Proximity to Discovery: Industry Engagement Fund

Flexible funding to assist research organisations to use creative approaches to establish and develop relationships with industry partners.

Fund Information

Funding body:
Medical Research Council (MRC)
Maximum value:
£ 250,000
Application deadline:

Extended Description

The Medical Research Council’s (MRC) Proximity to Discovery: Industry Engagement Fund is a scheme designed to assist research organisations in the UK to use creative approaches to building relationships with industry partners. The Fund aligns with another MRC scheme, Confidence in Concept, to better enable research organisations to establish academic-industry relationships. Proximity to Discovery can be used for people and knowledge exchange at the very earliest stage of a collaboration and need not necessarily be aligned to a specific project objective.

Awards from the Fund should 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 the scheme do not need to specifically address a translational aim. Examples of potential uses include:

  • Projects that would enhance academic understanding of industry or vice versa.
  • Showcases enabling universities to highlight the opportunities they provide for potential industry partners.
  • People exchange that allows for an exchange of skills or knowledge which will enable new collaborative projects to develop.
  • 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.

Eligibility Criteria

The normal MRC “response mode” eligibility rules apply. Only one application per institution is allowed and it is expected that applications will be led by one or more senior members of the institution (eg Dean of Medical School or equivalent).

Institutions may apply to this scheme and Confidence in Concept 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.

Previous awardees of P2D:IEF can apply in consecutive years but must be able to show the added value of continued funding.

Value Notes

A total budget of £15 million is available to support both Confidence in Concept and the Proximity to Discovery: Industry Engagement Fund.

Applications to Proximity to Discovery are not expected to be in excess of £250,000 and should be spent within 18 months of the award starting. 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.


Awards are not intended to support:

  • Entire translational projects.
  • Administration costs.
  • Industrial partner costs.
  • Staff between posts/funding (ie as bridging funds), or PhD studentships.
  • Continuation of normal research grants.
  • Costs relating to protection of intellectual property.
  • Staff exchange into a spin out company of the host research organisation.

Terms and Conditions

Applications will be assessed on criteria such as:

  • Possession of sufficient critical mass to be able to deliver engagement with industrial partners that will result in partnership opportunities.
  • Capacity to make two-way people exchange opportunities available to those best placed to benefit and promote continued collaboration (whether principal investigator, research assistant or associate, technician, fellow or student) to spend time based at the industrial partner or research organisation.
  • Potential to create partnership opportunities with a range of industrial partners.

Application Procedure

Applicants should download, complete and return the relevant application form, including applicant details and a case for support, to DPFS& by the next closing date of 7 November 2017.

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