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Innovation Fund to Reduce Demand for Illicit Substances - Guidance for applicants

Contents

Published: 22 August 2022

Version: August 2022

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This document provides guidance on completing an application for the funding competition for the NIHR Innovation Fund to Reduce Demand for Illicit Substances: Phase 1. 

ALL applicants are required to submit an Expression of Interest (EoI) online form  which must be submitted by 13:00 on 28 September 2022.

The purpose of the Expression of Interest is for administrative purposes only. EoIs should be top level and provide the underlying objectives and identify lead and key partners. It is recognised that final proposals are likely to continue to evolve up to the application deadline. Therefore, although the full proposal must fully reflect its core elements, the final application need not be restricted to the precise description provided within the initial abstract.  

We supply a word document version of the online application form to help researchers prepare their proposal ahead of submission. This is to be used as a guide and to assist with completion of the online application form only. Please do not try to use this as an application form. You must apply using the online form in the Research Management System (RMS), available when the call opens on 14 September 2022. 

Applications for the call must be submitted by 1:00 pm on 12 October 2022 through the Research Management System (RMS)

If you have any queries with your application, you can contact the NIHR team on rdis@nihr.ac.uk.

Section 1: Proposal Summary 

Institution 

Provide details of the organisation who will be the contractor if the project is funded.

Title 

The title should state clearly and concisely the proposed research. Any abbreviations should be spelled out in full. 

Scientific/Technical Summary 

Provide an overview of the proposed research which would be appropriate for Committee reviewers. 

Plain English Summary 

A plain English summary is a clear explanation of your research. 

Many reviewers use this summary to inform their review of your funding application. They include clinicians, other practitioners and researchers who do not have specialist knowledge of your field as well as members of the public. If your application for funding is successful, the summary will be used on the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and other websites. 

A good quality plain English summary providing an easy to read overview of your whole study will help: 

  • those carrying out the review (reviewers and committee members) to have a better understanding of your research proposal 
  • inform others of about your research such as members of the public, health and social care professionals, policy makers and the media 
  • the research funders to publicise the research that they fund 

If it is felt that your plain English summary is considered not clear or of low quality, then you will be required to amend it prior to final funding approval. 

It is helpful to involve patients/carers/service users/practitioners and members of the public in developing a plain English summary. 

When writing your summary, consider including the following information where appropriate:

  1.  aim(s) of the research 
  2. background to the research 
  3. design and methods used 
  4. patient and public involvement 
  5. dissemination 

The plain English summary is not the same as a scientific summary - please do not cut and paste this or other sections of your application form to create the plain English summary. 

Further guidance on writing in plain English is available online at NIHR Make it clear. 

For further support and advice on writing a plain English summary, please contact your local Research Design Service (where applicable). 

Proposed Start Date 

Projects are expected to start on 06 March 2023. 

Proposed Duration of Award (months) 

Ensure you include sufficient time to complete all aspects of the research including applications for regulatory approvals (where required) and the final report. The maximum duration is 6 months. 

Projects Cost 

Enter the total amount of research costs requested. Funding limit of up to £200k. 

Keywords 

Please provide up to 10 keywords which can be associated with the application. A minimum of one key word is required. 

Section 2: Lead Applicant

Complete your name, contact details and other requested information by accessing the ‘Manage my details’ section of your account. An ORCID ID is mandatory for the lead applicant. If any of the details are incorrect you will need to update your account information by selecting ‘Manage My Details’ shown on the ‘Home’ screen. 

Administrative Authority Contact Name 

Please provide the details of an administrative lead as a secondary point of contact for any queries relating to the application, should it be supported. 

NOTE: This person does not need to be a co-applicant. 

Administrative Authority Contact Email 

Please provide the name and email address for the Administrative Authority Contact at your organisation. 

Co-Applicants 

Please provide the name and organisation of co-investigators. The maximum limit for Co-Investigators is 10. Members of the research team will need to be ‘invited’ through the system via email to participate as co-applicants after which they must both confirm and approve their participation. You will not be able to submit the application until co-applicants have confirmed and approved their involvement. Whilst confirming and approving an application can be done at any time during the submission of an application it is strongly encouraged that this is carried out well in advance of the deadline. 

Section 3: The Research Team

Joint Lead Applicant

Where appropriate and justified it is acceptable for the application to be led by joint Lead Applicants. Where this applies, please complete your name, contact details and other requested information. NOTE: Early career researchers leading applications are encouraged to apply as Lead Applicant, with a more senior colleague fulfilling the role of mentor and Joint Lead Applicant

Justification for Joint Lead Applicant

Justification should be given to demonstrate why more than one person would be required to lead this research and how this brings added value to the application.

NOTE: Clearly describe how the Joint Lead Applicant will provide mentorship and guidance for the early career researcher fulfilling the role of Lead Applicant.

Relevant expertise and experience of Joint Lead Applicant

Please summarise the proposed Joint Lead Applicant’s relevant expertise and track record in applied health research or social care research, in terms of skills and experience, previous publications, grant funding and impact on health service or social care provision.

%FTE Commitment

This refers to the percentage of your time that you will commit to this project. If you are funded as part of other NIHR projects that will be running concurrently, your time must not exceed 100% overall.

NOTE: For application/contracting purposes, the joint lead applicant will be counted as a co-applicant.

Section 4: Importance, Deliverables, Expertise and Resources 

Please outline how the proposed project will contribute to reduce the use of illicit drugs and how it meets the call specification.

Please describe the expected outcomes and measurable deliverables

Section 5: Patient and Public Involvement 

Where applicable, please describe (i) how patients and the public have been involved in developing this proposal; (ii) the ways in which patients and the public will be actively involved in the proposed research, including any training and support provided. 

