Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Realising the health co-benefits of the transition to net zero: invited stage two

Apply for funding to lead a challenge-led transdisciplinary research hub as part of a network which will generate research that goes beyond understanding the human health implications of current net zero actions to developing new health focused interventions which are intended to support the UK’s transition to net zero by 2050.

The full economic cost (FEC) of your project can be up to £6.875 million. We will fund 80% of the FEC (£5.5 million). Funding is available for up to five years.

You must be based at a UK research organisation eligible for UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) funding.

You must have already submitted an expression of interest and been invited to submit an application.

Who can apply

This funding opportunity is only open to you if you have submitted an expression of interest and subsequently been invited to submit a stage two full application. Any uninvited applications will be rejected.

This funding opportunity contributes to addressing UKRI’s strategic theme on building a green future and the National Institute of Health and Care Research (NIHR) key priorities.

This opportunity is administered by MRC on behalf of UKRI and the NIHR.

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

It is likely that successful applications will be led by experienced researchers who are internationally recognised, with proven ability to deliver a large-scale research project successfully and lead an investment of this nature.

For full details, visit Eligibility as an individual.

In recognition of the broad scope of the funding opportunity, there are no restrictions on the numbers of applications an eligible organisation may submit as the lead research organisation or be named on.

International co-leads

The inclusion of international project co-leads in applications is permitted where the expertise or associated resources are not available in the UK and where the focus of the application remains on the UK transition to net-zero. Academic researchers must be from established overseas research organisations of comparable standing to UKRI-eligible UK research organisations to be listed as international project co-leads under this funding opportunity. Combined costs attributed to International Co-leads from developed countries (those not on the OECD DAC List of ODA Recipients) as well as India and China and third sector or government body co-leads (see ‘Third sector or government body project co-leads’) must not exceed 30% of the full economic cost (FEC) grant value and would normally be lower than this. There is no cap on eligible funds going to international co-Ieads from DAC list countries.

Applicants are requested to contact netzerohealth@ukri.org if they wish to add an international co-lead, specifying the contribution they are making to the project.

International collaboration may also involve partnerships.

Third sector or government body project co-leads

We welcome inter-institutional applications and strongly encourage collaboration to fulfil the aims of the hubs. Partnerships are encouraged with non-higher education institution organisations and across the public sector and third sector, either as project partners or as project co-lead. The project lead will need to determine whether or not the role and contribution of the costed individual is at the level of co-lead in the research team.

We will fund all justified direct costs associated with government bodies and the third sector project co-leads at 100% FEC. However, these combined costs including those for international co-leads (see International co-leads), must not exceed 30% of the FEC grant value cost of the grant and you must avoid the double counting of public funds in costings.

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

Scope

The UK is committed by law to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as drivers of climate change to net zero by 2050. A series of policies and actions aimed at reducing these emissions have been identified as part of a wide-ranging net zero strategy. This includes climate change mitigation actions alongside actions to enable society to adapt to the unavoidable consequences of climate change.

In equal partnership with NIHR, UKRI is seeking to establish a set of transdisciplinary research hubs that will provide policy-relevant evidence and deliver high impact solutions-focused research and innovation. The overarching goal is to realise the health co-benefits of the UK’s transition to net zero, in order to protect and promote the physical and mental health of the UK population.

Objectives

The funding opportunity has four objectives, which are:

  • to evaluate the potential health impacts from existing climate change adaptations and mitigations with a view to improving them and realise any potential benefit to human health including reducing health disparities
  • to develop and evaluate new adaptations and mitigations to support the UK to reach net zero that protect and promote the health of the UK population. Attention will be paid to the distribution of health impacts across different socio-economic groups
  • to develop a standardised way to measure the trade-offs and unintended consequences as part of net zero measures, to optimise interventions and understand the most effective interventions to implement
  • to understand how impacts and interventions might vary in the home, workplace or in a variety of healthcare settings

The hubs will form part of a portfolio of investments supporting UKRI and NIHR priorities. Funding is provided partly through the UKRI building a green future theme, as set out in the UKRI strategy 2022 to 2027.

Hub expectations

Each hub must:

  • draw together an appropriate range of disciplinary research expertise and policymakers in order to co-design and co-lead transdisciplinary research to tackle the complex challenge area or areas. We encourage other relevant stakeholders, including industry, the public and communities where appropriate
  • adopt a holistic and systems approach to research and evaluate the health impacts of net zero policies and identify future strategies where both the benefits and unintended consequences to human health are explored. The potential wide-ranging effects of strategies should be considered to effectively influence future policy decisions, including environmental and socio-economic impacts
  • undertake research to identify solutions that improve health outcomes of those most at risk and address health disparities through improved, as well as new and innovative, solutions and policies
  • develop a clear and robust set of standardised metrics within the challenge area or areas, to monitor the health and societal impacts of mitigation and adaptation interventions as well as their integration into future policies
  • build on, complement and connect with relevant broader initiatives and include existing evidence to ensure impactful outputs. Examples include but are not limited to:
    • the UKRI Clean Air Initiative (supported through the Strategic Priority Fund)
    • the UKRI UK Climate Resilience Programme
    • the pending UKRI Centre in Climate Change and Health
    • the NIHR Public Health Research Programme
    • the UK Prevention Research Partnership
    • the UKRI Population health improvement network of clusters
  • consider incorporating further partners as dictated by the specific direction of research during the lifespan of the hub

It will be imperative that the hubs work synergistically to realise the potential joint outputs and ensure knowledge exchange across the research landscape. Hub leads will therefore be required to work proactively to ensure effective join-up and intra-hub networking. Following the award of hubs, it is anticipated that further funding will be made available for application as part of a future funding opportunity to support collaboration within the hub network and with the wider communities in this space.

Challenge areas

Five UK-focused challenge areas within the net zero and health space have been identified.

You must primarily address one of these challenges within your application to ensure impact within the lifetime of the hub. In awarding applications, it is anticipated that a balanced approach across the challenge areas will be considered. However, all challenge areas may not be supported, which will depend on the quality and scope of the applications.

The description of each challenge area is a suggested research area that would be within scope of the funding opportunity. However, we encourage you to think broadly within each challenge and where applicable, identify areas of synergy across challenge areas. Research should be focused both on developing new knowledge and identifying new net zero solutions that protect and promote human health in the UK.

Indoor environments in a net zero world

80% of a typical adult day is spent indoors and indoor air quality remains a public health concern.

A hub would be expected to deliver on researching the health implications of indoor air quality (including the indoor and outdoor interface). For example, research to understand the health impacts in the context of policies to improve energy efficiency of indoor environments in retrofitted and newly constructed net zero buildings as well as changing patterns of behaviour.

This could include a better understanding of indoor air flows and pollution including the toxicology of air contaminants, and the impact of bioaerosoles on health including new knowledge on the transmission of infectious diseases within low carbon buildings.

Research should also focus on identifying effective solutions to improve human health outcomes, where a wide range of factors will need to be considered, including environmental, physical, regulatory, technological and behavioural.

Transportation and the built environment

With the implementation of net zero transport initiatives and broader transformations to the built environment, including green and blue infrastructure, there are likely to be changes to the sources of air pollution and changes in public behaviour.

Research should include understanding the impacts of these to human health including for example, the impacts of low-emission zones and changing traffic flows, electric cars and cleaner combustion engines and health impacts of increased cycling or electric scooters, including the risk of injury.

The role of transport policies in promoting the use of public transport and active travel and its impact on human health should be considered.

New solutions using systems approaches should be focused on improving health outcomes of those most vulnerable.

Sustainable healthy diets

Changes to diet can have effects both on greenhouse gas emission and human health.

This challenge relates to providing a better understanding of the health impacts and potential trade-offs (for example, nutritional, food waste, affordability, accessibility) of novel low carbon foods and sustainable healthy diets and deliver insight as to where potential barriers exist.

Research on health impacts may include for example, effects on the microbiome, novel allergens, foodborne pathogens and hypersensitivities, and new research which enables informed policy decisions on, and regulation of future low carbon foods.

Research should also focus on innovative ways to take advantage of possible health benefits and mitigate against negative effects, which will require consideration of a wide range of factors and multisectoral challenges including consumer behaviour.

Extreme weather

Climate change and associated extreme weather can have significant direct and indirect effects on human health.

This challenge relates to understanding the health impact of actions and policies concerning extreme weather, particularly extreme heat, in the context of the wider climate system, environment and a net zero world. For example, changes in building ventilation rates and air-conditioning use.

New interventions, which may include nature-based solutions, should focus on vulnerable groups, protecting human health and increase the resilience of communities to future forms of extreme weather and its impact on the environment. For example, flooding and wildfires.

Decarbonising health and social care pathways

The NHS is responsible for approximately 4% of the UK’s carbon emissions and represents over 7% of the economy. It is therefore crucial to address the environmental and economic implications of healthcare practices in a net zero world.

This challenge addresses the changing nature of care and aims to identify the carbon impact and material waste associated with emerging health and social care delivery models and pathways.

Whole systems research should include understanding the implications of cost-efficient and environmentally sustainable approaches (for example, new technologies and care delivery models), on managing human disease (for example, chronic disease and multimorbidity).

Hub structure and collaborations

You should consider the structure of your proposed hub to ensure it can successfully deliver the objectives of the funding opportunity with transdisciplinary research at the core. The structure should allow for multiple institutions, organisations and stakeholders to work in collaboration to ensure impacts are delivered within the lifetime of the hub. Public involvement and engagement should be considered where appropriate.

A Microsoft Teams site has been set up to help connect potential applicants seeking to join emerging hubs and for those hub teams seeking specific expertise. To join the Teams site please email netzerohealth@ukri.org

Following the expression of interest stage you are allowed to amend your research teams which we anticipate may have evolved.

You must explain how you will manage the hub to successfully deliver its objectives within the ‘Governance’ section.

Awarded hubs will be expected to work with the funders on monitoring and evaluation activities to support the programmes objectives and as part of the Building a Green Future UKRI theme.

Environmental sustainability

UKRI’s environmental sustainability strategy lays out our ambition to actively lead environmental sustainability across our sectors. This includes a vision to ensure that all major investment and funding decisions we make are directly informed by environmental sustainability, recognising environmental benefits as well as potential for environmental harm.

Environmental sustainability is a broad term but may include consideration of such areas as:

  • reducing carbon emissions
  • protecting and enhancing the natural environment and biodiversity
  • waste or pollution elimination
  • resource efficiency and a circular economy

We expect you to embed careful consideration of environmental sustainability at all stages of the research and innovation process and throughout the lifetime of your hub.

Duration

We will fund hubs lasting up to five years.

Due to the nature of the funding available, the hubs will be required to have a start date no later than 1 November 2024.

Funding available

The total fund is up to £34.375 million at full economic cost (FEC). The FEC of your project can be up to £6.875 million. We will fund 80% of the FEC (£5.5 million). Any identified exceptions will be funded at 100%.

You should consider your resources carefully and fully justify all costs. Resources should be in line with the objectives of the hub and that of the funding opportunity. Where appropriate, applications under £5.5 million at 80% of the FEC are welcomed.

Organisational support

We will be looking for evidence of long-term strategic and financial institutional commitment to the proposed hub, above the required 20% (as we fund at 80% FEC), which should be detailed in the ‘Organisational support’ section. This should be through the provision of grant-associated parallel activities. Examples include but are not limited to:

  • studentships
  • summer schools
  • provision of equipment
  • administration
  • new lectureships

We do not require an institutional letter of support for the full stage funding opportunity. By submitting your application to us, you are confirming that your institution is supportive of and committed to your hub.

What costs we will fund

You can request funding for costs such as:

  • a contribution to the salary of the lead and co-leads
  • support for other posts such as research and technical
  • research consumables
  • equipment
  • travel costs
  • data preservation, data sharing and dissemination costs
  • estates and indirect costs
  • NHS research costs of a study including a contribution to the salary of lead and co-lead (funded at the appropriate FEC rate, usually 80%)

What costs we will not fund

We will not fund:

  • research involving randomised trials of clinical treatments
  • studentships
  • publication costs

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, applicants for UKRI funding may be asked to demonstrate how their 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.

Further guidance and information about TR&I – including additional where you can find additional support.

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.

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

You can only apply for this funding opportunity if we have invited you to do so following a successful stage one application. The start application link will be provided via email.

  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. If using visual elements, you must:

  • 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 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

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. MRC will need to share the application and any personal information that it contains with NIHR so that they can participate in the assessment process. For more information on how NIHR uses personal information, see the NIHR privacy policy.

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.

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 new grant roles.

Application questions

Vision

Word limit: 1,500

What are you hoping to achieve with your proposed work?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Explain how your proposed work:

  • meets and prioritises one of the outlined challenge areas that is critical to achieving net zero
  • is of excellent quality and importance within or beyond the fields or areas
  • has the potential to advance current understanding and 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 and reducing health inequalities as a co-benefit of the UK transition to net zero

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:

  • brings together the right disciplines and stakeholders to respond to your proposed challenge(s) with the hub undertaking transdisciplinary research with evidence of user engagement and co-design
  • is feasible, and comprehensively identifies any risks to delivery and how they will be managed
  • provides a description and rationale of the study designs and methods for analysis
  • highlight any innovation in methods or highlight their intention to develop new methods and make clear the likely wider applicability of what is developed
  • if applicable, summarises the previous work and describes how this will be built upon and progressed and not duplicated. This includes making use of existing data where relevant and justifies the collection of any new data in line with the challenge area
  • will maximise translation of outputs into outcomes and impacts, including policy-relevant evidence
  • 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 we also expect you to:

  • demonstrate access to the appropriate services, facilities, infrastructure, or equipment to deliver the project
  • demonstrate that environmental sustainability has been considered
  • provide a project plan including milestones and timelines, in the form of an embedded Gantt chart or similar
  • explain and justify how you will approach diversity and inclusion in the study population and follow the MRC embedding diversity in research design policy (if applicable)
  • show how you will use both sexes in research involving animals and tissues and cells (if applicable). If you are not proposing to do this justify why
  • evaluate the potential health impacts from existing climate change adaptations and mitigations with a view to improving them and realise any potential benefit to human health including reducing health disparities
  • develop and evaluate new adaptations and mitigations to support the UK to reach net zero that protect and promote the health of the UK population. Attention will be paid to the distribution of health impacts across different socio-economic groups
  • develop a standardised way to measure the trade-offs and unintended consequences as part of net zero measures, to optimise interventions and understand the most effective interventions to implement
  • understand how impacts and interventions might vary in the home, workplace or in a variety of healthcare settings where applicable

You have the option to use 500 words to provide additional 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 5,000 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, section 2.2.3.5 ‘Reproducibility and statistical design’, or further information, examples and online tools.

If your proposed work involves animals, and you provide information on animal sample sizes and statistical analyses in the ‘Vision and approach’ document, 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.

Governance

Word limit: 1,000

How will you manage the hub to successfully deliver its objectives?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Explain how the proposed hub will be managed, demonstrating that your hub:

  • will be effectively governed, including details about advisory groups
  • will be effectively and inclusively managed, demonstrated by a clear management plan
  • has clear leadership team roles and responsibilities
  • will manage and encourage partnerships with non-higher education institution organisations across government, industry and civil society
  • has plans for monitoring your progress as well as self-evaluation throughout the lifetime of your award
  • has considered how it may form lasting impact beyond the lifetime of the award

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

Applicant and team capability to deliver

Word limit: 3,000

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 Funding Service.

The word count for this section is 3,000 words: 2,500 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.

The applicant research team can be amended from the expression of interest stage.

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.

Your organisation’s support

Word limit: 1,000

Provide details of support from your research organisation

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Provide a statement of support, from your research organisation detailing why the proposed work is needed. This should include details of any matched funding that will be provided to support the activity and any additional support that might add value to the work.

You must also include the following details:

  • a significant person’s name and their position, such as a Head of Department or School
  • office address or web link

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 (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: MRC is 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

MRC is 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 be a project partner.

Check the 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 MRC your application will be rejected.

Supporting document guidance for third party project partners

Each third party 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 count: 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 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 count: 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 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 1,500 words
  • all other research, 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: 1,500

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 involvement and engagement
    • preserving, long-term storage, or sharing of data
    • international co-leads and public and third sector co-leads demonstrating this is within the 30% combined costs cap. This cap can only be exceed for costs related to international co-leads from DAC countries excluding India and China
  • 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
  • evidence that environmental sustainability has been considered and reflected in your proposed resource and justified appropriately

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 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:

  • 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 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 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:

  1. Contact an Attributing the costs of health and social care Research and Development (AcoRD) specialist as early as possible in the application process.
  2. 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.
  3. Request authorisation of your SoECAT.
  4. Once authorised extract the ‘study information’ and ‘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 netzerohealth@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

The full stage applications will be assessed using the following process:

Panel

We will invite an expert panel to assess the quality of your application and shortlist applications for interview in May/June 2024.

Interview

Shortlisted applications will be invited to interview after which the panel will make a funding recommendation.

We expect interviews to be held in June/July 2024. UKRI will provide information on specific dates as soon as possible.

UKRI/NIHR will make the final funding decision.

Feedback

We will give feedback with 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

MRC, as part of UKRI, will need to share the application and any personal information that it contains with NIHR so that they can participate in the assessment process. For more information on how NIHR uses personal information, see the NIHR privacy policy.

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

Assessment areas

The assessment areas we will use are:

The criteria we will assess your application against can be found in the ‘How to apply’ section under ‘What the assessors are looking for in your response’.

Assessors will refer to criteria under these headings:

  • Vision
  • Approach
  • Governance
  • Applicant and team capability to deliver
  • Your organisation’s support
  • Resources and cost justification
  • Ethics and Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI)

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 funding 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 a funding 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 remit and scientific aspects of this specific funding opportunity please contact netzerohealth@ukri.org and Include Net Zero Health in the subject line.

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 netzerohealth@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

Webinar for potential applicants

We held a webinar on 5 October 2023. This provided more information about the opportunity and a chance to ask questions.

Watch the webinar recording

Passcode: DB.hBx07

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