Joint FAPESP-BBSRC Call for Collaborative Proposals in Integrated Biorefinery Approaches for the Manufacture of Advanced Biofuels

The guidelines defining conditions for the submission of the coordinated Brazilian proposals are available at: www.fapesp.br/en/9777 

Closing date: 25/11/2015 *

1. SUMMARY

The São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) in Brazil www.fapesp.br/en and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) in the UK www.bbsrc.ac.uk are pleased to announce a joint call for collaborative research proposals that underpin integrated biorefinery approaches for the manufacture of advanced biofuels.

The purpose of the call is to build on the strengths of academic research groups in Brazil and the UK and allow them to work together on collaborative, cross-disciplinary projects relevant to the biological processes that underpin integrated biorefinery approaches.

This call for collaborative proposals will require applicants based in Brazil and the UK to work in partnership on research projects where the São Paulo, Brazil-based component would be funded by FAPESP and the UK-based component would be funded by BBSRC. Eligibility to apply will be determined by standard eligibility criteria for both agencies. The nature of the resources requested must also adhere to each agencies guidelines.

Priority areas for this call are:

  • Enzyme design and development for scaling up processing of cellulosic biomass.

  • Control and/or optimization of feedstock attributes and their effect on production and processing for advanced biofuels, biogas, commodity and high value chemicals.

  • Development of high-yielding fermentative organisms.

Applicants wishing to apply to the call must use the specific Case for Support Template associated with this call.

2. BACKGROUND TO THE CALL

In September 2009 RCUK and FAPESP signed a memorandum of understanding to support joint activities. Over the last 5 years FAPESP and BBSRC have co-funded a variety of high quality collaborative research proposals, and have developed a shared vision of supporting excellent international research. The strong scientific links between Brazil and the UK was highlighted at the International Bioenergy Conference, held in Manchester in March 2014, which included a plenary talk from the scientific director of FAPESP, Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz as well as in a plenary talk by Duncan Eggar, the BBSRC Bioenergy Champion, at II BBEST, in Campos do Jordão, Brazil in October 2014.

It is recognised that research towards the development and implementation of integrated biorefinery approaches for the manufacture of advanced biofuels is of global importance. FAPESP and BBSRC have both made significant investments in sustainable bioenergy research and wish to further strengthen and diversify their biorefinery and bioenergy portfolios. As well as the desire for improved production of current advanced biofuels, there is also recognition of the need to develop ‘drop-in’ biofuels for certain sectors (e.g. aviation).

FAPESP and BBSRC have identified specific areas of bioenergy research where there would be particular merit, and benefit to both countries, in developing joint collaborative research projects relevant to advanced sustainable bioenergy research. To that end, they have developed a joint call in integrated biorefinery approaches for the manufacture of advanced biofuels.

The call for proposals is focussed around the 3 key areas which were agreed to be priorities (see Scope of the Call, below).

For information about bioenergy research supported by FAPESP please see www.fapesp.br/en/472

For information about bioenergy research supported by BBSRC please see www.bbsrc.ac.uk/funding/priorities/ibb-bioenergy/

3. SPECIFIC OBJECTIVES THAT UNDERPIN THE FAPESP-BBSRC INITIATIVE ARE:

a. Advance the excellent scientific relationships developed between UK and Sao Paulo scientists and encourage new partnerships.

b. Advance the scientific area by encouraging deployment of complementary expertise and unique facilities

c. Produce industrially relevant scientific outputs, which can be taken up by industry at the national or global level.

4. SCIENTIFIC SCOPE

Research towards the generation and implementation of integrated biorefinery approaches for the manufacture of advanced biofuels represents a very broad research topic. FAPESP and BBSRC have identified three key priority areas to form the focus of this call:

4.1 Priority Areas

a) Enzyme design and development for scaling up processing of lignocellulosic or waste feedstocks from lab to pilot scale with the requirements of further scales in mind. Enzyme discovery can form part of a proposal but should not be the main focus.

b) Optimization of feedstock attributes and their effect on production and processing for advanced biofuels and commodity and high value chemicals. This could include new agronomic practices for improving yield, sustainability and the integration of food and bioenergy production.

c) Development of novel high-yielding fermentative organisms, able to generate a range of (novel) products but with wide-ranging substrate tolerance and resistance to inhibitors.

Projects should be 3 to 5 years in duration and should demonstrate that the sustainability, social, economic and environmental aspects of the processes and products that are being developed has been taken into account.

Lignocellulosic and waste feedstocks include: sugarcane bagasse, other agricultural residues such as straw, municipal solid waste (MSW), forestry waste, unavoidable food waste, and perennial biomass.

