You reap what you sow? The importance of seed-corn funding

Posted in Guidance by Rob Britton

Obtaining ‘seed-corn’ funding to get a new research idea off the ground can be crucial in developing your work, especially for early-career researchers. Whilst the initial ‘seed’ may be a relatively small amount of money, if spent wisely then watch it grow! This is particularly relevant at the moment due to the internal funding opportunities currently open for BU academics.

To show how seed-corn money could work for you, here’s an example of where it helped me. Back in 2009, the then School ofConservation Sciences (CS) ran an internal research funding scheme where the maximum amount awarded per project was £3000 and priority was given to applications with match funding. So I firstly had to formulate my research question and obtain some match-funding. After much reading and thinking I finally settled on my question (in a relatively new area for me but related to my other research) and successfully approached the Environment Agency for a modest amount of match-funding. The subsequent application to the CS scheme was successful.

Given the limited amount of money available, it had to be spent very carefully. A part-time researcher was used to complete the data collection and as the work progressed, further seed-corn funds were secured from external sources. These enabled us to expand the work and resulted in the subsequent publication of several journal articles. These were important in underpinning further funding applications as we could now show the work was relevant and we were competent in doing it! Inevitably, a number of these funding applications failed but through perseverance and refining the ideas (reading, discussions with colleagues etc), we have recently been awarded two separate PhD studentships by external funders. This includes a NERC CASE studentship, where the industrial partner is the same Environment Agency collaborator I first approached in 2009. Looking ahead, as these PhDs deliver their research then this should enable the development of more ambitious projects ideas that enable larger grant applications to be submitted.

So – hopefully- this example of showing how seed-corn funds can quite literally grow has motivated you to take advantage of those open internal funding schemes. Remember, the process of then turning seed-corn funds into something more substantial and long-term may not be easy: I have not mentioned the long hours spent putting together the funding applications that were turned down. But as a collaborator put it when I recently asked him how he managed to increase his NERC standard grant application success rate from 0 to 40 %:

‘…….the more I practised, the luckier I got’.

Congratulations to our first BU Research Development Fund winners!

Posted in BU research by Julie Northam

Congratulations to the winners of the first round of the new BU Research Development Fund – Small Grants Scheme!

We received 14 applications in total of which only 5 were funded so this is an excellent achievement for all of the BU staff listed below :)

Dr Joanne Mayoh, School of Tourism – Jo is an early career researcher and is currently developing her research career through targeted networking, publishing journal papers and presenting at conferences. The funding will support her to present a paper at an international conference in 2012.

 

Dr Richard Shipway, School of Tourism - The School has already established strong links with the College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management at the University of South Carolina (USC). The funding will enable Richard to visit USC to further this collaboration with a view to establishing a strategic international partnership between BU and USC. This will have two main benefits: 1) the development of a research network for joint funding and publications; 2) to set up a programme of placements and staff/student exchanges.

Dr Heather Hartwell and Dr Ann Hemingway, School of Tourism and School of Health and Social Care – Through a cross-School collaboration, Heather and Ann will use the funds to develop a theoretical framework for the synergistic alliance of tourism and public health. It is hoped this will lead to published outputs, local and national collaborations, and to support the new Health, Wellbeing and Ageing BU research theme.

 Dr Sarah Bate and Dr Ben Parris, School of Design, Engineering and Computing – Sarah (an early career researcher) and Ben will be using the funds to conduct a psychological experiment to see whether the inhalation of the hormone oxytocin can improve the identification of perpetrators in a video identification parade, after prior exposure to a crime.

 

Dr Lorraine Brown and Prof Barry Richards, School of Tourism and Media School – Lorraine and Barry will work collaboratively across Schools to investigate the impact of media representations on Muslims and of Islam on the lived experiences of international Muslim students. They aim to publishthe results in journal papers and present at international conferences during 2012.

We will be featuring updates on these internally funded projects in future on the blog!

The next round of the Research Development Fund – Small Grants Scheme closes on 28 February 2012. You can find out more about the fund and details of how to submit a proposal here: BU Research Development Fund

For details of all internal funding opportunities visit the BU Internal Funding Opportunities page on the blog.

BU RDF – Small Grants Scheme closing date fast approaching!

