Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: MRC biomedical data science leadership awards: invited full

Apply for 24 months’ funding to support those improving the inclusion, quality, and recognition of data science within biomedical research.

Funding is available to understand support for biomedical data science. Awards may evaluate innovations capable of improving career offers, accelerating positive shifts in research culture, or advancing leadership for biomedical data science.

Awards will seed engagement, coordination, and evidence that can facilitate shared UK-wide changes to improve biomedical data science.

The full economic cost (FEC) can be up to £500,000. Medical Research Council (MRC) will fund 80% of the FEC.

Who can apply

You can only apply for this funding opportunity if we have invited you to do so following a successful outline application.

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

All applications must identify a lead (the project lead) based at an eligible UK research organisation. The project lead, along with their organisation will be responsible for submitting the grant application to UKRI. The lead should have a collaborative and inclusive mindset, alongside excellent leadership and management abilities.

Where co-leads are required, responsibilities and approaches to management (team and project) can be described in the ‘Team and project management’ section of the application but a single administrative project lead (and lead organisation) are required to lead the application submission.

We encourage diversity of thought and knowledge, and welcome multidisciplinary and team approaches to best assure lasting impact and reach. All contributions should be appropriately recognised and resourced using all eligible Funding Service roles necessary.

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 the project and the applicants will be provided, including mentorship and career development for early career researchers

Who is not eligible to apply

A research organisation may submit only one application as lead organisation (employer of a project lead). A research organisation may be included as an employer of roles beyond project lead on any number of applications.

International applicants

You can include international applicants as project co-leads (international) if they provide expertise not available in the UK and make a major intellectual contribution to the design or conduct of the project. You must justify in your application why their expertise is required within the ‘Applicant and team capability to deliver’ section.

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

Due to the need to align all awards, projects are required to start before 15 October 2024. Mitigations to the impact of this required start date on equality, diversity and inclusion should be described in the ‘Organisational support’ section of the application.

Find out more about equality, diversity and inclusion at UKRI.

What we're looking for


Funded activity will develop innovation and evidence to improve how biomedical research includes, resources and recognises high-quality data science.

Applications to this opportunity must include and support those leading positive change for biomedical data science within their research organisations and beyond. The funding responds to MRC’s Biomedical Data Science Review. The review highlights the need for shared responses that link across four challenges for biomedical data science:

  • developing biomedical data science leadership
  • better access, recognition and support for multidisciplinary or multisector biomedical data science teams
  • improving quality, standards and professionalisation of data science within biomedical research
  • inclusive approaches to growing biomedical data science skills capacity, including improving the access and career offer

In this context, data science is defined as the use of scientific methods, and related processes and systems, to extract knowledge and insights from structured and unstructured data.

A broad definition of biomedical data is also used, ranging from omics to microscopy to medical imaging to population cohort to environmental data.

Applications made within this opportunity will further understanding of how to drive persistent shifts in practice, develop the support for consistent and shared responses across multiple stakeholders and grow the evidence case for UK-wide investment in biomedical data science support. Longer term, we welcome partnership to explore possibilities for a shared national initiative that helps all stakeholders and all disciplines to work together in strengthening the research culture and career offer from UK biomedical data science.


We will support community-driven explorations of the approaches for supporting high quality biomedical data science contributions. In this context, a broad definition of biomedical data science contributions is encouraged, covering the roles, expertise and functions described within Figures 1 and 2 of the MRC Review.

In scope activities for funding include:

  • evaluating approaches for the inclusion, resourcing, development and mobility of data science skills at any career stage for biomedical research
  • evaluating approaches or interventions for networking, collaboration, multidisciplinarity, recognition and reward of different data science roles, specialisms, and contributions as part of biomedical research
  • evaluating the flexibility and permeability of different professional development approaches, career models and offers from biomedical research for diverse data science contributions
  • evaluating the impact of different resourcing, management, organisational models on biomedical data science capacity
  • evaluating the impact of different commercialisation or partnership (including legal and contract) approaches on data science skills for biomedical research

This is not an exhaustive list. The primary motivation of all activity must be to maximise learning that can be applied broadly towards improving the research culture and career offer for biomedical data science across the UK.

