MMU Research and Knowledge Exchange Blog

Funding opportunities, news and guidance from RKE at Manchester Metropolitan University

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ESRC Global Challenges Research Fund: pre-announcement of new calls

GCRF Concept_v4

The ESRC has pre-announce the commissioning of four new calls under the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF). The calls will focus on the areas of mental health, education and skills, decent work and transitions towards sustainable and inclusive societies.

The formal launch of the calls will be in October/November 2017 with a total budget of around £16 million available.

Overview of focus areas:

Mental health

This area is likely to take a broad perspective on what constitutes mental health and includes mental, neurological, and substance use (MNS) disorders. It will encourage interdisciplinary research that explores how these categories might be conceptualised differently or not regarded as illnesses in some contexts, for example, how MNS disorders are understood and the implications for prevention, treatment-seeking and interventions. Research might also explore how MNS disorders affect families, communities and carers and what this means for those who should provide care and support. Research might address how ‘informal care’ networks shape understanding, attitudes and experiences in relation to MNS disorders. It might also look at how biological, cultural, economic, environmental and social factors determine MNS disorders and resilience with a view to tackling inequalities and supporting the most vulnerable and marginalised groups.

Education and skills

The skills agenda, like education, underpins many of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Research on education and skills in this context might consider questions around what skills are needed across the life course to support decent work, the changing nature of work and how best to develop and enable access to these skills. What form of skills development will connect with strategies for economic and social development? How do intersecting inequalities within and beyond education affect access, experience and outcomes? How do the different forms of education and skills development delivery tackle inequalities?

Decent work for all

Goal 8 of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals cites ‘decent work for all’ as an integral part of the challenge of sustainable growth. It is estimated that around 470 million jobs will be needed globally for new entrants to the labour market by 2030. The aim of Goal 8 is to ensure not only that sufficient employment is created, but also that work is productive, fairly remunerated and meets minimum standards of security and prospects for personal development. Creating the conditions by which this can be achieved raises fundamental challenges in terms of raising productivity and competitiveness in lower income countries. This in turn relates to issues such as training and education, labour market regulation, and the capacity of the state to encourage and support innovation and appropriate business practices on the one hand and to provide adequate unemployment and social security support on the other.

Research could also address the intersections between labour markets and patterns of global trade or production and migration. The specific challenges associated with youth employment and improving access and employability of people with disabilities are also important, as are a greater understanding of how to reduce the obstacles that hold women and girls back in the workplace and how to eliminate forced employment and the worst aspects of child labour.

Transitions towards sustainable and inclusive societies

For all developing countries, there is a need to manage advances in wellbeing, equity and economic growth alongside the challenges of climate change, biodiversity and cleaner energy and air. Are there models or approaches to economic development that offer new insights into how to support sustainable, equitable growth? Research themes might include the potential offered by new models of production, with a stronger emphasis on locally based, small-scale enterprises; appropriate policies to encourage sustainable patterns of consumption; reform of trading relationships to encourage sustainable production patterns; and analysis of the opportunities offered by new digital technologies to improve access to finance and radically change models of production and distribution in low income countries. Governance and institutional dynamics are also crucial – what kind of institutions are needed to meet these challenges?

Further details to follow….

Please contact your Research Development Manager is you are interested in the above mentioned calls.

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JPI Cultural Heritage call on ‘Heritage in Changing Environments


The Joint Programming Initiative in Cultural Heritage and Global Change is pleased to announce a new funding opportunity for transnational proposals.

The Heritage in Changing Environments call will support the development of new, research-based ideas and knowledge in response to the rapidly and widely changing context with which heritage and heritage practice is faced. It invites research projects that help cultural heritage to meet societal challenges and contribute to the development of society. The call aims to fund excellent research that is collaborative, transnational, interdisciplinary and innovative.

The total budget for the call for transnational projects is approximately 4.5 million Euros.

The call is expected to launch on 4th September with a deadline of 30th November 2017.

