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Global Health Research Development Awards Applicant Guidance


Published: 18 January 2024

Version: 2.0 April 2024

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The closing date for electronic submission of applications is 1pm UK time on 15 May 2024

Section 1: Introduction

The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) was established in 2006 to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research and is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). The NIHR Global Health Research portfolio was established to support applied health research for the direct and primary benefit of people in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) on the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) list, using Official Development Assistance (ODA) from the UK government.

The Global Health Research portfolio is underpinned by three principles which guide development and delivery. These are:

  1. Meet eligibility criteria as ODA, i.e. funded research directly and primarily benefits people in ODA-eligible countries on the DAC-list.
  2. Strengthen research capability and training through equitable partnerships.
  3. Deliver high-quality applied health research, building on the Principles of the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR): Impact, Excellence, Effectiveness, Inclusion and Collaboration.

The NIHR has established a substantial portfolio of applied global health research and training in areas that are underfunded or where there is an unmet need. The portfolio aims are delivered through a combination of researcher-led and thematic calls, funding initiatives to develop and advance global health research career pathways both in LMICs and in the UK, and through partnerships with other major global health research funders. Together these have positioned the NIHR as a key player in supporting high-quality applied global health research.

Further information on the NIHR Global Health Research portfolio is available on the NIHR website.

Section 2: Development Awards Aims and Objectives

Through the NIHR Global Health Research (GHR) Development Awards, NIHR provides funding to increase the competitiveness of global health research applications led by researchers based in ODA-eligible countries (on the DAC list). The Development Awards will support underpinning work for the development of high-quality global health research proposals and applications to help award holders and their organisations secure further research funding from the NIHR and other funders.

The objectives of the awards are:

  • To build global health research capacity and capability by supporting eligible applicants to complete underpinning work and develop high-quality research proposals.
  • To support the development of equitable and sustainable research partnerships among collaborators, including community organisations based in ODA-eligible countries.
  • To support the development of high-quality LMIC-led global health research proposals which directly target the needs and priorities of people in ODA-eligible countries and have strong plans for research uptake and dissemination.

NIHR expects Development Awards to lead to high-quality internationally competitive global health research proposals directly led by eligible LMIC organisations for research funding, both from the NIHR and other funders. Expected outcomes/outputs include:

  • Strengthened institutional and individual research capacity in ODA-eligible countries and preparedness for applying for and managing applied global health research funding.
  • Sustainable and equitable research partnerships between award holders and their collaborators, which foster mutual learning and knowledge exchange, and ongoing collaboration on high-quality applied global health research projects.
  • Increased understanding of the health research needs of ODA-eligible countries, and health research questions relevant to ODA-eligible countries.
  • Strong evidence of community engagement and involvement to refine research priorities and ensure research proposals are suited to the local context and are policy and practice-relevant.

NIHR strongly encourages diverse leadership and the development of researchers based in ODA-eligible countries. We encourage Development Award applications from researchers based in ODA-eligible countries who do not hold a professorship and have not managed a research grant of over £100,000 as a lead investigator. Please see Section 6.2 “Who can apply” for more information.

Section 3: Priorities and Focus of GHR Development Award (Remit)

NIHR is seeking applications that:

  • Support partnership development activities between applicants and their collaborators, to build sustainable and equitable research partnerships and further develop consortia in preparation for a research proposal, including groundwork for future Collaboration Agreements.
  • Undertake a needs analysis of the local context, to define or refine research priorities and questions through engagement with policymakers, evidence users, local communities and other stakeholders. This can include reviewing existing research literature, testing data collection procedures and/or generating pilot data to support the scientific case for and feasibility of a proposed research project.
  • Develop community engagement and involvement practices/processes to ensure future research proposals are suited to the local context, policy-oriented and practice-relevant.
  • Undertake training activities that will support grantsmanship skills to develop high-quality, applied global health research proposals.
  • Establish plans for developing institutional and individual capacity and capability for management of future larger-scale research projects, for example, research management training or discipline-specific training.
  • Establish plans for developing and embedding approaches and best practices for monitoring, evaluation and learning.
  • Develop a strategy for research uptake and dissemination.
  • Development award holders will also benefit from the NIHR Academy global health training programme offer, which includes academic and grant writing training, networking sessions and ad hoc research skills webinars/workshops.

Section 4: Budget/Length of Funding

Awards of up to £100,000 over 12 months are available for applications from eligible organisations in ODA-eligible countries (on the DAC list), starting in January 2025. The amount requested and the length of the funding period must be fully justified according to the nature of the proposed activities.

Eligible costs for NIHR GHR Development Awards include but are not limited to:

  • Reasonable and proportionate staff costs
  • Travel, subsistence and conference attendance costs
  • Items of consumables directly relevant to the project
  • Community engagement and involvement costs
  • Costs associated with dissemination, excluding open-access publication costs
  • Risk management and assurance costs
  • Training and development costs
  • Monitoring, evaluation, and learning costs
  • Partnership formation and development costs
  • Indirect costs/overheads (associated with staff costs in ODA-eligible countries)

NIHR does not support funding for costs associated with organisations based in non-ODA eligible countries other than minimal travel and subsistence costs. Please see the NIHR GHR Development Award Finance Guidance for more detailed information on eligible costs.

Your proposed costs will be scrutinised as part of the assessment process and the Funding Committee reserves the right to award only part of the funds requested. NIHR will challenge costs that do not seem appropriate or provide value for money.

If successful, you will be expected to provide quarterly finance reports of actual expenditure incurred, combined with light touch reporting against progress set out in your application. NIHR will perform due diligence on the contracting organisation prior to contracting, please refer to Section 9 for more information on what NIHR will require at that stage. You are expected to undertake your own proportionate due diligence assessments of your co-applicants and collaborators.

Funds will be distributed via the contracted organisation. Please see the NIHR GHR Development Award Finance Guidance for detailed information.

Section 5: Scope

5.1 Key Criteria for Funding

The NIHR GHR Development Award is a single-stage competition.

The following key criteria for this call encompass the overarching NIHR principles and contribute towards the aims of the NIHR GHR portfolio. Eligible applications will be reviewed by an independent international Funding Committee using the key criteria for funding. You should write your application in a way that is suitable for reviewers of differing expertise.

In your application, you must describe how your proposed work addresses the following key criteria for funding:

  • Relevance: You should show how the proposed programme of activities will support your team to develop a research proposal by defining a significant evidence gap and identifying unmet needs and priorities in ODA-eligible countries. Relevant activities may include plans to review the local context or existing research literature or develop a needs analysis through engagement with policymakers, evidence users and local communities, as appropriate. NIHR expect you to demonstrate in your application that you have identified potential future funding schemes.
  • Equitable and sustainable partnerships: You should show how your proposed activities will shape meaningful and sustainable collaborations/partnerships between your lead organisation and partners and how you will ensure equity in partnerships. For more information please see Section 11.1 below.
  • Capacity strengthening: You should set out plans for assessing and/or developing your institutional and individual capacity and capability needs and how these will be met during the award to support future research. This can include capacity development for research support functions such as project management, intellectual property (IP) management, finance, and assurance functions. For more information please see Section 11.2 below.
  • Community Engagement and Involvement (CEI): You should show how relevant stakeholders will be involved and how you will develop CEI capacity during the award period for future research. For more information please see NIHR's vision for Community Engagement and Involvement (CEI) and Section 11.3 below.
  • Value for money: You must provide evidence of a clear, well-justified budget that represents good value for money. You must show that all planned expenditure is proportionate and appropriate for your planned activities and consider Economy, Efficiency, Effectiveness and Equity.
  • Preparation for research impact and sustainability: You should describe how your proposed work will support future applications for research funding and how your proposed activities can lead to implementable strategies for research uptake and dissemination, to support research impact and sustainability.
  • Research quality (where applicable): If you propose to undertake primary research such as testing data collection procedures and/or generating pilot data to support the scientific case for and feasibility of a proposed research project, your application will also be assessed on research quality. Your application should show the quality and appropriateness of the proposed primary research demonstrating clear objectives, sound design, detailed methodology, identification of possible risks and ethical considerations.

Through the Development Awards, NIHR aims to support you and your team to progress to larger awards and be better positioned to generate a high quality internationally competitive proposal for research funding addressing identified needs in ODA-eligible countries. This includes, but is not limited to future funding opportunities across the NIHR GHR portfolio (please see our GHR Website and the GHR Portfolio – Theory of Change for more information). Please note, success in a Development Award does not guarantee further funding through NIHR calls.

5.2 In Scope

The NIHR GHR Development Award will support applications which:

  • Deliver preparatory work for the development of high-quality global health research applications to NIHR and other funders
  • Propose a comprehensive package of activities, demonstrating how you address the remit (Section 3), eligibility (Section 6) and key funding criteria (Section 5.1)
  • Include clear plans for assessing and strengthening institutional and individual capacity and capability for research. These plans may include developing a strategy for research collaborations, management delivery, uptake, and dissemination as relevant
  • Develop new equitable partnerships in preparation for a research application, including activities to support the development of future collaboration agreements, and project management and/or finance management of a larger-scale project. We particularly encourage new LMIC-LMIC partnerships.
  • Build a community of relevant stakeholders ready to deliver against identified needs and priorities
  • Show a clear focus on identifying and prioritising the unmet needs of relevant communities and stakeholders in ODA-eligible countries
  • Include plans to define or refine research questions to address identified needs and priorities
  • Support the capacity and capability strengthening of multidisciplinary applied research teams who can identify the needs of ODA-eligible countries and shape research around these.

5.3 Out of Scope

The NIHR GHR Developments Award will not support applications which:

  • are clearly not relevant to developing future capabilities for applied health research of primary and direct benefit to people in ODA-eligible countries
  • propose assessments of individual and institutional capacity and capability needs without plans for addressing or developing these aspects
  • do not have as an output a fully developed research proposal
  • include primary research activities which go beyond that described in the scope
  • seek to establish new patient cohorts, biobanks or bio-sample collections, or data collection studies (samples or data from existing cohorts may be used)
  • include basic laboratory research or research involving animal models
  • do not include clear plans for both developing equitable partnerships and for developing institutional and individual research capacity and capability
  • are based on established existing partnerships, in particular with affiliated organisations in non-ODA-eligible countries
  • do not have a clear focus on building new partnerships.

Section 6: Eligibility

6.1 ODA Eligibility

The NIHR GHR portfolio supports high-quality applied health research for the direct and primary benefit of people in low and middle-income countries (LMICs) on the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) list, using Official Development Assistance (ODA) funding.

To be eligible to receive NIHR GHR funding, you must demonstrate in your application how you meet ODA eligibility criteria and outline:

  • Which country or countries on the OECD DAC list of ODA-eligible countries will directly benefit
  • How the application is directly and primarily relevant to the development challenges of those countries
  • How the outcomes will promote the health and welfare of people in a country or countries on the DAC list

Where some activities are not undertaken in an ODA-eligible country during the course of the award (including where a country graduates from the DAC list during the lifetime of the award or there is a need for specialist expertise) you must clearly state the reasons for this in your application with due consideration to the benefit of the research to ODA-eligible countries.

Further information can be found at:

  1. NIHR ODA Guidance for Researchers
  2. OECD Factsheet: What is ODA
  3. OECD DAC list of ODA-eligible countries
  4. OECD Official Development Assistance - definition and coverage

NIHR expects Development Award projects to be undertaken primarily in an ODA-eligible country. Where this is not the case, you must clearly state the reasons for this in your application and outline the benefit of the project to organisations based in ODA-eligible countries.

Section 6.2

Individual Eligibility

Applications must be led by a Lead Applicant employed by a Higher Education Institution (HEI) or Research Institute based in an ODA-eligible country. Joint leadership is not supported under this call.

You must demonstrate in your application how you meet the eligibility criteria. If your application does not clearly demonstrate your eligibility, your application will be rejected and will not be considered by the Funding Committee. NIHR will not permit any changes to the Lead Applicant after the application has been submitted.

As an individual, you cannot be named as a Lead Applicant on more than one application. If you are listed as a Lead Applicant on more than one application submitted to this call, all your applications will be rejected and will not be considered by the Funding Committee.

If you are a Lead Applicant on one application, you cannot be named as a co-applicant on more than one other application. If you are a Lead Applicant on one application, and a co-applicant on two or more other applications, the application on which you are the Lead Applicant will be rejected and will not be considered by the Funding Committee.

If you are an existing NIHR GHR award holder, you are eligible to apply to this call provided you meet the eligibility criteria, and you provide assurance you have sufficient plans in terms of time and resources available to you to deliver concurrent awards successfully.

NIHR is looking to encourage diverse leadership and the development of researchers based in ODA-eligible countries. We encourage Development Award applications from researchers based in ODA-eligible countries who:

  • do not hold a professorship
  • have not managed a research grant of over £100,000 as a lead investigator.

If you are a Lead Applicant who does not hold a professorship and/or has not managed a research grant of over £100,000 as a lead investigator, you must include the following in your application:

  • Details of mentoring and support arrangements to be put in place
  • Your named mentor must be listed as a co-applicant on the application with an up-to-date CV completed on the RMS. If your application does not include a named mentor, your application will be rejected and will not be considered by the Funding Committee. If your mentor’s CV is not completed your application will be rejected and will not be considered by the Funding Committee on the grounds that capability cannot be assessed. Please ensure you give them plenty of time to complete this ahead of submission.

Institutional Eligibility

As a Lead Applicant, your organisation must be a HEI or Research Institute from an ODA-eligible country. NIHR will only accept applications from Lead Applicants with a substantive FTE at an HEI or Research Institute in an ODA-eligible country. You must provide details of all other institutional affiliations, if applicable, as part of your application.

An eligible LMIC Research Institute as a contracting organisation is defined as a not-for-profit research organisation with a:

  • demonstrable track record in obtaining funding for research through competitive processes, and delivering successful outcomes from this funding
  • track record in building and strengthening research capacity including Masters, PhD, and other formal training
  • ability to manage internationally competitive awards through research support functions to include finance, intellectual property (IP), and procurement.
    • this includes, if relevant, the capacity to transfer funds to partner organisations in different countries and knowledge of any national restrictions on transferring funds to other country partners
  • capacity to track all expenditure, complete quarterly financial reports, manage virements between budget headings, and respond to audit requests

Your contracting organisation must be able to sign a GHR Development Awards Short Form Funding Agreement with the UK Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) directly, not via an intermediary or “parent” organisation based in a high income country. Funding is usually expected to flow directly to the contracting organisation named in the application.

Under this call, up to 2 individuals from an organisation can submit an application. Where one organisation submits two applications, at least one application must have a female Lead Applicant. Applications from individuals in the same organisation should have independent plans from each other, with no overlap in proposed activities. If more than two applications are submitted to this call with the same organisation as a lead/contracting organisation, all their applications will be rejected and will not be considered by the Funding Committee.

NIHR will not accept multiple applications from different contracting organisations for the same intended partnership/collaboration. If you submit more than one application for the same partnership/collaboration, those applications will be rejected and will not be considered by the Funding Committee.

Non-health Research Organisations

If your organisation is not focused on health research, such as an institute of engineering, you can act as a Lead Applicant, provided the organisation is based in an ODA-eligible country, your expertise is relevant to the plans, and your work will fall within the remit of the call. You are also eligible to join an application as a co-applicant or collaborator.

Non-Governmental Organisations and Charities

If you are employed by a Non-governmental organisation (NGO) or charity you can apply as a Lead Applicant, provided the organisation is based in an ODA-eligible country and meets the definition of a Research Institute in Section 6.2. Employees of NGOs and charities are also eligible to join an application as a co-applicant or collaborator.

Commercial organisations

If you are employed by a commercial organisation, you cannot be a Lead Applicant. You may be a co-applicant or collaborator via a service-level agreement if you can clearly demonstrate the benefit your commercial organisation would bring to the project, that your contributions are compliant with ODA eligibility criteria, and that you provide value for money. In addition, a company’s commercial model must be:

Government agencies

If you are employed by a Government agency, you cannot be a Lead Applicant but you are eligible to join an application as a co-applicant or collaborator.

