Back to listing

DBT-MRC Joint Centre Partnerships

  • Status: Closed
  • Open date: 28 Jul 2014
  • Closing date: 29 Sep 2014 16:00 GMT+1
  • Type: Calls

The MRC and the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India  invite proposals to the UK-India Joint Centre Partnerships call.  This initiative seeks to build upon substantial pre-existing collaborations between high quality research teams based in the UK and India.

In total, the MRC will invest up to £3.5million for this initiative, which will be matched by DBT.

The Newton Fund

The Newton Fund is a new initiative intended to strengthen research and innovation partnerships between the UK and emerging knowledge economies. It was launched by the Chancellor in April 2014, and will deliver £375 million of funding over the course of five years.

The Fund forms part of the UK’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitment which is monitored by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). ODA funded activity focuses on outcomes that promote the long-term sustainable growth of countries on the OECD Development Assistance Committee list. Newton Fund countries represent a sub-set of this list. For more information please visit the MRC Newton Fund page.



In order to encourage the strengthening of UK - India research partnerships, the MRC and the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India are holding a call for “Centre Partnership grants”. These grants will be made available to centres or consortia of existing partners who are already in receipt of both MRC and DBT funding with the aim of:

  • Enhancing existing partnerships between the UK and India to further develop collaborative research.
  • Strengthening the strategic relationship between the UK and India.
  • Supporting the mobility and exchange of MRC- and DBT-funded researchers to enhance established links between researchers in both countries.

Scientific remit

MRC and DBT would particularly like to encourage applications in the following areas:

Cancer biology

This includes understanding the basic biological mechanisms relevant to the aetiology of cancer or mechanisms involved in cancer metastases. It also includes development of novel therapeutics, including chemical biology approaches for drug discovery.

Translational regenerative medicine in neuroscience

Applications in this area will focus on regenerative medicine research approaches to neurosciences/neurological disorders which have the specific aim of turning fundamental discoveries into improvements in human health. This would be by targeting pre-clinical and clinical development to human proof-of-concept studies.  In short applications in the area will be aimed at translating promising research into the clinic.

Antimicrobial resistance especially resistance to antibiotics.

We are facing a rise in the number of bacteria becoming resistant to existing antibiotics without an increase in new antibiotics or new treatments. It is clear that an interdisciplinary approach is needed to tackle these challenges and make a step change in addressing this growing global problem. Collaboration between the UK and India will facilitate sharing information, tools, compound libraries, datasets and screens to acquire new insights into the emergence and spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria, the evolution of resistance and to drive the discovery of new diagnostic, preventative and therapeutic strategies for bacterial infections particularly antibiotic resistant strains.

It is anticipated that one partnership will be funded in each area.


The centres will be jointly funded by the MRC and DBT. Each centre should develop one node in the UK and one node in India.

Although funding will be made available to expand upon and enhance currently funded research activities, this call is primarily focused upon developing and enhancing the research partnership.

Applications must demonstrate the ability to progress current collaborative research activities, enhance current links and build and strengthen sustainable partnerships between the UK and Indian nodes. Successful applications will demonstrate potential benefits to the UK and India.

The partnership activities are not prescribed and a programme of activities should be developed and justified for each application which addresses the specific needs of the partners.

Examples of partnership activities which could be supported include, but are not restricted to:

  • Joint research projects between researchers at the partner centres in one of the three areas detailed above
  • Laboratory exchanges, including short and longer term visits, exchange of Ph.D students, post-doctoral researchers and visiting fellows.
  • The establishment of adjunct faculty positions at the partner centres
  • Enabling the sharing of key resources across the partner centres
  • Supporting wider activities to strengthen links, for example holding symposia, workshops, seminars, meetings etc.
  • Equipment that will support the joint research project.


Funding may be used for travel, subsistence and other activities, such as workshops or exchanges. Awards will also support salary costs, consumables, items of equipment and other research costs related to research partnership activities.



Awards will only be made available to existing centres or consortia. Please view the DBT-MRC Guidance: How to Apply (PDF, 59KB) document for scheme specific definitions of ‘centres’ and ‘consortia’.

UK and Indian partners must have demonstrable pre-existing and on-going research links.

UK and Indian partners must already be in receipt of both MRC and DBT funding.

Full eligibility details can be found here: DBT-MRC Guidance: How to Apply (PDF, 59KB)


Funding available

MRC funding will be awarded to the lead UK host HEI under standard arrangements and at 80% fEC. Up to £3.5 million is available from the MRC, which it is anticipated will provide funding for up to three centre partnerships (approximately £1.16m per centre), subject to quality. These resources will be matched by DBT who will fund the Indian components.

MRC funding may be spent in India with the agreement of the partner organisations.

This programme is funded in part by the Newton Fund. Please visit the Newton Fund website for more information.

DBT-MRC Joint Centre Partnership grant spending must be complete within the Newton Fund period i.e. by 31 March 2019. DBT and MRC intend to begin support in late 2014.


Terms and conditions

The partners will adhere to the terms and conditions of their respective funders. UK researchers must adhere to the standard MRC terms and conditions, including annual reporting via the ResearchFish tool.


Contacts and guidance

Further details relating to this call can be found here: DBT-MRC Guidance: How to Apply (PDF, 59KB)

All enquiries should be directed in the first instance to:


Alex Harris             
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7395 2214


Dr. Shailja Vaidya Gupta
Telephone: 91-11-24363748