated outputs for the grant.

• They are willing to consider requests to revise budgets, change outputs and adjust project timelines

For Applicants Under Review

The review process will continue as planned and they are happy for applicants to get in touch with the program team about start dates and proposed project timelines.

 

https://www.templeton.org/news/a-message-to-our-grantees-and-applicants-on-covid-19

 

Leverhulme Trust

 

Current Grant Holders Applications COVID-19 Research
  • They will allow requests for no-cost extensions
  • Grant holders can also opt to delay the start of a new award or suspend a current award, if this would be a better option to manage their research. They do require an email requesting any of the changes: grants@leverhulme.ac.uk 
  • If there is the potential for research to be lost or severely compromised, then an application for a costed extension may be considered. Approach to the Trust should only be made once it is clear what the length of an extension is and the cost involved. 

All funding schemes and calls remain open for applications. Application deadlines, shortlisting, and decision dates will not change.

 -

https://www.leverhulme.ac.uk/news/covid-19-information-applicants-and-grant-holders

 

NIH

 

Current Award Holders Applications COVID-19 Research

The NIH has introduced flexibilities applicable to NIH applicants and recipients where the entity is conducting research activities related to or affected by COVID-19, relating to:

  • pre-award costs
  • extension of post-award financial and other reporting
  • prior approval requirement waivers
  • cost-related flexibilities/expenditure of award funds
  • extension of closeout
  • extension of single audit submission

Full details of flexibilities introduced by NIH

Timesheet guidance on NIH awards during COVID-19 is available on the ROO website.

 

Full NIH policy on grant applications -
 

FAQs on proposal submission and award management related to COVID-19 are also available NIH COVID-19 FAQs 

 

NIHR
Current Award Holders Applications COVID-19 Research

At the start of the pandemic in March 2020 the NIHR Clinical Rsearch Network paused the set up on any new or ongoing studies at NHS and social care sites that were not nationally prioritised COVID-19 studies.

They have now decided to bein "unpausing" non-COVID related research and have developed a "Framework for restart", which is a guidance documentto support local decision making https://www.nihr.ac.uk/documents/restart-framework/24886

There is a very helpful Q&A document about this if your research was paused https://www.nihr.ac.uk/documents/qanda-on-the-impact-of-covid-19-on-research-funded-or-supported-by-nihr/24467

 -

High priority COVID-19 Urgent Public Health Research:

https://www.nihr.ac.uk/researchers/collaborations-services-and-support-for-your-research/run-your-study/government-support-for-research-related-to-covid-19.htm

As of 1st July 2020, the NIHR portal is only for studies that already have funding and require pritised Clinical Research Network support.

 

 

https://www.nihr.ac.uk/covid-19/

 

Parkinson's UK
Current Award Holders Applications COVID-19 Research

Where research has stopped due to COVID-19 they recommend the furlough of staff as this will preserve funding for salaries within the award and will facilitate no-cost extensions once research resumes.

Where research is continuing, they do not support the furloughing of staff.

They are planning to continue with grant calls that are currently open. However, there may be some delay in the decision making process. 

The coronavirus will impact their ability to fundraise and this may affect the amount of research they can fund in 2020 and beyond. 

The opening of the career development fellowship grant round has been deferred until later in 2020.

Blog from Arthur Roach, Director of Research about the impact of coronavirus on their research.

https://medium.com/parkinsons-uk/the-impact-of-coronavirus-on-research-funded-by-parkinsons-uk-2e6929908128

https://www.parkinsons.org.uk/research/impact-coronavirus-parkinsons-uk-funded-research

 

Royal Society

 

Current Award Holders Applications COVID-19 Research

 

Coronavirus (Covid-19): FAQ for Royal Society award holders

https://royalsociety.org/grants-schemes-awards/grants/coronavirus-covid19-grants-information/faq-award-holders/

 

All funding programmes and calls currently remain open for applications in line with advertise dates. They will endeavour not to make any changes to application deadlines, interview dates or decision dates.

Extended deadline for Newton International Fellowship and International Collaboration Award open calls:

  • Newton International Fellowship extended deadline: Wednesday 8 April 3pm (BST)
  • International Collaboration Awards extended deadline: Tuesday 7 April 3pm (BST)

 

The Rapid Assistance in Modelling the Pandemic (RAMP) initiative is bringing modelling expertise from a diverse range of disciplines to support the pandemic modelling community already working on Coronavirus (COVID-19). 

https://royalsociety.org/topics-policy/Health%20and%20wellbeing/ramp/

https://royalsociety.org/whats-new/covid-19/

https://royalsociety.org/grants-schemes-awards/grants/coronavirus-covid19-grants-information/

 

UKRI
Current Award Holders Applications New COVID-19 Research

UKRI is completing its new Grant Extension Allocation (CoA) Scheme. The University has started allocating funding from the CoA scheme ad further information about the University’s governance around the CoA scheme can be found on the ROO Website.

Further details about the scheme including T&Cs can be found on the UKRI website.

For Response Mode grants the start of newly awarded grants may now be delayed by up to 6 months (instead of 3 months).

"No-cost" extension requests to grants impacted by Coronvirus will be allowed

UKRI funded doctoral students in their final year will receive an extension to their research with additional grants, known as a costed extension, of up to six months to complete their studies. FAQs for PhD students is available on the UKRI website.

 

UKRI funding programmes continue and each Council is working to identify any impacts on specific call or research disciplines. Je-S and IFS are operating as normal

 

Information on new calls for research and innovation ideas tackling COVID-19 can be found on UKRI's website. This includes

https://www.ukri.org/news/coronavirus-impact-on-ukri-supported-research/

https://www.ukri.org/research/coronavirus/

 

Versus Arthritis
Current Award Holders Applications COVID-19 Research

Their position is that staff members whose salaries are paid by a Versus Arthritis award who are unable to carry out their work, expect the employing organisation to take steps to furlough these members of staff and seeks support through the CJRS.

https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/funding-for-researchers/applying-for-funding/policies-that-affect-your-grant/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-grant-applicants-and-grantholders

Current active calls

Versus Arthritis is reviewing deadlines and ability to deliver calls regularly. Also they arey considering next year’s funding activity and will ensure that all decisions or changes to activity will be published on their website

  • Clinical Research Fellowships - This round has already closed but the schedule for assessment has been moved on in the year. Interviews will now take place in October 2020.

  • Foundations Fellowships - This call will remain open. Interviews will now take place in November 2020

Planned calls affected

  • Senior Research Fellowships - Interviews are planned for February 2021.
  • Career Development Fellowships - Interviews are planned for February 2021.
  • Priming Confidence and Creativity in New Research -  Release of this call will be postponed to later in the year.
  • Portfolio Development Fund - Release of this call will be postponed to the later in the year
 

https://www.versusarthritis.org/research/

https://www.versusarthritis.org/media/22654/covid-19-faq-august.pdf

 

Wellcome Trust
 Current Award Holders Applications COVID-19 Research

In the initial stages of the pandemic, WT extended grants and provided supplementary funding to grantholders who were:

  • seconded for COVID-19 service delivery, and
  • had suspended their current research activity

From 14th July 2020, they will only consider requests to do this if:

  • you work in a low or middle income country where the pandemic is escalating, and
  • you want to suspend your current research activity to take part in COVID-19 healthcare service delivery.

Supplementary grant funding is available for

Salaries and stipends -

  • Grants ending 1 March to 31 December 2020, WT will provide an additional six month's funding to pay for salaries of staff employed on your grant stipends for PhD studentships.
  • If your grant is due to end in 2021, WT will provide an additional three month's funding to pay for salaries of staff employed on your grant and stipends for PhD studentships.

Where justified, additional funds for animal costs.

Where justified, additional fund for clinical trials if active and impacted during the pandemic.

In addition, no-cost extensions for grants that are due to end in 2020 or 2021 can be extended by up to six months.

For grants ending in 2022 and beyond, WT expect grant holders to take steps to minimise the impact on the pandemic and use normal mechanisms to request extensions and supplements if needed.

Automatic supplements for active grants on a range of WT schemes to cover 6 months' salary support if ending in 2020 and 2021 (subject to eligibiilty).

 

If award holders are called away to work on the Coronvirus, WT will pay the following costs

  • Grantholder – the running costs and salaries of anyone employed on your grant.
  • Fellow – your salary, running costs and salaries of anyone employed on your grant. They will only pay salary if it’s not provided from elsewhere (for example, the NHS).

  • Member of staff employed on a grant – salary. They will only pay this if it’s not provided from elsewhere (for example, the NHS).

 

  • All funding schemes to remain open
  • Grant holders can now claim costs for project-specific personal protective equipment (PPE) that is above the standard expected for the setting. WT will allow applicants to ask for this type of PPE in their grant applications.

COVID-19 funding call is now closed.

If you have been awarded a grant under this scheme, further details can be found on their website

https://wellcome.ac.uk/grant-funding/schemes/epidemic-preparedness-covid-19 

 

https://wellcome.ac.uk/grant-funding/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-grant-applicants-and-grantholders