Collaborative Calls for Proposals

FAPESP – UKRI (MRC) AI for Health Funding Opportunity Versão em português

The São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) and the Medical Research Council (MRC) are pleased to invite proposals to the AI for Health Funding Opportunity.

This initiative will provide funding for high quality collaborative research projects focussed on addressing Artificial Intelligence (AI) for biomedical and health applications that are relevant to Brazil. These projects should aim to generate real-world impact through addressing pressing health needs and barriers for the use of AI in biomedical and health research.

The rapid development of AI offers significant opportunities to contribute to improved human health, wellbeing or disease outcomes, and to advance health-related discovery science. FAPESP and UKRI are making available matched funding for UK and from the state of São Paulo research teams to collaborate on AI research for health applications that are relevant to Brazil and will advance research or address barriers to the use of AI in health.

MRC and FAPESP will make up to £3m each funding available for this initiative for two types of grants ranging from pilot-type projects for young and early-career researchers to larger projects for more established groups.

1. Aim

The objective of this call is to deliver significant three-year research funding for internationally competitive and innovative collaborative partnerships between researchers from state of São Paulo and the UK to enable the pursuit of shared research interests.

FAPESP and MRC wish to support proposals with the aim of:

  • Supporting collaborative, internationally-competitive research projects;
  • Enhancing existing partnerships and developing new partnerships between the UK and the state of São Paulo in the area of Digital Health/AI and Social Determinants of Health;
  • Supporting the mobility and exchange of UK and Brazilian researchers of the state of São Paulo to enhance links between researchers in both countries/state;
  • Strengthening the strategic relationship between the UK and state of São Paulo.

2. Scope

FAPESP and UKRI wish to support the development of new research collaborations, as well as providing funding to enhance existing collaborations. Collaborations should leverage the strengths of researchers in both country/state to address key areas of biomedical and health research interests, including one or more of the following:

  • Using AI to generate new medical research and human health insights that will:
    • further our understanding of disease and determinants of health;
    • improve disease prediction and diagnosis, thinking beyond incremental optimisation of current systems
    • Applications of AI that were:
      • developed for a different discipline to be applied in a health context;
      • developed with a focus on a different nation and could now be applied in a Brazilian context to improve health research and health outcomes in Brazil
      • Management and improvement of health data (including addressing limitations of AI when dealing with incomplete or small health data sets)
      • Imputation of data and analyses

Projects that do not have a biomedical and health focus are out of scope for this call. For example, this includes projects that:

  • aim to improve healthcare service delivery
  • are focused on evaluation and implementation of an AI technology
  • intend to use AI to increase efficiency of a process but not through generation of significant biomedical and health insight

Applicants are expected to justify the suitability of AI technologies used and how this will address the health need set out in their projects.

All applications should embed the principles of responsible research and innovation, engaging with relevant stakeholders (for example relevant regulatory bodies) as appropriate and considering issues of bias, trust, privacy, security and ethics.

FAPESP and UKRI recognise the importance of stakeholder diversity across different expertise and skills for delivering successful and impactful research. We encourage research teams to recognise the contribution of different disciplines and technical professionals including but not limited to:

  • AI experts;
  • Health researchers;
  • Medical practitioners ;
  • social scientists;
  • data owners;
  • end users;
  • relevant others (for example, the public, patients, and regulators)

Applicants are encouraged to include plans to strengthen research capacity within their applications, particularly considering the development of the next generation of top researchers.

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3. Scope of funding and duration

Proposals for bilateral research projects between researchers from the UK and the State of São Paulo can be submitted in the scientific domains mentioned in item 2.

MRC and FAPESP will make up to £3m each funding available for this initiative and grant sizes will vary according to the needs of each partnership.

Two different scales of funding are available, reflecting our interest in supporting both established research collaborations as well as new partnerships.

  • Partnership building grants: UKRI will provide up to £100k. FAPESP’s funding will follow the rules and instructions for Regular Research Awards standards, with the exception of duration of 3 years
    • Support new or early stage partnerships
    • Pilot studies to strengthen collaborative funding bids through other routes (for example the UKRI-FAPESP Lead Agency Funding Agreement)
    • Provides funding for costs such as T&S for exchange or mobility activities including bench fees where necessary and consumables and other research costs (that are directly associated with the period of the researcher exchange)
  • Research grants: MRC and FAPESP will provide funding over a 3-year period. MRC’s funding will follow UKRI’s standard funding rules and FAPESP’s funding will follow the rules and instructions for Thematic Research Awards standard, with the exception of duration of 3 years
    • Support for full scale research activities across Brazil and the UK
    • Costs in each country will follow the funders standard rules and will include research costs, T&S for exchange or mobility activities, capacity building, costs of workshops, meetings etc.

UK and São Paulo-based applicants do not need to request equal amounts from both sides. The difference in values should reflect the difference in costs covered and local prices. It is expected that the proposals show a balanced partnership not specifically in monetary terms, but matched research effort from each of the two branches.

