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MRC-KHIDI UK-Korea Dementia Research Call 2019

Please note this opportunity is now CLOSED.
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The Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Korea Health Industry Development Institute (KHIDI) are pleased to invite proposals for the MRC-KHIDI UK-Korea Dementia research call 2019.

This initiative will provide funding for high-quality collaborative research projects focused on addressing the global challenge of dementia.

In total, up to £1.35 million will be made available for this initiative: up to £600,000 from MRC in support of the UK-based researchers and up to 1.10 billion South Korean Won (~£750,000) from KHIDI in support of the Korean-based researchers.


The dementias are one of the toughest medical and economic challenges facing society today. Around 50 million people live with dementia worldwide - with one new case every three seconds. In the UK alone, 850,000 people are estimated to be living with dementia, costing the healthcare system over £26 billion a year. And the incidence of dementia will continue to grow as the populations of the UK and South Korea continue to age.

The UK and Korean governments have both identified dementia as a key health priority and have made significant recent investments in this area. The MRC has a strategic commitment to encourage international partnerships to tackle important and challenging research goals, while KHIDI is committed to fostering collaboration between the UK and Korea, and has chosen the UK as one of six of its global business offices.

MRC and KHIDI share the view that in order to tackle the increasing burden of dementia, we must bring together the necessary funds and expertise by pooling resources. Our shared aim is to bring a solution for all dementias. This is by definition an international and long-term aim; we cannot tackle this problem in isolation.

Objectives and scope

The Korea-UK Dementia initiative aims to provide support for joint Korean and UK projects focused on dementia.

The objective is to deliver research funding for internationally competitive and innovative collaborative partnerships between researchers from South Korea and the UK that will enable the pursuit of shared research interests.

Research proposals must address one or more types of dementia, including but not limited to Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, frontotemporal dementia, vascular dementia and Huntington’s disease.

Proposals must fall within the remits of both funders and seek to generate scientific outcomes of relevance to the prevention, diagnosis and/or treatment of dementia. The research project should include translational research (from human clinical research to clinical practice). On the Korean side, the research should be at a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of 3 (experimental proof of concept) or higher. On the UK side, the project can also be at lower TRLs and the MRC research funding can also be used to integrate basic science into the overall project.

Examples of potential research projects include, but are not limited to:

  • development of new diagnostic technologies to improve the specificity, sensitivity and cost-efficiency compared to existing diagnostic technologies
  • development of technologies for dementia prevention and early dementia diagnosis (pre-clinical stage of dementia) for example, approaches to identify new biomarkers
  • diversification of therapeutic targets for new drug development for dementia
  • development of systems for enhancing the delivery and targeting of drugs/biological agents to sites in the brain.

On the Korean side, the goals should include that:

  • at least two papers (preferably with the Korean and UK PIs as main authors) are published in highly ranked journals within the top 10% of impact factor in each sector
  • the research content should include the scope of experimental proof of concept or higher technology readiness levels.


Projects must start in the UK and Korea on or before 1 April 2019.

On the UK side, projects must be three years in duration and have completed by the end of March 2022.

On the Korean side, projects must be 1.75 years in duration and have completed by the end of December 2020.

Please refer to the standard MRC Guidance for Applicants for information on what the starting procedure entails. Please inform the relevant support staff in your organisation of this requirement to ensure the project starts on time.

How to apply

UK and Korean applicants must apply separately to their respective funding agencies by 13 February 2019 for the funding component requested within each country, but this must be based around a common research plan and vision. Both partners must therefore submit an identical joint Case for Support written in English to the MRC and KHIDI. The submission to KHIDI (via the KHIDI R&D Portal) must also include an identical Case for Support in Korean. Failure to submit a valid application to both sponsors will invalidate both submissions.

As there will be a single Case for Support, it is vital that the joint application form provides full details of the work proposed for both the UK and Korean components.

UK applicants must submit to the MRC via the UKRI Joint electronic Submission (Je-S) System. The Je-S submissions must be received by 16:00 GMT on the day of the deadline. UK applicants must complete all sections required for a standard research council grant proposal. Further guidance can be found in the general MRC Guidance for Applicants as well as the specific MRC UK Guidance for Applicants for this call.

An identical version (in English) of the call-specific Justification of Resources template should also be submitted to both MRC and KHIDI.

Funding available

In total, up to £1.35 million will be made available for this initiative. The funding agencies intend to use these available funds to support two projects, subject to quality.

MRC will make up to £600,000 available. UK based applicants may therefore request up to a maximum of £300,000 to cover the UK component of the research project. The MRC will provide funding under standard arrangements and at 80% of the full Economic Cost (fEC). The UK element of funding will not cover UK PhD studentships or requests for capital items.

The KHIDI contribution of 1.10 billion South Korean Won (around £750,000) will be made available to fund the South Korean collaborators.

KHIDI will contribute ₩550,000,000 in total per project (including overhead costs) for no more than two years in duration. The Korean spending profile should be:

  • first year (April 2019-December 2019): ₩235,000,000 (including overhead costs of ₩47,000,000)
  • second year (January 2020-December 2020): ₩315,000,000 (including overhead costs of ₩63,000,000).

Spending obligations

Due to the tight time scales of this call, successful UK research organisations will need to adhere to strict spending requirements. For this call, the end date of the proposed research should be no later than 31 March 2022. The UK payment profiles are likely to be slightly irregular for this scheme.

Online networking database

MRC and KHIDI have created an online networking database with information about researchers based in the UK and Korea who are interested in finding possible collaborators for this call. If you require the spreadsheet in a different format, please email international@mrc.ukri.org

The final copy of the online networking database was made available on this MRC call page on 17 January. Researchers completing the form should be aware these details will be made public.

UK and Korean researchers interested in finding potential collaborators for the call were invited to complete and submit a networking template by 9 January for inclusion from 11 January or by 16 January for inclusion from 18 January.

The networking template had to be completed in English and submitted to international@mrc.ukri.org with an email subject line ‘MRC-KHIDI networking template’.


This call will fund partnerships between UK and Korean based researchers working in the area of dementia. It is important to note that:

  • the proposal should be developed by a UK PI and a Korean PI
  • principal investigators may only submit one application to this scheme as principal investigator, but may be involved in more applications if listed as a co-investigator.

The funders are not seeking to support partners outside of the UK and Korea through this initiative. Please contact international@mrc.ukri.org if you are planning to involve co-investigators from a third country in your proposal.

For support under this call, applicants must be eligible to apply for funding from their respective country’s funding agency:


For the UK participants, standard UKRI eligibility criteria as described on the UKRI website will apply. Research organisations that are eligible to apply to the MRC, for example MRC units and institutes may apply to this call.


For the Korean participants, standard KHIDI eligibility criteria as described on the KHIDI R&D website will apply. Research organisations that are eligible to apply to the KHIDI, for example university units, independent research organisations, university medical centres may apply to this call.

Assessment criteria and decision-making process

To be funded, proposals must be internationally competitive and at a standard equivalent to that normally expected to be supported by each funding organisation.

Each application will be assessed by MRC and KHIDI panels, both of which will comprise academic experts. Applications will not be subject to a separate written peer review process under this scheme, nor will applicants be required to provide a response to reviewers’ comments.

The process will consist of the following steps:




Initial checks:

Eligibility checks

Eligibility checks

Step 1 of peer review:

Review by UK panel

Review by Korean panel


Top 4-6 applications jointly selected

by MRC and KHIDI for step 2

Step 2 of peer review:


Oral presentation

Final selection:

Consensus meeting of MRC and KHIDI

(via teleconference and email)

Selection of the final projects will be made through mutual discussion between MRC and KHIDI.

Key assessment criteria for the submissions will be:




(Korean panel)


(UK panel)

Fit with call

Project fit with call objectives



The necessity for international collaborative research

Significance and impact of international collaborative research


Relevance of research objectives

Specification of research objectives


Feasibility of goal attainment


Feasibility of research plan

Specific implementation plan and setting of achievable milestones


Partnership (feasibility of the collaborative research plan)


Excellence of research

Excellence of research content


Excellence of research collaboration


Excellence of researchers and network

Excellence of UK and Korea principal and co-investigators


Excellence of UK and Korean research teams and network


Socioeconomic impact

Expected research outcomes


Ethics and governance

Ethics considerations and governance arrangements





Key dates

  • Call opens: 21 December 2018
  • Closing date for proposals: 13 February 2019 (The UK proposal must be submitted on Je-S by 16:00 GMT. The Korean proposals must be submitted to KHIDI.)
  • Assessment of proposals: February-March 2019
  • Grant awarded: End of March 2019
  • Projects start: April 2019.

Collaboration agreement and intellectual property

As the research projects will be carried out by multiple research organisations and project partners, the basis of collaboration between the organisations and project partners, including ownership of intellectual property (IP) generated during the project and rights to exploitation, and costs of IP management (this is not an eligible cost to MRC), is expected to be set out in a formal collaboration agreement between the research organisations involved. It is the responsibility of the research organisations to put such an agreement in place before the research begins. The terms of collaboration shall not conflict with MRC and KHIDI terms and conditions.

Further details are provided in the specific UK application guidance for this call.

Contacts and guidance

Please read the UK call text, the scheme specific UK Guidance for Applicants, the standard MRC Guidance for Applicants and any relevant KHIDI guidance, including the Korean call text.

An identical version (in English) of the call specific Justification of Resources template should be submitted to both MRC and KHIDI.

Applicants may wish to use the online networking database – please see the online networking database section for details.

For further information, UK applicants should contact: international@mrc.ukri.org

For further information, South Korean applicants should contact: Korea Health Industry Development Institute (KHIDI)

Tel: +82 43 713 8163

Email: kdwon0527@khidi.or.kr