Monday, 14 May 2012

Tips on Applying to Two NIHR Schemes

Following on from my last post, I wanted to pass on some tips from Angie Borzychowski (of the Central Commissioning Facility) on making a good application to the Research for Patient Benefit (RfPB) programme, and the Programme Grants for Applied Research.

RfPB awards are for £350k, and the total funding for the programme is £25m pa. They are distributed through 10 regional Advisory Committees, and there are three funding rounds per year. In the South East, this Committee is led by Prof Ann Moore, and last year approved 36 awards from 206 applications, giving a 23% success rate. She suggested that one of the key points for the RfPB was to make sure that you consult and involve others. This includes the crucial input from the Research Design Service (RDS), but also the involvement of patients and the public - more on this in a later post. You should also keep the decision criteria in mind, and make sure that your design is coherent and convincing, explaining the context of your study and how the research will benefit the patients. However, you should also be clear about the specific outcomes for the NHS: it's great that your work will benefit patients, but how are you going to make sure that this actually happens?

Programme Grants for Applied Research are much bigger beasts than RfPB. They have three times as much money to distribute, some £75m pa, and offer grants of up to £2m for up to 5 years. With such large amounts at stake, the NIHR wants to make sure that both the person and project are right. Your profile has to fit: you have to be at the right stage of your career and ready to take on the challenge of these programme grants. However, the research has to be 'right', too: it has to be ambitious, coherent, and important, but also addressing major identified challenges. And, as ever with public funding, you need to demonstrate value for money.

If you're planning to apply to the NIHR contact the RDS, who can provide crucial input to the design of your project and application.

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