The MLSTF supports proof of concept projects at the earliest stages of translational research. This fund does not support exploratory basic science. It funds researchers to accelerate the transition from discovery research to translational development projects by supporting preliminary work or feasibility studies to establish the viability of a translational approach. Funding is also available for other additional support initiatives on existing projects, including market analysis.
The MLSTF is a consolidated fund comprising devolved funding from MRC, BBSRC and Wellcome.
The MLSTF Committee, comprising members of the Medical Sciences Division and Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences Division, as well as external members, will allocate funding to successful projects from across the University.
The Fund supports goal-oriented translational research projects with a strong scientific rationale and which meet a clear and important translational medical need. Projects should also demonstrate distinct advantages over competing translational approaches that are in development or are already available in the marketplace.
Projects proposed should broadly be in the scientific remit of MRC, BBSRC and/or Wellcome. Projects should aim to provide sufficient preliminary data to establish proof of concept, strategic merit in a translational context, or the viability of a translational approach (i.e. to provide confidence in the underlying concept, before seeking more substantial funding from other sources), such as MRC Developmental Pathway Funding Scheme (DPFS), BBSRC follow on fund or equivalent schemes from other funders, or from industry. An explicit outcome of the award of MLSTF is that projects should subsequently be strong candidates for external follow-on translational funding.
To be competitive, the project proposal should identify a critical path for generating preliminary proof-of-concept data that supports moving to the next stage of translation. The project should be milestone-based with clearly articulated and quantifiable markers, which will form the basis of a rigorous monitoring process that will take place throughout the project's lifetime. While it is assumed that failure to achieve a milestone may indicate that a project is unlikely to generate the evidence needed for progression to its ultimate goal of translation, the proposed project may be high risk provided that appropriate milestones are in place to mitigate risk.
All modalities of therapy and diagnostics including engineering/medical technology and bioinformatics approaches are welcomed. The research areas under which applications have been supported in the past include diabetes, cancer, inflammation, vaccine science, rare diseases, mental health, antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Added to this remit in 2018 are Bioscience for health; Agriculture and food security; Industrial biotechnology and bioenergy.
Applications for interdisciplinary research are particularly welcome; it is anticipated that half of the funding available will be awarded to interdisciplinary projects.
Any academic-industry collaboration supported should follow the principles and policies of a MRC Industry Collaboration Agreement (MICA). If your project involves collaboration with industry you will therefore need to agree heads of terms with any proposed industry partners before submitting your application. Please contact your local Research Services team who will be able to assist with this.
Where the partner is an existing or prospective spinout, there must be a strong and clear case that the proposed project is a new stream of work and not additional development of the initial technology that was licenced to the spinout. It should also be clear that the spinout is the most appropriate company to support this particular project. A clear statement of how conflict of interest will be managed must be included.
COSTING AND MATCH FUNDING
Funding available from MLSTF will be up to £75k per project. Awards will be made from MLSTF for direct costs only.
For projects in the MRC remit, a match contribution is required and therefore the total cost of individual projects can be up to £150k. Funded projects will be required to demonstrate at least 50% matching from another source of the direct costs awarded. Match funding from industry is especially encouraged; it is anticipated that half of the funding available will be awarded to projects able to demonstrate an industry match. Any industry contribution should be costed in line with University policy.
For projects in the BBSRC remit, a match is strongly encouraged but not a requirement. If no match funding is provided, the PI should state clearly in their application why match funding is not appropriate for their project.
Projects are expected to be no more than 12 months in duration and must have a start date that allows project completion in advance of February 2020 (for MRC remit) and March 2021 (for BBSRC remit). Please ensure that your project is scheduled accordingly and that the timeline is appropriate to the objectives and milestones set out.
The funding will not support: entire translational projects; bridging funding or PhD studentships; continuation of normal research grants; and costs relating to protection of intellectual property. Please also note that PI or co-applicant salary is not an eligible cost.
Awards will be managed from the Medical Sciences Divisional Office, on behalf of the University. Applications, scores and reviewer comments may be shared with other internal University panels to ensure maximum value for money.
SOURCES OF FUNDING
The MLSTF comprises funding from:
- MRC Confidence in Concept: ~£725k of project funding is available as part of the current award, which runs to February 2020.
- BBSRC Impact Acceleration Account: ~£210k of project funding is available as part of the current award, which runs to March 2021.
- Wellcome ISSF: ~£90k p.a. from the Wellcome ISSF is available for projects
Applicants are not required to identify the component part of this fund they are targeting, however they are welcome to do so if they feel their proposal fits very clearly with one. The Committee will decide which source of funds to allocate to successful projects and this will be communicated to applicants on award notification.