COVID-19 – Impact on Research Funding
2 September 2020
This page contains links to UCL’s major research funder’s guidance on Coronavirus and advice for researchers. This is an evolving situation so please review this page and your Funders' own webpages regularly for updates.
Please refer to the main UCL Coronavirus page for updated advice about the coronavirus and UCL’s response.
Research Services is operating remotely, with all core services supported.
We are hosting regularly online training and drop in sessions to support colleagues across UCL.
Funders guidance and advice
- UKRI – Training Grants Specific Guidance
- Alzheimer’s Research UK
- Alzheimer’s Society
- British Academy
- British Heart Foundation
- Cancer Research UK
- European Commission
- EU MSCA
- European Research Council (ERC)
- Leverhulme Trust
- National Institutes of Health (NIH)
- National Institute of Health Research (NIHR)
- Nuffield Foundation
- Rosetrees Foundation
- Royal College of Physicians
- Royal Society
- Versus Arthritis
- Wellcome Trust
We will endeavor to update links to funders' guidance and advice as and when they are released so please continue to review this page regularly. If you receive information from Funders that is not captured here please let us know (email@example.com and we will endeavor to update the page.
Frequently asked questions
Applying for new funding
- I’m preparing a grant application. Will I still be able to submit it during the disruption?
Research Services remains operational however please allow extra time ahead of the funder submission deadline, and ensure your local Department Manager and Head of Department are available to approve.
- I’m applying to a COVID-19 call. Do I have to do anything in addition?
Please contact your School Research Coordination Office and Research Support & Development Team in Research Services as soon as possible so that we can fast track your application through UCL processes.
We ask that all UCL PIs undertaking COVID-19 research activities (both sponsored and non-sponsored activity) complete the Covid-19 Project Form this will allow your project to be added to the UCL COVID-19 Research Central Project Database and will provide signposting if you need to consult with your NHS Trust R&D Office, UCL Estates, and/ or UCL Ethics and Integrity to ensure your project has appropriate approval to begin swiftly and in line with Funder expectations. If you are applying for external funding please complete this form prior to/in parallel to doing this if possible.
The information entered in this form will help UCL professional services teams coordinate and enable support to COVID-19 research. It may also be used to allocate additional UCL funds and for UCL’s Communication and Marketing team to profile and publicise UCL’s Covid-19 research. It should not take more than 10 minutes to complete.
If additional support is required developing your application please contact your School Research Coordination Office (SLASH/IoE ; BEAMS ; SLMS ) and Research Support & Development Team in Research Services.
- Will Funders be extending the submission deadlines for Funding Calls?
Most funders are taking a pragmatic approach to dealing with the evolving situation, and we are aware that some deadlines have been extended. However this is likely to be Funder and/ or scheme specific so please check the Funder website for further information.
- I have a research contract that needs an authorised signature. Will it still be signed?
Arrangements are in place to ensure contracts are signed on schedule. Further details of your departmental contact is available on the Research Contacts website.
- Will there be delays in Funders notifying of grant decisions?
We are aware some Funders (such as CRUK) are delaying or postponing review panel decisions as a result of impact. However this can be Funder and/ or scheme specific so please check the Funder website for further information.
- I have just been awarded a new project I need to accept by a fixed deadline. What should I do?
Research Services remains operational. Please liaise with your usual Research Support Officer. See Research Services website for further details. If your acceptance requires a “wet” signature we will work with you and the Funder to ensure this is complete.
- Do I need to delay the start of my new research project?
You should discuss the starting of your new research project with your Head of Department to ensure there is no impact from the social distancing measures in place on campus.
If required permission to defer start dates must be sought directly from the Funder by the Principal Investigator (in writing). A copy of the correspondence should be attached to the Worktribe record.
If you can go ahead you should start your project following the standard processes.
Continuing research remotely
- How do I safely move my research to online and will this impact my ethical approval and Data Protection Registration?
Guidance is available on the Research Integrity website for researchers on how to safely move research online as well as data management and safety considerations. There is also guidance on the implications on ethical approval and data protection registration when moving your research from face-to-face to fully online.
- Will any additional online research resources be made available?
Information about existing and additional resources (which have been made accessible by publishers during the pandemic) are available from Library Services.
- Can I use my research project to purchase items to support remote working?
If your project is continuing at full capacity remotely and you require equipment to support remote working this should be purchased in accordance with your Funder’s terms and conditions. Office Furniture is not allowable by research funders in general so cannot be charged to research projects. Computer equipment can only be purchased if it was included in the original application or you have obtained specific permission from the funder.
Managing the impact on my research
- My project progress is being adversely impacted by the COVID-19 closures. What should I do?
Most Funders are encouraging PI’s to inform them if there is an immediate impact on their funded projects. Where possible researchers should seek to operate within the originally awarded budgets and timelines. Where this is not possible, alternative options should be explored with the Funder including but not limited to (1) No-cost extensions; (2) Exceptional repurposing of project budgets; or (3) Supplementary funding if offered by the external Funder.
Please contact Research Services via firstname.lastname@example.org for project specific advice.
- I am unable to meet agreed project milestones due to Covid-19. What should I do?
It is recognised that some research projects will be significantly impacted due to the scale and reach of the Covid-19 crisis that far extends the immediate lockdown impact. Where possible, permission to defer deliverables should be secured at project or funder level. Such projects will need to be assessed on a case-by-case basis over the coming weeks. If your research project has an imminent contractual deadline (e.g. for reports or other milestone deliverables) which cannot be met owing to COVID-19, we would recommend that you contact Research Services as soon as possible to discuss your options.
- My Funder has contacted me and advised that my project may be suspended and / or that costs incurred during UCL closure are not eligible? What shall I do? What does this mean for my project funded staff?
Please contact Research Services via email@example.com and a member of the team will contact you. If your research project is being continued remotely, costs should still be eligible. In the event that your project did not progress during the lockdown and your funder has stated costs incurred are not eligible we will work with you and your Department Manager to identify unrecoverable costs and a suitable mechanism to ensure they can be removed from your project.
- I have a subcontractor who requires urgent payment?
Presuming this is in line with the contract (e.g. the work has been completed, or that advance payments were agreed), please ensure your subcontractor sends the invoice electronically to the email address in the agreement with all the relevant backing documentation and this will be paid as per normal processes. If you receive the invoice directly please forward to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- My confirmed activities or travel plans have had to be cancelled and my project has lost money. Will the project be reimbursed?
We anticipate that funders will adopt a pragmatic approach on this, however it is likely to be variable, as such please refer to the individual funder’s guidance. Where travel plans have been cancelled upon government advice, the costs should be recovered from the travel supplier where possible, or UCL Insurance. If you booked travel via Key Travel please contact them directly.
- I have field work (including interviews and observations) in the currently underway or about to start. What should I do?
It’s likely that any fieldwork is going to be difficult, unless it can be undertaken remotely, and may need to be rescheduled for later in the year if possible. If your fieldwork is dependent on the time of year, then you may need to consider alternative arrangements and discuss this directly with your Funder. Please see the Research Integrity website for advice on how to safely move research online, and guidance for those needing to postpone studies.
- I need to return back to clinical duties however this will impact on my research project?
We are receiving confirmation from some funders that they fully support this direction and will provide extensions to projects where staff have returned to clinical duties to support the Coronavirus pandemic. There is an expectation from funders that the NHS will ultimately reimburse the project for associated salary costs incurred. Guidance for clinical staff released to the NHS for COVID-19 activities.
- Can I proceed with recruitment to any grant-funded posts?
Yes you can proceed. However, careful consideration should be given to the start date of any new staff. Please seek further advice from your Department Manager and HR Business Partner.
- Can I proceed with any PhD studentships starting from September 2020?
- I have received a no cost extension from my Funder, who do I need to inform?
Please forward the confirmation of the new end date from the Funder to your Department Manager. Standard no cost extension process should be followed by selecting Extend on your Worktribe Project and following the onscreen prompts, once approved this will automatically update your project records. If your project was applied for prior to 2016 you can extend your project via emailing Research Services Post Award Team.
- My Funder has contacted me and advised that my project is to be terminated. What should I do?
Please inform your Department Manager and Research Services email@example.com as soon as possible so we can support you in managing the impact.
- My UKRI funded project has been disrupted by Covid-19, how can I get access to the newly announced £180m additional investment?
UCL have been awarded £10.8 million. As a condition of release of the funds, we have submitted a governance plan for UKRI’s approval, developed with input from members of the Research Operations Group (ROG), the Research Strategy Implementation Group and the Equality, Diversity & Inclusion team.
The CoA Governance Group will make a nominal distribution of 90% of the CoA to Schools according to the balance of the UKRI portfolio. The Group will retain 10% in order to maintain the disciplinary balance and to respond to any requests that require special consideration under the terms of its remit. Eligible UKRI awards will be identified and prioritised as follows:
1. Awards that have already been identified as adversely affected by the pandemic disruption. These projects were detected when staff were considered for furlough under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme but subsequently removed from the scheme (with no claim made to HMRC).
2. Awards that have not already been identified in (1) and end before 31 March 2021, that have been adversely disrupted by COVID-19.
3. Other awards (outside of 1 and 2) that are deemed vulnerable under the decision-making criteria set by the CoA Governance Group.
UCL’s approach is focused on maintaining the key talent pipeline of research and technical staff. The priority order will help grant-holders maintain their talent and capacity, so placing them in position to deliver planned outcomes and underpin the post-pandemic recovery for research. Grant-holders who do not fall under the first two priority groups be will considered on a case-by-case basis, depending on the remaining CoA funds available.
- A member of staff on my project has been on furlough, when will my project be reimbursed?
All research projects with staff on the HR Services claim to HMRC have been reimbursed for the period up to 30 June 2020. Reimbursements for periods from 01 July 2020 will be actioned in accordance with future HR Services claims and subsequent reimbursements from HMRC.
- Is REF2021 still going ahead?
Research England have confirmed the REF2021 submission deadline is now 31-March-2021.