MMU Research and Knowledge Exchange Blog

Funding opportunities, news and guidance from RKE at Manchester Met

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Research Funders Response to COVID-19

Below we have summarised the responses from some of our most popular sources for Research Funding around deadlines in the midst of the COVID-19 situation. We will be updating this post daily should the situation change across these funding bodies.

If you have any further queries then please do not hesitate to get in touch with your Research Development Team (for pre-award queries) and Research Delivery Team (for post-award queries).

Last updated: 03/04/20


Staff have been advised to work from home and are still contactable via email. If you were due to visit any of their offices please get in touch to rearrange these meetings. Funding programmes will continue with application systems still operating as normal. Call deadlines are being monitored and extensions/ re-opening calls will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the appropriate councils.

BBSRC have delayed their April deadline until Late June.

British Academy

The Flexi-Grant system is still accessible for all applications. Deadlines for currently open calls currently remain in force and applicants should submit their applications as normal.

Royal Society

Royal Society staff have been advised to work from home and office locations are closed. All funding calls remain open with their currently advertised dates (there have been no postponements).

Leverhulme Trust

Leverhulme will be monitoring the ongoing situation and take it’s usual pargmatic approach. Funding deadlines have not been affected.


All funding schemes are calls are open for applications and deadlines for all stages of applications remain as previously advertised. NIHR have set up a useful FAQ page.


The UKRO has a specific COVID-19 section available on their portal, which is available under the resources tab. There is currently an extension in place for H2020 applications.

Dunhill Medical Trust

Dunhill will not be opening their new outline Research Grant applications (due to open 23rd March). They will be announcing a new strategic plan in Autumn 2020 hopefully with new deadlines and schemes.

Wellcome Trust

Schemes remain open with their current deadlines and extensions will not be granted.

MS Society

There will be new grant rounds opening due to COVID-19 however the situation is being continuously monitored.

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Breast Cancer Now: Project & PhD Grants Now Open

Breast Cancer Now have now opened applications for both their Project Grants and PhD Grants.

Project Grant

Project grants are available to established researchers with a strong track record in their field, who want to work in one of the charities priority areas (prevention, detection and treatment of all forms of breast cancer). They are also committed to support new investigators in breast cancer research and encourage applications from talented researchers at the start of their independent careers.

Amount: Up to £230,000

Duration: 1 – 3 years

Deadline: Monday 1st June 2020

PhD Grant

PhD Grants can be applied for by proposed supervisors and are designed to capture new and highly qualified science graduates into a career of breast cancer researcher. Funding can cover student stipend, fees, research expenses and essential equipment.

Amount: up to £35,000 per annum

Duration: 3 or 4 years

Deadline: Monday 1st June 2020

For more information about either of these schemes or the charities priority research areas please visit the Breast Cancer Now website. If you’re thinking about applying for either of these opportunities please get in touch with your Research Development Team as soon as possible.

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Research Professional recently shared an article about how useful your Research Office can be and we couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

We may not be researchers but the Research Office can be a real help when you are thinking about writing a bid – and not just because you need us to develop your budget and navigate the institutional approvals!

Illustration of creative ideas conceptFUNDERS We know them. If you have a research idea but you’re not sure which funder you stand the best chance of success with, we will help you explore the funders and get to the bottom of what it is they want to identify where your research best fits amongst them.

FUNDING CALLS We read funding calls all day and we know what to look for when picking out key bits: where the emphasis lies and what the funder is really looking for in a proposal. If you’re not sure you are ticking the right boxes or would like some guidance on any particular scheme, we can help you with that.

TIMESCALES Sometimes it can be a difficult thing to establish a timeline either for writing a research proposal or for carrying out the project itself. Your Research Development Manager can help you to think realistically about your goals and map out how much time you will ideally spend on each aspect of the proposal or project.

LAY REVIEW Your Research Office can be a helpful place to get a lay person’s perspective on your proposal. When your project goes off to the funders for consideration, it is likely that those reviewing it aren’t going to be experts in your field. If your Research Development Manager is having a hard time grasping what your research is, then there’s a possibility that those reviewing it will too, and a project that isn’t easily understood is less likely to be funded than one that is.

You can read the full article here, but the main point is that we are here to help every step of the way so make sure you get in touch so we can get started!

Contact the Research Office:

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Pre-call announcement: MRC/ESRC/BBSRC-Versus Arthritis Advanced Pain Discovery Platform – Multidisciplinary Consortia for Data Generation

Pre-call announcement: MRC/ESRC/BBSRC-Versus Arthritis Advanced Pain Discovery Platform – Multidisciplinary Consortia for Data Generation.

We expect the call to open April 2020, with a submission deadline in July 2020. Please note, due to the current situation a specific closing date is yet to be defined.

This programme of support will build the foundation of a national-scale programme supporting discovery and translational science that will bring together leadership, tools and resources to help unravel the complexity of pain, driving new treatment development. This investment is part of a major new £24m initiative to establish an Advanced Pain Discovery Platform that is jointly supported by the UKRI Strategic Priorities Fund and Versus Arthritis.

The call will make £14m available through 4-year awards to fund high impact, multidisciplinary consortia that, between them will bring together researchers across the breadth of biomedical, social, and data sciences. It is expected that the consortia will embrace complementary access to patients, healthy volunteers and underpinning technology. Areas of focus could include; multi-omic biology, image data generation, cognitive and psychosocial factor identification, exploiting existing biological samples and data and new sample/data collections.

It is expected that this programme of work will support 3-5 multidisciplinary consortia.

The initiative will provide funding for collaborative multidisciplinary consortia that will:

  • Develop a better understanding of the mechanisms of pain, building on our knowledge of normal pain processes to better understand the transition to chronic pain, taking into account biological, cognitive and psychosocial factors.
  • Focus on the collation, generation and interrogation of human data and samples, to allow for the identification and validation of new interventions, and to allow improved access to well-phenotyped human populations.
  • Actively strengthen intersections between important disciplines that do not routinely engage with each other, build capacity in the field and develop skills.
  • Embed knowledge mobilisation and strengthen patient and public involvement.

It is expected that this call will support a number of consortia with a focus on chronic pain, offering important insights across chronic pain conditions. Applications may be focussed on specific pain-related disorders, or may consider multiple pain conditions.

Please contact your relevant Research Development Manager to discuss this call further.


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Heart Research UK: COVID-19 Message for grant applicants

Heart Research UK

Heart Research UK has released the following COVID-19 Message for grant applicants. 

Novel and Emerging Technologies (NET) Grants

We are continuing to peer-review and shortlist the applications, and plan to contact all applicants in May to let them know whether or not their proposal has been shortlisted. However, due to the current situation, the Medical Review Panel meeting on Thursday 14th May 2020 has been postponed. We hope to reschedule the meeting for the autumn.

Translational Research Project (TRP), Scotland and PhD Studentship Grants

We understand that most research in universities has been halted and therefore we have decided to suspend TRP, Scotland and PhD Studentship grants until 2021. Please keep an eye on the Heart Research UK website for further updates. Register your interest in applying for one of these grants here and we will contact you when further information becomes available.

Please contact your research development managers to discuss your project ideas in development and we look forward to applying to Heart Research UK early next year.

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What do MRC expect from a New Investigator Research Grant!

The latest MRC New Investigator Research Grants call is open!

MRC has provided a video which will answer all those burning questions you have, such as:

  • Is a New Investigator Research Grant the right choice for your career?
  • What support do you get?
  • What does a successful application look like?

If you want to know more, please contact your research development manager !

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Research Leadership Development Journeys: Interview with Prof Jamie McPhee

To celebrate the re-launch of the Future RKE Leaders programme, throughout February and March I have been posting interviews with a selection of previous Future RKE Leaders cohort members. Each kindly shared details of their research leadership development journeys, providing useful insights for those looking to develop their research leadership skills.

Our fifth and final interview is with Prof Jamie McPhee, Head of Department of Sports and Exercise Sciences and a member of the 2014 Future RKE Leaders Cohort.

Prof Jamie McPhee

Please name a research leader who you admire. What is it that you admire about them?

Jamie named three people who he had worked closely with, had learnt a lot from, and been inspired by in his career. Firstly, Emeritus Professor David Jones, as he was an innovator in his field of muscle physiology, and the first to apply techniques that are now commonly used. Professor Jones produced many papers throughout his career and was always very modest. Secondly, Jamie named Professor Marco Narici, who is now based at University of Padova in Italy. Professor Narici is very well connected both internationally and nationally. He demonstrated to Jamie the value of networking as people now come to Professor Narici with their new ideas. The third person Jamie named was Professor Hans Degens, currently a fellow member of the Musculoskeletal Science and Sports Medicine Research Centre. Jamie described Professor Degens as a great character, always very accessible and willing to help and collaborate.

What have been the key turning points or ‘light bulb’ moments in your leadership development journey so far?

Reflecting on his career, Jamie believes there is no such thing as developmental ‘light bulb’ moments; that breakthroughs do not happen suddenly. For him, development is a process of incremental gains resulting from lots of unseen hard work. Over a period of continuous improvement, the result is good quality papers and good quality grant proposals. When these proposals are funded this is when a transformation can occur, by increasing the pace and quality of your research.

How do you bring others along with you?

Within a research group Jamie found he was often surrounded by like-minded people, working towards the same goal. In this way success is shared and it is relatively easy to bring people along on the same journey. Jamie has found this becomes more difficult on a larger scale, when you have oversight of multiple groups. At this scale there is increased competition for resources and as a leader you want everyone to be able progress. Jamie’s approach is to ensure effort is rewarded and distribution of resources is transparent and fair. Jamie feels it is also important to support everyone to understand the common strategic direction, ultimately encouraging a shared vision. 

In what ways do you use your leadership skills to promote your research outside of Manchester Met? 

In Jamie’s experience, your external reputation is key. Publications provide a foundation for you to build on by presenting your research at conferences wherever you can. Over time, this can translate into invited talks which are opportunities to demonstrate how your work fits in with that of others. In turn, these activities help you to extend your network and build collaborative partnerships. By building these connections you are now able to access and engage with national and international research groups. It is Jamie’s view that the key to building your external reputation is making the effort to reach out.

How did the Future RKE Leaders programme support you on your leadership development journey?

Jamie benefited from the opportunity to make connections with university leaders and people with influence across the university. He also benefitted from meeting researchers at the same career stage as himself. He found they had similar aspirations and faced similar challenges and they were able to build a good cross-faculty network. He was also provided with insight into university processes, knowledge of which he has found essential for effective research leadership.

How have you continued to engage with your career development since completing the programme?

Jamie views his research career development as a continuous and ongoing process since his time as an undergraduate. He has found he has progressed by working to adapt to each new challenge with the support of different mentors. The role of Head of Department presented a major new challenge. Jamie continues to seek out advice from many different sources, which enables him to best understand and respond to the requirements of the role.

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Research Leadership Development Journeys: Interview with Dr Annabel Latham

To celebrate the re-launch of the Future RKE Leaders programme, throughout February and March I am posting interviews with a selection of previous Future RKE Leaders cohort members. Each kindly shared details of their research leadership development journeys, providing useful insights for those looking to develop their research leadership skills.

Our fourth interview is with Dr Annabel Latham, Senior Lecturer in Computing and a member of the 2016 Future RKE Leaders Cohort.

Dr Annabel Latham

Please name a research leader who you admire. What is it that you admire about them?

Annabel named Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, who is a space scientist and science educator who currently co-presents the astronomy TV show ‘The Sky at Night’. Annabel attended a workshop in which Dr Aderin-Pocock gave a talk about her career journey. Annabel found this really inspiring, in particular how Dr Aderin-Pocock challenges barriers to achieving career goals experienced by new mothers.

This was very pertinent to Annabel’s own professional journey, as it was the birth of her daughter which moved her to re-train and pursue a career in research. This change was driven by a desire to show her daughter she could do whatever she wanted with her life.

During this talk Dr Aderin-Pocock also demonstrated the importance of science outreach, something which Annabel also champions through her work as Chair of the IEEE UK and Ireland Women in Engineering (WIE) Affinity Group.

What have been the key turning points or ‘light bulb’ moments in your leadership development journey so far?

For Annabel, these occurred as part of the Future RKE Leaders programme as it provided time for personal reflection, resulting in her feeling more empowered. In particular, mentoring provided Annabel with an objective view on her leadership development. She found the mentoring process worked to give her permission try new things and to challenge herself. An example being the pursuit of key research networking opportunities, including a two-month research trip to the educational technology laboratory at a German AI Institute in Berlin. Also key was the opportunity for discussion with fellow programme participants and the resulting formation of a supportive peer group, who again encouraged her to challenge herself.

How do you bring others along with you?

Annabel demonstrates leadership in a variety of ways at Manchester Met. She led her departmental application to Athena Swan, which was the first department to apply for an independent award. Annabel was able to provide a template and guidance for subsequent applications from other departments. Within teaching, Annabel leads a unit contributing to a core Masters course with critical business links. Annabel also takes part in lots of informal mentoring within her UCRKE and department.

In what ways do you use your leadership skills to promote your research outside of Manchester Met? 

Annabel is Chair of the IEEE UK and Ireland Women in Engineering (WIE) Affinity Group. IEEE WIE is the largest international professional organisation dedicated to promoting women engineers and scientists. Through this group, Annabel is linked into key professional networks including industry and academic representatives and has been invited to speak about her research on a number of occasions, including several conference plenaries. Under her leadership the UK and Ireland Group won the IEEE Region 8 (Europe, Middle East and Africa) 2019 award for WIE Group of the Year. Reflecting on her role as Chair, Annabel recognised the opportunities it has given her to implement her leadership skills through organisation of group members and allocation of roles matching individuals’ strengths.

How have you continued to engage with your career development since completing the programme?

Through mentoring, Annabel was introduced to workload management and prioritisation techniques and tools. This led to a significant shift in mind-set. Where Annabel previously felt overwhelmed she now feels empowered to take ownership of her situation and think practically about how to get everything done. To continue her practice of personal reflection Annabel continues to dedicate one hour per week to planning.

What advice do you have for successful nominees to the Future RKE Leaders scheme?

Annabel advises successful nominees to take advantage of the time the programme provides for personal reflection, as she felt this was key for her leadership development. For the same reason, Annabel also advises nominees to take ownership of the development process, particularly the mentoring partnership, as you get out what you put in.