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NC3Rs | 20 Years: Pioneering Better Science

Partnership and Impact awards

What is a Partnership and Impact award?

Partnership and Impact (P&I) awards are designed to accelerate the adoption of existing 3Rs models, tools and technologies into routine practice. They build on our previous Skills and Knowledge Transfer scheme, and we are applying the experience we have gained through this to further support researchers to test and validate the use of 3Rs approaches alongside their established models. By providing this support, these awards aim to build further confidence in existing 3Rs approaches, driving uptake in the wider scientific community to realise the maximum scientific and 3Rs potential. 

Awards are for up to 24 months with the amount requested dependent on the science and limited to a maximum of £200k (80% FEC). As part of our continued collaborations with Cancer Research UK (CRUK) and British Heart Foundation (BHF), additional joint awards are available for grants seeking to achieve a 3Rs impact within cancer or cardiovascular research fields, respectively. The budget for the 2024 call is £1.075M.


Proposals must be focused on establishing partnerships between the developer(s) and end-user(s) of a 3Rs approach and accelerating its transfer into new research laboratories or organisations to achieve an immediate 3Rs impact. Applications are expected to include activities that facilitate the transfer of a 3Rs approach, including the “know-how”, so the approach can be used by other researchers.

Awards can also be used to build further confidence in the 3Rs model, tool or technology within the scientific context of use. Model characterisation and validation work (e.g. comparative, feasibility and reproducibility studies) to demonstrate the 3Rs approach is fit-for-purpose and appropriate for the intended scientific purpose is within scope. Plans to promote the 3Rs approach to the wider scientific community to achieve further 3Rs impacts beyond the lifetime of the award are also encouraged. 

The collaborative nature of the partnership(s) may vary – examples include:

  • Building an evidence base to show the 3Rs approach is appropriate for the intended scientific purpose, for example by performing independent validation, optimisation or reproducibility studies in the new user(s) laboratory or organisation.
  • Demonstrating the portability or transferability of the 3Rs approach into a new laboratory or organisation.
  • Applying the 3Rs model, tool or technology to address a different research question to which it was initially developed for, or to a new research field/ discipline. 

These examples are provided to help you develop your ideas, they should not lead or limit the scope and ambition of planned applications. Applications from any area of medical, biological or veterinary research are within remit; those that are multidisciplinary, cross-institutional, or cross-industry are particularly encouraged. More information on scope and scheme remit can be found in the NC3Rs Partnership and Impact award Applicant guidance.

Please note model or technology development is not within scope of this funding scheme.

Applicants are strongly advised to contact the NC3Rs Office ( prior to submitting an application to determine whether the proposed research fits the scheme remit and to confirm eligibility. 

Key dates

Key date Details
6 June 2024, 14.00 Partnership and Impact awards launch webinar
27 June 2024 Application form live on The Funding Service
19 September 2024 Deadline for submitting applications via The Funding Service
November 2024 Panel meeting convenes
Early December 2024 Applicants informed of outcome
1 February 2025 Expected project start date*
31 March 2025 Latest date for commencing projects*

*Please note that BHF-NC3Rs awards will have an expected start date of 1 March 2025 and the latest date for commencing projects will be 1 April 2025.

Who can apply?

Establishment eligibility

Any UK research establishment including:

  • Higher Education Institutions (HEIs)
  • Independent Research Organisations (IROs)
  • Research Council (RC) Institutes
  • Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)*

*The definition of small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) used by the NC3Rs is set out in the European Commission Recommendation of 6 May 2003. Please note that State Aid rules apply.

Individual eligibility

Applicants should be UK-based researchers who can demonstrate that they:

  • Will direct the proposed research.
  • Will be actively engaged in accomplishing the project’s aims.
  • Hold a graduate degree – the minimum formal qualification required. However, it would normally be expected that an applicant has been awarded a PhD. Applications involving less experienced researchers should be made in collaboration with a more senior colleague. 

We particularly welcome applications from currently under-represented groups in the research and innovation community (including, but not limited to, early career researchers, women, those with a disability, and members of minority ethnic groups). 

Industrial researchers

Industrial researchers cannot be Project Leads but are eligible to apply for funding as a Project co-Lead. Please note that industry investigators are eligible for 100% Directly incurred costs only, which should be entered under the Exceptions cost heading. Alternatively, a researcher based in industry may be included as collaborator or project partner. 

Overseas researchers

Overseas researchers cannot be Project Leads but can be included as collaborators or project partners. Project co-Lead (International) status can be obtained in exceptional circumstances at the discretion of the NC3Rs – approval must be sought from the NC3Rs Office ( applying.

Eligibility criteria for joint CRUK-NC3Rs awards

The following additional eligibility criteria apply for applicants wishing to apply for a joint CRUK-NC3Rs grant: 

  • Applications must seek to achieve a 3Rs impact within the field of cancer research.
  • The Research Organisation (RO) must not be in receipt of research funding from the tobacco industry or have any links to the tobacco industry as outlined in CRUK’s Code of Practice on Tobacco Industry Funding to Universities

  • Applicants must hold a current Cancer Research UK (CRUK) grant, or have held a CRUK grant in the previous 24 months prior to the call deadline or, at the time of application, be a group leader at a CRUK core-funded institute or, be based at an institution that hosts a CRUK Centre, CRUK Clinical Trials Unit, or other major strategic investment from CRUK.


    Applicants must be a postdoctoral researcher funded by CRUK. As per the individual eligibility criteria, applications involving less experienced researchers should be made in collaboration with a more senior colleague.

Please note: Eligibility to apply for a joint CRUK-NC3Rs award must be confirmed in your application and applications for the CRUK-NC3Rs joint award will not be accepted if the above eligibility criteria are not met. 

If a prospective applicant has a project with cancer relevance but does not meet the above criteria, the applicant may be a joint applicant with another individual who does meet these criteria, or the applicant may contact either the CRUK team or the NC3Rs Office setting out details of their potential application for further consideration.

Awards made under this collaboration will be subject to joint CRUK-NC3Rs terms and conditions.

Eligibility criteria for joint BHF-NC3Rs awards

The following additional eligibility criteria apply for applicants wishing to apply for a joint BHF-NC3Rs grant:

  • Applications must seek to achieve a 3Rs impact within the field of cardiovascular research, but applicants do not need to hold an active BHF award.
  • The RO must not be directly or indirectly involved in, and not derive any income from, the production, marketing or sale of tobacco products or related items, nor do so during the lifetime of the award.

Please note: Eligibility to apply for a joint BHF-NC3Rs award must be confirmed in your application and applications for the BHF-NC3Rs joint award will not be accepted if the above eligibility criteria are not met. 

Applicants wishing to apply for a joint BHF-NC3Rs grant and awards made under this collaboration will be subject to joint BHF-NC3Rs terms and conditions. Additional information on BHF’s regulations regarding the tobacco industry, Intellectual Property and Commercial Exploitation terms can be found in sections 2.6 and 5 of the BHF Standard Conditions of Grant.


The NC3Rs does not allow resubmission of previously unsuccessful proposals, unless explicitly invited by the Panel. 

Proposals previously declined by the NC3Rs will not be considered by another Research Council or funder within 12 months (from the date of submission to the original Research Council) unless substantially revised. More information can be found in the NC3Rs Partnership and Impact awards Applicant guidance.

Please note: The same or similar application cannot be considered by any other Research Council, the Health Departments or any other research funder at the same time.

How to apply

Applications to the Partnership and Impact scheme will be made via the new UKRI Funding Service (TFS). This is part of the UKRI Simpler and Better Funding (SBF) programme’s work to develop a single, consistent user-centred funding service. 

Applicants are advised to read and refer to the NC3Rs Partnership and Impact awards Applicant guidance, which contains more detailed information on submitting an application.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact, before submitting an application via the Funding Service, to determine whether the proposed research fits the scheme remit and to confirm eligibility.

To start an application on the Funding Service use the opportunity reference OPP621: NC3Rs Partnership and Impact awards 2024

Completed proposals should be submitted through the Funding Service. Full applications received after 4pm on the deadline date will not be considered, without exception.

Assessment process

Applications are assessed by the NC3Rs Partnership and Impact Assessment Panel. Applications will not be sent for external peer review. There will be no Project Lead rebuttal stage.

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

  • Potential impact on the 3Rs. 
  • Quality of the underpinning science. 
  • Proposed partnership(s), the knowledge and skills transfer plans and likelihood of adoption.
  • Strategy for disseminating the 3Rs approach within the wider scientific community. 
  • Team capability to deliver and likelihood of success.
  • Value for money.

A triage process will occur prior to the Panel meeting. Applications will be reviewed by the Panel to identify those which are not competitive. Applications that address an area of high strategic importance to the NC3Rs, and score within the fundable range, may receive an uplift in the recommendations for funding.

In order to maintain transparency and integrity of the peer review process the NC3Rs has adopted the UKRI principles of peer review. Please note the Panel assessment guidance and scoring criteria.

Partnership and Impact Panel

Funding Panel members are appointed in a personal capacity for three years, with the possibility of a further one or two years extension. We receive proposals from a wide range of disciplines. Additional members may be co-opted to a Panel, for one year, if additional expertise is required. A full list of members and when their term ends is given below. In addition, the Panel will be joined by a representative Panel member from CRUK and BHF to review joint applications.

All Funding Panel members are required to declare any private, professional or commercial interests that give rise to, or could give rise to, a conflict of interest as detailed in the UKRI conflicts of interest policy.

Member name Institution Term ends
Professor Nick Plant (Chair) University of Leeds 2024
Dr Louise Brackenbury Charles River 2025
Dr Diana Cash King’s College London 2024
Dr Spencer Collis University of Sheffield 2026
Dr Charlotte Dean Imperial College London 2025
Dr Malcolm Haddrick Medicines Discovery Catapult 2024
Professor Stefan Przyborski Durham University 2024
Dr Tomoko Smyth Astex Pharmaceuticals 2024
Dr Carl Soulsbury University of Lincoln 2024
Dr Ryan West University of Sheffield 2025
Professor Jeanette Woolard University of Nottingham 2025

Assessment Criteria