Project Research and Development scheme

The PRD scheme is intended to develop the capabilities needed to underpin UK science and technology leadership in future Science and Technology Facility Council projects. The scheme provides funding for research and development projects which enable STFC to deliver the science programme objectives in the areas of particle physics, particle astrophysics, nuclear physics and astronomy. PRD funding is available for projects which develop technology/ technologies beyond that of laboratory experimentation or modelling and show that the technology can be deployed in a future project; or for demonstration projects which prove the design concept of new equipment (including software) that can then be implemented in a full scale project.

The scheme is open to approved research organisations. Industrial organisations may also apply in collaboration with approved research organisations.

STFC supports blue skies development of space technologies between TRL 3 and 6 under the PRD funding line. More details are at PRD Definition.

Please note that proposals for project specific R&D for a space mission or small upgrades for space instruments and missions, fall within the remit of the UK Space Agency.

Call for Applications

There is no PRD call for 2017.

PRD Application Process

Please click below to view the application processes.

Click the image for a larger view of the PRD proposal flow

  1. Programme Manager made aware of application

    All proposals received will be forwarded to the relevant Programme Manager of STFC to discuss the proposed programme. The proposal along with the necessary forms must be submitted via the electronic submission system (JeS) to PPRP by the submission deadline. Each proposal is assessed by external referees and PPRP members. Referees submit a review of the proposal which is sent to the applicant to respond to the comments. Once received the proposal and all relevant paperwork is then submitted to PPRP.

  2. Proposal Submission to PPRP

    All proposals are submitted to PPRP to review if the proposals are suitable to the Scheme. Any that are deemed not suitable will be rejected and the applicant informed via feedback letter. The remaining proposals are then forwarded for scoring by PPRP.

  3. Proposals Scored by PPRP

    The proposals along with all the necessary forms are evaluated and scored by PPRP on the basis of scientific merit and excellence, economic and societal impact, leadership, synergies and project management. The proposals that score below the required benchmarking level will be rejected and the applicant informed via feedback letter. Proposals achieving the necessary required scoring level will then be forwarded to the PPRP (PRD) Meeting.

  4. PRD Meeting

    The PRD meeting is held to assess the proposal and question the applicant by the Panel.

  5. PRD Report

    A report from the PPRP meeting is sent to the STFC Executive.

  6. STFC Executive Meeting

    After discussion with the PPRP Chair and Deputy Chair and considering the recommendations of the PRD Report, the STFC Executive will decide on the funding outcome of the proposal.

  7. Outcome of Proposal

    The PPRP will inform the applicant of the decision of the STFC Executive.

PRD guidance

Both applicants from public sector research establishments and commercial applicants should submit a comprehensive PRD proposal according to the following guidelines:

The scheme funds projects that are between the Technology Readiness Levels of 4 and 6. Definitions of Technology Readiness Levels are shown in the table below.

Technology Readiness Levels

Level Definition
TRL 1 Basic principles observed and reported.
TRL 2 Technology concept and/or application formulated.
TRL 3 Analytical and experimental critical function and/or characteristic proof-of-concept.
TRL 4 Technology basic validation in a laboratory environment.
TRL 5 Technology basic validation in a relevant environment.
TRL 6 Technology model or prototype demonstration in a relevant environment.
TRL 7 Technology prototype demonstration in an operational environment.
TRL 8 Actual Technology completed and qualified through test and demonstration.
TRL 9 Actual Technology qualified through successful mission operations.

Proposals are welcome from consortia comprising industrial and academic collaborations or from individual UK institutions.

Resources are aimed towards:

  • Developing novel technologies, beyond the concept stage, to underpin the science programme and to place UK scientists in leading positions in future projects;
  • Supporting applications that lead towards the exploitation of STFC technology infrastructure for high priority scientific projects;
  • Exploratory technology development work prior to starting or joining a new project;
  • R&D initiatives and small upgrades to existing projects.

The PRD scheme applies to the pre-construction phase of projects and seeks to pave the way for more:

  • UK intellectual leadership in key work packages in international projects;
  • UK industrial return on construction phase contracts;
  • Knowledge transfer through collaborative developments, spin-out formation, skills transfer and intellectual property licensing;
  • Flexibility and responsiveness to new initiatives from astronomy, particle astrophysics, particle physics and nuclear physics.

Proposals to support scientific exploitation of existing projects should be made to the appropriate grants panel (Astronomy Grants Panel, Particle Physics Grants Panel, Nuclear Physics Grants Panel) and not via the PRD scheme.

Please note: Applicants may nominate one referee, which the STFC will take into consideration but the use of which is not guaranteed. Nominated referees must not be collaborators; neither should they be from the applicant’s or collaborator’s home organisation.

Applicants must also refer to the STFC Project Management Framework

Programme Manager

Before writing a PRD proposal for submission, you must first contact the appropriate Programme Manager to discuss your proposal. Programme Managers will be able to provide guidance on the proposal, the fit with the STFC strategy and programme, and whether the PRD scheme is the most appropriate route for funding.


Your proposal needs to include a case for support and Pathways to Impact information. Applicants should be mindful of both clarity and brevity when preparing a proposal and present all information in such a way that it is easy for the peer review panel to follow. It is important to bear in mind that not all members of the panel will be equally familiar with the research topic.

The length of the case for support should be proportional to the size of the request and must not exceed 20 pages (in 11pt type) including figures and appendices. Proposers can refer to supporting information in their case for support and this may be requested by the PPRP if deemed necessary. The supporting information should not be submitted in the first instance. The case for support should stand alone in case the supporting information is not requested.

Please be aware that any case for support document longer than 20 pages will be returned to the proposer on submission and will need to be re-submitted before the deadline. The deadline is fixed and cannot be negotiated. Any case for support (including those re-submitted to fit the page limit) received after the deadline will not be accepted.

If relevant, it is the responsibility of the principal applicant to ensure that any information is worded in such a way to protect commercially confidential or sensitive areas.

The following points should be addressed briefly within the body of the proposal:

  • Objectives - A description of the intended end result of the project should be given. This should be clearly stated so that the success or failure of the project can easily be determined at the end of the funded period. Any intermediate results upon which the final result depends should be identified.
  • Project description - A description of the applicants proposed contribution to the project should be given. The document should highlight any unique contributions and technology innovation developed by the proposing institutes for this project (including any past R&D work). It should identify those elements of equipment that will be industrially procured, and those elements that will be built in the proposing institutes. Any aspects of UK leadership should be specified.
  • Awareness & context - Describe the present status of related technology research and development worldwide? Where is this research field likely to be in 10 years time? What is the current state of play? When will technology involved in this project mature?
  • Competing research - A summary of any competing research or techniques should be provided. There should be some analysis of the benefits of this particular research against similar past and current research worldwide.
  • STFC science - What specific STFC science opportunities does this project address? How does this project relate to STFC priorities as set out by the STFC Advisory Panels?
  • Long term objectives and implications - The long term goals of the project should be given. In the case of R&D dedicated to a new experiment or instrument, state what the scientific results of the final project would be; what will be measured; why it should be measured; why the project is timely. An outline of how the proponents hope to proceed from a research and development project to the final project should be given, with approximate timescales and milestones. In the case of technology development, is it required for a one-off project? Does it provide underpinning capability for future STFC scientific projects? Does it provide underpinning technology for inter-disciplinary projects?
  • Participants - A list of all UK participants should be provided. The list should specify their role in the project, and a justification of the costs. Where appropriate, key individuals, such as the UK Spokesperson and Project Manager(s) responsible for ensuring that the project and its constituent parts are kept on schedule and budget should be identified.
  • Track record - Explain your track record in this R&D field. Why do you consider your group the best or most appropriate to carry out this programme? How can the assessors be confident that you would be able to deliver the project? What is the competency of your group to perform this work? List the related publications, grants, spinout companies, patents, Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) etc.
  • Collaborative projects - What linkages and/or collaborations do you have with external key players in this area? Include a description of how responsibilities are to be shared among the collaborators, both within the UK and internationally. For international collaborations, the membership of the international collaboration, a brief breakdown of responsibilities within it, and how the significance of the UK contribution to the project fits relative to those from other countries, should be given. The status of approval and funding of the international experiment should be provided. Collaborations between commercial and academic partners must have a Collaboration Agreement in place before funds are released.
  • Key Stakeholders/Cross-Council involvement - Does this technology have relevance to other (non-STFC) research council or research establishment (Department of Business, Innovation and Skills; Ministry of Defence; Department of Health etc) work?
  • Timescale - The timescale of the project should be clearly specified. A list of key milestones and deliverables must be given along with dates against which the progress of the project can be assessed (a Gantt chart showing the major milestones of the project is desirable).
  • Costs - The overall cost to STFC of the project should be shown (at 80% fEC (full economic costs) apart from exceptions). Where appropriate two total costs should be given:
    • The total cost to STFC of the project. This includes all equipment, travel, any common fund contributions to experiments, any new staff requests, and the costs of any STFC staff at RAL (Rutherford Appleton Laboratory) or Daresbury and existing STFC funded staff (e.g. consolidated grant staff) at the participating institutions who will work on the project (accounting appropriately for fractional posts). Staff overheads (including estate and indirect costs) should be included. Costs for other non-STFC staff, STFC Fellows and students should not be included. The funds requested should not be indexed for inflation.
    • The amount of money which is requested from the PRD fund i.e. as above, but excluding any STFC-funded staff who are already funded through a grants line.
Guidance on internal costs for STFC applicants can be found on the STFC intranet.

All costs associated with the research proposal should be fully justified. Further information on justifying resources can be found in the Research Grants Handbook.

Templates for finance tables - please use the finance table templates provided as Annex 1.
  • Strategy - If a specific technology is being developed, describe the particular strategy adopted and the pathways to be followed for long-term evolution of this technology. Explain why your proposed technology strategy is the optimum route to deliver the project.
  • Risks - Evaluate all risks associated with the project and explain how they will be controlled and managed. What are the factors that influence likely success? A guide to risk assessment and a useful tool for carrying out a risk assessment is provided in Annex 2.
  • Other funding - What, if any, other sources of funding do you currently hold, or are presently applying for, for this project?

Peer review


The PRD proposal will be assessed by the PPRP using the following criteria:

  • Science Strategy
    How does the proposal map onto STFC’s high priority future programme?
  • Feasibility
    Competency and likelihood of group delivering stated goals
  • Technological Impact
    To what extent will the proposal enable future science by providing better / cheaper / novel technologies
  • Impact Science
    To what extent will a successful outcome contribute to increasing our understanding of STFC’s key science questions?
  • Timeliness
    How important is it that we do this now?
  • Economic and Societal Impact
    To what extent does the proposal show applicants have identified the potential to deliver economic and societal impact and developed the means to achieve impact beyond the project.


STFC will seek at least three referee reports for each proposal. Referees will be anonymous, and applicants must inform STFC if there is any referee who would be expressly unsuitable for the role. In such cases, adequate justification must be given, which will be treated by STFC in the strictest confidence. Applicants may also nominate one referee, which the STFC will take into consideration but the use of which is not guaranteed. Nominated referees must not be collaborators; neither should they be from the applicant’s or collaborator’s home organisation.

Assessing Economic and Societal Impact

Further guidance on completing the Pathways to Impact plan can be found in the Research Grants Handbook


STFC will take all reasonable steps to ensure that the content of funding proposals is treated as confidential.

Further guidance on completing the Pathways to Impact plan can be found in the Research Grants Handbook

Information for applicants from universities and other public sector research establishments

Applicants from universities and other public sector research establishments can submit an application provided they meet the normal eligibility requirements for STFC research grant funding as set out in the research grants handbook (link opens in a new window).

Applicants must submit their proposal through the Je-S electronic system by 4pm on the given deadline (usually 6 weeks before the meeting).

To ensure that the proposal is correctly processed applicants should:

  • Select Council: STFC
  • Select document type: fEC (full economic costs) grant proposal
  • Select scheme: PPRP (Projects Peer Review Panel)
  • Select Peer Review Preference: Project Peer Review Panel

Information for commercial applicants

A commercial organisation is eligible to submit an application in collaboration with an approved research organisation if it has a manufacturing and/or research facility within the UK. The person making the application must be normally resident in the UK and hold a permanent appointment with the organisation, i.e. contractors or consultants may not make applications. Commercial applicants will need to apply using the Research in Industry funding scheme available on the RCUK Joint electronic Submission (JeS System). You will need to ensure that your organisation is registered on JeS to enable this. Go to the Research in Industry page for further information about eligibility for funding and application forms.

Commercial organisations should apply by submitting a completed Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ) as an attachment to the STFC Research in Industry scheme on JeS, along with a comprehensive case for support that sets out the justification for the requested level of support.

All proposals are required to show the total (100%) full economic cost (fEC) of the research proposed, as set out in the Research in Industry guidelines.

Applications should contain a clear statement of the scientific and technical need and relevance for the proposed development including the impact that the development will bring in terms of additional capability (e.g. scientific opportunity, increased throughput, new measurement capability, more efficient operation). Key points on why this is an innovative idea, what impact this R&D work is likely to have, how important it is and the rationale for efforts in this area should be contained within the first two pages. (See above PRD proposal guidelines).

Should the application be successful STFC will not release funds to a collaboration until it has received a signed copy of the 'Collaboration Agreement'. Model (Lambert (link opens in a new window)) agreements can be found on the Intellectual Property Office website.


All applications should be submitted online using the Je-S system by 4pm on the day of the submission deadline. For any queries relating to Je-S, please contact the Je-S helpdesk directly by email or by phone on +44 (0)1793 44 4164. It is the responsibility of the Principal Investigator (PI) to ensure their institution’s administration department submits the proposal before the submission deadline.

Details of all the requirements and the terms and conditions of research proposals under full economic costing (fEC) principles can be found in the fEC grants handbook. Those involved in the preparation and submission of grant proposals must familiarise themselves with the handbook.



Event information

Projects Peer Review Panel (PPRP) and PRD meeting dates

Science and Technology Facilities Council Switchboard: 01793 442000