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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 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 Call for proposals and a copy of the Case for support form (also available through IRAMS) can be found here:

REMIT

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 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), 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. 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 infection, immunity & AMR, vaccine science, oncology, neuroscience, mental health, rare diseases and regenerative medicine. Whilst MLSTF 2020 will support projects addressing unmet clinical need across all modalities, we are actively encouraging applications in AI/Data science for health as well as innovative proposals for therapies and diagnostic tools targeting COVID-19.

Applications demonstrating academic-industry collaboration are particularly encouraged, principles and policies of a MRC Industry Collaboration Agreement (MICA) should be followed, with heads of terms being agreed with partners prior to application submission.  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.

NOVO NORDISK INNOVATION FUND

NovoNordisk.pngThe Novo Nordisk Innovation Fund is a pilot programme for 2020 which will run under the umbrella of MLSTF. Projects addressing unmet patient need in diabetes and other cardiometabolic disease (obesity, NASH, atherosclerosis, heart failure and chronic kidney disease) as well as within the field of rare endocrine and rare non-malignant blood diseases are eligible to apply for this stream. High priority will be given to projects that will identify and/or robustly validate novel targets in relevant diseases. Proposals should have or aim for strong human relevance (such as the use of human data, genetics and cells/tissues).  Novo Nordisk are also interested in novel therapeutic modality development and drug delivery technologies, including technologies for oral delivery of peptides and proteins, technologies for intracellular delivery or tissue targeting of drugs as well as novel gene therapy approaches. Researchers with relevant programmes of activity are strongly encouraged to apply.

To facilitate the co-development of projects with an appropriate Novo Nordisk researcher, Oxford-based investigators should submit a non-confidential Expression of Interest (EOI) to the Translational Research Office (TRO) by 12pm on 12 May 2020. This EOI should provide a summary of the proposed project, including a summary of supporting background data, objectives and proposed outcomes of the project and a justification for support explaining how your proposal is aligned to the Novo Nordisk priority areas identified above.

Funding provided will be in line with MLSTF, up to £75k per project with awards being made for direct costs only. It is anticipated that Novo Nordisk will be co-funding two projects through this scheme in 2020. For further information please contact the TRO. For further information on the Novo Nordisk Research Centre at Oxford see here.

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.

Whilst a ‘match’ contribution is not mandatory, it is strongly encouraged. The cost of individual projects in this case can be up to £150k with applicants being 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.

Applicants should note that the University Challenge Seed Fund is currently open for applications (closing date: 14 May 2020). Researchers should engage with both the TRO and Oxford University Innovation to discuss potential match funding models.

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 March 2022. 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 Translational Research 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 and Wellcome. 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.

It is envisaged that the available funds will finance in the region of 12-15 projects, with the Translational Research Office providing project management support for the scheme and projects where appropriate.

Opportunities to leverage match funding through University Challenge Seed Fund should be exploited through an additional application to the UCSF funding stream, closing date 14 May 2020.

The Novo Nordisk Innovation Fund is part-funded by Novo Nordisk.