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C-DICE Sandpit participants: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The theme of the sandpit that C-DICE organised in partnership with the Net-Zero Infrastructure Industry Coalition (NZIIC) was Considering options and solutions to help understand the systems and interactions in the built environment that help determine the optimal path for carbon reduction.

This page contains guidance to accompany the ‘Reducing carbon in built environment systems’ sandpit Seedcorn Pathway Funding Call Word document.

Writing the proposal stage

  1. What is the maximum funding pot that can be awarded?
  2. What types of outcomes can the proposal include?
  3. What costs can be included in the proposal?
  4. Does the call pay 100% Full Economic Costs (FEC)?
  5. Does C-DICE offer any pathway grants?
  6. Is there a word-limit for the sections in the Seedcorn / Pathway Funding Call document?
  7. Can the proposal bring in stakeholders and research users?
  8. What should the letter of support from the home institution include?
  9. What happens if a team member changes institutions before the proposal is submitted?
  10. What happens when the contract of a project member expires after the submission deadline? Can the project member still be part of the C-DICE project?
  11. Can a sandpit participant use the visiting position instead of full-time employment to work on the C-DICE project?
  12. Does C-DICE provide any proposal writing support?

Presentations to peer reviewers

  1. When are the presentations scheduled?
  2. What is the structure of the presentation session?
  3. What should presentations cover?
  4. Can Power Point or audio/ video materials be used during the presentation?
  5. Do all project members have to attend the presentation?

Post application stage

  1. Who is part of the review panel?
  2. Will the teams that are not awarded the funding receive specific feedback on their proposal?
  3. What is the time window for spending the funding for the successful team(s)?
  4. When do successful projects start?
  5. How will the funding be distributed among the members part of the successful team(s)?
  6. What happens when a project member moves/switches their host UK university to another UK university during the C-DICE project period?

Writing the proposal stage

  1. What is the maximum funding pot that can be awarded?

Only one £30,000 pot of funding is available for each sandpit.

The maximum funding pot that can be awarded for a single proposal is £30,000, however proposals for smaller values are welcome. The entire award could be given to just one team or could be a split among multiple teams (eg.: 3 x £10,000 or 1 x £20,000 + 1 x £10,000), depending on what each team requests and if the peer reviewers agree that the budget and justification included in the successful proposal(s) are appropriate.

C-DICE reserves the right to issue funding based on the quality of proposals and funding may not be allocated to a proposal after a sandpit, or as a lesser amount to that requested, if the peer review panel decides that the proposals are not of a high enough quality or value for money.

2. What types of outcomes can the proposal include?

The teams have flexibility regarding the outcomes they include in their proposals as long as they demonstrate the consequence and the impact of the project.

A few examples would be:

  • Writing a funding application in collaboration with a senior principal investigator/co-investigator, with charities or industry. Teams are encouraged to identify opportunities based on their projects and needs.
  • Creating workshops and other types of activities – please carefully consider their impact.
  • Career development opportunities.

3. What costs can be included in the proposal?

The teams have flexibility regarding the types of costs included as long as they demonstrate that what they request will help them achieve their project aims.

We strongly recommended you to seek advice on costings (either estimates or full costings) for the proposal from officials in your institution(s). Please take care to consider costs such as consumables, overheads, travel and subsistence, salaries, equipment etc. as necessary. All costs are eligible, however, match funding is welcomed to extend the funding and impact.

Before you consider asking for costs to cover part of your salary in order to buy-out time for independent proposal development, you could check if your home institution would allow you to spend some time on the project as an in-kind contribution and development activity for you. In-kind contributions will help your award go further.

To help support proposal writing, the C-DICE organises an optional workshop on how to create a budget for a research proposal on Tuesday 18 October 10am to 11am. More details are available here.

Please also consider visa implications if any of the team members is on work visas.

4. Does the call pay 100% Full Economic Costs (FEC)?

Yes. Costs will be paid at 100% FEC. How you account for this internally is up to your institution, but as this is a development opportunity, C-DICE recommends looking for any ways in which you can maximise this opportunity financially via an in-kind contribution or a reduction in overheads, for example.

Full Economic Costing (FEC) – The actual COST of a piece of research to your department. All research applications must be costed out using FEC methodology. The cost is not necessarily the same as the amount that you will request from the funder. The cost headings included in FEC are:

Directly Incurred – All costs that will be directly paid from the research project. These costs must be auditable i.e. you must pay through an invoice charged directly to your project or be paying a member of staff directly from your project; and

Directly Allocated – These are based on estimates rather than actuals. They include estates costs, infrastructure technician costs, investigator time costs and contributions to technical and administrative staff who are fully employed by the University but will be spending time supporting on your project. These costs are not auditable and will not be charged directly to your project. Any funding received for directly allocated costs will go to your School as an overhead. These are broken down to:

• Estates costs

• Infrastructure technician Costs

• Investigator time

Indirect Costs – Costs that are not directly related to any project but are necessary to undertake departmental research activity. They cover library use, personnel facilities, computer networks etc. These costs are not spent on your project but will go to your School as an overhead.

5. Does C-DICE offer any pathway grants?

C-DICE is pleased to announce that the C-DICE Fellowships are now open to new applications. More details are available here.

There are some individual postdoctoral fellowship opportunities for individuals, e.g. the Leverhulme Trust.  You may need to find collaborations where you can be researcher co-investigators with a senior Principal Investigator/Co-Investigator. Opportunities with industry or charities might also be available.

While there are few opportunities for postdoctoral researchers to apply for funding as Principal Investigators, this is an opportunity to find ways to demonstrate your leadership of projects, ability to formulate ideas and win funding, and to build your track record, all of which could lead to future opportunities.

6. Is there a word-limit for the sections in the Seedcorn / Pathway Funding Call document?

Apart from section 4, which has a 50-word limit, the other sections do not have specified a word limit but the size of the answer boxes is indicative of how long the answers should be. Please keep to font size 11.

7. Can the proposal bring in stakeholders and research users?

We strongly encourage proposals that demonstrate engagement with the users of research outcomes. These may be senior academics, government departments, public bodies, businesses, industry and other interested parties.

8. What should the letter of support from the home institution include?

Each team member should provide a letter of support from their employing institution. This document will need to mention the type of support the institution can offer and any value (e.g. cash/in-kind), and to state they are supportive of the work that will be undertaken. It should be on a letterhead paper and signed by a senior colleague (eg.: Dean, Head of School/ Department/ Institute). The team member who submits the copy of the completed submission form should also collate all letters of support and attach them to the submission email.

9. What happens if a team member changes institutions before the proposal is submitted?

We advise the team member to discuss with their new line manager in the institution they move to, providing more details about their participation in the C-DICE Sandpit and upcoming submission of the application to the funding call. If the new institution will be the employer for the duration of the project, a letter of support should be provided from the new employer.

10. What happens when the contract of a project member expires after the submission deadline? Can the project member still be part of the C-DICE project?

  • The project member can ask their current employer to provide a letter of support beyond their contract. This would be on the understanding that they may find further work and not leave. If the team member went to another C-DICE partner institution after their contract ends, an annex to the contract would be needed to pay the new institution. Money does need to flow between contracted institutions so the team member can only do this if they are employed.
  • If the project member has a new role, they should sort the contract with their new employer.
  • If the project member does not move to a new role, they cannot have any money beyond the end date of their contract but could remain part of the team if the other team members are happy with this arrangement.

11. Can a sandpit participant use the visiting position instead of full-time employment to work on the C-DICE project?

Yes, this is possible as long as the sandpit participant has a formal arrangement with the host institution.

12. Does C-DICE provide any proposal writing support?

To help support proposal writing, the C-DICE has designed and delivered two optional workshops that sandpit participants were strongly encouraged to attend.

  • Creating a Budget workshop: Tuesday 18 October, 10-11am. The workshop will explore what common finance terms mean and why they matter, how to create a budget for a research proposal, and top tips and lessons learned. More details are available here.
  • Equality, diversity and inclusion in research planning, proposals and practice workshop: Wednesday 2 November 1.30-3pm. Participants will have the opportunity to explore ways to develop inclusive cultures in research, learn to embed EDI into research grant writing, review scenarios and case studies, and start to plan their own next steps. More details are available here.

Presentations to peer reviewers

1. When are the presentations scheduled?

The teams submitting a funding proposal will be invited to deliver a 10-minute presentation to peer reviewers in the morning of Thursday 8 December. The exact presentation slots will be announced shortly after all proposals are submitted, but presentations are expected to be delivered between 10 and 11.30am. Please hold this slot in your calendars.

2. What is the structure of the presentation session?

Each project team will have 10 minutes to deliver their presentation. Please time your presentation to ensure that you do not overrun. Teams will be notified when they have 1 minute left. This will be followed by a 5-minute Q&A session.

3. What should presentations cover?

  • Brief description of the proposed project
  • Brief description of each member’s expertise and contribution
  • Explanation of the novelty and value of the proposed research
  • Details of the potential impact of the proposed project

4. Can Power Point or audio/ video materials be used during the presentation?

Power Point presentations are allowed but no audio/ video materials can be used.

5. Do all project members have to attend the presentation?

The proposed Principal Investigator should lead the team, however, the team can choose how to deliver the presentation based on skills within the team. All members of the team are invited and recommended to attend.

Post application stage

1. Who is part of the review panel?

  • C-DICE Director, Dr Kathryn North
  • C-DICE Sandpit Director, Dr Dave Filipović-Carter
  • C-DICE-affiliated academics and researchers
  • Net-Zero Infrastructure Industry Coalition (NZIIC) representatives

2. Will the teams that are not awarded the funding receive specific feedback on their proposal?

We will ask peer reviewers to provide general feedback for all submitted proposals and for each proposal.

3. What is the time window for spending the funding for the successful team(s)?

Funding has to be spent ideally within 6 to 9 months, with a maximum of 12 months. If more than 12 months are requested, justification will need to be provided.

4. When do successful projects start?

As contracts take different amounts of time to arrange, projects are expected to start ideally one month after the panel decision is announced but in some cases more time might be required for the contract details to be finalised.

5. How will the funding be distributed among the members part of the successful team(s)?

The team members will decide which institution will be the leading one. C-DICE will make the award to the lead institution which will then decide how/ when to make any transfers to the collaborating institutions. C-DICE will not pay directly all the institutions that are represented by the successful team(s).

6. What happens when a project member moves/switches their host UK university to another UK university during the C-DICE project period?

The project member would need to negotiate to take the project with them to the new host university or retain a visiting position to continue.

If you have any queries or need more details, please contact Sharon Henson, C-DICE Project Manager.