NERC and NSF join forces to simplify UK-US collaboration process

2 September 2014

NERC and the US's National Science Foundation (NSF) have agreed to work together to make it easier for world-leading environmental scientists to collaborate on discovery science projects and global environmental challenges.

The agreement, between NERC and the NSF's Division of Environmental Biology (DEB), has been set up to facilitate partnership working by letting UK and US researchers submit a single collaborative proposal to either NERC or NSF.

UK environmental scientists have a strong record of successful collaboration, but having to apply to different funders for grants can be complex and problematic. Not only is the current process time-consuming for applicants and peer reviewers, but if collaborators apply to their respective funders for grants independently, there's a risk that only one of the bids is successful.

The new agreement will help minimise this risk of double jeopardy - instead of being reviewed by two peer review panels, each collaborative submission will be reviewed by a single panel, avoiding duplication of effort for applicants and peer reviewers.

Professor Duncan Wingham, NERC's chief executive, said:

"NERC-funded scientists have a long history and solid record of collaborating with environmental scientists around the world - many of these relationships are with academic partners in the US. We're pleased to introduce this new agreement to simplify routes to collaboration for these research teams, which should reduce workloads for applicants and peer reviewers, benefitting all involved."

The agreement will initially operate through NERC's discovery science schemes and DEB's equivalent schemes in 2015 and 2016 using existing budgets and peer review mechanisms.

It is important to recognise that this agreement does not describe new opportunities for funding; it simply announces a new way for international collaborative proposals to go through existing peer review mechanisms - simplifying the collaboration process as far as possible.

Proposals must be an integrated UK-US effort to address a topic of interest to both NERC and DEB that would benefit from a collaborative approach.

A similar agreement with NSF's directorate for geosciences (GEO) is also in development and is expected to be announced before the end of 2014.

NERC and NSF plan to evaluate the success of the agreement to determine whether to continue or extend it.

If you are interested in how this agreement might help you, please see NERC's guidance for applicants on the funding for international collaborations page for further information on how to submit a discovery science proposal using the NERC-NSF DEB agreement.

Further information

NERC media office
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07917 557215