iCASE Project Call

Fully Funded iCASE SME Project Form

Co-Funded iCASE Project Form

Core Project Call

This page is designed to guide investigators across the Health Faculties through the process of submitting a Project Proposal Form to the MRC DTP iCASE programme.

In addition to our core studentships, the MRC DTP has guaranteed funding for 8 iCASE studentships to begin in October 2022. We are now issuing a call to investigators across the Health Faculties to submit an iCASE Project Proposal.

Industrial CASE studentships (Collaborative Awards in Science and Engineering) allow postgraduate research students to receive high quality research training in collaboration with a non-academic partner. This collaboration promotes partnerships between biomedical scientists and non-academic partner organisations in the public, private, and third sector.

Successful applicants follow the 0+4 PhD pathway of the DTP, starting immediately on their PhD project and will not participate in rotation projects or the MRes. Importantly, they will participate in all other training and cohort activities of the DTP.

The DTP will recruit three cohorts of talented PhD students across Kings’ College London Health faculties. The first student cohort, including up to 8 iCASE (Industrial ‘Collaborative Awards in Science and Engineering’) studentships, will start from October 2022. There are two types of iCASE studentship offered:

  1. Fully funded iCASE studentships (for Small to Medium Enterprise (SME) companies): SMEs can submit a project with a King’s academic to a dedicated call for a limited number of fully funded studentships. These will be evaluated in a competitive review. The deadline for fully funded SME iCASE project proposal submission is midnight on Sunday 5th September 2021.
  2. Co-funded iCASE studentships: Any company, regardless of size, can submit a project proposal with a King’s academic at any time for a co-funded studentship. The company will need to contribute 50% of the studentship cost. Co-funded iCASE projects will be evaluated by peer review as they are received. Projects that meet the DTP standards will then be allocated on a first come-first served basis. Academics are encouraged to contact mrc-dtp@kcl.ac.uk to confirm the number of available positions when considering developing an application.

Values and Expectations

By submitting a project to the DTP, you are committing to promoting and upholding the values and ethos of the programme set out in our programme Values and Expectations. Fundamental to these values is the understanding that PhD supervision is a privilege, and the supervisor’s responsibility is to prioritise the best experience for scientific training and development of the student. In return students will thrive and enhance the quality of your research and the environment of the group.

Diversity Monitoring of Supervisor Pool 2022 Entry

As part of the project call submission, we have introduced a Diversity Monitoring Form for completion. Filling in this form is mandatory alongside your Project Proposal Form, but you can choose to select “prefer not to say” for all questions if you wish. We encourage the non-academic partner supervisor to complete this form as well as the KCL supervisors.

Why are we collecting this data? As a DTP, we are expected to ensure that equality, diversity, and inclusion is considered and supported at all stages throughout the performance of the Training Grant, in alignment with UKRI and MRC policies and principles for equality, diversity and inclusion.

What will we do with this data? Driven by these policies and KCL EDI initiatives this form is designed to collect data on the diversity of our supervisor pool. We will then collect data from our current supervisors and compare our findings. Our aim is to ensure a diverse supervisor pool and if we find that we do not, we will take positive action to try and change it.

How will we store this data? The MRC DTP Administrative Team will coordinate the process of collecting data. All data submitted is completely anonymous; no name, no email, no way of knowing who submitted. Data will be stored on a SharePoint only accessible by the Administrative Team.

Projects must align to one of the three MRC DTP Themes:

  • CM-HD – Cells, Molecules and the Basis of Health and Disease
  • NS-MH – Neuroscience and Mental Health
  • BE-MI – Biomedical Engineering and Medical Imaging

Project descriptions should be written so that third year undergraduate students can understand them and should outline the contribution of each supervisor.

Projects can emphasise discovery/basic or translational/applied research. Projects which are translational should involve supervisory input from a clinician/clinician scientist (EITHER the two supervisors can be a combination of a basic scientist and a clinician/clinician scientist OR two basic scientists with an associated clinician/clinician scientist).

College regulations indicate that a postdoc cannot be listed as a supervisor. However, the MRC DTP will consider a postdoc being listed as a 3rd supervisor, or Thesis Committee Expert for the postdoc to receive credit for their valuable input.

Co-supervisors can submit project proposals to both the MRC DTP Core and MRC DTP iCASE project calls as long as the projects are different. Any current DTP student commitments will not impact a co-supervisor’s eligibility to secure an iCASE studentship from this call. The DTP will prioritise supervisors who have not been allocated an MRC DTP iCASE Studentship previously but will not exclude proposals from previously awarded PIs.

The DTP understands the challenges involved in securing a cash contribution from a non-academic organisation. To support these efforts, we will accept Project Proposals at any time of the year where the partner is providing a cash contribution, but if you want a guaranteed opportunity to recruit an October 2022 entry student, or your partner is an SME with no cash contribution you must submit by the submission deadline stated.

  • UK-based organisations can be considered as the non-academic partner if they can provide students with distinctive research training and experience not available in an academic setting.
  • Organisations eligible for UKRI funding (such as NHS Trusts) cannot act as a non-academic partner.
  • Where the non-academic partner is a company, it must have an established UK based research and/or commercial production capability.
  • In exceptional cases, organisations based overseas may be eligible, but only where they can provide the student with an opportunity to gain skills not currently available in the UK.

Non-academic partner organisations are classified as either small to medium enterprises (SMEs), defined as a company with <250 employees, a turnover not exceeding €50m and/or a balance sheet total not exceeding €43m, or as non-SMEs (>250 employees).

  • Co-funded projects require an annual cash contribution from the non-academic partner of £15,000 (£60,000 total for the full length of the studentship). This contribution goes towards the cost of the project.
  • Fully funded projects, are available with an SME (<250 employees) partner. These do not require a cash contribution from the SME non-academic partner and the increased level of stipend and RTSG will be covered by the MRC DTP. However, we have a limited number of fully funded studentships, so we would encourage SMEs, who are able to make a cash contribution, to also consider applying for co-funded studentships.
  • A placement opportunity for the student (the MRC mandates a cumulative period of no less than three months spent working in the facilities of the industrial collaborator. This 3-month period can be at any point during the studentship and may consist of a number of shorter visits if appropriate. Commitment to this 3-month placement must be detailed in a letter of support from the industry partner at the point of project submission.
  • All costs while the student is working at the premises of the company.
  • All additional expenses, such as the cost of travel and accommodation incurred by the student as a direct result of placement attendance.
  • Non-academic partners are expected to review the MRC DTP iCASE Contract Template between KCL and the partner prior to project submission, confirm their agreement to the contract (and identifying any exceptions) in the supporting letter.
  • If a project is selected for advertisement, the contract between KCL and the partner must be agreed and finalised before interviews for the studentship take place; if the contract cannot be signed by this time, the MRC DTP reserves the right to withdraw the studentship awarded to the PIs and partner.
  • The non-academic partner may wish to provide additional in-kind support (which might include things such as: access to research subjects, field sites, office space, seminar or industry expert groups, data etc.)
  • The involvement of the non-academic partner should be a genuinely collaborative enterprise, provide real added value to the studentship while also advancing the activities of the partner organisation.

An overview of the MRC DTP iCASE Funding Models outlines the contributions of the MRC and non-academic partner in the two different models, one should be selected in the Project Proposal Form.

  • The MRC DTP operates a co-supervision model. Both supervisors must be eligible to act as a first supervisor and are expected to make an equal contribution to supervision of the project. As per KCL PGR Regulations, at least one co-supervisor must have supervised a PGR student to completion, and one must hold a doctoral degree themselves.
  • Both supervisors must have undergone supervisory development or be enrolled onto this course. This will be verified when the project submission is reviewed.
  • Both supervisors must be primarily appointed at KCL/KHP (50% or higher) to be eligible to be a co-supervisor.
  • The co-supervisors must be able to demonstrate they have the resources to undertake the project. For lab-based work, this typically means that one co-supervisor must be a primary grant holder, and the grant must be specified on the application.
  • Only one project submission allowed per co-supervisor per project call. Co-supervisors can submit a project to this call, in addition to a project submitted to the Core Studentships Project Call.

The MRC DTP will evaluate iCASE Project Proposals according to the four below criteria; percentage weightings are detailed. All applications will be assessed using the same criteria:

  1. Supervisory Team: For example, why is this combination of academics and partner organisation optimal for the proposed project? Are the research areas of the supervisors relevant to the proposed work? Do the supervisors have PhD supervisory experience? (20% weighting)
  2. Quality of research proposal: Is the topic relevant and likely to produce high quality biomedical science? Is the research area likely to provide a stimulating and manageable topic for the student? (e.g., are the research topic and questions well formulated?) Is there a feasible plan of action? Does the work offer genuine scope for doctoral research? (50% weighting)
  3. Relevance of research to the DTP: How well does the research project resonate with the aims and themes of MRC DTP and the strengths and priorities of the KCL department in which it will be based? (15% weighting)
  4. Quality of proposed collaboration with Industry: What is the added value of the research collaboration? What is the nature of the commitment from the partner organisation? For example: what additional training or developmental opportunities will arise through the collaboration for the student? Will the partner institution offer distinctive forms of experience in areas which would be unobtainable without the partner? How will training opportunities be structured and evaluated? Please note it is a condition of all iCASE Studentships that the Industry Partner provide a 3-month placement for the student; provide details of this placement and when the placement will take place. (15% weighting)

Note: Applications will automatically be rejected for consideration where the Industry Partner:

  • Has not submitted a letter of support
  • Has not met the minimum financial contribution required (non-SME partners only)
  • Has not committed to offer a 3-month placement as part of the studentship
  • Has not confirmed their agreement to the draft contract between KCL and the partner (including any exceptions).

The following wording must be included in letters of support from non-SME partners:

‘’I write to confirm that (insert company name) will meet the MRC’s current expectations of a non-academic non-SME partner contribution to this iCASE studentship for October 20XX (insert entry year). (Insert company name):

  • Will make an annual cash contribution of £15,000 (£60,000 total for the full length of the studentship).
  • Will offer the student a cumulative period of no less than three months spent working in our facilities during the studentship and further shorter visits if appropriate.
  • Will cover the company’s costs while the student is working at the premises of our company
  • Will cover all additional expenses, such as the cost of travel and accommodation incurred by the student as a direct result of attendance at our premises.
  • Agree to draft contract shared by King’s College London (industry partner to include exceptions…)
  • Understand that the contract between KCL and (insert company name) must be signed before interviews take place. We understand that the MRC DTP reserve the right to withdraw the studentship award if the contract cannot be agreed and finalised prior to interviews.

The following wording must be included in letters of support from Small and Medium Enterprise Partners (SME partners):

‘’I write to confirm that (insert company name) will meet the MRC’s current expectations of a non-academic SME partner contribution to this studentship this iCASE studentship for October 20XX (insert entry year) (Insert company name):

  • Will offer the student a cumulative period of no less than three months spent working in our facilities during the studentship and further shorter visits if appropriate.
  • Agree to draft contract shared by King’s College London (industry partner to include exceptions…)
  • Understand that the contract between KCL and (insert company name) must be signed before interviews take place. We understand that the MRC DTP reserve the right to withdraw the studentship award if the contract cannot be agreed and finalised prior to interviews.

Key Dates

Deadline for project proposal submission *see note Sunday 5th September, 23:59
Studentship applications open Friday 8th October
Studentship applications close Thursday 18th November, 23:59
Shortlisting Monday 6th December – Friday 7th January
Interviews Wednesday 26th & Thursday 27th January

*The DTP understands the challenges involved in securing a cash contribution from a non-academic organisation. To support these efforts, we will accept Project Proposals at any time of the year where the partner is providing a cash contribution, but if you want a guaranteed opportunity to recruit an October 2022 entry student, or your partner is an SME with no cash contribution you must submit by the submission deadline stated.

Instructions

All the sections of the Project Proposal Form must be complete, and all listed supervisors must have completed the Diversity Monitoring Form at the time of submission. Incomplete or late proposals will not be accepted.

The filename and email subject must be titled properly to help prepare your submission for review. Please use the family name followed by initials of both co-supervisors 1A & 1B. For example: JonesAB_SmithTS.

Submit your project proposal to mrc-dtp@kcl.ac.uk.

Deadline for iCASE project proposal submission is Sunday 5th September, 23:59.

Any enquiries should be directed to mrc-dtp@kcl.ac.uk.

FAQs

There are two funding streams in the MRC DTP: iCASE and Core DTP Studentships. Each stream of funding has its own project call and recruitment process. iCASE projects require a non-academic partner and are selected and approved by the MRC DTP iCASE Team as well as the MRC DTP Executive Committee.  iCASE students apply directly to a specific iCASE project and join the PhD lab for 4 years.

Projects are not carried forward.  For your project to be considered, you will need to resubmit.

Yes, you can. MRC DTP iCASE and Core Students are treated differently; co-supervisors successful in attracting a student to their project can appoint an applicant on top of any other PhD students they supervise from the MRC DTP.

Yes. MRC DTP iCASE and Core Students are treated differently; co-supervisors successful in attracting a student to their project can appoint an applicant on top of any other PhD students they supervise from the MRC DTP.

No, only one project submission to the iCASE call per co-supervisor. However, co-supervisors can submit a project to the iCASE call on top of a project already submitted to the annual MRC DTP Core Project Call.

If the non-academic partner is a non-SME or a cash contribution SME, yes, we can! We can accept these types of project proposals at any time of the year. If your proposal is accepted, we may need advertise for the following entry year.  SME project proposals must be submitted by the deadline. The reviewing process for these projects is initiated promptly and we work to a tight schedule.

For intake years 2022-2024, the MRC DTP have funding for a total of X iCASE studentships; X projects with a non-SME partner, and X project with an SME partner is selected. We typically receive 10-15 proposals each year in our project call.

Figures are welcome, and where possible will be included in the online project description when advertising to students.

We encourage PIs to check against the guidance and information provided here on this webpage; the MRC DTP will not vet project proposals before the submission deadline. Once all applications have been submitted, projects will be considered against the assessment criteria circulated, ranked and final selection will be made by the MRC DTP Executive Committee.

Major changes in the project will need to be approved by the MRC DTP to ensure that it still fits the MRC remit.

Yes, this is an absolute requirement of the iCASE programme, and this element both enriches the student experience and adds value to the project. The 3-month placement can be undertaken as a single block or may be divided into multiple shorter visits.

If the funding conditions allow and the MRC DTP Executive Committee approve, we will consider extending the recruitment of the project into the next year’s recruitment timeline, allowing one further opportunity to successfully recruit a suitable candidate.

SMEs are companies that meet the definition included in Recommendation 1996/280/EC of a small to medium size enterprise (SME) i.e.

  •  The enterprise must have a staff headcount of < 250
  • The enterprise must have a turnover not exceeding €50m AND/OR a balance sheet total not exceeding €43m.

Non-SMEs have >250 employees.

International partners will be considered; however, they must make the case that they provide training that cannot be provided in the UK and the partner will have to cover all additional costs of the placement. This would include visas and differences in living expenses and travel.