Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Pre-announcement: Cancer Immunotherapy Response Research Platform

Apply for funding to develop a broad utility, deep genotyping and phenotyping platform capable of generating insights into patient response, adverse effects, and resistance to immunotherapy, and exemplar project(s) to demonstrate utility.

The platform will be led by a multi-institutional and multi-disciplinary consortium, including at least one industry partner.

A total of £9 million (80% Full Economic cost (FEC) including relevant indexing) over 4 years is available with £4 million in FY 2024/25.

You must be a researcher employed at a research organisation eligible to apply for MRC funding.

This is a pre-announcement and the information may change.

The funding opportunity will open 25 January 2024. More information will be available on this page then.

The Office for Life Sciences (OLS) is running an optional expression of interest (EOI) stage. You are encouraged to submit a short outline of your proposed consortium and bid, using the OLS EOI template, and submitting your completed document to (by the EOI closing date, 13 December 2023). OLS will review your EOI submission and provide feedback to you via email. You should note this EOI stage is recommended, but not mandatory. Applications will be accepted from eligible applicants that have not taken advantage of the EOI stage.

A workshop was recently held by the office for life sciences (OLS) for prospective applicants on 18 October 2023, for further information related to these previously held workshop and Q&A webinar (and supporting documents) please contact

Who can apply

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

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.

International applicants

International project co-leads are allowed if they provide expertise or access to facilities or resources not available in the UK.

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


This funding opportunity will support the development of a consortium based, broad utility, deep genotyping and phenotyping platform, capable of generating breakthrough insights into patient response, adverse effects, and resistance to immunotherapy.

In addition to creating a platform, funding should also be used to support an exemplar project or projects seeking to identify marker signatures predicting response or non-response, resistance or toxicity in a defined patient population and therapeutic modality combination.


This initiative aims to develop a broad utility, deep genotyping and phenotyping platform of equipment, staff and expertise that will unlock insight into mechanisms and markers of response, adverse effects, and loss of response in cancer immune based therapies (including small molecule, antibody, cell based or vaccine therapy).

In addition, funding will support delivery of an exemplar research project (or projects) to establish the utility of the platform and generate early data. Collectively, the establishment of the platform and exemplar project(s) will leave a legacy of equipment, expertise, know how and data to support future research into immunotherapy response.

Broadly, the long term ambitions for the platform are:

  • generation of actionable molecular insights to inform patient selection and monitoring to improve the accessibility and appropriate use of approved immune based cancer therapies in clinical practice.
  • generation of transferable mechanistic insights and diagnostic approaches with the potential to unlock a new generation of immunotherapy R&D and research investment in the UK. This could include identification of new immunotherapeutic targets and mechanistically driven combination therapy approaches, as well as informing patient selection for clinical trials of emerging immune based cancer therapeutics.

The Platform

The single £9 million award will support a single consortium to develop a sustainable, broad utility platform to deliver actionable insights around patient response and adverse reactions to cancer based immune therapies. The consortium would be led by a multi institutional team of academic experts, incorporating representation from key centres across the UK, and include at least one industry collaborator.

Bids must describe how the research platform will be embedded in an NHS environment involving appropriate high volume patient hospitals, along with details on sample acquisition, analytical infrastructure and practices, and data capabilities.
Applicants should detail how the platform will be of ongoing and broad utility beyond the exemplar project(s) included in the award; how will the platform, its analytic equipment and expertise serve, and be made available to, the wider cancer immunotherapy research community, across both academia and industry, in order to work towards patient benefit?

Exemplar research projects

To demonstrate utility of the platform, applicants will be asked to define and justify an exemplar project or small number of projects to investigate, and to define biomarker signatures predictive of, response, adverse events and resistance to, or resistance to immune based cancer therapies in a defined patient population about to receive a particular immunotherapy (either in clinical practice or trial settings). Applicants should provide a compelling rationale for the exemplar project(s), defining and justifying the cancer type or types and immunotherapeutic modality or modalities to be studied.

Expression of interest (EOI)

Following the workshop, the Office for Life Sciences (OLS) will run an optional EOI) stage. You are invited to submit a short outline of their proposed consortium and bid in order to receive feedback on their proposal. Please note, this EOI stage is not mandatory and proposals to the opportunity will be accepted from eligible applicants not having taken advantage of the EOI stage.


The duration of this award is four years.

Projects must start by 1 August 2024.

Funding available

A total of £9 million (80% FEC including relevant indexing) over four years is available. We expect to fund a single consortium.

The expected spend profile of this funding allows for spend of £4 million (funders contribution) in FY 2024/25 with £5 million (funders contribution) spread evenly during the remainder of the grant. Committing less than £4 million (funders contribution) in FY2024/25 will lead to a corresponding reduction in the total award. Capital equipment is eligible for support.

What we will fund

You can request funding for:

  • interdisciplinary multi institutional proposals
  • proposals that extend access and use of existing hubs of state of the art equipment and build upon them
  • capital equipment purchase (e.g. analytic technology, digital pathology equipment, data infrastructure)
  • technical staff (lab, analytic or data)
  • project management and consumables associated with the creation of the platform and delivery of one or more exemplar projects.

What we will not fund

We will not fund:

  • fees or stipends for postgraduate studentships
  • siloed projects that lack interdisciplinary integration, perspectives or approaches
  • projects that do not embed the research and innovation community in the process
  • consortia that do not include at least one industry partner
  • proposals which seek to deliver a research programme, but do not aim to leave a legacy platform with a plan for how it will attract and deliver further research

Supporting skills and talent

We encourage you to follow the principles of the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers and the Technician Commitment.

International collaboration

UKRI is committed to 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.

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

Find out about getting funding for international collaboration.

How to apply

Expression of interest (EOI) stage

The Office for Life Sciences (OLS) is running an optional expression of interest (EOI) stage. You are encouraged to submit a short outline of your proposed consortium and bid, using the OLS EOI template, and submitting your completed document to (by the EOI closing date, 13 December 2023). OLS will review your EOI submission and provide feedback to you via email.

Important note: The EOI stage is recommended, but not mandatory. Applications will be accepted from eligible applicants that have not taken advantage of the EOI stage.

Full application stage

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.

Watch our research office webinars about the new Funding Service.

You will be able to apply for funding when the opportunity opens 25 January 2024, whether or not you chose to submit an EOI to OLS, however, you are strongly advised to do so.

MRC and OLS reserve the right to decline proposals that do not fit the funding opportunity remit without Panel assessment.

Personal data

Processing personal data

As part of UKRI, we will need to collect some personal information to manage your Funding Service account and the registration of your funding applications.
We will handle personal data in line with UK data protection legislation and manage it securely. For more information, including how to exercise your rights, read our privacy notice.

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

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

We will assess your application using the following process.

Full application stage

Your submitted application will be checked to ensure it is within remit of the funding opportunity.

MRC and OLS reserve the right to decline proposals that do not fit the funding opportunity remit without Panel assessment.

We will not obtain any external peer review comments as part of the assessment process.

Shortlisting and interview

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

We expect interviews to be held on 26 or 27 June 2024.

MRC and OLS will make the final funding decision.


We will give feedback on 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

We will need to share the application (including any personal information that it contains) with The Office for Life Sciences (OLS) so that they can participate in the assessment process.

Find more information on how OLS uses personal information.

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

Assessment areas

The assessment areas we will use are:

  • Vision
  • Approach
  • Applicant and team capability to deliver
  • Platform legacy and sustainability
  • Ethics and responsible research and innovation
  • Resource and cost justification
  • Equality, diversity and inclusion
  • Interdisciplinarity

Further details of assessment questions and criteria will be published when the funding opportunity opens.

Contact details

Get help with your application

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 remit and scientific aspects of this specific funding opportunity please contact

For general questions related to MRC funding including our funding schemes and policy please contact

Any queries regarding the system or the submission of applications through the UKRI 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, include the application reference number, and refrain from contacting more than one mailbox at a time.

You can also find information on submitting an application here: Improving your funding experience.

Sensitive information

If you or a core team member need to tell us something which you wish to remain confidential, email us at

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

Typical examples of confidential information include:

  • the 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

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.

This is the website for UKRI: our seven research councils, Research England and Innovate UK. Let us know if you have feedback.