Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Enhancing biomedical and health-related data and digital platform resources

Start application

Apply for data and digital platform resources that will support, manage, link, share and access data at scale for biomedical, health and care research within the remit of MRC, NIHR or both including:

  • enhancing platforms, environments and their operations
  • capabilities for users, for example data ingress or egress tools, analytics
  • mechanisms to manage findable, accessible, interoperable, reusable (FAIR Principles) data
  • technical approaches to managing interface between secure health and social care data and biomedical research data
  • unique linkage of health and related datasets, for example research generated data, environmental, administrative, and wearable data

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 opportunity you must:

  • be a researcher or specialist employed by an eligible research organisation. This includes eligible individuals with roles or job titles such as Research Software Engineer
  • show that you will direct the project, be actively engaged in the work or both
  • have the relevant expertise and experience to lead or contribute to the development of UK database or digital research infrastructure (DRI) and resources
  • be able to explain how your application fits into the wider UK health and care data landscape to add value in driving towards a more harmonised and simplified UK DRI vision, without being duplicative or increasing complexity for users seeking to work across DRIs

For applicants who 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 that:

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

Host research organisations

Applications can be from a single eligible organisation or a partnership of organisations.

When there are two or more eligible organisations involved, for administrative purposes it is necessary to identify a single lead researcher or specialist as project lead who must be affiliated with the lead research organisation.

However, the balance of activity and leadership across the participants and partner organisations can be equally shared if desirable. What is critical is for the approach to leadership and decision making across multiple organisations to be clearly specified where applicable.

International applicants

In projects within Medical Research Council (MRC) remit, MRC will consider the inclusion of 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. Where applications are solely within National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) remit, NIHR will not fund international applicants.

You must justify in your application why their expertise is required and to provide clear indicators of commitment to delivering the UK landscape vision for DRIs, see Applicant and team capability to deliver. If you wish to include funding for international applicants, you should seek guidance from the MRC programme manager in advance of submitting the application.

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.

You are encouraged to leverage the full strengths of the UK’s diverse research and innovation community from the earliest stages of assembling your teams through to the delivery of awarded projects.

Consideration of equality, diversity and inclusion is important for all applications to MRC for funding, but particular care should be taken for projects taking a team science approach involving multiple co-applicants.

What we're looking for


Access to reliable, annotated, and usable data at scale underpins recent advances in analytical capabilities, such as advanced statistical techniques, large language models and deep learning. The need for harmonised digital research infrastructures (DRIs), services, tools and standards to support biomedical science, health, and care research continues to increase.

This pilot funding opportunity aims to invest in enhancing DRIs, services, tools and standards that are outward facing and create a stimulating environment for all participants, from those delivering a harmonised and seamless data infrastructure ecosystem to those who will utilise this ecosystem to advance UK life sciences, health and care research and innovation.

Applicants should harness the best talent in the UK to deliver upon their proposed vision. More details on the long-term vision and key principles that underpin this investment can be found in the Additional information section. Your application for this funding opportunity does not need to specifically address all these principles. However, it should aim to deliver impact that will contribute towards achieving this long-term vision.

This pilot funding opportunity will be assessed alongside the September 2024 Medical Research Council (MRC) responsive mode opportunities. See more information in ‘How we will assess your application’.


Your application must focus on DRI, services, tools, standards or other resources needed to support research within the remit of MRC, National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) or both.

We are looking for applications that will support, manage, link, share and access data at scale for use in cutting edge data science intensive research, including:

  • support for the development of essential services and capabilities required by users to enable them to work seamlessly and with minimal additional effort within and across DRIs, for example mechanisms of data ingress or export
  • mechanisms to manage data and ensure that it is findable, accessible, interoperable, reusable (FAIR), including work on standards
  • developing and providing next generation software and tools for analytics to enable secure and transparent use of data
  • support for the skilled operational and development staff needed to deliver excellent services for life sciences, health and care researchers
  • support for unique linkage of health and health-related datasets (including, but not limited to, research generated data, environmental, administrative, and wearable data)
  • other support needed to enhance databases, platforms, environments and their operations, including addressing environmental sustainability

Your work should aim to:

  • build upon and add value to current UK DRI investments (such as but not limited to DARE UK, the NHS Data for R&D Programme including investment in the NHS Research Secure Data Environment Network, and HDR UK Health Data Gateway)
  • fit into the wider UK landscape as well as contribute to a greater cohesion and connectivity within and across UK DRI
  • contribute to building data and digital capacity across regions and institutions, beyond the home institutions of the award
  • add value without being duplicative or increasing complexity for users seeking to work within and across DRIs
  • ensure that the development of the proposed solutions incorporates plans for dissemination, adoption, integration and sustainability across the UK and internationally

Public, patient and practitioner involvement and engagement

Any applications involving the processing of personal data must demonstrate how patient, public and practitioner were involved and engaged in the development of the application and in how they will be part of both the governance and individual research activities. The aim is to develop partnership working with the relevant communities which has a positive and meaningful influence on the relevance, shape and impact of the project. Applicants should consider how their plans will respond to current challenges and opportunities for involvement, engagement and participation including reflecting the diversity of the population (particularly those from underserved communities), fostering community-led approaches to research (sharing best practice), developing new methods and approaches, and demonstrating the impact of this agenda on improving health and care research. Projects are also encouraged to align their plans, as well as work collaboratively with other patient or public and community involvement, engagement and participation efforts in their region (and where appropriate nationally) and ensure that, overall, sufficient resource, staff time and senior leadership are provided to support these activities.

For more information on the background of this funding opportunity, see the Additional information section.


The duration of awards is up to five years.

Funding available

The full economic cost (FEC) of your project can be up to £3,750,000.

MRC and NIHR will fund 80% of the FEC.

Where appropriate, projects should explain how they will secure support for the longer-term sustainable delivery of services.

What we will fund

You can request funding for costs such as:

  • directly allocated contributions to salaries of the leadership team and other established specialists and researchers
  • directly incurred salaries of other specialists and research staff where there is a clear justification for their critical role in delivering the activity
  • technology or equipment to provide accessible facilities and capability essential to the mission and to promote open science when not available elsewhere
  • data preservation, data sharing and dissemination (but not publication) costs
  • knowledge transfer and exchange activities, including adoption, evaluation and commercialisation
  • external stakeholder activities including public engagement and involvement
  • travel costs
  • costs for innovative training and capacity building when not available elsewhere
  • costs to improve environmental sustainability of DRIs
  • directly incurred costs for international partners (an exception funded at 100%) may be requested, although we expect most costs to be incurred by UK organisations

The leadership team will have flexibility over use of the directly incurred funding within the total awarded. There are constraints on the use of directly allocated and capital equipment funding.

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

The total of such costs requested for international applicants from developed countries (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 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:

  • biomedical, health and care research (including but not limited to the generation and collection of new data) that is suitable for funding through other mechanisms including routine MRC and NIHR calls for proposals, noting that support may be requested to build on such research where it provides a useful exemplar to test and demonstrate the effectiveness of solutions or identify and resolve issues that may affect subsequent implementation and adoption
  • applications that do not adequately address the current investment and opportunity landscape and fail to clearly set out how the proposed activities will align and work alongside those investments to add value to that landscape in reaching towards the vision set out in this funding opportunity
  • applications that are substantially concerned with the provision of capital equipment (for example, computer hardware and storage). In some exceptional cases computer hardware may be necessary and would need strong justification, but it is envisaged that this opportunity is primarily concerned with data and digital platform non-capital resources
  • routine equipment (that constitutes normal elements of a well-founded service platform or research environment)
  • additional or duplicative equipment that is already part of the existing service or research environment of the applicants except where there are clear arguments that such addition or duplications is required to transform capability,  capacity of the activity or both
  • research involving randomised trials of clinical treatments
  • training (excepting costs for user support and training) and capacity building, including costs for PhD studentships, where alternative sources of funding are generally available
  • publication costs
  • funding to use as a ‘bridge’ between grants
  • NIHR will not fund international applicants

Please note, NIHR is a funder of translational, clinical and applied health and care research and therefore its funding will not be used as part of this funding opportunity to fund work involving animals, animal tissue or both (including data from such studies).

Team project partner

Where appropriate, we encourage you to include one or more project partners in your application, from industry, charities or the wider third sector. In particular, we encourage cross regional collaborations to build data and digital capacity and share expertise.

You may include team 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

Any individual included in your application within a core team cannot also be a project partner.

Any organisation that employs a member of the application core team cannot be a project partner organisation, this includes other departments within the same organisation.

If you are collaborating with someone in your organisation, consider including them in the core team as project co-lead or specialist. They cannot be a project partner.

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

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. 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.

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

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

Find out about getting funding for international collaboration.

How to apply

We are running this funding opportunity on the new UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Funding Service so please ensure that your organisation is registered. 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.

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.

Only the lead research organisation can submit an application to UKRI.

To apply

Select ‘Start application’ near the beginning of this Funding finder page.

  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
    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:

  • 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

Your application may be rejected if images are provided without a descriptive legend in the text box, or are used to replace text that could be input into the text box.

Watch our research office webinars about the new Funding Service.

For more guidance on the Funding Service, see:


Applications should be self-contained, and hyperlinks should only be used to provide links directly to reference information. To ensure the information’s integrity is maintained, where possible, persistent identifiers such as digital object identifiers should be used. Assessors are not required to access links to carry out assessment or recommend a funding decision. Applicants should use their discretion when including reference and prioritise those most pertinent to the application.

Reference should be included in the appropriate question section of the application and be easily identifiable by the assessors for example, (Smith, Research Paper, 2019).

You must not include links to web resources to extend your application.


Medical Research Council (MRC) must receive your application by 18 June 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.

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 the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) so that they can participate in the assessment process and post-award management. For more information on how NIHR uses personal information, visit NIHR Privacy Notice.

Publication of outcomes

MRC, as part of UKRI, will publish the outcomes of this funding opportunity at Board and panel outcomes.

If your application is successful, we will publish some personal information on the UKRI Gateway to Research.

NIHR may publish the outcomes of this funding opportunity in accordance with their outcomes framework.


Word limit: 550

In plain English, provide a summary we can use to identify the most suitable experts to assess your application.

We usually make this summary publicly available on external-facing websites, therefore do not include any confidential or sensitive information. Make it suitable for a variety of readers, for example:

  • opinion-formers
  • policymakers
  • the public, patients, and health and care practitioners
  • 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))
  • specialist
  • grant manager
  • professional enabling staff
  • research and innovation associate
  • technician
  • visiting researcher
  • researcher co-lead (RcL)

Only list one individual as project lead.

Find out more about UKRI’s core team roles in funding applications.

Application questions


Word limit: 550

What are you hoping to achieve with your proposed work?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Explain how your proposed work:

  • is of excellent quality and importance within or beyond the field(s) or area(s)
  • has the potential to advance current understanding, or 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
  • clearly articulate how your work will increase coherence with and across current UK and international DRI investments
  • explain how you will meet the strategic aims of the funders or government set out in the opportunity and considers other stakeholders’ needs and views as relevant
  • demonstrate a clear commitment to collaboration and pro-actively seek to work with others so that the whole becomes greater than the sum of the parts

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

References may be included within this section.


Word limit: 6,000

How are you going to deliver your proposed work?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Explain how you have designed your approach so that it:

  • is effective and appropriate to achieve your objectives
  • is feasible, and comprehensively identifies any risks to delivery and how they will be managed
  • uses a clearly written and transparent methodology (if applicable)
  • summarises the previous work and describes how this will be built upon and progressed (if applicable)
  • will maximise translation of outputs into outcomes and impacts
  • 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
  • provide a project plan including milestones and timelines, in the form of an embedded Gantt chart or similar

In addition to the above, you must clearly articulate in your application how your work will:

  • seek convergence around solutions, not divergence
  • identify and address clear community needs, and engage effectively with the user base, to support and enable cutting-edge biomedical, health and care research as appropriate
  • support reproducible research, with appropriate steps taken to ensure the reliability and robustness of design solutions
  • contribute to building data and digital capacity across regions and institutions, beyond the host organisations of the award
  • where relevant, address needs for patient, public and practitioner involvement and engagement and meet the six UK standards for public involvement
  • offer innovative training opportunities not available elsewhere
  • integrate plans for dissemination and uptake of the DRI, services or tools by the relevant community, including details of proposed access and usage
  • credibly plan for sustainability and legacy beyond the end of UKRI funding. This could include cost recovery models, securing additional funding, development or expansion after the initial period of funding, and address retention of suitable technical staff and user support
  • effectively address and seek to improve environmental sustainability (if applicable)
Infrastructure support

If applying for infrastructure support, we would expect you to provide:

  • details of robust governance (proportionate to the scale and complexity of the activity) such as identifying whether an external advisory group is needed
  • details of training and development of infrastructure staff and users
  • a credible description of the working environment in sufficient detail to understand its scope, services and operation

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

References may be included within this section.

Applicant and team capability to deliver

Word limit: 1,650

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 including supporting specialist careers
  • 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 1,650 words: 1,150 words to be used for R4RI modules (including references) 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

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.

References may be included within this section.

We recognise the diversity of skills necessary for a successful DRI research and delivery team and encourage proposals to recognise the contribution and support the careers of technical professionals and those early in their careers.

UKRI has introduced new role types for funding opportunities being run on the new Funding Service.

For full details, see Eligibility as an individual.

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 named as the project partner contact, cannot be included in your application as a member of the core team, in any core team role.

The project partner organisation cannot be an applicant organisation, where any member of the core team is based. For example, you cannot include a different department based within the applicant organisation as a project partner.

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.

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).

If a detail is entered incorrectly and you have saved the entry, remove the specific project partner record and re-add it with the correct information.

For audit purposes, UKRI requires formal collaboration agreements to be put in place if an award is made.

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 partners’ section. These should be uploaded in English or Welsh only.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Enter the words ‘attachment supplied’ in the text box, or if you do not have any project partners enter ‘N/A’.

What supporting statements we are looking for

Important note: We are only looking for you to provide project partner letters or emails of support from the following:

  • a third-party individual
  • a third-party organisation

Third party means the individual and organisation must not be involved in the application core team. You must ensure that any project partners providing a supporting document, are also added to the ‘Project partners’ section within the Funding Service.

Ensure you have prior agreement from project partners so that, if you are offered funding, they will support your project as indicated in the ‘Project partners’ section.

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

We are not looking for you to provide any letters or emails of support from individuals or organisations included in your application core team (this includes other departments within the same organisation). Any individual or organisation included in your application with a core team role cannot also be a project partner.

Do not include any other statements or any other type of information we have not requested, including letter or emails of support from colleagues simply expressing supportive opinions. We only expect letters or emails of support from your 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 project partner 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 ‘Project partners’ 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 letter or email 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 letter or email 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. If you do not have any project partners, you will be able to indicate this in the Funding Service.

Industry Collaboration Framework (ICF)

Word limit: 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.

Trusted research and innovation (TR&I)

Word limit: 100

Does the proposed work involve international collaboration in a sensitive research or technology area?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Demonstrate how your proposed international collaboration relates to TR&I, including:

  • list the countries your international project co-leads, project partners and visiting researchers, or other collaborators are based in
  • if international collaboration is involved, explain whether this project is relevant to one or more of the 17 areas of the UK National Security and Investment (NSI) Act
  • if one or more of the 17 areas of the UK National Security and Investment (NSI) Act are involved list the areas

If your proposed work does not involve international collaboration, you will be able to indicate this in the Funding Service.

We may ask you to provide additional information about how your proposed project will comply with our approach and expectation towards TR&I, identifying potential risks and the relevant controls you will put in place to help manage these risks.


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.

Only include facilities from the list above. Do not include details of other facilities you plan to use, such as local facilities you plan to use, you should only include the name of a facility you plan to use, when it has been included within the facility information list.

Do not put the facility contact details in your response.

Data management and sharing

Word limit: 1,500

How will you manage and share data collected or resources developed through the proposed project?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Provide a data management plan which should clearly detail how you comply with MRC’s published data management and sharing policies, which includes detailed guidance notes.

Provide your response in the text box following the headings in the MRC data management plan template. You are not required to upload the document to your application.

The length of your plan will vary depending on the type of project:

  • 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

Additional sub-questions (to be answered only if appropriate) relating to research involving:

  • human participants

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.

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.

Resources and cost justification

Word limit: 1,000

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, patient and practitioner involvement and engagement
  • support for preserving, long-term storage, or sharing of data
  • support for international co-leads, demonstrating this is within the 30% costs cap for co-leads from developed countries, India and China. There is no cap on costs requested for international applicants from DAC list countries
  • NHS research costs, when they are associated with NHS studies

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 NIHR Research Delivery Network (RDN) 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 DRN 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 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 Excess Treatment Costs (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 & 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 to create and activate one. See the user guide for instructions.
  3. Request authorisation of your SoECAT.
  4. Once authorised extract the ‘study information’ and the ‘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 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.

Related applications

Word count: 500

Is this application related to another application to MRC or other funding organisation?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

If your application is not related to another, you will be able to indicate this in the Funding Service.

If yes, state your previous reference number and explain how this new application is related to the other application.

If the related application was submitted to another funder you should identify the name of the funder and when you applied.

If this is a resubmission describe how it differs from the previous application and how feedback on the previous application has been considered and acted on.

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

This pilot funding opportunity will be assessed alongside the September 2024 Medical Research Council (MRC) responsive mode funding opportunities. We will assess your application using the following process.

First shortlisting stage: Digital Research Infrastructure Oversight Group

All applications will be assessed by an expert oversight group which will consider fit to scope and provide comments on the technical feasibility. The group will also provide strategic advice towards securing a more cohesive digital research infrastructure landscape.

Membership of this group will be drawn from:

  • MRC’s and National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR)’s research and relevant advisory boards
  • representatives from the NHS Data for R&D Programme
  • external experts in data infrastructure, services and tooling
  • representatives from key stakeholders

Applications that do not fit the scope, are unlikely to be competitive within a rounded portfolio of opportunities or are not technically feasible will be rejected at this stage. Unsuccessful applicants will receive a brief justification for the decision.

Applications that are shortlisted by the oversight group will be prioritised and routed to the MRC responsive mode panel most appropriate to the application.

Peer review

Following initial shortlisting by the oversight group, 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 new Funding Service.

Second shortlisting stage

We 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.


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 at the relevant MRC research board.

The final rankings at research board will be brought together for consolidation, with advice from the oversight group, and a final funding recommendation made by MRC Strategy Board.


We aim to complete the assessment process within 10 months of receiving your application.


If your application was discussed by a panel, 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

We will need to share the application (including 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.

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
  • data management and sharing
  • ethics and responsible research and innovation (RRI)
  • resources and cost justification

Find details of assessment questions and criteria under the ‘Application questions’ heading in the ‘How to apply’ section.

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 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 email:

For general questions related to Medical Research Council (MRC) funding including our funding opportunities and policy please contact

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, 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.

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 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


A UK vision for a transformed DRI landscape

Across the UK, the landscape is changing rapidly, in particular development of the NHS Data for R&D Programme including the secure data environment network, developments arising as a result of reviews and reports in health data science (notably Data Saves Lives and the Goldacre Review) and other funders developing their own research data strategies (for instance, Cancer Research UK). If activities to support, manage, link, share and access data at scale for use in cutting edge data science intensive research are to harness these advances, it is vital that funders such as Medical Research Council (MRC) and National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) can meet these increasing demands for infrastructures (including software) that can generate, share, link, support and analyse data at increasing scale and of increasing complexity.

To guide investments and sign-post directions of travel for the community, we are developing a roadmap driving towards a 2035 vision for a transformational UK digital research infrastructure landscape that will position the UK as a global leader in life science data-intensive research. To achieve this ambitious vision, we will:

  1. Support an ecosystem underpinned and driven by a societal recognition and appetite for use of sensitive data at scale in the public good.
  2. Support recognition of the benefits from making data available for use, and recognition of the harms/lost opportunities from not doing so to support decision on risk that allow data availability.
  3. Develop a skilled and accredited workforce, operating to the highest standards and able to understand, develop, implement, and evaluate data science approaches and tools needed to support our aims.
  4. Facilitate collection and use of data that is truly representative of the UK population through mandating requirements to address issues of equality, diversity and inclusivity, including capturing hard to reach, under-represented, under-served or digitally excluded communities.
  5. Support an understood system of trusted information governance by accredited UK review bodies that meets the ‘Five Safes Framework’ where each decision is trusted by many to reduce duplication of effort while retaining public trust and the confidence of data custodians in decision making:
    • safe data: data is appropriately managed in accredited environments to address confidentiality while securing interoperability and fitness for purpose
    • safe projects: agreed approaches to secure single project review
    • safe people: agreed frameworks to support one-time researcher or research team project review
    • safe settings: researchers or research teams work in and across secure date environments (SDEs) or trusted research environments (TREs) that trust each other through accreditation
    • safe outputs: outputs from analyses are approved to ensure they are non-disclosive using cutting edge decision support tools that can work across multiply different analytical approaches including advanced computational approaches and across multiple simultaneous environments being used in analyses
  6. Ensure that all life sciences data are supported to seek to meet ‘FAIR’ standards at depth, noting importance of metadata standards to support both feasibility and analyses.
  7. Support an ecosystem with a minimal number of mandated tools/systems which support data discovery and access:
    • Data and metadata catalogues for all UK life sciences data
    • support for feasibility studies without the need to secure (sensitive) data access (which may include synthetic data models)
    • directions to open source and science tools, reproducible analytical pipelines and other forms of secure digital repositories of knowledge
    • support to build expert communities of interest and practice
  8. Develop a truly federated data science ecosystem (that is, data doesn’t move for analysis) supported by accredited and evaluated data science tools to enable such from access to analysis to outputs, including systems to enable the development of next generation solutions.
  9. Support a system of accredited TREs or SDEs that host life science relevant data and can seamlessly work together to support data intensive research and development and innovation, including agilely adapting to innovation in both infrastructure design and analytical capabilities.
  10. Support development of systems of indexation through privacy enhancing technologies that enable related individual data at population scale to be linked across multiple data assets at different scales.
  11. Support development of systems of common data models that have community buy-in.
  12. Support development of a system where funders can identify and understand where their funding has been used and made a difference, including to provide reassurance to support new ways of funding data and digital research infrastructures.
  13. Support development of a system where data custodians and public participants can identify and understand where their data has been used and for what, including ensuring acknowledgments of their role in such use for those that require such acknowledgments.

Webinar for potential applicants

We will hold a webinar on 25 April 2024 12:30pm to 1:30pm 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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