MISD works together closely with the Research Office in maintaining and developing the systems that ensure the smooth running of the University's research administration. With research funding being such a vital source of income, and with the position of the university as a centre of research excellence both within the UK and the world, this is an area of great importance.
MISD host the University's grant costing tool, known as pFACT, which was brought in to meet the more complex costing methodology needs introduced in the fEC (Full Economic Costing) model. This system is vital for Principal Investigators to cost their research accurately and thus apply for the appropriate amounts from the various sponsors.
MISD is currently working with Oxford University and an external development company, Unit 4, in developing the replacement system for pFACT; this is known as the X5 project. This system will be much improved from the current pFACT application, benefitting as it does both from the input of the Cambridge (and Oxford) research community from the outset, the experience gained from using pFACT, and the better understanding of fEC itself now that it has been in existence for several years. Further details about the X5 project can be found here:
X5 Preview Environment
In the near future, an environment will be set up to enable users to have a play around with X5 and get a feel for how it works.
This environment will be a trial/development system and therefore the data contained within is purely test data and should not be used for costing purposes. As this system is a development system it may contain bugs and configuration may change on a regular basis.
A brief document has been drawn up that contains useful information to know when completing a costing.
This is an unsupported system but should anyone have comments/questions please email them to X5support@admin.cam.ac.uk and one of the project team will respond as soon as possible.
There are also several custom built systems used by the Research Office and maintained and developed by MISD to assist in the general administration of grants. These are:
- The RCO Database – the main grant management application that the Research Office use to track grant data such as contract details, the type of grant it is, attached amendments, grant status as well as the generation of the ‘RG number’ that is used as an identifier across the University
- The Budget Calculator – a tool that takes the grant application across the various costing categories and which works out the income split between the department and the CHEST depending on which sponsor category has been applied to and as laid down by the terms of the University’s incomes policy
- The Claims Management System – a system that is used in conjunction with UFS to manage the billing cycles of successful grants and to ensure that invoices are generated and to help in chasing up any overdue payments
- The Equipment Database, - a system which contains details of key research facilities and equipment - both within Cambridge and at other regional institutions. The database should be used as part of the research grant costing process to establish whether or not it is possible to share existing facilities/equipment rather than have to purchase them specifically for a new project.
MISD also host the Research Office’s website, which both gives useful information on the work of the Research Office to the academic community at large but also offers various online features such as a contract submission system for MTA (Materials Transfer Agreements) and CDA (Confidential Disclosure Agreements) contracts as well as a web based version of the Budget Calculator that ties in directly with grant applications on pFACT to allow a view of how the income would split between CHEST and the departments.