Partnership grant

What is a partnership grant?

Partnership Grants provide core funds for one to five years to support partnerships between diverse groupings of researchers and can be used for infrastructure support, platform activities and for bringing together managed consortia or multidisciplinary collaborations.

The Partnership Grant scheme is NOT designed to fund research that can be funded by our standard schemes, but can support collaborative activities. Typically, successful Partnership Grants include a varying combination of the following components: networking and partnership activities, underpinning infrastructure activities (either for establishing a unique resource or exploiting it), capacity building and primary research. Please refer to Partnership Grants case studies in the Boxes 1-4 as exemplars of successful grants, detailed within the Partnership Grant Guidance Annex (PDF, 320KB). Funding can be provided for the following activities:

  • Establishing multi-disciplinary collaborative partnerships or consortia
  • Developing strategy to strengthen research activity across the field
  • Knowledge sharing across research departments, or between Institutions
  • Training, career development and capacity building (excluding fellowships but including PhD studentships, see details on ‘Studentships’ below)
  • Establishing shared infrastructure, for example staff, systems, equipment, seminars, workshops.  This could include a co-ordinated set of needs-led and complementary networking activities (including outreach work and travel) with a defined output. Applications for funding to support only networking activities will be rejected.
  • Exceptionally, small scale, pilot, proof of principle, multidisciplinary, high risk projects which will strengthen the Partnerships’ strategy may be considered but should not be the focus of the application

These activities may be applicable to environments such as:

  • Multi-institutional/multi-disciplinary groupings
  • Strategic partnerships between organisations

Typically, a Partnership Grant will require a management structure with an identified leader or co-ordinator who will manage the funding on behalf of the MRC to ensure that progress is made against well-defined aims.

For information regarding MRC supported funding activities for Partnership Grants (including what can be requested on a Partnership Grant), please see section 1 – 3 of the associated Partnership Grant Guidance Annex (PDF, 320KB).

Who can apply?

The partnership must be led by a PI based at research organisation (RO) that is eligible to apply in response mode.  Please see the RCUK website for information on eligible ROs.

This scheme is open to those based at a University Unit, but is not open to MRC Institutes and Units. However, MRC Institutes and Units can apply as co-applicants on any grant.


The lead PI must demonstrate that they will direct the proposed partnership activities and manage the funding on behalf of the MRC to ensure that the objectives are fully delivered (for further information regarding applicant suitability, please see page 2, section 2.2 of the Partnership Grant Guidance Annex (PDF, 320KB)).


MRC does not expect studentships to form a major component of Partnership Grant applications. Studentships may be included where distinctive added value to the students’ training experience can be demonstrated, such as through a unique environment created by the proposed Partnership. For further information regarding the inclusion of Studentships (and associated costs), as part of any Partnership Grant please see (Page 3, section 3.4 Studentships) Partnership Grant Guidance Annex (PDF, 320KB).

How to apply and who to contact

Applicants interested in submitting a Partnership Grant must contact the appropriate MRC Programme Manager and provide a brief abstract of the Partnership Grant to help them consider fit to the scheme. This initial contact with the MRC Programme Manager should take place a minimum of 6 weeks before the relevant submission deadline (for further information regarding Research Board Submission deadlines please see here).

Following receipt of the abstract the MRC Programme Manager will provide advice how best to shape the Partnership Grant and request a pre-application Case for Support.

For further information regarding the pre-application stage and subsequent pre-application Case for Support process, please see the ‘How to apply’ section on page 4 of the Partnership Grant Guidance Annex (PDF, 320KB).


Please select the appropriate  link below to read each Research Board’s remit and scope. Each page also contains details of the science area for each Board Programme Manager and their email contact information:

Potential Partnership  Grant applicants are advised to read the Partnership Grant Guidance Annex (PDF, 320KB) before contacting MRC.

Please note that this Annex has been recently revised during October 2014.

Case Studies

MRC have provided four Partnership Grant case studies examplars of successful grants, which are detailed within the Partnership Grant Guidance Annex (PDF, 320KB).

Box 1: Case Study (Page 2 (PDF, 320KB)): Towards a Collaborative Computational Project for Electron cryo-Microscopy (CCP-EM).

Box 2. Case Study (Page 3 (PDF, 320KB)): Childhood Arthritis Response to Treatment consortium (CHART): partnership to define stratified medicine tools for childhood inflammatory arthritis.

Box 3. Case Study (Page 6 (PDF, 320KB)): Partnership to investigate the emergence of MRSA clones in cattle.

Box 4. Case Study (Page 9 (PDF, 320KB)): Building multi-site clinical research capacity in Magnetoencephalography (MEG).