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Distributed CSE Support


University distributed CSE (dCSE) support is an award to support scientific software development to help facilitate UK scientific research. Awards are given to employ specialist help for improving an existing scientific code so that it can make better use of the capabilities of the computing facilities located at regional or university level.

University distributed CSE (dCSE) support is available only to support applications designed to address areas within EPSRC's remit since this call is supported by EPSRC only.

What can be applied for?

A dCSE support contract will fund up to 12 months of personnel costs, and the project must be completed inside a calendar year. This can cover one or more people working either part- or full-time. Staff can be employed by the applicant's institution, be seconded from the NAG CSE team, or contracted from a suitable third party. The only other eligible costs are for travel to support the project. No funds are available to cover software licenses, machine cycles, or other consumables. Please note that funding will not be provided via a research grant, but through a contract with NAG, who administer this programme on behalf of EPSRC.

Please note that an award of University dCSE support does not constitute an EPSRC grant. As such, NAG will not be funding this program of support under the Full Economic Costs model.

What is the remit?

The award is to be used entirely for software development in order to increase code performance and/or utility, and hence to deliver further science. It does not cover scientific research. It does, however, allow the implementation of improved algorithms or methodologies if they have been proven to perform better than existing ones. It can also be used to extend existing codes to solve more complex or general cases of the problems that they address; this should essentially be an implementation exercise with a high probability of success. The overall aim of the dCSE programme is to enable codes to make better use of existing resources, or to scale up to resources which they are currently unable to exploit.

This call is designed to complement the existing dCSE support provided for users of the HECToR system. As such, any proposal which would be eligible for support under that programme is not eligible for support under this mechanism.

Who can apply?

Only individuals who are eligible to hold a full EPSRC grant can apply to the University dCSE.

How do I apply?

Applicants should submit a case for support which must give a top level view of the proposed software development. To help validate and discuss the rationale for the work, it is recommended that applicants contact the NAG CSE team at [Email address deleted] at least two weeks before the application deadline. This will significantly increase your chances of a successful application. Please see here for information on how to apply.

Assessment process

Applications for University dCSE are not subject to postal peer review. Instead, they will be assessed by an independent panel of invited experts. The review panel will have to identify the value that providing CSE support to a project will bring to it, and then allocate the available support in the most effective manner. Successful University dCSE applicants will be contacted by NAG in order to discuss the contractual details and funding options. Feedback from the panel will be provided to all applicants. A pre-panel technical review of the proposal will also be performed by NAG CSE, suggestions may be given then to enable a proposal to be improved in time for the main review.

N.B. Please note that NAG CSE team will require access to the university computing system in question in order to perform the pre-panel technical review. In addition, a statement from the manager or director of the system will be required which provides the necessary amount of computing time, free of charge, to complete the proposed work; access for the dCSE person(s) and the core CSE team will be required.

Assessment criteria

The aim of the University dCSE proposal is to facilitate new scientific research by improving the performance of an existing code, either by tuning or through the implementation of new algorithms. Note that performance includes both the speed and scalability of the code e.g. porting a serial code to parallel form. As a rule of thumb, if your proposal focuses on the development of novel methods such that it could be considered for responsive mode funding, then it is unlikely to be suitable for University dCSE support. The review panel will be looking for the following in University dCSE proposals:

Implementation and tuning of proven techniques: The proposed software development should be able to demonstrate a high degree of certainty of success. If a new general algorithm is to be implemented, it should already be proven by evidence in the scientific press. Research into the performance of an algorithm is not covered by University dCSE support.

Justification of the economic impact of the proposed work for the wider scientific community: Specific examples of new research that will be facilitated by the proposed work should be given. This may be from your own research plan or from a related group of UK academic sponsors requiring the code improvements. There should be a clear explanation of the scientific cases that will be enabled by the completion of this work and justification of the requirement for a university computing resource.

Realistic and quantifiable goals: These should indicate worthwhile improvements in performance and/or scaling. This may be demonstrated by a clearly detailed technical work plan for the proposed software development.

Scientific value: The applicant must demonstrate that the improvements enable scientific research to be performed that is currently not possible because of code limitations due to the application not being able to run efficiently on the local university resource.

Technical suitability of the proposed work: What is the technical suitability of the proposed work for the appropriate university computing facility? For example, are the required compilers, profiling tools and libraries readily available on the system? Has the code already been built on the system? Are the end job profiles that will be facilitated by the University dCSE work suitable for the chosen system?

Dissemination of the code improvements: The applicant should demonstrate how the code improvements will be disseminated to other users of the software. For example, if the code is an open-source package, they should indicate that it will be merged into the main version of the software.

Intellectual Property

As part of NAG's contract with EPSRC to carry out HECToR CSE Services, NAG is required to retain all rights to the work carried out under a University dCSE contract on behalf of the Research Councils. This position has been taken to ensure that that any intellectual property generated from an award can be licensed to other UK academic users and more broadly if required by the UK Research Councils and thus ensure any advances are kept within the public realm. However, NAG will automatically grant the Contractor and the PI a non-exclusive license to re-use all such rights. For the avoidance of doubt, where the programme of work involves changes to existing software, NAG only requires rights to the modifications themselves (i.e. the University dCSE contribution), not to the modified software in its entirety. NAG's grant of rights back to the Contractor/PI therefore allows the modifications to be included into existing software without restriction, including releasing the modified software under a suitable software licence.


Regular reports are a requirement of the award and failure to submit them may lead to funding being withdrawn. To promote knowledge transfer, a final report will be required on the completed project.

Call schedule

This call closed on 30th April 2012. There may be another call in the future and the closing date will then be announced here.

Further information

Download a copy of this page here. For further information about this call, please contact: The HECToR CSE support team at [Email address deleted]