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22/104 HTA Application Acceleration Award – platform studies in areas considered strategic priorities commissioning brief


Published: 28 July 2022

Version: 1.0 July

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The Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Programme plans to hold a call in 2023 for large, ambitious platform studies which efficiently evaluate the clinical effectiveness of multiple interventions in areas of strategic importance.  

The programme hopes to fund multiple platforms but recognises that developing these complex bids and start-up of the successful platforms will require time and navigation of additional challenges. Under this present call, applications are therefore invited for work which will accelerate the necessary learning and preparation. It is anticipated that teams may require up to £200,000 over a maximum of 12 months.

These Application Acceleration Awards must include as one of their milestones the production of an application to the planned 2023 call on platform trials, as a key deliverable during the lifetime of the award. It is expected that the work should also contribute to generalisable learning around platform study designs and best practice.

Call scope

Applications to this call must aim to accelerate the development of an application for a platform study, within remit of the NIHR HTA Programme.

Applicants should define and justify the specific challenges which will be addressed within this award. Examples of the types of work which may be supported include, but are not limited to:

  • Developing networks or collaborations to support the delivery of the platform. It is expected that a number of institutions will contribute the design, conduct and operation of the platform. Operational considerations need to be established to allow for potential Chief Investigators to be based within different institutions.  
  • Identifying potential technologies to be evaluated and addressing challenges relating to their inclusion.
  • Further understanding the anticipated efficiencies of the platform study design, including learning from previous platform studies.
  • Defining and agreeing a study protocol that may be followed across the collaborating centres.
  • Defining and validating elements of the full study design, such as the comparator, sample size or health outcome measures.
  • Defining outcome measures, ensuring that there is a cohesive underlying narrative for the whole platform.  
  • Defining the methodology for the platform, for example will a set number of identified technologies be evaluated, or will the platform be adaptive to allow interventions to be dropped and ones added in. If the platform is to be adaptive what are the criteria for interventions to be added to the platform? What will the governance process for the adaptations be?  This must include details on how the NIHR HTA Programme will be updated to ensure that it maintains strategic oversight and sign-off of adaptations.    
  • Developing statistical analysis arrangements.
  • Defining methods for health economic analysis.
  • Establishing the feasibility of a study in the proposed setting, including Patient and Public Involvement (PPI).
  • Where necessary, work to enable rapid start-up of the project (if successfully funded) from April 2024. 
  • Resolving collaboration requirements, such as regulatory (MHRA) and governance issues.

Out of scope

  • This call is for application development only. Proposals that are already fully developed should be submitted to the HTA Programme researcher-led funding opportunity. 
  • Proposals to add a UK-arm to an existing platform study are not included under this call but may be considered through the HTA Programme researcher-led funding opportunity.

Application Acceleration Award process

To enable quicker funding decisions, this is a single stage funding opportunity. Successful teams will be expected to start their Application Acceleration Awards by 1 March 2023

A key deliverable within this award must be the development of a Stage 1 application, submitted to the linked call which closes on 28 November 2023 This application may recognise areas of continuing work within the Application Acceleration Award.

Applications progressing to Stage 2 will be submitted in March 2024 with funding decisions expected in May 2024.

Making an application for the Acceleration Award

If you wish to submit a Stage 2 application for this call, the online application form can be found on the Funding opportunities page.  To select this call, use the filters on the right of the screen or search using the call name and/or number.

Your application must be submitted on-line no later than 1pm on the 30 November 2022. Applications will be considered by the HTA Funding Committee at its meeting in January 2023. Guidance notes and supporting information for HTA Programme applications are available.

Applications received electronically after 1300 hours on the due date will not be considered.

For commissioned topics, the Programme strongly discourages the practice of the same co-applicant joining more than one competing team. There may be unusual circumstances where the same person could be included on more than on application eg a lead from a named charity or a unique national expert in a condition.

For such exceptions (i) each application needs to state the case as to why the same person is included (ii) the shared co-applicant should not divulge application details between teams and (iii) both teams should acknowledge in their application that they are aware that one of their co-applicants is part of a competing application and that study details have not been shared.

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