Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: MRC Centre of Research Excellence: round one invited full application

Apply for MRC Centre of Research Excellence (MRC CoRE) funding to tackle complex and interdisciplinary health challenges.

You must be invited to apply for this stage of the funding opportunity.

You must:

  • be a researcher employed by an eligible research organisation
  • meet individual eligibility requirements
  • have submitted an MRC CoRE round one outline application and, after successful assessment, have been invited to submit a full application

MRC CoREs will be funded for up to 14 years. Your award will initially last for seven years, with a further seven years based on successful review.

You can request up to £26,500,000 at 100% full economic cost (FEC) for the first seven years.

Who can apply

Before applying to MRC for funding, please check the following:

Who is eligible to apply

To be eligible to apply for this opportunity you must:

  • be a researcher or technologist employed by an eligible research organisation
  • show that you will direct the project or be actively engaged in the work
  • have the relevant expertise and experience to lead or contribute to an MRC CoRE and its research culture
  • focus your application on tackling complex and multi or interdisciplinary health challenges
  • be part of a team that submitted an MRC CoRE round one outline application and, after successful assessment, have been invited to submit a full application to the second stage of this opportunity – additional team applicants can be included that were not in the outline application
  • applicants can be from a single eligible organisation or a partnership of eligible organisations
  • because of the long duration of MRC CoREs applicants do not require a contract for the full duration of the award. By submitting the application the research organisation is confirming support for the named applicants, that they are capable of taking part in the MRC CoRE and will accept its relevant terms and conditions

Applicants and other members of the team

International applicants

While international organisations cannot lead an application, you can include international co-investigators and it is possible for an international researcher to apply as part of the leadership team. We expect international co-investigators to offer expertise or facilities not available in the UK and to provide clear indicators of commitment to the MRC CoRE.

Researcher co-investigator role

Find out more information about the role of researcher co-investigator.

Any eligible applicant that would have previously been identified as a researcher co-investigator should use the co-investigator role for this application.

In this opportunity you do not need to provide additional supporting information for any researcher co-investigators involved.

Equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI)

We are committed to achieving equality of opportunity for all funding applicants. We encourage applications from a diverse range of researchers and technologists.

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

Read MRC’s guidance on flexible working and career breaks. Applicants can also find out more about MRC’s current EDI initiatives and equality, diversity and inclusion at UKRI.

Diversity is one of the core MRC values and we are committed to creating inclusive environments that encourage excellence in research through good equalities practice. We strongly encourage applications from currently underrepresented groups including female and ethnic minority researchers, and researchers with disabilities or long-term conditions.

We expect MRC CoREs and their leadership to be diverse. We encourage the leadership model to be inclusive, diverse, and creative, with rotation or succession of positions as appropriate.

What we're looking for


We are looking for challenge-led applications to create new MRC CoREs that focus on distinct, disruptive, multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary or both activity with the potential to prove transformative to biomedical research, health research or both within 14 years. They should be aligned to the MRC mission.

These major investments should be outward facing, harnessing the best talent in the UK to deliver upon their proposed vision and providing a stimulating environment to train the next generation of researchers and technologists.

Applications can be from a single research organisation or in partnership across multiple organisations. Applications may include project partners.

What types of challenges should MRC CoREs tackle?

MRC CoREs will support bold and ambitious research focused on a defined challenge. Tackling such challenges will be transformational to biomedical research, health research or both and will enhance approaches to the prevention, early detection, diagnosis, and treatment of disease, improving health and wellbeing for all.

MRC CoREs will be beacons of excellence in research culture, equality, diversity, and inclusion, leadership models, and innovation.

MRC CoRE challenges will:

  • be bold, ambitious, and innovative, and address a gap or opportunity which is not being adequately addressed elsewhere
  • address substantial unmet needs in understanding or modifying human health and disease
  • have major strategic objectives achievable within the 14-year timeframe which, if achieved, will transform the research field or area of health research
  • be best pursued through coordinated and flexible, major long-term funding

MRC CoRE challenges will be achieved through:

  • fostering innovation and engagement to establish the capability and capacity to place the UK at the international forefront of impactful health research
  • harnessing and networking the best expertise in the UK, to bring together creative and diverse approaches for cross-sectoral and multi or interdisciplinary working
  • research that drives breakthrough advances and addresses specific bottlenecks through knowledge generation, technological or methodological innovation, with clear translational relevance

For round one, applications are addressing challenges under the following themes, and may address all or part of MRC and any joint funders remit, including discovery, understanding mechanism, and development of concepts or interventions for prevention or treatment:

  • mental health
  • multimorbidity
  • advanced therapeutics

In round one we are considering applications in partnership with British Heart Foundation (BHF) under the advanced therapeutics theme with a cardiovascular regeneration focus.

Applicants invited to apply to the second stage of this opportunity must continue to develop their MRC CoRE application within the theme and challenge described in their outline application and respond directly to any outline stage feedback provided, particularly on the vision for and strategic direction of the MRC CoRE research challenge.

Your application should be positioned in the context of ongoing investments across MRC and the broader landscape, synergising with or capitalising upon existing knowledge and investments where relevant. An MRC CoRE should not focus on open ended discovery research programmes but should pursue a compelling vision around specific questions of importance or critical knowledge gaps.

Applications that incorporate cross-cutting approaches and novel ways of working are encouraged. How is what you are proposing different to what has gone before? You should consider how to achieve equity of access to resulting knowledge, technologies, interventions and therapies.

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 principal investigator who must be affiliated with the lead research organisation.

However, the balance of activity and leadership across the 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.

