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NIHR Invention for Innovation (i4i) Programme launches latest round of funding.

Posted: 9th November 2021

Developing an innovative solution to a healthcare need can be a long, time-consuming and expensive process. With requirements for iterations in development, evidence generation, business development and regulatory compliance, funding the development of a new innovation can be a stumbling block for many innovators. In addition to supporting NHS organisations with the adoption of innovation, the AHSN also has a remit from the Office of Life Sciences to support healthcare innovators with their product development and associated evidence generation.  A core component of this support lies with the identification of suitable funding to provide innovators with the resources to refine development and generate the evidence required for adoption into the NHS.

Here at Yorkshire & Humber AHSN, we have supported numerous companies through successful applications to SBRI, Innovate UK and the NIHR, amongst many other funding bodies.

The NIHR Invention for Innovation (i4i) Programme’s Product Development Awards (PDA)  is just one regular funding round which provides healthcare innovators with the opportunity to apply for funding to support the translational research and development of medical devices, in vitro diagnostics and high-impact patient-focused digital health technologies for ultimate NHS use.

The Product Development Awards has just launched its 23rd round for research proposals which address any disease or health area, provided there is a clear unmet clinical need. The deadline for applications is 8th December 2021.

One of the benefits of the i4i Product Development Awards is that there is no upper funding limit as long as costs are fully justified. Projects can be led by small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), NHS providers or higher education institutions (HEIs) and must be collaborative between any two of the eligible types of organisation. The length of projects can be defined to meet your individual needs, with the scope for projects to last between a minimum of 24 months and a maximum of 36 months.

The AHSN has supported a number of companies with successful applications to the NIHR’s i4i Programme, providing advice on the content of applications, commercialisation strategy and adoption strategy. We have also supported mock interviews with innovators in conjunction with regional NIHR and NHS stakeholders. Providing support with mock interviews with stakeholders who have experience of reviewing funding applications has ensured that innovators are fully prepared for any questions which an interviewer may pose to them.

Recent successes within our region include:

  • £2.2m awarded through the i4i Challenge Award to Itecho for the development and testing of their Ascelus remote monitoring platform in conjunction with Kings College, Guys and Thomas, and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals.
  • £780,000 awarded to Digibete and Sheffield Children’s Hospital through the i4i Product Development Awards for the development of a chatbot to support children with Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus through their transition into adult services.
  • £1.2m awarded through the i4i Product Development Awards to The University of Sheffield and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals for the development and testing of CognoSpeak, a cognitive health assessment tool to indicate early onset dementia.

Given the broad range of projects that the NIHR i4i Awards are open to, the application process can be extremely competitive. Here at the AHSN, we would recommend that innovators considering applying for funding through the i4i programme have a project team already in place and that applicants engage with stakeholders who are able to assist with the application process as early as possible. The AHSN is able to offer impartial advice on funding opportunities and offers a review service for applications, providing advice on where improvements could be made to stand the best chance of being successful with your application.  If you are successful in reaching interview stage, the AHSN can also assist with hosting mock interviews to prepare for the interview process.

The current NIHR i4i Product Development Award Competition closes to applicants on 8th December 2021, with the next round of the competition expected to launch in Spring 2022. More information about the application process can be found here.

If you are an innovator seeking support the identification of suitable funding, please contact the AHSN’s Enterprise and Innovation Team for assistance with the following:

  • Identification of suitable funding and advice about the funding that is suitable for your stage of development
  • Potential identification of collaborators.
  • Advice on funding application structure
  • Impartial review of application drafts.

Information about open funding calls is often updated on our website where you can also sign up to receive our monthly funding bulletin.