For more information, please visit JPI Cultural Heritage Website.

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The NC3Rs CRACK IT Challenges launch event to showcase the 2017 Challenges will take place on 7 September in central London.

Launch event offers you the opportunity to find out more about the Challenges, meet the Sponsors and potential collaborators, and find out what makes a good application.  The launch event is free to attend but registration is essential.

To register, please download and complete the registration form on the CRACK IT website. The deadline for registration is 1 September 2017.

The 2017 Challenges are: 

  • Challenge 26: DARTpaths: Mapping developmental and reproductive toxicity (DART) genes and pathways for cross-species comparison of toxic compound effects (Two Phase Challenge Sponsored by Shell and Syngenta).
  • Challenge 27: DoCE (Dosing for Controlled Exposure): Dosing strategies for characterising in vitro dose-responses with increased relevance for in vivo extrapolation. (Two Phase Challenge Sponsored by Unilever and Shell).
  • Challenge 28: RespiraTox: In silico model for predicting human respiratory irritation. (Single Phase Challenge Sponsored by Shell).

Expertise needed to solve these Challenges includes, but is not limited to: Mathematical modelling, Data handling, In vitro biology, Chemistry, (Bio/chemo-) informatics, Toxicology, QSAR development and validation, Statistics.

The Challenge briefs describing the Challenges, deliverables, in-kind contributions from the Sponsors and budgets is available now on the CRACK IT website.


  • Each of the Two Phase Challenges offers up to £1 million funding and a research contract for up to three years.
  • The Single Phase Challenge offers up to £100k funding and a research contract for up to one year.


The competition

CRACK IT Challenges is a research competition to solve scientific and business problems identified by the bioscience sector. The Challenges are designed to reduce the reliance on animal models and/or improve animal welfare and lead to the development of marketable products. The CRACK IT Two Phase Challenges competition is run using the SBRI process which is supported by Innovate UK and Challenges are sponsored by companies who provide in-kind contributions such as data, validation and expertise.

Please contact your research development manager if you are interested in the CRACK-IT Call.

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Alzheimer’s Society: Need Help Applying!

Alzeimer's Society Logo

The Alzheimer’s Society are hosting a webinar that will guide potential applicants through the applications process. The webinar lasts one hour and it will cover the grants schemes that the Alzheimer’s Society offers, upcoming deadlines and tips for developing and submitting an application. Those participating in the webinar will be able to ask questions:

The webinar’s are running on multiple dates:

  • 12:30-13:30 Friday 25th August
  • 12:30-13:30 Friday 8th September

To participate, you will need to be a researcher based at a UK research institution or NHS trust but do not need to be funded by Alzheimer’s Society. You will also need to have access to a phone and a computer.

If you’d like to participate in this webinar, please email indicating the date you would like to attend.

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NC3Rs-BBSRC Joint Highlight: New approaches to ageing research

NC3Rs-blue-square-2013BBSRC logo

The BBSRC and NC3Rs are collaborating on a joint funding highlight notice to encourage the development of new and innovative models and approaches for ageing research, which reduce the current reliance on mammalian models, as well as address the gaps in terms of scientific utility and relevance to human ageing.

Applications should focus on the biology of ageing and the development of new models and approaches which could minimise the use of mammalian models, as well as providing new insights into the molecular, cellular and physiological events of ageing (and their association with disease).

Areas in scope include, but are not limited to, the fundamental biological mechanisms of the ageing process across the lifecourse, for example improving understanding of how ageing impacts on homeostasis/physiological function in the musculoskeletal, gastrointestinal, immune, cognitive, circadian and sensory systems.

The types of models and approaches the funders envisage will be supported include, but are not limited to:

  • Cellular and tissue engineered systems (e.g. using stem cell technologies, human tissue)
  • Systems biology approaches
  • Mathematical and computational models
  • Clinical and population data
  • Non-mammalian organisms (e.g. Drosophila)1.

Proposals can be submitted to either the BBSRC or NC3Rs depending on the focus:

  • For the NC3Rs: Models of the ageing process with relevance to human disease and/or the development of co-morbidity.


A workshop will be held on 1 September 2017 in central London to bring together experts in ageing and age-related diseases, researchers using animal and non-animal approaches, and other stakeholders. The aims of the workshop are to discuss the advantages and limitations of existing model systems and the specifications and requirements for effective models of ageing, and to provide networking opportunities for developing collaborative, interdisciplinary research proposals.

Register for the event HERE

Please can you contact your Research Development Manager if you are interested in this funding opportunity.


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NIHR Public Health

NiHR for Public Mental Health

The NIHR Public Health Stream has released the following two commissioned calls:

17/53 Changing Drinking Behaviours

Research Question: Which interventions in built, natural and/or social structural environments are effective* in modifying drinking behaviour and/or social norms, and minimising harm?

The commissioning brief can be accessed  HERE

17/55 Promoting Independence among older people and disabled people

Research Question: What are the most effective* interventions which support (or create the conditions for) independence* in the everyday lives of older people, or disabled people** of any age?

The commissioning brief can be accessed HERE

The deadline for first stage proposals is 14th November 2017.


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Transformative Research call 2017-18 – Internal Expression of Interest



ESRC have announced the fourth round of the ESRC Transformative Research Call.  Due to the highly ambitious nature of this call they are only allowing us to submit two applications.

We are therefore running an internal MMU Expression of Interest call. EOIs should be completed on the form available here: eoi-transformative and submitted to Gareth Cantello in RKE, by Friday 25th August 2017

EOIs will then be reviewed by an expert panel including relevant Faculty Heads of RKE and applicants will be informed of the outcome on 8th September 2017.

Call info

The aim of this call is to provide a stimulus for genuinely transformative research ideas at the frontiers of the social sciences, enabling research which challenges current thinking to be supported and developed.

Call details

This call specifically encourages applicants to design a research question(s) that is both highly ambitious and creative. Applicants should also consider the potential scientific impact of their research proposal and the potential economic and societal impact. More information can be found on the ESRC Impact Toolkit at:

Funding and duration

Grants supported under this call will be funded for up to 24 months in duration and must start no later than 30 September 2018. The value of the award shall not exceed £250,000 (at 100% fEC). The ESRC expect to fund 10-12 transformative grants in this call.  The deadline for submission of the selected applications is 31st October 2017.

Transformative research

For the purpose of this call, the ESRC broadly defines transformative research as involving pioneering theoretical and methodological innovation, engaging unusual disciplinary and/or interdisciplinary perspectives, challenging conventional academic thinking and/or involving the novel application of theory and methods in new contexts.. The expectation is that the transformative research call will provide a major stimulus to novel developments of social science enquiry which will lead to having transformative impact on society. The ESRC recognises that research will attract an element of risk, which they expect will be conducive to high reward.

Some of the possible characteristics of transformative research include:

  • results that will radically change accepted thinking in the social sciences or that could lead to a paradigm shift in its field
  • research that is ethically sound, but which is likely to involve an unusually high degree of risk for the researcher and/ or participants, with the expectation of it producing high rewards
  • research that engages unusual disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives and/or methodologies
  • research that challenges widespread methodological and theoretical assumptions of typical social scientific enquiry
  • research that is carried out with the expectation that it will produce a broad base of knowledge and new thinking/insights which will lead to having transformative impact on society.

ESRC priority areas

The transformative idea also needs to address one (or more) of the ESRCs five priority areas as identified in its Delivery Plan 2016-2020 (

These are:

  • Productivity
  • Understanding the Macro-Economy
  • Mental Health and Wellbeing
  • Housing
  • Ways of Being in a Digital Age

Whilst proposals may include a range of disciplinary approaches, proposals must be at least 50 per cent social science in disciplinary focus. This includes the focus of the research, the principal investigator, and other personnel involved.

Full details are here: