Skills & careers

Industrial CASE studentships

MRC industrial Collaborative Awards in Science and Engineering (iCASE) studentship scheme from 2017

Driving innovation and collaborating with industry remains at the heart of MRC strategy and delivery plans.

Our industrial CASE (iCASE) PhD studentship scheme has for many years played a key role in this by helping develop partnerships and enabling students to benefit from a broad and unique training experience.

Given this previous success and the enormous potential that industry-academic collaboration has to offer for UK society and the economy, we wish to enhance the flexibility of the MRC iCASE studentship scheme.

New approach

From 2017 we are introducing a different approach to iCASE studentship support. Instead of the previous system, where investigators submitted individual iCASE studentship project and training proposals directly to an MRC annual competition and then recruited to this one position, we will instead allocate studentships directly to research organisations (ROs) for two intake years.

This will enable iCASE studentship opportunities to be created and implemented in a more flexible and scalable way, in particular giving both industrial and academic organisations more control over the timescales of their collaborations. Participating ROs must be strongly committed and well-placed to deliver the scheme’s objectives, which are to:

  • provide students with experience of collaborative research with a non‐academic partner
  • strengthen and develop collaboration and partnerships between ROs and non‐academic partner organisations
  • offer outstanding students an experience of at least two distinct research cultures
  • provide access to a wider-than-usual range of technology, facilities and expertise
  • enable the student to spend a period of time with the non-academic partner (usually no less than three months over the lifetime of the PhD)

ROs wishing to host MRC iCASE studentships will therefore need to prepare and submit an institutional bid in July 2017.

Any investigators who were planning to submit individual iCASE studentship applications to the MRC in May 2017 (under the old system) should instead liaise with their local Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) or post-graduate study coordinators to help develop an institutional-level case for iCASE studentship positions.

Who can apply?

Both MRC DTP and non-DTP ROs will be eligible to apply. ROs wishing to host future iCASE studentships (for two intake years initially, starting from the 2018 intake) will need to apply to the MRC in July.

ROs that are already part of a DTP should apply as part of that DTP and not lead their own separate bid. Each RO may only lead on one bid but may partner on others where there is a clear strategic case for this relationship; no bid should be dependent on another bid being successful. MRC units and institutes are eligible to apply as partners but cannot lead a bid.

How to apply

More detailed guidance will be issued in May, however institutions can begin to consider how they will meet the following requirements in their proposal:

  • Details of how the RO/DTP has developed, or is developing, a strategy for industrial collaboration, with large companies and/or SMEs, that will provide opportunities for high-quality iCASE studentships.
  • Details of how ROs will identify suitable projects, partner companies, supervisors, and students in future and the current arrangements that are in place for this.
  • A governance structure for leading and coordinating iCASE studentships (or for DTPs, how this will be integrated with the current governance arrangements).
  • For DTPs, providing evidence of the number of MRC PhD studentships which have already been converted to iCASE studentships and the number of research council iCASE studentships directly attracted by the institutions in the last three years. In addition a strategy of how the DTP will seek to convert more of its existing studentship allocation to iCASE studentships in future to complement an additional allocation. For non-DTPs, describing the broader RO training environment and explaining how this will support the training and development needs of the iCASE students and align to the RO’s strengths.
  • Wherever possible, provide details of complementary in-kind or cash contributions to the MRC’s iCASE investment from ROs or industry partners (such as additional studentships). Expectations for non-academic partner contributions will be consistent with the previous rules, for example SMEs will still be exempt from making cash contributions to stipends and project costs.

The call for the revised scheme will be launched in May with the deadline in July. Decisions will be made in September. Dates will be confirmed in due course.

MRC contact

For queries relating to the requirements of the competition please email: Students@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk