Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Pre-announcement: Understanding public involvement in non-clinical research

Funding is available to improve the understanding, design and practice of public involvement in non-clinical health and biomedical research. Proposals should address gaps in public involvement, build on existing good practice and deliver generalisable learning to be used by others. Multidisciplinary approaches are welcomed.

Applicant teams must include public contributors. The lead applicant must be a researcher employed by an eligible research organisation.

This is a strategic opportunity within the Better Methods, Better Research (BMBR) programme and is limited to a single funding round.

This is a pre-announcement, and the information may change. The funding opportunity will open on 17 April 2024. More information will be available on this page by then.

Who can apply

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

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

For full details, visit Eligibility as an individual.

Who is eligible to apply

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

  • be a researcher employed by an eligible research organisation
  • show that you will direct the project and be actively engaged in the work
  • focus your application on improving understanding of public involvement in non-clinical biomedical and health research

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

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

Public contributors

Applicant teams must include public contributors. Public involvement professionals may also be included in the applicant team.

International applicants

You can include international applicants as project co-leads if they provide expertise not available in the UK and make a major intellectual contribution to the design or conduct of the project. You must justify in your application why their expertise is required.

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


Public involvement, comprising active collaborative partnerships between researchers and members of the public, patients, carers and communities, is an increasingly important part of biomedical and health research. Many of the approaches used for public involvement have been developed based on practices in clinical research. The MRC public involvement landscape review highlighted the need to understand the best approaches to enable involvement in non-clinical health and biomedical research, whether this is the validation of existing methods or the development of new approaches.

The aim of this strategic opportunity is to address gaps in public involvement in non-clinical health and biomedical research through the development of supporting evidence, tools or guidance.

Research areas in scope could include public involvement in fundamental discovery research, from lab-based research such as cell biology or biochemistry, to data science research such as statistical modelling or machine learning, and methodological research such as epidemiology, health economics or clinical trials methodology. This list is not exhaustive.

Outputs should be designed and disseminated to improve practice across stakeholders, such as researchers, funding bodies, public contributors as appropriate.


Funding is available for methodology research to build good practice for public involvement in non-clinical health and biomedical research. The research should deliver generalisable learning, which is directly relevant to multiple disciplines, within the aspect of public involvement addressed in the proposal. See areas within scope below. This can include development of tools, guidance, reviews or other evidence synthesis to advance understanding of optimal approaches. Multidisciplinary and or collaborative approaches are welcomed. Applicant teams must include public contributors and may include public involvement professionals.

All proposals should consider the approaches and resources required for outreach and to support meaningful improvement in the research methods of others. Applications are expected to build on existing good practice across disciplines and in public involvement including, but not limited to, relevant standards and checklists, such as UK Standards for Public Involvement, GRIPP2, PIRIT, PiiAF and so on, as appropriate.

Proposals are expected to develop understanding of optimal approaches for public involvement in non-clinical health and biomedical research. Areas within scope for the funding opportunity include:

  • involvement processes for non-clinical health or biomedical research including:
    • engagement of public representation (at community or individual level) and facilitating inclusion of historically under-represented populations
    • training and support for researchers and public contributors
    • design and management approaches for involvement activities (including approaches to avoid tokenism)
    • inclusion throughout the research lifecycle
    • evaluation of involvement processes
  • evaluation of the impact of public involvement for non-clinical health or biomedical research including:
    • measures of success and meaningful outcomes, including limitations and when these diverge or compete across different stakeholders
    • understanding the components that lead to successful public involvement, including the importance and management of context in outcomes (such as how effectiveness of public involvement varies by context)

The following areas are out of scope:

  • research areas with well-established literature on public involvement, for example qualitative research, or applications that do not clearly articulate the gap in public involvement for the selected area
  • public involvement programmes for a specific research institute(s), or that are not linked to methodological learning

This is a strategic opportunity within the Better Methods, Better Research (BMBR) programme and is limited to a single funding round. When the opportunity opens on 17 April 2024 information will be provided in ‘How to apply’.

Please contact us at ahead of developing a full application to ensure your proposal is within remit. Include a one to two-page project summary that covers background, key objectives and research plan including dissemination activities.

Find out more about MRC’s remit, programmes and priorities.


The duration of this award is up to 36 months.

Typically, funded projects have a duration from 18 to 36 months.

Projects should start one to six months after the funding decision date.

Funding available

The budget for this BMBR round is £2.5 million to support BMBR applications and this strategic opportunity.

The FEC of your project can be up to £625,000. MRC and National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) will fund 80% of the full economic cost up to £500,000.

We can consider larger requests, but where you expect costs to exceed £625,000, please make early contact with us at and to request MRC approval.

What we will fund

You can request funding for costs such as:

  • a contribution to the salary of the project lead and project co-leads
  • team approaches and support for other posts such as research and technical staff
  • research consumables
  • equipment
  • travel
  • data preservation and data sharing
  • knowledge mobilisation and dissemination resources
  • NHS research costs where appropriate
  • estates and indirect costs

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

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

There is no cap on costs requested for international applicants from Development Assistance Committee (DAC) list countries.

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

What we will not fund

We will not fund:

  • new clinical trials or interventions where methodology research is not the primary focus
  • costs for PhD studentships
  • publication costs
  • funding to use as a ‘bridge’ between grants

Team project partner

You may include project partners that will support your research project 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

The individual named as the contact for the project partner organisation cannot also be a named applicant, such as those with a role of project lead or co-lead and any other named member of staff.

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.

Find out about getting funding for international collaboration.

International collaboration

UK Research and Innovation (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.

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

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

Find out more about further guidance and information about TR&I, including where you can find additional support.

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. We will publish full details on how to apply when the funding opportunity opens.

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

We will assess your application using the following process.

Examination of applications

All applications will be examined to ensure they meet the eligibility criteria and scope of the funding opportunity. If your application is outside the scope, you will be advised by email, and we will not assess your application. We aim to notify you of this around four weeks after the closing date.

You can find out more about what happens after you submit your proposal.

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 Funding Service.


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

If your application is shortlisted, you will have 14 days to respond to reviewers’ comments and any feedback from the shortlisting panel.

If your application is not shortlisted, we will give you the reviewers’ comments and any feedback from the shortlisting panel.

PPIE Panel

We will invite a panel of public contributors and PPIE professionals to review your application independently, against the specified criteria for this funding opportunity.

The PPIE Panel recommendations will support the panel assessments of your applications quality.


Following peer review and shortlisting, we will invite experts to use the evidence provided by reviewers and your applicant response to assess the quality of your application and rank it alongside other applications, after which the panel will make a funding recommendation.

MRC and National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) will make the final funding decision.

The panel meeting will take place on 20-21 November 2024.

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


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


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

We aim to provide feedback this within six weeks of the panel meeting.

Principles of assessment

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

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

Sharing data with co-funders

We will need to share the application 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, visit NIHR Privacy Notice | NIHR.

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

Assessment areas

The assessment areas we will use are:

  • vision of the project
  • approach to the project (including data management)
  • capability of the applicant or applicants and the project team to deliver the project
  • resources requested to do the project
  • ethical and responsible research and innovation considerations of the project

Find details of assessment questions and criteria under the ‘Application questions’ heading in the ‘How to apply’ section when the opportunity opens on 17 April 2024.

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 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 this specific pre-announcement, please contact and You should include ‘HPI opportunity query’ as your email subject.

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


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, 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

Include in the subject line: [the funding opportunity title; sensitive information; your UKRI 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

Additional info


The aim of Better Methods, Better Research (BMBR) is to ensure optimal research methods are being used to advance biomedical, health and care focused research, policy and delivery. Funding is available for research that develops and delivers ways to improve the research methods being used by others. For further information please see BMBR area of investment and support.

Webinar for potential applicants

We will hold a webinar on 21 February 2024 at 1:00pm UK time. This will provide more information about the funding opportunity and a chance to ask questions.

Register for the webinar.

Research disruption due to COVID-19

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

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

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

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

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