Proximity to Discovery: Industry Engagement Fund is designed to provide flexible funding for innovative ways to enable the initial development of academic-industry collaborations.
A bottleneck to the establishment of new collaborations is the limited ability to support early interactions and knowledge exchange between industry and academic researchers.
Proximity to Discovery: Industry Engagement Fund (P2D:IEF) will support a small number of Research Organisations to use creative approaches to building relationships with industry partners.
MRC’s Confidence in Concept (CiC) scheme provides responsive and flexible funding to support preliminary work aimed at assembling the data to support an application for a translational project grant. CiC permits academic-industry collaboration where focused on the delivery of the specific project objectives. The Proximity to Discovery: Industry Engagement Fund aligns with CiC to further enable research organisations to establish academic industry relationships. Short term people exchanges between industry and academia are seen as a key way of exchanging skills and knowledge and developing a longer term working relationship. Proximity to Discovery: Industry Engagement Fund can be used for people and knowledge exchange at the very earliest stage of a collaboration and may not necessarily be aligned to a specific project objective.
Funding will enable research organisations to be proactive in developing opportunities for collaboration and allow a greater flexibility to respond quickly to opportunities when they arise.
Applications to this scheme do not need to specifically address a translational aim. Examples of potential uses include:
- People exchange that allows for an exchange of skills or knowledge which will enable new collaborative projects to develop.
- P2D:IEF supports people exchange at all levels but this year the MRC would particularly like to encourage people exchange of post-doctoral staff.
- An additional change this year is P2D funds can be used to support academic and industry costs related to people exchange.
- People exchanges between Technology Transfer Offices in Universities and Business Development teams in industry, where the placement will enhance the understanding of each other’s business model and allow them to better support their organisation to develop medical research collaborations with industrial partners.
- Other creative ways to encourage new collaborations or two-way people exchange to increase the permeability between industry and academia.
- Projects that would enhance academic understanding of industry or vice versa
- Showcases/workshops which enable Universities to develop relationships with potential industry partners
Principles of the scheme:
- Applications to this scheme will be considered by the same Panel as CiC (membership can be found here).
- The same exclusion criteria apply as for CiC.
- Institutions may apply to this scheme and CiC in the same round. The two applications do not need to be led by the same individual but the applying institution will need to present a persuasive case that the proposed governance structures will be coherent.
- Institutions applying to the scheme must be able to demonstrate that they have sufficient critical mass to be able to deliver engagement with industrial partners that will result in partnership opportunities.
- Applications are not expected to be in excess of £250k and are to be spent within 18 months of the award starting.
- Two-way people exchange opportunities should be made available to those best placed to benefit and promote continued collaboration and can apply to both academic lab based staff (e.g. principle investigator, research assistant or associate, technician, fellow or student) and non-lab Technology Transfer and Research Office staff.
- Exchanges are not expected to exceed 6 months.
- Partnership opportunities should be encouraged with a range of industrial partners.
- This year funding can be used to cover both academic and industry costs for people exchange.
- Successful institutions are expected to allocate funds to projects within the first 12 months of the award.
- The normal MRC “response mode” eligibility rules apply; please see the applicants’ handbook and the Research Councils UK website.
- Only one application per institution is permitted. It is expected that applications will be led by one or more senior members of the institution (e.g. Dean of Medical School or equivalent).
- The funding is not intended to support academic research projects which could be funded by other sources (e.g. normal MRC funding calls or CiC).
- The funding is not intended to support staff exchange into a spin out company of the host RO.
- Previous awardees of P2D:IEF can apply in consecutive years but must be able to show the added value of continued funding.