NIHR Research Funding Program

Research for Patient Benefit (RfPB)

RfPB does not specify topics for research and encourages proposals for projects covering a wide range of health service issues and challenges. Projects are selected for funding on the basis of the quality of the research proposal and its likely transition into patient benefit locally and for the wider NHS. Grants are up to £250K

The programme supports:

  • Studies of the provision and use of NHS services.
  • Evaluations of the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of interventions.
  • Examination of the resource utilisation of alternative means for healthcare delivery.
  • The scrutinising of innovations and developments.
  • Pilots or feasibility projects to help reach the next step of a definitive trial.

RfPB particularly welcomes proposals that have benefited from interaction with patients and the public, which relate to patient and service user experience and/or have been drawn up in association with a relevant group of service users

Further details:

Invention for Innovation (i4i)

Supporting either early- or late-stage product development, i4i is positioned to transform the translation of healthcare technologies for increased patient benefit through:

  • Guided progression of innovative medical product prototypes
  • Provision of business advice to the medical technology professionals it funds

i4i Early-stage product development awards:

1-3 year investigation involving collaboration between industry, academic or clinical researchers to carry out feasibility or pilot studies to support the further development of an innovative new technology or intervention to address an existing or emerging healthcare need. The study must be informed by evidence already obtained through prior basic research investigations. Through robust R&D, prototype products should emerge.

i4i Late-stage product development awards:

A detailed investigation of 1-3 years involving collaboration between industry, academic or clinical researchers that builds on the results of a completed assessment of the feasibility or pilot study. This will provide further evidence of the capability to deliver improved healthcare outcomes and commercial opportunity, delivering an advanced prototype along with plans for commercial and intellectual property exploitation.

Further information:

Health Technology Assessment (HTA)

The HTA programme funds research to ensure that healthcare professionals, NHS managers and the public and patients have the best and latest information on the costs, effectiveness and impact of developments in health technology. The programme:

  • Commissions response-mode Clinical Trials to investigate issues that are directly relevant to clinical practice in the NHS.
  • Commissions primary research and assesses the effectiveness of new technology through Technology Assessment Reviews for the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).
  • Works with the NIHR Clinical Research Network to identify and fund clinical trials of importance to a network's topic area.

The HTA funds grants for evaluation studies and clinical trials supporting research that is immediately useful to clinical practice and decision makers in the NHS. Proposals should normally evaluate the clinical and cost effectiveness of a health technology. For diagnostic technologies, researchers may suggest equivalent evaluations.

The HTA programme undertakes research for the benefit of patients and the NHS. Health technology covers any method used to promote health, prevent and treat disease and improve rehabilitation or long-term care. 'Technologies' are not confined to new drugs or equipment, but include procedures, devices, tests, settings of care, screening programmes and any intervention used in the treatment, prevention or diagnosis of disease. The programme is interested in proposals addressing any health problem in areas not otherwise well covered by the portfolio.

Further details:

Efficacy And Mechanism Evaluation (EME)

The EME programme is intended to help bridge one of the key gaps identified in the Cooksey Review: between preclinical studies and evidence of clinical efficacy.
The EME programme is broadly aimed at supporting 'science driven' studies with an expectation of substantial health gain and aims to support excellent clinical science with an ultimate view to improving health or patient care. Its remit includes clinical trials and evaluative studies, in patients, which evaluate clinical efficacy of interventions and which may also add significantly to our understanding of biological or behavioural mechanisms and processes. The EME programme funds research through two work-streams:

Commissioned work-stream - commissions research about the effectiveness, costs and broader impact of healthcare treatments and tests. There are three calls for proposals a year. The Commissioned work-stream is funded by the NIHR with contributions from the CSO in Scotland, the NISCHR in Wales and the HSC R&D, Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland.

Researcher-led work-stream - is an on-going research funding opportunity funded by the MRC, which considers research questions proposed directly by researchers.

Further details:

Health Service & Delivery Research Programme

A new NIHR Health Services and Delivery Research (HS&DR) programme is to be established, to fund a broad range of research. It will build on the strengths and contributions of two current NIHR research programmes: the Health Services Research (HSR) programme and the Service Delivery and Organisation (SDO) programme, which will be merged from January 2012.

Aims and Remit

The HS&DR programme aims to produce rigorous and relevant evidence on the quality, access and organisation of health services, including costs and outcomes.The new programme will enhance the strategic focus on research that matters to the NHS including research on implementation and a range of knowledge mobilisation initiatives. It will be keen to support ambitious evaluative research to improve health services.

How the new programme will operate

The new programme will have two workstreams:

  • a mainly researcher-led workstream, which will focus on research into the quality, appropriateness, effectiveness, equity and patient experience of health services;
  • a mainly commissioned workstream, which will focus on evaluating models of service delivery and interventions which have the potential to improve service effectiveness, efficiency and productivity.

Further details: