Title: Funding Programme

Overview

The CRG is Austria’s first funding programme in the field of non-commercial disease- and patient-oriented (translational), consortium-based clinical research.

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The Call

Important dates and information

  • Call opens: September 22nd 2022
  • Short proposal submission deadline: November 17th 2022
  • Full proposal submission deadline: April 20th 2023 (upon invitation only)
  • On-site interviews: July 2023
  • CRG start: October 2023

Forty-four proposals have been submitted by the Short Proposal deadline that were evaluated by the international scientific expert commission after having passed a formal check. All applicants were informed at the end of January about the outcome of this first selection step.

Our Zoom Meeting „Clinical Research Groups Q&A“ was held on November 3 2022. You can access the presentation as well as Questions & Answers that were discussed here.

Our webinar with general information for applicants was held on 4 October 2022. You can access the recording as well as slides here. Questions that were addressed are included in the FAQ section of our website.

Funding and implementation

Scientific Remit

This first call for proposals for LBG Clinical Research Groups (CRG) aims to support larger collaborative research programmes with a strong focus on patient-oriented, medically important topics in the field of non-commercial clinic research. CRG supports the development of innovative research results in disease- or patient-oriented investigator-driven clinical studies with the possibility of integration of translational aspects. Simultaneously, the programme aims to promote high-quality scientific training of young clinical researchers within the framework of a clinical research group by means of research programme.

A coherent research programme should be presented that is structured into work packages or sub-projects, and meets the following criteria:

  • be innovative and of high quality in the field of disease and patient-oriented research, and develop diagnostic and/or therapeutic methods,
  • at least 50% of the proposed work must be carried out at medical universities/faculties,
  • present investigator-initiated clinical trials (phase I-III) or other non-commercial clinical studies in combination with clinical pilot or accompanying studies (observational, longitudinal studies, epidemiological studies, biobanking, biomarker studies, patient outcome studies, proof of concept studies, etc.),
  • meet the standards of good clinical practice,
  • demonstrate an interdisciplinary, synergistic collaborative attitude between clinical and non-clinical team members,
  • promote career development of young researchers/clinicians and address gender equality issues.

Eligibility

The main applicant of a CRG, the Lead Institution, must be an Austrian medical university/faculty with an affiliated university hospital.

The Lead Institution is asked to team up with one or more cooperation partners (e.g. public or private universities, universities of applied sciences, hospitals and/or non-profit academic research institutes) to form a consortium that must represent different disciplines.

CRG Composition

A CRG comprises of the following personnel:

  • one Mentor*,
  • one Head*,
  • one or more Sub-Project Manager(s), of which one or more Deputy Head(s)* have to be appointed, as well as
  • researchers and additional team members.

* employed at Lead Institution

Each CRG hosts between 5 and 15 directly funded individuals.

Funding Volume and Duration

  • Call budget: 24 Mio Euro (16 Mio Euro from Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research (BMBWF) and 8 Mio Euro from Fonds Zukunft Österreich)
  • Funding: 0.5 – 1 Mio Euro per annum and max 90% of the total costs of the CRG, participating institutions must contribute min 10% of the total costs of the CRG in-kind
  • Duration: 4 + 4 years (after successful interim evaluation)

Selection Process

Two-stage call: Short proposals are evaluated by an international Scientific Expert Commission that will select applicants to submit full proposals. Full proposals will be peer-reviewed and applicants will subsequently attend on-site interviews with the Scientific Expert Commission.

Scientific Expert Commission

The Scientific Expert Commission provides strategic and operational support for program development and the review process. It comprises the following highly distinguished international scientific experts:

  • Chair: Prof. Liselotte Højgaard, University of Copenhagen, DK
  • Dr. Sophie Brouard, University Hospital of Nantes, FR
  • Prof. Gerhard Krönke, University Hospital Erlangen, DE
  • Prof. Roland Schwarz, University Hospital Köln, DE
  • Prof. Paul Matthews, Imperial College London, UK
  • Prof. Susanne Herold, University Hospital Gießen and Marburg, DE
  • Prof. Christian Jung, University Hospital Düsseldorf, DE
  • Prof. Philipp Kaufmann, Department of Nuclear Medicine, University Hospital Zürich, CH
  • Prof. Christoph Schindler, Hannover Medical School, DE

Application

Documents

Forms to submit – Short Proposal stage

For Evaluation by Scientific Expert Commission – Short Proposal stage

Electronic submission platform

  • eCall (registration required)

Further Information and Contact

Program Management Ludwig Boltzmann Gesellschaft:

Neda Motamedi-Shad, MSc PhD

Mail: xst@yot.np.ng

Phone: +43 (0) 1 513 27 50-45

Technical questions regarding eCall (FFG):

Mail: sbreqrefreivpr@sst.ng

Phone: +43 (0) 5 7755-0

Frequently Asked Questions

last updated: 14 November 2022

1. General Questions

  • Can applications be submitted on an ongoing basis, or are there deadlines?

    Applications for this call are invited adhering to specific deadlines that are published on our website.

  • Will this call be offered every year?

    The next call for Clinical Research Groups is likely to open in 2024.

  • Can one Lead Institution submit more than one proposal?

    Yes, there are no limitations.

  • How many proposals are you looking to fund?

    The given budget of the Call 2022 amounts to 24 Mio Euro, therefore, 3 – 6 CRGs can be funded.

2. Application and Selection Process

  • The Call Specifications mention a formal review time of two weeks after submission of short proposals. Can I correct my proposal during that time?

    No, your proposal cannot be modified after submission in eCall. If annexes (e.g. CVs or ethical approvals/statements) should be missing you will be asked to submit these during this time.

  • When will I know about the outcome of the selection process?

    Applicants will be informed about the outcome of the first stage of their application by the end of January 2023.

  • Can I exclude reviewers ?

    No, reviewers cannot be excluded at this stage of the application.

3. Organisation of Research and Research Topics

  • The Call Specifications (page 9) say that more than 50% of the proposed work packages/sub-projects must be carried out at medical universities/faculties. What do these 50% refer to?

    “50% of proposed work/packages/sub projects” refers to and is defined by allocated budget.

  • What is the expected proportion of basic science versus clinical science in terms of research content?

    There are no given requirements to meet. This will be defined by the needs of your specific proposal.

  • Is there a limit to the number of work packages and Leaders?

    There is no limit to the number of work packages and Leaders, however, the overall proposal should represent a coherent research project that can be realised within the requested budget.

  • Is it mandatory to divide a project into work packages/sub-projects?

    It is not mandatory to divide your overall research project, but depending on volume and duration, it is recommended to plan for different work packages/sub-projects.

  • Can we add “Tasks” and “Task Leaders” in addition to work package/sub-project Leaders?

    There are no rules that say otherwise. If it serves the quality of the proposal, an additional level of tasks and task leaders can be defined.

  • Do you expect a separate work package for Project Management?

    No, a separate work package for Project Management is not expected. However, this does not exclude that a separate work package for project management can be created, should it serve the quality of the proposal.

  • Can preclinical studies/trials (e.g. animal testing, basic research, CE certification of material to be used in the clinic) form part of the proposal?

    Yes, preclinical work can form part and even be a substantial part of the proposal, as long as the focus lies on clinically relevant questions that are either addressed through clinical studies involving patients, or “other clinical studies” involving patient data, samples etc.

  • Do our clinical studies have to involve patients from a university clinic or can we involve test subjects from epidemiological longitudinal studies (involving healthy and non-healthy subjects)?

    Data or samples from patients and healthy subjects can be either collected at medical universities/partner institutions or derived from national or international cohort studies etc. Please note that at least 50% of the proposed work must be carried out at medical universities/faculties.

  • Can we use materials (drugs) given to us by industry partners?

    Yes, as long as the project features non-commercial interests, materials provided by industry partners can be used. You can include studies repurposing approved drugs, or examining not-yet approved drugs. Please note that immediate publication of results must be ensured.

  • Does this call rather look for cooperation within one university, or between different universities? And do you want to foster collaboration between different medical fields, or rather medical and non-medical disciplines?

    There are no defined guidelines to meet. To what extent and how to ensure interdisciplinarity of your proposed project will depend on its specific requirements.

  • Should each work package/sub-project tackle a different disease, or rather different aspects of the same disease? How much thematical overlap should there be in different work packages/sub-projects?

    There are no given requirements to meet, but there should be a connecting theme between your different work packages/sub-projects to make a coherent overall project.

  • May non-certified (CE etc.) prototypes included in the proposal?

    Prototypes for medical devices or products can be tested in the studies (complying with applicable laws on medical devices/products). If the university has developed the product/device and that university is the sponsor of the study, studies for the purpose of certification may be included.

4. CRG Composition and Eligibility

  • Which are possible Lead Institutions?

    The main applicant of a CRG (Lead Institution) must be an Austrian
    medical university/faculty with an affiliated university hospital, in particular this comprises the following:

    • Medical University of Vienna
    • Medical University of Graz
    • Medical University of Vienna of Innsbruck
    • Medical Faculty of Johannes Kepler University Linz
    • Medical Faculty of Sigmund Freud University Vienna
    • Karl Landsteiner Private University Krems
    • Paracelsus Medical Private University Salzburg
    • Danube Private University Krems
  • Can a Ludwig Boltzmann Institute (LBI) be involved?

    Yes, LBIs are eligible for funding as Cooperation Partners of a CRG consortium.

  • Can different disciplines of the same medical university form a “Research Group”, and not include other partner institutions?

    In well-founded cases, an individual application by a university is also possible. In such cases, greater emphasis should be placed on cooperation between different clinical departments and on interdisciplinarity between researchers (see Call Specifications page 10).

  • I read that “Jede KFG besteht aus 5-15 geförderten Individuen”: Does it refer to full-time equivalents (FTE) and mirror the requested personnel (but does not mean the number of principal investigators)?

    The CRG must consist of 5 to 15 directly funded individuals. This refers to FTE and the requested personnel excluding the Head, Mentor, Deputy Head(s) and work package/sub-project Leaders who must be contributed in-kind.

5. Different Roles within a CRG

  • The Call Specifications mention a given time commitment for Head (25%) and work package/sub-project Leaders (20%). What does this refer to?

    Head and sub project/work-package Leaders are required to dedicate defined times to the CRG based on full time employment.

  • How exactly are ‘young researchers’ defined?

    “Young” in terms of relatively less experienced as opposed to experienced researcher, roughly before associate professor level.

  • What is a subcontractor ?

    A subcontractor typically is a company or person that carries out defined work for you according to a contract/service level agreement and receives payment for their work/service.

  • Will our proposal be rejected if some of our team members currently have limited contracts and we cannot say with certainty if these will be extended?

    No, this is not a formal reason to reject your proposal. However, the feasibility of the proposed work will most likely be evaluated more favourably if all team members are available and commit to the entire duration of the project. Note that the Lead Institution/Head, in case of dropouts, must ensure adequate replacements.

  • If a second funding period is granted (+4years), what roles should Head and Deputy Head(s) of the first funding period take?

    One Deputy Head will become Head during the second funding period. The original Head, and other Deputy Head(s), if any, can then lead work packages/sub-projects. For the second funding period one or more new Deputy Head(s) shall be assigned to further promote young clinicians/researchers.

  • What happens if a member of the CRG drops out during the duration of the project (e.g. due to retirement)?

    The Lead Institution/Head should appoint a suitable, equally qualified successor for the successful accomplishment of the CRG.

  • Can the Head and Deputy Head(s) be non-medical scientists, such as physicists/mathematicians etc.?

    Yes, they can come from different, also non-medical, disciplines (they must be employed at medical universities/faculties).

  • What are the guidelines on gender balance?

    One third of all the heads (Head, Deputy Head, work package/sub-project Leaders) must be female.

  • May the Head be a state employee (instead of “Bund”)?

    The Head must be employed at Lead Institution (can be on federal or state level, at a public or private medical university or affiliated university clinic).

  • Do the Mentor, the Head and Deputy Heads have to be from the same department of the same Lead institution?

    Mentor, Head and Deputy Head should work closely together to ensure the smooth operation of the CRG as well as training of the Deputy Head. Ideally, they should come from the same department of the same lead institution. However, in well-founded cases they don’t have to be from the same department.

  • What is the difference between Deputy Head and work package/sub-project Leaders? Do there have to be as many Deputy Heads as sub-project Leaders?

    If your overall research project is split into different work packages/sub-projects, you will assign work package/sub-project Leaders accordingly. One is designated to act as Deputy Head (please see Call Specifications page 12 and Special Guideline page 16 for details on the role of Deputy Head). If it should suit the needs of your project, more than one Deputy Head can be designated. During the second funding period (if granted), one Deputy Head will become Head, and new Deputy Head(s) should be assigned.

  • Can basic scientists also take the role of Deputy Head, or is this role reserved for medical professions?

    Basic scientists as well as clinical scientists/medical professionals can be Deputy Heads.

  • What is the (lowest possible) level of experience asked to be able to act as Deputy Head?

    The lowest level of experience suitable for the role of Deputy Head is doctor in training or scientists trained to at least PhD level.

  • Do work package/sub-project Leaders have to come from medical disciplines?

    Not necessarily. Work package/sub-project leaders will represent a mix of different disciplines, based on the project requirements (e.g. Clinicians, Molecular Biologists, Bioinformaticians, Statisticians etc).

  • Can work package/sub-project Leaders be doctors in training?

    Yes, they can be. The group of work package/sub-project Leaders should be a well-balanced mix of junior and senior professionals.

  • If two people lead a single work package/sub-project together, how does this reflect on the time commitment?

    The combined time commitment of both work package/sub-project Leaders must amount to at least 20% FTE.

  • Can the same person act as “work package/subproject Leader”, dedicating 20% of his/her time, and “researcher”, dedicating 80% of time (therefore his/her salary could be 80% funded)?

    No, if a person has been assigned role within the CRG that does not foresee funded personnel costs, that person cannot be assigned a second, funded role.

  • Can the same person take multiple, different roles in different proposals (e.g. as Head in one proposal and as work package/sub-project Leader in a different proposal)?

    Yes, one person can take multiple roles in different proposals, if required time commitments can be met for each CRG in case of funding, and if that person matches the specific requirements for each role.

  • Can the same person act as work package/sub-project Leader in different proposals?

    Our guidelines foresee a time commitment of at least 20% of their time for work package/sub- project Leaders (based on full time employment). If this requirement can be met for each CRG in case of funding, the same person can have a role as work package/sub-project Leader in different proposals.

  • Can Co-Heads and Co-Mentors be assigned to split the workload?

    No, the roles of Head and Mentor are well defined, key roles that should be filled by one person each.

  • Is the contribution of Mentors defined through required time commitment?

    No, this should be defined individually as required by the project. If the Mentor also leads a work package/sub-project, 20% of his/her time must be dedicated hereto.

  • Does the Mentor need to be the head of the clinic or department, or can a senior consultant/associate professor also take the role of Mentor?

    The Mentor ensures that the CRG is integrated into the structure and strategic planning of the Lead Institution. Therefore, the Mentor should be a senior, experienced scientist/clinician, ideally in a medical leadership position at a university hospital. If you wish to diverge from this, the other leading roles within the CRG should be assigned in a complementary fashion, ensuring its smooth insertion into the framework of the Lead Institution.

  • Can an international professor hired as a senior consultant at the institute also act as Mentor?

    No, the Mentor should be established at the Lead Institution to ensure the smooth integration of the CRG into the framework of the Lead.

  • Do the Mentor and Head have to be employed at the Lead Institution?

    The Mentor and Head must be employed at the Lead Institution (a medical university with affiliated university hospital). In well-founded cases, they may be employed at the affiliated university clinic rather than the university. This exception to the rule might be of special interest to universities that feature a medical faculty rather than medical university, and to private medical universities.

  • Can one researcher be Mentor and Head in one person?

    No, Mentor and Head are two different, well-defined roles (see Call Specifications page 10 and 11).

6. Funding and Costs

  • Is there a minimum amount of funding per year (i.e. € 0.5 million)?

    The total funding minimum for a CRG is EUR 2,0 Million for four years, so EUR 0,5 Million on average per year.

  • Is the maximum annual budget per year to be understood as an average over the funding period – or may it not be exceeded in the individual years?

    The total (max) funded budget is EUR 4 Million for the period of 4 years. Therefore, (max) EUR 1 Million is an annual average and spending within the calculatory max. may vary.

  • Which personnel costs are eligible for funding?

    Salaries of team members of the CRG that make part of “researchers and supporting personnel” are eligible for funding, namely: Senior personnel (highly qualified scientists), postdocs or equivalent qualification (including senior postdocs), PhD students or equivalent qualification, Bachelor’s or Master’s students, technical staff, data analysts. (see Call Specifications page 12).

    Salaries of the Head, the Mentor and of work package /sub-project Leaders including Deputy Head(s) are not eligible for funding and must be contributed in-kind.

    Also note the possibility to fund rotational positions (see Call Specifications page 13).

  • Can the salaries of Head, Mentor and work package/sub-project Leaders (including Deputy Heads) be counted as in-kind contribution?

    Yes, these must be contributed in-kind.

  • Can salaries of work package/sub-project Leaders be funded? If not, does that imply that younger researchers that do not have permanent positions yet cannot be work package/sub-project Leaders?

    Salaries of work package/sub-project Leaders are not eligible for funding. However, younger researchers that do not have permanent positions can act as work package/sub-project Leaders if their salaries are contributed in-kind.

  • When listing personnel costs, how do we account for inflation and yearly increase of salaries?

    Please include an estimated yearly increase according to your institutes’ guidelines.

  • Do we need to list detailed personnel costs at Short Proposal stage?

    You should calculate your total personnel costs and list the sum in section 3 “Financial Plan” of the Short Proposal Form. Detailed calculations and lists are for your own reference only and do not need to be included at this stage.

