EPSRC DecarboN8 Network Plus seedcorn funding call and sandpit
We are pleased to announce the next round of DecarboN8 Seedcorn Funding.
Jump to Frequently Asked Questions
This is a challenge-based call and will involve a multi-stage online sandpit process and engagement with DecarboN8 stakeholders. The aim of this is to support applicants to co-design high quality research projects which respond directly to real-world transport decarbonisation challenges in the North of England, building in local knowledge and resources.
For this round of seedcorn funding, a total of £250,000 (£200,000 at 80% fEC) is available. Proposals are invited for projects of up to 6 months duration.
As this is seedcorn funding, we do not anticipate funding a small number of very high value bids. Whilst we are not setting a maximum value, applicants should be aware that we expect to share the £250,000 between up to 5 projects.
Applications are encouraged for activities such as:
- Exploratory research studies
- Secondary data analysis
- Comparative case study research
- Inter-disciplinary activities such as workshops
Working with our regional partners we have identified a list of indicative topic areas, which align with our thematic priorities. The list is not prioritised in order of importance nor is it intended to be comprehensive or restrictive in nature and we actively encourage ideas in areas not listed.
- What approaches are needed to convert a Paris-Compliant carbon budget to transport carbon budgets at a sub-national scale?
- What do we understand about car-dependent areas? What is different about options, attitudes and appetite for change? How can these areas be encouraged to set targets and decarbonise more quickly?
- How should we electrify transport? This might include questions of the fleet size, vehicle right sizing, urban realm considerations and the equity implications of different approaches. Interactions with local electricity network capacity and models for funding upgrades and use may also be in scope. We are interested in different electrification scenarios which look at shared futures and how it will interact with other modes. Projects might look at different use cases and place combinations. Note that electrification is the core focus of the DTE Network+ and we will only consider specifically place-based proposals.
- Is there a case for accelerated adoption of hydrogen for heavy vehicles in the North? What aspects of geography or activity mix, fleet structure and usage patterns make hydrogen adoption more important and where might electrification fit better? How important is multi-modal adoption (e.g. rail and ports) to the case? Note that hydrogen is the core focus of the H2 Network+ and we will only consider specifically place-based proposals.
- How can we incorporate an understanding the embodied energy of transport infrastructure investment and maintenance programmes and vehicle construction and maintenance into decision-making? How can these emissions be reduced? For vehicles how can different fleet mixes of bikes, e-bikes and scooters contribute to lower overall embodied emissions?
- What innovations are necessary to incorporate micro-logistics (e.g. cargo bikes, micro consolidation, micro rail freight) into the delivery chain? How else can last-mile delivery be tackled through changes to planning and regulation of the sector?
- What rapid transport decarbonisation options exist for rural areas? Is there potential for a rural MaaS service? How should areas with significant visitor travel such as National Parks respond?
- What urban interventions can stimulate a reduction in total vehicle ownership and an increase in non-motorised modes? This might include research into the role of 15-minute neighbourhoods, step-change investments in active modes or new mobility services. How do we understand more about the variation in uptake between different communities and different authorities?
- What are the impacts of better active travel provision on economic vitality of an area? How important are road-space reallocations which to non-motorised modes? How do places that reduce parking compare with places which refuse to take out parking? In what kinds of places does this matter most?
- What innovations could cut carbon through a more activity or community-led approach? Whilst workplace and school travel planning is widespread, this is less true of other activities, yet they comprise around 70% of all transport carbon emissions – is this an opportunity?
- What could accelerate a return to public transport in the North after Covid19?
- Who wins and who loses in different transport decarbonisation strategies? What are the distributional impacts of decarbonisation and how do these vary spatially and by community, class, gender, race, age, dis/ability, etc? What can be done to deliver a just transition?
Within these topics we recognise there may be scope for:
- Interpreting new data sources to provide carbon insights
- Developing open access tools or activities which communicate transport decarbonisation policy options and trade-offs to different audiences
- Understanding barriers to uptake and action amongst citizens, businesses, and government stakeholders.
|09 December 2020||Sandpit Registration opens|
|19 January 2021||5pm deadline for sandpit registration (now closed)|
|19 January 2021||Asynchronous Online Activities begin|
|02 February 2021||Online Workshop 1|
|10 February 2021||5pm deadline for intention to submit|
|12 February 2021||Online Workshop 2|
|11 March 2021||5pm deadline for 500-word project summary|
|March 2021||Regional Youth Climate Assembly online interviews (23, 26 and 30 March)|
|29 April 2021||5pm deadline for full applications|
|10 May 2021||Decisions announced (Postponed to 2 June 2021)|
|01 July 2021||Earliest project start date (latest start date is 1 Oct 2021)|
Intention to submit (online form – now open) Deadline: 10 February 2021
Project Summary form (Word: 65kb) Deadline: 11 March 2021
Full Stage Application form (Word: 72kb) Deadline: 29 April 2021
Sandpit registration (online form – now closed)
If you have any questions about the call which are not answered in the call guidance, please email DecarboN8@leeds.ac.uk
We will publish (anonymised) responses to your questions below, to help other applicants.
Can my proposal be over £50k? And is the £50k figure @100% or 80% fEC?
We are looking to fund up to 5 projects from a pot of £250k @ 100% fEC. Bids over £50k @ 100% fEC are eligible, but they will need to be of exceptionally high quality to be funded (given that this will reduce the amount we have available to fund other projects).
Should any connections to the Management Group or Advisory Board be declared for Co-Is or only for the PI?
Please mention any connections you and the co-Is have with the DecarboN8 management group so that we can avoid conflicts of interest when allocating reviewers.
Can I include a separate reference list or bibliography?
No. The word limits for each section of the application include references.
Can I include an illustration or figure in my proposal?
Yes. Figures are fine, please ensure they are clearly labelled, and referenced if not original work.
Where can I get help with costing my proposal?
Please contact your university or faculty research office as soon as possible to cost your proposal. If you are not sure who that is, please ask an administrator in your department, they should be able to advise.
Does the named applicant have to match the named PI in the previously submitted paperwork?
You may change the named applicant. However please make this clear on the submission and specify who was named as the lead applicant in the previous stages of the sandpit so that the bid is not filtered out during the eligibility check.
From whom do I need to have Letters of Support?
Please include a letter of support from any partner organisations named in your bid explaining their role and how it will add value to the DecarboN8 project.
A Letter of Support from your Higher Education Institution is not normally required. This is only necessary to explain specific commitments where a special arrangement is in place, i.e. where the institution has committed to extend the contract of a researcher on a fixed-term contract if the funding is awarded, etc.
Can Letters of Support be submitted in PDF form?
Yes. PDFs are fine for the letters of support. It’s just the application form itself that must be submitted as a Word document to help expedite processing prior to peer review.
Who needs to sign the application under Institutional Authorisation?
A department level sign off is required in that space such as a Head of Department.
Does the project need to have an Early Career Researcher as the PI to qualify as led by an ECR
The ECR does not have to be the PI. We are encouraging ECRs to apply but the fund is open to bids led by academics at all career stages. If the ECR is not eligible to be a PI due to their contract type, they may apply as a lead applicant with a tenured academic as a ‘Mentor PI’ (as with some fellowships). If awarded, the ECR will be the award holder and the project will be ‘led by’ them, with support from the Mentor PI.
What is the difference between stakeholders and partners?
Partners are organisations that have agreed to make some type of contribution to the project either in cash or in kind. Stakeholders are all those who are potentially impacted by the outcome of the project. Partner organisations will usually be stakeholders, but not all stakeholders will be project partners. For more on stakeholders, ESRC recommend this resource: https://odi.org/en/publications/planning-tools-stakeholder-analysis/
Is a ‘Mentor PI’ limited to 6 hours working on the project in total or 6 hours of mentorship time?
The mentorship time of one hour a month is a suggested minimum – whatever arrangement works best for the team will be fine, please just ensure it is acceptable to the department and outlined in a letter of support. It can be more than 1 hour a month.
Do we need to anonymise partners involved with our bid?
Please name institutions but anonymise the names of any individuals.
Can a Project Partner be involved in more than one project?
It is absolutely fine for project partners to be involved in more than one bid. However, please maintain confidentiality about the details of the bids you are supporting to avoid disclosing anything to competing applicants. Please do also consider deliverability in terms of workload if we end up funding all the bids you are involved in.
I have several ideas that might fit this call, but appreciate I’m only allowed to be on one as PI. Is it allowed to submit more than one ‘Intention to submit’ as PI?
Please only submit one Intention to Submit (as a PI). We understand that your project idea may develop and change before you submit your full stage application.
I have a project in mind involving partners that are not currently listed as Potential Project Partners. Can I work with an organisation that is not on the list?
We encourage you to develop partnerships with any organisations relevant to your proposal. They do not need to be on our database. The list is there simply to help those who may not already have a partner in mind and would benefit from the matchmaking service.
The project I have in mind does not match any of the challenges listed above. Can I still apply?
Yes so long as your proposal relates to transport decarbonisation with a focus on the North of England and meets the eligibility criteria. The list above represents a set of challenges identified by our regional partners which align with our thematic priorities. It is not intended to be comprehensive or restrictive in nature and we actively encourage ideas in areas not listed.
What do you mean by societal readiness?
These slides from the first sandpit workshop explain what we mean by societal readiness.
What do you mean by ‘place-based’ transport decarbonisation? Are comparative studies eligible?
For more information on what we mean by place-based, please refer to DecarboN8’s submission to the Department for Transport’s consultation about the Transport Decarbonisation Plan, in which we cover the question in detail.
Place-based transport decarbonisation research can indeed be comparative, but please refer the document for ideas about how to make a comparative study more place-based.
Are teams with international collaborators (but a UK Primary Investigator) permitted to apply?
Yes, so long as the work directly links to a place in the North of England.
Can Local Authorities apply for this funding?
All projects must be led by an academic at a UKRI-registered UK Research Organisation. Local Authorities, businesses, or third sector organisations that have a project in mind can partner with a local researcher. If you do not already have connections with local researchers you can join our Project Partner database which is shared with applicants who are looking for project partners. Details on joining the database are available here
I am near the end of my PhD I have not completed my viva yet. Am I eligible to participate in this sandpit process and apply for the seedcorn funding?
We define an early career researcher as any academic who has been awarded a PhD but has not yet held a research grant of £100,000 (at 100% fEC) or more. Unfortunately, if you have not yet successfully completed your viva, you are not eligible to apply for this funding. You must also currently be employed as a researcher or and academic at a UKRI-registered UK Research Organisation to be eligible
DecarboN8 Seedcorn Fund: Round 1 (closed 27 February 2020) – read about the funded projects
EPSRC DecarboN8 Network Plus funding call 2: Rapid Response Road-space Reallocation (RRRR) (closed 27 May 2020) – read about the funded projects
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