Evaluation can include understanding research, skills and careers, economic or equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) impact. All evaluation should develop the evidence for where collaboration or future investment can shift the approach to biomedical data science across multiple stakeholders and deliver lasting increases in value for the UK.

Eligible activities can include engagement internationally, or across sectors and disciplines.

Funding is available for this 24-month pilot stage only and awards do not guarantee further follow-on funding. Although award holders will be included as key stakeholders in developing and advising next steps, all future activity remains subject to progress and final initiative budget and delivery model remain to be confirmed.

Within scope activities

Funded outputs should contribute progress in any of the following:

  • mapping of existing excellence or responsibility boundaries for UK biomedical data talent across regions, organisations or sectors
  • defining and evidencing the priority barriers for different and diverse data science contributions within UK biomedical research
  • demonstrating optimal approaches for developing (and sustaining) excellence; including applying learning from across sectors, disciplines, and other specialist skills or career pathways to biomedical data science
  • evaluating different ways of working to understand where and when innovative approaches or interventions targeting data science capacity will add value to UK biomedical research. Including the potential for spillovers within organisations, between stakeholders or across regions
  • developing and understanding the assurance needed to implement or scale change for biomedical data talent or biomedical data science across multiple organisations

Post award, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) hopes to provide a further total of £200,000 to facilitate networking, learning and community influence across all awards. Examples of potential collective activities include:

  • advancing evaluative approaches for data science skills, competencies and careers that is useful to measure impact but remains flexible across biomedical data science, recognises the breadth of different roles and contributions, is resilient to rapidly changing data or biomedical technologies, and is portable for use across the different communities and sectors
  • specifying shared challenges faced by data science talent across the UK biomedical research system and progressing the evidence case for taking shared action or for specific interventions
  • understanding the costs and benefits across stakeholders to different potential intervention strategies
  • developing and agreeing a roadmap for curriculum change (or equivalent) that will facilitate multiple stakeholders, including funders, to work together and best support biomedical data talent in the UK

Potential network funding will be delivered separately, is mentioned for awareness only and does not need to be considered in response to this outline or following full opportunity. Any follow-on funding to this opportunity is subject to change.

Out of scope activities

Activities not eligible for funding include:

  • where bridging or extending existing training or research activities is the primary motivation
  • where developing or delivering new training offers is the primary motivation
  • where output or learning is inward facing and is difficult to translate to wider national or international biomedical research activity

These applications will be rejected as out of scope.


The duration of awards within the pilot stage is 24 months. Projects are required to start before 15 October 2024. Mitigations to the impact of this required start date on equality, diversity and inclusion should be described in the ‘Organisational support’ section of the application.

Funding available

All applications should be costed based on the FEC necessary to deliver the activity.

The FEC of your pilot project can be between £250,000 and £500,000. MRC will fund 80% of the FEC (£200,000 to £400,000).

What we will fund

You can request funding for costs such as:

  • a contribution to the salary of the project lead and co-leads
  • support for other posts such as research and technical staff
  • research or other consumables
  • equipment under £10,000
  • travel costs
  • data preservation, data sharing and dissemination costs
  • estates and indirect costs

The justification for all eligible fund types will be considered within this opportunity.
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:

  • equipment costing over £10,000
  • publication costs
  • patent costs and other IP costs

Costs not covered by the guidance are ineligible for funding unless written confirmation of exemption has been provided by MRC. Contact details are provided below.

Team project partner

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
  • recruitment of people as research participants
  • providing samples, such as human tissue, for the project

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 with 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.

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

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. 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

You can only apply for this funding opportunity if we have invited you to do so following a successful outline application. The start application link will be provided via email.

  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. You should use your discretion when including references and prioritise those most pertinent to the application.

References 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.


We must receive your application by 7 May 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.

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.


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:

  • policymakers
  • the public
  • 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))
  • researcher co-lead (RcL)
  • specialist
  • professional enabling staff
  • research and innovation associate
  • technician
  • visiting researcher

Only list one individual as project lead.

All awards must include resource or in-kind support for an accounting officer and will require annual reporting of spend.

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

Application questions

Changes from the outline stage

Word limit: 500

If applicable, how has your application changed since the outline stage?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

You do not need to repeat detailed information added in response to the additional full stage questions or criteria.

Please summarise any changes you’ve made to the information previously provided at outline stage. You may also provide additional information in response to feedback received from the outline panel here.


Word limit: 800

What are you hoping to achieve with your proposed work?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Ensure you provide:

  • evidence of a thorough understanding of current biomedical research landscape
  • beneficiaries are clearly specified and proposed work is of excellent quality and timely given current trends, context, and needs
  • a clear, compelling and feasible pathway towards persistent improvement in the experience of others engaging with biomedical data science

Explain how your proposed work:

  • has the potential to advance current understanding, or generate new knowledge, thinking or discovery within or beyond the field or area
  • targets at least one of the following priorities:
    • understanding ways of working that improve the access into, resourcing for, or the career offer from biomedical research to more of those skilled in data science
    • understanding ways of working that improve the development and permeability of biomedical science to data skills across multiple career stages, disciplines, organisational structures and sectors
    • develops collaboration, recognition, inclusion or leadership approaches that will better support team and multidisciplinary biomedical data science
    • improving the evaluation of innovations with potential to drive persistent improvements in the capacity, quality and standards of biomedical data science
  • has sustained impacts for world-leading research, society, the economy, or the environment, including:
    • describing relevant stakeholder roles, responsibilities and why the work is timely and capable of influence
    • specifying the beneficiaries and identifying the potential direct or indirect benefits
    • assuring the approach to evaluation and engagement is sufficient to support change or seed necessary collaborations for future impact

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: 1,750

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, ensuring:

  • methods, approaches or decision-making throughout the project are clearly specified, justified with reference to the objectives and supported with required resources
  • chosen approaches provide strong assurance of impact; including:
    • alignment with other relevant activity (internal and external)
    • the approaches for monitoring and evaluation are optimal to influence and benefit relevant and defined stakeholder groups
    • management of sustainability
  • the design of project approaches and outputs clearly demonstrates their value to others and assures impact beyond the end of the award
  • the position of equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) within proposed activity is fully considered and approaches to EDI are exemplary
  • approaches are cognizant and resilient to the potential for complex, rapidly changing technologies and research landscape(s)

Describe your project plan and explain how you have designed your approach so that it:

  • summarises the previous work and describes how this will be built upon and progressed (if applicable)
  • is effective and appropriate to achieve your objectives
  • is feasible, and comprehensively identifies any risks to project delivery and how they will be managed (please note, governance is covered in separate application question below)
  • demonstrates access to the appropriate services, facilities, infrastructure, or equipment to deliver the proposed work
  • uses a clearly written and transparent methodology (if applicable)
  • defines stakeholder or community groups and detail approaches for their inclusion in design, delivery and outputs of projects
  • clearly describes how the project outputs will be used by and add value to others, including any activity to support this
  • provides a detailed and comprehensive project plan including milestones and timelines in the form of a Gantt chart or similar

The primary motivation of activities must be to understand or boost optimal approaches for supporting biomedical data science. Activity should help those with great ideas to test them out, to accelerate or scale-up positive change, or to increase support for those leading the way. You have freedom to decide how this is best achieved but learning must be relevant to improving the research culture and career offer for biomedical data science across the UK.

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.

Evidence of existing commitment

Word limit: 750

Can you evidence existing organisational commitment to improving research culture for biomedical data science?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Ensure you provide:

  • strong evidence of a thorough knowledge of the existing barriers and opportunities for multiple stakeholders in biomedical data science
  • clear and specific steps already taken to develop knowledge, methods or interventions for community improvement of data science practices or culture
  • clear description of existing direct commitment to improving biomedical data science, or description of how existing activity or insight can be transported to biomedical research contexts

Specify and evidence any existing activity or approaches from within the lead or partnering research organisations that are designed to advance any of the following within UK biomedical research:

  • improving the access, professional development and career offer from biomedical research to those skilled in data science, at both team and leadership level
  • improving the quality, standards and professionalisation of biomedical data science across multiple research teams
  • improving equality, diversity, inclusion and embedding multidisciplinary ways of working for biomedical data science across multiple research teams
  • improving the inclusion, recognition, resourcing and reward of multiple different biomedical data science roles and contributions (some of whom may not currently feature on UKRI research grant support)
  • improving career tracks that are flexible and can support career mobility for biomedical data science skills across career stages and offer permeability across disciplines, organisational structures and sectors
  • improving the approach to planning and resourcing of data (and related activity) as a primary, lasting, and reusable biomedical research output
  • improving the benefits from industry engagement and efficient delivery of academic-industry collaboration for biomedical data science

Evidence must be limited to established existing activity but can cover any steps taken at individual, group, organisational or community level.

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 or partnerships, have:

  • the necessary skills, experience or expertise to deliver the full scale and impact of the application
  • the ability to combine technical and specialist knowledge with the leadership and management skills necessary to deliver a complex and potentially multidisciplinary multistakeholder project
  • specified approaches and ways of working that provide strong assurance of a positive research environment and benefit for the 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.

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

For full details, see Eligibility as an individual.


Word limit: 1,000

How will governance, team management and decision-making assure maximum benefit to those engaging with the project?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Ensure you provide:

  • evidence that the decision-making process is clear and effective throughout the project and allows efficient redirection where required to benefit project outputs and impact
  • decision-making approaches that are inclusive and can identify and effectively manage where there are a range of interests and agendas within stakeholder groups and partners
  • there are clear links between monitoring, evaluation and decision-making and efficient protocols for (re-)prioritisation are described that are expected to maximise project impact and its resilience to change
  • a strong approach to benefits realisation is described which is informed by stakeholder engagement and co-design where appropriate
  • robust governance approaches which are equitable, proportional and actionable
  • exemplary and inclusive approaches to team management and reward are described

You should specify the approach to managing the project, including steps to ensure the project is outward-facing, responsive and impactful in potentially complex or rapidly changing landscapes. You should also describe the steps taken to maintain assurance that the project is rewarding for all team members and contributors.

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

Organisational support

Word limit: 600

How will organisations contribute to support the delivery and sustained impact of the proposed work?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Provide a statement of support that includes:

  • clear specifications of contributions from hosting research organisations and project partners
  • a strong institutional commitment at multiple levels of the organisation to support the project team and maximise the lasting impact of the project.
  • in-kind or other contributions that clearly add significant value to the project and its outputs
  • a research environment that clearly will enable and enhance the success of the project
  • a strong commitment to evaluating new ways of working, including defined tolerances to risk, (de-)implementation costs and sustainability costs

You should demonstrate commitment to engaging in cross-award activities, promoting pilot outputs and championing diverse biomedical data science communities.

Commitment should specify the buy-in from senior level staff within the lead organisation, and partner organisations as required.

Working in partnership

Word limit: 750

How will external organisations and stakeholders be engaged and supported to add value to the project?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Demonstrate how you will engage with external organisations and stakeholders, including:

  • the planned approach for identifying and selecting partners is justified by the potential value added to the project and partner
  • planned partnerships are clearly specified and responsibilities defined for each partner
  • potential risks and benefits for each partner are fully considered and supported by exemplary approaches to managing partnerships
  • clear and robust processes to managing planned and unplanned changes to partners, partner commitments and partner contributions
  • inclusive approaches to partnership development and a clear plan for impact beyond the lifetime of the award

You should specify a strong approach to engaging partner organisations and any stakeholders in mutual benefit along the entire lifespan of the project. If there are other partners and stakeholders with whom you hope to engage, but have not yet done so, describe who these are and how you plan to engage with them.

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

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.

If you do not have any project partners, you will be able to indicate this in the Funding Service.

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

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

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’.

Industry Collaboration Framework (ICF)

Word count: 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.

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.

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.

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 Trusted Research and Innovation, 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.

