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Funding for ECRs

We have a range of funding opportunities that you can apply to. Some of these are schemes specifically for Early Career Researchers, while others are our established response-mode funding rounds.

As part of the ECR Network, we are continually reviewing and developing our funding schemes to provide the most appropriate support for ECRs working in MS research. In 2022, we launched our Skills Development Awards to help you develop your skills as an independent researcher.

For full information on all of our funding schemes, you can go to our dedicated funding for researchers page. You should download and read all Applicant Guidance carefully before preparing your application. 

Watch our funding webinars on the Supporting your career development page.


What funding schemes am I eligible to apply to?

Skills Development Awards

Eligible to apply as: lead applicant

Our Skills Development Awards are designed to support ECRs with their careers in MS research. They can be put towards any career-related activity to help you build your skillset and advance your professional development. Such as, specialist training courses or placements in a different research group to allow you to learn a new technique. You can apply for up to £2,000 to support these activities.  

Since 2022, we've funded 11 Skills Development Awards. Awardees have used these to:

  • Attend an NIHR Implementation Science masterclass
  • Attend a practical skills workshop on advanced machine learning
  • Visit other research groups to learn new techniques and how these could be used in their own research. Some Awardees went for short visits, others did placements of several weeks. These have included international placements to Denmark, Spain and Australia.
  • Attend a selection of statistics courses hosted by their institution
  • Attend an EMBO course on Advanced Methods in Imaging Bioanalysis
  • Attend courses on advanced methods in causal inference hosted by Harvard University

You can download the applicant guidance for this scheme under "Download more information".

We're offering two rounds for Skills Development Awards in 2024. You can find key dates below.

Round 1:

  • Applications open: Tuesday 5 March 2024
  • Applications close: Tuesday 7 May 2024

Round 2:

  • Applications open: Tuesday 24 September 2024
  • Applications close: Tuesday 26 November 2024

Early Career Fellowships

Eligible to apply as: lead applicant

Our Early Career Fellowships are for postdoctoral researchers wanting to build a successful career in MS research. They are designed to be a ‘first step’ towards establishing yourself as an independent researcher. You can apply for up to £250,000 for 4-year projects. Fellowships are available to everyone conducting research across the spectrum of MS research. And your salary is funded as part of the Fellowship.

Catalyst Awards

Eligible to apply as: lead applicant, co-applicant

Our Catalyst Awards are for short-term, small-scale pilot or proof-of-concept research projects. These projects may be ‘high risk, high reward’. You can apply for up to £50,000 for 12 month projects. Both ECRs and established researchers are eligible to apply. And we invite applications from researchers outside of MS, as long as the project is relevant to MS research. A proportion of your salary costs may be considered for Catalyst Awards, with appropriate justification.

Data Discovery Awards

Eligible to apply as: lead applicant, co-applicant

Our Data Discovery Awards provide support for research projects using data from the UK MS Register to further our understanding of risk factors for MS. You can apply for up to £50,000 for 12 months. Both ECRs and established researchers are eligible to apply. Your salary costs can be considered for Data Discovery Awards, if the project wouldn’t happen without your salary being covered.

Project Awards

Eligible to apply as: co-applicant

Project Awards are our flagship funding scheme to support larger research projects, answering a single question or small group of related questions. These Awards should be led by a senior researcher, however ECRs are welcome to apply as co-applicants. A proportion of your salary costs may be considered for Project Awards, with appropriate justification.

PhD Fellowships

Our PhD Fellowships support graduate students to embark on a career in MS research. These Awards must be led by a senior researcher who will act as supervisor. Postdoctoral ECRs are welcome to apply as co-applicants and/or co-supervisors (if appropriate).

Prospective PhD Fellows are welcome to approach potential supervisors and co-write the application, if appropriate, however the application must be submitted by the supervisor. Prospective Fellows can’t be named as co-applicants.

How do I apply?

For all grant schemes, you should submit your application through our online grants management system. You can find key dates for each scheme and guidance for completing applications on our funding for researchers page.

If you have any questions about our research funding, you can email us at [email protected] or call us on 020 8438 0822.