The first closing date for the BU Research Development Fund – Small Grants Scheme (RDF-SGS) is 31 October 2011.

The scheme is open to all BU academics and will provide selective support to research initiatives considered to be of strategic importance to BU. Funding of up to £2k per award is available and priority will be given to applications involving staff from two or more Schools. 

Examples of research activities covered by the RDF-SGS include:

  • Pilot projects
  • Pump-priming
  • Interview transcription
  • Fieldwork
  • Visiting major libraries, museums, other research institutions, etc.
  • Organisation of an academic conference at BU with external participants
  • Attendance at external networking events leading to collaborative research proposals
  • Meetings with external organisations to establish collaborations
  • Preparation of specialist material or data
  • Short-term Research Assistant support or replacement teaching
  • Research consumables and equipment (providing it is clear these would not normally be purchased by the School)

To apply for a Small Grant, please complete the RDF-SGS application form and submit it to Susan Dowdle before 31 October 2011.

For further information on the BU Research Development Fund see our previous blog post (Launch of the BU Research Development Fund). You can also read the Research Development Fund Policy.

Launch of the BU Research Development Fund

It’s a beautiful summer’s day and to celebrate the new academic year the Research Development Unit has some exciting news – the launch of the BU Research Development Fund!

The Research Development Fund (RDF) is open to BU academics and will provide selective support to research initiatives considered to be of strategic importance to BU. There are two strands to the RDF: i) Small Grants Scheme (up to £2k per application); and ii) Large Collaborative Grants Scheme (up to £25k per annum, must include two or more Schools). It is envisaged that each year approximately 20 small grants will be awarded and one large collaborative grant.

Awards will only cover direct costs (i.e. overheads and established staff costs will not be reimbursed). Applications need to include a precise breakdown of costs calculated using full economic costing (fEC) methodology – this will be calculated for you by the CRE Operations team.

All decisions on funding will be made by the University R&E Forum (UREF).

An overview of the two schemes is provided below. For further information please read the Research Development Fund Policy.

RDF – Small Grants Scheme (up to £2k per award) There will be three competitions per annum. Academic staff wishing to apply must submit an application form to the PVC (Research, Enterprise and Internationalisation) via the RDU by the scheme deadlines:

  • 31 October 2011
  • 28 February 2012
  • 31 May 2012

Priority will be given to applications that involve staff from two or more Schools and/or those from early career researchers.

Examples of research activities covered by the RDF include:

  • Pilot projects
  • Pump-priming
  • Interview transcription
  • Fieldwork
  • Visiting major libraries, museums, other research institutions, etc.
  • Organisation of an academic conference at BU with external participants
  • Attendance at external networking events leading to collaborative research proposals
  • Meetings with external organisations to establish collaborations
  • Preparation of specialist material or data
  • Short-term Research Assistant support or replacement teaching
  • Research consumables and equipment (providing it is clear these would not normally be purchased by the School)

To apply for a Small Grant, please complete the RDF-SGS application form.

RDF – Large Collaborative Grants Scheme (up to £25k per award) There will be one competition per annum. Academic staff wishing to apply must submit an application form to the PVC (Research, Enterprise and Internationalisation) via the RDU by the scheme deadline:

  • 1 December 2011

The RDF – Large Collaborative Grants Scheme aims to provide funding for the development of large-scale, complex, inter/multi-disciplinary collaborative research activities leading to external funding. Applications must involve academic staff from at least two BU Schools. Priority will be given to applications that meet the following criteria:

  • In line with BU’s emerging Research Themes
  • Include external organizations (particularly SMEs and/or international organizations)
  • In line with the strategic priorities of major funding bodies (such as the UK research councils, European Commission, etc)
  • Clearly beneficial to BU’s submission to REF2014

Examples of research activities covered by the RDF include:

  • Pilot projects
  • Pump-priming
  • Meeting expenses
  • Travel to proposed collaborators
  • Attendance at external networking events with the aim of expanding the network
  • Preparation of specialist material or data
  • Short-term Research Assistant support or replacement teaching
  • Consumables and equipment (providing it is clear these would not normally be purchased by the School)
  • Fees for external proposal support and review

To apply for a Large Collaborative Research Grant, please complete the RDF-LCGS application form.

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