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Covid-19 Advice from Funders


Please check this page regularly for the latest advice from our Funders

Funders are very aware that these are challenging times for grant-holders and are doing their best to be flexible and provide advice and guidance. 

We aim to update this page on a regular basis. If you are aware of a funder update we have missed or would like a funder added to the list please email researchservices@rhul.ac.uk

Useful links

British Academy

Award holders should follow the advice of their institution and that of the government. 

The British Academy encourages award holders to investigate, where necessary, all possible alternative ways of continuing to progress their research. However, they understand that the outbreak may impact on the activities associated with some awards and will treat all requests for no-cost extensions to awards and requests for virement of funding between cost headings sympathetically. These should be requested in the usual way. 

If you have been unable to recover costs from a travel operator or insurance, costs can be charged to grants. Grants often end with an underspend and the British Academy expects award holders to be able to absorb these costs through this and other re-arrangements in their budgets. 

 

British Heart Foundation

Research grants

If research institutions shut down for a period of time the British Heart Foundation (BHF) will continue to pay the salaries of staff funded on grants for the same duration. Details of all staff affected must be provided in order to ensure payments are honoured.

If clinical research staff funded on grants are asked to support front line NHS staff, the BHF will also continue to pay salaries, recognising that these costs may be subsequently recoverable from the NHS.

They are are prepared to support requests for no cost extensions to grants to cover any delays caused by the suspension of research. 

If suspension of research is prolonged and costed extensions are required they will consider requests on a case by case basis.

Grants for small meetings

The BHF will honour the payment of grants for small meetings which are postponed and rescheduled within one year of the original date due to COVID-19. Details must be provided as soon as a decision is made to delay the meeting.

If meetings need to be cancelled and cannot be rescheduled they recognise that some costs may not be recoverable.  In these instances the organisation should cancel the meeting at the earliest opportunity to obtain maximum refunds of any costs already incurred in order to mitigate the cost to the BHF.  Full details must be provided before we will release any funds. 

 

Cancer Research UK

Cancer Research UK defers funding panels amid Covid-19

Statement 17 March 2020

CRUK has made the difficult decision to defer all their panels and committees. All applications submitted for the current funding round will be considered in the autumn. Where an application has been made for the renewal of an existing grant, bridge-funding will be provided.

Full statement from CRUK and more news

 

European Commission

COVID-19 and EU Funding

The recent outbreak of COVID-19 might have negative impact on the implementation of many EU projects and the preparation of new applications to Horizon 2020 and other calls. This webpage provides a useful overview of the main messages from the European Commission and other important information. It will be regularly updated with the latest information taken from our daily news articles.

COVID-19: Commission Publishes New FAQs on the Funding & Tenders Portal
30 March 2020 - H2020 News

The European Commission has published new answers to several FAQs related to the COVID-19 outbreak and its impact on current and future Horizon 2020 projects.

For this and other updates please go to their website

 

General guidance

While we are currently awaiting clarification from the Commission on the general situation in relation to research and innovation funding, any projects which have been affected by COVID-19 containment measures should refer firstly to Article 51 of the Annotated Model Grant Agreement covering force majeure, which stipulates that beneficiaries should contact the Commission, or relevant executive agency, to discuss issues that may affect the implementation of projects. We expect further guidance to be made available on the Funding and Tenders Portal shortly. It is also worth noting that the staff of the Commission Services and Agencies are now working remotely and that there is a specific warning on the Funding and Tenders Portal that, due to this non-standard way of working, delayed responses are expected for queries submitted to the IT helpdesk.

Call deadlines

So far, call deadlines have been extended for both Societal Challenge 6 (now 19 March 2020) and Research Infrastructures (now 14 May 2020) calls. Applicants intending to submit to calls on the Funding and Tenders portal should check the 'Topic updates' section of their specific topic to see if their deadlines have been extended. Further information on possible changes to Horizon 2020 call deadlines is expected to be available on the Funding and Tenders Portal shortly.

European Research Council

The ERC have posted a statement on their website stating that they are doing their upmost to remain fully operational during this period, that grant management activities continue as normal (although technical issues may slow some processes down) and that panel evaluations are currently being organised remotely.

Should ERC applicants or grantees have any implementation-related queries regarding coronavirus or otherwise, please contact the ERC UK National Contact Point at: erc@ukro.ac.uk 

Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions

The Research Executive Agency (REA) have released a statement advising grantees and fellows to follow the travel advice provided by national authorities and to cancel or postpone all non-essential travel where possible. REA will adopt a flexible approach towards projects that fail to meet grant agreement obligations due to the COVID-19 containment measures, and may apply the rules on force majeure, or extend the duration of projects. Projects will be assessed on a case-by-case basis and grantees and fellows should speak to their project officer if they require support. 

Erasmus+

The Commission has released a statement explaining that it will apply maximum flexibility in the implementation of the programme, within the limits of the applicable legal framework. To deal with participants being unable to travel, or return home, due to COVID-19 restrictions, Erasmus+ National Agencies are now permitted to invoke force majeure clauses whereby they may accept additional costs up to a maximum grant amount. Planned activities may also be postponed by up to 12 months per project. Following the Commission's statement, the UK National Agency has published dedicated travel advice for regions affected by the  COVID-19 outbreak.

Furthermore, the UK government has issued its own advice for UK education providers regarding staff and student overseas travel and project participants are advised to speak to their providers about arrangements. Participants under 18 are advised against all overseas education trips, while those over 18 who are due to travel should consult their education institutions on whether the travel should continue as planned. For any UK participants already overseas, they should continue to monitor the latest FCO travel advice and comply with any COVID-19 control measures put in place in their current host nation.

Creative Europe

The Commission has released a statement saying that it understands that containment measures may have consequences for Creative Europe projects, and are adopting a position of maximum flexibility in regards to implementing the programme, while still working within the applicable legal framework. They are also in close communication with the national Creative Europe desks.

COST Actions

The COST Association has recommended that, from 13 March 2020 to 3 April 2020 (minimum), all physical meetings, training schools and short-term scientific missions be suspended or cancelled. They encourage participants to explore video conferencing and remote networking tools as an alternative. Any participants currently attending COST events should follow the instructions of the host country and host institution. 

Horizon 2020

European Commission Answers to Frequently Asked Questions on Horizon 2020 Projects

​The European Commission has published answers to two Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on the COVID-19 outbreak and its impact on Horizon 2020 projects and calls for proposals:

Can the clause on “force majeure” in the Horizon 2020 grant agreement be invoked in relation to the COVID-19 outbreak?

"Article 51 of the H2020 MGA sets out the conditions in which the force majeure clause can be used. ‘Force majeure’ relates to an extraordinary and unforeseeable event or situation that is beyond the beneficiaries control and that prevents them from fulfilling their obligations under the action.  If such a situation occurs, beneficiaries must immediately inform the Commission/Agency/Funding Body, which will examine on a case-by-case basis the possible application of the rules on force majeure. Moreover, beneficiaries must immediately take all the necessary steps to limit any damage due to force majeure (e.g. try to cancel the flight ticket, claim the reimbursement from the cancellation insurance (if applicable)).

Costs will be eligible, if they fulfil the general eligibility conditions set out in Article 6 H2020 MGA like any other costs incurred under the action. For example, if a meeting/event cannot take place due to force majeure, travel and accommodation costs may still be charged to the H2020 action if they fulfil the cost eligibility conditions, even if the beneficiary did not travel and did not take part in the meeting/event. If force majeure entails extra costs for the implementation of the action, these costs may be eligible if necessary for the implementation for the action (e.g. a cancelled conference is reorganised at a later stage). However, the maximum grant amount cannot be increased."

Will the deadlines for Horizon 2020 calls be extended related to the COVID-19 outbreak?

"The recent escalation of restrictions related to the COVID-19 outbreak may hamper applicants’ ability to prepare and finalise high-quality proposals. For this reason, for Horizon 2020 calls with original deadlines between now and 15 April, extensions will be applied. The precise new deadlines for each call and topic will be published on the call and topic pages on the Funding and Tenders Portal.

Confirmed new deadlines for Horizon 2020 calls

The following new deadlines have now been confirmed on the Funding and Tenders Portal:

  • H2020-INFRAIA-2018-2020 – Deadline moved from 17 March 2020 to 14 May 2020
  • H2020-INFRAINNOV-2019-2020 – Deadline moved from 17 March 2020 to 14 May 2020
  • H2020-INFRASUPP-2018-2020 – Deadline moved from 17 March 2020 to 14 May 2020
  • H2020-LC-SC3-2018-2019-2020 – Deadline moved from 26 March 2020 to 21 April 2020
  • H2020-NSUP-2020 – Deadline moved from 26 March 2020 to 2 April 2020
  • H2020-INNOSUP-2018-2020 – Deadline moved from 2 April 2020 to 15 April 2020
  • H2020-SC1-BHC-2018-2020 – Deadline moved from 7 April 2020 to 15 April 2020
  • H2020-SwafS-2018-2020 – Deadline moved from 15 April 2020 to 23 April 2020
  • Horizon Impact Award 2020 – Deadline moved from 2 April 2020 to 15 April 2020

All deadlines are at 17:00 CET (Brussels time) and are provided by UKRO for information only. For legally binding information on call deadlines, please, visit the Funding and Tenders Portal.

Important Announcements: Horizon 2020

Research Executive Agency

On 18 March, the Research Executive Agency (REA), responsible for the implementation of several parts of Horizon 2020,  updated its pages on business continuity measures. In addition to earlier messages about extended Horizon 2020 call deadlines, new information on remote evaluation and grant management is now available.  Evaluations of ongoing and upcoming proposals are being organised remotely. Furthermore, grant management activities are continuing, however REA response time may be affected due to IT constraints. Finally, beneficiaries are encouraged to follow @REA_reseach on Twitter, as decisions may change anytime due to exceptional circumstances.

 

Knowledge Transfer Network

Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN)

26 March 2020

KTN has established a Covid-19 hub containing information about funding, links to online events, requests for support to help combat Covid-19 and its impact and links to business support sites. Click here to visit the page.

We have now moved all our events and meetings, where possible, online for the foreseeable future.

Funding

Whilst we all get used to new ways of working there are still funding calls and competitions operating.  KTN will continue to support these by signposting our network to them and by holding online briefing events.  It is vitally important to keep money coming into business and we will be updating our funding pages with new calls as well as highlighting existing competitions.

Online events

KTN helps businesses get the best out of creativity, ideas and the latest discoveries, to strengthen the UK economy and improve people’s lives, so wherever possible, we’re moving our events online to help keep you connected and continue innovating. More online events are being added to our events listings on a daily basis, so please check our website regularly to make sure that you don't miss out.

 

Leverhulme Trust

The Leverhulme Trust will allow reasonable changes to budget lines and/or no-cost extensions to grants to enable grant holders to manage their research in the best way for their circumstances.

Contact grants@leverhulme.ac.uk to agree extensions and budgetary changes in advance.

 

NIH

NIH

27 March 2020

https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-20-086.html

The US’s NIH have published a compliance notice over “Flexibilities Available to Applicants and Recipients of Federal Financial Assistance Affected by COVID-19”, from a post-award perspective the headlines are:

Salaries:

NIH understands that many researchers may be unable to work as a result of or related to the effects of COVID-19. If a recipient organization’s policy allows for the charging of salaries and benefits during periods when no work is performed due to the effect of COVID-19, regardless of the funding source, including Federal and non-Federal, then such charges to NIH grant awards will be allowable.

Reminder: NIH awarding Institutes/Centers (ICs) may request documentation to confirm the requirements of institutional policies.

Stipends:

Institutions affected by COVID-19 may continue to provide stipend payments to fellows and trainees who may be unable to work as a result of or related to COVID-19. Recipients should notify the assigned grants management official, and provide documentation demonstrating the effect of COVID-19, and how long the institution will be affected.

