Funding for researchers


Our Grant Schemes

Borne offers funding to take the most promising ideas in the field forward, encourage collaboration and support career development.


We consult broadly with clinical and scientific experts around the world on what is holding back the advancement of preterm birth research. By identifying and targeting gaps in our knowledge and barriers to progress, we aim to direct our efforts to supporting big, collaborative, cross-disciplinary initiatives that can accelerate progress. From time to time, we announce significant research grant calls that support the development of infrastructure and expertise to capitalise on the most promising science from around the world to help unravel the complex biological interactions during pregnancy that can give rise to premature birth.

2021 Research Grant Call (Status – CLOSED

BUMP – We announced a research funding call to identify a research group or consortium of scientists capable of delivering a study that confirms the feasibility of a systematic study of the biological interactions across different cells and tissues in the human uterus; and the outline of opportunities to test and expand on novel discoveries that can help prevent the onset of preterm labour.  

This funding round of up to £500,000 over 18-24 months will be awarded in open competition.  The award will be announced in 4th Quarter 2021.


Borne’s pilot project scheme provides funds to develop novel research ideas that – if successful – can lead to a major project grant. Grants of up to £50,000 for up to 2 years can cover salaries, equipment and running costs.

Applications must be submitted by 17:00 GMT on Tuesday 30 November 2021. Awards will be communicated in June 2022.  Download application form here.


Borne offers funding for high quality research projects that can be inter-disciplinary and where there is an established proof of concept. It is expected that our funding will enable these projects to develop further towards clinical translation. We shall prioritise applicants with matched funding in place. Grants of up to £250,000 for up to 5 years can cover salaries, equipment and running costs.

Applications must be submitted by 17:00 GMT on Tuesday 30 November 2021. Awards will be communicated in June 2022.  Download application form here.


Borne has joined forces with the UKRI’s Medical Research Council to offer Clinical Research Training Fellowships to dedicated clinicians looking to undertake a PhD or other higher research degree to establish the track record and skills to develop their academic careers in women’s reproductive health and the complications that lead to preterm birth.  CRTFs receive funding to cover up to three years of salary, tuition fees and a contribution towards research costs.

Grant calls are subject to the MRC’s timetable and review process.  Apply here.


The Career Development Award is designed to retain and nurture excellent non-clinical researchers in our field of interest who have established a track record of nationally competitive research, with clear plans to manage their independent research group. We are jointly offering prestigious Career Development Awards with the UKRI’s Medical Research Council to support talented post-doctoral researchers with their transition to independence over 5 years. 

Grant calls are subject to the MRC’s timetable and review process.  Apply here.

How we fund research

We are committed to ensuring we are investing the donations we receive in the highest quality projects with the best chance of success.

For project grants, the principal applicant (and point of contact) should have a tenured post with a UK academic/research institution.  However, applications can include researchers or institutions outside the UK. The principal applicant is expected to have a contract which covers the proposed duration of the grant. If the principal applicant does not hold a tenured appointment, the application must include a co-applicant that does.

For major project grants, the principal applicant must be a senior researcher holding a PhD or equivalent with a track record of managing grant funding, delivering research studies and a strong publication record.

If the project requires Ethics approval (clinical research) and/or Home Office licences (in vivo research), the award is dependent upon the requisite approvals being granted.  Grants will lapse if the project does not secure all requisite approvals to commence within 12 months of the award being granted. 


The terms and conditions of grant differ for each grant scheme and the research contracts are drawn up individually once the grants have been awarded.  

As a research charity, we have a duty to ensure the outputs of the research we fund are openly and widely communicated to our donors and supporters.  Borne collects data on research progress and outcomes to ensure our research strategy is effective in reducing preterm birth, and to help us evaluate the positive difference our funding is making. 

We support research activities in our field of interest that will generate new knowledge, create evidence that can influence policy, stimulate further research via new funding or partnerships, translate research ideas into new treatments and therapies, or increase the human capacity to do research.

All grant holders are expected to report on the progress of their project on a regular basis.

Borne’s end of grant report template can be downloaded here.


The Borne Foundation is a member of the Association of Medical Research Charities and follows their guidelines for best practice in peer review. Grants are awarded on scientific merit in relation to Borne’s research strategy and on the basis of open competition. The quality of the application and applicants is the key determinant of outcome.


