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  1. Getting started
  2. City schemes supporting research and enterprise
  3. Research Pump-Priming Fund
  4. Pump Priming scheme guidance notes

Pump Priming scheme guidance notes


Applications for support will be welcome from staff from any discipline. The support of the applicant's Head of Department, Dean of School or School Associate Dean for Research is required, and the applications must be signed off by the Associate Dean for Research, Deputy Dean or Dean of the School.

The round of the scheme closing on 8 May 2018 is open to all academic or research staff below professorial grade. Research assistants may also apply with the support of their School provided they will be in post for the full duration of the proposed project.

All activity needs to take place within the award period (i.e. 12 months from the date of the award letter; successful applicants are normally notified within 6-8 weeks of  the application deadline). Extensions can only be granted in exceptional circumstances.

Criteria for award

Awards will be made on the basis of research excellence, the clarity of the proposal and the strength of the case made for funding. All applications will be considered on their merits; however, they are most likely to be supported if they can show some of the following:

  • Aligned with the School/Departmental research plan
  • In particular that a commitment to publication and to seeking external research income is demonstrated
  • Likely to lead to enhanced links with other institutions
  • Interdisciplinary research
  • The individual and Department or School have made some effort to identify alternative sources of funding to supplement any award, and where the Department or School is also likely to contribute.
  • Demonstrates excellence or potential excellence in research

In addition to the above criteria a fully justified budget must be provided with amount and type of items of expenditure specified. Projects are normally expected to be completed within 12 months.

Funding will not normally be provided for activities which might be expected to be funded as part of regular School or Departmental activity (for example, attendance at conferences, or the cost of bridging staff appointments between grants). The pump priming funds cannot be used to support the cost of patenting for commercial exploration: in such cases the Schools are expected to provide funding in support of projects they consider worthwhile themselves. Advice on this may also be sought from the Technology Transfer and Commercialisation staff in the Enterprise team.

Staff will not be awarded funding under this scheme more than once.

Applications can be rejected if there is a lack of clear information provided. In particular, the following are reasons for rejection:

  • Lack of evidence in the application of knowledge of the subject.
  • Lack of a work plan that supports the deliverables.
  • No evidence of gaps in the existing knowledge base that would be addressed by the proposal or of how the proposed project would generate relevant and generalisable data.
  • Lack of clear descriptions of the kind(s) of data that will be collected, how it will be collected and how it will be analysed.
  • No or unclear information about the research methods to be used.
    Insufficient breakdown of the costs.Not writing the application in a way that is accessible for a multi-disciplinary non-expert audience.

Funding is not provided for activities/items which would be expected to be funded as part of regular School or Department activity. This includes:

  • IT equipment
  • Open access publication fees
  • Attendance of conferences (see exception below)
  • The cost of bridging staff appointments between grants (staff whose contract has expired on a previous grant may be employed as a research assistant on a pump priming award)
  • Books
  • In instances where staff would normally be expected to cover their own subsistence, this is not an eligible expense

Conferences can be funded as part of the dissemination of the research and the activity takes place within the 12 month grant period.

It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that any staff cost include the employers NI and superannuation payments that the University are contractually obliged to pay. Please contact the research development manager in your School or Unitemps for assistance with staff costings.

Application process

Note that funded projects are expected to be completed within 12 months.

Download application form.

Completed applications forms should be returned to the Research Office, sent as an email attachment with electronic signatures.

Part A should be completed by the applicant. Once Part A has been completed the application should be emailed to the person signing off Part B (Head of Department or Faculty or equivalent post-holder within the School if this is appropriate to the application). Part C must be completed and signed off by the Associate Dean for Research, who will also submit the application to the Research Office.

The applications are reviewed by the Pump Priming Assessment Group, consisting of 3-4 members from Research Committee and 1 external (to the Committee) member. The members meet approximately one month after each application deadline to decide which applications in the current round should be supported. Applications are assessed and compared in relation to the other applications submitted to each round. Feedback on applications will be provided to all applicants.

The process of assessing the applications is taken seriously by the Assessment Group. It is expected that pump priming applications will be of the same high standards as would be submitted to external funders and similar standards of assessment are therefore applied, taking into account the relatively small amount of funding involved. Applications are expected to be written in a clear and non-technical manner as the Assessment Group's members may not be familiar with your discipline or area of research.

Attention is also paid in particular to the School's statement of support which should explain how the proposed research fits with the School or Department's strategic aims for research, and address the basis for, or the reasons for the absence of, any financial contribution from the School. The statement of support can be prepared by a Head of Department or Faculty or another relevant member of staff of the School if this is appropriate to the application, but the applications must be signed off by the Associate Dean for Research, Deputy Dean or Dean of the School.

Applications can be made at any time of the year, but are held to the next deadline.