Support from research organisations

Considerable, sustained and clearly defined support from the research organisation is essential to a successful application and will be an equal part of the assessment of applications for MRC and MRC/BHF funded CoREs. We expect research organisations to provide:

  • laboratory space
  • access to facilities and equipment
  • access to necessary digital support infrastructure
  • support to manage estates
  • human resources services
  • finance services
  • underpinning of key staff positions
  • access to additional sources of funding and support available to other researchers across the research organisations

MRC CoRE governance, monitoring and review

All MRC CoREs must establish an independent Strategic Advisory Board (ISAB) as part of governance structure to provide critical advice and support to the Director and Leadership Team. This board must hold a meeting in year one of the award and at least annually thereafter.

In your application you will be asked to confirm key objectives for the MRC CoRE and propose a performance monitoring framework. Progress against this framework should be considered annually by your ISAB and this framework will form a crucial component of the mid-term review of your MRC CoRE investment, alongside other information to be confirmed closer to the review point.


The initial duration of this award is seven years which is 84 months.

We will support MRC CoREs for up to 14 years. The initial award will be for seven years with a review point in year six to approve release of the second period of funding.

Projects must start by 30 September 2024.

The earliest start date is 1 April 2024.

Funding available

The full economic cost of your project for years one to seven can be up to £26,500,000.

MRC will fund 80% of the full economic cost. Any identified exceptions will be funded at 100%.

Routine equipment will be funded at 80% FEC and the total full economic cost of routine equipment requests is a maximum of £500,000.

Mid-range or large equipment (supported in principle at the outline stage) will be funded at 100% of the requested costs. Research organisations are expected to make a contribution to such equipment in most cases, and to justify their level of contribution.

UKRI indexation will be applied at the time of award. We will not supplement awards for inflation after they have started.

In the case of a MRC/BHF joint CoRE, the same total funding will be available with the BHF contribution funding the direct costs of research.

We will provide all the awarded funding to the lead organisation, to manage and distribute accordingly. Awards spanning multiple organisations will require a clear plan addressing award governance and management to ensure funds can be used flexibly to support changes in research delivery and opportunity across the course of the award.

We will support a limited number of interlinked research activities or themes, with funding focused on key strategic objectives, achievable during the 14-year lifespan.

The MRC CoRE award should be founded upon existing grants at the point of establishment and provide a platform to win additional grant support from all available funders. A minimum expectation is for doubling of the MRC CoRE associated budget through external funding by the mid-term point (year seven).

What we will fund

You can request funding for costs such as:

  • directly allocated contributions to salaries of the leadership team and other established researchers, usually between 15 to 30% of their time, in line with their research contribution
  • directly incurred salaries of research staff, technician and support staff, where there is a clear justification for their critical role in delivering the MRC CoRE
  • recruitment of new researchers critical to addressing the research challenge, for example those switching disciplines or sectors, or from overseas, where 100% salary may be requested for up to three years, before other grant support is established
  • research consumables
  • if required, up to £500,000 start-up costs for routine equipment (items over £10,000 that constitute normal elements of a well-founded laboratory); all items will have to be fully justified at the full application stage and may not include generic departmental equipment
  • if requested and accepted at the outline application stage mid-range or large equipment critical to establish platforms or facilities. For other mid-range equipment MRC CoREs must apply to the MRC annual mid-range equipment opportunity in competition with the wider community
  • travel costs
  • data preservation, data sharing and dissemination costs
  • costs for innovative training and capacity building required to address the research challenge, when not available elsewhere
  • studentships (an exception funded at 100%), support may typically be requested for up to two studentships each year across the duration of the award. Numbers should not exceed the supervisory capacity of the MRC CoRE. See UKRI stipend and fees
  • technology and data platforms to provide accessible facilities and capability essential to the mission and to promote open-science, when not available elsewhere
  • experimental medicine studies
  • initiatives to underpin or strengthen a positive research culture
  • knowledge transfer and exchange activities, including translational research and commercialisation
  • external stakeholder activities including public engagement and involvement
  • initiatives to improve environmental sustainability
  • estates and indirect costs
  • 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, especially considering the award duration. There are constraints on the use of directly allocated and capital equipment funding.

Flexible directly incurred or exceptions funds can be requested and used to develop activities and support new opportunities but must be appropriately justified with clear plans for financial management.

The funding request can differ from the outline application within the overall funding available. Respond directly to any outline stage feedback on the funding request.

What we will not fund

We will not fund:

  • open access costs: these must be covered by the UKRI open access grant
  • training and capacity building that can be accessed through existing funding routes, such as existing doctoral training programmes, MRC or UKRI fellowships
  • mid-range equipment other than agreed and assessed as necessary as part of the start-up requirements. All other mid-range equipment must be requested through the annual MRC equipment funding opportunity or other funding routes
  • routine equipment (that constitutes normal elements of a well-founded laboratory) over and above the start-up fund of up to £500,000. MRC has other arrangements to modestly support ongoing routine equipment needs of its major investments
  • additional or duplicative equipment that is already part of the existing research environment of the applicants
  • generic computing platforms for data analysis or data storage, which should be part of wider research organisation data management activities
  • buildings and other types of infrastructures
  • clinical trials or longitudinal population studies, which have specific governance requirements and for which alternative funding routes are available. MRC CoREs may utilise existing cohorts or clinical trials funded through other routes. If such activities are relevant applicants should make clear in the application how these would be supported

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.

You may include 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. Project partners may not claim costs from the grant unless acting as a subcontractor in addition. Find out more about subcontractors and dual roles.

If your application involves industry partners please see the team project partners and industry collaboration framework section of the funding service application for further guidance.

Who cannot be included as a team project partner

The individual named as the contact for the project partner organisation cannot also be a named applicant, such as all those with a role of ‘investigator’ and any other named member of staff.

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

If your application includes international applicants, project partners or collaborators, visit Trusted Research for more information on effective international collaboration.

How to apply

You must apply using the UKRI’s new Funding Service. You cannot apply for this opportunity on the Joint Electronic Submissions (Je-S) system.

