P2108376: AHDB and BBSRC call for full proposals on Research and Knowledge Exchange


Endemic diseases in livestock directly affect animal health and welfare and can cause up to £7 billion loss each year[1]. They reduce productivity and profit in an industry which provides crucial services for the UK population and countryside, yet a number of barriers including composition of the livestock sector, structure of the supply chain and cost of existing solutions make development of new solutions to old challenges difficult.

BBSRC have developed plans for an Initiative focused on livestock endemic disease to foster collaborations and support knowledge exchange and translation. Throughout the Initiative, researchers will be required to consider the on-farm behaviour change necessary for their research to make a difference to the severity and frequency of endemic livestock disease outbreaks.

This investment in research to support the development of technologies and evidence-based guidance to manage endemic diseases across the UK could lead to a measurable difference in the numbers and severity of outbreaks. This will in turn improve animal welfare and productivity in the sector.

Purpose / primary objective of this call

Through this AHDB/BBSRC Partnership Call we will work in partnership to support approximately ten projects of around £50k and 3-5 months in duration. We will address critical research questions associated with endemic diseases that present a significant threat to UK livestock (pigs, ruminants and poultry) production.

AHDB and BBSRC wish to commission research and appropriate knowledge exchange activities to test approaches and develop strategies to improve the understanding, management and control of endemic livestock diseases. Applicants are encouraged to consider how these activities may generate preliminary findings that underpin high-quality proposals to UKRI grant mechanisms and enable access to other funding opportunities. It is anticipated that the projects may also enable researchers to engage more effectively with AHDB funding for research and knowledge exchange where appropriate.

AHDB will lead the dissemination of the research outputs to producers, providing a direct pathway to impact for the industry.

Application process

Researchers are invited to submit applications responding to the scope and priorities of the call, as explained in this document, and using the attached application form by 12:00 noon on 20 September 2021. Applicants may submit a joint proposal if complementary expertise has been identified which would enable the submission to more fully respond to the scope and priorities.

The proposals will be assessed by expert panel review against the criteria described in the attached application form.

Applicants will be informed of the assessment outcome by AHDB. Successful proposals will be monitored by AHDB which will undertake to disseminate the findings directly to the producer community.


The financial contribution is made by BBSRC and therefore awards are only available to researchers eligible for UKRI Research Council funding, see guidance: https://www.ukri.org/funding/how-to-apply/eligibility/

Further guidance on eligibility and collaboration with industry and other users is available in the BBSRC grants guide: https://bbsrc.ukri.org/documents/grants-guide/ Applicants may also contact: research@ahdb.org.uk with any queries.

Initiative management

This initiative will be managed by BBSRC and AHDB, who will work together to make the awards. AHDB will be responsible for monitoring the delivery and outcomes of awarded projects. AHDB will not only disseminate the findings directly to their livestock producers but also liaise with other organisations to ensure optimum dissemination of findings, irrespective of nation or species. 

Call & scope

Eligible researchers are invited to submit applications in an open call. Proposals should develop solutions to the challenge of endemic diseases in livestock, including approaches to monitoring, preventing and treating disease. Thematic areas of particular interest in this call are listed below. This list of themes is not comprehensive, nor are they siloed. Research and translation activities that cut across the themes are recommended and encouraged.

  • Digital agriculture: Technology development, data generation and data platforms, and the underpinning biology necessary to apply digital technology.

  • Breeding for disease resistance: Improve understanding of the genetics determining response to infection and co-infection; explore immunology and immune function; identify gene targets through whole genome sequencing and phenotyping; and adapting genome editing technology for new species for application in endemic disease management.

  • Farm management: Generating evidence for on-farm management practices for endemic disease prevention and treatment.

  • Vaccine platforms and technologies: DIVA technologies; alternative, efficient, reliable vaccine delivery mechanisms; development and adaption of universal vaccine platforms for livestock endemic disease.

  • Novel approaches to reducing application of traditional medicines and antibiotics: nutrition, precision and microbiome approaches.

  • Co-infection: Some of the most significant endemic diseases, such as mastitis and lameness, are now understood to be infections with multiple organisms. Research into co-infections can lead to more effective treatments for complex diseases and the reduction of antibiotic use.

 It is important to note that AHDB’s involvement does not restrict proposals to specific (devolved) nations or to species from which levy is obtained (specifically proposals on goats and poultry are within scope).

Desirable research objectives and outputs

AHDB and BBSRC are keen to see proposals that:

  • Connect farmers to the research and translation activities proposed, to promote consideration of realistic on-farm application.

  • Are identified by the industry as a priority. For example, priorities that have been identified by Pig Health and Welfare Council, Ruminant Health and Welfare, and British Poultry Council or BVA specialist divisions (BCVA, SVS, PVS and BVPA) or APHA species expert groups are desirable.

  • Develop broad-spectrum solutions to endemic diseases in livestock that may be adapted for multiple disease and animal species.

  • Where AHDB involvement in the project is planned, proposals should demonstrate clear value for money for levy payers.

For access to industry priorities please refer to the work of for example APHA Avian Expert Group , Pig Health and Welfare Council and Ruminant Health and Welfare.  These are not exhaustive, but clear indication of industry priority must be given. .

Knowledge Exchange

The outputs listed below are considered a minimum; potential researchers are encouraged to outline other relevant knowledge exchange activities for industry. 

  • A final report to AHDB

  • A farmer facing article, for inclusion for example on AHDB website or to the farming press

Project duration and budget

The investment will support seven projects of approximately £50k and 3-4 months in duration. Projects must be completed by 31st March 2022.

The awards will fund direct costs only, including both directly incurred and directly allocated costs, at 100% fEC. This includes travel and salaries. Investigator and staff time can be charged to individual projects as required.

The awards may not be used to fund estates, overhead and indirect costs. This includes generic staff posts not directly related to the funded projects.

Award holders will be required to submit supporting documentation to AHDB to enable payments to be made. BBSRC will require a transaction listing that shows the name of the supplier, the amount and the date paid. Copies of invoices are not required, however BBSRC may request supporting documentation for any costs and this includes copies of any invoices. 

Completion and submission of the application form

Please refer to the guidance notes for completion of application forms. Applicants should complete the AHDB Research and KE Application Form - Full Proposal Small. There is no requrement to complete a Stage 1 Outline Proposal for this Call. Completed forms must be emailed to research@ahdb.org.uk no later than 12.00 noon on the 20 September 2021.

Proposed timings for application and project delivery

Stage of process


Call published

24 August 2021

Full proposal submission deadline

20 September 2021

Applicants informed of the outcome

4 October 2021

Anticipated start date

1  November 2021

Project duration

3-5 months (Ending by 31 March 2022)


If you have a specific question related to this call, please email research@ahdb.org.uk. As part of the open tender process, AHDB cannot discuss specific project details with you before submitting your proposal. Questions and Answers will be published.

Assessment criteria

Please note that the assessment criteria have been slightly altered for this tender, please see below.


Project Title:




SECTION 2: PROJECT OUTCOMES Beneficiaries appropriately identified. Novel approaches to deliver industry KE and links to existing KE activities. Appropriateness and clarity of industry engagement. Timeframe qualified to deliver project outputs and impact. Clarification over additional activities/resource required to deliver impact. Environmental benefits appropriately identified and any negative impacts detailed. Key Performance Indicators identified. Clear IP exploitation plan and route to further research or commercial development where relevant. 0-10 score; weighting of 3




Score:        x3 =

SECTION 3: TECHNICAL APPROACH AND WORK PLAN Scientific evaluation of current knowledge (appropriate references used) and awareness of other work. Clarity of aims, objectives, work packages and milestone schedule. Originality & innovation. Effective collaboration with commercial companies and relevant research organisations. Is the approach statistically robust? Feasibility and risk management. Project management structure and responsibilities clearly defined.  0-10 score; weighting of 3




Score:        x3 =

SECTION 4: RELEVANT KNOWELEDGE AND EXPERTISE Quality of past contributions to, and impact on, the topic demonstrated. Potential to bring added value through current and/or past contributions. Complementarities of expertise of the team and roles of collaborating organisations (if relevant) clearly defined.  0-10 score; weighting of 3




Score:        x3 =

SECTION 5: PROJECT COSTS Are costs reasonable and necessary? Will the total budget be adequate to carry out the proposed activities? Added value of co-funding? 0-10 score; weighting of 1





Score:        x1 =

Total Score            out of 100   (Threshold = 50)

Recommend for Funding           Yes / No


[1] Defra, 2020. Farming for the Future Policy and Progress Update. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/868041/future-farming-policy-update1.pdf