Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: UK and South Korea biomedical and health researcher exchange

Apply for funding to support the movement of biomedical and health researchers between the UK and South Korea. Funding comes from the UK-Korea Researcher Mobility Scheme.

You must be applying on behalf of an existing research partnership between the two countries.

UK applicants must have an active UKRI grant, awarded through a competitive process.

Korean applicants must be eligible for funding from NRF or MSIT.

You can apply for up to approximately £66,666 for one year, to cover:

  • travel
  • accommodation
  • food and subsistence
  • visa fees
  • visits or access to facilities
  • consumables and other research costs.

On the Korean side, researchers can also get funding for:

  • salary costs
  • equipment
  • indirect costs
  • conference attendance.

Who can apply

Applications must be made by a UK principal investigator who is eligible for MRC funding and a Korean principal investigator who is eligible for MSIT or NRF funding. However, there is no requirement for the principal investigator to directly participate in the exchange.

For example, it may be a post-doctoral researcher employed on the principal investigator’s grant who will spend an extended period of time working in the partner’s laboratory. However, the researcher exchange plans must be clearly described and justified in the application form.

The UK principal investigator or co-investigators must be in receipt of an active UKRI grant that was awarded through a competitive, peer-reviewed process, for example:

  • research grant
  • programme grant
  • fellowship.

It is not a requirement that the Korean partners are directly involved (as co-investigators) on this active grant, but the proposed partnership work to be delivered under this UK-Korea Mobility Scheme should complement or build on the competitively awarded active UKRI grant.

Korean applicants do not need to be in receipt of an MSIT or NRF grant.

The UK applicant should have a contract of employment with the research organisation for the duration of the mobility award.

Researchers who have previously been awarded an MRC-KHIDI UK-Korea Partnering Award are eligible to apply to this scheme, though please note these awards would not qualify as competitively awarded peer reviewed grants.

Full details of eligibility criteria for MRC funding can be found in the MRC guidance for applicants.

Full details of eligibility for MSIT and NRF funding can be found on the NRF webpage for this funding opportunity (available from 26 July 2021)

What we're looking for

The Medical Research Council (MRC), the Korean Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT) and the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) invite proposals to the UK-Korea Researcher Mobility Scheme.

This initiative is aimed at strengthening existing links between high quality research teams in the UK and South Korea through researcher exchange.

Applications must demonstrate the ability to progress currently funded collaborative research activities. However, the focus of this opportunity is upon enhancing current links and building and strengthening sustainable partnerships between the UK and Korea through researcher mobility.

The awards will be made available to existing UK-Korean partners with the specific aim of:

  • supporting the mobility and exchange of researchers to enhance established links between researchers in both countries, and further develop collaborative research
  • promoting access to facilities.
  • strengthening the strategic relationship between the UK and South Korea.


The UK-Korea Researcher Mobility scheme focuses on biomedical and health research. However, there are no further restrictions in terms of the scientific focus of applications, provided they sit within the MRC, MSIT and NRF’s remits. Though, interdisciplinary proposals and/or proposals that build on the national research strengths of the two countries are encouraged.

The funders will support one-year awards. The number and duration of exchanges (within that period) are not prescribed, and a programme of activities should be developed and justified for each application which addresses the specific needs of the partners.

MRC, MSIT and NRF acknowledge the travel restrictions currently in place due to the pandemic, and will not encourage, nor support, travel that is either unsafe or not permitted owing to government or institutional travel restrictions.

At this stage, applicants must plan for a one-year award with travel scheduled toward the end of the grant period, while using the initial months to develop collaborative plans and make preparations.

The funders will be as flexible as can reasonably be expected in this regard, including offering the possibility of a one-year extension subject to the trajectory of the pandemic and associated travel restrictions.


MRC, MSIT and NRF will fund up to three awards with approximately £200,000 made available in total:

  • up to £100,000 of MRC funding in support of the UK researcher exchange costs
  • up to 150 million South Korean won (KRW) from MSIT and NRF in support of the Korean researcher exchange costs.

MRC will make individual awards up to £33,333. MSIT and NRF will make individual awards up to 50 million KRW. Therefore, for joint applications with reciprocal researcher exchanges proposed, a total of approximately £66,666 can be applied for (subject to exchange rate variances).

On the UK side, the funding is available to support the following mobility costs for one or more investigators:

  • travel
  • accommodation
  • subsistence
  • visa fees
  • visits or access to facilities, including bench fees where necessary
  • consumables and other research costs (that are directly associated with the period of the researcher exchange).

On the UK side, these awards may not be used to fund:

  • salary costs
  • items of equipment
  • indirect and estate costs
  • conference attendance.

However, all above costs are eligible on the Korean side.

Mobility scheme funds can be used to support student exchanges. However, applications will not be accepted where this is the sole aim of the project.

Where possible, applicants are encouraged to seek further sources of funding. This could be directly from the applicant’s institution or department, or an in-kind contribution.

MRC will pay the lead UK research organisation in arrears (at the end of the award).

Joint applications

The funders strongly encourage the submission of joint applications for reciprocal exchange.

Joint applications must entail a jointly developed proposal submitted to both:

  • MRC (by the UK principal investigator)
  • MSIT and NRF (by the Korean principal investigator).

The MRC will provide funding for the costs associated with the UK-based researchers’ mobility, and vice versa.

Individual applications

Joint applications will be prioritised. However, where a reciprocal exchange is not possible, the funders will accept individual applications for one-way research visits.

