This Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) Coronavirus Research Response- 2020 COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate Research Grant Opportunity will accelerate the development of promising COVID-19 prophylactic vaccine candidates for which research and development is already underway. The prophylactic vaccine must be intended to induce active long-term immunity against COVID-19.

The intended outcome of the research is to support rapid development of a safe and effective COVID-19 prophylactic (disease-preventing) vaccine, which induces active long-term immunity, within the next 12-18 months.

The vaccine candidate must have progressed beyond early or “developmental” stage research to pre-clinical or clinical investigation, and applicants must have already generated proof-of-concept data that supports pre-clinical or clinical development of the vaccine candidate. Applicants must also demonstrate access to critical resources necessary to complete the project in the stipulated timeframes.

The grant opportunity will provide up to $13.65 million, with a maximum grant size of $3 million. All projects must be completed before or by 30 June 2023. 

This grant opportunity is being administered by NHMRC on behalf of the Commonwealth Department of Health. This opportunity is supported by the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF).

Further information on the Medical Research Future Fund is available on the Department’s website at:

Key dates

Expressions of Interest open

15 June 2020

Closing dates for Expressions of Interest are:

  • Round 1 closing date: 16 July 2020
  • Round 2 closing date: 11 November 2020
  • Round 3 closing date: 10 March 2021

Proposed peer review

July 2020 to April 2021

Apply for funding:

This Grant Opportunity will consist of a maximum of three Rounds. Each Round will call for Expressions of Interest. Applicants successful at the phase will be invited to submit a full application.

A complete Expression of Interest to the grant opportunity must consist of the following:

  • an ‘Application Report’ containing information drawn from the Expression of Interest form in NHMRC’s Granting System (Sapphire)
  • an Expression of Interest. You will upload this PDF file into NHMRC’s Granting System (Sapphire). Refer to section 6.4 of the Grant Guidelines.

Where to go for assistance and help

Resources are available to assist you in navigating Sapphire, such as Help (a list of frequently asked questions), how-to videos and access to the Sapphire Help Desk. The Sapphire Helpdesk will be available by email and telephone to assist you with any questions and issues. 

NHMRC will update Sapphire’s NHMRC web page with latest news and other relevant information. We encourage you to check back regularly to keep yourself informed.

Outcomes of funding rounds