UKRI Covid-19 Grant Extension Allocation FAQ -Version 180920

Why has UKRI provided this funding?

UKRI has provided an institutional allocation from which we can provide extensions for UKRI grants (including Innovate, but not including KTPs) impacted by Covid-19. The aim of this funding is to help us to maintain our research base and to support delivery of project outcomes where these have been impacted by the pandemic. UKRI expects us to consider the disciplinary balance within our portfolio and also any additional impacts which relate to staff with protected characteristics.

How will this funding be prioritised?

The University Executive Board has approved a set of principles which will govern our internal allocation of this funding and are in line with UKRI requirements for management of the fund. We will:
Prioritise projects which have been demonstrably disrupted by Covid-19 such that the core objectives of the research have been endangered and where an extension will enable tangible deliverables and outputs that can mitigate this.

  • Prioritise directly incurred staff costs for additional funding to ensure we protect our research base as far as is possible.
  • Prioritise projects where staff with protected characteristics have been disproportionately disrupted by Covid-19.
  • Take into account the length of funded time remaining on a project, prioritising CoA support for projects ending by 31 March 2021.
  • Consider requests to extend co-investigator held budgets at other institutions where they have not received an institutional CoA from UKRI.

How will I know if I am eligible for extension funding?

Research Services is emailing directly all current PIs on a UKRI-funded grant or fellowship which finishes after April 2020 and before October 2021.

What if I haven’t heard from Research Services, but think I am eligible for extension funding?

Please email UKRICovid19extensions@sheffield.ac.uk with the details.

When will I be able to apply?

We are running four application phases in order to prioritise those grants ending soonest.

The phases will be for grants finishing:

  • Between April 2020 and the end of October 2020;
  • Between November 2020 and January 2021;
  • Between February 2021 and March 2021;
  • After March 2021.

PIs with grants which are eligible for an extension will be written to in the order above.

Please note: For grants which finish after March 2021 we do not expect to receive extension requests routinely for these, as we anticipate that mitigation will have been put in place. We do recognise that some grants rely on events which may, for example, be seasonal, so there may be cases where an extension is required. We would expect the maximum extension in this case to be 3 months.

If I have more than one grant in scope for the extension scheme will I need to complete separate applications?

Yes. We are contacting PIs on a grant by grant basis so you will receive separate invitations.

What information will I need to provide?

You will be asked to complete a short Google form. This will ask for the length of extension you wish to apply for (up to a maximum of six months and relative to the time remaining on their grant), the directly incurred staff you would retain using the funds, whether you require additional non-staff costs (we expect requests for non-staff costs to be by exception) and a short justification about the impact of Covid-19 on your grant and what the extension will enable you to deliver.

How will my application be reviewed?

An Allocation Committee has been set up to oversee the scheme. This is chaired by Sue Hartley (Vice-President for Research) and contains all of the Faculty Directors of Research & Innovation, a Faculty Director of ED&I and senior colleagues from Research Services, Human Resources and Finance. Each application will be reviewed by two members of the Committee and if the two reviewers do not agree, will be discussed by the Committee.

Provided your application is approved, there will be ‘back office’ checks to confirm that the funding is not available from within your existing grant budget and also to confirm availability of the requested funding from within the overall allocation envelope.

Decisions will be communicated directly to the applicant PI and you will be supported by your Faculty research hub to create a new costing for the extension. It will not be necessary for approved extensions to go through the Recruitment Approval Process (RAP).

When do I need to spend my extension funding by?

UKRI requires that all extension funding must be spent by September 2021.

What if I have been invited to apply for an extension but my grant does not need this support?

The funding available is limited and we want to ensure that we allocate it as fairly and as appropriately as possible. PIs who have unspent budget and could therefore deliver their project outcomes via a no-cost extension are expected to do so. We would be grateful if you could email UKRICovid19extensions@sheffield.ac.uk if you do not wish to apply for a costed grant extension from the university, specifying the costing number of the grant

What if I have already applied for or are considering a No-Cost Extension from UKRI?

If UKRI has already accepted a request for a no-cost extension for your project, you may receive extension support if the project is considered a priority for receiving funding by the Allocation Committee.

If UKRI has not approved your request for a no cost extension by 31 July 2020, they have stated that projects that end before 30 September 2021 will not be able to both benefit from a no-cost extension and charge costs against university extension funding. If you have submitted a no-cost extension request to UKRI, which has not yet been approved, and now wish to receive extension funding from the university, you will need to notify UKRI that your no-cost extension is no longer required.

UKRI did provide a list of no-cost extension requests which they had received by the end of July to Finance colleagues to determine which should be accepted by UKRI and which rejected because the better course of action would be a costed extension.

What if I have budget available to spend on my current grant which is due to end?

Unfortunately you cannot have a no cost extension (where you’d spend remaining budget) and apply for a Covid-19 extension. You need to consider what you can purchase/spend in advance on the original grant (be aware that you may need to justify what you buy). Any remaining budget will be ‘returned’ to UKRI. If you will need to spend beyond the end of your original grant (i.e. if you need Facility usage which can't be done in advance) you will need to include the costs in your Covid-19 extension.

What if I have project staff on furlough?

We cannot use funds from this allocation to fund staff on furlough as this would essentially be “double dipping” of government funding. Funding can be used to bring staff off furlough to return to the lab but they must finish their furlough period prior to extension funding commencing.

Can I undertake new research?

No. UKRI have specifically provided this extension funding to enable existing research projects to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic where this has caused a cessation to or interruption of planned research activities.

Are KTPs eligible to receive funding?

No. KTPs are not eligible for the extension scheme.

How should I set up the costing for an approved extension?

  • Create a new costing using the PI's name.
  • Call the costing 'EPSRC Covid extension for original grant ref R/xxxxxx'
  • Select EPSRC as funder
  • Select appropriate programme name for each Research Council or Innovate - e.g. MRC Covid Extension, ESRC Covid Extension etc
  • Costings may include DI staff (post docs, project managers etc) and, exceptionally non-staff costs.
  • They will be priced at 100% for directly incurred costs and 0% for indirects/estates, PI time etc. The extensions aim to extend DI staff contracts to enable the completion of research projects disrupted by covid.

Costings will need to be approved by the department in the usual way and RS will hand it over in the usual way so that Finance can extend the member of staff. These extensions won't go through RAP.

What if the PI on the grant is at another University and I am co-I. Can I still apply?

Yes you can apply at Sheffield. We have agreed that we will include all of our own PIs in our process, even where the main grant may be held at another HEI.

Who should I contact if I have a question on the allocation scheme that is not addressed by this FAQ?

If you have any queries, please contact UKRICovid19extensions@sheffield.ac.uk