You submit your statement of community need using our SurveyMonkey form.
The form must be submitted by 22 June 2021 16:00.
Applicants should carefully read the guidance provided on this page and address all the questions and assessment criteria, using language for a broad audience.
We expect facility ideas to be developed from single ideas, however, two ideas may be matched up at assessment stage if they provide similar capability or lie in the same science area.
There is no benefit in submitting multiple very similar ideas.
You are welcome to contact NERC at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to confirm whether your facility idea is within the scope of the NERC S&F portfolio.
Completing the form
The areas you will be asked about when filling in the statement of community need template are as follows.
Applicants must describe the facility including an indication of what technologies, services and capabilities are required to maximise its benefit to the research community. Also, information on the likely type and number of staff required for this facility.
Applicants must also describe why this capability is needed and will be needed over the next five to 10 years.
Ideas must demonstrate how the facility is innovative and forward thinking, considering emerging areas, interdisciplinary research and opportunities for national and international collaboration.
Applicants are expected to explain the relevant research areas the facility will serve and provide evidence of how this idea will address the long-term research priorities of NERC and UKRI.
The statement of community need should outline what excellent science will be achieved, specifically the research questions this idea will enable the community to address, focusing on those questions that cannot be answered without this facility.
If this idea would enable cross-disciplinary research, please state which other council’s remit(s) this would fall.
Users and community engagement
The statement of need must present convincing evidence of strong community engagement and support during the development of the idea.
As such, applicants should strive to include evidence on each of the following:
- a list of those who were directly involved in writing the statement of community need, including their name, organisation and research interests
- how EDI have been considered in the canvassing of community needs and the writing of the statement of community need
- the process of how this idea was developed, including the level of community engagement throughout
- a description of the national and international communities that will benefit from the usage of the facility (for example, expected number of users, type of users and type of sectors)
- projected growth of the user base over the next five years
- information on key research groups, including emerging or current research leadership.
Importance and context
The statement of need must present a clear explanation of the existing UK and international landscape, in terms of the available facilities and equipment, and how this will address a genuine UK need.
It should also highlight existing facility capabilities and how the capability and/or facility would add value to the landscape or how a new investment will enhance the landscape if none currently exist in this area.
The facility should deliver against short and long-term objectives of NERC (as included in the NERC delivery plan (PDF, 2.6MB)), UKRI (as included in the research and development roadmap) and other national strategic aims as well as unlocking further opportunities for national and international collaborations.
What potential impact will the facility have on the research community and wider community? How will it work to maximise those impacts? For example:
- scientific or academic
- skills and training
There should be a clear pathway for expanding the user base and accelerating the identified impacts. How can such a facility support training of skilled people or enable potentially transformative research with impact on society, the economy or the environment, including through adoption of sustainable research practices?
Please provide an explanation for how this links and/or is different from other available capabilities, for example, other facilities, large scale laboratories, institutes, etc.), and if appropriate, why such capability does not exist already.
Justify why this model is the most appropriate, as opposed to other approaches (such as local provision or strategic equipment). Reasons to be considered may include:
- the need for specialised expertise in the technique
- a new technique that is still at the early stages
- unique capabilities (rather than just extra capacity)
- efficiencies of scale
- fostering new communities
- any other well founded and clearly explained justifications for a facility.
The statement of community need is expected to detail how the facility would meet both:
Responsible research is defined as reducing harm or enhancing benefit on the environment and society through effective management of research activities and facilities.
NERC seeks to actively promote responsible research practices. Responsible research practices seek to:
- protect or enhance the natural environment, for example through energy efficiency, waste minimisation and protection of wildlife (where relevant)
- benefit or minimise harm to local and research communities, for example, through engagement activity
- promote an open and inclusive approach to research activities that recognises the benefits of diversity (for example, through consideration of EDI in recruitment).
Describe how the facility idea could enhance or create social, environmental or economic benefits, including through adoption of sustainable research practices.
There will be future steps to establish the scope and scale of any funded activity. At this point, we require indicative costs only over five years of operation. These should be split into capital requirements and yearly resource costs. NERC considers capital to be the creation or purchase of an asset that has a useful life exceeding one year and that costs more than £10,000. Any costs that do not meet the definition of a capital investment are considered resource. A list of potential resource investments, although not all-encompassing, may include:
- staffing costs related to operation and maintenance of assets
- small items of equipment or instruments (under £10,000)
- service or maintenance contracts for large pieces of capital equipment
- travel and subsistence
- other costs, such as consumables, books, purchase/hire of vehicles
- routine replacement and repair of assets, such as building repairs, maintenance and scheduled replace of standard equipment, or costs related to rending of assets.
In cases where there are existing UK capabilities or equipment that the activity could utilise, the statement of community need should describe both:
- the costs of supporting this facility if the existing capabilities or equipment did not exist
- the costs of this facility if it were to use existing capabilities and equipment.