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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 awarded the University of Oxford £840,000 under the fifth round of the MRC Confidence in Concept (CiC) scheme in early 2017. The purpose of this funding is to support the earliest stages of translational projects. CiC funding seeks 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 second half of this grant will be allocated in the latter half of 2017. The application format in the second round will include a preselection phase involving expressions of interest (EOI) and subsequent full application by invitation only.

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 remaining funding to successful projects from across 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. 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), and collaborations between physical science and medical research.

Applications for interdisciplinary research are particularly welcomed, it is anticipated that half of the funding available will be awarded to interdisciplinary projects. The Committee welcomes applications from Early Career Researchers and applicants seeking to establish independent research agendas. 

Projects must be able to articulate clear development milestones. These milestones will form the basis of a rigorous 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.

Expressions of interest should include 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 with your statement to discuss GCRF eligibility.

wellcome 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 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. Any industry contribution should be costed at 100% FEC or above in line with University policy. 

Projects are expected to be between 6 and 9 months in duration and have a start date of 1 January 2018 approximately, completing in late 2018 to allow reporting, reapplication to the MRC and completion of spend prior to the close of the CiC5 grant in February 2019.

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.

How to apply

Please submit your expression of interest online via the Internal Research Award Management System (IRAMS) by midday on Thursday 28th September 2017. 

Guidance in the form of quick reference guide (QRG) documents for applicants, departmental approvers and administrators can be found on Research Support pages.

Note that some departments may have set an earlier internal deadline so please check with your local admin team and prepare your application well in advance of the date advertised above. Applications must be reviewed online by departmental approvers and, where approved, submitted to the Committee for review before the deadline. 

Online application requests information about the principal applicant and any co-applicants or editors, a financial breakdown of your proposal and a case for support uploaded to the IRAMS application system. You must incorporate all requested components of the case for support into one document and upload this on IRAMS as a PDF. A template for this case for support is available on the online application form and must include requested elements as follows;

  • a half-page summary of the research project for which MRC Confidence in Concept funding is being sought, to include a description of the potential outcome, how CiC funding will enable further translation of the concept towards commercialization / implementation and the potential development milestones that could be used to monitor progress during the project.
  • A 150—word description of how you will engage or have already engaged with potential commercial partners relevant to the project together with any relevant information on current IP status or strategy.
  • Where relevant, a 200-word explanation of the project’s fulfilment of GCRF criteria, explaining 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.


  • 14 August 2017 - Call published

  • 28 September 2017 – Expression of interest submission deadline

  • 17 November 2017- Full application deadline
  • Mid-December 2017 – Final outcome

Recently-funded projects


  • MICA: Reprogramming tumor immunity by targeting tenascin-C: Kim Midwood; Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences; £65,568.80
  • T-cell receptor-like antibodies targeting p53: Alison Banham; Radcliffe Department of Medicine;  £41,490.19
  • Polymer-DNA nanoparticles for Therapeutic Intracellular Delivery: Andrew Turberfield; Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics; £22,506.00
  • Orthotopic colorectal cancer patient-derived xenograft models to test therapeutic manipulation of GREM1: Simon Leedham; Nuffield Department of Medicine; £75,000.00
  • Structure-Guided Design of Sonic Hedgehog Morphogen Inhibitors: Christian Siebold; Nuffield Department of Medicine; £15,000.00
  • Proof-of-concept controlled human infection with Plasmodium vivax malaria to accelerate Phase II clinical trials of vaccine candidates: Angela Minassian; Nuffield Department of Medicine; £65,000.00
  • How does BCG vaccination facilitate protection against malaria? Milicic, Anita; Nuffield Department of Medicine; £42,803.00
  • CMV-vectored vaccines: second generation vectors with improved safety profile:  Sarah Sebastian; Nuffield Department of Medicine; £22,634.85
  • Development of a novel bivalent vaccine to prevent both Salmonella Typhi and Paratyphi infections: Christine Rollier; Department of Paediatrics; £45,223.19
  • Ultrasonic electrospray of intact complexes from vesicles and exosomes: Carol Robinson; Department of Chemistry; £33,835.00
  • Non-invasive estimation of pulmonary blood flow in primary pulmonary hypertension : Peter Robbins; Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics; £40,674.00
  • New approaches to microsphere formulation for single dose prime-boost vaccine delivery: Anita Milicic; Nuffield Department of Clinical Medicine; £51,813.00
  • Utilising immune-dominant epitopes of limited variability to create a novel influenza vaccine: Sunetra Gupta; Department of Zoology; £50,421.00




Liam Murphy 

Confidence in Concept Committee


Chair: Professor Matthew Wood

Secretary: Liam Murphy


Professor Gavin Screaton

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 MacLean

Dr Thomas Hanke