Research Call 2023: ‘A Richer Sea’

Application guidelines

The purpose of Aage V. Jensen Naturfond (AVJNF) is ”to support the conservation and development of nature as well as the protection of wild animals in Denmark” and our vision is “Together we develop a richer nature – bigger, more and better“.

AVJNF invites interested applicants to a research call with the general title: A Richer Sea.

Goal
To create a richer sea, we support projects that better protect or restore nature in the marine environment.

Background
The biodiversity of the sea is in a particularly bad state. This is primarily due to: Nutrient loading, fishing, climate-related changes and physical disturbances to the seabed.

Amongst others, this is described in the 2021 IPBES report “Restoration of marine biodiversity and sustainable use of the sea’s resources”:
https://www.ipbes.dk/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Genopretning_Marin_20-Maj-2.pdf

In other words, it is not enough to regulate human activities in valuable and vulnerable natural areas. There is a need to breathe new life into the nature of the sea.

Themes

The research focuses on three themes:

  1. How can we restore the sea in terms of increasing biodiversity, reducing fragmentation of ecosystems and restoring food webs?
  2. How can we protect and at the same time utilize the resources of sea in a sustainable manner?
  3. How can we work with 1) and 2) in a situation with climate change and environmental impact, e.g. from increased nutrient loading, presence of plastic in the sea, extraction of raw materials.

Concrete criteria for this call
In this call, projects are prioritized when addressing:

  • restoration of marine ecosystems in order to achieve good environmental conditions resulting in increased biodiversity.
  • efforts for the nature of the sea having a lasting effect and lead to robust ecosystems.
  • recommendations for protection and use of the sea.
  • the challenges in the sea in action-oriented and innovative ways.
  • partnerships, e.g. between several institutes and organizations, and with an international outlook.
  • citizen science in solving the challenges of the sea.

Application

Project groups must consist of at least one Danish research institution. AVJNF appreciates projects with collaboration across several research institutions or with other professional or private organisations as well as international collaboration. AVJNF appreciates projects including training of students at all levels. Project proposals are submitted as a ‘Letter of Intent’.

Each project can expect a grant of DKK 2-10M over 2-4 years. The grant can finance PhD (including tuition fee) and postdoc’s and to a lesser extent (max. 20%) salaries of permanent scientific staff.

Application process – a 2-step process
Step 1: Letter of intent and suggestions for external review experts
The Letter-of-intent must contain the research idea, the connection between the research idea and the content of AVJNF’s research call. A template is provided.

Applications must be sent to the AVJNF through the application portal. Subsequently, the Letter-of-intents are evaluated by an internal review panel. A selection of approx. 10-15 proposals will be invited to submit a full application.

The Letter-of-intent must be accompanied by suggestions for external international experts to review the project. The experts may not be present or former research partners to the PI or Co-PI’s. AVJNF will set up the external review panel based on the received suggestions for proposals invited for Step 2.

Step 2: Full application
The full application must contain an extended description of the research idea and a description of the connection between the research idea and the themes of the AVJNF’s research call. The proposal will be evaluated based on the project description, the expected impact of the project, the plan for implementation, public outreach and the C.V. of the project participants. Further details on the expectations to the call are given below (Review process for applications).

Data collected in the project must be structured to accommodate an ongoing transfer to Danish Biodiversity Information Facility (DanBIF) or Artsportalen.

The applications must be sent to the AVJNF through the application portal. Subsequently, the applications are forwarded to an external review panel for evaluation.

Decision on the winning application
The external review panel evaluates the applications. The Executive board will receive the review panel’s evaluation and decide on the winning applications.

You can read more about the evaluation criteria and process in the section about Review Process for the Applications at the bottom of this document.

Application formalities
Application guidelines are found in the Application templates for Letter-of-intent (Step 1) and for Full application (Step 2). The applications must comply with the requirements specified in the template and must be written in English. The applications must be uploaded on AVJNF’s webpage before the application deadlines:

  1. Letter-of-Intent deadline is 15 March 2023.
  2. Full application deadline is 1 June 2023.

Invitations for submission of full applications for Step 2 are expected primo April 2023.

Reporting to AVJNF
The project must report on progress annually in the lifetime of the project. The reports will be evaluated by AVJNF. The report must be filled in a reporting template and uploaded in the application portal.

The annual report relates to:

  • The progress of the project, i.a. cf. the predefined work packages and milestones.
  • Expenses of the project until now compared to the budget in the application.
  • The results and output of the project such as publications, lectures, public outreach etc.

It is possible to stop the project at the review of the reporting if the progress of the project is considered too vague/non-existing. The AVJNF executive board makes this decision.

The PI must send a status about the publications and other project outputs to AVJNF two years after the final reporting. The status must be uploaded in the application portal.

Review process for applications
Establishment of the external review panel

Based on the received Letter-Of-Intents and suggestions for professional experts AVJNF will establish an external review panel.

In the selection of the panel members, AVJNF will focus on the external panel’s ability to cover the topics of the applications and with specific expertise in the themes of the research call.

The work of the review panel
The panel members use a scoring sheet for evaluation of the applications (see below).

 Feedback and communication about the decision
After the AVJNF executive board decision on the winning applications, the director passes on this decision to the PI’s. Afterwards, a start-up meeting between the director and the PI will be planned.

The review panel’s evaluation of the applications: Scoring sheet
Each member of the panel must give scores to applications based on the below evaluation criteria and scoring sheet. The applications must be scored on a scale from 1-6, where 6 is the best. Project description is weighted 50%, Impact is weighted 20%, Implementation is weighted 20% and Outreach is weighted 10%.

Project description (weighted 50%)
  • To what extent is the proposed work ambitious and goes beyond the current state-of-the-art in the field?
  • To what extent is the proposed methodology excellent and goes beyond the current state-of-the-art in the field?
  • To what extent will expertise and methods from different disciplines be brought together and integrated?
  • How are the quality and appropriateness of the PI’s existing professional experience in relation to the research proposal?
Impact (weighted 20%)
  • To what extent is the contribution and the expected outcome of the project contributing to the expected impact of the goal of this call?
  • To what extent will the project outcomes contribute to the development of novel research as well as economic and societal?
Implementation (weighted 20%)
  • To what extent do the proposed PIs have the capabilities to successfully implement the proposed project?
  • To what extent are the participants complementing one another?
  • How is the quality and effectiveness of the work plan (including deliverables and milestones)?
  • To what extent are efforts assigned to work packages (including timing and duration of the different work packages) appropriate and outlined in a GANNT chart?
Public outreach (weighted 10%)
  • To what extent do the participants have experience with public outreach?
  • How is the quality and innovation of the outreach to the public on the results of the project?
  • To what extent are efforts assigned to outreach activities?

Finally, the overall strengths and weaknesses of the application are provided along with a conclusion.

Enclosures for full application

  • Application template
  • CV template
  • Gantt chart
  • Budget template

Letter of Intent deadline is: 15 March 2023

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