4.2 Additional Factors to Consider

Projects that employ cutting edge technologies including: genomics, metabolic engineering, systems biology and synthetic biology are particularly welcome, as are projects that reach across the boundaries of individual science areas and employ multi-disciplinary teams. Where possible projects should involve some form of private sector engagement (although the non-academic component would not be eligible for funding).

Projects are encouraged to consider the long term potential for implementation of the work and/or outcomes in developing economies outside of the two partner countries.

Successful applicants will be expected to participate in workshops to work together to create a cohesive programme.

Proposals do not need to request equal amounts of funding from FAPESP and BBSRC. The agencies expect that the cost to each one in each proposal will reflect an approximately equal distribution of research effort to be undertaken by each nation.

Interested parties in the State of São Paulo, Brazil are encouraged to consult with FAPESP before starting to work on a joint proposal to understand the requirements for proposal qualification practiced by FAPESP in the program you are applying for.

4.3 Exclusions

This call is designed to fund experimental research projects or projects that combine both theoretical and experimental based approaches. Requests to fund theoretical projects that are not coupled to experimental work or projects based on networking and knowledge transfer only will not be supported.

This call will not support research projects that:

  • Exploit thermochemical and / or other non-biological routes to produce biofuels.

  • Utilise biofuel technologies using the whole crops or grains that could otherwise be used for human or animal feed (e.g. wheat, maize, oil crops) as the feedstock.

The funders reserve the right to withdraw applications that do not fit the scientific scope.

5. APPLICATION PROCESS INCLUDING HOW TO APPLY

5.1 Eligibility to apply

Each collaborative research proposal must involve eligible applicants based in the State of São Paulo, Brazil and the UK, with a minimum of one applicant per country. The Principal Investigator (PI) from Brazil and the PI from the UK will act as the project coordinator for their country and the liaison point with FAPESP and BBSRC respectively. It is the responsibility of the project coordinators from each country to ensure that all named co-Investigators are eligible. Applications involving ineligible applicants, from either Brazil or the UK, will result in the whole application being withdrawn.

Although a single joint application will be submitted to FAPESP, all applicants must adhere to the eligibility rules for research proposals of their respective funding agencies.

5.1.1 FAPESP applicants:

Applicants in the State of São Paulo, Brazil, must note that the requirements for eligibility (“enquadramento”) are those applied to each Program above described:

a. FAPESP Thematic Grants www.fapesp.br/176, as transcript below:

Have a Ph.D. or equivalent qualification;

Have a formal contract with a Research Institution in the State of Sao Paulo;

Have significant scientific or technological production;

Have proven experience and expertise in the area of the project, demonstrated by:

i. Quality, regularity and impact of scientific and technological production.

ii. Supervision of researchers at the postgraduate level; this is defined as supervision of at least 2 PhD students and 2 Post-Doctoral researchers.

iii. Experience in scientific exchange and execution of research projects in collaboration with researchers from institutions in Brazil and other countries; this is defined as having joint publications with international colleagues.

iv. Demonstrated ability to form research groups with known results in the area; this is defined as proven leadership of a research team in the project area.

FAPESP’s norms do not allow a researcher to be a PI in more than one Thematic Grant simultaneously, except for brief periods as one grant is being finished. If you have an ongoing Thematic Grant and want to prepare a collaborative proposal for this call you must contact FAPESP at the address mentioned in section 9 to make sure your proposal will be accepted for review.

b. FAPESP Young Investigator Award program, described at www.fapesp.br/en/6251, item 3.3.

c. São Paulo Excellence Chair (SPEC) Awards: this FAPESP program targets well established outstanding researchers who have a permanent position in a UK university or research institution and who are willing to be associated to a higher education or research institution in the State of São Paulo, Brazil, with a commitment to spend at least 12 weeks per year for at least 3 years at this host institution . In these cases, FAPESP can receive a submission for a FAPESP Thematic Grant (covering funding for equipment, consumables, travel, post-doctoral, and doctoral fellowships) to be led in São Paulo by the UK researcher. The salary for the 12 weeks will be paid by the host institution in the state of São Paulo. Applicants considering using this mechanism must contact FAPESP and BBSRC at the addresses mentioned in section 9 before starting to prepare a SPEC proposal award to check if they are eligible.

Researchers interested in using any of FAPESP’s programs must necessarily consult FAPESP at the address mentioned in section 9 (chamada_biofuels_bbsrc@fapesp.br) regarding their eligibility before initiating the preparation of a joint proposal . Consultations will be accepted up to October 26, 2015.

Failure to observe this procedure will result in the rejection of the proposal, without review .

