Strand 1 – Access To Facilities Trial
Theme 2: ECRs / Newcomers to Phenomics


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Strand 1 – Theme 2: ECRs / Newcomers to Phenomics

PhenomUK Research Infrastructure is a £2.4 M Scoping Activity supported by the UKRI Infrastructure Fund. Launched in February 2023, this two-year project aims to define and pilot a nationwide distributed research infrastructure, with regional sites, which will enable new ways of working and cultural shift in the UK’s approach to plant phenomics.

The Access to Facilities pilot aims to identify challenges associated with accessing current infrastructure and expertise in a distributed network. The pilot will fund a number of activities that address these challenges.

Funding for access trials

A virtual workshop will be held on Thursday Dec 14th 10:00 am – 12:00 pm on zoom to provide further information on this funding call.

In this round of funding, we invite applications that address the challenges of ECRs/Newcomers to Phenomics. In this activity we wish to support projects that encourage both Early Career Researchers (ECRs), Research Technical Professionals (RTPs) and other researchers new to the field of Plant Phenomics to apply to work with existing phenomics facilities.

An application might involve an applicant travelling to another site to use a specific facility. Alternatively, an applicant might need phenomics measurements to be made at a site under their control.

We expect the provider of the phenomics facility to have the necessary equipment and trained staff in place to help with the project. The newcomer needs to have the biological material and a tractable scientific question (the call is not to develop phenomics approaches but to apply existing approaches)

We want to find out what barriers exist to these sorts of activities. These might be administrative (what kind of an agreement/contract is required to work at the collaborating site), logistical (is it possible for the ECR to spend significant amounts of time at another site or move samples to another site), are trained staff available for training / running experiments, equipment availability, is getting access to the facilities / IT systems an issue, health and safety training required etc? What does it cost?

Future calls

There will be another round of funding in Spring 2024 (funds permitting) this will focus on custom phenomics (low-cost, 3D-printed phenomics equipment).

Presentations for Facilities ECR / Newcomers Workshop Video

Further Information

This is a community led project – if you have a good idea then please let us know! Also, if the barriers to engaging are too high, again, please let us know. We might not be able to address them in the scoping trial, but we need to address challenges of a future large-scale infrastructure.

Who should I work with?

The themes above all involve interactions between different groups. We recognise that this can be a barrier, so we are happy to act as a “matchmaking” service. Should you have a project proposal in mind but are unsure who to collaborate with, prior to application, please contact us (see details below) with a brief outline of your proposal, stating that you wish to be partnered with a suitable collaborator.

We are also putting a ‘shop window’ of facilities on the PhenomUK website, but this is an ongoing process and is not yet complete.

What can be funded?

We want to know the costs associated with operating a distributed phenotyping facility, so need details of all operating costs. Therefore, details should include:

  • Infra-structure access and running costs.
  • Associated consumables.
  • Time for technical expertise to conduct measurements/training (e.g. Research Technical Professionals).
  • Transport (of people and equipment – including insurance) and accommodation.

Ineligible costs: Large items of equipment, activities performed outside the UK.

In your application you should provide a full cost breakdown. Costs can include academic staff time at 80% FEC and 100% for everything else.

How much can I apply for?

We have deliberately not set a limit – but we expect most projects to be in the range £5,000-£50,000 (but we can consider smaller or larger projects). If your project is too expensive, we will discuss with you whether a smaller version would still be useful. Note that to be funded a phenotyping installation must provide details of their facilities for inclusion on the PhenomUK site in the form of ‘shop-window’ summary and a completed facilities questionnaire.

What’s the timescale?

The deadline for this round of funding is 5pm 22 nd January 2024. All pilots must be completed, and funds claimed, by 31 st December 2024.

We expect most projects to last 3-4 months – but that might vary depending on the specific activity.

Who can apply?

You need to be based at a UK academic or research institution. Your team could contain academic staff, research technical professionals and early career researchers.

How do I apply?

Please fill in the proforma below – one for each project partner. You then need to send this to PhenomUK (see contact details below)

If you have any queries or questions, please contact us.

Download Proforma

How are decisions made?

The PhenomUK management board will review applications and let you know the outcome as soon as we are able. If we think the project needs amendment, then we will discuss this with you.

We expect that demand will exceed the funding available, but the number of applications in different areas will help define demand for different activities that can be addressed in the full infrastructure bid.

What will I need to deliver?

  • A short report which discusses the challenges and successes met by all members of the pilot and any lessons learned. We want to hear what went well, what issues arose and how they might be overcome.
  • A representative from the project to come to a PhenomUK meeting and tell others how it went.
  • Datasets need to be made available freely online within a reasonable period. Ideally this will be FAIR but we recognise that this can be challenging for phenomics data at present.

The data generated within the trial is your own. We would encourage publication and further grant applications, but this is at the discretion of the participants.

Contact Information

PhenomUK website: submit applications via email to

The Access strand is led by Prof Stephen Rolfe ( and Prof Tracy Lawson ( If you would like to discuss informally anything concerning the access pilots then please feel free to email us.

The Access strand is supported by Gemma Bray ( She will coordinate the access pilots once they are underway.

The PhenomUK UKPCPI project is led by Prof Tony Pridmore ( and managed by Claire Hayes ( you are a potential provider of Phenomics Facilities and have not filled in our survey, please do so! See the ‘Tell us about your facilities’ link at To submit a shop front, please request a template from