The Natural Environment Research Council, which cancelled a round of grants last summer, has found a spare £10 million that it has put up for grabs, writes Caroline Davis.
Nerc is inviting researchers to apply for equipment grants of between Pounds 50,000 and £250,000 from a one-off pot of £8 million.
The council also announced that it would provide a further £2 million for blue-skies research.
Nerc cancelled its summer 2002 funding round - worth £10 million - to address a shortfall of about £13 million, believed to be caused by a change in accountancy procedures.
Jim Aland, who is head of awards and training at Nerc, told The THES : "We've got a good budget this year and want to make sure it's utilised."
He said the council had often been criticised for not funding equipment.
Only the 20 institutions that had been most successful at winning Nerc funding during the past three to five years will be allowed to bid for a share of the £10 million. Institutions will be invited to submit three applications each.
Preference will be given to projects that address the Nerc science and innovation strategy by linking with the wider community or providing regional benefits.
Nerc, along with the other research councils, was previously part of the now defunct Joint Research Equipment Initiative. The scheme offered equipment grants to researchers for a five-year period.