Funding

3. Resources

Research proposals will be assessed on the quality of the research and value for money in terms of the resources requested, including whether or not the funds requested are essential and adequate for the work and justified by the importance and scientific potential of the research. For more information on assessment criteria please see our Guidance for Peer Reviewers.

Costs sought should be specified as far as possible in the research proposal. As a general principle, any cost or activity that can be directly attributed to the research project that is being undertaken is considered to be an allowable cost, so long as it is fully justified. Information on justification of resources can be found in section 2.2.4.

All research grant proposals and post-doctoral fellowship applications will be costed on the basis of full economic costs (FEC). If a grant is awarded, the MRC will provide funding at 80 per cent of the FEC and the RO(s) must agree to find the balance of FEC for the project from other resources. 

Please note, some calls have different FEC rates to the standard 80 per cent eg global health. Refer to call guidance for further information.

Universities and other HEIs will use transparent approach to costing (TRAC) methodology to calculate FEC. Other ROs can apply for FEC, provided that the methodology they adopt has been validated by the RCUK Funding Assurance as appropriate and robust.

3.1 Full economic cost/Transparent approach to costing

All grants and fellowships (except pre-doctoral Clinical Research Training Fellowships) should be costed on the basis of the full economic costs (FEC) necessary to deliver the research. If a grant is awarded, the MRC will typically fund 80 per cent of the FEC and the RO(s) must agree to find the balance of FEC from other resources. Some awards are made at different FEC rates eg global health. Applicants should refer to the specific call guidance for further information.

Universities and other HEIs will use transparent approach to costing (TRAC) methodology to calculate FEC. Dispensation rates can be used by those ROs who do not comply with TRAC. More information can be found on the RCUK website

3.2 Fund types

Under FEC, costs must be presented within four fund types in the Je-S proposal form (see section 1.7.1 on using Je-S). The fund heading and type will depend on the nature of the cost incurred.

Fund type

Fund headings

Examples

Directly Incurred (DI): Costs that are explicitly identifiable as arising from the conduct of a project.

Charged to projects as the cash value actually spent and supported by an auditable record.

  • DI - Staff
  • DI - Travel & Subsistence
  • DI - Equipment
  • DI - Other Costs
  • Salary of any member of the research team (eg PI, CoI, postdocs, technicians, statisticians, technologists, methodologists etc.) working 100% of their time on this project or where their time is supported by a full audit trail
  • Consumables (includes small items of equipment costing <£10k inc VAT)
  • Consultancy fees
  • Subcontractor costs
  • Recruitment costs
  • Equipment specific to the project (>£10k inc VAT)
  • Costs for registering trial

Directly Allocated (DA): Costs of resources used by a project that are shared by other activities.

Charged to projects on the basis of estimates. Do not represent directly auditable costs on a project-by-project basis.

  • DA - Investigators
  • DA - Estates Costs
  • DA- Other Directly Allocated (includes pool staff, infrastructure technicians and other staff)
  • Salary of PI and CoIs if they are working on several projects and activities
  • Salary of postdocs, technicians, statisticians, technologists, methodologists working within core facilities and shared with other activities
  • Facility usage costs
  • Estates costs (set rate agreed for each RO)

Indirect Costs: RO overhead costs

Indirect Costs

Costs of the RO’s administration such as staff, finance, library and some departmental services (set rate agreed for each RO).

Exceptions: Costs that would normally come within the Directly Incurred heading but the Research Council will fund at 100 per cent of FEC.

  • Exception - Staff
  • Exception - Travel & Subsistence
  • Exception - Other Costs
  • Costs incurred by overseas organisations, including salary costs and contribution towards indirect and estates costs where the research is being undertaken in a developing country
  • Costs directly incurred by an MRC unit/institute (see section 3.8 for more information)
  • Studentships on centre grants
  • Gene sequencing
  • Externally contracted social surveys
  • Biomedical Catalyst calls only: certain costs in excess of £50,000 for sub-contracts with contract ROs (see Section 3.6 for more information)

Costs that are NOT eligible include:

  • Publication costs (see section 3.7 Open access publishing)
  • Computers can be requested but we expect that the university will provide computers and laptops for research staff on continuing contracts (including PIs and CoIs).
  • Patent costs and other IP costs are not eligible as universities already receive funding for these from HEIF.

3.2.1 Research staff costs

MRC encourages and supports collaborative research projects and team approaches. Salaries may be sought for any member of staff who will be involved in delivering the aims and objectives of the proposed research.  This may include postdocs, research fellows, research assistants, research nurses, technicians, statisticians, technologists, methodologists etc. (this list is not exhaustive).

The costs associated with the different members of the research team may appear as a Directly Incurred (DI) or Directly Allocated (DA) cost depending on their contribution to the project. There is no limit on the number of research staff included in a project as this will depend on the nature of the research being undertaken. However, applications will be assessed on the basis that the number of staff and their stated time commitment to the work is appropriate and sufficient. See section below on ’Researcher salary costs charged to the project’.

Researchers should be included under the DI heading if the costs are actual, auditable and verifiable eg a researcher will dedicate 100% of time to the project. Where a researcher will not work 100% of their time on one project they can still be included under the DI heading but their time needs to be supported by a full audit trail eg timesheets or project records.

Researchers should be included under the DA heading if the time spent on the project is estimated eg a researcher working on several projects and activities.

The Je-S proposal form allows research staff to be included in 3 different sections. The table below shows where and how different team members should be included.

Section of Je-S proposal form

Role

Fund type

Investigator

Principal Investigator

DI if spending 100% of their time on this project OR if actual time known and supported by a full audit trail eg timesheets or project records.

DA if the time spent on the project is estimated and will not be supported by an auditable record.

Please note that although a PI can claim 100% of their time on one research project PIs would normally spread their time across several projects and other academic/clinical/administrative duties.

Co-Investigator

DI if spending 100% of their time on this project OR if actual time known and supported by a full audit trail eg timesheets or project records.

DA if the time spent on the project is estimated and will not be supported by an auditable record.

Exceptions if based overseas.

Staff

Researcher

This category can include any member of the project team that is not PI or CoI eg postdocs, research fellows, research assistants, research nurses, technicians, statisticians, technologists, methodologists etc. (this list is not exhaustive).

DI if spending 100% of their time on this project OR if actual time known and supported by a full audit trail eg timesheets or project records

DA if the time spent on the project is estimated and will not be supported by an auditable record

Exceptions if based overseas

Technician*

 

Can either be part of a pool of technician effort (should be included as cost/hour)

 

OR

 

Specific (named or unnamed) technician post

If not already included in the estates or indirect cost rates:

 

DI if spending 100% of their time on this project OR if actual time known and supported by a full audit trail eg timesheets or project records

 

DA if the time spent on the project is estimated and will not be supported by an auditable record

Other staff

 

Other Directly Allocated Costs

Pool staff

 

Pooled staff effort is usually taken to mean access to staff effort where the specific individuals/posts work on several projects or activities

DI if timesheets are in use

 

DA if the time spent on the project is estimated and will not be supported by an auditable record

 

Infrastructure technicians

If the institution has calculated infrastructure technician rates (separately from estate rates), they should be added to the proposal in the same way as estates and indirect rates, which is as a standard rate/research FTE.

Other

 

* Not included in FTE multiplier for indirect and estates

 

Researcher time charged to the project: The maximum number of hours which may be charged to Research Council and other public-funded projects by researchers is 1,650 hours per annum (equivalent to 37.5 hours a week, 44 weeks a year). All staff information throughout the proposal should be entered using this formula when answering questions regarding percentage of time worked.

Proposals need to show the costs of time to be charged to the project by investigators (PI or CoI). This will be derived from hours on the project and relevant salary rate (which could be based on an average or pool rate). Investigator time, not cost, must be justified in the proposal.

It is the responsibility of the RO to have a process in place to monitor the time claimed by any researcher to ensure that no more than the maximum amount of time is claimed over all grants in which that individual is involved. They should also ensure that estates costs for any individual do not exceed 100 per cent FTE across all grants by all Research Councils.

Researcher salary costs charged to the project: Salaries should be sought at a level commensurate with the skills, responsibilities and expertise necessary to carry out the proposed research activity. This must be justified in the proposal.

If an application includes provision for a named individual this should reflect their current salary and take into account their previous experience, professional contribution and research responsibilities. The level requested must be justified in the proposal.

If the proposal is to be submitted before the RO has agreed details of any pending pay revisions, the Research Councils expect that the proposal will be costed on the basis of the organisation’s present pay structure. Salary increments over the period of the project should be taken into account but future pay awards should not be anticipated.

Clinical trainee salaries should be costed to be commensurate with the appropriate NHS pay scale and training stage for the candidate.

Indirect and estate costs: Only individuals categorised as research staff on the proposal form attract an indirect and estate cost. Technicians and other research support staff, such as computer officers, project managers, engineers etc., are not regarded as research staff and therefore are not included in FTE multiplier for indirect and estates. The TRAC Guidance provides details.

In exceptional cases individuals employed as technicians, nurses etc. can be treated by the RO as research staff, and categorised as such on the proposal form; in such cases the staff would attract an indirect and estate cost.

Investigator’s time and salary is already wholly (100 per cent) supported via active research grants, MRC Unit/Institute funding, MRC University Unit core funding, or single separate fellowship provided by the Research Councils: The application must make it clear that their time and salary has already been wholly funded (in Justification of Resources) and request zero salary (under DA).

Investigator is retired/emeritus/honorary staff: If a PI or CoI is retired/emeritus, the expectation is that their involvement in the project would be covered by a contract within the RO.  Where the contract includes reimbursement of time, that cost can be included (up to a maximum equivalent of 37.5 hours a week) on the grant, usually under DI staff costs. If the investigator is not paid a salary by the RO then the application should show their hours attributed to the project but with zero salary requested. Estates and Indirect costs can be requested regardless of whether they are getting a salary/payment or not.

Where a PI is due to retire before the grant has ended, then the grant must also include details of a costed replacement for the remaining period.

PIs and CoIs whose working time is not fully funded either from other Research Council grants or from another source and are not paid a salary by the RO (eg honorary staff), should show their hours attributed to the project, but with zero salary cost request.

Collaborative researchers: The MRC will consider meeting the salary costs of senior collaborative researchers, invited from a recognised centre in the UK or abroad, to work in the UK for up to one year giving full-time advice or assistance on the research project. Salaries should be included under the DI fund type and calculated in relation to staff of equivalent status in the host RO.

3.2.2 Directly Incurred Costs

These are any cost that is explicitly identifiable as arising from the conduct of a project. Cost will be charged as the cash value actually spent and supported by an auditable record.

3.2.2.1 Travel and subsistence

An application may include funds for travel and subsistence for staff assigned to the project where these are required by the nature of the work. Travel costs should be based on the most suitable and economical form of travel. In line with government instruction as of 24 May 2010, no travel should be undertaken by first class (by train), business class (by plane) or the equivalent thereof. All train travel should be by standard class and any flights should be at the economy rate. All applicants should actively seek best value for money where it is practical and feasible and should fully justify why the transport is required.

Costs for attendances at conferences may be included, where such attendance will be of direct benefit to the research. Conferences should, as far as possible, be individually identified in the proposal and attendance justified. Please note that costs associated with a conference where the date of the conference falls after the end date of the grant cannot be claimed.

Additional child care costs beyond that required to meet the normal contracted requirements of the job, and that are directly related to the project, may be requested if the institutional policy is to reimburse them. This may include attendance at conferences and workshops that are directly related to the project. Childcare costs associated with normal working patterns may not be sought.

The MRC will also consider requests to meet the costs of travel and living expenses for:

  • Collaborative working visits on the proposed research
  • Learning of special techniques

Subsistence and any catering costs for events should reflect the normal rates applying to the host RO and will need to be fully justified in the justification for resources. Alcohol can only be included if accompanying a meal.

3.2.2.2 Equipment

The MRC will meet the costs of new equipment (including computers and software), the costs of equipment repairs and major spares, the costs of external maintenance agreements and the cost of equipment relocation and installation, where required by the proposed research.

Where equipment purchased under a previous MRC grant is to be used in the new project, a share of the continuing maintenance cost attributable to the new work can be sought unless already provided by other grant support.

Equipment purchased by universities and colleges on MRC grants is normally eligible for VAT relief, and VAT should therefore be excluded from proposals.

The host institution should make its own arrangements for applying for exemption from import duty.

Costs to meet externally commissioned surveys (through a procurement/contract with a professional provider) may also be included, providing that the survey is not undertaken by the PI or a CoI. Externally contracted social surveys are funded within the Exceptions heading at 100%.

All equipment must be justified in the ‘Justification of Resources’ attachment as part of your application. Please see RCUK equipment guidance for further information.  

Single items of equipment costing between £10,000 (£8.33k ex VAT) and £138k (£115k ex VAT)

Any equipment bought or leased for the project which costs £10,000 (inc VAT) or above should be included under the DI ‘Equipment’ fund type heading. Please note the £10,000 includes all component parts of the equipment requested.

Where the call is a capital call, costings over £10,000 such as refurbishment should also be included as equipment.

Applicants are asked to request that their institution contributes towards the cost of any capital items or equipment over £10,000 (inc VAT). The RO is expected to contribute 50 per cent of the cost. Funding boards/panels do look at RO contributions and any RO contribution of less than 50 per cent should be fully justified or it may be viewed as the RO being less committed to the PI.

Items of equipment costing between £10,000 (£8.33k ex VAT) and £138k (£115k ex VAT) require explanation in the ‘justification of resources’ attachment.

Single items of equipment costing over £138k (£115k ex VAT)

Should be included under the DI ‘Equipment’ fund type heading.

From 1 April 2016 the upper equipment threshold will be £138k (£115k ex VAT; the limit was formerly £113,057 ex VAT). Items of equipment costing between £10,000 (£8.33k ex VAT) and £138k (£115k ex VAT) require explanation in the justification of resources. Items of equipment above £138k (£115k ex VAT) require a two page business case outlining the strategic need for the equipment and three quotations for each individual item. Please see Je-S help pages or the RCUK equipment guidance document for more information on meeting this requirement.

Please note where it is not possible to provide 3 quotes eg due to the specialist nature of the item concerned, the RO must upload dummy quotes in addition to the actual quote(s) to enable the application to be submitted.
Equipment for instrument development

Items of equipment for instrument development will be funded at 100 per cent FEC, although the MRC reserves the right to request institutional contributions in exceptional circumstances. This only applies to individual pieces of equipment. Other equipment requested on the proposal not related to the instrument development will be subject to MRC rules for equipment.

A proposal will be classed as instrument development where it is wholly or mainly focused on creating a novel instrument that will either enable research capability not available using any existing instrument, or will substantially improve research capability beyond what currently exists, in a way that opens up significant new scientific opportunities.

The equipment section in costings should be completed as outlined below. All fields must be completed for each entry when making an application and costings should be at current prices with no allowance for inflation.

Heading

Description

Description

A brief description of the equipment so that what is being requested can be identified

Country of manufacture

The country where the item was manufactured

Delivery date

Please estimate this if not known

Basic price

Not including VAT

Import duty

Mark as 0 if none has been incurred

VAT

Mark as 0 when it can be reclaimed by the RO

Total

Total cost (excluding any VAT etc that can be reclaimed)

Amount sought

Total amount requested (this will normally be 50 per cent  of total cost)

3.2.2.3 Other costs

Other allowable costs include any costs that are explicitly identifiable as arising from the conduct of a project.

Animal costs

These costs may be shown as either DI or DA. Applications must include a breakdown of animal costs, including weekly maintenance charges, in the Je-S application form in the section ‘Resources – Animal costs’. See the relevant Je-S help page for more information.

A more detailed justification of the costs incurred should be given in the ‘justification of resources’ attachment.  This should detail the total number of animals requested, and justify the resources requested for purchasing, breeding, maintaining and using the chosen number of animals. No experimental or statistical details should be included in this section (see section 4.1 ‘Use of animals’),

In some cases, adherence to the principles defined in section 4.1 will require additional resources eg for identification of animals (by microchip for example), increased maintenance charges resulting from randomisation procedures, or salary costs associated with obtaining statistical support. The MRC recognises this and will support such costs where fully justified in the appropriate sections.

Sub-contractors

A sub-contractor is contracted by the lead organisation to carry out work or provide a service for the project. They are being paid a set amount for a set piece of work. This should be costed as one sum on the application and must not include any indirect or estates costs. Subcontracting will be funded at the standard full economic costing (FEC) rate for the call (usually 80 per cent). Gene sequencing can be requested at 100 per cent.

RO collaboration, CoIs and project partners are not sub-contractors and should be included in the appropriate section of the application.

All sub-contracted work should be subjected to external competition to ensure best value for money through competitive purchasing processes. Where this is not possible because of the specialist nature of the work involved, it must be fully justified in the justification of resources.

Other costs directly attributable to the project may include:

  • Consumables
  • Recruitment and advertising costs for staff directly employed on the project, provided they occur after the date of the award letter
  • Relocation costs may be included for named staff who will be moving, provided the RO has a general policy in place to pay relocation costs and they are not already included as part of indirect costs
  • Additional childcare, beyond that required to meet the normal contracted requirements of the job, and that are directly related to the project, may be requested if the institutional policy is to reimburse them. However, childcare costs associated with normal working patterns may not be sought.
  • Scanning/surveys
  • Cost of the International Standard Randomised Controlled Trial Number (ISRCTN) registration fee

Please note that publication costs should not be included. See section 3.7 Open access publishing for more information.

3.2.3 Directly Allocated costs

These comprise any direct cost that will be calculated on the basis of estimates.

3.2.3.1 Estates

Estate costs provide a share of the cost of providing the physical infrastructure for research. These costs may include building and premises costs, basic services and utilities and any clerical staff and equipment maintenance or operational costs that have not been included under other cost headings.

They will be calculated by each RO using TRAC methodology, so will vary between ROs and also between departments within ROs. A single figure will be required at time of application.

Where any named individual will be working away from the RO on long-term secondment for a period in excess of six months during the project, estates costs should not be charged for the period of secondment. No reductions should be made for shorter term absences.

Where the level of staff effort to be awarded is different to that requested, the RO will be required to re-calculate within 10 working days the estates and indirect costs, using the same costing basis applied to the original application to include  the TRAC rates which were applicable at time of application.

Please note that estates cannot be included for technicians and research support staff.

3.2.3.2 Other directly allocated costs

These comprise all other direct costs calculated on the basis of estimates. Items that can be included within this heading are:

  • Charge out costs for use of major facilities
  • Charge out costs for use of existing equipment
  • Charge out costs for departmental technical and administrative services
  • Animal costs – see section 3.2.2.3

Charge out costs will vary by RO and this will be taken into consideration during the review process.

3.2.4 Indirect costs

These include the costs of administration such as staff, finance, library and some departmental services.

Like estates, indirect costs will be calculated by the RO and a single figure is required for the application.

Please note that indirect costs cannot be included for technicians and research support staff.

3.2.5 Exceptions

Applicants should consult with the relevant programme manager about the scientific justification of their exceptional cost and in the case of overseas CoIs, be able to demonstrate that required expertise was not available in the UK. Applicants must also include in the proposal covering letter (to be uploaded as an attachment in their Je-S application) the name of the programme manager with whom they have discussed the proposed exceptional cost and briefly provide any further justification.

The ultimate decision will be made by the board or panel. Specific questions about MRC policy should be directed to RFPD@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk

Applications submitted to any of the international calls or jointly-funded global initiatives are not required to do this as the vast majority of costs are likely to be exceptions.

3.3 Overseas costs

The costs for work undertaken at an overseas organisation are admissible and should be discussed with the programme manager before submission of the application. This excludes MRC overseas units who should follow the guidance in section 3.8. Similarly, applications submitted to any of the international calls or jointly-funded global initiatives are not required to do this as the vast majority of costs are likely to be exceptions.

Investigators or project partners at overseas organisations are generally not eligible to receive indirect and estates costs. However, where the research is being undertaken in a developing country the MRC may contribute towards indirect and estates costs at its discretion if it will assist in developing research capacity. Applicants should seek guidance from the MRC programme manager in advance of submitting the application.

Where allowed, indirect and estates costs associated with overseas locally employed staff should be included as exceptions. Although the MRC will not question the indirect costs and estates costs rates declared by overseas ROs, the full cost of the proposed research (including indirect and estates costs) will be taken into account in any assessment of value for money.

The following table summarises which costs are admissible and at what rate the MRC will pay these costs.

 

Description

Discuss with programme manager in advance

MRC FEC contribution (per cent)

Costs for overseas CoIs and any locally employed staff eg per cent of actual salary, travel and expenses. Must be entered as exceptions.

Yes

100

Costs charged by the overseas organisation and associated with the research eg consumables, field work etc. Must be entered as exceptions.

 

Yes

100

A contribution towards indirect and estates costs at the overseas organisation, where the research is being undertaken in a developing country, where it can be shown that it will assist in developing research capacity (calculated as 20 per cent  of the overseas organisations’ directly incurred costs). Must be entered as exceptions.

Yes

100

The costs of any service or product procured (for use in the UK) from an overseas supplier (eg mouse, antibody strains, cells lines, assays etc).

No

80

Travel and subsistence (including bench fees) for UK-based researchers going abroad to undertake work. This does not include costs incurred directly by the overseas organisation when the researcher is active in that country.

No

80

Overseas costs may not include:

  • Overheads (estate or indirect costs) for an overseas CoI, or any locally employed staff in a developed country.
  • Overseas project partners costs – this may apply, for example, where a project partner provides guidance/advice in return for receipt of research benefit but where intellectual input is not sufficient for CoI status.

 

3.4 Industrial partner costs

The level of contribution expected from the industrial partner depends on the intellectual property arrangements between the academic and industrial partners. Please refer to MICAs for further information including what can be included under industrial partner costs. Where IP arrangements have been pre-negotiated, the industrial partner is expected to contribute a minimum of 25 per cent for basic research or 50 per cent for applied research of the total project costs (ie total cost of project industry costs and academic costs).

Full details should be entered in section 4 of the MICA form and the sum entered as DI Other on the Je-S form.

Please note however that the general rule is that only the costs of the academic partner will be met if the grant is funded. This will be funded at the normal scheme FEC rate (usually 80 per cent)

3.5 NHS costs

Applications may be made for research costs associated with NHS studies. Costs included in these applications comprise of:

  • Research costs
  • NHS treatment costs
  • NHS support costs

Research costs of a study. The MRC will only fund costs which fall under this heading. These are funded at the appropriate FEC rate (usually 80 per cent). The research award does not include NHS support and/or treatment costs, although the MRC will take NHS support and treatment costs into account when considering the value for money of the research.

Where a research study takes place in, or involves the NHS, Department of Health guidance on the responsibilities for meeting patient care costs associated with research and development in the NHS applies.

NHS support costs: These are the additional patient care costs associated with the research, which would end once the research and development activity in question has stopped, even if the patient care service involved continues to be provided. These might cover items such as extra patient tests, extra in-patient days and extra nursing attention. Researchers should contact their local NHS research and development department initially. If they are unable to help directly or if there is no local NHS research and development department, contact the local Comprehensive Local Research Network (CLRN) Senior Manager.

NHS treatment costs: These are the patient care costs that would continue to be incurred if the patient care service in question continued to be provided after the research and development activity has stopped. In determining NHS treatment costs the applicant must assume that the patient care service being assessed will continue even though there may be no plans for it to do so. Where patient care is being provided which differs from the normal, standard treatment for that condition (either an experimental treatment or a service in a different location from where it would normally be given), the difference between the total treatment costs and the costs of the ‘usual standard care’ (if any) constitutes excess treatment cost/saving, but is nonetheless part of the treatment cost, not an NHS support or research cost. These costs should be determined in conjunction with your NHS trust partner(s) and their commissioners.

If applying for NHS support costs or treatment costs, applicants should complete an NHS Costs proforma/template, which is available to download from the MRC website (XLSX, 58KB). Please note that Je-S does not allow the upload of MS Excel files, therefore please convert the completed template to a PDF and upload it to the application as a ‘Letter of Support’. Please detail the file’s description as ‘NHS support and treatment costs’ .

A ‘Letter of Support’ must also be included with the application from the lead NHS provider acknowledging the amount requested and confirming that these are the likely costs.

For further information, please see:
  • Responsibility for meeting patient care costs
  • Attributing revenue costs of externally funded non-commercial research in the NHS (ARCO)
  • EL(97)77: Meeting patient care costs associated with research and development in the NHS detailed guidance

Additional advice and guidance can be obtained from your local Trust’s Research and Development Office or from the Department of Health Research and Development Finance team. Please find the form on the DOH website.

For research based in Scotland

Advice can be sought from the Chief Scientist’s Office. For advice on NHS funding and policy, research ethics, IP, information and communication, please contact: Chief Scientist’s Office, telephone: 0131 244 2246

For research based in Wales

Refer to NHS research and development in Wales

For research based in Northern Ireland

Refer to the NHS research and development in Northern Ireland.

3.6 Costs related to Biomedical Catalyst calls

For the two schemes above supporting clinical evaluation, certain costs in excess of £50,000 for sub-contracts with contract ROs (CROs) may be paid at 100 per cent. This is limited to activities that meet all three of the criteria outlined below:

  • Are required to be undertaken to regulatory standards by a competent authority to allow clinical evaluation
  • Do not involve creativity/intellectual input to the development of the entity by the CRO
  • Require access to skills and resources not available in academia, where this can be robustly justified.

Examples of eligible activities:

  • Pre-clinical toxicology package carried out under Good Laboratory Practice (GLP)
  • Synthesis/ manufacture of an entity carried out under Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP)

Examples of typically ineligible activities:

  • Testing an intervention for efficacy in animal models
  • Iterative development of an intervention (eg medicinal chemistry)
  • Preparation of regulatory submission

If an applicant is considering applying for 100 per cent FEC for such activities they must discuss with the relevant programme manager before submitting. The programme manager will advise on suitability and the mechanism for inclusion of the exceptional costs.

Please note that the first £50,000 of aggregated eligible CRO costs should be included under the ‘Directly incurred’ heading. The remaining balance should be entered separately as ‘Directly incurred’ and then the “Exceptions” box must be ticked.

3.7 Open access publishing

Researchers need to comply with the MRC’s policy on open access:

Applicants should not include any costings for access publishing charges (APCs) or other types of publication in respect of peer reviewed research articles (including review articles not commissioned by publishers) and conference proceedings that acknowledge funding from the MRC.

The charges for APCs and other publication charges for all research papers resulting from work funded by the MRC (or one of the other research councils) that relate to grants with a start date of 1 April 2013 or beyond are supported through block grants to UK HEIs, approved independent research organisations and research council institutes. A RO can then access these funds to pay for APCs for any article resulting from research council funding.

3.8 Costing of applications involving MRC units and institutes (NOT university units)

MRC Units/Institutes may apply as lead applicant for MRC grants relating to their mission, applications to the Research Boards can only be made exceptionally with prior agreement between the Unit/Institute Director and MRC Head of Theme.

All MRC Unit/Institute costs must be calculated using FEC methodology. Applicants must agree the costs of the proposed research with their Senior Finance Manager at an early stage before submission. Only Directly Incurred costs for the Unit/Institute are eligible and only these should be included in the proposal form. 100 per cent of the unit/institute Directly Incurred costs will be paid.

To allow the application to be assessed objectively and compared to others, existing support provided by MRC core funding to the Unit/Institute e.g. Directly Allocated (including salaries for MRC staff), Estates and Indirect costs should not be entered on the proposal form but MUST be declared in the Justification of Resources.

The following variations from standard guidance apply to MRC units/institutes when applying for an MRC grant:

Directly Incurred costs

 

  • Only Directly Incurred costs are awarded to MRC Units/Institutes (as lead or co-applicant).
  • Directly Incurred costs should only be requested if additional to the MRC Units/Institutes core funding and supporting work directly related to the research proposed.
  • 100 per cent of Directly Incurred costs for units/institutes will be paid; these should be included on the proposal form as an exception.

Directly Allocated costs

 

  • Are not awarded to MRC units/institutes.
  • MRC investigators/staff can be named and effort on the project indicated on the proposal form.
  • Salary costs for all MRC investigators and other staff involved (eg shared/pool staff supporting a range of facilities and projects) should be entered as zero on the proposal form.
  • Salary costs of all MRC staff should be included in the Justification of Resources.

