Briefing slides and FAQ

The slides (PDF 1.24MB) were presented by EPSRC and TSB, on behalf of the UK National Quantum Technologies Programme, at a briefing meeting for applicants on 7 March 2014.

Quantum Technology Hubs FAQ

There are several frequently-asked questions regarding the Quantum Technology Hubs, the answers to which help to explain the scope, intent, funding and operation of the Hubs. EPSRC will endeavour to keep this list up-to-date in order to help the community better understand the application process.

Scope

Can applicants apply for a Quantum Technology Hub that includes technology research focused outside of the five technical themes listed in the call document, or is the call limited to those themes only?

Yes, applicants can include in the scope of their proposed Hub technology research that focuses on technical themes other than secure communications, metrology, sensors, simulators and computation. Proposed Hubs must address at least one of the technical themes in the call document, but are free to also investigate other themes that are not listed.

Can institutions be involved in more than one proposal?

Yes. We believe it to be highly likely that institutions will be involved in more than one proposal. An institution can only lead one proposed Hub, but can be involved in several.

funding

Is the stipulation for a minimum of 20% of the budget assigned to ‘Partnership Resource’ in relation to the funding for resource, or the total (i.e. resource and capital) budget requested for a proposed Hub?

The stipulation for a minimum 20% of the budget to be allocated to Partnership Resource relates to the ‘recurrent’ costs – the costs that exclude the capital expenditure.

Is there further guidance on what the Partnership Resource can be spent on?

Applicants are encouraged to think broadly about the aspects of their proposed Hub that can benefit from the flexibility the Partnership Resource brings. The Partnership Resource enables Hubs to respond to new opportunities and work to broaden the research and innovation activities relating to quantum technology in the UK. It is important to note that the Partnership Resource is to be used to engage with partners outside of the initial scope of the Hub. It should not be used to fund capabilities that, at the outset, a Hub can already identify as being vital (e.g. engineering and technology research expertise). Funding for these resources should be included within the ‘core programme’ of the proposed Hub.>

Can funding for doctoral studentships be requested?

No. In line with normal EPSRC rules, funding for doctoral studentships is not a permissible cost. However, doctoral student funding could be included as part of institutional support for a Hub bid, or be provided by project partners.

Do collaboration agreements need to be prepared between universities only, or between universities and industry partners? When do these documents need to be prepared by?

By 1 October 2014 (the fixed start date of the Quantum Technology Hubs), collaboration agreements must be in place between all universities involved in a given Hub bid. This agreement must encapsulate the ethos of flexible funding under which each Hub will operate. Collaboration agreements between universities and industry partners should be drawn up as required, but do not need to be in place by 1 October 2014.

Is any variance permitted in the amount of funding requested between the total quoted in the Outline documentation and the total quoted in a Full Proposal?

In the case whereby a bid is not required to make substantive changes in content between the Outline Proposal and the Full Proposal, a variance of no greater than ±10% will be accepted by EPSRC. Where a bid has gone through changes between Outline and Full Proposal, based upon strategic peer review guidance, EPSRC will make clear what variance in costs is deemed acceptable.

Will other funding be available from EPSRC to support quantum technologies research?

EPSRC is one of the public bodies that participate in the UK National Quantum Technologies Programme, alongside the Technology Strategy Board and Dstl. We are partnering with these organisations to provide a suite of future funding options that will support research and innovation focused on supporting quantum technology in the UK. From EPSRC funding, we are investigating approaches towards Fellowships and Strategic Packages to support the very best researchers interested in quantum technology. These funding options will be made available at appropriate points in the future.

Does EPSRC still fund quantum science as well as quantum technology research?

Absolutely. The UK National Quantum Technologies Programme seeks to exploit the excellence of the UK quantum science base by supporting technology-driven research. Alongside this new Programme, EPSRC continues to make available all our normal funding mechanisms for the quantum science community, via our Physical Sciences and ICT themes

Personnel and Management

How important is it that the Hub – and specifically the senior leadership team – includes experience of technology research, development and transfer?

We believe the inclusion of this form of expertise to be of central importance to the chances of the Quantum Technology Hubs being successful. We anticipate that successful proposals will have a senior leadership team with at least one, and probably more, individuals that can demonstrate experience and credibility in these skills.

Can the Director and PI come from different institutions?

Yes, this is an option. In every instance whereby the Director and PI is not the same individual, a proposal must clearly justify this separation of roles.

What sort of people should be invited to sit on the Advisory Board of a Quantum Technology Hub?

We expect the Advisory Boards of the Quantum Technology Hubs to be composed of a mixture of national and international expertise, from both academia and industry, which covers the technology research focus of the Hubs. At least half of the membership should be ‘independent’ of the Hub – meaning that those individuals are not affiliated with any of the institutions or project partners of the Hub. Advisory Board membership must be discussed with EPSRC in advance of finalisation, and applicants should bear in mind that there is likely to be a requirement for the Advisory Board of any single Hub to have a formal interaction with the Strategic Advisory Board of the National Quantum Technologies Programme, which may involve shared membership.

Capital

Is EPSRC really willing to fund 100% of the Full Economic Cost of equipment for these proposals?

Yes. For items that cost over £10K, EPSRC is willing fund up to 100% of the full economic cost – applicants may request this funding if required. Costs to wholly- or partly-fund equipment may also come from institutions and project partners as part of their support for a Hub, in which case their contribution should be clearly indicated in the relevant statement of support, and the amount requested from EPSRC will be reduced. Where costs differ because of support from other sources, please note that applicants should only list the capital equipment costs requested from EPSRC on their JeS form – not the full cost of the equipment.

If any requested equipment has potential usage outside of quantum technology research, should this be highlighted?

Yes. This should be recorded in the Capital Business Case, when discussing Scientific Excellence and National Importance in relation to the equipment.

Will EPSRC provide funding for new facility/laboratory refurbishment or construction in this call?

Yes, assuming that a clear link is made between the requirement for the facility and the success of the Quantum Technology Hub. Applicants should exercise caution, however, that refurbishment and/or building work can be completed within the tight timescales for expenditure that accompany the call for Quantum Technology Hubs. Slippage outside of these timescales will not be permitted and if, in the eyes of strategic peer review, the plans for refurbishment/building cannot be guaranteed to spend in the required timescale, then the whole proposal will be in jeopardy. EPSRC will provide additional guidance to applicants regarding capital expenditure guidelines in due course.

Intellectual Property

Are central arrangements for intellectual property going to be put in place?

EPSRC is currently investigating options for handling IP arising from the Quantum Technology Hubs. More guidance on this issue will be issued as soon as it is available, but applicants should expect guidance relating to ‘shared approaches’ for IP.