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Apply for the Innovation Workshop

Applications are now open for the first ever MQ ‘Innovation Workshop’ on young people’s mental health. 

Over three days in March 2017, the workshop will bring together multidisciplinary researchers, to work in teams to develop and pitch big ideas that will transform young people’s mental health.

Up to £2 million will be made available to support the winning project through three-year consortium funding.

The broad aim of this workshop is to generate research proposals that can:

  • Identify key research challenges and create innovative interdisciplinary ways to approach them
  • Advance our understanding of how mental illness develops
  • Translate these findings to identifying those at greatest risk

We are setting aside up to £150,000 for small projects arising from the workshop that would benefit from seed funding. 

Applicants can be those already working within mental health science, as well as those from outside the field whose skill-sets and tool-kits may offer special relevance. This includes, but is not restricted to: molecular biology, neuroscience, data science, psychology, psychiatry, education, anthropology, and social sciences. 

Applications close on 20th December 2016. More information is available on the programme here.

Start your application

Apply now for the Innovation Workshop

All applications must be submitted through our electronic application portal. A template version of the application form is available to download here, and additional guidance on applying can also be found here (PDF).

If you have any further queries, please get in touch with our Grants team.


Who can apply?

Researchers from a diverse range of disciplines are encouraged to apply. Expertise is required from a very broad range of fields, and applicants should not feel limited by conventional perceptions: The Innovation Workshop approach is about bringing people together who would not usually interact. We encourage people to apply who are experts in their own research areas but have not yet applied it to this challenge.

Applicants may come from any discipline including, but not restricted to: molecular biology, neuroscience, data science, psychology, psychiatry, education, anthropology, social sciences – indeed any discipline that could help to create novel exciting projects.

In our application process, we will ask potential participants to articulate how their area of expertise can transform our understanding of mental illness. We will not be asking for project ideas. The emphasis will be placed on working across disciplines to foster new collaborations, openness to engaging diversity and global perspectives, and bringing new thinking to mental health research.

We welcome scientists from all stages of their career. Diversity across discipline, gender, experience and geography will also be an integral part of workshop.  

What is the process and key dates?

What is the process?

31st Oct – 20th Dec 2016: Call for applications 

Jan 2017: Selection by Selection Panel

14th – 16th Mar 2017: Innovation workshop

    • Day 1: Define the scope, evolve common language
    • Day 2: Explore the challenge, build teams, create, pitch and iterate ideas
    • Day 3: Build plan and proposal, pitch to panel, selection

Apr 2017: Proposal write-up

May 2017 – May 2018: Lead-in to research
Literature reviews, contract finalisation, recruitment, protocol development, regulatory approvals, team-building.

2018 – 2021: Research phase
Transformative multidisciplinary research into understanding the emergence of mental illness.

How will applications be assessed?

Applications to attend will be assessed by a Selection Panel comprising a Scientific Advisory Board, and representation from our experienced workshop facilitation group, including an organisational psychologist, who seek to ensure a mix of disciplines, experience, and global diversity. We will also have representation from our Young Person’s Advisory Group for participants to bounce ideas off during the shaping of their proposals.

Initial evaluation and triage will be performed by MQ staff.

The assessment will be based on the following criteria:

  • The ability to develop new, adventurous and highly original research ideas; 

  • The potential to contribute to research at the interface between disciplines; 

  • The ability to work in a team; 

  • The ability to explain your research and ideas to other audiences

It is therefore important to give evidence of your fulfilment of these criteria in your application. 

Please ensure you complete the application form fully, as this is the only information on which potential workshop attendees will be selected. 

Please note that we will fully consider all applications, but because of the large number of applications expected we will not be able to give individual feedback to unsuccessful applicants.

What is the innovation workshop?

The MQ Innovation Workshop (also known as a sandpit) is an intensive, interactive and free-thinking workshop that aims to stimulate thinking that yields promising new research projects propelled by novel ideas and new approaches. The focus will be on advancing our understanding of how mental illness develops, which in turn will help us and therefore identify those at greatest risk.

The process

The Innovation Workshop process entails participation in a three-day residential event in order to facilitate the development of teams of investigators who generate multidisciplinary cooperative research projects through a real time iterative co-mentoring process. Although prior experience with working and developing ideas in this way is beneficial, it is equally important for applicants to demonstrate their capacity for leading-edge thought and ability to engage in collaborative multidisciplinary research. 

It is important to note that the aim of the Innovation Workshop is not to discuss ideas that are already well developed. Rather, the goal is to bring individuals from different disciplines together to interact and engage in free thinking on first principles, to learn from one another and create an integrated vision for future research projects. It is expected that the sharing of these ideas will be encouraged within the Innovation Workshop but their confidentiality will be respected outside the Workshop.

The nature of the Innovation Workshop therefore requires a high degree of trust between participants in order to make the desired breakthroughs in scientific thinking. This trust extends to allowing the free and frank exchange of scientific ideas, including those in the very early stages of development.

Who’s involved

The Innovation Workshop will be led by Professor Ian Goodyer (Cambridge) and Professor Carol Worthman (Emory) whose role will be to assist in defining the topics and aid facilitated discussions at the event. They will be joined by a small number of Mentors who form MQ’s young person’s mental health Scientific Advisory Board. These are selected based on their intellectual standing, impartiality and objectivity, and broad understanding of, and enthusiasm for, the subject area. The advisors will act as impartial “real time” peer reviewers and provocateurs through the Workshop. Provocateurs from other fields of research will also be on hand to stimulate discussion and share their experience of multi-disciplinary research. We will also have representation from our Young Person’s Advisory Group for participants to bounce ideas off during the shaping of their proposals. 

Through the duration of the workshop, participants, guided by facilitators, create ideas which will coalesce into genuinely innovative research projects. Projects will be pitched to the advisory group on the final day.

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