MMU Research and Knowledge Exchange Blog

Funding opportunities, news and guidance from RKE at Manchester Met

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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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GCRF and Newton Fund new website

You can now find all Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) and Newton Fund news and funding opportunities under one page.

Newton Fund and GCRF are managed by the UK’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. They allow researchers and innovators around the world to find lasting solutions to global challenges such as human health, food security and climate change.

For more information please speak to your relevant Research Development Manager and International Research Development Manager

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MAHSC Neuroscience Domain – Small Award Funding

Health Innovation Manchester, through its Manchester Academic Health Science Centre (MAHSC) Neuroscience Research Domain, is inviting applications for up to £10,000 in support of a specific piece of research or pilot data collection.

The funding is open to researchers within Greater Manchester to pump-prime small or pilot research projects intended to drive new and developing research collaborations and result in further grant applications within the next 6-12 months.

Projects must focus on one of the neuroscience domain’s themes which include:

  • Neurology
  • Neurorehabilitation
  • Neuro-oncology
  • Neuropsychology
  • Neuroimaging
  • Paediatric neurology and neurosurgery
  • Adult inherited metabolic disorders
  • Neuroimmunology
  • Stroke
  • Dementia

For further details about the funding and to apply please visit the Health Innovation Manchester Website.

As with all externally funded awards if you are interested in applying please contact your Research Development Team.

Key details


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UKRI Early Career Researcher Forum

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is calling on postdoctoral researchers, research associates and other early career researchers to join its new Early Career Researcher Forum.

The forum will give researchers a voice in UKRI’s strategy, policy development and decision making. It’s hoped that this will build a community for ECR’s to benefit from peer interactions, learning and support amongst other opportunities.

The forum is open to researchers who identify themselves as employed as early career researchers. No official criteria is given.

For the opportunity to be involved in this network you must submit your application by 18:00 on 29th January 2021.

For more information and for the application form please visit the UKRI website.

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Templeton World Charity Foundation – New Funding Opportunity: Character Development and Health

Templeton World Charity Foundation is pleased to announce a new funding opportunity through its Global Innovations for Character Development (GICD) initiative.   

Background The Global Innovations for Character Development initiative seeks to establish character development as a lever for social change, increased prosperity, and overall human flourishing. It envisions a world in which character strengths are recognized for their critical role in improving the lives of individuals and communities. With grant-funded projects around the globe, GICD is a first-of-its-kind initiative to promote character strengths worldwide.  

The Opportunity In line with this vision, the GICD initiative believes that character strengths such as compassion, generosity, and gratitude (among others) have a critical role to play, alongside ongoing scientific and technological innovation, in addressing current global health challenges. To this end, the Foundation is offering up to 4 awards of $1M USD each for the development and testing of interventions which aim to improve health outcomes through the promotion of character strengths.  

How to Apply This opportunity is open to qualified applicants from universities, non-profit organizations, and for-profit entities from around the world. In alignment with the goals of the GICD initiative, projects must be implemented in Low and Middle Income Countries, Latin America or the Caribbean. Interested applicants are requested to register their interest and describe their idea using a short form no later than February 1, 2021  

For more information, including application and submission details, please visit our Character and Health Request for Ideas page. 

If you are interested in applying please contact your relevant International RDM

Sally Pedley ( HPSC, A&H, B&L

Margaret Eastcott ( S&E, EDU

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Waterloo Foundation: Child Development

The waterloo foundation funding calls have two funding calls, Sleep and/or Exercise funding call is open for application with further information on motor impairment call, due to open later this year, see below for further details.

Sleep and/or Exercise

Studies will be particularly welcomed that consider the effect of sleep (or lack of it) and/or exercise with neurodevelopmental disorders. We would be particularly interested in receiving application that explore underlying mechanisms. Those that consider these areas on child psychological outcomes (behavioural, emotional or cognitive) will also be welcomed.

Deadline for short initial applications:
Sunday 14th February, 2021

Full proposals for those successful at this stage due:
Sunday 21st March 2021

Motor Impairments

Studies will be particularly welcomed that cover one of two areas:

  1. improving our understanding of the aetiology of the disorder (this could include brain imaging, improved phenotyping, genetic or epigenetic studies). Inclusion of EEG measures and consideration of possible co-occurrence with Rolandic Epilepsy is particularly desirable and, as always, studies that consider co-occurrence with other neurodevelopmental disorders; or
  2. explore effective interventions (those that also include links to our other research interests would be particularly sought after for example sleep, diet, exercise/movement).

Short applications deadline TBC – likely to be mid May 2021

Please contact your research development manager to discuss your research ideas further.

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NIRH Blog Highlight: Qualitative Research and PPI – Some similarities, quite a lot of differences!