Information for research office professionals

If an application is created by a member of an organisation where we do not currently have contact details with their research office, we will contact the author to enable administrator access. This provides:

  • oversight of every funding service application opened on behalf of your organisation
  • the ability to review and submit completed applications before the advertised opportunity closing date 7 September 2023 4:00pm UK time

If you anticipate researchers from your organisation wish to apply for this opportunity but have not already received an invitation to open an account, email

As an administrator, you will be responsible for the final submission of the application to Medical Research Council (part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)) and ensuring internal deadlines are made clear to applicants from your organisation.

To hear more about the role of administrators, and the current functionality of the new funding service and how it will further develop, watch a recording of the most recent research office webinar.

For applicants

We recommend you start your application as soon as possible after the opportunity opens on 2 May 2023.

Your host organisation will be able to provide advice and guidance to assist you with the creation and completion of your application. They will also be able to guide you through any internal deadlines they have put in place, allowing them sufficient time to complete a review of your application before completing the final submission through the Funding Service.

Submitting your application

Applications should be prepared and submitted by the lead research organisation but should be co-created with input from all investigators, and project partners, and should represent the proposed work of the entire team. Only the lead applicant can prepare the application in the Funding Service.

You will need to take the following steps to apply:

  • ‘Sign in’ to the UKRI Funding Service. If you do not already have an account, you will be able to create one. This is a two-minute process requiring you to verify your email address and set a password.
  • Start answering the questions detailed in this section of ‘How to apply’. You can save your work and come back to it later. You can also work ‘offline’, copying and pasting into the text boxes provided for your answers.
  • Once complete, use the service to send your application to your research office for review. They’ll check it and return it to you if it needs editing.
  • Once happy, your research office will submit it to UKRI for assessment. Only they can do this.


MRC must receive your application by 7 September 2023 4:00pm UK time.

You should ensure you are aware of and follow any internal deadlines that might be in place at your research organisation, to ensure the timely final submission of your application before the opportunity closes.

You will not be able to apply after the funding opportunity has closed. MRC will not consider late applications.

Following the close of the opportunity, your application cannot be changed, and applications will not be returned for amendment. If your application does not follow this guidance, it may be rejected.

You can find out more about what happens after you submit your application.

Section guidance

External links are not permitted. Your application should be a self-contained description of the proposed project and should not depend on additional information.

Application name

You will be asked to enter a distinct name for your application using 150 characters or fewer.

Start date and duration

This is a standard Funding Service section that asks applicants to tell us the start date and duration of their proposed project. Your project should last for 84 months.

Details and summary


In plain English, provide a summary that will be sent to potential reviewers inviting them to assess your application.

This summary may be made publicly available on external facing websites, so please ensure it can be understood by a variety of readers, for example:

  • opinion-formers
  • policymakers
  • the general public
  • the wider research community
  • experts in your field

Succinctly describe your proposed work in terms of:

  • its context
  • the challenge the project addresses and how it will be applied to this
  • its aims and objectives
  • its potential applications and benefits

Word count: 550


List the key members of your team and assign them roles, for example:

  • principal investigator
  • co-investigator (researcher co-investigator)
  • researcher
  • technician

You should only list one individual as principal investigator.

This should be the person who will act as the grant holder with responsibilities to MRC at the start of the MRC CoRE award, this is for administrative purposes. Other leadership team members should be the application co-investigators. The leadership team members’ application roles should not imply relative status or influence the leadership model which is for the applicants to propose.

When there are two or more host organisations involved, the principal investigator must be affiliated with the lead research organisation. All host organisations must be represented by an eligible co-investigator.

Do not include proposed members of the MRC CoRE’s International Strategic Advisory Board as applicants or project partners.


Question: Why is the research challenge important and why do you need MRC CoRE funding?

What the assessors are looking for in your response
  • what distinctive research challenge will you address over the 14 year MRC CoRE investment?
  • how will this make a difference and lead to transformative impact in biomedical or health research and place the UK in an internationally leading position?
  • what bold, distinctive and innovative approaches will you use to achieve your ambitions?
  • why are these ambitions best achieved through MRC CoRE funding?

Provide a response of around 100 words for each question.

Word count: 500

Approach to research

Question: How will you approach the research challenge?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

The assessors are looking for you to describe how you will structure or group your research activity, which could be research themes or work packages, which will operate below the challenge level.

You should provide a short summary for each theme or work package, explaining how each one will contribute to the overall challenge objectives. You should ensure that the content you are providing for each summary is suitable for publication.

Word count: 2000

In addition, the assessors are looking for you to create an Approach to research document.

Approach to research document

The Approach document should be a compelling description of your proposed MRC CoRE research and how this will address the challenge. We want you to describe your research plans for the full 14 years but with greater detail and precision for the first seven years.

You should discuss how the research plans might evolve over the funding period and any mitigation measures and alternative approaches that might be deployed should any difficult or risky approaches fail.

This should be a self-contained case for the proposed research. Include relevant background within the document and do not depend on additional information. MRC reserves the right to reject applications that contain links to additional information. This document should be a maximum of 14 pages including figures and references. The maximum file size is 8MB.

Explain how you have designed your multi-or interdisciplinary and integrated research approach, which may include how it:

  • is original, innovative, bold or disruptive
  • will deliver transformative research and outputs
  • is flexible and how it may evolve over the period of funding
  • will be effective and is appropriate to achieve your challenge objectives
  • is feasible, and comprehensively identifies any risks to delivery and how they will be managed
  • uses a clear and robust methodology:
    • where known, include the general experimental approaches, study designs, and techniques that will be used
    • describe all foreseeable studies with human participants or animal experiments in as much detail as possible at this stage
    • highlight approaches which are particularly original or unique
    • explain how new techniques, or particularly difficult or risky studies, will be tackled, and alternative approaches should these fail
  • will support reproducible research
  • considers diversity, including using both sexes in research involving animals and tissues and cells. If you are not proposing to do this, a strong justification is required

Create a document which will include your responses to all bullet points. The document should not exceed 14 sides of A4 paper in Arial (or equivalent) 11 point font. Save this document as a single PDF file, no larger than 8MB and upload following the guidance provided.

Monitoring progress and measuring success

Question: How will you monitor your progress and measure your success?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Explain your approach to monitoring the progress and measuring the success of your MRC CoRE over the first seven years.

To explain your approach, you should:

  • define your key challenge objectives for the MRC CoRE over the first seven years. These should reflect your most important activities and targets and may be drawn from any area of the proposed MRC CoRE work.
  • describe a clear and robust framework that you will use to monitor progress against your key objectives, including defining milestones for each key objective, and the expected outcomes and success measures. Include what you will do if progress is not as planned.

Word count: 1,000

Project plan

Provide a plan such as a Gantt chart to support your application, spanning the first seven years. This should show the major groupings of activity, with their key objectives and associated milestones and timeframes. Do not use the plan to include information which should be detailed in the other sections of your application.

Create a document which will include your project plan. The document should not exceed one side of A4 and must be in a readable font size for panel review. Save this document as a single PDF file, no larger than 8MB and upload following the guidance provided.

Your response will be assessed for its feasibility and suitability as a performance framework.

Data management and sharing

Question: 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.

Within your response answer questions one to six in the MRC data management plan template.

You can use the template as a guide to structure your response. Do not copy and paste the table.

The scope and scale of the data management response will be unique to each MRC CoRE depending on the types of data to be generated and stored. You are responsible for planning and executing local policies, systems and standards for how valuable research data are managed.

This should be in keeping with MRC’s overarching aim for data-sharing which is to maximise the life-time value of research data assets for human health and to do so in a timely and responsible manner, with as few restrictions as possible, consistently with the law, regulation and recognised good practice.

Word count: 1,500

Approach to operations

Question: How will you approach running the MRC CoRE?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Explain how the proposed MRC CoRE will operate, including how it:

  • will be governed as a research entity
  • will be effectively and inclusively managed, including describing the leadership team and if applicable, how leadership will be drawn from participating organisations
  • has clear leadership team roles and responsibilities and succession plans
  • will function successfully as a research entity
  • will access the appropriate services, facilities, infrastructure, or equipment to deliver the proposed MRC CoRE

Word count: 1,000

CoRE management structure document

Create a one page document, that will include an organisational chart or other visual plan of your ‘CoRE management structure’.

The document should not exceed one side of A4 and must be in a readable font size for panel review. Save this document as a single PDF file, no larger than 8MB and upload following the guidance provided.

Approach to research culture

Question: What is your research culture action plan?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Using the text box, describe the activities you will undertake to build on and enhance your host organisations’ research culture plan or strategy, to support these principles which underpin a positive research culture:

  • research is conducted with integrity, centred on reproducibility, responsible innovation, collaboration, interdisciplinarity and multidisciplinarity
  • research is communicated to maximise impact, built on transparency and openness, and partnership with the public
  • career paths and training environment, are provided to recognise a diversity of talents, skills and outputs, and embrace team science as the way of working

You should identify your intended research culture outcomes, actions to achieve these, and the relevant timescales, success criteria and evidence for each outcome.

Data sharing logistics should be included in your response on data management. Operational leadership plans, including leadership roles and responsibilities should be included in your response on MRC CoRE operations.

In your research culture action plan, include your approaches to:

  • building and sustaining positive research culture, including:
    • committed leadership
    • support for career development paths
    • leadership training
    • mentoring, supervision and pastoral care
  • embracing and realising the benefits of team science, including:
    • building and strengthening effective collaboration across multidisciplinary teams, wider stakeholders and public contributors, drawing on the whole talent pool
    • establishing common understanding and effective communication plans for collaborations beyond the MRC CoRE and across sectors
  • physical environment and infrastructure to enhance research culture, including:
    • the use of space and support staff to create opportunities for interaction and outreach
    • sharing of facilities and specialist equipment
    • relevant tools, such as electronic lab books and platforms to facilitate collaboration
  • promoting good practice and open research, including:
    • demonstrating best research practice
    • adoption of open research practices as the default way of working
    • alignment with the FAIR (findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable) data principles
    • diversity and inclusion in experimental design, and across all research activities
  • integrating meaningful public involvement and engagement (PIE) into your research strategy and delivery, and its purpose in relation to the challenge-led research agenda
  • reward and incentives including
    • fair and transparent methods to assess performance and support career progression
    • practices for acknowledgement of contribution in research outputs
    • incentives for continuous improvement
    • upskilling of everyone involved to enable a positive research culture
  • integrating Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) considerations
    • into all aspects of the MRC CoRE’s activities
    • and ensuring that the policies and practices of the MRC CoRE and host organisation(s) are aligned with UKRI and MRC EDI strategy and policies

Word count: 2,000

In addition to explaining your ‘research culture action plan’, the assessors are also looking for you to complete the ‘research culture maturity model template’ which is a self-assessment of your initial level of research culture maturity.

Research culture maturity model template

The ‘maturity model template’ asks you to benchmark your initial research culture status and evidence how your planned activities will enable you to progress through maturity levels to your stated future outcomes.

You should use the maturity model to challenge assumptions and set priorities, and it will enable you in future to map progress and celebrate successes.

You should download the research culture maturity model template, complete and upload using guidance provided.

Approach to training, careers and capacity building

Question: What is your approach to training and capacity building in the MRC CoRE and how does this help to address the challenge?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Explain your approach to and plans for training, careers and capacity building, of all types from undergraduates to senior leaders, including how you will:

  • support training, careers and capacity building, in line with the overall strategy of the MRC CoRE
  • provide the innovative training and capacity building needed to deliver on the research challenge
  • through training, enhance equality, diversity and inclusion of the MRC CoRE’s people across career stages and job roles
  • through training, support interdisciplinary research
  • recognise the range of people, skills and career pathways required to deliver innovative training
  • ensure an inclusive and progressive research training environment free from unnecessary barriers to entry and progression
  • support all career stages, pathways and types
  • add value by convening and aligning existing training activity across the UK
  • share good practice in training and careers
  • prepare trainees for the challenges and opportunities available to them after their time at the MRC CoRE

Justify the training and capacity building proposed, in context of activities already on offer either within participating research organisations or nationally and explain the rationale and evidence for strategic training needs in the challenge area.

