STFC 4th SBF community update

Council transition to the new Funding Service – STFC

During 2023, applicants to the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and other councils began the transition of funding opportunities via the UKRI Funding Service rather than the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system. This is in line with the Simpler and Better Funding (SBF) programme, which aims to support the UK’s world class research and innovation system by reducing the burden of finding, applying for and managing research funding. Over the course of 2024, transition will continue with all new opportunities launched on the Funding Service and an increase in functionality to better support the review and award processes.

UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) principles of assessment and decision-making will continue to underpin our peer review policies and processes during and after the transition to the Funding Service.

Question sets and assessment criteria

A harmonised question set and assessment criteria has been agreed for all responsive mode opportunities running on the Funding Service.

To find out about core responsive mode application questions and assessment criteria, see how applicants use the Funding Service.

Although STFC does not run a responsive mode funding opportunity, these are likely to be the basis for other research grant opportunities which will be relevant to STFC as we transition. Several other question sets/assessment criteria have also now been agreed for other funding types including fellowships, commercialisation, travel and public engagement.

STFC opportunities will be based on one of the agreed question sets but, where required, will have additional opportunity-specific assessment criteria and questions. All assessment criteria will be published on the UKRI funding finder, and we will make assessment criteria explicit and clear for each funding opportunity.

You can also watch a number of training videos on YouTube to help familiarise yourself with the service How to use the UKRI Funding Service – YouTube

There may be some challenges in onboarding schemes during the transition to the Funding Service, as the team build out the service’s core capabilities. However, we are working closely with the Funding Service team and with other councils to minimise these and ensure that via feedback and iterations the Service is truly user-centered and supports all those involved in research funding.

STFC transition current position

STFC has now transitioned a number of opportunities onto the UKRI Funding Service:

  • Early-Stage Research and Development
  • Late-Stage Commercialisation
  • Ernest Rutherford Fellowships
  • Industrial CASE (and CASE Plus) studentships
  • Applying for time on the DiRAC computing service.
  • PATT Travel grants
  • Public Engagement Nucleus Awards Stage 1
  • Public Engagement Legacy Awards
  • Astronomy observation and theory small awards
  • Solar and planetary small awards
  • Astronomy large awards
  • Particle Physics Experiment consolidated grants
  • Public Engagement Nucleus Awards stage two
  • Leadership Fellowships in Public Engagement
  • Projects peer review panel

There are also a number of opportunities which are being developed for onboarding in the next few months:

  • Public Engagement Spark Awards (March 2024)
  • Future Underground Dark Matter Science Experiments (March 2024)
  • Accelerator institute grant review (March 2024)
  • Gravitational waves consolidated grants (April 2024)

The Particle Physics Experiment consolidated grants round for 2024 is now live on the Funding Service for applications, but we are using a hybrid approach. This means that applicants will still provide most of the information we require via an attachment, rather than as questions and answers in the text box approach that has been implemented for other Funding Service opportunities. However, for the Gravitational Waves CGs and Accelerator Institute review we will be working towards bringing terminology (questions and criteria) used more in line with that agreed for the Funding Service.

An interim solution for major projects (PPRP) has been agreed and has now been onboarded to the Funding Service. Current functionality in the Funding Service means that all costings will need to be included on the application created by the lead organisation – we are unable to deliver the parent and child model. Lead applicants will be provided with a link to the opportunity when agreement has been made on a submission date. Applicants will be required to provide the more detailed financial breakdown that we need by email.

We are still working with the SBF team to discuss ways of using the Funding Service more effectively and efficiently for complex funding such as PPRP and consolidated grants.

As well as onboarding these opportunities for the first time, 2024 will see us hosting, for example, Ernest Rutherford Fellowships and Late-Stage Commercialisation on the service for the second time.

Further information on how to apply for STFC opportunities will be available on the Funding Finder.

We have now also used the Funding Service for expert review, principal investigator response and panel assessment with more activity of this type due in the next few months.

The STFC PATT grants have been selected as one of the opportunities for piloting the award process and we anticipate that this will take place in late February/March 2024.

We value feedback on your experience with using the Funding Service in any role so that we can continue to improve features and functionality. You can provide feedback either via email to or via form: your feedback will help improve this service (

Applicant guidance

As well as the specific opportunity guidance, the UKRI website includes more general information on using the Funding Service including setting up an account for the first time How applicants use the UKRI Funding Service – UKRI. On this page you will also find links to training videos to assist with your Funding Service journey.

The current STFC “guidance for applicants” web pages will be reviewed over the next month or so to ensure that content is in line with the Funding Service.

Reviewer guidance

For those of you who may be invited to provide a peer review on the new Funding Service you can find guidance on what you can expect How reviewers use the UKRI Funding Service – UKRI. The scoring scale used for reviewers has been harmonised and you will now be asked to rate between 1 and 6.

You may also be asked to participate on a panel that is being administered on the Funding Service. Scores for panel members have also been harmonised and will be based on a scale of 1-10. At the moment the Funding Service only accepts an overall score to be entered but you can expect us to continue to ask you to score each criteria, which will be done off system.

The current STFC web pages relating to peer review and assessment will be reviewed over the next month or so to ensure that content is in line with the Funding Service.

Ask a question about the SBF programme

If you would like to ask a question about the UKRI SBF programme, please contact:
Telephone: 01793 547490

Feedback on your experience of using the Funding Service as an applicant, reviewer or panel member is really valuable so please do let us know both the positives and the negatives so that we can continue to build a user focussed service. You can provide feedback via this link Your feedback will help improve this service (

The STFC transition web page will be updated on a regular basis so please do check this out for the latest information. Council transition to the new Funding Service – STFC – UKRI

You can also keep a look out for webinars run by the Simpler and Better Funding team on Events – UKRI where updates on the Service’s functionality will be demonstrated.