Rohini Terry, Qualitative research adviser and Jo Welsman, PPI Lead from the RDS South West provide some insight to the differences between qualitative research and Public involvement in research on the NIHR RDS blog. The original article was posted on the NIHR Blog on the 1st December 2020, see below for the blog article.

Have you ever wondered – or been asked – about the differences between patient and public involvement (PPI) activities and qualitative research? Both aim to include patients and the wider public in research which is relevant to their lives and experiences. Some assume that conducting either PPI or qualitative research negates the need for the other. For example, that seeking PPI input throughout the life cycle of a research project, (reviewing patient information sheets, interpreting data, supporting dissemination) can substitute for a qualitative research component. Similarly, that conducting qualitative research to explore the lived experiences of patients and health professionals means that PPI is no longer required. This is not true, both PPI and qualitative research uniquely add to and augment the research process, bi-directionally complementing and influencing one another.

Comparing and contrasting PPI and qualitative research

The NIHR defines public involvement in research as “Research being carried out ‘with’ or ‘by’ members of the public rather than ‘to’, ‘about’ or ‘for’ them. Qualitative research, employing a wide range of methodologies, seeks to address questions relating to “why?”, “how?” and, “for whom?”Qualitative research aims to “study things in their natural settings, attempting to make sense of, or interpret, phenomena in terms of the meanings people bring to them” (Denzin and Lincoln 1994, p2).

There are similarities in the ways some qualitative research and PPI activities are carried out and both result in a deeper understanding of issues from a patient or broader public perspective However, crucially, the intent of these activities is different.

Qualitative research addresses research questions through the collection and formal analysis of non-numerical data from participants using predefined methodology.
PPI addresses issues and uncertainties about the research through the involvement of the public. In this way PPI aims to improve the design and conduct of research rather than providing data to answer research questions.

The original blog post can be view on the NIHR Blog.

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A busy year for Research Offices…

Simon Kerridge, Director of Research Policy & Support at the University of Kent, has written an interesting article for Research Professional on how, in 2020, “slipped deadlines plus rapid-response calls equalled a record amount of work”. We know the feeling here at MMU… 🙂

How June 2020 became the busiest month in history

As the UK’s Covid-19 lockdown began, I was working in the spare room, using an ironing board for a desk. It was height adjustable, sure, but on the cramped side.

At least I had a dedicated room to work in. Other colleagues weren’t so lucky. Or they were dealing with bad internet, kids to homeschool, you name it. One shared parenting duties with her husband in the day and would then make up the lost work time between 10pm and 2am (not, I hasten to add, at my behest).

We managed to find workarounds to most of the little technological niggles, such as a lack of multiscreen set-ups, but the problems of working from home did not improve much during the first lockdown in spring and early summer. 

We were all faced with suboptimal conditions, offset only by time saved on commuting and ironing.

Then there was all the extra work. What do research managers and administrators do? Well, we support research activity: the grants and contracts team at Kent is responsible for costing and pricing proposals, sign-off, submission, contract changes, and providing advice on a whole host of other issues, such as expenditure eligibility.

When lockdown arrived, research funders started to ponder the implications. Would research be able to be conducted and to what extent? Would there be extensions and would they come at a cost? Would funders cover furlough top-up costs? Would they be flexible with their terms and conditions?

Season of adjustment

Each funder took a slightly different approach. Some varied their approach between funding schemes. Some even changed their changes as lockdown was extended.

In effect, every single project in the portfolio needed to be checked, and a conversation had with the principal investigator about what they wanted and what they could have. Perhaps the work plan could be adjusted—but did the funder need to approve?

This would have been an extraordinary additional workload at any time. 

To compensate, at least some of the proposal deadlines were extended. On the other hand, as soon as funders were able, they also released short-turnaround calls for Covid-19 research.

This was great, but it raised all the questions that come up when calls are put together at short notice: “What about X?” “Ah, well, there is no guidance on X yet.” You get the idea. In addition, sometimes funders could not set up their IT systems in time to field the proposals in response to their calls. 

Don’t worry about using the electronic submission system, we were told, just email the proposal. This was a bit of a challenge for our proposal-submission governance, but we had few complaints about a lighter-touch submission system.

Summer’s perfect storm

As those new calls went out, all the delayed call deadlines were also approaching. 

June was the perfect storm: we were checking existing projects against updated funder guidance, applying for short-deadline Covid-19 calls and delayed regular calls, all while keeping on top of the usual cycle of deadlines and work.

Example table

This bulge of activity shows up most clearly if you compare 2020’s pattern of proposal submissions with the average for the previous four years. After an unsurprising and marked decrease in March, April and May were busier than normal. And then June was the big one—our busiest-ever month.

We submitted 24 per cent more proposals than in the previous record month, November 2017 (November is always busy), equating to a staggering 174 per cent increase on a normal June. All, of course, while dealing with everything else going on, and under Covid-19 working conditions.

Clearly, the University of Kent was not alone—I have heard similar stories from colleagues across the UK and indeed the world. I’m hugely grateful to research managers and administrators everywhere, and in particular the amazing team at Kent, for their outstanding commitment to supporting research.

Their work often goes unnoticed, and they sometimes feel unappreciated. But without them, research would not happen. Let’s hope this December does not buck this month’s traditional status as the quietest for proposal submissions, and we all get some downtime.

That would give time to nominate a colleague for a Hidden REF award. It’d be a small way of acknowledging the university staff who, in myriad ways, many of them invisible from the outside, have risen to the challenge of the greatest disruption to the world in most of our lifetimes.

Happy new year, and thank goodness for research. 

Simon Kerridge is director of research policy and support at the University of Kent

This article also appeared in Research Fortnight– See more at:

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NIHR Call, Prehabilitation: Living with and beyond cancer.

NIHR have released a cross-programme call with a deadline of the 30 March 2021, 1pm

Prehabilitation enables people with cancer to prepare for treatment through promoting healthy behaviours and through needs based prescribing of exercise, nutrition and psychological interventions.

There are four key areas in which it is felt that research is needed most:

  1. The mechanisms by which poor nutrition, being physically unfit and stress act separately and together to impair response to treatment and outcomes, and in turn, the mechanism by which improvements through prehabilitation interventions may act.
  2. How best to identify those most at risk and the efficacy of the interventions themselves (dose intensity/effect, timing, by cancer, and by treatment).
  3. The effectiveness and implementation of interventions.
  4. Organisation of services.

Further details can be accessed via the NIHR website

If you are interested in this call, please contact the research development team.

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Funding Focus: NC3R’s

NC3Rs funding schemes

Project grants

A project grant is a research project which supports the development of new 3Rs approaches and technologies. Applications from any area of medical, biological or veterinary research are within remit; those that integrate a range of disciplines or include an industrial partner are particularly encouraged.

Funding is available for up to 36 months.

Annual funding call: Deadline for First Stage Proposals, January each year.

PhD Studentships

Embedding the 3Rs in the training of graduate scientists from a broad range of scientific backgrounds. Applications from any area of medical, biological or veterinary research are within remit; those that integrate a range of disciplines or include an industrial partner are particularly encouraged. 

This competition is run annually with up to twelve awards available, with a value of £30k (non-FEC) per annum for three years.  Submission for outlines expected April/May 2021.

Interested in learning more about the scheme and how to apply? Watch the NC3R’s video from their webinar recorded on 24 April 2020. 

Training Fellowships

Training Fellowships support the development of promising early career researchers with less than three years’ post-doctoral experience, focusing on developing new skills and gaining a breadth of research experience. Applicants are ineligible to apply if they already hold a permanent contract of employment at the host institution (e.g. lectureship position).

Funding for Training Fellowships is non-FEC and applicants can apply for a commensurate salary (as agreed by the host research organisation) and up to £15k per annum for other directly incurred research costs. Awards are for a two year duration and there is one competition per year.  Call expected to open, Summer 2021.

Skills and Knowledge Transfer grants

Skills and knowledge transfer grants support the wider adoption and use of models, tools and technologies with proven 3Rs impacts through the transfer of knowledge, skills and expertise. Awards are for up to 24 months with the amount requested dependent on the science and limited to a maximum of £75k (80% FEC). 

Call expected to open, October/November 2021.

Please contact your research development manager to discuss your ideas.

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AHRC Pre-announcement: UK-Ireland collaboration in digital humanities

Announcement of forth coming Call for gunding for digital humanities research. Your project must be large, innovative and multidisciplinary. UK and Ireland-based researchers must collaborate on the project.

Specifically, the call aims to support a diverse range of projects that:

  • build and consolidate new inclusive partnerships in the field of digital humanities between researchers and stakeholders in the UK and Ireland through collaborative research projects
  • deliver innovative, interdisciplinary and integrated research projects that are appropriately tailored to the themes being addressed
  • are genuinely collaborative and involve a balance of research organisations and stakeholders in both countries
  • promote the sharing of best practice and knowledge exchange between institutions in the UK and Ireland, and clearly demonstrate the specific added value of enhanced collaboration in the digital humanities.

The projects should take innovative, interdisciplinary approaches to explore the anticipated broad and inclusive themes:

  • digital humanities, emerging technologies and research practices
  • digital humanities and social innovation
  • digital humanities and cultural heritage
  • digital humanities and the creative industries.

AHRC will provide up to £320,000 per project for UK costs, at 80% of the full economic cost. The Irish Research Council (IRC) will provide up to €270,000.

Your project must start on 1 August 2021 and last for up to 36 months.

Please see: