Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Cancer Immunotherapy Response Research Platform

Start application

Apply for funding to develop a broad utility, deep genotyping and phenotyping platform capable of generating insights into patient response, adverse effects, and resistance to immunotherapy, and exemplar project(s) to demonstrate utility.

The platform will be led by a multi-organisational and multidisciplinary consortium, including at least one industry partner.

A total of £9 million (80% Full Economic cost (FEC) including relevant indexing) over four years is available with £4 million in FY 2024/25.

You must be a researcher employed at a research organisation eligible to apply for Medical Research Council (MRC) funding.

The start application link will be available to select from 9:00am 25 January 2024. Projects must start by 1 August 2024

Who can apply

Before applying for funding, check the Eligibility of your organisation.

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has introduced new role types for funding opportunities being run on the new UKRI Funding Service.

For full details, visit Eligibility as an individual.

Who is eligible to apply

To be eligible to apply for this funding opportunity you must:

  • be a researcher employed by an eligible research organisation
  • show that you will direct the project and be actively engaged in the work
  • bring together a consortium to deliver a broad utility, deep genotyping and phenotyping platform capable of generating insights into patient response, adverse effects, and resistance to immunotherapy, and exemplar project(s) to demonstrate utility of this platform

For applicants who do not have a contract of employment for the duration of the proposed project, by submitting an application the research organisation is confirming, if it is successful:

  • contracts will be extended beyond the end date of the project
  • all necessary support for the project and the applicants will be provided, including mentorship and career development for early career researchers

International applicants

International project co-leads are allowed if they provide expertise or access to facilities or resources not available in the UK.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

We are committed to achieving equality of opportunity for all funding applicants. We encourage applications from a diverse range of researchers.

We support people to work in a way that suits their personal circumstances. This includes:

  • career breaks
  • support for people with caring responsibilities
  • flexible working
  • alternative working patterns

Find out more about equality, diversity and inclusion at UKRI.

What we're looking for

Aim

This funding opportunity will support the development of a consortium based, broad utility, deep genotyping and phenotyping platform, capable of generating breakthrough insights into patient response, adverse effects, and resistance to immunotherapy.

In addition to creating a platform, funding should also be used to support an exemplar project or projects seeking to identify marker signatures predicting response or non-response, resistance or toxicity in a defined patient population and therapeutic modality combination.

Scope

This initiative aims to develop a broad utility, deep genotyping and phenotyping platform comprising of equipment, staff and expertise. The platform will unlock insight into mechanisms and markers of response, adverse effects, and loss of response in cancer immune based therapies (including small molecule, antibody, cell based or vaccine therapy).

In addition, funding will support delivery of an exemplar research project (or projects) to establish the utility of the platform and generate early data. Collectively, the establishment of the platform and exemplar project(s) will leave a legacy of equipment, expertise, know how and data to support future research into immunotherapy response.

Broadly, the long-term ambitions for the platform are:

  • generation of actionable molecular insights to inform patient selection and monitoring to improve the accessibility and appropriate use of approved immune based cancer therapies in clinical practice.
  • generation of transferable mechanistic insights and diagnostic approaches with the potential to unlock a new generation of immunotherapy R&D and research investment in the UK. This could include identification of new immunotherapeutic targets and mechanistically driven combination therapy approaches, as well as informing patient selection for clinical trials of emerging immune based cancer therapeutics.

The Platform

The £9 million award will support a single consortium to develop a sustainable, broad utility platform that can provide deep phenotyping and genotyping capabilities to deliver actionable insights around patient response and adverse reactions to cancer based immune therapies. The consortium will be led by a multi organisational team of academic experts, incorporating representation from key centres across the UK, and include at least one industry collaborator.

Bids must describe how the research platform will be embedded in an NHS environment involving appropriate high volume patient hospitals, along with details on sample acquisition, analytical infrastructure and practices, and data capabilities.

You should detail how the platform will be of ongoing and broad utility beyond the exemplar projects or projects included in the award; how the platform, its analytic equipment and expertise, will serve and be made available to the wider cancer immunotherapy research community across both academia and industry, in order to work towards patient benefit.

Exemplar research projects

To demonstrate utility of the platform, you will be asked to define and justify an exemplar project or small number of projects to investigate, and to define biomarker signatures predictive of, response, adverse events and resistance to, or resistance to immune based cancer therapies in a defined patient population about to receive a particular immunotherapy (either in clinical practice or trial settings). You should provide a compelling rationale for the exemplar projects or project, defining and justifying the cancer type or types and immunotherapeutic modality or modalities to be studied.

Duration

The duration of this award is four years.

Projects must start by 1 August 2024.

Funding available

A total of £9 million (80% FEC including relevant indexing) over four years is available.

We expect to fund a single consortium.

The expected spend profile of this funding allows for spend of £4 million (funders contribution) in FY 2024/25 with £5 million (funders contribution) spread evenly during the remainder of the grant. Committing less than £4 million (funders contribution) in FY 2024/25 will lead to a corresponding reduction in the total award. Capital equipment is eligible for support.

What we will fund

You can request funding for:

  • interdisciplinary multi organisational applications
  • extending access and use of existing hubs of state of the art equipment and build upon them
  • capital equipment purchase such as:
    • analytic technology
    • digital pathology equipment
    • data infrastructure
  • technical staff (lab, analytic or data)
  • project management and consumables associated with the creation of the platform and delivery of one or more exemplar projects

You can also request costs for work to be undertaken at international organisations by international project co-leads. We will fund 100% of the full economic cost.

The total of such costs requested for international applicants from developed countries (those not on the OECD DAC List of ODA Recipients), India and China must not exceed 30% of the total resources requested.

There is no cap on costs requested for international applicants from DAC list countries.

For more information on international costs and what we will and will not fund see costs we fund – overseas costs and the Collaborate with Researchers in Norway guidance.

What we will not fund

We will not fund:

  • fees or stipends for postgraduate studentships
  • siloed projects that lack interdisciplinary integration, perspectives or approaches
  • projects that do not embed the research and innovation community in the process
  • consortia that do not include at least one industry partner
  • applications which seek to deliver a research programme, but do not aim to leave a legacy platform with an accompanying plan for how it will attract and deliver further research

Supporting skills and talent

We encourage you to follow the principles of the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers and the Technician Commitment.

International collaboration

UKRI is committed in ensuring that effective international collaboration in research and innovation takes place with integrity and within strong ethical frameworks. Trusted Research and Innovation (TR&I) is a UKRI work programme designed to help protect all those working in our thriving and collaborative international sector by enabling partnerships to be as open as possible, and as secure as necessary. Our TR&I principles set out UKRI’s expectations of organisations funded by UKRI in relation to due diligence for international collaboration.

As such, by applying for UKRI funding, you may be asked to demonstrate how your proposed projects will comply with our approach and expectation towards TR&I, identifying potential risks and the relevant controls you will put in place to help proportionately reduce these risks.

If your application includes international applicants, project partners or collaborators, visit UKRI’s trusted research and innovation for more information on effective international collaboration.

Find out about getting funding for international collaboration.

How to apply

We are running this funding opportunity on the new UKRI Funding Service. You cannot apply on the Joint Electronic Submissions (Je-S) system.

The project lead is responsible for completing the application process on the Funding Service, but we expect all team members and project partners to contribute to the application.

If the lead research organisation is an NHS organisation, check it is available in the Funding Service. You are encouraged to check this early as there may be additional steps for the organisation to be set up before you can apply.

Only the lead research organisation can submit an application to UKRI.

To apply

Select ‘Start application’ near the beginning of this Funding finder page.

  1. Confirm you are the project lead.
  2. Sign in or create a Funding Service account. To create an account, select your organisation, verify your email address, and set a password. If your organisation is not listed, email support@funding-service.ukri.org
    Please allow at least 10 working days for your organisation to be added to the Funding Service.
  3. Answer questions directly in the text boxes. You can save your answers and come back to complete them or work offline and return to copy and paste your answers. If we need you to upload a document, follow the upload instructions in the Funding Service. All questions and assessment criteria are listed in the How to apply section on this Funding finder page.
  4. Allow enough time to check your application in ‘read-only’ view before sending to your research office.
  5. Send the completed application to your research office for checking. They will return it to you if it needs editing.
  6. Your research office will submit the completed and checked application to UKRI.

Where indicated, you can also demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant:

  • use images sparingly and only to convey important information that cannot easily be put into words
  • insert each new image onto a new line
  • provide a descriptive legend for each image immediately underneath it (this counts towards your word limit)
  • files must be smaller than 5MB and in JPEG, JPG, JPE, JFI, JIF, JFIF, PNG, GIF, BMP or WEBP format

Watch our research office webinars about the new Funding Service.

For more guidance on the Funding Service, see:

Deadline

We must receive your application by 9 May 2024 at 4.00pm UK time.

You will not be able to apply after this time.

Make sure you are aware of and follow any internal organisational deadlines.

Following the submission of your application to the funding opportunity, your application cannot be changed, and applications will not be returned for amendment. If your application does not follow the guidance, it may be rejected.

Personal data

Processing personal data

MRC, as part of UKRI, will need to collect some personal information to manage your Funding Service account and the registration of your funding applications.

We will handle personal data in line with UK data protection legislation and manage it securely. For more information, including how to exercise your rights, read our privacy notice.

MRC, as part of UKRI, will need to share the application and any personal information that it contains with co-funder Office of Life Sciences (OLS), so that they can participate in the assessment process. For more information on how OLS uses personal information, visit DHSC privacy notice.

Publication of outcomes

If your application is successful, we will publish some personal information on the UKRI Gateway to Research.

Summary

Word limit: 550

In plain English, provide a summary we can use to identify the most suitable experts to assess your application.

We may make this summary publicly available on external-facing websites, so make it suitable for a variety of readers, for example:

  • opinion-formers
  • policymakers
  • the public
  • the wider research community

Guidance for writing a summary

Clearly describe your proposed work in terms of:

  • context
  • the challenge the project addresses
  • aims and objectives
  • potential applications and benefits

Core team

List the key members of your team and assign them roles from the following:

  • project lead (PL)
  • project co-lead (UK) (PcL)
  • project co-lead (international) (PcL (I))
  • researcher co-lead (RcL)
  • specialist
  • grant manager
  • professional enabling staff
  • research and innovation associate
  • technician
  • visiting researcher

Only list one individual as project lead.

Find out more about UKRI’s core team roles in funding applications.

Application questions

Opportunity and market

Word limit: 1,000

What is the opportunity or challenge, you are seeking to address?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Ensure you describe:

  • the health or clinical need you are seeking to address
  • how your work could lead to the development of a new or improved prototype, product, service or technology
  • how meeting this need could significantly reduce disease burden or alleviate an important bottleneck
  • the competing solutions and their status, including whether similar or complementary research is being taken elsewhere
  • the key competitive advantages of your proposed solution
  • the potential market for your proposed solution

Vision

Word limit: 500

What are you hoping to achieve with your proposed work?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Explain how your proposed work:

  • is of excellent quality and importance within or beyond the fields or areas
  • has the potential to advance current understanding, or generate new knowledge, thinking or discovery within or beyond the field or area
  • is timely given current trends, context, and needs
  • impacts world-leading research, society, the economy, or the environment

Within the Vision section we also expect you to:

  • identify the potential direct or indirect benefits and who the beneficiaries might be
  • identify potential improvements in human or population health, whether through contributing to relieving disease or disability burden, improving quality of life or providing benefit to the health service or health-related industry
  • show how your programme fits within the MRC strategy and the difference it will make
  • describe the route to patient benefit
  • explain how the results will provide mechanistic insights into disease and if the results will be valuable for discovery science through ‘reverse translation’
  • brings together and builds on UK cancer immunotherapy and wider life sciences expertise
  • will enhance and complement the existing landscape
  • be of international importance

You may demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. Further details are provided in the Funding Service.

Approach

Word limit: 5,500

How are you going to deliver your proposed work?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Explain how you have designed your work so that it:

  • is effective and appropriate to achieve your objectives
  • is feasible, and comprehensively identifies any risks to delivery and how they will be managed
  • if applicable, uses a clear and transparent methodology
  • if applicable, summarises the previous work and describes how this will be built upon and progressed
  • will maximise translation of outputs into outcomes and impacts
  • describes how your, and if applicable your team’s, research environment (in terms of the place, and relevance to the project) will contribute to the success of the work

Within the approach section demonstrate how you will support the development of a consortium based a broad utility, deep genotyping and phenotyping platform capable of:

  • generating insights into patient response
  • adverse effects
  • resistance to immunotherapy
  • mechanistic insights into disease

Within the approach section we also expect you to:

  • describe how the consortium brings together different multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary expertise as well as geographic spread, including industry members
  • describe plans for sustainability and legacy beyond the end of UKRI funding – these could include cost recovery models, securing additional funding, development or expansion after the initial period of funding
  • provide details of governance (proportionate to the scale and complexity of the activity); including external advisory structures if needed
  • plans for support and maintenance of the proposed infrastructure
  • details of access and usage particularly where a culture of equipment sharing may extend use
  • provide detail on training and development of staff

Demonstrate that your proposed approach is feasible, and comprehensively identify any risks to delivery and how they will be managed, including:

  1. How likely the risks are to occur.
  2. What their impact would be on the success and deliverability of the project.
  3. Your risk mitigation strategy, giving particular consideration to any potential safety risks and how these risks will be controlled.
  4. Your option to include a risk table to support your response.

Ensure you describe how the idea or solution has been developed to date and what the proposed approach for further development is.

This should outline:

  • the previous work and current status of the innovation or technology and how the proposed work will build upon and progress its development
  • the key gap that the project’s primary objective is seeking to address
  • the critical data to be generated as the project endpoint that will maximise translation of outcomes and transform the chance of attracting onward investment
  • the expertise or any consultancy required to deliver the proposed work

Provide a project plan to support your application and information on how the proposed work has a reliable and robust methodology and experimental design. Provide a summary of the project workplan, accompanied by an embedded Gantt chart or similar aide to support your application. This should outline:

  • project specific deliverables, including proposed success criteria
  • the resourcing necessary to deliver the proposed work
  • the overall timeframe of the project

Do not use the project plan to include information which should be detailed in the other sections of your application.

Ensure that you describe the methodology and experimental design. This should include:

  • the use of animals or patients, including justification for why particular animal models or clinical populations have been chosen and any considerations given to diversity
  • any consultation with a statistician or methodology hub to the development of the application
  • the access you will have to statistical support during the project
  • the statistical analysis plans, the proposed sample sizes in sufficient detail for the replication of any power calculation
  • the anticipated effect of sizes and variability
  • potential sources of bias and describe the strategies that will be adopted to minimise their effects

As part of your methodology, describe the nature of human participation in your proposed work, including:

  • the characteristics of the participants (such as age, disease) and the rationale for their selection
  • the specific population groups in relation to their diversity characteristics and the proposed analysis, following the MRC embedding diversity in research design policy
  • target and acceptable levels of participant recruitment across the project timeline
  • evidence of recruitment feasibility
  • the human participant recruitment strategy, including the steps that will be taken if patient recruitment does not reach the set targets
  • provide the name of any required approving body and whether approval is already in place
  • if applicable, provide details of how any limited animal, library specimen or isolate cell work will inform the human-centric proposed work. For any research involving animals and tissues and cells, you must show how you will use both sexes. If you are not proposing to do this, a strong justification is required

Within the Approach section, we also expect you to describe your exemplar projects or projects specifically:

  • provide details on the proposed methodology and experimental design, including:
    • the experiments you will undertake to probe the stated hypothesis
    • the data you will collect and how it will test the hypothesis
    • the proposed study design and why this approach is appropriate to meet the study objectives

Please refer to the MRC guidance for applicants, section 2.2.3.5 ‘Reproducibility and statistical design’, for further information.

Use the ‘Research involving the use of animals’ section to provide information on the rationale for using animals, choice of species, welfare and procedure severity.

The National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement, and Reduction of Animals in Research have developed a free online tool to guide researchers through the design of their experiments. It helps to ensure that researchers use the minimum number of animals consistent with their scientific objectives, methods to reduce subjective bias, and appropriate statistical analysis.

You may demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. Further details are provided in the Funding Service.

Project milestones

Word limit: 1,500

Provide details of your project milestones.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Provide at least two key progression milestones for your project, that:

  • delineate the proposed work into costed project phases with clear Go/No-Go decision points
  • establish key progression milestones with target and acceptable thresholds

Download and complete the following Experimental Medicine milestone template (DOCX, 61.7KB) and copy and paste into the text box.

Milestones must be SMART – that is: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-framed:

  • detail robust Go / No-Go criteria (failure to meet these will result in early termination of the project)
  • for all projects, it is advisable to structure the project so that the critical questions are addressed as early as possible in the plan

Success criteria should be based on project outputs that, at the given point, need to be achieved in order to justify further continuation of the studies. Success criteria should align to project aims and objectives; success criteria for the final milestone should reflect what success for the funded aspect of the project would equate to.

For each success criterion, please specify a quantified target value that you will seek to attain and a quantified acceptable value, which, if achieved, would support project progression

For exemplar projects, this should include a summary of:

  • study design
  • study participants
  • study endpoints
  • dose (when applicable)
  • analysis plans

Do not include project management meetings or other process-related tasks as milestone success criteria.

Your estimate of the milestone criteria being met should assume that the preceding milestone was achieved.

For the final milestone, the criteria should reflect outcomes representing successful completion of the project.

Applicant and team capability to deliver

Word limit: 1,500

Why are you the right individual or team to successfully deliver the proposed work?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Evidence of how you, and if relevant your team, have:

  • the relevant experience (appropriate to career stage) to deliver the proposed work
  • the right balance of skills and expertise to cover the proposed work
  • the appropriate leadership and management skills to deliver the work and your approach to develop others
  • contributed to developing a positive research environment and wider community

You may demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. Further details are provided in the service.

The word count for this section is 1,500 words: 1,000 words to be used for R4RI modules and, if necessary, a further 500 words for Additions.

Use the Résumé for Research and Innovation (R4RI) format to showcase the range of relevant skills you and, if relevant, your team (project and project co-leads, researchers, technicians, specialists, partners and so on) have and how this will help deliver the proposed work. You can include individuals’ specific achievements but only choose past contributions that best evidence their ability to deliver this work.

Complete this section using the R4RI module headings listed. Use each heading once and include a response for the whole team, see the UKRI guidance on R4RI. You should consider how to balance your answer, and emphasise where appropriate the key skills each team member brings:

  • contributions to the generation of new ideas, tools, methodologies, or knowledge
  • the development of others and maintenance of effective working relationships
  • contributions to the wider research and innovation community
  • contributions to broader research or innovation users and audiences and towards wider societal benefit
Additions

Provide any further details relevant to your application. This section is optional and can be up to 500 words. You should not use it to describe additional skills, experiences, or outputs, but you can use it to describe any factors that provide context for the rest of your R4RI (for example, details of career breaks if you wish to disclose them).

Complete this as a narrative. Do not format it like a CV.

UKRI has introduced new role types for funding opportunities being run on the new Funding Service.

For full details, see Eligibility as an individual.

References

Word limit: 1,000

List the references you have used to support your application.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Include all references in this section, not in the rest of the application questions.

You should not include any other information in this section.

We advise you not to include hyperlinks, as assessors are not obliged to access the information they lead to or consider it in their assessment of your application.

If linking to web resources, to maintain the information’s integrity, include persistent identifiers (such as digital object identifiers) where possible.

You must not include links to web resources to extend your application.

Project partners

Add details about any project partners’ contributions.

If there are no project partners, you can indicate this on the Funding Service.

A project partner is a collaborating organisation who will have an integral role in the proposed research, for example a charity partner or, if applicable, a supplier of the project intervention. Project partners do not include project co-leads. This may include direct (cash) or indirect (in-kind) contributions such as expertise, staff time or use of facilities.

Important note: If your application includes industry project partners, you will also need to complete the Industry Collaboration Framework (ICF) section. Find out more about ICF.

You must ensure that any third party individual or organisation you include within the Funding Service as a project partner, also provides you with a supporting email or letter of support (see next section ‘Project partners: letters (or emails) of support’).

The individual (including their organisation) named as the project partner contact, cannot also be included within your application as an applicant, such as project lead or any other core team role.

You cannot include a different department based within the same organisation as a member of your core team, as a project partner.

Add the following project partner details:

  • the organisation name (searchable via a drop-down list or enter the organisation’s details manually, as applicable)
  • the project partner contact name and email address
  • the type of contribution (direct or in-direct) and its monetary value

If there are specific circumstances where project partners do require funding for minor costs such as travel and subsistence (these project partner costs should be claimed and justified within the resources and costs section of your application).

For audit purposes, UKRI requires formal collaboration agreements to be put in place if an award is made.

If an individual or organisation outside the core team is responsible for recruitment of people as research participants or providing human tissue for this project, list them as a project partner.

Important information when completing the project partners section within the Funding Service

When completing your application in the Funding Service, if you discover that you have entered project partner information incorrectly and you have saved the entry, you should remove the specific project partner record and re-add it with the correct information.

Project partners: letters (or emails) of support

Word limit: 10

Upload a single PDF containing the letters or emails of support from each partner you named in the Project partner section.

If you do not have any project partners, you will be able to indicate this in the Funding Service.

What supporting statements we are looking for

Important note: We are only looking for you to provide letters or emails of support from the following:

  • a third party individual
  • a third party organisation

You must ensure that any third party project partners providing a supporting document, are also added to the ‘project partners’ section within the Funding Service.

For audit purposes, UKRI requires formal collaboration agreements to be put in place if an award is made.

What supporting statements we are not looking for

We are not looking for you to provide any supporting emails or letters related to any individual or organisation already included within your application (this includes other departments within the same organisation). Any individual or organisation included in your application with a core team role cannot also be a project partner.

Check the funding opportunity specific roles available in the core team section for the definitive list.

Do not include any additional documents, email communications or any other type of information we have not requested, including supporting statements (letters or emails), simply expressing supportive opinions (we only expect to see emails or letters of support from third party project partners uploaded to this section).

If you include any information not requested by us your application will be rejected.

Supporting document guidance for third party project partners

Each third party project partner supporting letter or email you provide, should:

  • be no more than two A4 pages
  • confirm the partner’s commitment to the project
  • clearly explain the value, relevance, and possible benefits of the work to them
  • describe any additional value that they bring to the project
  • include the name of the project partner organisation and contact information (this should match the partner contact and organisation name details you must add to the separate ‘project partners’ application section)

Project partners letters and emails of support are not required to be on headed paper or include handwritten signatures (electronic signatures are acceptable from the nominated partner contact).

Project partner responsibility for the recruitment of people

If the project partner is responsible for the recruitment of people as research participants or providing human tissue their email or letter of support should include:

  • agreement that the project partner will recruit the participants or provide tissue
  • confirmation that what is being supplied is suitable for the proposed work
  • confirmation that the quantity of tissue being supplied is suitable, but not excessive for achieving meaningful results (if applicable)
Multiple project partners

If you have multiple project partners, you should:

  • ensure each separate email or letter of support, does not exceed two pages of A4
  • consolidate all the supporting documents provided by each project partner into a single PDF file before uploading
  • ensure the PDF does not exceed the maximum file size of 8MB

For the file name, use the unique Funding Service number the system gives you when you create an application, followed by the words ‘Project partner’.

The Funding Service will provide document upload details when you apply.

Industry Collaboration Framework (ICF)

Word limit: 1,500

Does your application include industry project partners?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

If industry collaboration does not apply to any of your project partners, or you do not have any project partners, simply add ‘N/A’ into the text box.

If your research project involves collaboration between an academic organisation and an industry or company, you are likely to need to follow the industry collaboration framework and answer this question, check using the ICF decision tree.

By ‘industry or company’ we mean an enterprise that puts goods or services on a market and whose commercial activities are greater than 20% of their overall annual capacity.

The assessors are looking for information relating to the nature, goals and conditions of the collaboration and any restrictions or rights to the project results that could be claimed by the project partner.

Find out more about ICF, including:

  • collaboration agreements
  • definitions of basic or applied research
  • internationally based companies
  • subsidy control
  • Intellectual property (IP) arrangements
  • fully flexible and gated contributions
  • the ICF assessment criteria

In addition to the project partner information completed in the previous section, confirm your answers to the ICF questions in the text box, repeat this process for each ICF project partner:

1. Name the industry or company project partner considered under ICF.

2. Indicate whether your application is either basic research or applied research.

3. Explain why, in the absence of the requested UKRI funding, the collaboration and the planned research could not be undertaken.

4. State whether your application is under the category of either fully flexible contribution or gated contribution (based on the IP sharing arrangements with the ICF partner).

5. Outline the pre-existing IP (‘background IP’) that each project partner (including the academic partner) will bring to the collaborative research project and the terms under which project partners may access these assets.

6. Outline the IP that is expected to be developed during the collaborative research project (‘foreground IP’) and briefly outline how it will be managed, including:

  • which project partners will own this IP
  • what rights project partners will have to use academically generated foreground IP during and after the research project, for internal research and development or for commercial purposes
  • any rights of the academic partner to commercialise the foreground IP (including foreground IP generated by project partners)

7. Outline any restrictions to the dissemination of the project results, including the rights of the project partner to:

  • review, approve or delay publications (including the time period associated with such rights)
  • request or require the removal of any information.

8. Declare any conflicts of interest held by the applicants in relation to the project partners and describe how they will be managed.

9. If applicable, justify collaborating with an overseas industry or company under ICF.

Failure to provide the information requested for industry partners under ICF could result in your application being rejected.

You are recommended to discuss the goals and conditions of any collaboration with an industry or company project partner with your university technology transfer or contracts office before applying.

Facilities

Word limit: 250

Does your proposed research require the support and use of a facility?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

If you will need to use a facility, follow your proposed facility’s normal access request procedures. Ensure you have prior agreement so that if you are offered funding, they will support the use of their facility on your project.

For each requested facility you will need to provide the:

  • name of facility, copied and pasted from the facility information list (DOCX, 35KB)
  • proposed usage or costs, or costs per unit where indicated on the facility information list
  • confirmation you have their agreement where required

If you will not need to use a facility, you will be able to indicate this in the Funding Service.

Data management and sharing

Word limit: 1,500

How will you manage and share data collected or acquired through the proposed research?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Provide a data management plan which should clearly detail how you will comply with our published data management and sharing policies, which includes detailed guidance notes.

Provide your response following the MRC data management plan template.

The length of your plan will vary depending on the type of study being undertaken:

  • population cohorts; longitudinal studies; genetic, omics and imaging data; biobanks, and other collections that are potentially a rich resource for the wider research community: maximum of 1500 words
  • all other research, if less complex, the plan may be as short as 500 words

Ethics and responsible research and innovation (RRI)

Word limit: 500

What are the ethical or RRI implications and issues relating to the proposed work? If you do not think that the proposed work raises any ethical or RRI issues, explain why.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Demonstrate that you have identified and evaluated:

  • the relevant ethical or responsible research and innovation considerations
  • how you will manage these considerations

Consider the MRC guidance on ethics and approvals.

You may demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. Further details are provided in the Funding Service.

Intellectual property rights (IPR)

Word limit: 500

Provide a brief description of the Intellectual Assets underpinning the proposed work (if any).

What the assessors are looking for in your response

The assessors are looking for you to outline where Intellectual Property (IP) and Freedom to Operate considerations will need to be accounted for (for example: where licenses will need to be obtained).

Note that, at the time of application, or during any subsequent grant, UKRI would not anticipate any business to have exclusive rights to the assets and IP arising from the funded project.

Include any IPR if appropriate. If your IPR is a patent, please include the patent number(s) along with a summary scope of the claims. We recognise that most applications to Developmental Pathway Gap Fund (DPGF) will not have a patent or other IPR.

Genetic and biological risk

Word limit: 700

Does your proposed research involve any genetic or biological risk?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

In respect of animals, plants or microbes, are you proposing to:

  • use genetic modification as an experimental tool, like studying gene function in a genetically modified organism
  • release genetically modified organisms
  • ultimately develop commercial and industrial genetically modified outcomes

If yes, provide the name of any required approving body and state if approval is already in place. If it is not, provide an indicative timeframe for obtaining the required approval.

Identify the organism or organisms as a plant, animal or microbe and specify the species and which of the three categories the research relates to.

Identify the genetic and biological risks resulting from the proposed research, their implications, and any mitigation you plan on taking. Assessors will want to know you have considered the risks and their implications to justify that any identified risks do not outweigh any benefits of the proposed research.

If this does not apply to your proposed work, you will be able to indicate this in the Funding Service.

Research involving the use of animals

Word limit: 10

Does your proposed research involve the use of vertebrate animals or other organisms covered by the Animals Scientific Procedures Act?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

If you are proposing research that requires using animals, download and complete the Animals Scientific Procedures Act template (DOCX, 74KB), which contains all the questions relating to research using vertebrate animals or other Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 regulated organisms.

Save it as a PDF. The Funding Service will provide document upload details when you apply. If this does not apply to your proposed work, you will be able to indicate this in the Funding Service.

Conducting research with animals overseas

Word limit: 700

Will any of the proposed animal research be conducted overseas?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

If you are proposing to conduct overseas research, it must be conducted in accordance with welfare standards consistent with those in the UK, as in Responsibility in the use of animals in bioscience research, page 14. Ensure all named applicants in the UK and overseas are aware of this requirement.

If your application proposes animal research to be conducted overseas, you must provide a statement in the text box. Depending on the species involved, you may also need to upload a completed template for each species listed.

Statement

Provide a statement to confirm that:

  • all named applicants are aware of the requirements and have agreed to abide by them
  • this overseas research will be conducted in accordance with welfare standards consistent with the principles of UK legislation
  • the expectation set out in Responsibility in the use of animals in bioscience research will be applied and maintained
  • appropriate national and organisational approvals are in place
Template(s)

Overseas studies proposing to use non-human primates, cats, dogs, equines or pigs will be assessed during NC3Rs review of research applications. Provide the required information by completing the template from the question ‘Research involving the use of animals’.

For studies involving other species, select, download, and complete the relevant Word checklist or checklists from this list:

Save your completed template as a PDF and upload to the Funding service. If you use more than one checklist template, save it as a single PDF.

The Funding Service will provide document upload details when you apply.

If conducting research with animals overseas does not apply to your proposed work, you will be able to indicate this in the Funding Service.

Research involving human participation

Word limit: 700

Will the project involve the use of human subjects or their personal information?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

If you are proposing research that requires the involvement of human subjects, provide the name of any required approving body and whether approval is already in place.

Justify the number and the diversity of the participants involved, as well as any procedures.

Provide details of any areas of substantial or moderate severity of impact.

If this does not apply to your proposed work, you will be able to indicate this in the Funding Service.

Research involving human tissues or biological samples

Word limit: 700

Does your proposed research involve the use of human tissues, or biological samples?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

If you are proposing work that involves human tissues or biological samples, provide the name of any required approving body and whether approval is already in place.

Justify the use of human tissue or biological samples specifying the nature and quantity of the material to be used and its source.

If this does not apply to your proposed work, you will be able to indicate this in the Funding Service.

Resources and cost justification

Word limit: 1,200

What will you need to deliver your proposed work and how much will it cost?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Justify the application’s more costly resources, in particular:

  • project staff
  • significant travel for field work or collaboration (but not regular travel between collaborating organisations or to conferences)
  • any equipment that will cost more than £10,000
  • any consumables beyond typical requirements, or that are required in exceptional quantities
  • all facilities and infrastructure costs
  • all resources that have been costed as ‘Exceptions’
  • support for:
    • public and patient involvement and engagement
    • preserving, long-term storage, or sharing of data
    • international co-leads, demonstrating this is within the 30% costs cap for co-leads from developed countries, India and China. There is no cap on costs requested for international applicants from DAC list countries
  • NHS research costs, when they are associated with NHS studies
  • animal costs, such as numbers that need to be bred or maintained and to maintain high welfare standards
  • any work to be outsourced

For outsourcing work:

If you intend to outsource elements of the proposed work, provide the following information:

  • the scope of the outsourced activity (what is being undertaken and what will be delivered?)
  • the relevance of the outsourced activity to the application
  • why the outsourced activity cannot be undertaken in-house
  • why this provider is the most appropriate
  • the costs of the outsourced activity and the tendering process that will be followed
  • explain any conflicts of interest (potential or actual) between parties and how these will be managed

Assessors are not looking for a detailed, line-by-line breakdown of costs. Overall, they want you to demonstrate how the resources you anticipate needing for your proposed work:

  • are comprehensive, appropriate, and justified
  • represent the optimal use of resources to achieve the intended outcomes
  • maximise potential outcomes and impacts

Clinical research using NHS resources

Word limit: 250

Will your research involve participants from the NHS or Health and Social Care duty of care?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

If not, enter ‘N/A’ into the text box

Researchers applying for clinical research in the NHS, public health or social care need to complete a Schedule of Events Cost Attribution Tool (SoECAT) to be eligible for the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network (CRN) portfolio. This is the route through which support and excess treatment costs are provided in England.

You must answer ‘Yes’ and complete and upload a SoECAT if you are applying for clinical research funding, and:

  1. you will carry out your research in the UK
  2. it is intended for the NIHR CRN portfolio; this may include studies in a social care or public health setting
  3. the research requires approval by Health Research Authority (England) or its equivalents in Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales
  4. your research will use NHS resources

You must complete a SoECAT even if you do not think your clinical research will involve excess treatment costs (ETCs).

See MRC guidance 3.5.1 on who needs to complete a SoECAT.

If you are applying for clinical research in the NHS, public health or social care and do not think you need to complete a SoECAT, answer ‘Yes’ and explain why a SoECAT is not necessary.

We want to know that you have taken the appropriate steps for the full costs of your research to be attributed, calculated and paid.

We want to see the expected total resources required for your project, such as Excess Treatment Costs (ETCs), to consider if these are appropriate.

How to complete a SoECAT

SoECAT guidance can be found on the NIHR website.

These are the steps you need to take:

5. Contact an attributing the costs of health and social care Research & Development (AcoRD) specialist as early as possible in the application process

6. Complete an online SoECAT. Excel versions of the form have been discontinued. If you do not have an account for NIHR’s Central Portfolio Management System (CPMS) you will need create and activate one. See the user guide for instructions.

7. Request authorisation of your SoECAT

8. Once authorised extract the ‘study information’ and the ‘summary’ page from the ‘Funder Export’, combine them as a single PDF and upload it to your application.

Applications that require a SoECAT but have not attached the SoECAT funder export study information and summary may be rejected.

Contact experimental.medicine@mrc.ukri.org if you have questions about the UKRI aspects of this process or have concerns that your SoECAT may not be authorised in time for the application deadline.

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

We will assess your application using the following process.

Full application

The single stage funding opportunity will open in January 2024 and teams will be required to submit a full application in May 2024. MRC and OLS reserve the right to decline applications that do not fit the funding opportunity remit without panel assessment.

Interview

For shortlisted applications, an expert interview panel will conduct interviews with applicants after which the panel will make a funding recommendation.

We expect interviews to be held on 26 or 27 June 2024.

MRC and OLS will make the final funding decision.

Feedback

We will give feedback on the outcome of your application.

Principles of assessment

We support the San Francisco declaration on research assessment and recognise the relationship between research assessment and research integrity.

Find out about the UKRI principles of assessment and decision making.

Sharing data with co funders

We will need to share the application (including any personal information that it contains) with the Office for Life Sciences (OLS) so that they can participate in the assessment process.

Find out more information on how OLS uses personal information.

We reserve the right to modify the assessment process as needed.

Assessment areas

The assessment areas we will use are:

  • Vision
  • Approach
  • Applicant and team capability to deliver
  • Platform legacy and sustainability
  • Ethics and responsible research and innovation
  • Resource and cost justification

Further details of assessment questions and criteria will be published when the funding opportunity opens.

Contact details

Get help with your application

Important note: The Helpdesk is committed to helping users of the Funding Service as effectively and as quickly as possible. In order to manage cases at peak volume times, the Helpdesk will triage and prioritise those queries with an imminent opportunity deadline or a technical issue. Enquiries raised where information is available on the Funding Finder opportunity page and should be understood early in the application process (for example, regarding eligibility or content/remit of an opportunity) will not constitute a priority case and will be addressed as soon as possible.

Contact details

For help and advice on costings and writing your application please contact your research office in the first instance, allowing sufficient time for your organisation’s submission process.

For questions related to this specific funding opportunity please contact experimental.medicine@mrc.ukri.org You should also include, Cancer Immunotherapy Response Research beginning of your subject line and then a description of your enquiry.

For general questions related to MRC funding including our funding opportunities and policy please contact rfpd@mrc.ukri.org

Any queries regarding the system or the submission of applications through the Funding Service should be directed to the helpdesk.

Email: support@funding-service.ukri.org
Phone: 01793 547490

Our phone lines are open:

  • Monday to Thursday 8:30am to 5:00pm
  • Friday 8:30am to 4:30pm

To help us process queries quicker, we request that users highlight the council and opportunity name in the subject title of their email query, include the application reference number, and refrain from contacting more than one mailbox at a time.

Find out more information on submitting an application.

Sensitive information

If you or a core team member need to tell us something which you wish to remain confidential, email us at experimental.medicine@mrc.ukri.org You should also include, Cancer Immunotherapy Response Research beginning of your subject line followed by sensitive information and your Funding Service application number (if applicable).

Typical examples of confidential information include:

  • the individual is unavailable until a certain date (for example due to parental leave)
  • declaration of interest
  • additional information about eligibility to apply that would not be appropriately shared in the ‘Applicant and team capability’ section
  • conflict of interest for UKRI to consider in reviewer or panel participant selection
  • the application is an invited resubmission

For information about how UKRI handles personal data, read UKRI’s privacy notice.

Additional info

Background

A workshop was held in October 2023 by OLS.

Watch the recording

Research disruption due to COVID-19

We recognise that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused major interruptions and disruptions across our communities. We are committed to ensuring that individual applicants and their wider team, including partners and networks, are not penalised for any disruption to their career, such as:

  • breaks and delays
  • disruptive working patterns and conditions
  • the loss of ongoing work
  • role changes that may have been caused by the pandemic

Reviewers and panel members will be advised to consider the unequal impacts that COVID-19 related disruption might have had on the capability to deliver and career development of those individuals included in the application. They will be asked to consider the capability of the applicant and their wider team to deliver the research they are proposing.

Where disruptions have occurred, you can highlight this within your application if you wish, but there is no requirement to detail the specific circumstances that caused the disruption.

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