Travel:

Non-refundable costs associated with grant-related travel that has been cancelled due to COVID-19 may be charged to the NIH award if they would have otherwise been allowable. See NIH GPS 7.9.1 for detailed information on the allowability of travel expenses.

Conference Registration Fees:

Non-refundable registration fees for conferences, symposiums or seminars that have been cancelled due to COVID19 may be charged to the NIH award if they would have otherwise been allowable (e.g. necessary to accomplish program objectives

Full NIH statement here

 

When delays occur because the applicant or recipient organisation is officially closed or unable to submit grant applications due to the effects of COVID-19, the NIH will consider accepting applications late, on a case-by-case basis, under certain circumstances.

The NIH has introduced flexibilities applicable to NIH applicants and recipients where the entity is conducting research activities related to or affected by COVID-19, relating to:

  • pre-award costs
  • extension of post-award financial and other reporting
  • prior approval requirement waivers
  • cost-related flexibilities/expenditure of award funds
  • extension of closeout
  • extension of single audit submission

The NIH has issued guidance on clinical trials and human subject studies affected by COVID-19. They encourage recipients to consult with their institutions about potential measures to protect participants and research staff. Recipients may submit late financial and progress reports if research is delayed due to COVID-19, and may carry over unobligated balances on active grants without requesting prior approval.

Frequently asked questions on proposal submission and award management related to COVID-19 are also available:

 

NIHR

Clinical and academic health and care professionals currently funded by NIHR who are working on topics other than COVID-19 should prioritise frontline care, where requested to do so by their employing organisations. Similarly, research staff with other relevant skills, such as pharmacists and laboratory technicians, should also prioritise support to frontline care. In addition, researchers should consult with their employers to make facilities which currently support research studies available for frontline care. 

This will mean that many research studies funded by NIHR, or supported by NIHR (via the Clinical Research Network and other NIHR infrastructure) may need to be paused, to free up NIHR-funded staff to help bolster the frontline response to COVID-19. In addition, NIHR recognises that award-holding organisations may need to pause research studies for locally determined public health reasons. 

However, clinical trials or other research studies which are funded or supported by NIHR should continue if discontinuing them will have significant detrimental effects on the ongoing care of individual participants involved in those studies. These are clinical decisions which will need to be made on a case-by-case basis by local decision makers on the basis of local risk and capacity assessments.

All organisations holding NIHR awards that are paused will, in the short term, continue to receive payments from DHSC in line with existing NIHR contractual payment schedules. This will be reviewed and, if necessary, payment schedules will be updated as usual following the annual statement of expenditure. Where necessary, contract deliverables will be rescheduled, allowing staff to concentrate on frontline care and COVID-19 research. 

NIHR suspends non-Covid-19 studies to focus on coronavirus

Statement 19 March 2020

Until further notice, the NIHR Clinical Research Network is pausing the site set up of any new or ongoing studies at NHS and social care sites that are not nationally prioritised COVID-19 studies. This will enable our research workforce to focus on delivering the nationally prioritised COVID-19 studies or enabling redeployment to frontline care where necessary. These studies are enabling the clinical and epidemiological evidence to be gathered to inform national policy and will enable new treatments, diagnostics and vaccines to be developed and tested. The complete focus of the NIHR Clinical Research Network will be on delivering these highest priority COVID-19 studies. During this time, the MHRA and HRA will continue to provide an approvals service for all studies, prioritised in accordance with the national situation, ensuring site set-up can restart promptly in due course.

Full statement from NIHR and other news

Nuffield Foundation

30 March 2020 - update

Nuffield foundation is extending some deadlines for their next funding rounds (e.g. Strategic Fund) and have closed applications to their Seed corn funding until further notice. This is due to current difficulties faced by researchers caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

For more information please visit their website here  and/or contact the specific programme manager.

