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Confidence in Concept 2019

  • Time remaining: 2m 3w 2d 15h 36m
  • Status: Open
  • Open date: 4 Nov 2019
  • Closing date: 5 Feb 2020 16:00 GMT
  • Type: Grants, MRC strategic
  • Meeting date: 11 Mar 2020

Introduction

The Confidence in Concept (CiC) scheme is a key part of MRC’s translational research strategy and provides annual awards of up to £1 million to institutions to flexibly support a portfolio of early stage translational research projects. It is intended to accelerate the transition from discovery research to translational development projects by supporting preliminary work or feasibility studies to establish the viability of an approach.

Aims and remit

Ensuring that fundamental science is translated into new therapies, diagnostics and medical devices is central to our mission. The CiC scheme aims to accelerate the transition from discovery science to the early stages of therapeutic/biomarker development and de-risk rapidly projects across the translational lifecycle such that they become eligible for substantial funding bids.

The award provides institutions with locally administered, responsive and flexible funding to support a diverse portfolio of preliminary translational projects. The projects supported should aim to generate sufficient preliminary data to establish the viability of an approach before seeking more substantial funding, e.g. from the Developmental Pathway Funding Scheme (DPFS).  

Collaborative working and cross-sector skills flow are often key to successful translational development. Applicants are encouraged to explore how awards could be used to develop academic-industry interactions. These could be through co-funding projects, developing early stage collaborations and supporting short-term people exchanges aligned with the delivery of specific project objectives. Please see the MRC Industry Collaboration Agreement (MICA) on guidance on supporting collaborative research projects.

Recognising there is a need to support the initial phases of academic-industry engagement, we are piloting an additional feature to CiC this year – Applicants may flexibly use a small proportion, up to 15%, of the award to support early academic-industry engagement activities and people exchanges not specifically aligned with a translational project aim (activities previously supported through Proximity to Discovery: Industry Engagement Fund).

These may include:

  • People exchanges at all levels in either direction, less than 6 months in duration.
  • People exchanges between technology transfer offices in universities and business development teams in industry, where the placement will enhance the understanding of each other’s business model and allow them to better support their organisation in translations.
  • Showcases or workshops which enable Universities to develop relationship with potential industry partners.
  • Projects or events that would enhance academic understanding of industry or vice versa.
  • Creative ways to encourage new collaborations or two-way people exchange.

Applicants should outline the added value of such support to the institution, plans, governance to ensure support is available to the appropriate candidates and an estimate of the proportion of the award to be spent in this way. Applicants will be asked to report on activities supported.

Out of remit

The funding is not intended to support:

  • Entire translational projects – applicants seeking funding for entire projects are directed to DPFS
  • Administration costs
  • Industrial partner costs
  • Staff between posts/funding (i.e. as “bridging” funds), or PhD studentships
  • Continuation of normal research grants
  • Costs related to protection of intellectual property
  • Staff exchange into a spin-out company of the host institution

Awards and eligibility

Institutions may apply for an award up to £1 million.

We anticipate that only a small number of leading institutions that can show CiC funding will deliver transformative benefits will be awarded funding at the upper limit. Most institutions are encouraged to apply for lower value awards.

It is expected that applications will be led by one or more senior members of the institution (e.g. Dean of Medical School or equivalent). The normal MRC “response mode” eligibility rules apply, please see the guidance for applicants and the UK Research and Innovation website. 

Applications may be broad in scope or focused on a specific therapeutic area or intervention modality.

Institutional awards will be of 24 months in duration. Successful institutions are expected to allocate funds to projects such that all the activities would be completed by the end of the award. We anticipate that individual projects funded from an institution’s award will be of the order of £50-100k and approximately 6-12 months in duration, although this will be dictated by the needs of each project. People exchanges should not exceed 6 months in duration. To ensure transparency CiC award holders are expected to publicise panel membership and governance structures to their academic community.

Institutions can apply for CiC awards in consecutive years. However, these institutions should justify their request in light of the funding already received.

Where an institution has previously received CiC funding the review process will focus on the outputs and impacts delivered by the previous funding. A separate application form is available for institutions applying for renewal of funding. 

Only one application per institution is permitted. However, where there is scientific justification, an institution can apply as part of a focused collaborative application in addition to their individual institutional application. 

Joint applications from groups of institutions are welcomed – consortia may be able to demonstrate added values that individual institutions cannot, and these joint applications may request higher levels of funding than would be considered justified for a single institution (although within the £1 million limit). Consortia may be broad in scope or focused on a specific therapeutic area or intervention modality.

How to apply

Please use the CiC application form and return the completed application to DPFSandDCS@mrc.ukri.org no later than 4 pm on 5 February 2020.

The CiC application forms can be downloaded below.

For institutions that have not received CiC funding previously, please use the new application form:

For institutions that have previously CiC funding, please use the re-application form:

Assessment

Applications will be assessed and prioritised for funding by the CiC Panel which includes membership from both the academia and industry.

The Panel will consider all applications against the criteria outlined below:

Background scientific environment

  • Does the institution have a significant amount of on-going high-quality discovery research where translation could be accelerated?
  • Does the institution’s science offer opportunities in distinct areas not addressed elsewhere?

Translational environment and expertise

  • Does the institution provide a suitable environment to support progression from preliminary into full scale translational projects?
  • Will they provide expertise (including through links with industry) to help projects to develop appropriately?
  • Do they have a convincing strategy for translation?
  • Has translational performance so far been impressive?

Use, impact and governance

  • Is the proposed use likely to make a significant difference beyond what the institution already achieves?
  • Will the institution contribute additional funding or specialist advice/expertise?
  • Does the proposed governance give confidence that the funding will be selectively allocated and managed to best effect?
  • Are decision-making mechanisms based on high-quality expertise and experience, and are they transparent?

Project vignettes

  • Are these well thought through?
  • Is it clear what additional work is needed to progress each project?
  • Are endpoints clearly described?
  • Is it clear why the vignettes were chosen?

Plans for appropriate industrial engagement, if relevant

  • What activities or exchanges will be carried out? Are they appropriate?
  • What is the added value to the institute’s translational environment?
  • Are the decision-making mechanisms transparent and timely?

Use of previous awards and evidence of need for additional funding, if relevant

  • Is there a continuous demand for early translational project support?
  • Outcomes and impacts of previously supported projects
  • What is the institution’s risk-appetite? Has the institution maximised opportunities in innovative but risky projects?

The Panel will determine the applications that merit support and rank them by order of priority. The decision of the Panel is final and will not be open to appeal and the MRC reserves the right to amend the application process.

See more details on expected governance standards and reporting requirements.

Timeline

Activity

Date

Call open

4 November 2019

Call close

5 February 2020, 4pm

Panel meeting

11 March 2020

Contact

If you have any queries about the CiC scheme or would like to discuss your proposal, please contact: