CEOI 14th Call for EO Technology and Instrument Development Proposals

On behalf of the UK Space Agency, the Centre for Earth Observation Instrumentation (CEOI) is pleased to announce its Fourteenth EO Technology Call, with the primary aim to solicit new and innovative ideas for EO technology developments. All proposals should be aligned with the objectives of the UKSA EO Technology Strategy. Furthermore, technologies that have applications beyond climate monitoring and the environment (e.g. other civil applications, defence dual use) are also encouraged.

The selection criteria will be:

  • excellence of the technical case;
  • the exploitation plan and enhancement of national capability;
  • the strength of the project team;
  • demonstration of sound project & risk management;
  • value for money and strength of the investment case;
  • collaboration and conformance to grant requirements

The total budget available for the Call will be in the order of £2.0M, with additional funding required from industrial bidders. The Call was released on 1st December 2021 with a closing date of Monday 24th January 2022 at noon. Proposal selection will take place soon after, in anticipation of projects starting from March-April 2022. 

Call Themes are:

ThemeFunding and DurationEligible Activities
New and innovative ideas for EO technology development- Pathfinder grants of up to £75k, expected to be up to 6 months duration.
- Fast Track grants of up to £250k, expected to be up to 9 months duration;
- Feasibility studies
- Industrial research
- Experimental development

The CEOI Call is open to industry, HEIs and other research organisations based in the UK. Additional funding will be required from industrial bidders as defined by the Subsidy Control procedures. Eligible activities are limited to Feasibility Studies, Industrial Research and Experimental Development. Proposals for work categorised as Fundamental Research will not be considered.


BIDDERS’ BRIEFING

There will be a briefing by virtual meeting from 10.00 to 12.00 on Thursday 9th December 2021 to provide more information about the objectives of the call and provide an opportunity to ask general questions. Although attendance is optional, you are encouraged to join this meeting.

If you wish to participate in the Bidders Briefing, please email a request to Miss Charlotte Moretti, CEOI Technology Call Administrator at cm738@leicester.ac.uk by 17:00 hrs on Monday 6th December 2021.

The Bidders’ Briefing has now taken place. To view the presentation, please click here.

Questions & Answers from the Bidders’ briefing are below:

  1. Question on References for industry – could the referee be ESA
    Answer: Yes
  2. We’re interested in submitting a proposal for the latest CEOI call. Is it likely that the deadline will be extended? We have a 2-week shutdown over Christmas, making the schedule for submitting for 17th Jan quite tight.
    Answer: In order to encourage more proposals, UKSA have agreed to a one-week extension. The revised deadline is Monday 24th January 2022.
  3. Are there standard definitions for the subsidy levels? Are they aligned to TRLs?
    Answer: Referred to the final annex of the call document, the intervention rate depended on:
    • The type of research being proposed – in categories with agreed definitions (Industrial research, feasibility study etc) which loosely relate to TRL but are more aligned to closeness to market.
    • Whether the proposal was collaborative
    • The size of the industrial organisation – with the size having been redefined by BEIS post EU exit.
  4. If we have an idea for a new satellite instrument but the science case needs verifying first, could we envisage a mission concept study that is heavy on the SRL activities–i.e., verifying whether the method works–and only then drafting the instrument. E.g. do you have a split in mind between SRL and TRL parts? 
    Answer: The majority of work in a CEOI proposal has to be directed at technology development. We will fund small elements of SRL raising, but they need to be a small % of the overall work programme and also directed at validating the technology works and will generate exploitable data. Proposals where the majority of the work is SRL raising are not applicable to this call.
  5. In the presentation it was mentioned that equipment would be funded at 50%. Is that just for testing equipment that can be used in future projects, or does it also apply to components bought as part of the instrument development and TRL raising.
    Answer: The 50% maximum funding limit is for test equipment- which is in line with other research grant funding mechanisms. The case for any expenditure of this nature will need a strong justification case. The purchase of components that will be integrated into the technology are considered consumables and can be included at 100% value in the FEC project total figure. 
  6. We are at a stage of moving to field demonstration of our instrument concept. In 9 months we might struggle to design and build the demonstrator and undertake field trials. Would a project to just design and build an instrument demonstrator without actually undertaking the testing likely be acceptable?
    Answer: With these short duration limited funding projects it is accepted that extensive field trials or flight trials may be possible. Building a technology as a bench test bed is perfectly acceptable; but the conclusion of the project should involve some form of testing to evaluate the development success.
  7. What is the minimum TRL this call will accept?
    Answer: Fundamental research is not covered by this Call. The minimum development category acceptable is Feasibility Study which is approximately TRL2-3.

NOTIFICATION OF INTENTION TO BID

Applicants are required to notify CEOI of their intention to bid by email to the CEOI Call Administrator Charlotte Moretti, cm738@leicester.ac.uk, using the pro-forma at Section 12, by 20th December 2021 at noon.

The purpose of this is to gauge the size of the response and to inform the selection of reviewers. The notification and information therein will be held in confidence as described in Section 9.


APPLICATION DOCUMENTS

Full details of the Open Call are contained in the ‘Announcement of Opportunity’ document, which is available here, together with the other bid documents:

(15/12/2021)Please note: CEOI have made the following corrections/clarifications to the Announcement of Opportunity:

Table 1 (page 5) of the AoO:

  1. The section on Project Team in your main proposal should be up to 1 page (Pathfinder) / 2 pages (Fast Track) long, supported by relevant items under Annex A;
  2. The section on Project Management in your main proposal should be up to 2 pages (Pathfinder) / 3 pages (Fast Track) long, supported by relevant items under Annex B.

(10/01/2022) Please note that CEOI would like to clarify the following details on Overheads:

Question: Some other calls (e.g NSIP) have had a limit on the overhead percentage used. Are overheads allowed as eligible costs and is there a finance policy regarding overheads?

Response: For the purpose of ensuring the UK’s obligations and commitment to subsidy control, overheads can be considered as eligible costs but capped at 20%, in line with other UKSA-financed technology development calls (NSIP, NSTP).
Overheads should be stated separately from the pay costs: they should be recorded in the Overheads (row 20) in the finance (cost schedule) spreadsheet (tabs P1, P2, etc.) breakdown. This should be limited to 20% of the Salaries & Overheads total (row 21).
This includes both direct and indirect overhead. The overheads relating to contingent workforce / consultants should be included within their daily rate, and not included in either the calculation of the 20% overhead allowance or charged to it. Academia and other not for profit organisations will be funded at FEC rates.

(13/01/22) A copy of the proposal no longer needs to be sent to the University of Leicester. All proposals will be accepted in PDF format. The following point from page 15, section 11 was removed:

In addition, a single printed and signed copy of the full bid should be posted on or before the closing date. Note: The date of the postmark or other proof of posting will be considered sufficient to prove that it is posted on time.

Please note: Templates are provided for Annexes B2 and B3.  No templates are provided for Annexes A1, A2, B1, C1 or D1.


To summarise the timelines:

Deadline DateDeadline TimeApplication Stage
9th December 202110am to 12pmBidders Briefing Conference
20th December 202112pmIntention to Bid form due
24th January 202212pmFull Proposal due
March / April 2022Projects commence
31st December 2022Projects are complete

Call is issued on behalf of the UK Space Agency by the CEOI Partners, who will also manage the selected projects on behalf of the Agency.

For further information on any aspect of the 14th CEOI Call, please contact Dr Nicolas Leveque, CEOI Technical Director, with copy to Chris Brownsword CEOI Director. Contact details are available in the 14th Call Announcement of Opportunity document.