5.1.2 BBSRC applicants :

BBSRC applicants must return the Intention to Submit form available from the call page on the BBSRC website to biofuel_fapesp@bbsrc.ac.uk by October 26, 2015.

Standard BBSRC rules for eligibility will apply. Full details of eligibility conditions can be found on the BBSRC website: www.bbsrc.ac.uk/funding/apply/eligibility-enquiries and in BBSRC Research Grants: - The Guide www.bbsrc.ac.uk/funding/apply/grants-guide

Funding will be awarded on the basis of full economic costs as described on the BBSRC website. The BBSRC will not fund PhD students as part of this call.

Special schemes such as the New Investigator Scheme, Industrial Partnership Awards and Industrial LINK will not apply to this call.

Changes in how equipment is requested on Research Council grants came into effect in May 2011 in response to the Wakeham Review. Applicants requesting items of equipment costing over £10k will be required to follow the guidelines as set out on the BBSRC website. www.bbsrc.ac.uk/funding/apply/research-equipment-guidance

For applications involving work at more than one BBSRC eligible institution, the principal applicant must be from the lead institution and will be the person to whom all scientific correspondence is directed. All other applicants and their affiliations must be entered on the application form. The lead UK institution will be responsible for the distribution of funds to the other named BBSRC eligible institutions. Failure to adhere to this requirement may result in the project being withdrawn.

Total costs associated with the UK project participants should be entered into FAPESP Research Proposal Form (item 5.3.1) AND in the detailed UK Budget Information Proforma (item 5.3.2). The UK Budget Information Proforma should be submitted as an attachment with the joint application.

Once a final funding decision has been made, the successful lead UK applicant will be required to submit a copy of the competed Case for Support and the requested UK budget via a BBSRC JeS form without change.

5.2 Structure of proposals; how to apply and format of proposals

5.2.1 A single joint proposal must be submitted at FAPESP until the deadline of the CFP, in paper format, by mail, by the PI in the State of Sao Paulo, on behalf of the established consortia. The document must be sent to FAPESP accompanied of a CD/pendrive with all documentation in a unique pdf file.

5.2.2 A Case for Support may include, in the São Paulo side, one or more of the FAPESP schemes offered in section 5.1.1, each one led by a different PI. Please, note that although one researcher is the lead investigator of the Joint Case for Support, it must be mentioned who are the other PIs for each scheme (grant modality) at FAPESP.

5.2.3 All necessary attachments must be submitted together and must meet the requirements of FAPESP and BBSRC (see item 5.3 below)

5.2.4 Proposals must be written in English (except for the specified section which should be in Portuguese) using Arial, Helvetica or Verdana typefaces (or an equivalent) and a minimum font size of 11.

5.3 Additional Attachments

Along with the completed Case for Support template (detailed below, item 5.3.5), applicants should ensure they attach:

5.3.1 Submission Form specific for this Call for Proposals available at: www.fapesp.br/chamadas/2015/bbsrc/fapesp_bbsrc_submission.docx. The Submission Form contains the complete list of documents to be sent to FAPESP, also considering the requirements of each Program;

5.3.2 UK Budget Information Proforma: available from the call page on the BBSRC website

5.3.3 The summarized budget worksheet FAPESP-RCUK Funding Summary: www.fapesp.br/chamadas/2015/bbsrc/fapesp_rcuk_fundingsummary.xlsx

5.3.4 In case of approval, a Letter of Agreement between the Partner Host Institution and the Host Institution to which the PI from São Paulo is affiliated, establishing how Intellectual Property rights, confidentiality, and publications will be treated jointly, in observance of the policies of each funding Party. The Letter of Agreement is not mandatory for the submission of proposals, but no approved project will be contracted before the presentation of a copy of the signed Agreement.

5.3.4.1 Ownership of IP generated during the project and rights to exploitation, as well as any costs regarding management of IP, are expected to be agreed between the collaborating research organizations before the research begins. The presentation of this agreement is mandatory before the signature of the grant award in case of FAPESP funding.

5.3.5 Case for Support Template:

A single joint scientific case for support should be elaborated by Brazilian and UK applicants and must be submitted using the specific template developed for this call.

The Case for Support template can be found within the related links section: www.fapesp.br/chamadas/2015/bbsrc/fapesp_bbsrc_biofuels_cfs.docx.

a) Please note that in the case of FAPESP:

i A Case for Support may encompass more than one grant submission to FAPESP. Even so, each proposal must be in one of the FAPESP funding lines mentioned above (Thematic Grants, Young Investigator Award and Sao Paulo Excellence Chair Award);

ii The joint case for support must refer explicitly to each of the grant requests submitted to FAPESP, describing how each one will contribute to the Case for Support proposed.

