Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Pre-announcement: UK Japan Engineering Biology for Novel Therapies and Diagnostics Research Collaboration

Apply for funding to support research projects focused on engineering biology for novel therapies and diagnostics research. We are looking for internationally competitive, full-scale collaborative and innovative partnerships.

We invite joint applications by parallel submission from researchers based in the UK and Japan.

This funding support will enable important synergy between researchers with shared or complementary interests.

MRC will provide matched funding and bi-lateral support with the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED) for up to three years.

This is a pre-announcement and the information may change.

The funding opportunity will open January 2024. More information will be available on this page then.

Who can apply

For support under this funding opportunity, applicants and organisations must be eligible to apply for funding from their respective country’s funding agency.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

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

We support people to work in a way that suits their personal circumstances. This includes:

  • career breaks
  • support for people with caring responsibilities
  • flexible working
  • alternative working patterns

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

What we're looking for


For this funding opportunity AMED and MRC define engineering biology as the process of taking synthetic biology concepts and translating them into real-world solutions. It is the design and fabrication of biological components and systems, from modifications of natural systems through to artificial biology. For the purposes of this activity, engineering biology refers to:

  • the development or use of synthetic biology, using engineering principles, to design and fabricate biological components and systems
  • the adoption of synthetic biology into industrial processes
  • the development of tools and technologies that specifically support synthetic biology

Important note: Full details of the scope will be available at the launch of the joint funding opportunity in January 2024.


We will fund projects lasting three years.

Funding available

This initiative will provide funding for up to three collaborative research projects. In total, MRC will make up to £3 million available in support of the UK components. Approximately 158 million JPY, in total for the three year period per research project, will be provided by the AMED in support of the planned Japanese research.

MRC will fund eligible costs applicable to the UK research requested by the UK project lead.

MRC will fund 80% of the full economic cost and 100% of permitted exceptions, related to the UK research costs.

The Japan-based project lead and associated costs for Japan-based research will be funded by AMED.

Find out more about full economic costing.

How to apply

To apply we will invite joint applications by parallel submission from researchers based in the UK and Japan. Applications will be assessed through a joint process. This support will enable important synergy between researchers with shared or complementary interests.

We are running this funding opportunity on the new UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Funding Service. You cannot apply on the Joint Electronic Submissions (Je-S) system. We will publish full details on how to apply when the funding opportunity opens.

Contact details

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

For questions related to remit and scientific aspects of this specific funding opportunity email:

For general questions related to MRC funding including our funding opportunities and policy email:

Sensitive information

If you or a core team member need to tell us something you wish to remain confidential, email us at

Include in the subject line: [the funding opportunity title; sensitive information; your UKRI Funding Service application number].

Typical examples of confidential information include:

  • individual is unavailable until a certain date (for example due to parental leave)
  • declaration of interest
  • additional information about eligibility to apply that would not be appropriately shared in the ‘Applicant and team capability’ section
  • conflict of interest for UKRI to consider in reviewer or panel participant selection
  • the application is an invited resubmission

For information about how UKRI handles personal data, read UKRI’s privacy notice.

Additional info

Research disruption due to COVID-19

We recognise that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused major interruptions and disruptions across our communities. We are committed to ensuring that individual applicants and their wider team, including partners and networks, are not penalised for any disruption to their career, such as:

  • breaks and delays
  • disruptive working patterns and conditions
  • the loss of ongoing work
  • role changes that may have been caused by the pandemic

Reviewers and panel members will be advised to consider the unequal impacts that COVID-19 related disruption might have had on the capability to deliver and career development of those individuals included in the application. They will be asked to consider the capability of the applicant and their wider team to deliver the research they are proposing.

Where disruptions have occurred, you can highlight this within your application if you wish, but there is no requirement to detail the specific circumstances that caused the disruption.

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