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How to Apply

Applicants should complete an online application through IRAMS, which requests information about the principal applicant and any co-applicants or editors, a lay summary (non-confidential – please see resources available on TRO website for writing a succinct and impactful lay summary), a financial breakdown of your proposal (X5 report must be appended) and a case for support form uploaded to the IRAMS application system. You must incorporate all requested components of the case for support into one document (see below) and upload this in the template provided on IRAMS as a PDF. IRAMS Guidance in the form of quick reference guide documents for applicants, departmental approvers and administrators can be found on Research Support pages.

Please note that applications must be reviewed and approved in IRAMS by a Departmental Approver before they will be reviewed by the Committee; the advertised application deadline is the deadline for final submission to the MLSTF Committee. Departments may set an earlier internal deadline to allow for departmental review, so please check with your local admin team and submit your application to your Departmental Approver in advance of the advertised deadline. 

If you require an accessible version of either of these documents, please email

Applicants are strongly advised to use the ‘Guidance for Applicants’ document on ‘What are the panel looking for?’ hints under each section of the case for support form when completing your application.

Read an example of an outstanding proposal which has been recently awarded by the MLSTF committee panel.

A case for support (four pages max.) and CVs (one page max. each PI & CoI) for all applicants named in the application must be appended to the IRAMS application form in addition to a comprehensive Gantt chart (1 page max).  

The case for support must include:

  • A 250-word abstract of the proposal requesting MLSTF funding
  • Project objectives and proposed outcomes, including information about proposed development milestones and potential next steps following completion of the project to include, for example, sources of follow-on funding, plans for commercialization;
  • A timeline for your project, aligning with milestones to demonstrate that these are realistic both in terms of the objectives set and the time necessary to achieve them; identification of ‘critical path’;
  • A justification for support explaining how your proposal is aligned with the remit and objectives of the Fund;
  • Details of any industrial engagement in your project and plans to advance this;
  • IP status: Are third parties involved and how will IP be managed with respect to these collaborators?
  • A description of any matched funding secured.

The deadline for submission of MLSTF applications through IRAMS is Monday 16 September, 5pm.

Reviewing Guidelines

Projects will be scored from 0-9 (0=lowest; 9=highest) based on their potential for transition from discovery research to translational development through preliminary work or feasibility studies. Please refer to the ‘What are the panel looking for?’ hints under each section of the case for support form when completing your application.

Panel scores and definitions


Score definitions


The application is exceptional; it very strongly meets all of the assessment criteria to the highest standard. The panel agrees that it is difficult to articulate how the application could be improved.


The application is outstanding; it very strongly meets all of the assessment criteria.


The application is excellent; it strongly meets all of the assessment criteria.


The application is very good; it meets the assessment criteria well but with some minor weaknesses/limitations.


The application is good; it meets the assessment criteria well but with some clear weaknesses/limitations.


The application is adequate; it meets the assessment criteria but with clear weaknesses/limitations.


The application is weak; it meets the assessment criteria but with significant weaknesses/limitations.


The application is poor; it meets the assessment criteria but has major weaknesses/limitations.


The application is unsatisfactory; it does not meet one or more of the assessment criteria.


The application is unsatisfactory; it does not meet any of the assessment criteria.

Reviewers are asked to consider the following criteria when assessing your project(s):

Strength of rationale and quality of science

  • Objective and Approach: Is the proposed approach an effective way of meeting the plan’s objectives and is it based on a good scientific rationale? How innovative is the plan, or is it a tried and tested approach? Is the preliminary data promising and robust?

Unmet medical need

  • Is there a clear clinical impact and unmet need? If the need is not significant now, will it become so in the future? Would meeting this need significantly reduce disease burden and/or provide a valuable commercial opportunity and/or alleviate an important development bottleneck?

Project planning and execution

  • Project Plan: Does the plan propose reasonable go/no-go milestones? Do the milestones follow the SMART principle? Are the milestone timings appropriate and are the success criteria necessary and sufficient to judge progression? Are the proposed probabilities of milestones being met reasonable?
  • Project and Risk Management: Do the applicants have or likely will have the necessary project management experience to deliver the plan? Has the individual or group established a high-quality track record in the field? Does the applicant have the relevant team/expertise in place to deliver the proposed milestones?
  • Resource requirements, deliverability and Environment: Has the team identified and secured reasonable access to necessary resources/skills? Has the applicant recognised appropriate stakeholders (such as industry partners and key academic collaborators) to contribute in propelling the translational activity of the project? Is the budget realistic for the scale and complexity of the project? Have the applicants set out a clear and reasonable case for the requested levels of staffing and overall resources?

Future commercial opportunity or potential clinical, societal or global health impact

  • Competition and market: Have the applicant identified the key competing solutions and their status or are they aware of other similar or complementary research underway elsewhere? Has the applicant identified the key competitive advantages/USPs of their proposed solution? Is the cost higher than for competing solutions? Have safety and tolerability been considered? How likely is it that the proposed solution, if achieved, would be widely adopted?

IP position

  • Intellectual Property: Is there an appropriate intellectual property strategy in place to optimise the chances of downstream funding/partnering and ultimate exploitation? Is the research academic-led where industry is involved?

Downstream project planning/support:

  • Likelihood of developing a full proposalto be submitted to the MRC DPFS award scheme, or similar follow-on funding schemes, within the required timescale and budget.
  • Does the applicant have a clear plan towards clinical impact /commercialisation following completion of MLSTF?

Should ethics and/or home office approvals be required for the projects, priority will be given to those applications that already have these in place.

Applications will be reviewed by the MLSTF Committee, chaired by Dr Nessa Carey. Please note, the Committee membership comprises both internal academic and external commercial experts to ensure robust, vigorous review in line with funder recommendations. All external members are required to sign a CDA prior to reviewing applications. Applications submitted by ETIs will be ranked and reviewed separately to non-ETI applications.  

Further information on Committee membership

The panel meeting is anticipated to be held w/c 14 October 2024. Applicants will be notified by the end of October 2024 of the outcome.  Award letters will be sent out by mid-November 2024. Work must commence within 1 month of the award letter or otherwise agreed with the TRO.

Further information

All potential applicants are encouraged to discuss their proposed projects with the TRO (

Watch Tips for MLSTF videos on the TRO website.

The TRO can also assist with finding suitable collaborators and sourcing appropriate support and expertise through the Experts in Residence (ExIR) programme.

Applicants are also encouraged to discuss their proposal with Oxford University Innovation (OUI) well in advance of submission. OUI will be able to advise and support on the industry engagement and IP aspects of bids as well as the potential for match funding through the UCSF scheme.

For any further information regarding this scheme please contact:

Key dates

Expression of interest for Innovation Co-funding Strands

  • Opens: 19 June 2024
  • Deadline: 31 July 2024


  • Opens: 10 July 2024
  • Deadline: 16 September 2024
  • Panel meeting: 14 October 2024
  • Outcome: 30 October 2024
  • Award letter sent: Mid-November 2024

University Challenge Seed Fund

  • Opens: 8 August 2024
  • Deadline: 19 September 2024

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