NHS Trusts, arms-length bodies, and executive agencies of the UK Government

If you are employed by an NHS Trust, arms-length body or executive agency of the UK Government, you cannot be a Lead Applicant but you may be eligible to join an application as a co-applicant or collaborator where there is clear justification for your involvement.

Multilateral Organisations

If you are employed by a Multilateral Organisation, you cannot be a Lead Applicant but you are eligible to join an application as a co-applicant or collaborator.

Non-LMIC Co-applicants or Collaborators

As a non-LMIC co-applicant or collaborator, you are eligible, provided that:

  • ODA eligibility criteria are met overall
  • there is clear justification for your involvement
  • your resources and expertise cannot be found within LMICs

Structure of the team

We expect the team to include one Lead Applicant plus an appropriate and manageable number of co-applicants and collaborators. Your application must clearly outline the specific role and contributions of the Lead Applicant, co-applicants and collaborators.

Lead Applicants are researchers employed at an eligible LMIC-based HEI or Research Institute. As a Lead Applicant, you should be able to lead and manage the work and collaborations proposed in your application. You must provide details of all other institutional affiliations as part of your application. If you hold part-time roles in different organisations, NIHR expects your application to be made from the organisation where the substantive FTE is held. This principle applies across GHR funding calls and ongoing awards.

Co-applicants are individuals with responsibility for the day-to-day management and delivery of the project and who form the project team or consortium. Co-applicants are expected to share responsibility and accountability for its successful delivery.

There is no limit on the number of co-applicants/collaborators per application, though as a Lead Applicant, you should consider your capacity to manage a large team.

If you are an individual from an organisation based in a non-ODA-eligible country that is affiliated with an LMIC-based organisation, you are eligible to apply as a co-applicant provided that the Lead Applicant’s organisation based in an LMIC is an independent entity with legal independence such that the affiliated organisations would require a legally binding collaboration agreement for the proposed work to commence.

Collaborators, which include consultants and service-level providers, provide specific expertise on particular aspects of the project. They may form part of the wider project team but are not accountable for the delivery of the project.

If you are unsure of eligibility, please contact the Global Health Team.

Section 7: Selection Criteria

If your application is considered eligible, it will be assessed against six key criteria for funding:

  • Relevance
  • Equitable and sustainable partnerships
  • Capacity Strengthening
  • Community engagement and involvement
  • Value for money
  • Preparation for research impact and sustainability
  • Research quality (where applicable)

Please refer to the key criteria in ‘Key Criteria for Funding’ for details of what is expected to be demonstrated in the application for each of these criteria.

Section 8: Selection Process

The GHR Development Award is a one-stage competition. If your application is eligible, it will be considered by an independent international Funding Committee which will make recommendations to DHSC on which applications should be supported.

If high numbers of applications are received, NIHR may adopt a triage process where members of the Funding Committee will review and score applications against the above eligibility and selection criteria ahead of the Funding Committee meeting. If your application scores below the agreed threshold, it will be rejected at that point. High-scoring applications will proceed to the Funding Committee meeting.

DHSC retains the right to make strategic decisions at the final outcome stage. Final funding decisions will be based on available budget, overall portfolio balance, alignment with relevant UK Government policies, NIHR strategic priorities, institutional balance and ranking based on quality.

8.1 Submissions to more than one NIHR programme

NIHR will not accept the same or substantially similar applications to more than one NIHR programme at the same time. If two similar applications are submitted, once the overlap is identified, the application that is most advanced through the funding process will continue and the second will not be taken further.

Similar applications will only be considered by two programmes concurrently if:

  • the aims and research proposals are substantially different;
  • the successful delivery of one project is not dependent on the other

where similar teams are proposed, individuals can deliver at the full-time equivalent (FTE) proposed for both awards.

Section 9: Due Diligence, Contracting, Collaboration Agreements, and Intellectual Property (IP)

9.1 Due Diligence Assessment

NIHR will check the following during the due diligence assessment phase prior to contracting. Please note, NIHR will not be able to proceed to contracting, should contracting organisations be unable to provide one or more of the following by the time of the due diligence assessment:

  • Legal status of the contracting organisation.
  • Information about a Process Agent in England. Please see our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for more information on this.
  • Justification for proportionate insurance provisions.
  • Bank “Letter of Good Standing” for the contracting organisation’s bank account confirming account holder, account details and ability to receive GBP.
  • Licenses or other permissions required to receive funds in GBP for the duration of the award (if applicable).
  • Licenses or other permissions required to undertake proposed research for the duration of the award (if applicable).
  • Licenses or permissions required by collaborators or sub-contractors to receive funding from the award (if applicable).
  • One or more of the following policies and, in the case where any of the policies do not exist, failure to provide proportionate evidence of copies of any regulations or otherrulesstaffneedtocomplywithtomeetNIHR contractual requirements e.g., relevant legislation/any documentation that states the requirement for compliance
    • Anti-Fraud, Corruption and Bribery
    • Whistleblowing
    • Travel and Subsistence
    • Conflict of Interest
    • Human Resources
    • Procurement (where relevant)
    • Anti-bullying and harassment and/or Staff Conduct
    • Labour standards (equivalent to the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015)
    • Data Management Policy
    • Ethics/Scientific Misconduct Policies
  • Clear demonstration of eligibility (see Section 6 above for more information).

