Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Developmental pathway funding scheme

Apply for funding to develop and test novel therapeutics, medical devices, diagnostics and other interventions.

You must be based at a research organisation eligible for MRC funding.

Your project should focus on at least one of the following stages of development:

  • early development and design
  • pre-clinical testing
  • early-phase clinical studies and trials (up to phase 2a).

There’s no limit on the amount of funding you can apply for. We will typically fund 80% of the full economic cost.

This is an ongoing scheme with a budget of approximately £30 million a year. Application rounds open three times a year, in February, June and October.

Who can apply

You should be based at an eligible research organisation. These include:

  • higher education institutions
  • UKRI-approved independent research organisations or NHS bodies
  • government-funded organisations
  • MRC institutes
  • MRC units and partnership institutes
  • institutes and units funded by other research councils
  • public sector research establishments.

For more details on institutional and individual eligibility, see the MRC guidance for applicants.

What we're looking for

You can apply for academically-led translational projects that aim to either:

  • improve prevention, diagnosis, prognosis or treatment of significant health needs
  • develop research tools that increase the efficiency of developing interventions.

All diseases and interventions are eligible for support. You can also address global health issues.

Support is available for the following stages of development:

  • early development and design
  • pre-clinical testing of novel interventions
  • early-phase clinical studies and trials of novel interventions (phases 1 and 2a).

Your project can start and finish at any point along the developmental pathway. You can submit follow-on proposals where you can justify the need for continued support.

You can apply for funding for work on novel:

  • candidate therapeutic entities (for example, drug discovery)
  • vaccines for infectious or non-infectious disease
  • biologics (antibodies, peptides, proteins)
  • advanced therapeutics (for example, gene therapy and T-cell therapy)
  • regenerative medicine approaches
  • repurposing clinical studies or using existing therapies for new indications
  • medical devices
  • digital healthcare, app development or artificial intelligence
  • diagnostics (including biomarker validation)
  • medical imaging technology
  • surgical techniques or tools
  • behavioural and psychological interventions
  • radiotherapy and radiation protocols
  • interventions that benefit health in low and middle-income countries.

This funding opportunity will not support:

  • fundamental or investigative research not linked to a development plan (supported by the MRC science areas)
  • clinical studies where the main aim is to investigate disease mechanism (supported by the MRC science areas)
  • late-phase clinical trials (supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) efficacy and mechanism evaluation and NIHR health technology assessment programmes)
  • late-phase global health trials (supported by applied global health).

Learn about the:

Length and limit of funding

There is no limit to the amount of funding you can apply for or the length of your project. You should instead justify the timescale and resources needed in the context of the proposed work.

Collaborations

We encourage working with charities or industry partners where these partnerships can add value to the project.

Collaborators may add value by giving access to:

  • expertise
  • technologies
  • reagents
  • funding.

Please note that collaboration is not a prerequisite for application.

Applications involving industry collaboration must complete an MRC Industry Collaboration Framework additional document. This should be submitted with your outline application.

Please note that we do not fund the work of your industrial partners.

How to apply

You must first submit an outline proposal using the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system.

When applying, select:

  • council: MRC
  • document type: outline proposal
  • scheme: Biomedical catalyst DPFS outline
  • call/type/mode: Developmental Pathway Funding Scheme (DPFS) outline July 2022.

You can find advice on completing your application in the Je-S handbook.

You must use our outline case for support form (DOCX, 271KB) for your Je-S application. Please read our guidance for outline stage applicants (PDF, 228KB) before applying.

If successful at the outline stage, you will be invited to submit a full application. We will send you guidance on completing a full application at this next stage.

The minimum time from outline submission to full decision is approximately 26 weeks. However, applicants can choose to defer their full submission by one round which would add approximately 16 weeks.

How we will assess your application

Your application will be assessed in a two-stage process. Your outline proposal will first be considered by an independent panel of experts.

See the developmental pathway funding scheme panel membership.

The panel will assess your proposal on:

  • the importance of the clinical need you are addressing
  • the strength of the rationale and supporting evidence for why the proposed solution will meet the targeted need
  • deliverability of the project
  • an appropriate strategy for intellectual property and downstream commercialisation or clinical adoption.

If successful, you will be invited to submit a full proposal. This will undergo an external peer review before a further and more detailed review by the panel.

All applicants will receive feedback from the assessment process within eight weeks of the panel meeting.

You can find out more about how you will be assessed in the developmental pathway funding scheme assessment criteria.

Contact details

Get help with developing your proposal

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.

Ask about this funding opportunity

Email: dpfsanddcs@mrc.ukri.org

We encourage you to get in touch with the relevant programme manager to discuss your proposal ideas.

Small molecules and other drugs

Dr Adam Babbs

Email: adam.babbs@mrc.ukri.org

Biomarkers, diagnostics and psychological therapies

Dr Tim Ellis

Email: tim.ellis@mrc.ukri.org

Medical and therapeutic devices

Dr Agnes Leong

Email: agnes.leong@mrc.ukri.org

Advanced therapeutics: vectors, gene, nucleic acid and siRNA therapies

Dr Penny Morton

Email: penny.morton@mrc.ukri.org

Antibodies, proteins and peptide therapeutics

Dr Alex Phillips

Email: alexandra.phillips@mrc.ukri.org

Digital health, software development, artificial intelligence tools, imaging, and regenerative medicine

Dr Suzanne Rix

Email: suzanne.rix@mrc.ukri.org

Drug and small molecule repurposing studies

Dr Sophie Liddell

Email: sophie.liddell@mrc.ukri.org

Get help with applying through Je-S

Email

jeshelp@je-s.ukri.org

Telephone

01793 444164

Opening times

Je-S helpdesk opening times

Additional info

This scheme was established in 2008 and is run by MRC. It is a key part of the MRC translational research strategy and supports the translation of fundamental discovery into benefits to human health.

Supporting documents

Outline case for support form (DOCX, 271KB)

Guidance for outline stage applicants (PDF, 228KB)

Small molecule supplementary form (DOCX, 70KB)

MRC guidance for applicants

This is the integrated website of the seven research councils, Research England and Innovate UK.
Let us know if you have feedback or would like to help us test new developments.