Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Transition support for MRC intermediate fellows: 2021

Apply for funding for up to two years. The scheme is for current fellows whose research has been affected by several issues. It will allow you to:

  • achieve the objectives of your fellowship
  • take the next step to establish yourself as a research leader.

You can apply if you:

  • currently hold an MRC career development award or clinician scientist fellowship
  • are in the final 12 to 18 months of your fellowship.

We will fund:

  • half of your salary
  • salaries of main staff members
  • a small consumables budget.

Who can apply

This scheme is open to current MRC intermediate fellowship holders (career development award (CDA) holders or clinician scientist fellows (CSF) only).

Eligible MRC fellows (CDA or CSF award holders) must be in the final 12 to 18 months of their fellowship.

What we're looking for

The Transition Support award is specifically designed for fellows whose research momentum has been impacted by multiple issues that have affected their productivity and subsequent outputs. They will have progressed their research and met many of the criteria for research leadership already (see assessment criteria), however due to genuine mitigating circumstances they will not yet be competitive for the next funding stage.

Financially, MRC will support:

  • 50% of the fellows’ salary
  • salary costs of key staff members
  • a small consumables budget for the duration of the award.

The host research organisation will need to provide the other 50% salary commitment for the duration of the award and will be expected to commit to a secure open-ended position for the fellow by the end of the award, in line with their institutional policies.

This should be clearly outlined in a letter of support from a senior authority within the host research organisation. This reflects our expectation of a commitment from research organisations to support talented researchers at this level.

The expectation remains that 100% of the fellow’s contracted working time is focused on their research, training and development, as per MRC’s standard fellowship terms and conditions.

Candidates will need to demonstrate the added value that a Transition Support award will offer them, providing evidence of their research potential, clearly articulating how their proposed plans for the resources and time requested would enable them to regain research momentum and provide a platform towards research leadership.

Fellows will not be permitted to transfer underspend from their current fellowship to the Transition Support award. Applicants should take this into account when requesting research costs for activities that will take place during the Transition Support award period and when choosing a start date for their Transition Support award.

If there is significant funding remaining on the fellowship, candidates should consider a no-cost extension through the MRC Post-Award Amendment (PAA) process instead.

A Transition Support award is not, in isolation, seed funding for new research projects or outputs not related to the overall aims of the MRC fellowship award. Individuals who have already achieved the outputs required for being competitive in applying for the next funding stage, are unlikely to be successful.

The MRC already has a PAA mechanism which allows costed or no-cost extensions to existing MRC awards. In addition to covering statutory requirements such as parental leave and sick leave, this mechanism supports requests for non-recruitment of staff and to cover exceptional unforeseen delays which were out of the control of the fellow. Candidates whose delays could be directly addressed by the PAA process are unlikely to be competitive and candidates may be redirected to the PAA process.

Candidates who have previously had a PAA are still eligible to apply for transition support, but candidates should highlight why this support was insufficient and demonstrate why additional support via a Transition Support award is required.

A Transition Support award is not intended to cover delays or impacts solely due to COVID-19. This should be requested via the PAA process. However, it is recognised that COVID-19 is likely to have exacerbated the impact of other factors which have affected research momentum. In these cases, fellows should apply for transition support.

Candidates who have accessed the UKRI COVID-19 grant extension allocation (CoA) can still apply, but they should demonstrate why further support via a Transition Support award is required as a result of delays or impacts other than COVID-19.

Candidates who are unsure whether transition support or a PAA would be more suitable for their individual circumstances are encouraged to contact for further advice

How to apply

Applications should be completed and submitted through the Joint Electronic Submission system (Je-S). When applying select:

  • council: MRC
  • document type: fellowship proposal
  • scheme: fellowships, FEC
  • call/type/mode: Transition Support Fellowship 2021.

See MRC Transition Support Award 2021: guidance and assessment criteria (PDF, 192KB) supporting document for more information about submitting your application on Je-S.

How we will assess your application

Applications will be assessed in a two-step process. On submission the applications will be reviewed by the expertise of the clinical and non-clinical training and career development panels. The applications will then be assessed further by a sub-group of these panels at a meeting to take place 22 February 2022, where a funding decision will be made.

There will be no external peer review. Announcements of the final decisions will be made in March 2022.

Assessment criteria

Research achievements

Has the fellow clearly made progress with their fellowship against the key deliverables and objectives of their intermediate award? For example, does the current research delivery and outputs provide evidence that the fellow’s career trajectory is on the path towards research leadership?

All achievements and outputs should be considered in evaluating the fellow’s productivity. For example:

  • innovative collaborations or networks
  • an ability to identify and maximise potential in others
  • invitations to seminar or conferences
  • opportunities to access career development support, such as mentoring and professional training development, and relevant training courses
  • presentation at scientific conferences and public science fairs
  • influence in their research field such as participation in peer review, committee membership or contribution to publications.

Is there clear evidence the fellow has been unable to consolidate their fellowship due to mitigating circumstances? Has the fellow evidenced their productivity to date and any mitigating strategies to counter these circumstances? Are these circumstances distinct from those covered by the current MRC post-award amendment route for additional support?

Has the fellow made a strong case that without a Transition Support award they will not be able to fully establish themselves as an independent researcher and be competitive at the next funding stage?

Does the application provide evidence that additional funding will enable the fellow to maximise their potential and competitiveness by consolidating and expanding existing work?

Can outputs be achieved within the timeframe requested?

Leadership, profile and influence

Has the fellow clearly articulated and evidenced their research leadership potential?

Has the fellow established their research niche?

Is there evidence of building collaborations and networks and recognition of their research in the community and on an international level?

Is there evidence the fellow has learnt new skills or spent time within industry or in a second research centre, as described in the original award?

Has the fellow demonstrated awareness of their research field, providing evidence of how they have influenced the field and the wider agenda?

Have they clearly demonstrated they have been maximising the potential of staff employed on their award?

Institutional support

Is there a strong letter of support from the host research organisation outlining how they have supported the fellow to date (if applicable).

Is the research organisation committed to supporting the fellow to become a research leader, continuing to provide the appropriate support and mentorship?

Is the fellow’s research time protected to allow 100% of their contracted working time for research, training and development?

Does the research organisation provide 50% salary commitment for the duration of the award?

Does the research organisation provide a commitment to a secure open-ended position at the end of the award in line with their institutional policies?

Contact details

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Additional info

Scheme objectives

The objectives are to:

  • facilitate the transition of MRC fellows into secure posts beyond their fellowship
  • maximise MRC’s investment in current intermediate fellowships (CDA or CFS)
  • increase the number of individuals establishing substantive research programmes in the period following their fellowship by supporting progressive career planning by fellows and institutions.

Supporting documents

This is the integrated website of the seven research councils, Research England and Innovate UK.
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