Initiate a costing

To initiate a costing please complete this form.


Guidance on Budgets

Preparing a grant budget, especially when it is your first grant application, can be confusing with numerous ways to present costs and different funder rules for the same costs. The Section Mangers will support all applicants in preparing their costs and have the relevant expertise to ensure that the correct figures are added to the grant application.

The core items for inclusion on a grant are salary and non-salary items, and these should be considered by the lead investigator and then discussed with the relevant Section Manager. The information below may clarify additional costs which should be included. The Section Manager can then start to prepare a formal costing for the proposal using the College’s Worktribe system.

To aid in the collection of information required to start a Worktribe record you are encouraged to complete a Worktribe Initiation Form.

While many funders publish upper limits for their schemes and while in some cases it is very difficult to prepare a proposal which is less than the upper limit this should not be seen as a target. In many cases further scrutiny is applied to applications which have budgets at (or even beyond) the maximum, which can adversely impact on funding decisions. All budgets should be carefully thought through and consider value for money for the funder.

When considering start dates these should be reasonable and take into account the date of the panel which will consider the grant, and should absolutely not be before that date. If awarded it then often takes several weeks to receive formal award letters and for an award to become active within the College. If recruitment is then required this should also be taken into account. Although it may be seen as desirable to start an award as quickly as possible this can result in under costing of salaries when the start date is unrealistic, which may mean having to cut a contract of employment short.

Completing Worktribe

The Worktribe system, which replaced InfoEd in August 2021, is both for the preparation of costs and the approval of both the budgets and the application by the relevant individuals within the College.

It has been recognised that there has been a substantial increase in the amount of research-related administration required of academics as PIs of their research grants and one objective of the current overall College strategy is to support academic staff as much as possible in their endeavours to apply for and win research funding. In support of this the number of staff members that can create grant applications in Worktribe is restricted to a smaller number of administrative pre-award experts (“super users”). They are responsible for creating, completing, and checking all grant applications in Worktribe based on the information provided by the investigators. This minimises the amount of administration required by academic staff, allowing them to focus more on teaching and research.

Within NHLI the Worktribe system super users are Section Managers, Division Managers and Research Manager, with the Section Managers being the first people to approach to discuss costs for a grant proposal. When developing a budget for a grant application please discuss the project initially with the relevant Section Manager well in advance of the deadline. While preparing a budget can be quite quick there are often things that arise which may delay the process (obtaining quotes, getting costs from outside bodies such as the NHS, reviewing specific scheme requirements etc). Section Managers will also have the other responsibilities they manage to address and may not be able to respond immediately.

Completing Costs on the Application Form

The figures which are required on the application form can vary both from funder to funder and even from scheme to scheme. This can include different elements which can or can’t be included, such as inflation or apprenticeship levy on salaries. Consequently, when the Worktribe record is complete your Section Manager will be able to assist you in ensuring that the correct figures are entered onto the application form.

The transfer of figures onto the application will take time and this needs to be factored into the preparation time for the completion of the proposal.

Additional Things to Consider

Golden Rules

Golden Rules for Imperial’s main funders have been prepared by the Research Office and provide a simple summary on key funder requirements at proposal stage. 

While there is no expectation that investigators should know these, it is a useful resource to have access to.


Central Biomedical Services (CBS) provides and operates animal research facilities for the biomedical research community working to 'leading practice' guidelines, recognising that good laboratory animal welfare is an essential component of good laboratory animal technology and science. The multi-campus CBS facilities can accommodate a variety of species at various levels of discipline, including a full barrier unit, containment level 3 suites and quarantine facilities. Skilled and dedicated members of staff are able to provide professional help and advice.

Before commencing work within a CBS facility you must discuss your requirements with the Site Manager at the appropriate campus and be fully conversant with local rules and regulations.

The Central Biomedical Services webpages have access to CBS Costing Tool and CBS Notification Form.

The investigator should complete the relevant CBS costing tool and discuss this with the CBS team at the campus where the activity will take place. The approved CBS costing tool should then be sent to the Section Manager preparing the budgets who will extract the correct prices for the funder.

Charge-Out Facilities

Imperial maintains an extensive range of research facilities and equipment spread across research disciplines and departments. A Directory of research facilities and equipment across Imperial College London was created to provide a searchable listing of research facilities and equipment to enable collaboration and improve efficiency and utilisation of existing equipment and facilities.

In some cases there are established charge rates for using the facilities (FILM and FACS have hourly rates which can be found on the charge out lists), which are updated annually.  Charged-out facilities can be included as a cost on all applications using the appropriate rate.

Other facilities may be available, but the costs may need to be established through a discussion with the facility manager or appropriate individual. Details of who to contact are included on the Facilities Directory. Costs for facilities which are not included on the charge out list cannot usually be included on Research Council applications, so please flag any required access to your Section Manager at an early stage so that these costs can be considered.

Clinical Trials and Clinical Costs

When preparing a project which involves a clinical trial there are many other considerations which must be included in the development of that application, to conform with the many aspects of clinical governance.

Clinical Electronic Case Records Forms

The Clinical Data Systems team within ICTU works collaboratively with Imperial College Investigators, Researchers, Study Managers and Statisticians, and Study Teams to provide an electronic data capture system for your Clinical Research Study, in line with regulatory standards.

There are two EDC tools that are available for electronic data capture depending on the clinical research being undertaken: OpenClinica V4.0 and REDCap (academic). InForm, the previous EDC tool, will no longer be used for new study releases after Nov 2020. The use of OpenClinica has been mandated for all Imperial College AHSC sponsored clinical trials of an IMP, however, other studies may use the OpenClinica system.


The Imperial College Trials Unit is a UKCRC fully registered trials unit, which means that they have met certain standards of quality assessment in both academic and practical aspects of running trials. This status is recognized by funding agencies. Running a trial through ICTU will ensure that it is robust and is likely to help increase the chances of gaining successful funding.

ICTU operates in a collaborative way with investigators in order to ensure that both parties share their expertise most productively.

The ICTU webpages  contain very valuable information to support the development of clinical trials and NHLI supports an Operations manager (Dr Ana Boshoff) who will be able to provide further advice on projects and the adoption process for trials to be run through ICTU.

NHS Costs

As a university Imperial College is not able to directly cost work which will be undertaken in an NHS trust. Therefore all costs should be sought from the relevant NHS trust by the lead investigator as these relate to the specific study for which budgets are required. This also allows any questions or queries which arise to be addressed in the most timely manner.

Once obtained the approved NHS costs (as supplied by the relevant NHS trust’s R&D team) should be send to the Section Manager preparing the budgets.


All college-sponsored studies funded by a non-commercial organisation with NHS Trust costs will require a SoECAT (Schedule of Events Cost Attribution Template), if:

  • The proposed study is intended for the NIHR CRN portfolio, the route through which support and Excess Treatment Costs are provided in England. This may include studies that will take place in a social care or public health setting.
  • The research requires Health Research Authority (HRA) approval in England.
  • The research will use NHS resources.

SoECATs are required for all funders which will use NHS resources, even if it does not include excess treatment costs (ETCs). In addition, some funders, namely research councils, require the completion of the SoECAT even if there are no NHS costs in the application

A full process map for the SoECAT preparation process is available.

A slight variation of this process relates to projects Royal Brompton & Harefield Hospitals where Imperial College will act as sponsor and RBHH is a single site. In such cases RBHH will require confirmation that the Sponsor has been involved in the completion process.

Responsibility for the completion of the SoECAT form rests with the investigator and sign off will be with the relevant AcoRD specialist in the NHS trust or in the LCRN if multi-site.

It should be noted that the SoECAT form is NOT itself a costing tool and the relevant NHS costs (see below) still need to be obtained from any involved NHS trusts. For projects involving ICHT this will require the ICHT non-commercial costing template to be completed but in all cases the investigators need to discuss their projects and requirements with the relevant NHS trust(s).


For small items of equipment it is possible to provide costs from online catalogues or the College’s ordering system (where often discounts are available) and include these as part of the application. For larger items (over £10,000) it is a requirement that quotes are obtained directly from the company for the specification of equipment which is required. Where several individual items of equipment are combined to make a single set-up, this will count as a single item. In addition, these items must be logged onto the Faculty's Equipment Database (if the application is successful), for insurance and equipment tracking.  Local laboratory managers can assist in this step.

Where specific needs are linked to the purchase of an item of equipment, such as dedicated space, require modification to existing laboratory space, single or 3 phase electrical supply etc, this should be discussed in advance of submission with Sue Francis.

In some cases, it is only feasible to purchase from a specific company, for example where the equipment will be used alongside existing items and must be compatible, and in those cases a single quote is acceptable at application stage.

In all cases, the costs of maintaining the new equipment should also be included in the purchase price. Normally this would be for 3 years but longer if allowed and the project runs more than 3 years.

The College’s Purchasing website contains more detailed information about the procurement process.

Professional Fees

Professional fees apply to any activity which is to be conducted by a third party on behalf of the investigator in the delivery of the project. In all cases a quote for the work should be sought in advance of the submission to verify the costs and VAT will be relevant for service work regardless of whether this is applied by the company or not.

Research Data Store (RDS)

Imperial College has options for data storage which are managed through the Research Data Store.

While 2TB of storage is provided for each project free of charge, additional data storage is available at reasonable cost, with options for long term storage. The costs for this can be included in grant applications. Storage of data is also important in relation to the Research Data Management Plan.

Research Partner Costs

When working with other universities or partners, where they are involved in the development of the science and will be co-applicants on the proposal, their involvement is managed as Research Partners. In such cases it is a requirement that they provide their own budgets for any work which will take place at their site, as these will be local costs which we cannot prepare. In addition, any under-budgeting as a result of the Research Partner not having provided their own costs will impact on our own budgets.

Once the activity at the Research Partner site has been established and finalised they will need to provide budget details. The Section Manager preparing the budgets can, is required, work with their equivalent at the other site to finalise these as needed for the application.

Tuition Fees

If part of the grant proposal includes someone who will register for a PhD the relevant fees should be included in the application costing.  This will vary according to the individual and may have a maximum threshold the funder is prepared to support.  Specific details will be included in the call or funder guidance.

Further details on PhD registration process are available with the NHLI website.