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 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.

The call for applications is now closed. Awards made by the scheme will 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.

For information: The guidance notes for the competition are downloadable on the right hand of this page.

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 2020 -Feb 2021 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.

Dr Mike Murray is a Royal Society Entrepreneur in Residence hosted by Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health, with a remit to increase awareness of and training and facilitate engagement with external partners and commercialisation.

He is offering a series of workshops that will be extremely useful to researchers hoping to translate early stage interventions to patient benefit, which will help in the compilation of translational funding bids.

This training course, called Commercialising Biomedical Innovations, is on its second run currently and has received great feedback from attendees, which ranged from senior academics to early career researchers, with many attending all the workshops. The third run of the course will be delivered in six, interactive, online 3-hour sessions between January and March 2021 (dates below). As well as direct teaching, the course includes interactive exercises and Dr Mike Murray encourages live interaction (questions and discussion) throughout.

Register to attend the training sessions HERE.

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 manage the process from the Eureka! moment in the lab to the generation and sale of the resultant product.

What past attendees say of the course:

"...The course material, one-to-one help and chatting with others on the same journey was extremely useful to me. Even though I completed the course a while ago, I still frequently refer back to the notes. I thought it was an excellent, well presented, essential course for anyone on an entrepreneurial/inventing pathway..."
"...excellent speaker...deep mechanistic understanding of technology transfer and IP portfolio management..."
"...he removed the complexities behind the commercialisation process..."
"...the session lengths were a good length to be immersive...covered a huge amount of content..."
"...hugely strengthened my knowledge..."
"...I really enjoyed the sessions, particularly the "real life" examples that were used.."
" was really [an] eye opening...the content was excellent and easy to understand..."

What you will learn:

  • the difficulties and challenges of taking a preliminary result all the way to the clinic and on to the market;
  • the absolutely crucial importance of understanding medical product markets and how to assess these;
  • why not everything that is patentable should be patented;
  • how to use market and technical knowledge to build a plausible commercial strategy;
  • how to develop a commercial intellectual property portfolio;
  • how to engage effectively with industry;
  • how to work with collaborative industrial partners;
  • how to identify and articulate a unique value proposition;
  • effective approaches to negotiating a deal;
  • how to work with external professionals and experts;
  • 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, 13 January 2021
Session 2 Understanding the Market for a Novel Medical Product, 20 January 2021
Session 3 Developing a Commercial Intellectual Property Strategy, 03 February 2021
Session 4 Technology Push and Market Pull – Collaboration with Industry, 17 February 2021
Session 5 Commercialising a Novel Medical Product, 03 March 2021
Please Note: This session looks at both licensing and company formation. If time does not permit both topics to be covered in a single session, a follow-up session is reserved for 10 March 2021.
Session 6 Expertise and Futures Outside the Laboratory, 24 March 2021 (targeting early career researchers in particular)

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 . He closely interacts with the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health 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). 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 ( and you can find out more about his business (

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 numerous deals to date ranging in value from hundreds of thousands to multi billions of dollars. 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; a mentor for an iTeams entity, InnoFlav, from the University of Cambridge; 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 in the UK, Europe and China. Currently, this accounts for about 20% of his working time.