Need and solution
Does the identified need exist?
If the need is not significant now, will it become so in the future?
Is the need met or unmet? If unmet, is it likely to be unmet at the time the proposed solution is in place?
Would meeting this need significantly reduce disease burden, provide a valuable commercial opportunity or alleviate an important development bottleneck?
Is the proposed solution reasonable?
Could the proposed solution or components thereof meet other significant needs?
Has the applicant identified the key competing solutions and their status or are you aware of other similar or complementary research underway elsewhere?
Has the applicant identified the key competitive advantages of their proposed solution?
How likely is it that the proposed solution, if achieved, would be widely adopted?
Is there a good medical or scientific rationale for the project?
Is there a reasonable body of evidence to support the proposed rationale?
Objective and approach
Does the proposal duplicate research and development efforts taking place in industry?
Is the proposed approach an effective way of meeting the plan’s objectives and is it based on a good scientific rationale?
How innovative is the plan, or is it a tried and tested approach?
Use of laboratory animals – where appropriate:
- Could the proposed research work be carried out using approaches or techniques that avoid the use of animals?
- Have the applicants fully justified the use of animals and the proposed species?
- Is the number of animals appropriate?
- Where the proposed research involves the use of primates – does the establishment comply with the NC3Rs’ Guidelines on primate accommodation, care and use 2007?
If relevant, is the project appropriately statistically powered?
Are the proposed plans for disseminating the results of the research appropriate and adequate?
Is the project plan sufficient in comparison to the complexity of the project?
Does the plan propose reasonable go and no-go milestones? Are the milestone timings appropriate and are the success criteria necessary and sufficient to judge progression?
Are the proposed probabilities of milestones being met reasonable?
Collaboration and outsourcing – where appropriate:
- Do the contributions made by the collaborating parties contracted to undertake the outsourced work enable the project to be delivered or enable it to be delivered to the required quality or within the required time?
- Would the proposed work be undertaken or undertaken to the required quality or within the required time in the absence of the requested funding?
- Are potential conflicts of interest between the parties acceptable and are they being appropriately managed?
Project and risk management
Do the applicants have, or likely will have, the necessary project management experience to deliver the plan?
Has the individual or group established a high-quality track record in the field?
Where the proposal embarks on work in a field new to the applicants, or where it is a first funding proposal, is there a firm foundation from which to take the work forward?
How well does the work fit with other relevant research pursued by the applicants?
Have the applicants identified the key project risks and reasonably judged their likelihood of occurrence and severity of impact?
Is the proposed risk management approach appropriate?
Data management plan
Does the data management plan indicate whether the applicants have (or are likely to have) a sound plan for managing the research data funded through the award? Take account of:
- the types, scale and complexity of data being (or to be) managed
- the likely long-term value for further research including by sharing data
- the anticipated information security and ethics requirements.
What is the potential economic and societal impact of the proposed research, including:
- identification of realistic potential improvements to human or population health
- contribution to relieving disease or disability burden and/or improving quality of life
- identification of potential impacts of research and plans to deliver these.
MRC industry collaboration framework
Any research application involving a collaboration with one or more industrial partners (contributing either in cash or in kind) is handled by MRC as a MRC industry collaboration framework (ICF).
All ICF applications will be identifiable to reviewers as they will have ‘ICF’ at the start of the project title and will have a completed ICF form and ICF company partner letter of support.
The board or panel will make a decision on whether or not to support a proposal submitted via the ICF based on:
- the appropriateness of the partnership between the collaborative partners
- whether that in the absence of the requested funding and the collaboration the planned research could not be undertaken, or that it could not be undertaken to the quality level or timescale proposed
- if the in-kind costs provided by the industry partner have been costed appropriately.
The panel or board will also be asked to raise any concerns about any potential conflicts of interest that have not been addressed and if there are concerns with the intellectual property sharing arrangements that have not been addressed by MRC and LifeArc.
The panel or board may also challenge the developmental status of the project, Basic verses Applied, as set out in the ICF form and checked by LifeArc.
Resource requirements and environment
Has the team identified and secured reasonable access to necessary resources and skills?
For principal investigators and project managers, is the requested time consistent with their proposed involvement; necessary or sufficient for the successful management of the research; and a realistic expectation of the time they could make available?
Are the number, skills and experience of requested staff appropriate for the work described?
Is the budget realistic for the scale and complexity of the project?
Are project costs that will be met by sources other than MRC clearly identified?
Have the applicants set out a clear and reasonable case for the requested levels of staffing and overall resources?
Has the host research organisation demonstrated commitment to supporting the work?
Does the project make good use of available clinical infrastructure (BRC/Us, CRFs, patient cohorts) where appropriate?
Does the proposal make appropriate use of available core DPFS portfolio resources?
Taking into account the expected benefits of the work proposed and the level of resources requested, does the proposal promise good value for money?