MRC Confidence in Concept Scheme


Round 8

The University of Sheffield, Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, Sheffield Hallam University and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have recently secured an eighth round of funding from the MRC to run an institutional call under the Confidence in Concept scheme, a key part of the MRC’s Translational Research Strategy and a component of the high profile MRC & Innovate UK Biomedical Catalyst.

The Confidence in Concept Scheme is designed to “accelerate the transition from discovery research to translational development projects by supporting preliminary work or feasibility studies to establish the viability of an approach” within the MRC’s healthcare remit.

We are now inviting applications for awards to be used to support the transition between fundamental and translational research, to provide project teams with funding to enable them to develop a concept to a point where it is competitive enough to be used in a bid for more substantive follow on translational funding.

An application form and guidance notes are downloadable on the right hand of this page.

PLEASE NOTE: The Guidance was last updated on 25th November 2020.

The deadline to send applications to is 4pm Thursday 3 December 2020.

Due to the volume of applications anticipated, the appropriate business / commercial / innovation / research manager your institution must be contacted by 1 October 2020 with the title and a brief statement on the proposed concept to be taken forward. This is to ensure that applications fit the remit of the scheme, are registered and there is sufficient time to compile the application ahead of the submission date.

Round 8 Timelines 

05/08/2020 Call Opens
01/10/2020 Deadline for applicants to make contact with the appropriate business manager, commercial, innovation and research manager for application support.
Deadline for applications to be emailed to
Dec-Jan External review of applications
Early March 2021 Panel Meeting
Mid March 2021 Funding decisions communicated

Online Training Sessions for the MRC Confidence in Concept Scheme

New for Round 8, Dr Michael Murray, Royal Society Entrepreneur in Residence at the University of Sheffield will be delivering a training course to help researchers with MRC Confidence in Concept and other similar translational schemes called Introduction to Commercialising Medical Innovations. The course will be delivered in six, interactive, online 3-hour sessions between September and December 2020.

Register to attend

Dates below, please insert these into your calendar. 

The training is intended to provide an insight into the complexities of converting good science with commercial potential into biomedical products. In more detail, the training is designed to elucidate the interplay between inventions, commercial markets, innovations and translational activities, commercial strategy, intellectual property, industrial engagement, collaboration, product development, valuation of IP and technology, due diligence, negotiation, deal-making, business development, and alliance management. In addition, the training will convey how different experts from a variety of professions are required to guide and run the process from the Eureka! moment in the lab to the generation and sale of the resultant product.

What you will learn:

  1. the difficulties and challenges of taking a preliminary result all the way to the clinic and on to the market;
  2. (the importance of understanding medical product markets;
  3. why not everything that is patentable should be patented;
  4. how to use market and technical knowledge to build a plausible commercial strategy;
  5. how to develop a commercial intellectual property portfolio;
  6. how to engage effectively with industry;
  7. how to work with collaborative industrial partners;
  8. how to identify and articulate a unique value proposition;
  9. effective approaches to negotiating a deal;
  10. how to work with external professionals and experts;
  11. the broad range of specialist, science-related roles that exist outside of the lab.

The course outline is as follows, with all sessions held between 2pm-5pm on the dates indicated.

  • Session 1 Introducing Medical Product Development, 9 September 2020
  • Session 2 Understanding the Market for a Novel Medical Product, 30 September 2020
  • Session 3 Developing a Commercial Intellectual Property Strategy, 21 October 2020
  • Session 4 Technology Push and Market Pull – Collaboration with Industry, 11 November 2020
  • Session 5 Commercialising a Novel Medical Product, 18 November 2020
  • Session 6 Expertise and Futures Outside the Laboratory, 9 December 2020

Please add these dates/times to your calendar. We will also be in touch regarding the sessions nearer the time.

Dr Michael Murray

In April 2019, Dr Michael Murray commenced as a Royal Society Entrepreneur in Residence at the University of Sheffield and hosted by the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health (FMDH). He closely interacts with FMDH Knowledge Exchange and commercialisation team (Sheffield Healthcare Gateway) and with the Research Services Impact and IP team.

The Royal Society pays for Michael’s post which is part-time (one day a week) for 2 years. As part of Michael’s role, he is delivering training which outlines how, for example, a biochemical or biological reaction in an Eppendorf tube might be turned into a globally available medicine capable of saving or improving the lives of millions of people.

You can learn more about Michael here and you can find out more about his business here.

By way of summary, he is a deal-maker and commercial intellectual property (IP) specialist who has been working in technology transfer in the biopharmaceutical industry since 1996. He has led and closed over 55 deals to date and he typically works on two deals a year. His clients range from universities and research institutes, through start-ups and SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises), to mid-tier and major multinational companies. In the UK, as well as his role at the University of Sheffield, he is a mentor for the University of Cambridge’s technology transfer business, Cambridge Enterprise, and he sits on the Research Strategy Board for the medical charity, Coeliac UK. Further afield, he is a member of the International Advisory Board of China’s International Technology Transfer Network (which operates under the auspices of the Ministry of Science and Technology) and he serves on the Senior Advisory Board of the International Chamber of Innovation, Commerce & Enterprise (Japan). Throughout his career he has delivered training. Currently, this accounts for about 20% of his working time.