Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: FAPESP and UKRI (MRC) artificial intelligence (AI) for health

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This funding opportunity allows UK-based researchers and researchers in the state of São Paulo, Brazil to jointly apply for funding to support research projects addressing artificial intelligence (AI) for biomedical and health applications that are relevant to Brazil.

Both MRC and FAPESP will make up to £3 million available for this initiative for two types of grants ranging from pilot-type projects for young and early-career researchers to larger projects for more established groups.

Applications must be submitted to FAPESP, find the full details of the funding opportunity on the FAPESP website. A supplementary application will be required by MRC following the FAPESP submission.

Who can apply

For support under this funding opportunity, applicants and organisations must be eligible to apply for funding from their respective country’s funding agency. See the full funding opportunity details of the scheme and apply on the FAPESP website.

UK-based researchers

Before applying for funding through FAPESP, check the Eligibility of your organisation.
and your Eligibility as an individual, further detail can be found below.

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

  • be a researcher employed by an eligible research organisation
  • show that you will direct the project and be actively engaged in the work
  • focus your application on addressing AI for biomedical and health

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

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

We recognise the diversity of skills necessary for a successful research team and encourage applications to recognise the contribution of technical professionals.

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

Aims and objectives

The aims and objective of this funding opportunity is to deliver significant three-year research funding for internationally competitive and innovative collaborative partnerships between researchers from state of São Paulo and the UK to enable the pursuit of shared research interests.

FAPESP and MRC wish to support proposals with the aim of:

  • supporting collaborative, internationally competitive research projects
  • enhancing existing partnerships and developing new partnerships between the UK and the state of São Paulo in the area of AI for biomedical and health applications
  • supporting the mobility and exchange of UK and Brazilian researchers of the state of São Paulo to enhance links between researchers in both countries and state of São Paulo
  • strengthening the strategic relationship between the UK and state of São Paulo


FAPESP and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) wish to support the development of new research collaborations, as well as providing funding to enhance existing collaborations. Collaborations should leverage the strengths of researchers in both countries to address key areas of biomedical and health research interests, including one or more of the following:

  • using AI to generate new medical research and human health insights that will:
    • further our understanding of disease and determinants of health including socioeconomic factors
    • improve disease prediction and diagnosis, thinking beyond incremental optimisation of current systems
  • application of AI that were:
    • developed for a different purpose to be applied in a health context
    • developed with a focus on a different nation and could now be applied in a Brazilian context to improve health research and health outcomes in Brazil
  • management and improvement of health data (including addressing limitations of AI when dealing with incomplete or small health data sets and consideration of ethical issues)
  • imputation of data and analyses

Projects that do not have a biomedical and health focus are out of scope for this funding opportunity. For example, this includes projects that:

  • aim to improve healthcare service delivery
  • are focused on evaluation and implementation of an AI technology
  • intend to use AI to increase efficiency of a process but not through generation of significant biomedical and health insight

You are expected to justify the suitability of AI technologies used and how this will address the health need set out in your project. This should include both technical and ethical considerations.

All applications should embed the principles of responsible research and innovation, engaging with relevant stakeholders (for example relevant regulatory bodies) as appropriate and considering issues of bias, trust, privacy, security and ethics.

FAPESP and UKRI recognise the importance of stakeholder and disciplinary diversity across different expertise and skills for delivering successful and impactful research. We encourage research teams to engage with as well as recognise the contribution of different disciplines and technical professionals including but not limited to:

  • AI experts
  • health researchers
  • medical practitioners
  • social scientists
  • data owners
  • end users
  • relevant others (for example, the public, patients, and regulators)

You are encouraged to include plans to strengthen research capacity within your application, particularly considering the development of the next generation of top researchers.


Projects must have a duration of three years, starting in February 2025 and be completed by the end of January 2028. Please note that the project duration must be the same in both the UK and Brazil.

Funding available

Both MRC and FAPESP will make up to £3 million of funding available for this initiative and grant sizes will vary according to the needs of each partnership. FAPESP will support the São Paulo element of the grant and MRC the UK element.

Two different scales of funding are available, reflecting our interest in supporting both established research collaborations as well as new partnerships:

  • partnership building grants: UKRI will provide up to £100,000. FAPESP’s funding will follow the rules and instructions for Regular Research Awards standards, with exceptionalities, over a three-year period. These grants will:
    • support new or early stage partnerships
    • pilot studies to strengthen collaborative funding bids through other routes (for example the UKRI-FAPESP Lead Agency Funding Agreement)
    • provide funding for costs such as travel and subsistence for exchange or mobility activities including bench fees where necessary and consumables and other research costs (that are directly associated with the period of the researcher exchange)
  • research grants: MRC and FAPESP will provide funding over a three year period. MRC’s funding will follow UKRI’s standard funding rules and FAPESP’s funding will follow the rules and instructions for Thematic Research Awards standard, with exceptionalities. These grants are for:
    • support for full scale research activities across Brazil and the UK
    • funding for costs in each country that follow the funders standard rules, including but not limited to research costs, travel and subsistence for exchange or mobility activities, capacity building, costs of workshops and meetings.

See the full funding opportunity details and apply on the FAPESP website.

How to apply

This funding opportunity will be administered by FAPESP on behalf of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). All applications must be submitted by the Brazilian project lead (state of São Paulo), in English, to FAPESP through the SAGe system.

The closing date for the submission of applications is 28 June 2024.

See the full funding opportunity information via FAPESP.

Invite only UKRI application

After you have completed the submission of your completed application to FAPESP, you will receive an email invitation to submit a copy of your application through the UKRI Funding Service.

You will be asked to upload a PDF of your completed FAPESP application to your Funding Service application, as well as details of UK and Brazilian researchers involved in the collaborative application.

Full details of the questions you will be asked to complete within the Funding Service, will be published by 28 June 2024.

You will receive an invitation to apply to the Funding Service within one week of your FAPESP submission.

How we will assess your application

FAPESP will be leading the administration of this funding opportunity, for full details please consult the FAPESP funding opportunity page.

Contact details

Get help with your FAPESP application

Contact details

This funding opportunity is led by FAPESP please direct any requests for information and questions or queries on this by emailing

MRC contact

Vanessa O’Sullivan, International Programme Manager (MRC lead)


Invitation only via the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Funding Service from 28 June 2024

Get help with your invite only Funding Service application from 28 June 2024 onwards.

Important note: The Helpdesk is committed to helping users of the Funding Service as effectively and as quickly as possible. In order to manage cases at peak volume times, the Helpdesk will triage and prioritise those queries with an imminent opportunity deadline or a technical issue. Enquiries raised where information is available on the Funding Finder opportunity page and should be understood early in the application process (for example, regarding eligibility or content/remit of an opportunity) will not constitute a priority case and will be addressed as soon as possible.

Contact details

For help and advice on costings and writing your proposal please contact your research office in the first instance, allowing sufficient time for your organisation’s submission process.

For questions related to this specific funding opportunity 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.

Find out more information on submitting an application.

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