Strategic Aim One:

Picking research that delivers

Strategic Aim Two:

Research to people

Strategic Aim Three:

Going global

Strategic Aim Four:

Supporting scientists

International partnerships & shaping the agenda

Research is an international activity and the landscape for research cooperation across the world is ever changing. There are new global challenges to tackle and potential new research partnerships arising as governments in emerging economies increase their investment in science and innovation.

The MRC has opportunities to form strategic partnerships that will lead to world-leading collaborative research, and to enable UK scientists to engage with the best minds, ideas and resources wherever they are located. Working in partnership allows us to leverage resources that increase the value of our work and lead to greater impact.


To provide international leadership in partnerships which enhance the competitiveness of the UK knowledge and health base and to influence the international research agenda.


  • We provide leadership in policy areas, including peer review, open access publishing and research integrity, to gain better alignment with UK strategic needs and in international funding activities.
  • Throughout the EU’s seventh framework programme (FP7) the MRC has been the UK lead on the health theme, providing the national contact point for UK health academics. We have helped to ensure that the UK was the top beneficiary of EU funding for health through the FP7 co-operation programme and the Innovative Medicines Initiative.
  • The MRC led the development of the Strategic Research Agenda of the European Joint Programme Initiative (JPI) on Neurodegenerative Diseases and led on research mapping for the Strategic Research Agenda of the JPI on microbial challenge.
  • As part of our commitment to 'Going global' the MRC has taken on the management of the research council offices in India, China and the United States to strengthen the UK’s international research links.

Making an impact: UK performance in the Seventh Framework Programme

The Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) was the main mechanism used by the European Commission to fund research across Europe during the period 2007-2013.

As the UK lead on the FP7 Health Programme Committee, the MRC took a pro-active approach to shaping the framework programme in consultation with the Department for Health and the Office for Life Sciences, and provided the National Contact Point (NCP) for health, providing guidance on FP7 calls to the UK academic community. Based on grant agreements signed prior to March 2013, the UK was the top beneficiary of funding in health research receiving a total of €653m.

The MRC also represents the UK on the Member States representative group of the FP7 Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), which supports collaborative academia-industry research projects to boost pharmaceutical innovation in Europe. In the first five IMI calls, UK scientists received over 30% (€120m) of IMI funding - far higher than any other member state – with UK participation in all but two of the projects funded.


The MRC will continue to use its experience, expertise and resources to encourage international partnerships that tackle important and challenging research goals.

  • We aim to capitalise on the MRC’s reputation for excellence, authority and independence to influence the international research agenda and provide leadership in areas of research policy.
  • We will leverage funds from partners to enhance our investments and increase the scale of the challenges that we can tackle.
  • We will seek to influence the regulatory environment for research that is subject to EU or other legislation, or to international guidelines.
  • We will facilitate UK researchers' access to international research infrastructures.


Our objective is to encourage opportunities for UK scientists to engage with the best researchers in the world.

  • We will invest in partnerships to carry out research that the UK cannot deliver alone, for example through the Human Frontiers Science Programme, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory.
  • We will work through the international framework of Research Councils UK (RCUK) to coordinate our international strategies with other research councils and build on the work of the RCUK offices overseas.
  • Working with UK partners we will monitor and attempt to amend EU legislation in line with UK policy, and work through Science Europe to coordinate policy development with other European countries.
  • We will explore opportunities for strategic funding partnerships with research funders in other countries and facilitate new research initiatives for instance with emerging economies such as India or China.
  • We will ensure that the MRC retains influence and a high profile by networking with the heads of international research organisations, policy-makers and public–private partnerships.
  • We will influence the Horizon 2020 agenda to address key needs such as antimicrobial resistance and research into dementia, building on the work of the JPIs in these areas.