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Skills & careers

Industrial CASE studentships

MRC industrial Collaborative Awards in Science and Engineering (iCASE) studentship scheme 2017

Driving innovation and collaborating with industry remains at the heart of MRC strategy and delivery plans.

Our industrial CASE (iCASE) PhD studentship scheme has for many years played a key role in this by helping develop partnerships and enabling students to benefit from a broad and unique training experience (See RCUK joint vision for collaborative training).  

Given this previous success and the enormous potential that industry-academic collaboration has to offer for UK society and the economy, we wish to enhance the flexibility of the MRC iCASE studentship scheme.

2017 call

From 2017 we are introducing a different approach to iCASE studentship support. Instead of the previous system, where investigators submitted individual iCASE studentship project and training proposals directly to an MRC annual competition and then recruited to this one position, we will instead allocate studentships directly to research organisations (ROs)for one intake year in the first instance (2018), but potentially up to three intake years (2018, 2019 and 2020).

This will enable iCASE studentship opportunities to be created and implemented in a more flexible and scalable way, in particular giving both industrial and academic organisations more control over the timescales of their collaborations. Participating ROs must be strongly committed and well-placed to deliver the scheme’s objectives, which are to:

  • provide students with experience of collaborative research with a non‐academic partner
  • strengthen and develop collaboration and partnerships between ROs and non‐academic partner organisations
  • offer outstanding students an experience of at least two distinct research cultures
  • provide access to a wider-than-usual range of technology, facilities and expertise
  • enable the student to spend a period of time with the non-academic partner (usually no less than three months over the lifetime of the PhD)

Any investigators who planned to submit individual iCASE studentship applications to MRC (under the old system) should instead liaise with their local Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) or post-graduate study coordinators to submit an institutional-level case for iCASE studentship positions.

Who can apply?

Both MRC DTP and non-DTP ROs will be eligible to apply.

ROs that are already part of a DTP should apply as part of that DTP and not lead their own separate bid. Each RO may only lead on one bid but may partner on others where there is a clear strategic case for this relationship; no bid should be dependent on another bid being successful. MRC Units and Institutes are eligible to apply but, when co-located with a DTP, would normally be expected to be associate partners and not to lead a bid.

How to apply

Please see MRC guidance (PDF, 174KB)for how to apply and assessment criteria. Institutions will need to meet the following requirements in their proposal: 

  • Details of how the RO/DTP has developed, or is developing, a strategy for industrial collaboration, with large companies and/or SMEs, that will provide opportunities for high-quality iCASE studentships.
  • Details of how ROs will identify suitable projects, partner companies, supervisors, and students in future and the current arrangements that are in place for this.
  • A governance structure for leading and coordinating iCASE studentships (or for DTPs, how this will be integrated with the current governance arrangements).
  • For DTPs, providing evidence of the number of MRC PhD studentships which have already been converted to iCASE studentships and/or a clear strategy for converting existing studentships. For non-DTPs, describing the broader RO training environment and explaining how this will support the training and development needs of the iCASE students and align to the RO’s strengths.
  • Wherever possible, provide details of complementary in-kind or cash contributions to the MRC’s iCASE investment from ROs or industry partners. Expectations for non-academic partner contributions will be consistent with the previous rules, for example SMEs will still be exempt from making cash contributions to stipends and project costs.


The call for the revised scheme will be open 18 May 2017 with a deadline at 4pm on 20 July 2017. Decisions will be made in September.

Conversion of DTP studentships into iCASE studentships

Universities in receipt of an MRC Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) have the flexibility to convert DTP studentships into iCASE studentships, if appropriate for the project, partners and student. Non-academic partner contributions should adhere to MRC’s current guidelines (PDF, 174KB):

  1. An annual cash contribution to the academic partner towards the cost of the project of at least £1400 per annum, for the period during which research data are being collected and analysed – a minimum of 80% of the approved length of the studentship;
  2. A mandatory cash payment of at least £2500 per annum as a supplement to the stipend for the entire length of the studentship award.
  3. A cumulative period of no less than three months spent working in the facilities of the industrial collaborator. This 3 month period can be at any point during the studentship and may consist of a number of shorter visits if appropriate.
  4. The company’s costs while the student is working at the premises of the company.
  5. All additional expenses, such as the cost of travel and accommodation incurred by the student as a direct result of attendance at the premises of the cooperating body.

SMEs are exempt from making cash contributions to stipends and project costs. The MRC DTP flexible supplement can be used to meet these additional costs where the collaborating partner is an SME.

MRC contact

For queries relating to the requirements of the competition please email: