Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Career development award

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Apply for support to become an independent researcher in a medical research field.

Your research can focus on any area of Medical Research Council (MRC)’s remit to improve human health.

You must:

  • have a PhD or equivalent
  • show evidence of career progression
  • show clear plans for developing as a leader in your area of research

There is no limit on the amount of funding you can apply for.

We will fund your salary and project costs for up to five years. We will fund 80% of the full economic cost.

You may choose to apply for joint funding from one of the collaborating organisations.

This is an ongoing funding opportunity. Application rounds close every April and September.

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 the career development award you must:

  • have completed a PhD or equivalent
  • have the skills and experience that match those of the ‘transition to independence’ career stage in the MRC applicant skills and experience criteria, such as showing evidence of career progression and productivity across past appointments
  • have your own research plans that do not significantly overlap with those of your current group leaders or proposed sponsors
  • have the support of an eligible research organisation

There are no eligibility rules based on age or years of postdoctoral experience.

International applicants

Applications are welcomed from applicants of all nationalities, including those not currently based in the UK. This is subject to the fellowship being hosted by an eligible research organisation.

Who is not eligible to apply

You are not eligible to apply if:

  • you have applied for this MRC fellowship within the last year
  • you have applied for this MRC fellowship twice before
  • you have applied for another UKRI fellowship and your application is being assessed
  • you have applied for an MRC new investigator research grant and your application is being assessed
  • you have held an MRC new investigator research grant, because that award also supports the transition to independence
  • you have previously held a comparable fellowship from any organisation

You cannot hold a salaried position and a fellowship at the same time. If you are awarded a fellowship, you will need to give up the permanent position for the duration of the fellowship or change to a proleptic appointment.

If you want to retain an existing position and combine this with research funding, we recommend you look at one of our grant funding opportunities instead.

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.

We are supportive of you wishing to combine your research training with caring responsibilities. All of our fellowship awards may be held on a part-time basis or within flexible working arrangements.

Read our policy on part-time and flexible working.

Further fellowship guidance

Further information related to all aspects of the fellowship application process, can be found in the MRC guidance for fellowship applicants.

If you’re unsure whether you are eligible to apply, email fellows@mrc.ukri.org before beginning your application.

What we're looking for

Scope

The aim of the fellowship is to support talented researchers who have gained a higher research degree to:

  • lead their own research plans
  • establish their own research team
  • make the transition to independent researcher

We welcome applications from across all areas of our remit to improve human health. This may range from basic studies with relevance to mechanisms of disease, to translational and developmental clinical research.

Our science areas include:

  • infections and immunity
  • molecular and cellular medicine
  • population and systems medicine
  • neurosciences and mental health
  • translation
  • global health
  • methodology
  • public health

You can explore MRC’s areas of scientific remit.

We also welcome applications for interdisciplinary approaches or research that will address global health issues and benefit those living in low and middle-income countries.

We may consider requests to fund new longitudinal population studies through an MRC fellowship award, but you must have approval from the longitudinal population studies strategic advisory panel (LPS-SAP) before you apply for the fellowship. Read the process and timeline for LPS-SAP approval.

Requirements

You must be able to:

  • explain why a fellowship is the best way to support your long-term career goals and chosen career path to become an independent researcher in a medical research field
  • describe how a fellowship would help you to move to the next level in your career through a step change in your current role
  • show how your skills and experience match those of the transition to independence career stage in our applicant skills and experience criteria

You also must be able to identify at least one sponsor, who:

  • is a senior member of the department where you are applying to host your fellowship
  • acts as a supporter for the application and the fellowship, but does not have a supervisory role
  • has expertise in the research area and acts as guarantor for the quality of the proposed work, suitability of you as a fellowship candidate and the quality of training and development you will receive
  • additional sponsors can be named if necessary to support all areas of the proposed work and may be from other organisations

What the fellowship gives you

This fellowship provides a competitive salary, giving you the chance to concentrate fully on your research, training and development.

You may spend up to six hours a week, pro-rated for part-time fellowships, on other commitments such as teaching, demonstrating, or other funded projects.

Read MRCs guidance on research staff development.

We may allow greater flexibility on the time dedicated to non-fellowship activities during the second half of a fellowship. Email the programme manager at fellow@mrc.ukri.org to discuss your plans.

Find out more about what to expect as an MRC fellow.

For more information on the background of this funding opportunity, go to the Additional information section.

Duration

The career development award provides support for up to five years. We expect you to take advantage of the full five years’ funding available. However, we understand that plans for the later stages of a fellowship will not be as defined as the initial years.

If you are intending to apply for a shorter period, you should contact the programme manager at fellows@mrc.ukri.org before applying.

These periods are based on full-time equivalents. You may hold an award on a part-time basis to meet personal commitments, but not because of other professional commitments.

We expect you to take up your fellowship no more than six months after the date of the interview.

Funding available

There is no limit to the amount of funding you can request. Your application must be for an amount that:

  • is appropriate to the project
  • you can justify in order to deliver the objectives of the proposed research

We will fund 80% of the full economic cost (FEC) and 100% of permitted exceptions.

Find out more about full economic costing.

What we will fund

The career development award will cover the cost of your salary.

The fellowship will also provide funding for:

  • support for other posts such as research and technical staff
  • research consumables
  • equipment
  • travel costs
  • training activities
  • data preservation, data sharing and dissemination costs
  • estates and indirect costs
  • NHS research costs, when they are associated with NHS studies

The award will also support a period of research overseas, at a second UK research organisation or in industry, whichever is most appropriate. We encourage successful applicants to take advantage of these opportunities to establish collaborative networks and cross-sector development.

You may spend up to 12 months of your award at a second organisation. Applicants intending to spend longer periods overseas should contact us at fellows@mrc.ukri.org before applying.

Sponsor costs can only be requested in exceptional circumstances and must be justified, the request should not exceed 5% of their time, or a total of 5% FTE across all sponsors if more than one is named. The associated cost should be entered as a directly allocated staff cost.

What we will not fund

We will not fund:

  • costs for PhD studentships
  • publication costs
  • funding to use as a ‘bridge’ between grants
  • costs for mentors

Joint funders

We collaborate with royal colleges and charity funders to offer jointly-funded career development awards.

These awards offer the prestige of having the relevant organisation co-fund your fellowship and may offer additional opportunities to report on your project, present your work at meetings and take part in professional networking.

We are inviting applications for the following jointly-funded career development award opportunities:

  • Blood Cancer UK
  • The Borne Foundation
  • DEBRA
  • Multiple Sclerosis Society
  • Parkinson’s UK
  • Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health
  • Tuberous Sclerosis Association
  • Diabetes UK
  • Kidney Research UK

We will offer all jointly funded fellowships under standard UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and MRC terms and conditions, except where the co-funder has specified additional terms and conditions.

See additional information for further details of the joint funders.

Team project partner

You may include team project partners that will support your fellowship through cash or in-kind contributions, such as:

  • staff time
  • access to equipment
  • sites or facilities
  • the provision of data
  • software or materials

Each project partner must provide a statement of support. If your application involves industry partners, they must provide additional information if the team project partner falls within the industry collaboration framework.

Find out more about subcontractors and dual roles.

Who cannot be included as a team project partner

Any individual included in your application with a core team cannot also be a project partner.

Any organisation that employs a member of the application core team cannot be a project partner organisation, this includes other departments within the same organisation.

If you are collaborating with someone in your organisation consider including them in the core team as project co-lead, or specialist. They cannot be a project partner.

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

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 fellow 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.

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

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.

To apply

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

  1. Confirm you are the fellowship applicant.
  2. Sign in or create a Funding Service account. To create an account, select your organisation, verify your email address, and set a password. You will be prompted to select the organisation you are applying with to host the fellowship before you start your application. If you are not currently based at that organisation, ensure the research office are aware of your application. 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

Your application may be rejected if images are provided without a descriptive legend in the text box or are used to replace text that could be input into the text box.

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 17 April 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 institutional 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

We 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.

If you apply for a jointly funded fellowship, MRC as part of UKRI will need to share the application and any personal information that it contains with the joint funder so that they can participate in the assessment process. For more information on how the joint funders use personal information, visit their websites.

Publication of outcomes

We will publish the outcomes of this funding opportunity at Board and panel 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:

  • specialist
  • professional enabling staff (assign your sponsors this role)
  • research and innovation associate
  • technician
  • fellow

Only list one individual as fellow.

You must list at least one sponsor and assign them as professional enabling staff.

Mentors should not be listed in the core team.

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

Application questions

Vision

Word limit: 1,000

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 field(s) or area(s)
  • has the potential to advance current understanding, or generate new knowledge, thinking or discovery within or beyond the field or area of its focus
  • is timely, given current trends, context, and needs
  • impacts world-leading research, society, the economy or the environment

In 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
  • outline your plans for engagement, communication and dissemination about your research and its outcomes with the research community and, where appropriate, with potentially interested wider audiences

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

Approach

Word limit: 3,000

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 you will manage them
  • uses a clearly written and transparent methodology (if applicable)
  • summarises the previous work and describes how you will build on and progress this work (if applicable)
  • will maximise translation of outputs into outcomes and impacts

Within the Approach section we also expect you to:

  • demonstrate access to the appropriate services, facilities, infrastructure, or equipment to deliver the proposed work
  • provide a detailed and comprehensive project plan, including milestones and timelines in the form of a chart or diagram
  • explain who you intend to collaborate with at the host organisation and your plans for wider research collaborations. Project partner details should be provided only in that section
  • include details of work that will take place as part of the proposed fellowship at a second UK or overseas organisation, if applicable
  • specify population groups in relation to their diversity characteristics and the proposed analysis, following the MRC embedding diversity in research design policy, if applicable
  • if applicable, show how you will use both sexes in research involving animals, tissues and cells. If you are not proposing to do this, a strong justification is required
Additions

You are encouraged to use 500 words to provide information about reproducibility and how you will ensure reliability and robustness of your work, such as further details of statistical analyses, methodology and experimental design. If this information is not applicable, then you should not use this space to expand on other areas of your approach and your response to this section should be around 2,500 words.

The reproducibility information should be clearly identified using the heading ‘Reproducibility and statistical design’. We expect you to seek professional statistical or other relevant advice in preparing your response, which may include:

  • experimental approach to address objectives
  • sample and effect sizes
  • planned statistical analyses
  • models chosen (for example animal model, cell line)

Refer to the MRC guidance for applicants for further information on reproducibility and statistical design, examples and online tools.

If your proposed work involves animals, and you provide information on animal sample sizes and statistical analyses in the approach, you should not duplicate it in the ‘Research involving the use of animals’ section. 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.

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

Career development

Word limit: 1,000

Why is this fellowship the right way to develop your career and how will you use it to benefit others?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Ensure that you have identified:

  • career development goals appropriate to the fellowship funding opportunity
  • how the fellowship will provide a feasible and appropriate trajectory for your personal development and to achieve your stated career development goals (as appropriate to your career stage and field)
  • how you will instigate positive change in the wider research and innovation community, for example through Equality Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), advocacy or advisory roles, stakeholder engagement, participation in peer review, influencing policy, public engagement, or outreach

Within the Career development section, we also expect you to describe:

  • how you will ensure continued research and professional development in those you will be managing on the project, to have a positive research and innovation experience, with opportunities or support to progress their own careers (useful links Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers and Technician Commitment )
  • how the proposed work will provide a feasible and appropriate trajectory for you to acquire additional skills, like research, leadership, communication and management

Applicant capability to deliver 

Word limit: 1,500

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

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Evidence of how you have:

  • the relevant experience (appropriate to career stage) to make best use of the benefits presented by this funding opportunity to develop your career
  • the right balance of skills and aptitude to deliver the proposed work
  • contributed to developing a positive research environment and wider community
  • the appropriate team working or leadership skills (appropriate to career stage)

You may demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. Further details are provided in the Funding 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 have and how this will help to deliver the proposed work. You can include specific achievements and choose past contributions that best evidence your ability to deliver this work.

Complete this section using the following R4RI module headings. You should use each heading once, see the UKRI guidance on R4RI. You should consider how to balance your answer, and emphasise where appropriate the key skills you bring:

  • 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).

You should complete this section as a narrative. Do not format it like a CV.

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.

Host organisation support

Word limit: 3,000

How will the host organisation support your fellowship?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Provide a support statement including:

  • evidence detailing how the host organisation will support you, as appropriate for your career development and the vision and approach of the fellowship
  • who you have engaged with in your host organisation (name and role)
  • how your research environment will contribute to the success of the work, in terms of suitability of the host organisation and strategic relevance to the project
  • how the host organisation will ensure your time commitment to the fellowship is protected
  • what development and training opportunities will be provided and how they form a cohesive career development package tailored to your aims and aspirations
  • what financial or practical support, such as access to the appropriate services, facilities, infrastructure, or equipment, is being provided and how this strengthens your application

Within the Host organisation support section, we also expect you to describe:

  • evidence of support from the head of department of the proposed host research organisation, a statement confirming their assessment of your suitability for an MRC fellowship, the suitability of the organisation for your fellowship and their commitment to support you
  • details of the fellowship work to be conducted at another UK or overseas host organisation and how they will support you (if applicable)

If applicable you must also provide information relating to:

  • second host organisation: if a second host organisation is involved in your fellowship application you must also include a statement from the industrial partner or second research organisation head of department, confirming their commitment to support you
  • previous head of department: if you have recently moved department or plan to undertake your fellowship at a different department to your current affiliation, a statement of support should be included from your previous or current head of department, with their assessment of your suitability for an MRC fellowship

A support statement should be up to 1,000 words, only use the full word count if you have statements from a second host organisation and previous head of department.

Sponsors

Word limit: 3,000

Provide details of your sponsors and their support.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

A statement must be provided by at least one sponsor who is a senior member of the department where you are applying to host your fellowship and who will have academic responsibility for you. Other sponsors can be named if necessary to support all areas of the proposed work and may be from other organisations.

A sponsor statement should be up to 1,000 words, only use the full word count if you have multiple sponsors.

A sponsor is not expected to fulfil a supervisory role during the fellowship, but they act as a supporter for the application and the fellowship.
A sponsor should have expertise in the research area of the application and will act as guarantor for the quality of the proposed research, suitability of you as a fellowship candidate and the quality of training and development you will receive.

You must name your sponsors in the ‘Core team’ section of your application, assign them as professional enabling staff.

An entry should be included for each sponsor, detailing:

  • the sponsor’s name and current position
  • in what capacity they know you
  • how long they have known you
  • their views on your research ability and suitability for this fellowship
  • measures of research activity where you will be based, such as the number of academic staff
  • the suitability and quality of the support, training and skills that you will receive, including how your research area fits with the priorities of the research environment

Mentors

Word limit: 500

How will you be mentored during the fellowship?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Explain your proposed mentoring arrangements.

If a mentor has been identified, they should be named in the response to this question and provide a statement of support detailing how they will support you.

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 third party organisation who will have an integral role in the proposed research. 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 named as the project partner contact, cannot be included in your application as a member of the core team, in any core team role.

The project partner organisation cannot be an applicant organisation, where any member of the core team is based. For example, you cannot include a different department based within the applicant organisation as a project partner.

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.

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.

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

If a detail is entered incorrectly and you have saved the entry, remove the specific project partner record and re-add it with the correct information.

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

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 partners’ section. These should be uploaded in English or Welsh only.

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 project partner letters or emails of support from the following:

  • a third party individual
  • a third party organisation

Third party means the individual and organisation must not be involved in the application core team. You must ensure that any project partners providing a supporting document, are also added to the ‘project partners’ section within the Funding Service.

Ensure you have prior agreement from project partners so that, if you are offered funding, they will support your project as indicated in the project partners’ section.

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 letters or emails of support from individuals or organisations included in your application core team (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.

Do not include any other statements or any other type of information we have not requested, including letter or emails of support from colleagues simply expressing supportive opinions. We only expect letters or emails of support from your third party project partners uploaded to this section.

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

Supporting document guidance for third party project partners

Each 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 ‘Project partners’ 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).

When you have uploaded your ‘Project partners’ PDF, enter the words ‘attachment supplied’ within the text box.

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 letter or email 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 letter or email 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’.

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 don’t 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 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 MRC’s published data management and sharing policies, which includes detailed guidance notes.

Provide your response in the text box following the headings in the MRC data management plan template. You are not required to upload the document to your application.

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 1,500 words
  • for all other research, including 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.

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 institutional 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: 1,000

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
  • training costs
  • all resources that have been costed as ‘Exceptions’
  • support to work at a second organisation in the UK or overseas
  • support for training activities
  • support for public and patient involvement and engagement
  • support for preserving, long-term storage, or sharing of data
  • NHS research costs, when they are associated with NHS studies
  • animal costs, such as numbers that need to be bred or maintained and to achieve high welfare standards
  • support for sponsors, which must not exceed 5% of their time

Assessors are not looking for detailed costs or a line-by-line breakdown of all project resources. 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 take place in an NHS, public health or social care setting?

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:

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

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

See MRC guidance on who needs to complete a SoECAT.

If you are applying for clinical research in the NHS, public health or social care and don’t 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:

  • Contact an Attributing the costs of health and social care Research & Development (AcoRD) specialist as early as possible in the application process.
  • Complete an online SoECAT. Excel versions of the form have been discontinued. If you don’t have an account for NIHR’s Central Portfolio Management System (CPMS) you will need create and activate one. See the user guide for instructions.
  • Request authorisation of your SoECAT.
  • Once authorised convert the ‘study information’ and the ‘summary’ pages 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 fellows@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.

Related applications

Word limit: 500

Is this application related to another application to MRC or other funding organisation?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

If your application is not related to another, you will be able to indicate this in the Funding Service.

If yes, explain how this new application is related to the other application.

You are allowed to apply for fellowship funding from other funders or research organisations at the same time as this application. If the related application was submitted to another funder, you should identify the name of the funder and when you applied.

If this is a resubmission, include the reference number of your previous MRC application. Describe how this application differs from the previous application and how feedback on the previous application has been considered and acted on.

You may only apply twice for any MRC fellowship, regardless of the extent of changes to the application. Changing your organisation or project does not reset your number of previous applications.

Joint funders

Word limit: 20

Are you applying for a jointly-funded fellowship?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

If you are not applying for a jointly-funded fellowship, you will be able to indicate this in the Funding Service.

If you are applying for a jointly-funded fellowship, we want to know the name of the joint funder. If applicable, select your joint funder from the below list and copy it in the text box:

  • Blood Cancer UK
  • The Borne Foundation
  • DEBRA
  • Multiple Sclerosis Society
  • Parkinson’s UK
  • Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health
  • Tuberous Sclerosis Association
  • Diabetes UK
  • Kidney Research UK

By selecting a joint funder, you agree to us sharing this application and your personal information with the chosen joint funder or funders.

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

We will assess your application using the following process.

Peer review

We will invite experts to review your application independently, against the specified criteria for this funding opportunity.

You will not be able to nominate reviewers for applications on the new UKRI Funding Service. Research councils will continue to select expert reviewers.

We are monitoring the requirement for applicant-nominated reviewers as we review policies and processes as part of the continued development of the new Funding Service.

Shortlisting

An expert panel will review the comments and scores for each application. Shortlisted applications will go to an interview panel who will make a funding recommendation.

If your application passes the shortlisting stage, we will invite you to interview and send you the reviews. You can respond to the review comments in your interview.

If your application is not shortlisted, we will send you the review comments as feedback. You will not be able to respond to the comments.

We aim to communicate decisions within 10 days of the shortlisting panel meeting.

Interview

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

Interviews with the non-clinical training and career development panel will usually last 30 minutes. We will contribute towards the cost of your return travel, modest subsistence costs and reasonable additional family care costs.

We expect interviews to be held on 16 and 17 October 2024.

MRC will make the final funding decision.

Timescale

We aim to complete the assessment process within six months of receiving your application.

Feedback

If your application was discussed by a panel, we will give feedback with the outcome of your application.

We will let you know as soon as possible after we have made a final decision about your application. This is usually within 10 working days of your interview.

If you reach the interview stage, we will send you feedback and let you know the reasons for the panel’s decision. If you are not invited to interview, we will send you the reviews as feedback.

Find out more about the MRC fellowship assessment process.
Read an overview of the MRC peer review process.

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

If you have applied for a jointly funded fellowship, we will need to share the application, including any personal information that it contains, with the joint funder so that they can participate in the assessment process.

For more information on how a joint funder uses personal information, visit their website.

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

Assessment of jointly funded fellowships

Joint funding does not alter the assessment process.

If you apply for a jointly funded fellowship that is not available for any reason, we will automatically consider you for the standard MRC fellowship instead.

Assessment areas

The assessment areas we will use are:

  • vision for the fellowship
  • approach to the fellowship
  • career development
  • your capability to deliver the fellowship, related to the skills and experience needed to win support at this career stage
  • support for the applicant
  • ethical and responsible research and innovation considerations
  • resources requested to do the fellowship

We will take into account any career breaks, flexible working and changes in discipline when assessing your career progression and capability to deliver the project.

Find details of assessment questions and criteria under the ‘Application questions’ heading in the ‘How to apply’ section.

Contact details

Get help with your application

If you have a question and the answers aren’t provided on this page

IMPORTANT NOTE: The Helpdesk is committed to helping users of the UKRI 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 and/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 proposal please contact your research office in the first instance, allowing sufficient time for your organisation’s submission process.

For questions related to remit and scientific aspects of this specific funding opportunity please contact fellows@mrc.ukri.org

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 information on submitting an application.

Sensitive information

If you or a core team member need to tell us something you wish to remain confidential, email fellows@mrc.ukri.org

Include in the subject line: [the funding opportunity title; sensitive information; your Funding Service application number].

Typical examples of confidential information include:

  • 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

Differences between a Career Development Award and a New Investigator Research Grant (NIRG)

The NIRG aims to support individuals seeking to transition to independence through their first grant as a project lead (formerly principal investigator) and clear host institution support.

The time spent on the NIRG should be combined with a portfolio of other activities, such as:

  • teaching
  • administration duties
  • other time spent in faculty
  • time spent on other research grants
  • clinical duties

This list is not exhaustive.

A career development award is a personal award that aims to support individuals seeking to transition to independence through protected research time and an ambitious programme of research training and personal career development.

You cannot apply concurrently for a career development award and a NIRG. Given both awards support the transition to independence, you cannot apply for a NIRG if you have held a career development award and vice versa.

Joint Funders

Blood Cancer UK

Blood Cancer UK is a community dedicated to beating blood cancer by funding research and supporting those affected.

Since 1960, we’ve invested over £500 million in blood cancer research, transforming treatments and saving lives.

We welcome applications from clinicians and non-clinical academics in any area of blood cancer research.

We offer joint funding opportunities with MRC administered through the clinician scientist fellowship and career development award opportunities.

If you have any questions about the fellowship, please contact our research team via research@bloodcancer.org.uk or take a look at the Blood Cancer UK website for funding opportunities.

For further information on the charity and its work please visit Blood Cancer UK’s website.

DEBRA

Each year, one clinical development award will be awarded jointly by MRC and DEBRA. DEBRA is the largest UK funder of epidermolysis bullosa (EB) research. To support continued growth of EB research, we are committed to building a strong community of highly trained, innovative researchers with a clear career pathway into and through EB research.

DEBRA will be there to provide support at every stage: to attract, retain and support existing researchers and to bring new researchers into the field. This will ensure we inspire the next generation of EB researchers to become leaders of a future where no one suffers with EB.

Our new strategy puts patient outputs front and centre, with a focus on translational research that will have a positive impact on those with EB today. Our ambition is to find and fund treatments to lessen the day-to-day impact of EB, and cures to eradicate EB.

If you wish to discuss the fellowship or your proposed research area, please contact Dr Sagair Hussain, Director of Research at DEBRA: sagair.hussain@debra.org.uk

For more information about the charity and our research strategy visit the DEBRA website.

Diabetes UK

Diabetes UK is leading the fight against the UK’s biggest and growing health crisis. Our vision is a world where diabetes can do no harm and we fight diabetes through support, information, campaigning and research. As part of our research ambitions, we’re committed to attracting new research talent and retaining expertise so that we are growing the next generation of the future leaders.

We are partnering with MRC on a suite of research training fellowships to help grow investment in diabetes research careers. These include:

  • clinical research training fellowship
  • clinical scientist fellowship
  • senior clinical fellowship
  • career development award
  • senior non-clinical fellowship

We will jointly fund up to one fellowship annually across these funding opportunities. We will consider high quality applications into any aspect of diabetes and its related complications.

For further information regarding the charity’s work, including the research strategy, please visit the Diabetes UK website.

Parkinson’s UK

Up to one fellowship is awarded each year under this opportunity, jointly funded by Parkinson’s UK and MRC.

Parkinson’s UK is focused on finding new and better treatments for Parkinson’s and, one day, a cure. It is also keen to fund research that improves quality of life in the shorter term.

As part of a jointly funded award, fellows would be required to submit annual and final reports to the charity and to submit grant evaluation data to Researchfish annually.

Grant holders are also asked to host up to two engagement activities with people affected by Parkinson’s.

Find out more about Parkinson’s UK research

Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health

Founded in 1996 and now with about 17,500 members across the world, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) trains and educates paediatricians throughout their careers to the highest professional standards.

It also promotes research and child health policy in the UK and worldwide.

Its mission is to transform child health through knowledge, innovation and expertise. Its vision is a healthier future for children and young people across the world.

The Children’s Research Fund has been established to grow child health research capacity in the UK and to reverse the decline in the number of paediatric academics and researchers.

We welcome applications from clinicians and non-clinical academics in any area of child health research.

We offer joint funding opportunities with the MRC administered through the clinical research training fellowship, clinician scientist fellowship, and career development award opportunities.

For further information on the charity and its work visit Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH).

You may contact RCPCH at: research@rcpch.ac.uk

The Borne Foundation

The Borne Foundation supports research into pregnancy and the factors and conditions that may lead to preterm birth.

They fund research programmes and projects that examine the biological processes of pregnancy and childbirth to understand changes in the maternal environment and their significance, and the mechanisms involved in normal and abnormal labour.

For further information regarding Borne and its work visit: The Borne Foundation.

Tuberous Sclerosis Association

The Tuberous Sclerosis Association (TSA) is the only UK based charity dedicated to providing support and information to those with Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC) and their families as well campaigning for improved funding for vital treatments and services.
A major strand of its work is to support and fund research with the aim of finding a cure for the condition.

For more information about the organisation’s research strategy, research funding opportunities and the projects it supports visit: the research pages of the TSA website.

Webinar for potential applicants and research offices

MRC hosted a webinar for applicants and research offices applying to MRC responsive mode board and fellowship opportunities. This webinar consists of a presentation with information and tips on using the new UKRI Funding Service followed by a question and answer session with MRC staff.

Watch the webinar

See the question and answer session (PDF, 120KB).

Global Talent visa

Career development award holders are eligible for a Global Talent visa under the ‘exceptional promise’ category for future research leaders.

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.

Updates

  • 23 February 2024
    Duration of the interview updated in How we will assess your application.

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