3Rs Research Funding Scheme - Project Grants

Financial assistance for UK establishments for hypothesis driven and applied research that will advance knowledge and application of the 3Rs - the basic principles which underpin the humane use of animals in scientific research.  This includes the Replacement of animals with non-animal alternatives, the Refinement of procedures to minimise suffering, and the Reduction of animal numbers used in research.

Grants for up to three years are available. There is one competition per year.

The financial support requested should be tailored by the scientific needs of the proposal.

Applications for pilot or proof of concept studies are also eligible under the scheme, to provide preliminary data for a subsequent, more substantive application. Awards are limited to a maximum of £75,000 at 80% of Full Economic Costing and 12 months duration.

Equipment costs are limited to a maximum of £20,000, including those listed under consumables.


Before You Start

The National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs) provides the 3Rs Research Funding to support UK research establishments undertaking research and development to advance knowledge and application of the 3Rs framework for the ethical use of animals in scientific experimentation.

Researchers working within UK research establishments can apply for up to 80% of the costs (based on 100% FEC model) to undertake pilot and proof of concept projects over a maximum of 12 months to advance medical, biological or veterinary research testing to improve the animal welfare model.

'3Rs' refers to the ethical framework for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of the use of animals in scientific experimentation:

  • Replacement - substitution of animals defined as protected under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) act 1986.
  • Refinement -development of improvements in scientific procedure and husbandry which minimise actual or potential pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm, and/or improve animal welfare in situations where animal use is unavoidable.
  • Reduction - research of methods to minimise animal use and enable researchers to obtain data from fewer animals or more information from the same number of animals.


Non-higher education institutions or approved academic analogues will not be eligible for indirect or estate costs.

What You Need To Know

Key Criteria

The 3Rs Research Funding Scheme is open to any UK research establishment, including higher education institutions, hospital/NHS Trusts, Research Council establishments, charity laboratories and industry.

The NC3Rs will also consider applications from any UK-based researcher who can demonstrate that they will direct the proposed research and be actively engaged in carrying it through.  The minimum formal qualification required is a graduate degree, although it would normally be expected that an applicant would have been awarded a PhD.  Applications involving less experienced researchers should normally be made in collaboration with a more senior colleague.

Assistance may also be available to members of animal care teams (eg technician, veterinarian, facility manager) towards, for example, potential collaborations, the focus of the proposal, and key literature.

Match Funding

Applicants may already hold a grant from the NC3Rs and other funding bodies for research related to the topic for which new funds are being sought. It is important that applicants state whether any financial support from another body is already provided.

The same or similar application cannot be considered by any other Research Council, the Health Departments or any other research funder at the same time.

Eligible Expenditure

A clear scientific rationale for the proposed work and description of how it will impact on the 3Rs are essential. Proposals relevant to any area of medical, biological or veterinary research, or safety testing will be considered and applications that integrate a range of disciplines are encouraged. 

Requests for funding can include:

  • The salary of the principal investigator and co-investigators for up to three years.
  • Support for additional research, technical or other posts.
  • Consumables.
  • Equipment.
  • Travel costs.
  • Data archiving, data sharing and dissemination costs.

Measures of the potential impact of the work on the 3Rs and how this has been arrived at should be provided, where possible. This should include, where appropriate, an estimation of the reduction in animal use in the applicant's laboratory/establishment/discipline and/or objective indicators of how animal welfare has improved.

If the proposal presents an alternative non-animal model, it is important to describe what scientific advantages it could have over in vivo methods.

Proposals should outline plans for promoting the outcomes of the research to scientific peers, for example through publications and presentations at scientific conferences.

How To Apply


The 2017 deadline for receipt of outline applications was 11 January 2017. Full applications must be submitted by 19 April 2017.

Future rounds and deadlines will be reported when available.

Frequency: Annual.

Link to guidelines:


Useful information:

Those intending to submit proposals should discuss their plans with NC3Rs before submitting a full application.

Applications should be submitted via the MRC Electronic Application and Assessment (EAA) website.

Successful applicants can expect to commence projects from 1 September of the awarded year but no later than 1 November of that year.

Key dates:

  • 16 November 2016: Outline application form available on Je-S
  • 4pm, 15 January 2017: Deadline for submitting outline via Je-S
  • March 2017: Outline assessment meeting
  • Mid-March 2017: Applicants notified of outcome
  • March 2017: Applicant workshop for those invited to submit full application
  • 4pm, 19 April 2017: Full application deadline on Je-S
  • July 2017: Panel meeting for full applications
  • End of July 2017: Applicants notified of outcome
  • 1 August 2017: Expected project start date
  • 30 September 2017: Last date for commencing projects