Our state-of-the-art facility provides environmental researchers across the UK with access to innovative technologies to enable world-leading research.


We support:

  1. NERC grantholders who have consulted with us before submitting their grant to NERC.
  2. Researchers based in the UK to undertake pilot studies in environmental science.
  3. PhD students in the environmental science area based in the UK. Supervisors must apply on behalf of students.

Please note that Principal Investigators must comply with the NERC eligibility criteria.

Access procedure

  • All potential users are asked to first complete an enquiry form to discuss feasibility.
  • Applicants (for NERC grants, pilot competition or other) will receive a quotation after the enquiry to submit with their proposal.
  • To organise work at the Facility, users should then complete an access form.
  • All users are required to agree to our Terms and Conditions.


Is my work within NERC's remit?
The research areas supported by NERC are included in NERC’s “what we fund” page.
Is there a limit on the size of project that NEOF can support?

No, but if a project is expected to cost more than £100,000 we will discuss the funding arrangements with you during the initial enquiry stage.

I am applying to NERC for a project requesting access to NEOF. Where do I enter the costs and Technical Assessment on JeS?

Please enter the costs in both the ‘Facilities’ box and under the section called ‘Other Directly Incurred’; the amount needs to be included in the ‘Other Directly Incurred’ section so that it is counted in the total amount. This is the same place where consumables are listed. Please ensure you enter the same amount in both sections. The number of Units below the ‘Facilities’ box is simply 1.

I have obtained a grant from NERC – why do I have to complete an access form?

In practice, many grant applications do not include much technical detail and we do not get very involved at that stage. We do not routinely see or comment on the full application and, even if we did, investigators often change their plans. NERC Facilities are therefore required to review the relevant aspects of a project. NEOF typically does a lot more than just running the sequences, so there needs to be a clear understanding of who does what, and the NEOF access form helps us to sort this out. Overall, the process has proven to be beneficial, with many projects being much refined or else improved to take advantage of new developments. While your application will not be rejected, it is possible that you will be asked to further refine your plan. The other requested information is either basic contact information or information that we have to return to NERC annually about our users, but that we could not necessarily extract from your full application, even if we had it.

I am applying for a grant from NERC. Am I obliged to plan to get my analyses done by NEOF?

No, but NERC requires that you obtain an equivalent quality of service and price from the alternative provider. Alternative providers, which are often based overseas, may offer lower headline prices but there is usually no equivalent support for experimental design or data interpretation, and there may be conditions regarding data ownership. NERC requires value for money rather than the lowest possible price, as the latter can be a false economy.

I have obtained a grant or studentship from a source other than NERC. Can I apply for access to NEOF?

You do not need to be NERC-supported to access support from NEOF; providing the focus of your proposed research project is within the remit of NERC, you can submit an application irrespective of which organisation supports your research.

Who should complete the NEOF access form?

The NEOF access form should be formally submitted by the Principal Investigator. This is normally one of the supervisors of the project, but applications can be drafted by any member of the team, including a PhD student, provided the final version is approved and submitted by the Principal Investigator or Co-Investigator.

My project supports a postgraduate student; what is the level of support?

Successful applicants will be required to cover travel, accommodation and subsistence for the visitor but access to the NEOF-Visitor Facility will be free and provide 1 to 1 training and consumables, including DNA sequencing. Supported visitors will also be given priority to the free bioinformatics training courses.

Can I add my postgraduate student as a Co-Investigator?

Under NERC rules postgraduate students are not eligible to be named as Co-Investigators.

How will I know if my application is accepted?

NERC will inform the Principal Investigator directly by email.

When will I hear the outcome of my request for access to NEOF?

If your project is funded by a NERC grant, it will be fast-tracked and you should receive the decision within one month of your request.
For applications to the pilot project rounds, due to the volume of applications, you should typically hear the decision after three months of the deadline.
For all other projects, you should receive the decision after approximately two months, although at busy times it may be slightly longer.

What is the difference between a standard application and the pilot competition?

The pilot competition targets small pilot/development sequencing projects to be undertaken at NEOF. These projects are aimed at the generation of preliminary data or proof of principle in advance of full research grant proposals, particularly when it is necessary to demonstrate the applicability or the technical feasibility of new techniques or approaches to NERC-relevant research problems. Finally, standard applications are reviewed as received, whereas the pilot competition is an annual competition.

Exactly what platforms and capabilities do you have available?

We give an outline of our platform on our capabilities page, but because of the rapid pace of omics the precise details change frequently and can be difficult to navigate for a non-specialist. Instead, we prefer users contact us through an enquiry form. This allows us to concentrate on the scientific question and finding an appropriate experimental design to answer it.

Where can I find a price list of services?

Costs are updated very frequently and don’t scale linearly with number of samples. We also want to focus on delivering the best science possible through good experimental design. Please use our enquiry form to discuss your study and we will provide a quote.

What are the requirements for the submission of first round PCR products for PCR2 tagging and sequencing?
FAQ for proteomics
My project involves a postgraduate student, where do I enter their details?

If you plan for your student to spend time at the NEOF Visitor Facility in Sheffield then please enter his/her contact details in the ‘Proposed Visitor’ section, as well as their funding details where requested; if your student will not be visiting, but will benefit from the project, please still include their details, as this information is requested by NERC in our annual reporting.

FAQ for metabolomics