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20/39 TAR Retender - Commissioning Brief



Call for Research Proposals - Production of Technology Assessment Reviews (TARs) for the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)

Submission deadline: 13:00 on 3 July 2020


The NIHR invites full proposals from suitable research organisations to undertake Technology Assessment Reviews (TARs) primarily for the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). Applicants will have a strong institutional base, with established university, NHS, or healthcare links and structures for developing, recruiting and retaining high quality staff. It is expected that around eight to ten research teams or review units will be awarded contracts for this work. The NIHR will be awarding the equivalent of 159 short reports (see below) per year, across the successful applicants.
NICE provides the NHS, and those who rely on it for their care, with guidance on effective, good value healthcare. The technology assessment reviews in this call support NICE’s technology appraisal, highly specialised technologies and diagnostic assessment programmes in their assessment of the benefits and costs of health technologies.
The NIHR Evaluation, Trials and Studies Coordinating Centre (NETSCC) will specify the reviews to be undertaken during the course of the contract. Commissioning and monitoring will be managed by the NIHR Evidence Synthesis Programme, which is managed by NETSCC. The timetables for delivering reports are tight and subject to change: methodologies employed to date have been developed taking account of time constraints. NICE review technologies all year round and require consistent support from TAR teams to reflect this, even in periods of high annual leave. Reviews undertaken for NICE will need to refer to the published process and methods guides for the relevant programmes.
You can view current information on the TARs Programme here. Visit the NICE website for current information on their technology appraisal, highly specialised technologies and diagnostic assessment programmes here.


The Evidence Synthesis Programme funds independent research that identifies, evaluates, combines and summarises information from a range of sources. This provides decision-makers with the best possible information about the effects of tests, treatments and other interventions used in health and social care. Reviews commissioned under this contract will principally be submitted to NICE, however work is also occasionally undertaken for other policy customers, for example the National Screening Committee or the Chief Medical Officer. The principal outputs are:
  • Short reports: They comprise of reviews of submissions to NICE by technology sponsors and others, including clinical and economic evidence. These reports will support the NICE decision-making process
  • Long reports: comprise of evidence synthesis, generally comprising systematic reviews of available evidence on effectiveness, and estimates of cost-effectiveness. They will include statements of fact but stop short of making policy recommendations. They will take account of clinical and economic evidence submitted by stakeholders and their purpose will be to support NICE and other customers’ decision-making processes
Appropriate representation at mandatory meetings with NICE and providing expert support to NICE and other customers in meetings with stakeholders is required.

Assessment process

Applications will be evaluated for competitiveness by the TARs Research Contract Commissioning Committee. The criteria for selecting successful research teams will include:
  • Solid institutional base: an established organisation with university, NHS or healthcare links and structures for developing and recruiting high quality staff. A record in attracting funding from recognised sources would be helpful
  • Multi-disciplinary scientific skills: a high degree of multi-disciplinary working will be essential given the often complex nature of the issues raised by new technologies within health and social care services. Skills will include evidence synthesis including information science, critical appraisal, health economics and economic modelling/operational research, epidemiology and statistics, and qualitative research
  • Organisational capacity to undertake the work, given other commitments and contingencies – including annual leave
  • An ability to schedule work to ensure that all reports are completed to deadlines
  • An ability to respond to timeline changes and pick up allocated reports at short notice, if required
  • Evidence of access to a network of experts who can support evidence synthesis production and interpretation in an advisory capacity, including academic and service delivery experts in public health, health services and a broad range of disciplines where appropriate (such as social policy, psychology and sociology)
  • Established links with the NHS: familiarity with service issues is essential; familiarity with Department of Health and Social Care and NIHR policy and goals would be helpful

Assessment timetable

  • Full proposals must be submitted via the online application form by 13:00 on 3 July 2020
  • Research teams may be invited to present their application to the TARs Contract Commissioning Committee in early September 2020
  • Final outcomes will be notified by the end of September 2020

Applicants should also read:
If you need any further assistance, please send an e-mail to Please be aware that while every effort is made to answer queries, if the query is made very near to the closing date, the NIHR may not be able to provide a considered response.