 

Nuffield Foundation to extend application deadlines

26 March 2020

The Nuffield Foundation, which funds research on social wellbeing, has said it will extend some grant application deadlines in light of the coronavirus pandemic. In a statement published on 23 March, the funder, which encompasses the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory and the Ada Lovelace Institute, said its priority was to support staff, grant-holders and those who participate in its student programmes, as well as to fund research related to the pandemic.

Full statement from Nuffield Foundation

 

Royal Society

The Royal Society's offices will be closed from 5pm on Wednesday 18 March and all staff will be working remotely. Grants teams will still be contactable via grants@royalsociety.org or +44 (0)20 4751 2666.

Applications

All funding programmes and calls currently remain open for applications in line with advertised dates. The Royal Society will endeavour not to make any changes to application deadlines, interview dates or decision dates.

Some grant committee and panel meetings will take place remotely and they will be in contact with any affected applicants.

If an applicant's institution is closed and unable to approve and submit an application, the Royal Society can do this on their behalf, with agreement from the institution.

Awards

To minimise the impact of the global health situation on award holders, the Royal Society will provide as pragmatic support as possible, recognising the impact of the coronavirus on research is significant and evolving.

The Society is working with award holders and their organisations as well as the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to ensure that fair and appropriate support is in place.

They will be aiming to minimise the impact of the coronavirus on funded activities as far as possible.

 

UKRI

UKRI’s office-based staff are being advised to work from home where possible. If you need to contact a member of its teams please do so via email and/or mobile phones in the usual way. If you were due to visit one of UKRI's office locations, institutes/research establishments or Catapult for a pre-arranged meeting, please contact the relevant team before setting off.

UKRI has contingency plans in place to prioritise its core operations but there will inevitably be some disruption.

UKRI is working to understand the nature of any impacts on its funded projects to ensure the appropriate support or advice is in place via its Councils and grants teams. This work is ongoing.

UKRI is taking a very pragmatic approach. For instance, where travel is impacted, if researchers or students cannot travel due to government/official advice, or it poses a risk to the individual (due to an underlying medical condition etc), this can be charged to the grant in line with any other cost. If that cost cannot be absorbed by any overall underspend on the grant then UKRI will cover that small addition. In the same circumstances, no cost extension requests to grants would be allowed.

MRC update- for funded researchers regarding the coronavirus situation

18 March 2020

https://mrc.ukri.org/news/blog/an-update-for-mrc-funded-researchers-regarding-the-coronavirus-situation/

Message from MRC Executive Chair, Fiona Watt

As MRC Executive Chair, I would like to reassure you that we are well aware that there may be delays in your grant expenditure or that you may incur additional costs. We will deal with these as sympathetically and flexibly as possible.

Some MRC researchers may need to prioritise other activities, for example deployment in the NHS, and we are, of course, very happy to consider requests that grants are held in abeyance or have a no-cost extension. If you have any queries about these matters please e-mail our grants team (rfpd@mrc.ukri.org). We will do our best to keep our funding panels operational over the next few months and would really appreciate it if you can rally round to help make this happen by helping with our review processes if asked. Also please take care of one another – individual researchers may be anxious about delays in their projects or may be far from home.

 

WELLCOME

Applications

All funding schemes and calls remain open for applications. Application deadlines, shortlisting, interview and decision dates will not change.

Awards

Wellcome will follow the policy of the employing organisation if any staff employed on a grant:

  • are unwell
  • need to self-isolate
  • have caring responsibilities for someone affected

They will supplement the grant for salary costs less any recoverable statutory pay. See their sick leave policy for more information.

They will pay the following costs for staff called away to work on the Coronavirus response for one month or more (for example carrying out clinical duties):

  • grantholder – the running costs and salaries of anyone employed on the grant
  • fellow – fellow’s salary (unless provided from elsewhere), running costs and salaries of anyone employed on the grant
  • member of staff employed on a grant – salary, unless provided from elsewhere (for example, the NHS)

Wellcome will pay these costs and extend the grant for the period of time staff are away. 

For other grants which may be affected (for example, if an organisation closes), Wellcome will look to minimise the impact on funded research activities wherever possible. This might be an extension or supplement to the grant, where it’s not covered by insurance.