In this instance, MRC would require a letter of support from the Korean host (receiving) organisation or organisations.

For individual applications:

  • UK principal investigators need only submit their application to MRC
  • Korean principal investigators need only submit their application to MSIT and NRF.

However, the MRC will only provide funding for the costs associated with the UK-based researchers’ mobility, and vice versa.

MRC, MSIT and NRF may share copies of individual applications with each other for information.

How to apply

Applications to MRC must be written in English. Applications to MSIT and NRF must be written in both Korean and English.

In order to apply, please provide the following:

  • UK-Korea Mobility Scheme proforma
  • case for support (three pages)
  • Gantt chart (one page)
  • CVs (UK and Korea principal investigators only, two pages per person)
  • letter of support from Korean or UK host if ‘individual application’.

All documentation must be merged (in the above listed order) and submitted as a single PDF to the MRC, and to MSIT and NRF.

Applications must be sent to the MRC at:

Applications must also be submitted to MSIT and NRF using the e-R&D system. For more information, please refer to the NRF webpage for this funding opportunity (available from 26 July 2021).

Korean applicants must submit both a copy of the UK application (described above), as well as provide project proposal details written in Korean, using the specific MSIT-NRF template.

UK-Korea Mobility Scheme proforma

Please complete the proforma.

UK-Korea Mobility Scheme proforma (DOCX, 80KB)

Please see the ‘budget’ section of the proforma for information about the UK cost model and reimbursement rates for this funding opportunity.

Where joint applications are proposed, please ensure separate financial information is provided for planned spend in the UK and planned spend in Korea.

Case for support

The case for support should be a maximum of three sides of A4. Text must be single spaced Arial, font size 11, and margins must not be less than 2cm. It must contain the following sections:

  • main objectives
  • summary of current links between UK and Korean applicants
  • details of the activities to be carried out
  • statement of added value – indicate the benefit of the proposed collaboration to UK and Korean science and in particular, the relevance to your current research projects.
  • applications must demonstrate how this award will facilitate longer-term collaborations between the UK and Korean applicants.

Gantt chart

A Gantt chart or diagrammatic action plan should be provided in the application form. Please outline the timelines for each of the activities to be carried out. Maximum one side of A4.


A CV is required for both the Korean and UK principal investigators (maximum two pages).

Letters of support (if required)

Where an individual (that is, non-reciprocal) exchange is proposed, a letter of support from the receiving research organisation confirming their support for hosting the researcher(s) is also required.

How we will assess your application

Assessment Criteria

MRC will conduct an internal assessment of applications received. Internal assessment of these proposals allows UK-Korea Mobility Scheme applications to be processed swiftly and in proportion to the size of the awards.

On the UK side, there will not be external peer review of the scientific programme, however, the funding currently held by researchers will be used as evidence in the decision-making process. On the Korean side, external peer reviewers will be used.

All proposals will be assessed against the following criteria:

  • value added to the existing collaboration
  • benefits and future joint research likely to accrue from the collaboration
  • potential sustainability of the collaboration
  • uniqueness of the opportunity and expertise of both partners
  • career development opportunities presented through the exchange of researchers
  • scientific excellence and feasibility of proposed activities.

Contact details

Ask about this opportunity

Eligibility and administrative queries about this scheme should be addressed to:

UK enquiries

Katie Dingley and Claire Ransted

International Relations

Medical Research Council (MRC) UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)


Korean enquiries

Eunjeong Yang

American and European Affairs

The National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF)


Additional info

Background and aim

The MRC has a strategic commitment to encourage international partnerships to tackle important and challenging research goals, while the Korean government is committed to fostering collaboration with the UK. As such, MRC, MSIT and NRF will jointly invest up to £200,000 to support the exchange of UK and Korea’s leading researchers.

The overarching aim of the UK-Korea Researcher Mobility scheme is to provide resources to biomedical and health researchers in the UK and Korea that will support the movement of researchers between research organisations across the two countries.

Grant duration

One year, with the possibility to extend depending on the outcome of travel uncertainties related to the pandemic.

Grant maintenance

All grant maintenance requests should be sent to


Successful UK applicants will be sent a standard MRC award letter and will be required to accept this award before they start spend. The MRC will reimburse the lead research organisation in arrears by invoice.

Successful applicants based in Korea will be required to submit a revised research proposal reflecting the evaluation results, and sign an agreement for the project. They are also required to comply with relevant laws and regulations of MSIT throughout the research period.


Should the award holder transfer to another eligible Institution the transfer of their partnering award will be subject to MRC, MSIT, NRF and host institute approval.


If a partnering award is terminated early, MRC, MSIT and NRF reserve the right to reclaim any unspent monies.

Data protection regulations

MRC will use information provided in the application for:

  • processing the proposal
  • the award of any consequential grant
  • the payment, maintenance and review of the grant.

To meet the research councils’ obligations for public accountability and the dissemination of information, details of awards may also be made available on the UKRI websites and other publicly available databases, and in reports, documents and mailing lists.

Reporting requirements

All MRC grant holders may be required to use researchfish to record key findings and specific outputs from their grants as per standard UKRI terms and conditions.

Grant holders must report outcomes on a regular basis for all current grants and UKRI will monitor submissions to ensure that acceptable levels of information are being provided into researchfish.

Detailed information on researchfish can be found at reporting your research outcomes.

MRC, MSIT and NRF may also require further information from the grant holders as part of the evaluation process for this scheme. Grant holders will be expected to assist with these requests.

Supporting documents

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