We will perform due diligence on the contracting organisation prior to contracting. Contracted organisations should:

  • have controls in place relating to the flow of funds that are proportionate to the risks and amounts of money involved
  • take due regard to value for money and propriety of expenditure

As a contracted organisation, it is your responsibility to provide funding to downstream collaborators for their expenditure on the project in a timely manner. You must ensure you have systems and resources in place to ensure this can be achieved by the time work commences.

Where available, you should provide any prior due diligence forms completed by the contracting organisation for the NIHR or a UK research organisation or funder in the last 3 years (including any supporting documentation) with your application. Please see our Due Diligence Questionnaire for reference.

NIHR expects that any notice given under or in connection with the GHR Development Awards Short Form Funding Agreement and any work product and any other communications must be in English or accompanied by a certified English translation. We may agree to accept some policies in other languages, but the necessity of this will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

If your organisation has not been previously funded by the NIHR GHR programme, we may undertake additional eligibility and due diligence checks in addition to standard checks before contracting.

9.2 Contracting

Please review the following information on award contracting when preparing your application. The current GHR Development Awards Short Form Funding Agreement and the Due Diligence Questionnaire template can be downloaded from our website.

Due to the scope and length of the Development Awards, please note that NIHR will not accommodate any flexibility on the start date nor give extensions to the funding period.

9.3 Collaboration Agreements

NIHR expects all parties listed on the application to have significant input to the Development Award management and form part of the leadership structure and governance. You should fully describe management arrangements in your application. You may include signed letters of support from appropriate individuals, confirming support for the application and the agreement of the employing organisation to undertake the project.

Prior to any transfer of money from the contracting organisation to downstream collaborating organisation(s) NIHR expect that the contracting organisation undertakes proportionate due diligence assessments on the project collaborators. You must share details of due diligence assessments your organisation has conducted on all collaborating organisations with the NIHR.

To avoid potential delays in transferring funds after the contract start date, we recommend that any Collaboration Agreements between the contracting organisation and collaborating organisations are:

  • developed with partners collaborating organisations as soon as possible after a successful funding decision has been communicated, in parallel to finalising the contract with NIHR
  • signed by collaborators promptly after the NIHR contract starts

The development of Collaboration Agreements between the contracting organisation and collaborating organisations may take longer than expected and you should build realistic time requirements for this activity into project timelines. This will reduce the potential for delays in transferring funds after the contract start date. You must develop draft collaboration agreements with your partners and submit them to NIHR for review and approval within the timeline specified in the GHR Development Awards Short Form Funding Agreement.

In the absence of an approved and signed Collaboration Agreement, you, as the contracting organisation, will be transferring funds to partners at your own risk. Alternatively, you will need to make any relevant payments on behalf of partners until an NIHR-approved Collaboration Agreement signed by the partner(s) is in place.

Collaboration Agreements should include detail about:

  • flow down and adherence to the terms of the GHR Development Awards Short Form Funding Agreement to partners/collaborators
  • roles and responsibilities of each partner, approach to communication, and leadership structure
  • authorship and use of findings, including IP
  • data management plan for accessing and sharing data by partners
  • how the project will resolve any problems
  • transparent budgets and payment schedules to each partner

NIHR will provide further guidance on Collaboration Agreements to successful applicants.

9.4 Intellectual Property: Background and Foreground IP

Intellectual property (IP) positions are prescribed in Section 7 of the GHR Development Awards Short Form Funding Agreement.

For the GHR Development Awards, IP will be owned by the contracting organisation and Joint Ownership of IP is not permitted because Joint Ownership of IP can lead to delays in how IP or data is used, disseminated, and/or exploited. Normally, giving collaborators appropriately licensed rights to use Foreground IP, Arising Know How, and Research Data is sufficient to avoid the need for joint IP.

During the contracting phase, NIHR will normally require an organisational IP policy or similar. Where a pre-existing policy is not available, you are required to produce this as an output of the award.

Section 10: Reporting

10.1 Type and frequency of reports

Funded NIHR GHR awards are required to submit the following to us:

  • quarterly finance reports and financial forecasts (submission quarters are 1 April to 30 June, 1 July to 30 September, 1 October to 31 December, 1 January to 31 March)
  • emerging publications and outputs, including details in relation to the sex/gender and country location of the authors, as applicable
  • at the end of the award:
    • a final report summarising the project findings, contextual learning, publications and impact
    • a final expenditure statement (FSTOX)

You should make sure the correct resources are requested so that all of the above can be delivered.

10.2 IATI Reporting:

DHSC requires ODA-funded NIHR award holders to publish organisation and activity data in accordance with the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) Standard. The DHSC IATI Guidelines shared with contracting organisations will provide information about which fields of the standard it expects partners to publish to and how to do this. For new publishers, further information can be found on the IATI website under publishing data.

If funded, you will be required to publish data related to the GHR Development Award to IATI by the end of the Development Award funding period. When creating your application, you may want to consider what resources will be necessary to support this requirement. For more information, please see our FAQs.

Section 11: Additional Information

11.1 Equitable and Sustainable Partnerships

Partnerships proposed in applications must be based on new collaborative relationships. You should describe your approach to ensuring equity in partnerships, and demonstrate how the partnerships will deliver and sustain research and capacity strengthening goals.

Your approach to equitable and sustainable partnerships is assessed at the application stage, and will be monitored and evaluated throughout the lifetime of your funded award.

You should consider the following:

  • your application should include clear evidence of inclusion processes being in place, with no disadvantages relating to gender, sex, disability, or any other protected characteristics, as defined in the UK legislation (the UK Equality Act 2010)
  • all parties listed as Lead or co-applicants within your project team must have significant input to the project and its management from the co-design stage through to dissemination
  • all parties should be part of the leadership structure
  • your proposal should include input from researchers across all collaborating organisations, representing the range of countries, nationalities, ethnicities, career stages, and disciplines involved in the project
  • all funded partnerships must have a strong underpinning research ethic based on mutual respect and understanding for different cultural, ethnic, social, and economic beliefs and practices
  • your budget should be driven by the scale and complexity of the work plans and partnerships and that funds will:
    • be distributed equitably between partners
    • mainly be spent in the LMICs where the work is taking place
    • strongly underpin research and capacity strengthening within those LMICs
  • the roles and contributions of all members working as part of your partnership must be clearly stated within your application and must provide demonstrable contributions to the project and support equitable and sustainable collaboration

NIHR expects contracting organisations to provide support throughout the lifetime of the award. This means the contracting organisations must agree to provide the space, facilities, and time for their staff to deliver their project.

On our website, we have published further guidance to support developing and sustaining Equitable Research Partnerships between LMICs and the UK.

11.2 Training and Capacity Strengthening

We are committed to strengthening individual and institutional capacity to undertake and manage applied health research for the long term to support the sustainability of the whole research ecosystem.

We use the UK Collaborative on Development Research (UKCDR) definition of Research Capacity Strengthening (RCS): ‘Enhancing the ability and resources of individuals, organisations, and/or systems to undertake, communicate, and/or use high-quality research efficiently, effectively, and sustainably’.

You must include an RCS component in your application. For NIHR GHR Programmes, the objectives and priorities for RCS identified by or with local stakeholders should support or develop sustainable solutions to key national problems within ODA-eligible LMICs.

You should include and cost activities that will:

  • strengthen and sustain the capacity of individual researchers and teams
  • support research management capacity at an institutional level, including project and financial management.

RCS activities might include:

  • training in technical research skills and personal development skills
  • Other wider institutional capacity-strengthening activities such as finance management, research management, data management, legal compliance and assurance training
  • Institutional systems for coaching, mentoring and/or peer-mentorship.
  • training and support to facilitate effective Community Engagement and Involvement (CEI)
  • development of skills such as grant writing, writing for publication, communication and influencing skills, time management and teamwork. These activities can be delivered through a range of mechanisms, such as through courses, workshops, exchanges and other relevant training activities.
  • Events to share best practices and training workshops such as sending out colleagues to provide specific training to their counterparts in ODA-eligible countries.
  • English language training in the context of all studentships provided clear justification and a strong value for money argument is given.

You should demonstrate an understanding of the national and local context. Applicants should work collaboratively and effectively with local stakeholders to ensure the project supports existing research capacity and increases sustainability in LMICs where the work is taking place.

NIHR Academy membership

The NIHR Academy is responsible for the development and coordination of NIHR academic training, career development and research capacity strengthening. Everyone who receives funding or support from an NIHR GHR Programme to develop their academic career automatically becomes an NIHR GHR Academy and is eligible for career development and training support. Please note however, that Development Award holders will not be eligible for Short Placement Award for Research Collaboration (GHR SPARC) and Global Health Research Cohort Academic Development Award (GHR CADA) awards.

11.3 Community Engagement and Involvement

GHR Development Award holders are expected to develop community engagement and involvement (CEI) practices/processes to ensure future research proposals are suited to the local context, policy-oriented and practice-relevant.

CEI is a core principle in NIHR GHR Programmes, alongside equitable partnerships and strengthening the LMIC research ecosystem at all levels. We expect global health research to be undertaken in collaboration with the communities who are most likely affected by the research outcomes, and that those who are marginalised should have a meaningful voice in the full range of the research (for example, in the design, delivery and dissemination of research). CEI may be known as patient and public involvement and engagement (PPIE) in some settings.

Patients, carers and the general public within a given community - especially vulnerable groups who are at the greatest risk - will normally be the key groups included in CEI activities. Other examples of community stakeholders that could be involved include:

  • community leaders
  • opinion leaders
  • NGOs and civil society
  • service commissioners and providers
  • Policymakers and lawmakers

There is no standard model for CEI. You should plan for and undertake meaningful, ethical and inclusive CEI and demonstrate that the planned CEI approach is appropriate and effective in the local context and for the study design. You are encouraged to use the UNICEF Minimum Standards for Community Engagement, which promote principles such as participation, empowerment and ownership, inclusion, two-way communication, adaptability and localisation, and building on local capacity.

We recommend that research teams recruit or assign a member of the project team with relevant experience and expertise in CEI to act as CEI lead to coordinate and oversee activities.

You may also find it helpful to refer to MESH, a collaborative, open-access online space that provides resources, encourages networking and shares good practices to bridge the gap between the research community and the general public in low and middle-income countries.

11.4 Programme Management and Governance

You should clearly describe programme management and governance arrangements for your project. Enough resources should be allocated to manage the project/work streams from start to finish across all countries and organisations. These may include:

  • contracting
  • due diligence
  • assurance and audit
  • procurement
  • data management
  • risk management (including financial, reputational and legal)
  • quarterly financial reporting
  • monitoring, evaluation and learning
  • impact tracking
  • communication management
  • compliance with ethics frameworks

It is important to ensure the right programme management and governance support is in place for all co-applicant and collaborating organisations, not only the contracting organisation.

11.5 Risk Management and Assurance

To make effective arrangements for financial reporting, risk management and assurance, you should:

  • consider the financial systems and financial management capacity of all collaborating organisations
  • assess the level of risk within the partner countries, and tailor assurance, monitoring processes, and resources
  • ensure all partners are resourced to meet the requirements for managing and reporting on ODA funds

NIHR encourages co-applicants and collaborators to perform a Good Financial Grants Practice (GFGP) self-assessment to understand current areas of weakness in the finance management and systems, and, as required, increase their financial and risk management capability through specific capacity strengthening activities. You can include costs associated with these activities. Please see the GHR Development Awards Finance Guidance and our FAQs for more information.

You should identify any known or anticipated risks to delivering the project. These may be specific project-related risks faced as a contractor, or those faced in the implementing context by researchers or communities.

The UK Government is committed to aligning all new bilateral ODA to the goals of the United Nations (UN) Framework Convention on Climate Change Paris Agreement in 2023. Consideration of climate and environmental risks is important to:

  • ensure programming investments are optimised for the future climate and environment
  • to raise resilience and adapt to potential impacts of climate and environment variability and change

You must include the following details in your application:

  • Financial assurance,ODA compliance, monitoring and auditing of expenditure
    • you should describe arrangements for due diligence, the allocation and transfer of funds to collaborating organisations from the contracted organisation and the financial processes, controls and audit measures in place to monitor and ensure the appropriate use of funds, including any specific subcontracting arrangements for compliance auditing
  • Fraud, bribery and corruption
    • you should describe the arrangements or governance mechanisms in place to prevent fraud, bribery and corruption and to ensure compliance for the duration of the award
  • Safeguarding
    • you should describe the arrangements for safeguarding of project staff and study participants, where relevant
    • the contracted organisation must take all appropriate measures to prevent actual, attempted or threatened sexual exploitation, abuse or harassment by their employees or any other persons engaged and controlled by the Award to perform any activities within the GHR Development Awards Short Form Funding Agreement
    • robust procedures must be in place for the reporting of suspected misconduct, illegal acts, or failures to investigate, including contractors, timely reporting to us of all serious incidents, and the outcome of investigations by contractors, or co-applicant and collaborator organisations involved in managing the associated NIHR GHR award(s)
    • refer to our Policy on Preventing Harm in Research and Guidance on Safeguarding
    • please note that during the contracting phase, an organisational Safeguarding policy or similar will be required. Where a pre-existing policy is not available, we recommend you produce this as an output of the award.
  • Climate and environment
    • you should describe whether any part of your programme is susceptible to environmental and climate risks and/or would have the potential to accelerate climate change
    • you should consider the following areas to ensure that risk and impact to the environment is most efficiently minimised and mitigated:
      • pollution
      • waste efficiency
      • water resources
      • biodiversity
      • land degradation
    • in terms of susceptibility to climate-related risk, you should consider the following hazard categories:
      • biological (e.g. epidemics, infectious disease)
      • geophysical (e.g. earthquakes, tsunami)
      • climatological (e.g. extreme weather conditions, wildfires)
      • hydrological (e.g. floods)
      • meteorological (e.g. cyclones)
    • refer to our guidelines on Carbon Reduction

Delivery Chain Risk Maps

You must include a Delivery Chain Risk Map (DCRM) to show the overall structure of the partnerships/collaborations, the distribution of ODA funds to partners/collaborators, and the associated downstream risks and accountability for the risks to the end beneficiaries.

The DCRM should include:

  • the names of all downstream delivery partners, their functions, and relationships between the partners
    detail of the funding distributed to each delivery partner
  • high-level risks involved in programme delivery, mitigating measures and associated controls, including:
    • fiduciary and other risks associated with managing ODA funds down the delivery chain
    • consideration of the potential for fraud, bribery, corruption or terrorist financing
    • dependency on key partners and the coherence and value for money of the overall supply chain for the project/programme

DCRMs are expected to be regularly reviewed and updated. For more information on the format and content, please see the NIHR DCRM guidance.

Risk Registers

If funded, you will be expected to develop a project risk register as part of the contracting process. Risk registers are considered a living document and should be reviewed regularly over the lifetime of the project. NIHR will provide additional guidance to those recommended for funding. The risk register should:

  • identify any specific risks for the project and partnerships
  • illustrate the impact and the likelihood of their occurrence
  • outline steps to mitigate risks and the residual risk after mitigation

Regulatory Approvals/Compliance

Research requiring ethical approval must have appropriate approvals in place before it can start. Ethical approvals will usually be required in all countries involved in the research.

Research performed needs to be undertaken in line with UK regulations and to a standard no less stringent than those applicable in the UK.

You should ensure that all plans for research follow:

If your proposal involves human subjects research, you need to be able to provide your plans for an ethical review of the proposed activities in the relevant countries. You should anticipate that securing ethical reviews in the relevant countries can take some time and this should be factored into your work plans.

As part of our contract monitoring, we need evidence of ethics approvals. If there are no plans to obtain an ethical review, due to a lack of research activity or otherwise please provide confirmation of this.

Where the research involves under-represented and at-risk individuals or groups in vulnerable situations (an example being children under the age of 18 or individuals lacking the capacity to consent), you should describe how you will manage their involvement within the Ethical Consideration section of your Detailed Project Plan.

11.6 Open Access Research Publication Costs

As per the NIHR Open Access publications policy, all peer-reviewed research articles funded by the NIHR GHR portfolio must be published immediately, free of charge, and made openly accessible to all. When an Open Access payment is applicable, we will pay reasonable fees required by a publisher to effect publication in line with the NIHR Open Access policy. You should refer to the NIHR Open Access publications funding guidance for further information. Open Access publication costs do not need to be predicted or incorporated into budgets at the time of application.

11.7 Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Embedding inclusion in everything we do is one of the NIHR’s key operating principles. This requires the active involvement of everyone within the NIHR people framework.

ODA funds provided by the NIHR must comply with the requirements of the International Development Act 2002, the International Development (Gender Equality) Act 2014 and the UK Equality Act 2010.

You should particularly consider the risks of perpetuating gender inequalities through your work, proactively monitor risks, and take corrective measures where applicable.

The Equality Act 2010 is the main piece of legislation in the UK which relates to equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI). The Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) forms part of the Equality Act and requires organisations to consciously think about the aims of the PSED as part of decision-making processes. This supports the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) in meeting its legal duty. The protected characteristics in UK law are:

  • age
  • disability
  • gender reassignment
  • marriage and civil partnership
  • pregnancy and maternity
  • race
  • religion or belief
  • sex
  • sexual orientation

Discrimination relating to any of these characteristics is prohibited in the UK.

We collect and analyse data on the diversity of applicants. Currently, you are required to provide information related to the categories of age, disability, ethnicity and sex when submitting your application. As part of our ongoing commitment to promoting inclusion, we are reviewing the most applicable data collection categories for global health. You can help us by sharing your equality information when we ask for it as this helps us to build a more complete picture of our applicants, where we have gaps, and how we might improve. We are committed to ensuring your privacy is protected. We handle your data responsibly - adhering to the NIHR’s privacy policy as well as GDPR - and this information will not be used to make decisions about funding.

We also monitor how EDI have been considered at the award level throughout the lifetime of the awards. This includes considerations at the researcher level, as outlined under the Equitable Partnerships section, and how you are engaging with the relevant communities (including sub-groups) to ensure that those with protected characteristics (as defined in the UK) are equal beneficiaries of the research findings.

EDI and study participants

Every person eligible to take part in research should be offered the same opportunity, regardless of geographical location and protected characteristics as defined in the UK. This ensures that we are actively addressing health disparities.

You are expected to include information in your application about how diversity data will be collected on study participants, should you undertake any studies. In addition, you should demonstrate how EDI has been considered and addressed in your proposal.

We recommend that you undertake an Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) at the outset as this process helps actively consider, understand and determine how what you do may affect groups of people differently.

11.8 Success Criteria for and Barriers to Proposed Work

Success Criteria

You should clearly describe the critical path of the project, equitable partnership development and capacity-strengthening plans. You must provide a summary of the key milestones and indicators you will use to measure your progress. These must include all the key milestones set out in the Timetable section of the Detailed Project Plan.

We recommend that project teams use the SMART methodology when developing objectives with clearly defined success measures. Plans should be supported by a GANTT chart, to be provided as a mandatory upload.

Barriers to proposed work

You should describe any challenges and risks that you may face across the project lifecycle (equitable partnership development, capacity strengthening, collaboration agreements, money transfers, project setup, delivery, dissemination and uptake of findings). You should also consider challenges faced by collaborating organisations and highlight any specific challenges and risks associated with your project plan.

You should include any critical dependencies, especially around specific authorisations, ethical approvals, legal frameworks, access to data, technology, materials, or other inventions that are subject to any form of IP protection (such as copyright, design rights, or patents). You should identify appropriate actions that would reduce or remove each barrier or its impact, and what residual risks remain after these actions.

Section 12: Resources and Further Reading

For information on NIHR’s expectations for large GHR-funded awards, please see the Global Health Research Programmes - Core Guidance for Applicants.

Section 13: Timetable

  • 03 April 2024 - Call Launch
  • 10 April 2024 - GHR Development Award briefing webinar for applicants. Please register via Zoom if you would like to attend. 
  • 1 May 2024 - Deadline for RMS registration and remit enquiries*
  • 15 May 2024 at 1pm UK time - Deadline for receipt of GHR Development Award applications via the online RMS.
  • May - July 2024 - NIHR GHR Development Award reviewers review the applications and make recommendations
  • August 2024 - Applicants notified of outcome
  • 01 January 2025 - Expected Contract Start Date

*NIHR will not guarantee that new RMS accounts (for Lead Applicants or co-applicants) will be verified and approved before the call close date or queries about the remit or content of applications will be answered after this date. If you have other queries about the application process, please do contact us after this time.

NIHR will notify all applicants of their outcomes. NIHR will not provide feedback on applications rejected due to scope and/or eligibility. Depending on the number of applications, NIHR may not provide comprehensive feedback to those applications rejected at the triage stage.

Once awarded, NIHR will not consider any requests for additional time or funding.

Section 14: Completing your application online

You must complete an online application via the Research Management System (RMS). The closing date for applications is Wednesday, 15 May 2024 at 1pm UK time.

  • NIHR will not accept applications submitted after the exact closing date and time, the system will automatically prevent this from happening.
  • It is your responsibility as an applicant to allow sufficient time to submit an application.
  • You must contact the NIHR Global Health team by emailing or calling +44 (0)20 8843 8843 immediately if you think there is a system problem, whilst attempting to continue with your submission.

Please see the guidance on completing your application form.

Word template of the application form is available on the NIHR website for reference only.