Population Research Catalyst Award

About this scheme

The Catalyst Award supports capacity building and collaboration in population health with up to £5 million enabling groups to deliver impact over and above what they could do alone.

Want to catalyse your research idea? | Catalyst Award 2016 | Cancer Research UK

Key information

Career level
Established independent researcher
Industry researcher
Health professional
Non-clinical researcher
Research area
Behavioural research
Cancer prevention
Early diagnosis
Funding period
5 years
Funding amount
£5 million

The Award aims to:

  • Boost progress aligned to our strategic priorities
  • Build new collaborations within and between institutions, nationally and internationally
  • Build capacity in population research

Applicants will need to:

  • Establish a hub across at least 3 locations creating a new collaboration (collaborating institutions may be international, but the hub should consist of at least one UK based institution)
  • Support a new research direction for the hub, in line with CRUK strategic priority areas
  • Commit to data sharing and open access to resources
  • Plan for sustainability beyond the lifetime of the award

Funding is flexible, but applications may include funds to support the following types of activities:

  • Central coordination of the hub across the collaborating institutions.
  • Discretionary fund to be spent on pilot/development studies for innovative/high risk work, or for bridge-funding exceptional early career researchers.
  • Recruitment of rising star or senior expert into the hub, where expertise is currently lacking.
  • Infrastructure, e.g. data/sample curation and management – physical and staff resources.
  • Multidisciplinary research projects.

How to apply to this scheme

Overview of the application process

The current round of funding is now closed. We anticipate that the scheme will reopen for another round of funding in autumn 2018.

  1. Contact the office to register interest in the scheme and set up a meeting to discuss preliminary ideas.
  2. Submit Expressions of Interest – a outline proposal on the electronic grants management system including: aims, collaboration and potential impact.
  3. Expressions of Interest are triaged by the Catalyst Panel and applicants receive feedback
  4. Joint Applicant Meeting – applicants who have been invited to submit a full application will be invited to the meeting to present their ideas to other successful groups and ideas can be refined as relevant.
  5. Submit full application
  6. Catalyst Panel makes funding recommendation to the Population Research Committee
  7. Population Research Committee makes the final decision.

Before making your application

1. You must read the full application guidelines

2. You must contact the office to discuss eligibility and suitability of your research proposal in advance of submitting an application

Applications will be judged on

  • Scientific excellence: all applications must have a strong scientific rationale to support the proposed research
  • Cancer relevance: value of the proposed work in furthering the fundamental understanding of cancer or improving prevention, diagnosis or survival
  • Track record: the applicants must have an excellent track record and potential to produce outstanding results
  • Taking a novel approach, and/or tackling a problem that could be considered intractable
  • Written with the potential to be paradigm shifting
  • Collaborative in nature, working with some of the best institutions across the world to achieve over and above
  • Excellent people and collaborative environment: suitability and feasibility of the collaborating parties (and supporting roles) to carry out the proposed research, with access to the resources and facilities required for the fulfilment of the Award

We prioritise funding for projects of sufficient scientific quality which enage with our Research Strategy, including those which focus on cancers of the brain, lung, pancreas and oesophagus.

Expressions of Interest

Expressions of Interest should be no more than 5 sides of A4 paper in size 10 Arial font, excluding the appendix overview of costs. Diagrams can be included if necessary.

The Expression of Interest is your opportunity to describe your idea. It should include a detailed summary of the proposed Award. Please use the following structure, as shown in the template.

  1. Title
  2. Name of the lead applicant
  3. Name of collaborators
  4. Name of institutions
  5. Aim of the proposal: a succinct summary in a few sentences of the aim of the proposal.
  6. Background and rationale: a summary of the information to demonstrate the importance of the work and feasibility of the proposed award.
  7. Collaborations: describe how your collaborations are novel, interesting or across disciplines. Briefly describe the governance structure and the main roles of the collaborating partners.
  8. How will this proposal impact the field: briefly discuss how the Award will help the team or others either explore a new and innovative research direction, make a step-change in population research or support the wider research community.
  9. Implementation plan: a summary of the proposed plan for achieving the aims of the Award. As well as a general overview of your proposed idea, please briefly include how you are building research capacity in the field.
  10. Appendix 1: Overview of costs: Please include a broad summary of the proposed costs as an appendix to the main document, which will not count towards the page limit. This will be treated as strictly confidential.

​Expressions of Interest may be shared with other applicants ahead of the joint applicant meeting, so please indicate if any aspects of the proposal are confidential.

Applications are reviewed by the Catalyst Award Panel. Final funding decisions are made by the Population Research Committee.

Cancer Research UK contact details



Jessica Brand

Research Funding Manager

Email: prc@cancer.org.uk

Tel: +44 (0) 20 3469 8617

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