You should identify your intended training, careers and capacity building outcomes, actions to achieve these, and the relevant timescales, success criteria and evidence for each outcome. You may include a small number of key indicators that will showcase the success of your plans.

Word count: 1,500

Managing doctoral training

Question: What is the relationship with existing doctoral training programmes?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

If you are requesting funding for PhD students, explain the relationship with the relevant MRC Doctoral Training Programme (DTP):

  • confirm that the MRC CoRE students will be managed as part of an existing MRC DTP
  • include a statement of support from the relevant MRC DTP lead
  • explain how the existing MRC DTP will accommodate these additional studentships and continue to deliver high quality training experience for all students

Word count: 500

Approach to translational research

Question: How will you approach translational research?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Explain how you intend to translate the research undertaken in the MRC CoRE to maximise the potential benefit to the research community, wider society and economy, including:

  • how the translation research approach will be developed in the MRC CoRE or with partners
  • how opportunities for translation will be identified and pursued
  • plans for translational work on the research challenge
  • plans for translation to clinical testing, uptake or product development
  • approaches to and support arrangements for exploitation and commercialisation of results
  • management of intellectual property, either through protection or through planned release into the public domain

Word count: 1,000

Approach to knowledge transfer and exchange

Question: How will you approach knowledge transfer and exchange?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Explain how you plan to maximise engagement with relevant stakeholders (academia, industry, charities) to ensure the appropriate sharing of knowledge and expertise, including:

  • identification and engagement with key stakeholders at the appropriate time
  • your approach to collaborative working with stakeholders to enable porous cross sector working
  • how knowledge exchange will be enabled in practice, such as the connections and methods you will use

Word count: 1,000

Approach to environmental sustainability

Question: How will you approach environmentally sustainability?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Explain how you have considered environmental impact of the MRC CoRE and relate to this your environmental sustainability strategy and action plan, including:

  • general environmental impacts relevant to the MRC CoRE and potential mitigations
  • your environmental sustainability strategy and how this aligns with the host research organisations sustainability plan and policies
  • actions you will take, such as:
    • how you will consider and promote environmental sustainability and appropriately reflect it in your research design and operations
    • what sustainability standards you will adopt
    • your targets, aligned with the greening government commitments 2021 to 2025
    • the reporting systems you will use

The MRC CoRE must have an environmental sustainability strategy. This may be the host Research Organisation(s) strategy, if so, you must be explicit that you are fully adopting and complying with it.

Word count: 1,000

Your team and capability to deliver

Question: Why is your team, the right people to successfully deliver the proposed work?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Explain this using the text box and the Team Résumé for Research and Innovation (R4RI) format. The team described should include all leadership team members and any other applicants with relevant experience, skills and expertise you wish to highlight, this could include technical or facility staff and professional services.

You should provide an integrated view of the skills and collective value of the team as a whole as they relate to the proposed challenge, rather than listing the skills of each individual. You may reuse information from your outline application. You can refine your team membership and update information from your outline application as needed. Respond directly to any outline stage feedback.

Provide evidence of how you and your team, have:

  • the relevant experience (appropriate to career stage) to deliver the proposed work in the context of the challenge you have identified
  • the right balance of skills and expertise to cover the proposed work – it is important to explain how the skills of your team will come together to deliver on the challenge, how skills will be effectively used and integrated
  • the appropriate leadership and management skills to deliver the work and your approach to develop others
  • a suitable track record of successful training and capacity building

Use the R4RI format to showcase the range of relevant skills you, and your team have (investigators, researchers, technical and management staff) and how this will help to deliver the proposed work. You can include individuals’ specific achievements if they are relevant to the challenge, but only choose past contributions that best evidence their ability to deliver this work and the main focus should be on the overall team you are proposing.

Complete these questions using the R4RI module headings listed. Each question should include a response for the whole team, see the UKRI guidance on R4RI. You can enter N/A for any you think irrelevant, and will not be penalised for doing so, but it is recommended that you carefully consider the breadth of your experience. You should complete this as a narrative and avoid CV type format.

The R4RI module headings are:

  • 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
  • Additions – you can use this heading to provide information which provides context to the wider application, such as detail of career breaks or disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic

Word count: 3,000

Your host research organisation(s)

Question: How will your research organisation(s) support the MRC CoRE?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Explain this using the text box, to include all participating host research organisations. You may reuse information from your outline application and add and update information as needed. Respond directly to any outline stage feedback.

Explain how the MRC CoRE will be positioned within the host research organisation(s) and how it will be will supported, including:

  • how the strategies of the organisation(s) and the MRC CoRE research challenge align
  • evidence of sustained commitment to the MRC CoRE, from the outset and for the duration of the 14 year funding period
  • how the organisation(s) will help the MRC CoRE meet funder expectations and tackle its research challenge, including through cooperation and the agile use of resources. This is particularly important for partnerships of more than one organisation
  • the necessary support and facilities for the MRC CoRE that the organisation(s) will provide, such as:
    • laboratory space
    • access to facilities and equipment
    • access to necessary digital support infrastructure
    • support to manage estates
    • human resources services
    • finance services
    • underpinning of key staff positions
    • access to additional sources of funding and support available to other researchers across the research organisations

If the MRC CoRE is to be hosted by a single research organisation you may only need 1000 words.

