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BBSRC Call for Funding – Bacterial Plant Diseases – Coordination Team

17th February 2020

Call status: Open
Call opens: February 2020
Application deadline: 16 March 2020, 16:00

Programme Coordination Team

The Strategic Priorities Fund Bacterial Plant Diseases programme aims to support high quality multidisciplinary research to understand the complex interactions

between bacterial pathogens of UK plants, their hosts, the vectors which transmit them, and the wider environment.

Applications are invited for a coordination team to manage, coordinate and integrate activities within the programme, with the aim of:

  • Identifying and developing links and synergies between projects funded through the programme
  • Facilitate links between the projects and the wider stakeholder community and promote knowledge exchange
  • Ensure that policy-makers have access to research outputs in an accessible format in order to ensure that policy development is informed by robust evidence

Funding of up to £600k at 80% FEC is available as a grant ending on 31 March 2023. (There may be the potential for funding beyond this date, subject to appropriate outputs from the team and available funding, but this is not guaranteed). Funding will be available for salaries of team members, travel to visit grantholders and stakeholders, and for arranging meetings and workshops. Funds will not be provided for research activities.

The Strategic Priorities Fund Bacterial Plant Diseases programme

There is growing concern about potential and existing threats to UK plant (including tree) health and biosecurity from the wider spread and more common occurrence of both emerging and indigenous bacterial diseases. Contributory factors include environmental change and greater movement of potentially contaminated plants or plant materials in trade. These pathogens (and their invertebrate vectors) threaten crop production, forestry, commercial and amenity horticulture, as well as woodlands and broader biodiversity within the wider environment. They have the potential to cause widespread and severe economic, environmental and social impacts on landscapes and ecosystems, both rural and urban.

Bacterial phytopathogens are diverse and cause many types of diseases. Their transmission may be airborne, soil-borne or via invertebrate vectors. When introduced to new areas their spread is unpredictable, but often highly invasive. They are difficult to control with chemicals and, unlike many other plant pathogens, frequently have a large number of potential hosts.

BBSRC, NERC, Defra and the Scottish Government have obtained funding from the Strategic Priorities Fund to address these threats through high quality research projects. A large-scale project (BRIGIT) was commissioned to undertake a programme of research to understand the transmission and pathology of Xylella fastidiosa as well as the vectors which transmit it through the environment. BRIGIT is led by the John Innes Centre with a large number of partner organisations involved.

A second phase of this Strategic Priorities Fund programme was launched in May 2019. It was an open call for applications, to:

  • fund research to understand the threats to plant health from bacterial diseases
  • address the needs of policymakers and stakeholders
  • increase capability and capacity for research on bacterial diseases

The call for research grant applications has closed and grants should be announced in February 2020.

Coordination of activities

The funders are keen to ensure that the wider stakeholder community, including relevant producer organisations, environmental NGOs, land managers and other organisations with an interest in plant diseases, have opportunities to be involved with the research funded through this programme. Applicants were asked to involve stakeholders in their projects, from co-design of the project through to implementation of outcomes.

It is intended that this stakeholder engagement will be facilitated by a coordination team, comprising one lead coordinator working with a small team, to work on areas such as media interactions, knowledge exchange, policy interactions, meeting organisation and administration. Funding is available for salaries of coordination team members as well as travel to attend meetings with grantholders and stakeholders and to arrange meetings and workshops.

Role of the Coordination Team

The key activities which the team will be required to undertake are attached to this call (see Downloads). The precise roles and responsibilities will be agreed with the successful team but it is expected that all of the tasks given in the attachment will be addressed by the coordination team. The coordination team will report to the Programme Management Group and will need to provide regular updates on its activities and the outputs and impacts that it has achieved.

The coordination team will be expected to work with grantholders funded through the Bacterial Plant Diseases programme (including the team working on BRIGIT) to understand the aims of their research, how it relates to other research projects, and to identify links and synergies between research activities. The team will be expected to identify ways to exploit these links to add value to the programme.

The team will also work with stakeholder organisations to ensure two-way knowledge exchange between research groups and stakeholders, in order to ensure that the research project leaders are aware of the needs of stakeholder organisations, and are able to make the outputs of their projects and the knowledge gained accessible to stakeholders in an appropriate format. These interactions will make it possible for stakeholders to input into the research projects where appropriate. Interactions may take the form of workshops, meetings, newsletters or websites, or other relevant formats.

The funders will need to monitor the Bacterial Plant Diseases programme and will require the coordination team to assist them by gathering required information about outputs, outcomes and impacts of the research funded through the programme.

The coordination team will ultimately be responsible to the Senior Reporting Officer of the Bacterial Plant Diseases programme, and will report in more general terms to the Programme Management Group, comprising all four funders of the programme.

The successful coordination team will be expected to be involved in a kick-off meeting for researchers funded through Phase 2 in London in April 2020. The coordination team will not be expected to organise this meeting but will be required to attend it, meet the grantholders and learn about the projects, as a prelude to working with them on stakeholder interactions.


The role of lead coordinator is open to eligible individuals in organisations that are normally eligible to apply for research grants from UKRI’s research councils. Standard UKRI eligibility criteria apply.

For this call only: Individuals from Public Sector Research Establishments (PSREs) with 10 or more researchers with PhDs (or equivalent) are eligible to apply. If PSREs wishing to apply have not previously applied for UKRI funding and are not currently designated IRO status they will be required to complete an eligibility form (see: UK Research and Innovation: Application for eligibility to apply to UK Research and Innovation for research funding) to ensure they have the required capacity, systems and controls in place to manage the project and funding.

PSRE applicants should contact at the earliest opportunity to discuss their interests in applying.

Applications from individuals from other relevant institutions will be considered, providing the lead of the coordination team has a proven track record of delivering high-quality, postdoctoral research in the field of plant health. Anyone who is not normally eligible for UKRI funding but who is interested in applying for the role of coordinator should contact at the earliest opportunity.

Researchers who have obtained funding through the Bacterial Plant Diseases programme will be eligible to apply to run the coordination team, but will need to demonstrate how they will ensure that they can act in an independent manner and avoid conflicts of interests with their own project.

Application process

Applicants will need to complete the application form (see ‘Downloads’) and send this to The deadline for this call is 4pm on 16th March 2020. This is also the address for any queries about this call. Applicants should NOT attempt to submit their applications through the Je-S system as there is no open call on Je-S for this activity.

Applicants will also need to submit a two-page CV for each member of the team, as well as a one-page Gantt chart showing the planned activities of the coordination team. Approximate costs should be indicated on the application form; the successful team will be able to modify their actual costs slightly in consultation with the funders.

Applications will be assessed by the funders against the assessment criteria below. Teams who have presented high quality applications will be invited to attend at interview in late March 2020.

The application form

There is a downloadable application form available in ‘Downloads’. This is the only application form which should be used. Applications must not be submitted on any other form, including the Je-S form.

Assessment process

Applications for coordination funding will be reviewed by the funders and assessed against specific criteria; please see ‘Assessment criteria’ in ‘Downloads’.

The funders will shortlist the most promising teams for interview. At interview, teams will be required to demonstrate their vision for how they will add value to the programme and how they will ensure appropriate communication between the funded projects and with the wider stakeholder community.


Pre-announcement: mid-November 2019

Call opens: February 2020

Call closes: 16th March 2020

Interviews: late March 2020

Successful candidate announced: early April 2020

Kick-off meeting: April 2020