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18ALERT: Mid-Range Equipment Initiative

Copyright: kirstypargeter/iStock/Thinkstock

Call status: Closed
Previous call: 3 September 2018 - 25 October 2018


The 2018 ALERT call aims to enhance the capability of the UK research base in areas of science in BBSRC's remit. Applications are invited for mid-range equipment costing over £200,000 including VAT. Applications will typically be from groups of researchers in one or more eligible institutions for instrumentation to be deployed on a multi-project and multi-use basis.


Advanced research equipment and the development of capability is a key component in maintaining the competitiveness of the UK research base. Our Strategic Plan highlights the importance of building long-term capacity and capability in the research base by supporting the acquisition of the equipment and technologies that are essential for cutting edge bioscience research.

The capital equipment budget for this call is approximately £10 million.


Our Strategic Plan recognises that ‘biological discovery is increasingly being driven by ground-breaking technologies’. To support this, in the 2018 ALERT call for mid-range equipment we encourage:

  • Equipment that is widely used and underpins capability across all scientific areas within the our remit. Relevance to the priority areas in our Strategic Plan is particularly encouraged
  • Applications that seek to pioneer the use of emerging advanced research technology
  • Applications that seek to utilise equipment in novel applications.

Collaboration and wide access to the instrumentation to users within industry, public sector and other research organisation is highly encouraged. To encourage sharing the arrangements for managing access to the equipment and the prioritisation of its use should be fully described. Award holders will be expected to put arrangements in place for providing advice and support to others wishing to assess the potential of the technology for their own research.

Value for money will be an important factor in assessment. Consequently, whilst contributions from the host institution(s) and/or other external sources are not mandatory, they are strongly encouraged and should be directed towards partially financing the equipment, commitments to staff posts for the running and maintenance of the equipment, as well as for the training of users (where applicable).

We expect applications that envisage a significant user-base for the equipment undertaking research in areas outside our remit to seek an appropriate level of additional upfront contributions and support. See: Our portfolio.

Applicants are asked to provide details of the institutional environment into which the equipment will be integrated (for more information see guidance notes).


  • The 18ALERT call is for capital funding only. Applications that request any other costs apart from capital funding will be rejected.
  • The equipment requested must cost over £200,000 (VAT included). Applications that request equipment costing below this threshold will be rejected
  • Any proposal that exceeds 12 months in duration will be rejected
  • Applications for single-user or single-project instruments will be rejected
  • Requests for contributions to very large facilities or to the purchase of equipment that constitute normal elements of a well-founded laboratory (centrifuges, fridges, incubators, etc) or for buildings and other types of infrastructures are not in scope and will be rejected
  • Development of new technologies are not supported by 18ALERT and applications that propose this will be rejected
  • 18ALERT will not support the establishment of generic computing platforms (for example high performance computing clusters) when the intended use largely extends beyond research areas that are within our remit
  • Proposals to develop software packages are outside the scope of the call and will be rejected
  • Proposals that do not provide quotes for the requested equipment will be rejected
  • Applications cannot be submitted to the 18ALERT call in tandem with submission to other award schemes (including research council grant schemes)
  • Unsolicited resubmissions of proposals that have been considered by BBSRC or any other funder are not allowed. Any applications identified as such will be rejected without further consultation


The call is open only to individuals and organisations normally eligible to apply to the UK Research Councils for research grants, see: UK Research and Innovation: Eligibility for funding.

Investigators can only submit one application as PI, although the can be part of a consortium while being PI in another application. A research organisation may submit more than one application; however we encourage research organisations to discuss and prioritise their submissions given the limited budget available.

How to apply

This call is closed to applications.

Applicants should refer to the call guidance.

Applications must be submitted using the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system by 25 October 2018, 16:00.

  • Applicants should select:
    • Council: BBSRC
    • Document Type: Standard Proposal
    • Scheme: Standard
    • Call/Type/Mode: 18ALERT Mid-range equipment initiative

Applicants should discuss their application with their relevant procurement and finance officers prior to submission, particularly bearing in mind the EU requirements for competitive tender. Prospective applicants for whom the expenditure appears impossible (for example because the equipment may require an export license or involves lengthy customisation or construction times) must contact BBSRC before submitting an application.

In order to help ensure compliance with basic requirements of the call, applicants should refer to the 18ALERT checklist in the call guidance before submitting their application. Once the application has been submitted no further modifications can be made.


Applications will be assessed by a multidisciplinary panel of experts, including representatives drawn from the BBSRC Pool of Experts. External reviews will not be sought.

The following assessment criteria will apply:

  1. The impact of the investment, including the research enabled, the benefit to or involvement of a wider user community, and/or the anticipated extent of usage.
  2. The scientific quality and strategic relevance of the proposed research to be conducted using the equipment.
  3. The arrangements for the management and support of the equipment and in particular the arrangements to secure the expertise in its operation and to provide access to the equipment and expertise in its use.
  4. Provision for staff development, training and sustainability for staff employed to operate and manage the equipment.
  5. The contribution the investment will make to the physical research infrastructure in the applicant institution(s) and in the UK (for example how the equipment will complement related infrastructure and equipment) and the broader environment in which the equipment will be placed (for example lab space, running costs, technical support, scientific expertise, data management plans).
  6. The track record of the applicants (including both research excellence and the level of previous and/or existing research council support).
  7. Cost effectiveness, in particular the value of non-BBSRC contributions and the credibility of the financial and management proposals.
  8. Consideration will also be given to any ethical and societal issues that may be raised by the proposal.

Research technical professionals

BBSRC recognises the value of technical expertise to the UK research workforce, hence provision of arrangements for professional development of technical and support staff will be assessed by the panel and will inform the final score. Applicants should detail how staff roles will support the equipment and detail how they will be supported in their careers. Please refer to the UK Research and Innovation statement of expectations for technology/skills specialists and see our page: Research technicians and technology and skills specialists.


The capital equipment budget for 18ALERT is approximately £10 million. Applications may seek the following only:

  • Under the ‘Directly Incurred Equipment’ heading only, the costs of capital equipment over £200,000 including VAT as well as eligible one-off costs such as initial service/ maintenance contracts. This figure refers to costs before any discounts and/or other contributions from sources other than BBSRC have been factored
  • BBSRC will accept the cost of a maintenance/service contract, as part of purchase cost of the equipment, provided the length of the contract is the lesser of 36 months or the programme it supports. Should the expected length of the contract exceed the 36 months, or the length of the programme, then the cost of contract, included in the application should be reduced on a pro-rata basis so as to fit within the conditions as stated.

No other costs are eligible under this call. Any applications submitted with costs in any other heading other than ‘Directly Incurred Equipment’ will be rejected without consultation.

Awards will be announced mid-2019 and grants must start by 1 July 2019.


Call opens 3 September 2018
Application deadline 25 October 2018, 16:00
Panel meeting early February 2019
Earliest start date 1 July 2019

Je-S system queries

For queries using Je-S, the helpdesk can be contacted Monday to Thursday 08:30-17:00 and Fridays 08:30-16:30 UK time (excluding bank holidays and other holidays) by email: or tel: 01793 444164 (out of hours please leave a voicemail message).

Please provide:

  • Your name, organisation and user ID
  • Date and time
  • Which part of the form or system you were working on
  • The nature of the problem.

Related calls: multidisciplinary national capabilities research facilities research technologies