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The MRC has awarded Oxford 4 industrial collaborative (iCASE) DPhil studentships to start in October 2020. Attached is a call for ‘Expressions of Interest’ (EOIs) from PIs wishing to supervise one of these highly competitive ‘Enterprise’ studentships, in collaboration with an eligible commercial (non-academic) partner. In each case, the MRC provides ~£88K of funding per student, a commercial partner provides research facilities and makes a financial contribution, and the Department contributes a further amount to enhance the stipends.

Any PI wishing to express interest should email a completed EOI form (page 3 of the document below) to mrc@medsci.ox.ac.uk by Friday 30 August 2019.

> Expression of Interest form

Background

For the past couple of years, the Oxford-MRC Doctoral Training Partnership (MRC DTP) has received funding for 4 iCASE DPhil studentships per year. PIs were invited to bid to supervise an iCASE student in collaboration with an eligible commercial partner. Departments were required to enhance the stipends and the awards were advertised as ‘MRC Enterprise studentships’. The 2018 awards were allocated to projects in DPAG, NDM (x2) and Statistics, and in 2019 to projects in Biochemistry, DPAG, Engineering, and Experimental Psychology. Recruitment of students was overseen by the Oxford MRC DTP leadership team. The DTP is particularly interested in supporting collaborative projects that include training in MRC priority skills (quantitative, interdisciplinary and whole organ/organism research) and industrial strategy priority topics (digital technologies, bioinformatics, advanced therapies, accelerated drug discovery, translational development, precision healthcare and diagnostics). A condition of the awards is that students must spend at least 3 months working in the facilities of the commercial partner, benefitting from distinctive research training and experience not available in an academic setting.

Who can be the commercial (non-academic) partner?

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 Research Council 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.

What happens next?

The MRC DTP leadership team will shortlist the EOIs in early September. Shortlisted projects will then be asked to submit a detailed application later in September. Decisions will be made in early October and projects will be advertised immediately by the Graduate School admin team. Candidates will then apply in the January gathered field (applicant deadline Fri 10 January 2020). Final decisions on interview shortlists will be taken by the DTP leadership team. Interviews will take place in early February 2020 (exact dates tbc shortly). Please note that projects will only be eligible to be selected if the PI, or a senior member of their lab, is available for interview on the set dates. Interview panels will include the DTP leadership team, the relevant Director of Graduate Studies, and representation from both the academic and industrial supervisory teams. The final award decisions will be made by the DTP leadership team.