You can submit to any 1 of the available deadlines in the year.
We do not expect you to submit more than 2 applications at the same time. We encourage you to focus on application quality, not the number you can submit. Read our guidance for applicants about multiple applications.
Pre-application stage: new programmes
The standard of applications for programme grants is very competitive. You must contact the relevant programme manager before you apply to check if your application is suitable. You must do this at least 6 weeks before the deadline.
You should email the programme manager, attaching a brief description of your application (must not exceed 2 pages). The document should not exceed 3 sides of A4, including 1 A4 side of references. The document should include:
- the title of the potential programme
- a list of the principal investigator and co-investigators and their affiliations
- a list of collaborators (if known at this stage)
- an estimate of the likely cost to MRC
You should address the strategic fit and suitability of your programme for a major investment. You should also answer the following questions on the suitability of your application for a programme grant:
- is the proposed work a programme (a coordinated and coherent group of related projects to answer an interrelated set of questions)
- does the work need long-term and extensive support
- is the proposed work in an MRC area of high strategic priority
- is there a case for a major investment in the context of the board portfolio and budget
- do you have a track record that shows you have the potential to successfully manage and deliver a major research programme
It is important that you clearly state your aims, but we do not expect this initial document to contain a detailed research application.
You must also attach:
- a CV (must not exceed 2 sides of A4)
- a list of publications for the principal investigator and co-investigators (must not exceed 1 side of A4 only)
- a summary of the principal investigator’s funding history. We will assess your track record of research and potential to manage and deliver a major research programme
Full application stage: new programmes and renewals
You should only start the full application stage if you have been invited by email to do so after the pre-application stage.
Full applications must be submitted using our online Joint Electronic Submission system (Je-S). We will invite you to do this in advance of the relevant closing date if you have been successful at the pre-application stage.
If you are submitting a new application, you should include a cover letter confirming the name of the programme manager who agreed that you could apply. If you are applying to renew your award, the cover letter should include details of the original funded application.
You should read the MRC general guidance on how to complete an MRC application (section 2).
Applying through Je-S
You must apply through the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system.
We recommend you start your application early. You can save completed details in Je-S at any time and return to continue your application later.
When applying, select ‘new document’ then:
- council: MRC
- document type: standard proposal
- scheme: research grant
- call/type/mode: Research boards May 2023 submissions
After completing the application, you must select ‘submit document’. This will send your application to your host organisation’s administration.
Your host organisation’s administration is required to complete the submission process. You should allow sufficient time for this between submitting your application to them and the funding opportunity closing date.
You should give your administrative department sufficient notice that you intend to apply.
Your organisation must submit your application before 4:00pm on the deadline date.
Indicating your application is a programme grant
Select the ‘grant type’ option from the application document menu, within the Je-S application form. Within the section, select the radio button adjacent to the ‘programme grant’ option and select the ‘save’ button.
In addition to the Je-S application, you will also need to include the following mandatory attachments:
- a CV for each named researcher, including investigators and named researchers (each CV must not exceed 2 sides of A4)
- publications (up to 1 side of A4 per named person)
- a case for support (must not exceed 12 sides of A4)
- a justification of resources (must not exceed 2 sides of A4)
- a data management plan (DMP). Page length can vary, see section 2.2.7 of our attachments guidance. Applicants must use the available DMP template form
- covering letter, this can be up to 2 sides of A4 using a sans-serif typeface (Arial or equivalent) and font size of 11pt
If your research includes excess treatment costs of studies involving human participants, you will need to include a ‘schedule of events cost attribution template’ (SoECAT). For details and access to the SoECAT form, see the National Institute for Health and Care Research’s information on excess treatment costs.
If there will be a researcher co-investigator on your project, you will need to include a statement of support for researcher co-investigators. This should not exceed 2 sides of A4 or equivalent on headed paper or a PDF of an email.
Optional attachments include letter of support, each letter must not exceed 2 sides of A4 or equivalent on headed paper or a PDF of an email.
You can find full details of what to include in mandatory and optional attachments in section 2.2 attachments guidance.
Guidance for applicants
The MRC guidance for applicants:
- helps you check your eligibility
- guides you through preparing your application
- shows you how to prepare a case for support
- provides details of any ethical and regulatory requirements that may apply
Industrial partner information
If you want to include 1 or more industry partners as a project partner, you must also complete the project partner section in Je-S.
MRC industry collaboration framework (ICF)
If your application involves the collaboration of 1 or more industrial partners, you should review the information published within the MRC ICF to decide if you should submit your application under the ICF.
After reading the ICF information, if you decide that your application will include industry collaboration, you will need to include the following within your application for each collaborating industry partner:
The completed ICF form should be uploaded to the Je-S attachments section using the ‘MICA form’ document type. Please type ‘Industry Collaboration Framework form’ in the description box.
The company letter of support must use the available template and be uploaded to the relevant project partner entry you are required to add to your Je-S application.
Case for support
It is mandatory to submit a case for support along with your full application.
The following list covers specific points that you should address when writing your case for support. It also provides details of what reviewers and research board members are looking for.
You should read the list in conjunction with the MRC attachments: case for support general guidance (section 2.2.3).
You must cover the following in your case for support:
- state the aims of the programme
- justify why you cannot fund the programme in other ways
- explain why it is appropriate to establish a programme in this scientific area
- explain how establishing a programme will help increase your productivity and create added value
- show the significance of the programme for this area or areas of research
- explain how the programme will improve the UK’s international standing in this area
You should provide details of the participants in the programme and any existing funding, including:
- a brief report on the progress of your recent research and any preliminary data relevant to the programme
- the scale of support provided, briefly describing, for instance:
- the number of postdoctoral or technician staff supported
- the total amount of consumables and equipment provided over the course of the project
- information about the research environment, including:
- the environment or environments in which the programme will take place
- if the application is for shared equipment or expertise, where this will be and how the host organisation will support it. Also describe the management arrangements for ensuring equity of access
- the host research organisation’s support for the programme
- research plans, including:
- details of the general experimental approaches, study designs and techniques that you will use. You do not need to describe each experiment but must give enough detail to show why the research is likely to be competitive in its field. For example:
- highlight plans which are particularly original or unique
- describe all foreseeable human studies and animal experiments (in as much detail as possible at this stage)
- explain in greater detail how you will approach new techniques, or particularly difficult or risky studies, and alternative approaches if these fail
- identify facilities or resources you will need to access
- sufficient detail to justify the resources requested
Ethics and research governance
You must follow the ethics and research governance guidance in the MRC attachments: case for support general guidance (section 2.2.3).
Exploitation and dissemination
You must follow the exploitation and dissemination guidance in the MRC attachments: case for support general guidance (section 2.2.3).
Provide a simple explanation of how you will manage the programme.
Programme grant renewals: additional requirements
You must provide a progress report with an application for renewal. You should attach this as a PDF file to your Je-S application as a ‘final interim report’ attachment type.
You must use the following set of headings:
- summary (not exceeding 250 words)
- progress (must not exceed 5 sides of A4). Use this to:
- describe progress made against original aims and objectives since the project was awarded or since the last report
- any unpublished data must be included in the case for support
Along with the progress report you should provide:
- a list of publications arising from this work, including web links to online papers
- a list of staff employed on the project up to the current date
Research disruption caused by COVID-19 pandemic
You have the option to include a 1 page annex to the case for support, allowing you to provide additional information explaining any disruptions you have encountered to previous or current research, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic (where relevant to your pending application).
For further information relating to the annex, please see the MRC guidance for applicants (section 188.8.131.52).