Data management and sharing

Word limit: 1,500

How will you manage and share data collected or acquired through the proposed research?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Provide a data management plan which should clearly detail how you will 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 study being undertaken:

  • 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
  • thorough consideration and embedding of ethical and responsible research and innovation throughout project design, delivery and legacy
  • relevant ethical or responsible research and innovation considerations are identified and management approaches are clearly specified
  • approaches are selected to assure ethical and responsible research and innovation represent or improve upon best practice

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
  • resources and costs are appropriate and well justified to support the full and successful delivery of the project
  • clear evidence that sufficient resource is provided to realise and sustain the potential benefits of the project
  • assurance that all contributions to the project are identified, recognised and appropriately resourced

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 and patient 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
  • MRC unit transition applicants – briefly summarise the resources you will receive for this work from unit funding which are not being requested as part of this application. Use the current unit costing approach to explain these and state the total cost of your proposed work, including unit resources and costs requested from this application

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 National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network (CRN) 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 confirm that:

  • you will carry out your research in the UK
  • it is intended for the NIHR CRN 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 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.

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

We will assess your application using the following process. This will be a two-stage assessment process (outline and full).

Applications submitted to this opportunity will have been invited to do so by an expert panel (outline stage). Applicants invited to submit full applications may receive outline panel feedback and this will be made available to applicants for the opening of the full opportunity. The applications previously received at outline stage will not be considered in the assessment or scoring of full stage applications. Full stage applications may differ from those submitted to outline stage.

Full stage applications will also be considered by an expert panel (full stage) to provide a final funding recommendation. The full panel will evaluate applications with reference to the assessment criteria given below and give a consensus score out of ten.

Applications will be ranked by consensus score to inform funding recommendations.

Applications not meeting the quality threshold (determined by panel ranking within consensus scores) will be unsuccessful.

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

Peer review

There will be no expert review beyond the outline and full panel meetings.

Timescales and feedback

We will endeavour to provide feedback for applications unsuccessful at full panel but this will be dependent upon available office resource and the level of demand.

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

Principles of assessment

We support the San Francisco declaration on research assessment (DORA) and recognise the relationship between research assessment and research integrity.

Find out about UKRI principles of assessment and decision making.

Assessment criteria

The criteria we will use to assess your application are:

  • vision
  • approach
  • existing commitment
  • applicant and team capability to deliver
  • management
  • ethics and responsible research and innovation
  • organisational support
  • working in partnership
  • resources and cost justification


Where applications are considered of equivalent quality by panel assessment (equal consensus scores), a portfolio approach may be considered for shortlisting that considers the following ranked criteria:

  • level of innovation within intervention or evaluation proposed
  • range of research communities, technical specialists, technical professionals or technical contributions covered within the portfolio of awards
  • diversity of data science functions represented within the applicant team
  • place and geographical reach of anticipated impact
  • resources requested to do the project

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 UK Research and Innovation (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 please contact

For general questions related to 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.

Find out more 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


Further background to this opportunity can be found in the MRC review of the opportunity of biomedical data science.

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.

Panel at outline stage (February 2024)

Rachael Gooberman-Hill, University of Bristol (Chair)

Anders Mälarstig, Pfizer (Sweden)

Andrea Townsend-Nicholson, University College London

Annette Bramley, N8 Research Partnership

Brian Marsden, University of Oxford

Catherine Brooksbank, European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL)

Celia van Gelder, Health-RI

Gabin Kayumbi, The Alan Turing Institute

Iain Styles, Queen’s University Belfast

Joanna Betts, GlaxoSmithKline (UK)

John Whittaker, MRC Biostatistics Unit (University of Cambridge)

Kelly Vere, University of Nottingham

Keren Carss, AstraZeneca (UK)

Lene Krøl Andersen, Technical University of Denmark

Luisa Cutillo, University of Leeds

Mahsa Shabani, Ghent University

Matthew Forshaw, Newcastle University

Michele Darrow, Rosalind Franklin Institute

Rachel Hilliam, The Open University

Ralitsa Madsen, University of Dundee

Rebecca Wilson, University of Liverpool

Ritesh Krishna, IBM Research Europe – UK

Sally James, University of York

Simon Hettrick, University of Southampton

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