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The MRC CiC is a block grant provided to the University by the Medical Research Council. It is used to support the earliest stages of translational research projects. It is intended to accelerate the transition from discovery research to translational development projects by supporting preliminary work or feasibility studies to establish the viability of an approach.


The MRC has awarded the University of Oxford £840,000 under the fifth round of the MRC Confidence in Concept (CiC) scheme.  The funding will be used to support the earliest stages of translational projects. It is intended to accelerate the transition from discovery research to translational development projects by supporting preliminary work or feasibility studies to establish the viability of an approach. An Oxford Confidence in Concept Committee, comprising members from the Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences Division and the Medical Sciences Division as well as external members, will allocate the funding to individual projects within the University.


Projects should aim to provide sufficient preliminary data to establish the viability of a translational approach, i.e. to provide confidence in the underlying concept, before seeking more substantial funding from MRC Developmental Pathway Funding Scheme (DPFS) or equivalent schemes from other funders, or from industry. That is, an explicit outcome of the award of Confidence in Concept funding is that projects should subsequently be strong candidates for the successful award of DPFS or equivalent funding.

The Confidence in Concept scheme is not limited to the development of new chemical entities; all modalities of therapy and diagnostic are welcomed, including engineering/medical technology and bioinformatics approaches.

Applications for interdisciplinary research are particularly welcomed, it is anticipated that half of the funding available will be awarded to interdisciplinary projects.

Projects must be able to articulate clear development milestones. These milestones will form the basis of a rigorous monitoring / mentoring process that will take place throughout the project lifetime.

Any academic-industry collaboration supported through the Confidence in Concept scheme 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 in this.

All applicants must discuss their proposal with Oxford University Innovation well in advance of submission. Where an existing or prospective spin out is involved in the bid, there must be a strong and clear case that the CiC bid is a new stream of work and not additional investment in the spin out. 

GCRF Highlight

Of the £840k awarded from the MRC, £100k is part of the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) and is for projects of primarily relevance to developing countries classed as ODA (low and middle income countries on the DAC list). This includes, for example, research into tropical diseases, malnutrition  and developing health interventions designed for developing country conditions. The costs may still be counted as ODA if the research is carried out in a developed country.

CiC GCRF Highlight bids should 1) meet all the CiC requirements, 2) Be ODA compliant and focus on addressing problems faced by countries on the DAC list, 3) and fit one or more of the descriptions below

  • strengthen capacity for research and innovation within both the UK and developing countries
  • address a development need, and focus on developing country problems
  • promote the welfare and economic development of countries on the DAC list
  • provide an agile response to emergencies where there is an urgent research need.

Bids should provide a 200 word description of GCRF eligibility, including why the problem being addressed is one for developing countries and also identify appropriate pathways to impact to ensure that the developing country benefits from the project. If you think that your bid fits within this highlight then please contact well in advance of the deadline to discuss GCRF eligibility.

wellcome trust issf highlight

Bids that are strategic in nature e.g. building platforms for use across multiple disciplines or departments may be funded by a contribution from the Wellcome Trust ISSF. This will be decided at the Committee meeting.

 Costing and match funding

The award will be used to support a number of preliminary-stage projects. The total cost of individual projects will be in the order of £100-150k. Awards will be made for up to 50% of the direct costs of the project only. Direct costs requested from the CiC are anticipated to be in the range of £50k-£75k per project. Funded projects will be required to demonstrate at least 50% matching from another source.

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. The Industry price should cover any associated overheads, however the match funding requirement applies to the direct costs only. Therefore any industry contribution will be the direct cost match plus the associated overheads. 

Projects are expected to be between 6 and 9 months in duration and have a start date before or on 1 October 2017.

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.

How to apply

The full proposal should include:

  • the application form
  • a two page summary of the research project for which MRC Confidence in Concept funding is being sought
  • a one page CV (including ten recent publications) for each applicant named in the application for
  • An X5 costing admin output for the project, this does not need to be submitted to Research Services

The two page summary should clearly describe the added value of an award, and include: 

  • Lay summary (no more than half a page)
  • Research objectives and proposed outcomes, including information about proposed development milestones and potential next steps following completion of the project e.g. sources of follow on funding, plans for commercialisation.
  • Research project timeline
  • Justification for support. If applying for GCRF highlight please provide a clear description of how the project meets the criteria.
  • Industry engagement
  • IP status

There is no Expression of Interest stage.


  • 5 May 2017 – Call published

  • 3 July 2017 – Application deadline

  • 1 August 2017 – Final outcome

deadline and submission

Applications should be sent to no later than midday on Monday 3 July 2017.


Liam Murphy 

Confidence in Concept Committee


Chair: Professor Matthew Wood

Secretary: Liam Murphy


Professor Chris Kennard

Professor Donal Bradley

Professor Chas Bountra

Professor Constantin Coussios

Professor Antony Galione

Professor Helen McShane

Dr Paul Ashley

Dr Maxine Allen

Professor Alex Markham

Dr Trevor Howe

Dr Nicholas Edwards

Dr Andrew McLean