  • Does the overhead apply to all costs? Are certain costs excluded, for example third party costs?

    Overhead costs shall be allocated as a flat rate surcharge of 25% of the direct eligible costs (including third party costs). For details see Call Specifications page 15 and Special Guideline page 20.

  • What are the rules to avoid multiple funding (for example for LBI as Cooperation partners)?

    The same project, or parts thereof, cannot receive funding from different sources (see Special Guideline page 18 for details).

  • Is a research stay abroad, e.g. to carry out collaborations, eligible for funding?

    Yes, if the stay abroad is necessary for the scope of the proposal, related costs are eligible for funding.

  • Can clinical trials investigating repurposed drugs (which come from companies) be funded?

    Yes, if the drugs are provided to the project free of charge, and results are available for immediate publication.

  • Can FFG COMET centres be cooperation partners and receive funding?

    Yes, FFG funded COMET centres are, in accordance with FFG guidelines, eligible for funding as cooperation partners of a Lead Institution. Please note that all requirements outlined in the Special Guideline and Call Specifications in regard to cooperation partners must be met (e.g.on publication of results).

  • Can we submit several smaller projects with a funding volume of e.g. 100K/year each?

    No, this call features a funding volume of 0.5 – 1 Mio Euro per year and wants to rather encourage larger, collaborative projects than smaller ones.

  • Are there any thresholds concerning the distribution of costs in the respective cost categories, for example “only overall 5% third party costs”?

    No, there are no defined thresholds. But note that the CRG must fund 5-15 individuals (FTEs).

  • Is there a maximum and cap on subcontracting?

    No, there is no cap. But note that 50% of the proposed work must be done at medical universities/faculties.

  • Does the 10% in-kind contribution to the project have to be evenly distributed among the consortium partners?

    There are no specific requirements to meet. However, the 10% in-kind contribution will most likely be met by the Lead Institution, as it covers salaries of personnel that cannot be funded through the CRG, but must be employed at the Lead Institution (Mentor, Head, Deputy Head(s), work package/sub-project Leader(s)).

  • Can personnel costs that are contributed in-kind be met through other third party fundings?

    In principle, other third party fundings can cover personnel costs that are not eligible for funding by the CRG, if admissible according to the respective guidelines.

7. Submission and using eCall

  • Who submits the proposal ?

    The applicant university (Lead Institution) submits the proposal on behalf of (several) cooperation partners. If a proposal is submitted by only one university, there is no Lead Institution. The Mentor, together with the Head, manages the coordination and submission of the proposal.

8. Reporting

  • Who will audit the project costs?

    The Ludwig Boltzmann Gesellschaft will audit the project costs.

  • What reports will have to be provided?

    You will have to submit annual scientific and financial reports, as well as an extensive interim report, that is due at the end of the first funding period of 4 years. The decision for a second funding period will be granted based on the interim report. An extensive final report must be submitted at the end of the second funding period.

  • Will reporting be done via eCall?

    You will use the electronic submission platform eCall solely to submit proposals. Reports will be sent directly to Ludwig Boltzmann Gesellschaft.

9. Short Proposal Form

  • Do given character counts include spaces?

    Character counts are intended without spaces.

  • Do references in the footnotes count towards the character limit?

    No, they are not to be counted.

  • Can we include text under Table 7 (section 2.5)?

    If it improves clarity, you may include text under Table 7, section 2.5. Please do notesceed the overall 10 page limit for section 2.

  • Can I change Table 7 (section 2.5) to landscape orientation?

    Yes, you can change it to landscape orientation if it better suits your needs.

  • Should the GANTT chart include the first funding period only, or both?

    The GANTT chart in section 2.6 should cover the entire duration of your project (max 4+4 years), with more detail given for the first funding period.

  • Does the financial plan need to include detailed costs?

    At short proposal stage, you are not asked to list more details on expected costs than given in Table 8 of section 3. Please fill in expected sums for each category. Note that numbers given here must match numbers that you will provide during the second phase of applications (if you are invited to submit a Full Proposal).

  • Where should I list references?

    Please list references in the footer of each page.

  • Do you accept electronic signatures?

    Yes, please sign electronically whenever possible. If not, please provide handwritten scanned signatures.

  • Do I have to gather all required signatures on the same sheet?

    If you cannot gather all required signatures at once and on the same sheet (pages 10 and 11 Short Proposal Form), you can upload multiple copies of the Proposal Form with respective signatures.

  • Who should sign the Form, e.g. for the Lead Institution?

    Your organisation will have their specific guidelines on authorisation to sign proposals for third party funding of this kind and volume.