Systems Integration Initiative – Third Call For Proposals

Closing Dates: 30th June and 31st October 2000

This document provides information on an EPSRC initiative on "Systems Integration", including the third call for proposals within the Managed element of the initiative and details of opportunities for networking, feasibility studies and responsive mode proposals.

1. Aim

The aim of the program is to develop a greater level of understanding and capability of Systems Integration within the UK science base. This will be achieved by:

2. Background

This initiative seeks to improve the competitiveness of UK Manufacturing and Services by funding research proposals that will lead to an increased capability in Systems Integration. The programme also aims to stimulate innovation in IT and exploit state-of-the-art and established IT developments which can make a significant contribution to Systems Integration. The systems of interest may be associated with any of the full range of life-cycle activities of products and services including requirements elicitation, specification, design, engineering, manufacturing and construction, product support, customer care and recycling.

3. Funding

The Managed Research Programme in Systems Integration will receive 4.5 million annually from EPSRC for at least three years. This includes proposals for feasibility studies which are intended to lead to full scale collaborative projects and network proposals.

Applications in the general area of Systems Integration which fall outside the scope of the call can be submitted at any time for consideration to the IT & Computer Science Programme under EPSRC's responsive mode procedures. This will include more speculative research proposals that identify the innovation and added value from IT and/or Engineering to Systems Integration, but are not aimed at a specific collaborative research project. Flexibility is a key feature of our responsive mode operation, and applicants who are concerned that their application falls at the boundary of the scope of the call and the responsive mode are encouraged to discuss their applications with the Co-ordinator, Bob Malcolm, before submitting their proposal.

All projects, both those within the Managed Programme and those funded in Responsive Mode will be managed as a coherent portfolio of projects.

4. Scope

Research proposals may address any of a wide range of challenges in the creation of complex products and services:

The systems of concern will generally be heterogeneous systems of systems.

Integration is unlikely to be a once-off event. The class of integrated systems of concern is characterised by continual evolution, whether of product, product range, or services, and repeated restructuring of businesses, industrial sectors, and public services.

It is recognised that these different forms and aspects of systems integration are inter-related, and we also seek approaches which enable the articulation and clarification of those relationships.

Information Technology

It is likely that innovative use of new, emerging, or existing information technology will play an important part in the achievement of new forms of integration. Many products and services are critically dependent upon IT, and many forms of systems integration are dependent upon the integration of information systems. Information technology itself must be developed to support evolutionary information systems integration.

The Role Of Theory

A theoretical basis is not a pre-requisite for proposals, and 'constructive' approaches can be accepted. However, we do seek a deep understanding of the issues associated with complex systems of systems and their practical design and management. Moreover, we wish to be able to assess the likely transferability of any project results, which would be facilitated by validated theory.


Examples of key Systems Integration challenges are given at Annex 1. Intending proposers are strongly advised to consider these examples which indicate the nature and scale of the challenges of interest.

5. Research Proposal Guidelines

It is intended that the programme should comprise a small number of significant, intercommunicating consortia-based projects rather than a large number of isolated projects. The aim is to create critical mass, to develop generically applicable results, and to have global impact. Annex 2 lists the proposals funded through the first call and is available here.

The following guidelines are to provide assistance in the formulation of successful research proposals within the Managed element of the Initiative. These guidelines are amplified on the web at . It should be noted that aftr reviewing that material prospective applicants are strongly advised to consult the Programme Co-ordinator, Bob Malcolm, who will advise on the interpretation of these guidelines in the context of a specific proposal.


Proposals for short term (low cost) feasibility studies - leading to full collaborative proposals under future calls, visiting fellowships and network proposals can be submitted and assessed at any time under the managed element of the call. Intending proposers for full collaborative proposals should consider how the effectiveness of their work might be enhanced by means of other mechanisms such as these.


6. Application Procedure

It is expected that all prospective applicants will contact the Systems Integration co-ordinator, Bob Malcolm, as soon as possible before forming a proposal. This would include prospective partners seeking help in forming a consortium. The co-ordinator will be able to provide advice on the fit of suggested proposals to the initiative, and on the nature of proposal which is expected for this programme, which in its problem-orientation is significantly different from traditional EPSRC proposals. General enquiries, specifically those related to EPSRC rules and regulations should be addressed to Rebecca Pool at EPSRC in the first instance.

Proposals must be submitted on the form EPS(RP), with a case for support and letters from industrial collaborators confirming their commitment. Copies of the form and of the "Guide to EPSRC Research Grants" (which contains information about the format of the case for support) are available from university research grant offices or electronically on the EPSRC website.

The closing date for the 3rd call is staggered, therefore the original proposal plus eight copies should arrive on or before Friday 30th June 2000 for the first round, and then by Tuesday 31st October for the second round. Original copies are required for processing and faxed copies will not be accepted. Proposals should be clearly marked "Systems Integration Initiative"


John Hand
Polaris House
North Star Avenue,
Swindon SN2 1ET

Tel: 01793 444234
Fax: 01793 444470

Professor Bob Malcolm
Ideo Ltd
Temple Chambers
Temple Avenue

Tel: 020 7936 3900
Fax: 020 7936 3901


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