Equipment funding

Strategic Equipment is intended to enhance UK scientific capability and support a portfolio of high-quality, cutting edge research.

It can include, but is not limited to, cutting edge technology that enables novel research, or high-specification equipment that enables research through increased capability and capacity (eg faster, higher resolution or more cost-effective results).

Underpinning equipment is often described as equipment that we would expect to see in a well-found lab. It may be of strategic value at departmental and sometimes university level, rather than of national significance. It is not project-specific and would be of service to multiple users on a regular basis.

High-specification equipment uses a specific technique that may be considered as strategic rather than underpinning.

For advice, contact Lee Mason or Poppy Leeder

Research grant applications

For research grant applications that include equipment items costing greater than £10k, the PI should:

  • check whether or not the University already owns equivalent equipment
  • confirm, if the University does own equivalent equipment, that it has the capacity or can be suitably configured for use in the planned research

For equipment costing between £10k and £25k the PI should check whether the equipment already exists within their school or faculty.

For equipment costing over £25k, use the University of Leeds Equipment Sharing and Management System (ESMS) or the N8 shared Equipment Inventory System to find out whether the University already owns the same or similar equipment.

The ESMS database includes details of the academic and technical contacts if you need to find out more information about existing equipment.

Funding for equipment

There are three primary routes to obtaining funding for equipment purchases. Each is likely to require the University to provide an element of matched funding.

1. Research grant funding

This funding stream should be used where the equipment purchase is a component of a single specific research project; that is, it does not underpin a range of research activities or replacing an item that would normally be expected to be available in a ‘well-found’ laboratory.

The research proposal should be prepared in the usual way via your local Faculty Research and Innovation Office.

Matched funding is typically expected for any application to UK funding councils, trusts and charities. You must apply via the appropriate internal process before submitting your grant application (see below)

There are two levels of match funding available. The level of central match funding will depend upon the funder’s requirements – this could be between 10 and 50% of the total cost of the equipment (currently NERC and BBSRC require a 50% contribution, EPSRC and MRC require a 20% contribution, Wellcome require a 25% contribution although this can be made up of benefits in-kind and underwriting of a support position).

A. Items that cost below £189,000 (excluding VAT)

Central match funding will be provided if your application is successful. Please note that this process can take 3-5 days so leave sufficient time before your funder submission deadline.

To request matched funding, please complete and submit the relevant form:

Form to apply for match funding for equipment which costs below £189,000 (excluding VAT)

B. Items that cost above £189,000 (excluding VAT)

You will need to contact your Faculty Finance Office before submitting your request, as a contribution from the host Faculty/School is expected (the host Faculty/School will need to contribute 25% of the total University contribution, the remaining 75% will be met from central funding if approved). 

Please note that this process can take up to 2 weeks so leave sufficient time before your funder submission deadline

Form to apply for equipment which is over £189,000 (excluding VAT), this includes a business case.

If approved, a matched funding letter will be issued to you.

If you are applying for match funding on several items, some of which are above, and some are below the £189,00 (excl VAT) limit, please fill in the relevant form for each as they go through different approval processes;  however we will issue just one letter confirming the total University match contribution.

  • For more information about match funding on equipment costing less than £189,000 (excl VAT) please contact Poppy Leeder.
  • For more information about match funding on equipment costing more than £189,000 (excl VAT) please contact Lee Mason.

2. Equipment funding calls

  • Some funders issue equipment-specific funding calls, usually of high value (>£200k per item) typically as one-off strategic opportunities or to fund underpinning infrastructure which relates to a range of research activities.
  • Matched funding is available to support applications to equipment calls, with a contribution expected from the host school/faculty. Details relating to the specific call, including any internal selection or review process, will be announced over the email networks once a call is live.

Examples of equipment specific funding calls: BBSRC ALERT 2021, EPSRC Strategic Equipment (note that this is continually open), NERC Equipment Call 2022, MRC Equipment Call 2022.

For further information or guidance please contact Poppy Leeder.

3. Internal annual capital bid process

An annual internal budget allocation is available to support strategic planning and investment. This should be used:

  • where there are no other viable funding streams
  • for replacement/generic equipment not fundable by grants
  • for unsuccessful research grants where there is still believed to be a strong strategic and academic case for the University
  • for teaching or teaching/research combined equipment

A contribution from the host school/faculty is expected for all bids.

Full details of the annual capital bid process are circulated to Schools in April/May each year.

Sharing research equipment and facilities

The University of Leeds has a broad range of state-of-the-art equipment and a world-class research infrastructure.

We are committed to working collaboratively with national and international research institutions and companies, and to sharing our research facilities.

Equipment Sharing and Management System

The inhouse Equipment Sharing and Management System (ESMS) details and classifies all University of Leeds equipment over £25k in value.

For any queries regarding the database, please contact Poppy Leeder.

N8 Shared Equipment Inventory

The N8 Shared Equipment Inventory is a fully searchable online database which can be used to locate and request access to research equipment and facilities across the N8 University partnership. It has been developed as part of the N8 commitment to promoting the sharing of publicly funded research assets.

All Leeds equipment over £25k in value is automatically included in the Inventory.

The database is freely open to anyone to search; including researchers, research managers, funding bodies and policy makers.