MRC will support the funding opportunity under the umbrella of the International Science Partnerships Fund (ISPF). ISPF is a Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT)-led fund to support international research and collaboration. The fund aims to foster prosperity by solving shared global research and innovation challenges in collaboration with international partners. UKRI is one of the partner organisations delivering the fund.

MRC will fund 80% of the full economic cost and 100% of permitted exceptions for the UK element of the funding request. For the UK elements of your project, you can request funding for costs such as:

  • research costs:
    • staff: directly incurred post (for example, researchers, technicians)
    • staff: directly allocated posts (project lead and co-project lead time)
    • equipment below £10,000;
    • consumables, outsourcing or sub-contracting costs;
    • travel and subsistence for exchange or mobility activities;
    • cost of workshops, meetings etc.

MRC will not fund:

  • equipment items costing £10,000 (including VAT), or more;
  • costs for PhD studentships;
  • publication costs

Please see section three in the standard MRC guidance for applicants for information on full economic cost.

FAPESP will provide funding for the Brazilian nodes located in the State of São Paulo according to FAPESP’s funding guidelines for each funding scale.

Projects must have a duration of three years, starting in February 2025 and be completed by the end of January 2028. Please note that the project duration must be the same on both sides.

UK applicants should refer to the standard MRC Guidance for Applicants for information on what the UKRI starting procedure entails. Please inform the relevant support staff in your organisation of this requirement to ensure the project starts on time.

4. Eligibility

All proposals must be compliant with Official Development Assistance (ODA) funding rules.

4.1 Eligible researchers for MRC:

To apply to the MRC for this funding opportunity Researchers must meet the UKRI eligibility criteria including:

For full details, visit Eligibility as an individual.

4.2 Eligible researchers for FAPESP:

Researchers eligible for FAPESP funding under the scope of this Call must be employees of public or private Higher Education or Research Institutions in the State of São Paulo and must meet the FAPESP eligibility requirements for the Regular Research or Thematic Research Grants, with the exceptions herein stated regarding funding and duration.

Principal Investigators may only submit one application to this scheme as Principal Investigator, but may be involved in more applications if listed as a Co-Investigator.

The funders are not seeking to fund partners outside of the UK and the state of São Paulo through this initiative. Please contact international@mrc.ukri.org if you are planning to involve a partner from a third country or Brazilian state in your proposal.

5. Assessment Criteria and decision making process

5.1 Evaluation Procedure

FAPESP will act as lead agency in this call and proposals will be remote peer-reviewed and the peer review process will include reviewers nominated by FAPESP and the MRC. Key assessment criteria of the peer review analysis are described in item 5.2.

A Joint Evaluation Panel comprising of experts designated by FAPESP and MRC will evaluate all eligible proposals providing FAPESP and MRC with a ranked list of funding recommendations.

The boards of FAPESP and MRC will thereafter ratify the results. The Brazilian part will be funded by FAPESP according to its own rules and procedures and the UK part by MRC according to its rules and procedures. In due time, the researchers will also receive the necessary feedback about the decision taken.

5.2 Evaluation Criteria

To be funded, proposals must be internationally competitive and at a standard equivalent to that normally expected to be supported by FAPESP and MRC.

Key assessment criteria for the submissions will be:

  • Significance and Impact of the research;
  • Scientific Rationale: novelty, importance and timeliness of the research;
  • Design and Feasibility of the Project Plan;
  • Partnership: including strength and clarity of collaborations and opportunities provided, quality of the project management structure proposed; the added value of the UK-Brazil collaboration;
  • Quality and suitability of the research environment and of the facilities;
  • Value for money for Brazilian and UK science;
  • Ethical considerations and governance arrangements.

The UK funding for this call is provided through the UK’s Official Development Assistance. Therefore, applicants must describe how the proposed research is ODA compliant [approximately 150 words] and complete a Gender Equality Statement. The ODA compliance statement may be made publicly available. For further information on ODA, please see the guidance.

6. Key Dates

Activity

Date

Launch of call

8 April 2024

Application deadline

28 June 2024

Peer review

July-October 2024

Panel Meeting

November 2024

Inform Outcome

December 2024

Projects Start

February 2025

7. How to apply

Proposals, in English and using the project template available, must be submitted by the Principal Investigator (PI) of the state of São Paulo to FAPESP through the SAGe system. The following documents must also be included are:

  • Curricular Summary:
    • For FAPESP Regular Research Awards: of the PIs and all co-PIs from the state of São Paulo;
    • For FAPESP Thematic Research Awards: of the PIs and all co-PIs from the state of São Paulo and the UK
    • Research team spreadsheet (include PIs and all co-PIs from the state of São Paulo and the UK; template available);
    • Work plan for each requested scholarship, if applicable;
    • Budget spreadsheet (include the detailed budget requested to FAPESP and MRC; template available);
    • ODA Compliance Statement (to be filled in by the UK team; template available);
    • Ethics, Genetic and Biological Risk, and Research involving Animals, Humans or Biological Samples (to be filled in by the UK team; template available)
    • Data Management Plan (template available)
    • Other documents, according to the rules of the chosen support modality (Regular Research Grant or Thematic Project), as indicated at the time of proposal submission in SAGe.

The closing date for the submission of proposals is the 28/06/2024 (11h59 pm local time for FAPESP). No proposals will be accepted after the closing date for submission, nor will any addendum or explanation be accepted, unless those explicitly and formally requested by FAPESP. Proposals not received before the deadline, incomplete or not in conformity to the specifications herein will be declared ineligible.

The specific path for proposal submissions for this Call is:

  • Nova Proposta Inicial > + Outras Linhas de Fomento > + Acordos de Cooperação > + UKRI - UK Research and Innovation > + UKRI - MRC - Medical Research Council > + UKRI - MRC - Projeto de Pesquisa – Regular > + Chamada de Propostas (2024).
  • Nova Proposta Inicial > + Outras Linhas de Fomento > + Acordos de Cooperação > + UKRI - UK Research and Innovation > + UKRI - MRC - Medical Research Council > + UKRI - MRC - Projeto de Pesquisa – Temático > + Chamada de Propostas (2024).

It is necessary that the PI and Co-PIs from the UK and all co-PIs from the state of São Paulo are registered in the SAGe system and confirm their participation in the proposal. It is strongly recommended to complete and submit the proposal well in advance and seek help with time if required. See more details in Annex at the end of the document.

The generated pdf file (see Guides) after submission must also be submitted to MRC via UKRI’s Funding Service (TFS). Within 1 week of successful submission to the SAGE system you will receive an invitation to submit via UKRI’s Funding System.

8. Collaboration Agreement

As the research projects will be carried out by multiple research organisations and project partners, the basis of collaboration between the organisations and project partners, including ownership of intellectual property (IP) generated during the project and rights to exploitation, and costs of IP management, is expected to be set out in a formal Collaboration Agreement between the research organisations involved. Please note costs of IP management is not an eligible (direct) cost to FAPESP or UKRI MRC.

It is the responsibility of the research organisations to put such an agreement in place following the communication of funding decisions and before the research begins. The terms of collaboration shall not conflict with FAPESP or MRC, UKRI terms and conditions.

The collaboration agreement should also include the allocation of resources throughout the project.

Arrangements for collaboration and, or exploitation must not prevent the future progression of academic research and the dissemination of research results in accordance with academic custom and practise and the requirements of the funding bodies. A temporary delay in publication is acceptable in order to allow commercial and collaborative arrangements to be established.

The collaboration agreement does not need to be submitted to the funders; however, it must be made available if requested.

9. International Collaboration

FAPESP and the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is committed in ensuring that effective international collaboration in research and innovation takes place with integrity and within strong ethical frameworks.

Trusted Research and Innovation (TR&I) is a UKRI work programme designed to help protect all those working in our thriving and collaborative international sector by enabling partnerships to be as open as possible, and as secure as necessary. The TR&I Principles set out UKRI’s expectations of organisations funded by UKRI in relation to due diligence for international collaboration.

As such, applicants for UKRI funding may be asked to demonstrate how their proposed projects will comply with our approach and expectation towards TR&I, identifying potential risks and the relevant controls you will put in place to help proportionately reduce these risks.

See further guidance and information about TR&I – including where applicants can find additional support.

10. Contact information

For the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP): chamada-mrc@fapesp.br

For the Medical Research Council (MRC): international@mrc.ukri.org

Annex - Specific instructions on the use of SAGe

1. It is necessary that all researchers of the team (from the state of São Paulo and the UK) are registered in the SAGe system and confirm their participation in the proposal. We recommend to do so well in advance of the submission deadline.

(i) Researchers who do not have a SAGe registration must initially do so by accessing the SAGe page at www.fapesp.br/sage, clicking No registration? and filling in the requested data. It is not enough to just register as a user. After accessing the system it is necessary to complete the mandatory registration data, marqued with “*”.

(ii) Researchers already registered must login to SAGe with their usual identification and password to access the system.

2. When submitting the proposal, pay attention to the mandatory completion of all items marked with *. It is necessary to submit the proposal at the end. A saved proposal does not mean that it is a submitted proposal.

3. In case of doubts, on the SAGe home page there is a the link to the Manuals that can be used and, on the Manuals page, seek clarifications in the list Manuals de Apoio aos Pesquisadores. The system also provides an English version with manuals for user registration and confirmation of participation in proposals.

IMPORTANT: It is strongly recommended to complete and submit the proposal in the system well in advance and that the researcher periodically checks the pending proposals using the "Validate" option in SAGe. This can be done repeatedly as the proposal is constructed, allowing all necessary arrangements for submission to be made on time. When selecting the “Validate” option, the SAGe system will present the pending issues that impede the submission of the proposal considering the items that were inserted. In case of doubts about the use of SAGe, in addition to the Manuals, FAPESP also provides assistance through the Converse with FAPESP service at converse.


Page updated on 06/05/2024 - Published on 03/20/2024