Applications are initially vetted by Borne’s COO and the Chair of Borne’s Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) to:

  • Ensure proposals are of scientific and strategic interest to the charity
  • Identify those proposals that are uncompetitive and therefore unlikely to be awarded funding
  • Evaluate methods, statistical analyses and experimental design aspects of the proposals to confirm if suitable and sufficiently detailed information is provided to convince peer reviewers that the proposed experiments will be carried out appropriately to produce robust and reproducible research

External peer review

Applications that pass triage are sent out for external expert peer review where expertise is required from another field.  The number of external peer reviewers consulted will depend on the size of the grant, e.g. an award for up to £500,000 will be reviewed by 4 expert peer reviewers, who are asked to score and comment on the applications based on an objective and consistent set of criteria; a project grant award for up to £250,000 will be reviewed by 2-4 peer reviewers depending on the nature of the application and the expert opinion required. The peer review panel is established by the SAB.

Scoring is based on a predefined set of criteria, including:

  • The credentials of the investigator group
  • Quality of the research and methods proposed
  • Research environment and logistics
  • Resources requested
  • Data management plan

SAB evaluation

SAB grant review meetings are held twice a year where applications and peer review feedback are discussed before funding recommendations are made to the Board.

Funding decision

Those applications recommended for funding by the SAB are presented to the charity’s trustees for final approval.


Research Guidelines and Policies 

Our pursuit of excellent research and the fulfilment of our responsibilities to our supporters and research participants require the maintenance of the highest standards of integrity and ethics. Below are policies and guidelines relevant to our grant schemes and governance.  


Borne’s Conflicts of Interest policy applies to all employees, all Trustees and all external members or co-opted individuals who join Borne’s committees and workgroups including scientific advisors and external peer reviewers. 

It is important to ensure that all decisions made by office-holders and committee members on behalf of Borne are in the charity’s best interests, free from any undue external influence and which does not pose any reputational risk to Borne.  All who represent Borne are expected to act with integrity and impartiality, and to be open, fair and unbiased when making decisions or advising Borne. 

Outside interests and expertise are important to support and challenge Borne’s work, but it is inevitable that conflicts of interests will arise.  It is important that they are clearly identified and carefully managed through: 

  • Disclosure of outside interests that could give rise to potential conflicts so that Borne are aware of these in advance; 
  • Determination of whether there is an actual or perceived conflict before becoming involved in any decision on behalf of Borne; and 
  • Management of any conflicts as they arise in a manner that protects the integrity of Borne’s decision-making while exercising personal judgement in permitting the right level of input to enable the best decisions. 

We are committed to supporting research and the careers of talented researchers in UK universities.  

We support the AMRC’s position on supporting research in universities. We believe the government is primarily responsible for providing underpinning funding for the UK biomedical science base. Borne aims to contribute towards a sustainable science base in universities but will not normally meet the full economic costs of the research we are supporting. Universities are expected to contribute resources to meet the full costs of research in partnership with Borne and not expect a percentage overhead towards general university infrastructure from the charity.


Borne’s research uses human cells and tissue in the main and is carried out with patients’ active consent.  There are occasions where mice and other laboratory animals may be used.  This is when in vivo modelling is necessary to advance our understanding of biological processes and to develop new treatments, and there are no alternatives available as it is not ethical to carry out these studies in humans.  Borne supports the principle of the 3Rs to refine, reduce and replace the use of animals in research, and is aligned with the Association of Medical Research Charities’ position on the use of animals in research


Borne supports the view that publicly funded research data is produced in the public interest and research data should be made openly available to the maximum extent possible to support the advancement of science.  The expectation is that raw data resulting from Borne funded research should be shared freely on institutional repositories or structured data repositories (eg. gene and protein databases).

We encourage researchers to maximise the value of research data by sharing outputs in a responsible and timely manner. Borne research applicants must consider their approach to managing and sharing data at the application stage. Data management plans will be subject to peer review by external reviewers and Borne’s SAB. The cost, and cost justification, for delivering the data management plan should be included in the budget of the grant application as part of running costs.

Borne encourages researchers to publish papers from Borne funded projects as open access. We will consider the cost of publication (up to a maximum of £2,000 per research article) if it is included in the proposed budget of an application for funding.

In alignment with our policy of open access, The Borne Foundation is part of AMRC’s Open Research, an open access publishing platform set up by 24 Association of Medical Research (AMRC) member charities in partnership with F1000. This platform operates an alternative publication model that enables the rapid and immediate publication of any research funded by the participating charities, followed by open peer review. Researchers are encouraged to consider AMRC Open Research as an option for disseminating the results of their research:

For more information on applications for research funding from Borne, please contact Mei Li Powell at