Word count: 2,500

Your partnerships and collaborations

Question: How will your partnerships and collaborations enhance the MRC CoRE and help to address the challenge?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Explain how your project partners and collaborators will:

  • provide distinct and beneficial support to the MRC CoRE
  • help the MRC CoRE in addressing the research challenge and achieving objectives
  • add value in allowing research to be undertaken, or undertaken to a quality level or timescale not otherwise possible
  • promote translational objectives
  • how relationships with partners and collaborators and risks will be managed

We are looking for an integrated overview of how the MRC CoRE will approach and benefit from partnerships and collaborations, beyond the MRC CoRE host research organisations. Individual project partner details, including industry collaboration framework information, project partner financial contributions and project partner statements of support are not required here and should be provided in the relevant sections.

In the response you should also explain your approach to developing new opportunities and establishing additional partnerships and collaborations arising during the life of the MRC CoRE.

Word count: 1,000

Industry collaboration

Question: Does your application include industrial project partners?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

The assessors are looking for information relating to any restrictions or rights to the project results that could be claimed by the project partner.

If you have read the ICF guidance and it does not apply to any of the project partners included within your application or if you do not have any project partners, simply add ‘N/A’ into the text box, mark this section as complete and move to the next section.

The ICF has been developed to support you when your research project involves collaboration between an academic organisation and an eligible industry or company.

ICF also provides MRC with information and assurances that initial discussions and considerations have taken place with all involved in the project, related to the nature, goals and conditions of the collaboration, including intellectual property (IP) rights and dissemination of results generated if the project is funded by MRC.

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.

Please see ICF for further guidance related to the purpose of the ICF process, including:

  • collaboration agreements
  • definitions of basic and applied research
  • internationally based companies
  • subsidy control
  • intellectual property arrangements
  • fully flexible and gated contributions
  • the ICF assessment criteria

This funding opportunity does not require the inclusion of the ICF form or company partner letter of support (as detailed within the ICF guidance) and instead, details should be included within the text box.

All applicants must also include any industry or company partners within the project partners section, providing the information requested within that section (whether the industry or company project requires ICF or not).

Where ICF does apply to your project, please confirm your answers to the ICF questions, within your Funding Service application (please see the Funding Service application for further guidance how this information is required to be added to the ICF section).

Please repeat this process for each industry project partner, if you have more than one partner that has potential to be included under ICF.

ICF questions:

  • name the industry or company project partner considered to be eligible under ICF
  • indicate whether your application is either basic research or applied research
  • detail why, in the absence of the requested UKRI funding, the collaboration and the planned research could not be undertaken
  • state whether your application is under the category of either fully flexible contribution or gated contribution (based on the IP sharing arrangements with the company partner)
  • 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
  • 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 purpose
    • any rights of the academic partner to commercialise the foreground IP (including foreground IP generated by project partners)
  • outline details on 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
  • declare any conflicts of interest held by the participating academic in relation to the project partners and describe how they will be managed
  • if applicable, provide a justification for collaborating with an overseas company or industrial project partner when their inclusion is under ICF
  • ensure you also include any eligible ICF industry or company partners within the project partners section (including a statement of support from the partner), of this application.

Failure to provide the information requested for Industry partners eligible 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 completing the submission of your application to MRC.

Project partners

Question: Provide information related to collaborating project partners and the contributions and support they are providing your project.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

MRC supports collaborative research projects and team approaches. Collaborators based in different organisations to the investigators named within your application, or from industry, can be formally recognised within your application as a named project partner.

If you do not have any project partners, simply add ‘N/A’ into the text box, mark this section as complete and move to the next section.

If you do have one or more project partners that have agreed to support your project, please provide them with the guidance included within this section and request they provide responses to the questions.

MRC expect the project partner to provide you with information confirming the nature of the collaboration, including the value of their contribution. We also require each partner to provide other relevant information that will clearly identify the relevance and possible benefits of the proposed work to the project and to the project partner. The information provided will be used during the assessment of your application.

When the partner has provided you with the required information, check that the responses adequately provide the information MRC requires and then copy and paste their responses into the text box provided.

Statement of support from project partners

While a statement of support is required to be provided by each project partner, a formal letter of support from the project partner is not required.

Where a project partner has provided a formal letter of support, the relevant text confirming the responses to each question (one to eight) should be extracted from the letter and pasted into the text box (using the template format as detailed within the Funding Service).

Under no circumstances should any letter of support (including signature and letter head), be uploaded to the text section or any other section of your application.

The statement of support should:

  • provide the name of the project partner organisation
  • detail the partner website address (or postal address)
  • confirm the following, related to the partner contact information:
    • partner contact name (title, first name, family name format)
    • job role or title
    • the person’s department (if applicable)
  • confirm ‘yes’, that any person included within the application as a partner contact, are made aware their person their personal information has been shared with UKRI and their personal information will be processed as set out in UKRI’s privacy notice
  • confirm the total cash or detail a £ value for any in-kind contributions being provided by the partner organisation. You are encouraged to provide a detailed description to ensure assessors can evaluate the contribution fully (listed are examples; please add you own descriptors if a different type of contribution better describes the contribution being provided):
    • cash contribution: £
    • staff time: £
    • access to equipment: £
    • provision of data: £
    • consumables and materials: £
    • expertise: £
    • use of facilities: £
    • recruitment of people as research participants: £
    • providing human tissue: £
  • confirm any costs being requested by the project partner, such as minor travel and subsistence costs or if the partner is claiming costs as a subcontractor (please provide a costs breakdown to provide the assessors with detail of any costs requested by the project partner). If the project partner is not claiming any costs, indicate: ‘Zero costs requested by this project partner’ confirm if your project partner has a dual role as a subcontractor
  • confirm if the project partner you have named in your response to the first question, is from industry (or a company) ‘yes or no’? If you have responded ‘yes’, please ensure you have completed the previous industry collaboration framework section
  • confirm the partner’s commitment to the project, by requesting they provide a statement of support, including information that explains:
    • the full nature and relevance of the collaboration and support being provided by the partner
    • how this will benefit both the project and partner
    • any additional value the collaboration will bring to the project
    • where relevant, projected market size, customer sales and how the organisation will commercialise the technology beyond the project
    • the period of support the collaboration will cover

Ethics and responsible research and innovation (RRI)

Question: 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

Using the text box, demonstrate that you have identified and evaluated the relevant ethical or responsible research and innovation considerations, and how you will manage them.

If you are collecting or using data you should identify:

  • any legal and ethical considerations of collecting, releasing or storing the data including consent, confidentiality, anonymisation, security and other ethical considerations and, in particular, strategies taken to not preclude further reuse of data
  • formal information standards with which study will be compliant

Word count: 500

Research involving human tissues or biological samples

Question: Does your proposed research involve the use of human tissues, or biological samples?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

If not, enter ‘N/A’ into the text box, mark this section as complete and move onto the next question.

You should answer this question as far as possible based on the MRC CoRE research that is known or possible. If complete information is not available at this stage explain this and enter estimates.

If you’re answering ‘yes’, provide the name of any required approving body and whether approval is already in place.

You should justify the use of human tissue or biological samples specifying the nature and quantity of the material to be used and its source.

Word count: 700

Research involving human participation

Question: Will the project involve the use of human subjects or their personal information?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

If not, enter ‘N/A’ into the text box, mark this section as complete and move on to the next question.

You should answer this question as far as possible based on the MRC CoRE research that is known or possible. If complete information is not available at this stage explain this and enter estimates.

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. Then, 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.

Word count: 700

Research involving the use of animals

Question: Does your proposed research involve the use of vertebrate animals or other organisms covered by the Animals Scientific Procedures Act?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

If your research will not involve the use of animals or organisms covered by the ‘Animals Scientific Procedures Act’, enter ‘N/A’ into the text box, mark this section as complete and do the same for the next question.

You should answer this question as far as possible based on the MRC CoRE research that is known or possible. If complete information is not available at this stage explain this and enter estimates.

Please do not repeat information provided in the approach to research document.

If you are proposing research that requires using animals, write ‘Yes’ in the text box. Then, download and complete this document (DOCX, 74KB), which contains all the questions relating to research using vertebrate animals or other Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 regulated organisms. Then save it as a PDF and use the file upload feature to attach.

Conducting research with animal overseas

Question: Will any of the proposed animal research be conducted overseas?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

If not, enter ‘N/A’ in the text box, mark as complete and move on to the next question.

You should answer this question as far as possible based on the MRC CoRE research that is known or possible. If complete information is not available at this stage explain this and enter estimates.

If you are proposing to conduct overseas research, it must be conducted in accordance with welfare standards consistent with those in the UK, as per Responsibility in the Use of Animals in Bioscience Research guidance, on page 14.

You should also ensure all named applicants in the UK and overseas are aware of this requirement and provide a statement to confirm that:

  • all named applicants are aware of the requirements and have agreed to abide by them
  • this overseas research will be conducted in accordance with welfare standards consistent with the principles of UK legislation
  • the expectation set out in Responsibility in the Use of Animals in Bioscience Research guidance will be applied and maintained
  • appropriate national and institutional approvals are in place

Overseas studies proposing to use non-human primates, cats, dogs, equines or pigs, will be assessed during National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement, and Reduction of Animals in Research review of research applications. The required information should be provided by completing the template from the question ‘Research Involving the use of animals’.

For studies involving other species, you should select the relevant checklist or checklists, complete it and save it as a PDF and use the file upload feature to attach. If you need to complete more than one checklist, you should merge them into a single document and then save it as a PDF before uploading it.

Species checklists:

Genetic or biological risk

Question: Does your proposed research involve any genetic or biological risk?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

If not, enter ‘N/A’ into the text box, mark this section as complete and move on to the next question.

You should answer this question as far as possible based on the MRC CoRE research that is known or possible. If complete information is not available at this stage explain this and enter estimates.

You should answer these questions as far as possible based on the MRC CoRE research that is known or anticipated, focus on the first seven years of the proposed MRC CoRE. If it is not possible to provide details at this stage provide estimates or answer N/A.

In respect of animals, plants or microbes, are you proposing to:

  • use genetic modification as an experimental tool, like studying gene function in a genetically modified organism
  • release genetically modified organisms
  • ultimately develop commercial and industrial genetically modified outcomes

If yes, provide the name of any required approving body and state if approval is already in place. If it is not, provide an indicative timeframe for obtaining the required approval.

Identify the organism or organisms as a plant, animal or microbe and specify the species and which of the three categories the research relates to.

Identify the genetic and biological risks resulting from the proposed research, their implications and any mitigation you plan on taking. Assessors will want to know you have considered the risks and their implications to justify that any identified risks do not outweigh any benefits of the proposed research.

Word count: 700

Resource and cost justification

What will you need to deliver your proposed work and how much will it cost?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Download the full economic costing template (DOCX, 96KB), complete it with your cost figures for the first seven years and then upload it as explained.

We are looking for the major costs or types of cost, we do not expect every cost to be itemised.

Equipment should be listed in the exceptions section of the template.

Routine equipment will be funded at 80% FEC and the funding applied for in the template should reflect that.

Mid-range or large equipment the funding applied for in the template should reflect the full cost minus any contribution from the research organisations.

Doctoral studentships should be listed in the exceptions section of the template and will be funded at 100%. See UKRI stipend and fees.

This section also requires you to provide a narrative justification of the resources you have requested for the first seven years. The justification should not simply be a list of the resources you require (as this will already be given in the detailed full economic costing template). Costings should be justified on the basis of FEC of the project, not just on the costs expected from UKRI. For some items we do not expect you to justify the monetary value, rather the type of resource, such as amount of time or type of staff requested.

