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NC3Rs: National Centre for the Replacement Refinement & Reduction of Animals in Research

BBSRC/NC3Rs joint call: development of next generation non-animal technologies

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A total of £4M is available through a new collaboration between the BBSRC and NC3Rs focused on supporting alternatives to in vivo models in bioscience research.

Background

Non-animal technologies include complex 3D tissue models, organ-on-chips / microphysiological systems, stem cell platforms, and in silico / computational tools. These technologies provide an alternative and often improved option to the use of animal models in terms of cost and physiological relevance. They also offer advanced solutions for modelling human and animal biology and predicting interactions to external challenge.

The BBSRC and NC3Rs have previously collaborated on the use of non-animal technologies for advancing predictive biology as part of a UK cross-funder initiative. The new joint call is intended to build on this foundation as well as the BBSRC’s recent work with the Physiological Society on the use of model systems. The NC3Rs has a long track record of supporting the development of non-animal technologies for a range of scientific purposes through research funding and its innovation programme CRACK IT Challenges.

The application form will be available on Je-S from 23 June and the competition will close on 8 September. To keep up to date with the latest announcements subscribe to the NC3Rs newsletter or follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn.

The overall aim of this £4M call from the BBSRC and NC3Rs is to support proposals that:

1. Develop the next generation of non-animal technologies that mimic the physiological environment enabling a whole system/ multi-system approach for discovery and translational science.

Proposals should build upon existing knowledge to develop non-animal technologies that offer advanced solutions for modelling human and animal biology and predicting interactions to external challenge. This next generation of non-animal technology should incorporate a systems approach, that enables the study of intra-organ interactions, microenvironmental factors, or whole systems approaches. This could include addressing biological questions by integrating complex in vitro experiments with computational modelling.

2. Enhance the capacity and confidence in non-animal technologies.

Proposals should support a step-change in current non-animal technologies in aspects such as physiological relevance and predictivity, throughput, and breadth of application to facilitate new research discoveries and translational approaches. Applications that include comparative analyses of different models/technologies and/or validation and feasibility or reproducibility studies are in scope.

3. Establish partnerships between academia, the SME sector, and industry.

Proposals with an industrial partner are strongly encouraged to foster collaborations, improve understanding of cross-sector requirements, and bridge the gap between development, proof-of-concept and scale-up and help drive the development and commercialisation of non-animal technologies. It is envisaged that there will be substantial in-kind and/or financial contribution from a business partner.

Scope

Proposals must fall within the BBSRC’s remit to qualify for funding. The research supported should have the realistic possibility of replacing the use of specific in vivo models or animal studies in line with the NC3Rs mission.

Example research areas for the development of non-animal technologies include enabling:

  • The mechanistic understanding of ageing across the life-course.
  • The development and testing of novel veterinary vaccines.
  • A more accurate study of microbial diversity and functions of the microbiota on both specific organs and whole systems.
  • The study of complex neurological pathways and systems across the life-course.

These examples are provided to help you develop your ideas. These should not lead or limit the scope and ambition of planned applications.

Please note: proposals focused on non-animal technologies for use primarily as a disease-focused model, or for toxicological and safety assessment purposes are not within BBSRC's remit and as such are not in the scope of the call.

Key dates

Key date Detail

May 2022

Call announcement

23 June 2022

Application form available on Je-S

8 September 2022

Deadline for submitting application via Je-S

November 2022

Assessment panel meeting

November 2022

Applicants notified of outcome

3 January 2023

Latest date to start award

Award values

The full economic cost of your project can be up to £250k. The BBSRC and NC3Rs will fund 80% of the full economic cost. Projects can run up to 24 months.

Eligibility criteria

Standard eligibility criteria apply. Applicants from eligible UK-based organisations are invited in accordance with standard UKRI practice.

Organisations normally eligible for UKRI funding include:

  • Higher education institutions
  • Eligible independent research organisations (IROs)
  • Public sector research establishments
  • UKRI-funded laboratories and facilities

Applications from organisations or individuals that are not eligible will be not be considered by the assessment panel.

How to apply

Applicants are advised to read and refer to the Application Guidance, which contains more detailed information on submitting an application.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact 3Rsgrants@nc3rs.org.uk, before submitting an application via Je-S, to determine whether the proposed research fits the remit.

We use the Research Councils' joint electronic submission system (Je-S) and applications are processed by the RCUK Shared Business Services. Completed proposals should be submitted through Je-S. 

If you experience difficulties using Je-S or have questions regarding its use, contact the Je-S helpdesk.

Email: jeshelp@je-s.ukri.org      Phone: +44 (0) 1793 44 4164

Assessment process

Proposals will be assessed by an expert panel of senior independent academics and appropriate stakeholders. Applications will not be sent for external peer review. There will be no Principal Investigator rebuttal stage. 

Your application will be assessed against the criteria for assessment as outlined below. 

  • Scientific and technical excellence 

  • Impact, including potential for the replacement of animal use, potential to enhance capacity and drive uptake and build a foundation for further investment 

  • Strategic value 

  • Timeliness 

  • Capability to deliver 

A triage process will occur prior to the Panel meeting. Applications will be reviewed by the Panel to identify those which are not competitive.  

Please note the Panel assessment criteria which can be found below. 

Your case for support should include sufficient details so that it can be assessed by scientists with relevant, but not necessarily specialist, expertise. 

Downloads

Application process

Assessment criteria

Terms and conditions

Prospective applicants are encouraged to attend our webinar on Thursday 14 July, which provides further information and guidance on the application process.

Guidance on scheme remit and eligibility, including detailed information about the application process.