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2019 Bioinformatics and Biological Resources Fund

Copyright: iStockphoto

Call status: Closed
Submission deadline: 13 November 2019, 4pm


The Bioinformatics and Biological Resources (BBR) Fund aims to facilitate the establishment, maintenance and enhancement of high-quality bioinformatics and biological resources to support the UK bioscience research community.

The indicative budget for the call is up to £6M, subject to the quality of applications received.

Please note that all applications must have a start date no earlier than 1st July 2020.


BBSRC recognises the UK bioscience community need for access to state-of-the-art bioinformatics and biological infrastructure, facilities and resources, to facilitate ground-breaking research in an internationally competitive environment. The BBR fund was established to help address this need.

  • Bioinformatics resources (e.g. databases, software suites): to enable management, analysis and sharing of large and/or complex datasets and development of novel software solutions that enable deeper analysis of existing datasets and greater understanding of biological systems.
  • Biological resources: provide access to materials that underpin cutting edge bioscience research, e.g. culture and germplasm collections, mutant lines, DNA samples, clones, genetic libraries etc.

Scope of the call

The BBR Fund supports the following types of applications:

  • Establishment and maintenance of a new and innovative resource that will be beneficial to a broader BBSRC user base
  • Maturation and subsequent maintenance of a project-based resource into a community-based one
  • Further development and/or essential maintenance of an existing community resource, with well-established access mechanisms, to increase its relevance to a broader BBSRC user community, e.g. enhancing utility by enabling the resource to meet FAIR principles.
  • Association and/or integration of distinct resources, that will enhance their utility and create an upgraded  resource with a greater value than the sum of the parts  

Assessment of new and existing resources

Applications for both new and existing resources are assessed as part of the same process. While similar in principle, the potential and promise of a new resource and the demonstrable user need of an existing resource are not necessarily directly comparable. Therefore, some of the assessment criteria (see below) will be considered with this nuanced view in mind, followed by a tensioning exercise to ensure consistency across the call. 

Support for new resources

Requests to establish new resources are permitted under this call, with a number of key points expected to be addressed in the proposal:

  • Project focus is on development of a new resource that is needed by a community of researchers in the BBSRC remit, and which does not currently exist elsewhere
  • UK bioscience community need is established, evidenced by letters of support from a diverse range of users in the community, and estimates of the number of researchers worldwide who might engage with or benefit from the resource. Some example data types may include:
    • Datasets (or samples) in public or private repositories
    • Citations or acknowledgments
    • Groups working in a relevant area who would benefit from the resource
    • Gap analysis with existing resources
  • Will the facility support a growing field of bioscience, what is the anticipated growth and does the proposal adequately accommodate this?
  • Evidence is provided as to how the resource plans to engage stakeholders and ensure that the resource meets their needs, and is used by the community targeted by the resource

Support for existing resources

Requests to support existing resources, which were funded previously through BBR or alternative funding sources, are permitted under this call provided a number of key points are addressed in the proposal

  • Project focus is on further development and/or essential maintenance to safeguard functionality of the resource.
  • Ongoing UK bioscience community need is established, evidenced by usage data included in the proposal – with parties providing letters of support encouraged to include similar supporting data where appropriate. Some examples data types may include:
    • Access requests from independent users/ sites
    • Citations or acknowledgements
    • Other public resources providing links to the resource
    • New major acquisitions captured by the resource
  • Does the facility continue to support a growing field of bioscience, what is the anticipated growth and does the proposal adequately accommodate this?
  • Evidence is provided as to whether the resource has achieved the level of engagement it originally anticipated, and consideration is given how the additional investment would change this.

Considerations for all resources

  • Long-term sustainability of the resource beyond BBSRC funding, as well as the true cost of running and maintaining the resource in question. The proposal should consider:
    • Cost recovery plans, where appropriate, or an explanation why not if not viable
    • Details for alternative support plans, aside from BBSRC funding
    • Clear arguments as to why BBSRC should support the resource now, if other cost recovery and support plans are deemed unsuitable


Proposals in the following areas will not be accepted:

  • Projects with an exclusive research focus – some elements of research can be included, but should support technological development of the resource to address developing user needs
  • Resources already suitably supported via other means
  • Principal beneficiaries are outside of the UK
  • Principal beneficiaries are outside of bioscience
  • Archive-only resources without active usage
  • Collections of preserved, non-recoverable specimens (e.g. herbaria, formalin-fixed material)

Please contact us well in advance of the deadline if you are unsure whether your application fits within the scope of the call.


This call for proposals is open to all institutions and applicants normally eligible for BBSRC funding. See section 3 of the BBSRC grants guide for further information on institutional and applicant eligibility ( 

Research Technical Professionals

BBSRC recognises the value of technical expertise to the UK research workforce, and supports recognition of their contributions where appropriate. Examples include, but are not limited to, data curators and data stewards. Arrangements for professional development of technical and support staff should be described in the proposal. Please refer to the BBSRC website for further information (   

Research Software Engineers

BBSRC notes the significant contribution of staff such as Research Software Engineers ( and equivalent roles to interdisciplinary computational projects, and supports recognition of their contributions and encourages applicants to name and cost them appropriately on applications.

For any queries about eligibility, please contact before submitting your application.

How to apply

Applications must be submitted using Je-S by 13 November 2019, 4pm, selecting the following options:

We advise applicants to refer to the call guidance notes, FAQs and BBSRC grants guide before completing their application.

Assessment process

Applications will be subject to external review with an opportunity to respond to reviewers' comments. Overall assessment will be conducted by a panel of experts covering scientific, managerial, technical and user aspects of resource provision.

The following assessment criteria will be used for all applications:

  • Scientific quality and strategic relevance of the resource
  • Cost effectiveness, particularly considerations for long-term sustainability beyond BBSRC funding
  • Potential for economic and social impact beyond the academic community
  • Fit to scope of the BBR Fund

To allow for a more nuanced assessment of, and tensioning between, new and existing resources, the following assessment criteria will look at plans, potential and promise for new resources, while existing resources will be assessed on presented evidence and previous performance:

  • Quality of the overall arrangements for resource management, advisory functions, as well as user access and engagement
  • Need / demand and potential benefit to the UK research community


Call opens

16 September 2019

Call closes

13 November 2019, 4pm

Panel meeting

w/c 2 March 2019

Earliest start date

1 July 2020


For enquiries relating to the call please email:


2019 BBR Call Guidance final.pdf

2019 BBR FAQs final.pdf

2019 Equality impact assessment.pdf



Bioinformatics and Biological Resources Fund

Related calls: bioinformatics data research facilities