Using the text box, demonstrate how the resources you anticipate needing for the first seven years of your proposed work:

  • are comprehensive, appropriate, and justified
  • represent the optimal use of resources to achieve the intended outcomes and impacts
  • support the MRC CoRE as a whole or are allocated to areas of research activity
  • provide a preliminary breakdown of costs for each research area, theme, work-package or equivalent, described in the approach to research
  • explain your oversight and planning for long-term allocation of resources to activities

You should identify:

  • support for translational research and commercialisation
  • support for any activities to increase impact, for public involvement and engagement, knowledge transfer and exchange or to support responsible innovation
  • support for training, careers and capacity building and justify why this cannot be addressed through existing funding routes
  • support for developing or enhancing research culture
  • support for access to facilities and infrastructure
  • support for procurement of equipment
  • support for preserving, long term storage, or sharing of data
  • any significant requests for flexible funds, including how these will be managed
  • support from host organisations and how that enhances value for money

Justify the costs claimed within the text box provided. Where you do not provide adequate justification for a resource, we may deduct it from any funding awarded.

Estates, indirect and infrastructure technician costs do not need to be justified within the justification of resources.

Animal costs

If you are including animal costs please provide detailed information, such as numbers that need to be bred or maintained, as part of what you write as your justification of resources.

Please use robust processes to accurately estimate directly allocated animals costs to ensure that appropriate costs are requested to maintain high welfare standards. If your organisation is audited and is asked for further information, you will need to provide evidence of how you arrived at these costs.


If you are including equipment costs justify why the equipment is needed to address the research challenge, why existing or shared equipment cannot be used or accessed through collaboration, how the equipment will be managed and potentially shared, and discounts, organisational contribution or other factors that make this good value for money. If you are requesting routine equipment over £500,000 total full economic cost you must justify why this exception is necessary.

Quotes for equipment exceeding £10,000 and business cases for equipment exceeding £138,000 are not necessary for this application. However, appropriate processes must be used to ensure requested costs are:

  • accurate
  • inclusive of VAT
  • import duty (where appropriate).

Successful applicants must be able to show UKRI evidence of adherence to procurement rules, such as quotes, if audited.

Word count: 2000

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

Examination of applications

All applications will be examined to ensure they meet the eligibility criteria and scope of the opportunity. If your application is deemed to be outside the scope of the opportunity you will be advised by email, and your application will be rejected. We aim to notify you of a rejection around 4 weeks after the closing date of the opportunity.

You will be informed in September 2023 about your invitation to attend an interview.

All applications within scope of the opportunity will be reviewed against the specified assessment criteria using the following assessment process.

Peer review

We will invite independent experts to review your application against the specified criteria for this opportunity. These experts will provide written comments and a score of one to six for your application.

Peer reviewers will be drawn from a group of appointed international experts representing the themes of interest.

You cannot nominate reviewers to comment on your application.

There are 13 MRC CoRE assessment criteria at the full application stage:

  • vision for the MRC CoRE challenge and its impact
  • approach to MRC CoRE research
  • approach to MRC CoRE operations
  • approach to MRC CoRE research culture
  • approach to MRC CoRE training, careers and capacity building
  • approach to MRC CoRE translational research
  • approach to MRC CoRE knowledge transfer and exchange
  • approach to MRC CoRE environmental sustainability
  • capability to deliver the MRC CoRE – leadership team, applicant team
  • capability to deliver the MRC CoRE – research organisation(s) support
  • capability to deliver the MRC CoRE – partners and collaborators
  • ethical and responsible research and innovation considerations
  • resources requested

Applications need to address all the criteria to a high standard, all aspects of the approach to the MRC CoRE are equally important in the assessment.

In November 2023 you will be invited to respond to the reviewers’ comments. You will have 14 days to respond.

Interview Panel

Applicant interviews will take place on 31 January and 1 February 2024 with a sub-committee of MRC major investments board supplemented with additional expertise from panellists from across MRC boards and panels and internationally as appropriate, including representation from any co-funding partner.

The panel will collectively assess and score your application against the specified criteria, from one to 10. The panel will produce a ranked list of applications and make a funding recommendation.


Recommendations from the MRC major investments board will be considered by MRC council before new MRC CoREs are awarded, expected to be in March 2024.

You will be informed about the outcome of your application within 10 working days of the MRC council meeting.

We expect to award up to two MRC CoREs each year. Exceptionally a third award may be made in round one in partnership with BHF for applications under the advanced therapeutics theme with a cardiovascular regeneration focus.


All applicants will receive feedback. We aim to provide this within six weeks of the MRC council meeting.

Unsuccessful MRC CoRE applications may not be resubmitted unless invited in writing to resubmit by MRC.

Assessment criteria

The detailed criteria we will assess your application against can be found in the ‘How to apply’ section and are listed under the ‘What the assessors are looking for in your response’ headings.

Principles of assessment

UKRI supports the San Francisco declaration on research assessment (DORA) and recognises the relationship between research assessment and research integrity.

Find out about the UKRI Principles of Assessment and Decision Making.

Sharing data with co-funders

MRC, as part of UKRI, will need to share the application (including any personal information that it contains) with the British Heart Foundation (BHF), so that they can participate in the assessment process.

Find out more information on how BHF uses personal information.

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

Publication of outcomes

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

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

Contact details

Get help with your application

For help on costings and writing your application, contact your research office. Allow enough time for your organisation’s submission process.

Ask about this funding opportunity

We aim to respond to emails within two working days.

Phone: 01793 547490
Our phone lines are open Monday to Thursday 8:30am to 5:00pm and Friday 8:30am to 4:30pm.

Additional info

MRC CoRE funding is awarded based on the MRC CoRE additional terms and conditions of funding. These include the responsibilities of the director and leadership team.

How MRC will assess research culture is further explained in the research culture guidance for reviewers

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.

Supporting documents

Research culture guidance for reviewers (PDF, 64KB)
Outline stage guidance (PDF, 439KB)


  • 28 July 2023
    Interview dates updated under 'How we will assess your application' section.

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