COVID-19 guidance from research funders

Expand All

 

The Andrew W Mellon Foundation has introduced a three-month grace period for interim and final reports for all grants.

In addition, grants ending in March, April, and May of 2020 will receive an automatic three-month no-cost extension to June, July, and August respectively. Final reports will be due three months after the new grant end date.

They are also prepared to assist with COVID-19-related budget reallocations: 

  • If the request is for 20% or more of total grant funds to be reallocated, or if significant changes are expected to the deliverables of the grant, please send an email to the SC program staff to initiate a COVID-19-related modification
  • If the request does not meet the above conditions, it does not require program staff approval – instead, please report these budget changes in your next scheduled report

 

Diabetes UK understands the challenge COVID-19 presents to the research community. It may mean that research studies funded by Diabetes UK need to be paused for a number of reasons, including to free up staff to help support the frontline response to COVID-19.

Diabetes UK is keen to support the research community during this difficult time.
 
If you wish to return to clinical practice, or are asked to, you can do so with their full and complete support. In these circumstances the principal investigator should contact Diabetes UK with details of the staff affected, to discuss next steps and the impact on their award.
 
Principal investigators should contact Diabetes UK as soon as possible if it is necessary to suspend a Diabetes UK funded award due to COVID-19, to discuss the impact on the project. Diabetes UK will be supportive of no cost extensions to cover the period of the delay.
 
If COVID-19 results in the prolonged suspension of a Diabetes UK funded project, applications for costed extensions will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
 
Clinical trials should be put on hold if there is a significant risk of COVID-19 to patients taking part in the trial. However, clinical trials or other research studies should continue if discontinuing them would have significant detrimental effects on the ongoing care of individual participants involved in those studies. These are clinical decisions which will need to be made on a case-by-case basis by local decision makers on the basis of local risk and capacity assessments.
 
The detail of how they will extend awards to allow you to return and finish your research will take them time to work out, but you will not be disadvantaged by the current circumstances.

The deadlines for open grant rounds are being examined. For information about grant funding that could potentially be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, please contact research@diabetes.org.uk

 

Econic Technologies ask that all accounts-related correspondence (invoices, credit notes, statements) be emailed to accounts@econic-technologies.com rather than sent by post. 

General guidance

The European Commission has a COVID-19 FAQ page on the Funding and Tenders portal which they are updating with new questions as these arise. Where collaborative projects are affected by COVID-19 containment measures beneficiaries should discuss issues with their project coordinator who should in turn contact the EC project officer. For ERC projects and for MSCA Individual Fellowships where COVID-19 is having an impact on the implementation of projects, PIs should contact their project officers through the communications tab on their project’s page on the Funding and Tenders portal. Please ensure that the Research Services European & International team is aware of any communications with project officers by emailing ecresearch@admin.ox.ac.uk. Projects are advised to keep full and clear records of the impact of COVID-19. These will be required in due course if projects need to rely on the force majeure condition in the grant agreement to explain either additional costs or changes to the implementation plan. It is also worth noting that the staff of the Commission Services and Agencies are working remotely and that, due to this non-standard way of working, their response time may be longer than normal. 

EC guidance is that where staff cannot work (and cannot telework) on grants due to national or regional COVID-19 lockdown, time lost can be included in calculations of eligible time claimed on EC grants. Their expectation is that only the difference between salary costs and any furlough claimed would be met from the grant.

However, while there are different methods available to EC grant beneficiaries to claim staff costs, COVID-19 lockdown time can only be claimed using one of these and Oxford (in common with most UK universities) cannot use this method for staff time (we are precluded from doing so by the conditions attached to it). Stakeholder groups are lobbying the Commission to extend their provisions for claiming staff time lost to COVID-19 lockdown. In the meantime departments and faculties should be aware that, unless the Commission’s provisions change, they will need to be prepared to carry the cost of the difference between full salary and furlough for any staff furloughed on EC funded projects. 

For more information please contact the Research Services European & International Team by emailing katie.price@admin.ox.ac.uk

European Research Council

The ERC does not envisage any delays with ongoing evaluation timelines. Normal processes are continuing with panel meetings (and interviews where relevant) taking place remotely. More information is available on the ERC website (last updated 2 July).

Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions

Information relating to the impact of the coronavirus on MSCA fellows is maintained on the Coronavirus: information for the MSCA Community page. The Research Executive Agency (REA) will adopt a flexible approach towards projects that fail to meet grant agreement obligations due to the COVID-19 containment measures, and may apply the rules on force majeure, or agree nil-cost extensions for projects. Projects will be assessed on a case-by-case basis and fellows should speak to their REA project officer and to the Research Services European & International team (ecresearch@admin.ox.ac.uk) if they require support. 

Erasmus+

The Commission has released a statement explaining that it will apply maximum flexibility in the implementation of the programme, within the limits of the applicable legal framework. To deal with participants being unable to travel, or return home, due to COVID-19 restrictions, Erasmus+ National Agencies are now permitted to invoke force majeure clauses whereby they may accept additional costs up to a maximum grant amount. Planned activities may also be postponed by up to 12 months per project. Following the Commission's statement, the UK National Agency has published dedicated travel advice for regions affected by the  COVID-19 outbreak.

Furthermore, the UK government has issued its own advice for UK education providers regarding staff and student overseas travel and project participants are advised to speak to their providers about arrangements. Participants under 18 are advised against all overseas education trips, while those over 18 who are due to travel should consult their education institutions on whether the travel should continue as planned. For any UK participants already overseas, they should continue to monitor the latest FCO travel advice and comply with any COVID-19 control measures put in place in their current host nation.

Creative Europe

The Commission has released a statement saying that it understands that containment measures may have consequences for Creative Europe projects, and are adopting a position of maximum flexibility in regards to implementing the programme, while still working within the applicable legal framework. They are also in close communication with the national Creative Europe desks.

COST Actions

The COST Association has recommended that, from 13 March 2020 to 3 April 2020 (minimum), all physical meetings, training schools and short-term scientific missions be suspended or cancelled. They encourage participants to explore video conferencing and remote networking tools as an alternative. Any participants currently attending COST events should follow the instructions of the host country and host institution. 

 

The Gates Foundation have indicated that in the case of a member of staff whose salary is funded by one of their grants being furloughed (under the government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme), the University can use existing grant resources to pay the balance between the 80% covered by the scheme and their full salary. 

 

A regularly updated overview of information for grant applicants and recipients can be found on the NIH website:

Frequently asked questions on proposal submission and award management related to COVID-19 are also available:

 

The Stroke Association understands that there is currently a lot of uncertainty, and that COVID-19 is likely to cause serious disruption to research studies, particularly as many of its grant holders are working in the clinical environment and directly with vulnerable groups, such as stroke survivors. They want to support Research Award holders and be flexible around the disruption.

The health and well-being of funded researchers and people affected by stroke is a priority. They would not want anyone to be exposed to any unnecessary risk and are aware that many universities and hospital trusts will be issuing guidance regarding suspending ongoing studies. Also, that clinical staff involved in studies may be called to clinical work related to the recent outbreak.

They understand therefore that studies may be suspended and might not be completed within the agreed timescales. They will review any extension requests on a case-by-case basis and will work with grant holders to agree a solution at the appropriate time. Where possible, they ask that you explore alternative solutions, such as remote working, teleconference meeting or re-ordering parts of your study. They realise that budget impact of changes to your study may not be known for some time, but ask that you keep in touch. As a charity funded by voluntary donations, they have limited flexibility in their funding allocation, but ask to be kept informed.

For grants which are in the early stages or have an appropriate stop point, they would be happy for grant holders to delay recruitment of staff or put the award into abeyance for a period. Please contact them to discuss this further.

The Stroke Association Research Team can be contacted at research@stroke.org.uk

 

The decision to pause or close any research will be made by your institution. The Brain Tumour Charity will support any local decision to move staff to frontline healthcare duties and will work with teams after the crisis to explore ways to enable research projects to recover.

Salaries

They expect that local institutions will cover the cost of grant-funded salaries during any period of closure due to COVID-19 and encourage institutions to take advantage of any local or national government schemes to assist with this. However, where this isn’t the case, get in touch with them to discuss further. Where clinical staff are moved to frontline healthcare duties they would expect salaries to be covered by the healthcare system.

Grant timelines

They will support no-cost project extensions required directly due to COVID-19 and will consider requests for costed extensions on a case-by-case basis.

Progress report submission

Deadlines for submission of all progress reports (annual and final) remain unchanged, but where these can’t be met they will be flexible on a case-by-case basis.

Projects which have not yet started

Any project which has been funded but not yet started should be paused. No further start certificates for new projects will be accepted until further notice.

It’s important for the charity to understand how COVID-19 is affecting your research. Therefore, please let them know the impact on your project by emailing research@thebraintumourcharity.org and keep them updated on future developments.