Failure to use the specific template will result in the application being withdrawn.

b) In addition to the assessment criteria set out under the section ‘Peer Review’, applicants should carefully demonstrate within the Case for Support that their projects:

i Represent true collaborative partnerships between transnational research teams; the added value of such collaborations should be clearly highlighted within the proposals.

ii Contain an integrated workplan and an equal commitment to the project (in terms of hours dedicated to the project rather than project costs). Projects that appear to be working in parallel with little interaction between the countries will not be supported.

c) Applicants who receive funding from this call must be prepared to contribute to workshops and / or other dissemination type activities associated with this call.

d) The Case for Support template comprises the sections below. Each section has specific character or page limits detailed on the template. These limits must be adhered to:

 - General Information

 - Description of the Proposed Project

 - Additional Project Information

e) In addition, applicants should give full consideration, within the page limits described above, to the following:

i Data Management

Applicants to this call should give full consideration to the practical requirements for data sharing both within the research teams and to the wider community and describe how this will be conducted. Applicants should ensure that they have requested appropriate resources for data management and sharing.

ii Dissemination Events

Successful applicants will be required to disseminate the outcomes of their projects at a mid-term and final dissemination event, one of which will take place in Brazil and the other in the UK. Applicants should ensure that they include sufficient travel costs within their projects to participate in such events.

6. FUNDING PERIOD AND BUDGET

To support the areas of this Call for Proposals the UK side will offer up to £5 million and the Brazilian partner organizations will match this with equivalent research effort. Applicants and Co-Applicants do not need to request equal amounts from both sides. It is envisaged that applications will be for a balanced partnership, not specifically in monetary terms but with equivalent research commitment and efforts from both partners.

Whilst no upper cost limit per project is stipulated, FAPESP and BBSRC envisage funding multiple projects under this call. FAPESP and BBSRC will also consider fully cohesive consortia bids requesting a significant proportion of the total budget, or its entirety.

Projects should be up to a maximum duration of 5 years with projects of 4 – 5 years duration preferred. All budget items must conform to FAPESP and BBSRC guidelines and be fully justified.

Proposals requesting funds from FAPESP must show an adequate balance between capital costs and operating costs (consumables, fellowships). Proposals with excessive capital costs will be considered at lower priority. Effective use of existing research facilities in the State of São Paulo or in the UK must be demonstrated in all cases and only in very special and well justified cases requests for multi-user equipment will be considered.

6.1 Additional Collaborators

Collaborating partners from industry and / or partners from other countries are strongly encouraged where relevant to the research; however, neither BBSRC nor FAPESP will provide funding for such collaborators. Please see that Letters of Support must be presented in case of complementary supporters/collaborators of the project.

7. PEER REVIEW

A joint external peer review process will be undertaken, led by FAPESP, with BBSRC nominating an equal number of reviewers and panel members. Reviewers from Brazil, the UK, and other countries will be used as appropriate. Applications will be assessed by an international peer review panel comprising experts from Brazil, the UK, and other countries. In addition to all relevant application documents, the panel will also have access to reviewers’ comments. The following criteria will be taken into consideration:

a) Design and feasibility of the proposal;

b) Previous experience of research teams;

c) Scientific rationale: novelty, importance and timeliness of the joint research proposal;

d) Research partnership development: including strength and clarity of collaborations and opportunities provided;

e) Quality of the project structure proposed (including governance, arrangements for data management and sharing and management of intellectual property);

f) Added value of the joint research partnership;

g) Quality and suitability of the research environment and of the facilities;

h) Significance and impact of the research partnership;

i) Capacity building potential;

8. TIMETABLE

Eligibility consultation to Fapesp and Intention to Submit to BBSRC (item 5.1 of this call)

Up to October 26th, 2015

Deadline for Submission of Proposals

November 25, 2015 *

Panel Review

March, 2016

Communication of Decisions for Funding

April, 2016

Commence of awarded grants

May, 2016

Applications will be subject to full peer review and will be assessed and ranked for funding by an International Assessment Panel.

9. CONTACTS

Bruna Musa at FAPESP (State of São Paulo, Brazil) Queries: chamada_biofuels_bbsrc@fapesp.br

BBSRC (UK) Queries: biofuel_fapesp@bbsrc.ac.uk


Further information is available on the BBSRC website: www.bbsrc.ac.uk/funding/opportunities/2015/joint-fapesp-advanced-biofuels/ 

* On November 17th, 2015, the deadline for submission of proposals was changed to November 25, 2015.