Our application process

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Our application process

We accept applications for funding once a year. The grant round usually opens in March and is closed to submissions in April, but check our information for researchers page for the most up to date information. If your grant application is successful, you can expect your funding to start approximately 9-12 months from the submission date. Before you begin the process of submitting your application, it is advised that you read our funding criteria and download the application handbook. You can only apply for funding if you agree to all of our terms and conditions, including the procedures for assessing your application which are outlined by stage below.

The application process

Stage 1 - initial eligibility check

All applications will be subject to an initial review of eligibility against our funding criteria and research policies outlined in the application handbook. Applications which do not adhere to these conditions will be rejected at this stage.

Stage 2 - preliminary triage

All applications which pass stage 1 will be sent to our Scientific Advisory Committee for preliminary triage. This is where the committee consider how the application meets the remit of our Research Strategy and how likely the idea is to be competitive for funding.

Applicants whose applications are rejected following preliminary triage will be notified as soon as possible. Please note, we are not in a position to provide feedback at this stage and we will not enter into any discussion or debate surrounding the issue.

Please note: the principal investigator on an application rejected at this stage cannot submit an application in the next grant round. The same project cannot be submitted by another principal investigator.

Stage 3 - external peer review

Applications passing stage 2 will be sent out to external peer reviewers for full review. We aim to get two external reviews for each application.

All applications that include proposals to use mammals with special protection under UK law (cats, horses, dogs and non-human primates) will undergo an additional layer of peer review by the UK’s National Centre for the 3Rs for an expert assessment of animal welfare. For more information please read our animal research policy.


Stage 4 - Scientific Advisory Committee meeting

At the Scientific Advisory Meeting each application that has been peer-reviewed will be assessed by the committee on whether the application meets the remit of our Research Strategy. The four criteria under consideration are: innovation and creativity; focus and novelty; transformative and long-term; and scientific quality. An initial triage will take place at the meeting to remove applications judged by the committee to have no prospect of being funded.

The remaining applications will be discussed and graded by the committee. Applications will be awarded funding on the basis of this graded list until the allocated funds are expended. Inevitably some high quality projects with good external reviews will not be funded simply because we never have enough money to fund all the worthwhile projects which score highly.

Stage 5 - Notification of outcome

The outcomes of all applications assessed by the Scientific Advisory Committee will be reported to the applicant by email as soon as is practically possible following the meeting. For information, we will also enclose any comments provided by the external reviewers for the applicant. However, please note that we will not enter into any correspondence or discussion regarding the content of reviewer’s comments, or the decision of the Scientific Advisory Committee, which is final.

If your application has been successful, we will also send you our official grant contract by email, containing the award agreement, budget, terms and conditions and the schedule as detailed in the application handbook. It will be deemed that the terms of the award have been accepted on signature of the award agreement.