ASPIRE 2024 Joint Call "Japan-UK engineering biology"

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ASPIRE 2024 Joint Call "Japan-UK engineering biology"

(Last updated 10 June 2024)

Update details

10 June 2024:

  • The interview schedule has been updated.

16 Apr 2024:

  • This call for proposals has been closed.

2 Feb 2024:

  • Revised Call Text p.16, p.17.

15 January 2024

ASPIRE 2024 Joint Call for Proposals “Japan-UK engineering biology for discovery research and cross-cutting technologies”

The Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), part of United Kingdom Research and Innovation (UKRI), are jointly accepting proposals for Japan-UK collaborative research projects in the field of “engineering biology”, an emerging priority area for both countries.

Based on the implementation principles of the ASPIRE program in Japan and the ISPF in the UK, this joint call aims to support internationally competitive collaborative research projects in engineering biology and cross-cutting technologies, to create sustainable international networks among leading researchers in the field, and to nurture future research leaders.

Proposals submitted to JST and BBSRC will be jointly evaluated, and adopted projects will be jointly supported: Japan based research teams will be supported by JST; UK based research teams will be supported by BBSRC.

Link to Japanese page

Research Field and Scope

“Engineering Biology for Discovery Research and Cross-Cutting Technologies”

The theme of the call is as follows, with possible research topics including:

  • I. Discovery- inspired projects
    The bioengineered cells and systems
    The bio-inspired design theme
    The novel materials theme
  • II. Cross-cutting research & technologies

For more information, please refer to Section 2. "Aim of Joint Call and Scope" and Appendix 1 of the Call Text.

A funding opportunity webinar for Japan based applicants will be held at the following time:

Date and Time: Wednesday, 24 January, 2024, 14:00-15:30 JST
Format: Webinar (Zoom)
*This information session has ended.

Program (tentative):
1. Opening and ASPIRE PD/PO introduction
2. Overview of the JST-BBSRC joint call
3. Call scope and evaluation perspectives
4. Q&A session

Support Scale

JST will fund Japan based researchers up to 180 million JPY per project (up to 234 million JPY including 30% overhead expenses), lasting from the start of the project to the end of March 2028. This may be extended to the end of March 2030, subject to travelling and other research exchanges.

BBSRC will fund UK based researchers up to 1 million GBP per project at 80% of its full economic cost for a maximum project duration of 36 months.

A maximum of five projects will be funded from this call for proposals.


  • Japan based researchers should be conducting research at a research institution (university, independent administrative institution, public experimental research institution, public-interest corporation, or company) within Japan.
    Please note that multiple applications to JST ASPIRE 2024 Call for Proposals and the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED) ASPIRE 2024 Call for Proposals will not be accepted.
  • UK based researchers should follow UKRI regulations. Please refer to Section 5. "Eligible beneficiaries and composition of the consortia" of the Call Text and the UKRI website for further details.
  • Each project proposal must have at least two eligible research teams: one team (at least) in Japan and one team (at least) in the UK.


The schedule for the submission and review of research proposals for this joint call is as indicated in the table below. Interviews will be held for those applicants who pass the document review. Applicants who proceed to the interview stage will be notified of the date and time on an individual basis.

Please note that the schedule (except the application deadline) is subject to change.

Application via the e-Rad system deadline 16 April 2024 (18:00 JST/16:00 GMT)
Document review April to June 2024
Interviews for Japan based PIs who pass the document review** 22 August 2024
Notification of results Late September 2024
Start of research December 2024

*Applicants will be notified by email at least two weeks before the interview date.

Proposal Submission

Please read the Call Text and Application Guidelines「公募要領別紙」carefully before applying.

  • The Japan and the UK team will need to submit their applications by parallel submission, using the designated application form (Japan-UK Engineering Biology_form.docx) to draft a joint proposal in English and submit it to the application websites of their respective countries.
  • Each research team in each country shall be led by a PI/PL who is also responsible for submitting the required consortium application documents to JST/BBSRC.
  • The PI/PL in Japan and UK should ensure that there are no differences in the content of the proposals submitted in the designated application form to Japan and UK.
  • If applicants do not submit required documents to both JST and BBSRC by the deadline, the proposal shall not be accepted.

Application Form

Call Text PDF
Application Form Word
Application Guidelines「公募要領別紙」(In Japanese) PDF
e-Rad Manual PDF


  • The Japan based PI must have completed the designated online research ethics course prior to application. Please refer to the Application Guidelines for details on enrollment in the research ethics education program. Failure to complete the program will result in the proposal being rejected as incomplete.
  • When research institutions are national or municipal organizations, such institutions concluding research contracts are obliged to implement necessary budgetary measures before entering research contracts for which they are responsible. Please confirm with your institution and contact JST before submitting.

Prior Notice (recommended)

It is recommended that the Japan based PI send JST a prior notice about any proposal being submitted by Friday 29 March 2024, according to the template below:

  • To: aspire-uk(at) (replace (at) with @)
  • Subject (in Japanese):「事前連絡_(機関名)_(氏名)」
  • Body text:
    1. Research Project Title (Tentative)
    2. Japan-based Principal Investigator / Institution and Department Name
    3. UK-based Project Lead / Institution and Department Name

Inquiries for Japan based Applicants

Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST)
Department of International Affairs

ASPIRE Coordination Group

aspire-uk(at) (replace (at) with @)