Estates and Indirect costs

 

  • Are not awarded to MRC units/institutes and should not be included on the proposal form.
  • Estimates of MRC Estates and Indirect costs should be included in the Justification of Resources in line with FEC methodology.

 

3.8.1 Collaborative applications lead by an MRC unit/institute involving other Research Organisations

Applications may be collaborative and involve costs for one or more ROs that are not MRC Units/Institutes, their costs should be calculated and entered on the proposal form in the usual way and will be paid at the standard FEC rate for the call (normally 80 per cent FEC).

Non-MRC ROs may be paid directly by MRC Head Office. If there are multiple non-MRC ROs involved, one of these must be willing to receive the funds and be responsible for distributing funds to other non-MRC ROs. This would typically be the RO receiving the largest proportion of the grant. If this is the case the PI must be provided with financial reports from the other ROs, as required by the grant conditions, allowing the collaborative research project to be managed in its entirety.

If the funding requested by non-MRC ROs is substantial it may be more appropriate for a non-MRC RO to lead the application.

3.8.2 MRC Unit/Institute is a co-applicant

MRC Units/Institutes may be co-applicants for MRC grants, where another eligible RO is acting as the lead applicant.

Costs allowable for MRC Units/Institutes and guidance on how the lead RO should complete MRC Units/Institutes information in the proposal form and justification of resources is as explained in section 2.2.4.

If successful, the lead and any other non-MRC ROs will be funded at the standard FEC rate for the call (normally 80 per cent FEC), and the MRC Unit/Institute will be funded based on Directly Incurred costs at 100 per cent. All payments will be made to the lead RO that will transfer the relevant Directly Incurred costs in full to the MRC Unit/Institute.

3.8.3 External Scientific Staff (ESS)

These are investigators and other scientific staff that receive a salary from MRC but are located outside of an MRC Unit/Institute. If ESS are involved in an application enter zero salary on the proposal form and ensure the ESS box is ticked. The salary should be included in the Justification of Resources. Estates and Indirect costs relating to ESS can be requested at the normal rate for the RO where they are located.

3.8.4 MRC Unit/Institute applying for other Research Council grants

MRC Units/Institutes may apply to other Research Councils as a lead or a co-applicant. The application must be costed using FEC methodology. If successful, the MRC Unit/Institute will be funded at the standard FEC rate for the call (normally 80 per cent FEC) i.e. Directly Incurred, Directly Allocated, Estates, Indirect costs may all be awarded.

MRC Units/Institutes should contact MRC Head Office before applying for any grants over £1m from other funders.

3.9 University Units and the Francis Crick Institute

Eligible individuals from MRC University Units (UUs) and the Francis Crick Institute (Crick) may apply for MRC grants as either a lead or co-applicant. These grants are intended to support research relevant to Unit mission that is clearly additional to existing ‘core’ support. UUs apply as a department of the University.

Core supported Programme/Group Leaders may only apply for MRC Programme Grants in exceptional circumstances with prior agreement from MRC Head Office.

Grants to UUs and Crick are awarded at the standard FEC rate for the call (normally 80% FEC) and all usual MRC funding rules, exclusions and expectations apply. Only funding related to new activity that does not duplicate existing core support can be requested. New grants should not be disruptive to the delivery of established core activity.

UU/Crick applicants must contact the relevant MRC programme manager for advice before applying and address the specific requirements below in grant proposals.

Letters of Support

A core funding statement must be included as a letter of support attachment. The statement needs to clearly explain the relationship between the proposed work and core support. It must be signed by the Unit Director or equivalent.

Other Support

List core support and external funding awarded/applied for related to the grant in this section of the proposal form.  

Directly Allocated costs

Investigators or staff receiving their full salary from core support cannot include salary costs on MRC grant proposals.

Use the proposal form to indicate the time these individuals will work on the grant, but enter salary costs as zero.

Indirect and Estates costs

Calculate these using only the FTE eligible to request salary from the grant.

Justification of Resources

Give particular attention to justifying any salaries requested and the method used to calculate Indirect and Estates costs. Aim to provide assurance no duplicative funding is being requested. For comparative purposes state the value of core supported salary contributions.

UU core support is provided by MRC, Crick core support is provided by MRC, CRUK and Wellcome Trust