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Proximity to Discovery: Industry Engagement Fund

  • Status: Closed
  • Open date: 19 Aug 2016
  • Closing date: 15 Nov 2016 16:00 GMT
  • Type: Calls

Proximity to Discovery: Industry Engagement Fund is designed to provide flexible funding for innovative ways to enable the initial development of academic-industry collaborations.


A bottleneck to the establishment of new collaborations is the limited ability to support early interactions and knowledge exchange between industry and academic researchers.

Proximity to Discovery: Industry Engagement Fund (P2D:IEF) will support a small number of Research Organisations to use creative approaches to building relationships with industry partners.

MRC’s Confidence in Concept (CiC) scheme provides responsive and flexible funding to support preliminary work aimed at assembling the data to support an application for a translational project grant. CiC permits academic-industry collaboration where focused on the delivery of the specific project objectives. The Proximity to Discovery: Industry Engagement Fund aligns with CiC to further enable research organisations to establish academic industry relationships. Short term people exchanges between industry and academia are seen as a key way of exchanging skills and knowledge and developing a longer term working relationship. Proximity to Discovery: Industry Engagement Fund can be used for people and knowledge exchange at the very earliest stage of a collaboration and may not necessarily be aligned to a specific project objective.

Funding will enable research organisations to be proactive in developing opportunities for collaboration and allow a greater flexibility to respond quickly to opportunities when they arise.

Applications to this scheme do not need to specifically address a translational aim. Examples of potential uses include:

  • People exchange that allow for an exchange of skills or knowledge which will enable new collaborative projects to develop.
  • People exchanges between Technology Transfer Offices in Universities and Business Development teams in industry, where the placement will enhance the understanding of each other’s business model and allow them to better support their organisation to develop medical research collaborations with industrial partners.
  • Other creative ways to encourage new collaborations or two-way people exchange to increase the permeability between industry and academia.
  • Projects that would enhance academic understanding of industry or vice versa
  • Showcases/workshops which enabling Universities to develop relationships with  potential industry partners

Principles of the scheme:

  • Applications to this scheme will be considered by the same Panel as CiC (membership can be found here).
  • The same exclusion criteria apply as for CiC.
  • Institutions may apply to this scheme and CiC in the same round.  The two applications do not need to be led by the same individual but the applying institution will need to present a persuasive case that the proposed governance structures will be coherent. 
  • Institutions applying to the scheme must be able to demonstrate that they have sufficient critical mass to be able to deliver engagement with industrial partners that will result in partnership opportunities.
  • Applications are not expected to be in excess of £250k and are to be spent within 18 months of the award starting.
  • Two-way people exchange opportunities should be made available to those best placed to benefit and promote continued collaboration (whether principle investigator, research assistant or associate, technician, fellow or student) to spend time based at the industrial partner or Research Organisation.
  • Exchanges are not expected to exceed 6 months.
  • Partnership opportunities should be encouraged with a range of industrial partners.
  • Successful institutions are expected to allocate funds to projects within the first 12 months of the award.
  • The normal MRC “response mode” eligibility rules apply; please see the applicants’ handbook and the Research Councils UK website.
  • Only one application per institution is permitted. It is expected that applications will be led by one or more senior members of the institution (e.g. Dean of Medical School or equivalent).
  • Funding will only be provided for the academic partner and costs directly associated with hosting an industrial partner in the University setting.
  • The funding is not intended to support staff exchange into a spin out company of the host RO.
  • Previous awardees of P2D:IEF can apply in consecutive years but must be able to show the added value of continued funding.


How to apply and timings

The P2D:IEF forms can be downloaded below. There are two application forms one for institutions that have not received P2D:IEF funding previously and one for institutions that have previously received funding which includes a section to report on the performance of past awards. Once completed forms should be returned to DPFS& no later than 5pm on the 15/11/16.

Panel membership


If you have any queries about this scheme, please contact: or DPFS&