The 2024 NEOF Pilot Project Grants Competition for Early Career Researchers has now closed. Applicants will be notified of the decision by 31/5/2024.

The NERC Environmental Omics Facility provides access to omics capabilities (Genomics, Metabolomics and Proteomics) to the UK environmental research community.


    • Consultation: Monday 15 January to Thursday 8 February 2024
    • Submission deadline: Friday 1 March 2024
    • Decision notification: end May 2024
    • Samples submission: Monday 2 December 2024


To help scientists working within the NERC remit to take advantage of these opportunities, NEOF is providing funding for small pilot/development projects that wish to access the latest genome sequencing, proteomics and metabolomics technologies. Applicants should consult the web pages of NEOF and the Centre for Genomic Research, Centre for Proteomic Research and Centre for Metabolomic Research (which host the omic capability of NEOF) for a fuller description of the capabilities and technologies available. Enquiries and project discussion should be made through our enquiries page (

Pilot/development projects should be directed at generating preliminary data or proof of concept in advance of full research grant or fellowship proposals, particularly when it is necessary to demonstrate the applicability or the technical feasibility of new techniques or approaches to NERC-relevant research problems.

The pilot competition is also an excellent opportunity for researchers familiar with genomics to extend their research methodology and trial proteomics and metabolomics as a means to explore the mechanistic or phenotypic basis of genomic results.

Examples could include:

Genomics: ‘digital’ transcriptomics using next-generation sequencing, deep metagenomics of environmental samples, de-novo genome assembly from long-read data, or the use of high-throughput sequencing as a genetic tool in natural populations.

Metabolomics: use of mass spectrometry in broad metabolite discovery and identification of metabolomic changes between samples, targeted metabolite identification, or the use of vibrational spectroscopy methods for spatial distribution of metabolites. See Metabolomics FAQs.

Proteomics: use of high-throughput global protein identification from environmental samples, label free quantification for comparison of protein expression in samples collected exposed to different environments, and post translational modification identification of specific proteins or at a global levels. See Proteomics FAQs

See Case studies for all ‘omics.

This call is specifically for early career researchers (ECR) within NERC’s remit.

Applicants should make clear the relevance of the work to NERC’s strategic remit and how the proposal would promote their transition towards being an independent researcher, develop their career or provide pilot data that will lead to further work and/or proposals for full funding. More established researchers should apply to the NEOF Pilot Independent competition.

For this call, NEOF define an ECR as a non-independent Postdoctoral Researcher (e.g. a PDRA), an independent Postdoctoral Researcher (e.g. a research fellow) or an individual with a technician background, such as research or instrument technicians currently employed in a research capacity within the UK in an environmental science discipline relevant to NERC’s remit. This does NOT include Postgraduate Students. Applicants do not need to be employed from a NERC grant or fellowship. Non-independent researchers and those in a research support or technical role should confirm that their line manager has understood the time commitment required for the project and is willing to make this available.

Applicants should note the following:

  • Projects must be within the NERC remit;
  • Recipients of NEOF pilot funding in 2023 will not be considered. 
  • Only one project will be considered per applicant across all 3 funding calls (genomics, proteomics and metabolomics), although proposals that include more than one technology are eligible.
  • Eligibility: Postgraduate students are not eligible as PIs; applicants not currently based in a UK institution are not eligible.
  • Applicants will provide confirmation from their supervisor that they will make the time available to applicants to conduct the research should it be funded (not required for Research Fellows).
  • Samples suitable for analysis (i.e. meeting minimum quality and quantity requirements) must be delivered to NEOF by Monday 2 December 2024; failure to deliver suitable samples to the NEOF by the submission deadline will result in funding being withdrawn.
  • Applicants may either prepare samples in their own laboratory or use the NEOF Visitor Facility, which houses expertise and equipment for nucleic acid extraction and QC. If this is required, please flag this during project discussions.

Proposals for projects associated with PhD students (who do not themselves have to be NERC-funded) will be considered. In such cases, the application should show how the proposed work integrates within the timeframe of the doctoral project.

All proposals should include a clear plan for the bioinformatic analysis of the resulting data, noting that NEOF can, by agreement, provide some bioinformatic and statistical support as part of the funded project.

Applications will be graded by the NEOF Steering Committee, following the established NEOF procedures, but with particular reference to:

  • Scientific excellence, including the novelty, timeliness and/or impact of the proposed work
  • The likely importance of the pilot data to a full grant or fellowship proposal

Each successful project will include access to staff, equipment and consumables costs, to a total value of up to £15,000 plus some bioinformatics support. Successful applicants will be required to report publications or other outputs arising from work conducted at the facility in line with NEOF standard terms and conditions.

Get started

Potential applicants must send NEOF an Enquiry to discuss specific requirements and obtain a formal quotation during the consultation window. There is no need for a full outline of the project at this enquiry stage – a brief overview will be sufficient. Only applications where initial contact has taken place before the consultation deadline will be considered.

How to apply

Applications should be made via the NEOF Access portal and applicants will be required to upload a description of their project (maximum 750 words), NEOF quotation and, where required, a statement of support from their supervisor. Specific instructions and a preview of the requested information can be viewed here

Your project description should include:

  • Underlying rationale, scientific and technological issues to be addressed
  • Specific objectives of the project
  • Methodology and plan of research, including, for example, any bioinformatic analyses

You will also be asked how your proposal will help your transition to become an independent researcher.


Empowering the next generation of environmental researchers.

If you would like more information about NEOF and the services we offer, or make any other enquiry, please complete our form.