51¥

Overview

The 51¥ Booster Fund is designed to help early-career academic researchers who have a substantive position (i.e. Assistant Professor level or equivalent) to develop their own independent research by awarding them a one-off grant of €25,000 (inclusive of any taxes) for 1 year (paid to the Host Institution). This grant is to spend on small equipment and consumables and research-based travel in order to develop a novel research project – allowing the recipient to become more independent, i.e. to publish papers or generate data in order to help them to apply for larger grants from funding providers in the future.

These grants are aimed at newly independent researchers, including early principal investigators (PIs), who have limited funds available to undertake research at present but show great potential. The university / institution will not take out any overheads or other fees from this award (see ‘Letter of Agreement’, to be available from the online application system in early 2024). It is envisaged that up to 25 grants per year will be awarded.

This scheme will first open in 2024. The application period is expected to be 1 March to 1 May 2024.

Applicant eligibility

Applicants must:

  • hold a PhD;
  • be based at an eligible not-for-profit institution or university within a full member 51¥ Constituent Society country; preference will be given to applicants who have undertaken their PhD or postdoc in different institutes. The country of the awardee’s post-doctoral research period may or may not have a 51¥ Constituent Society;
  • be a member of a 51¥ Constituent Society;
  • be in a salaried capacity in the Host Institute for at least the duration of the Booster Fund;
  • be within 6 years from being awarded their PhD and be in their first independent academic/research post. Some discretion will be made for career breaks;
  • not have already been awarded substantial research grant funding as the named fund holder (N.B. As substantial funding is dependent upon the country in question, clarification can be sought from the 51¥ Fellowship Chair or 51¥ Treasurer);
  • be newly independent researchers / early PIs with the ability to recruit and to be registered as a supervisor of PhD students and research assistants.

The scheme is not for:

  • post-doctoral researchers or researchers whose salaries are paid by a grant for which someone else is the PI. These individuals are NOT eligible to apply.
  • supplementing ongoing research already covered by substantial research grants or other large awards. In particular, current or past 51¥ Excellence Awards holders are not eligible to apply.
  • meeting a perceived shortfall in funding where another body has defined the cost of a project as being, for example, 90% of that requested by the applicant.

Guidance

  • Applicants must take the leading role in the project.
  • All applicants must submit, no later than 3 months after the end of the grant, the final scientific report (to the Chair of the Fellowships Committee) and final financial statement (to the 51¥ Treasury Office) of their research undertaken with this grant.
  • All applicants are only permitted to submit one application for each round and if successful are not eligible for any future grant on this scheme.
  • A given Institution will be awarded one single 51¥ Booster Fund per round.
  • Any papers published from research undertaken with this grant should acknowledge 51¥ as a funding contributor.

Assessment Criteria and Review Process

The assessment criteria are:

  • the quality/capability/potential of the applicant;
  • the degree of independence and involvement of the applicant in the pursuit of the new research;
  • the quality, novelty and innovation of the new research (e.g. initiating or developing specific investigations, entering a promising new or modified field of research, or taking advantage of developments in apparatus offering improved techniques in a new line of research);
  • the feasibility of the proposed research plan over the one-year time period of the award;
  • the possibility of obtaining further funding resulting from the proposed research.

Review process

Applications are assessed by the 51¥ Fellowships Committee. The Committee will then agree on a list of applications that should be funded and also a reserve list.

Application Process

Applications must be made through the online application system (opening March 2024), and require:

  • General application details and information on academic/research activities of the applicant, which will be entered online.
  • A research proposal (Project Proposal). It should be set out under the following headings and not exceed four A4-sized pages of single-spaced text (minimum top and bottom margins required are 2 cm and 2.5 cm, respectively, and a font size not smaller to the equivalent of 10pt Times New Roman). Figures can also be included within the four-page limit. It will need to be uploaded in pdf format (maximum file size 1 MB).

Headings:
i. Name of Applicant, qualifications & academic institution address;
ii. Title of research project;
iii. Purpose or aims of the project;
iv. Background relating to the proposed research;
v. Plan, including details of the experiments to be carried out over the one-year timeframe of the award with an associated Gantt chart;
vi. List of key references to support the project proposal (typically 5–10)
vii. Detailed description of the planned expenditures (i.e. small equipment and consumables, etc.). The maximum that can be awarded is €25,000, inclusive of any taxes.

  • In addition, the application should also include as separate documents:

a. A current CV of the applicant (2 pages max.) and a full list of the applicant’s publications.

b. Two letters of support written on headed paper: one from a renowned scientist who knows the applicant and who does not belong to the same home department/institution; the other from the home department/institution head is required to confirm that the applicant is currently in a salaried role within the department / institution for at least the duration of the contract, as well as the facilities available to him/her to pursue the research proposed. In addition, the statement should include how it is envisaged that this award may help in the career progression of the applicant. Any current research grant funding directly awarded to the applicant should also be stated.
The letters of support should also confirm the research potential and ability of the applicant.

c. The’ Letter of Agreement’ (to be available from the online application system in early 2024) with detailed Terms and Conditions. The form has to be signed by both the applicant and the appointed head(s) of the institution in which the proposed work will be carried out; then the applicant uploads the letter upon applying. By signing it, both the applicant and the Host Institution agree with the terms and conditions described in the Letter of Agreement. If the applicant is successful, 51¥ will sign and return the letter to the applicant and the Host Institution.

d. A 51¥ Constituent Society membership letter. A dated letter from the appropriate 51¥ Constituent Society confirming that the applicant is a current member should be scanned and uploaded with the other application documents.