We encourage the inclusion of public co-applicants, where appropriate. Please include a clear description of their role and the reasons why a public co-applicant is joining the team. 

This could include information about:

  • Previous or present work (paid or unpaid) with any relevant organisations
  • Links with any relevant groups, committees, networks or organisations
  • Experience of particular health conditions, treatments, use of services, being a carer - or as a member of a particular community
  • Knowledge and experience of research including previous research undertaken
  • Knowledge and experience of patient and public involvement including previous involvement activities
  • Skills from any other roles that are transferable
  • Relevant qualifications, training and learning

The list above is not exhaustive.  Please include anything else that is relevant to the application.

For further information please access the “Public Co-applicants in Research’ guidance.

Co-applicants are those individuals with responsibility for the day to day management and delivery of the project. Co-applicants, including public co-applicants, are considered part of the project team and are expected to share responsibility for its successful delivery. In contrast, collaborators normally provide specific expertise on particular aspects of the project but who do not share in the responsibility for the delivery of the project.

PPI Lead

There should be a named person with appropriate skills and experience who is responsible for leading the PPI element within the project. This role should be an adequately costed and resourced research team member who is able to manage the PPI plans and related activities. Examples of the activities a PPI lead might undertake can be found here. 

IMPORTANT: Colleagues will need to register to participate as co-applicants after which they must both confirm and approve their participation; the application cannot be submitted without doing so. 

A maximum of 10 co-applicants is permitted (which includes the joint lead applicant if listed).

Section 6: Plan of Research 

Using all of the headings in the order presented below, please use this section to clearly explain your proposed research. As this is the main part of your application which will be considered by the reviewing panel, you should ensure that the information is accurate, succinct, clearly laid out and provides sufficient methodological detail. 

NOTE: Applicants should aim to reserve a significant proportion of the word count for the project plan to enable methodological approaches to be fully specified. 

  1. What is the problem being addressed?
  2. Why is this research important and how will this research contribute to reducing the demand for recreational drugs? Who are you seeking to influence or benefit (i.e.target population)?
  3. Review of existing evidence – How does the existing literature support this proposal?
  4. What is the research question / aims and objectives?
  5. Project plan including: 
    1. Research Design
    2. Methodological and statistical details
    3. Timelines
    4. Project milestones which should include SMART objectives and provide key decision making points
    5. What changes in behaviour and other changes/outcomes/ benefits are you expecting to achieve in the short, medium and long term? How will your project lead to these changes/outcomes and how will you evidence progress towards these intended outcomes?
  6. Team and project management
  7. Risks and Mitigation
  8. A short description of the subsequent Phase 2 proposal

Section 7: Detailed Budget

The finance application form provides details of the finance required to deliver the planned research. Requested costs for UK based HEI researchers should be 80% of full economic costs (fEC) and, where relevant, for overseas researchers should be 100% of direct costs only. 

In line with NIHR funding policy this call will cover 100% direct costs for SME and NHS trusts (across the whole of the UK). Applicants will need to complete all sections of the finance form and provide a detailed breakdown of costs for staff posts and salaries, travel, subsistence, conference, equipment, consumables, patient and public involvement and engagement, dissemination, risk management and assurance, external intervention costs, other direct costs, and indirect costs will need to be provided. 

Justification of costs

Provide justification for the resources requested, including the following:

  • staff costs
  • travel, subsistence and conference fees
  • equipment (including lease versus purchase costs
  • consumables
  • patient and public involvement, engagement and participation
  • other direct costs 
  • dissemination costs 
  • indirect costs

For help with estimating PPI costs please see the NIHR Payments Guidance for researchers and professionals. Our public reviewers will expect the appropriate budget set aside for the PPI to cover all the expenses and PPI activities.

You should indicate here how this research will potentially benefit the NHS and/ or public health and social care sector. For example, where appropriate, describe the likely cost savings or benefits in terms of numbers of patients treated, treatment times, service users or carers supported etc. 

You should describe the value for money of the conduct of the proposed research.

Please also provide justification for the NHS Support and Excess Treatment costs detailed in the SoECAT. If there are no NHS Support or Excess Treatment Costs associated with the research you must explain why you think this is the case. 

Detailed Budget Breakdown

The finance section should provide a breakdown of costs associated with undertaking the research as described in the proposal. Please refer to the how to complete the finance form guidance and short video about how to complete this section of the application form.

Programme specific information

The Innovation Fund to Reduce Demand for Illicit Substances: Phase 1 has a funding limit of £200,000. 

General information

The information entered in this section should provide an analysis of the total funds requested to undertake the research proposed and should be based on current prices. These costs will be used to assess value for money.

It is in your best interest to undertake a thorough, realistic and accurate costing. You must provide a clear and full justification for all costs including NHS costs. You must also ensure that you include all costs including those required to secure good research management.

  • Costs must be provided at current prices. An adjustment for inflation will be made annually thereafter at rates set by the Department of Health. Whilst allowances for incremental increases should be included on the form, nationally or locally agreed pay increases should be excluded. 
  • Years should be calculated starting from the anticipated start date of the proposed research. For example, if your research is expected to start on 01 June 2020 then its second year starts 01 June 2021. 
  • Further itemisation of costs and methods of calculation may be requested to support the application at a later date. 
  • Payments will be made to the contracted organisation only and the contracted organisation will be responsible for passing on any money due to their partner organisation(s). 
  • Appropriate sub-contracts must be put in place for any element of the research which is to be paid to another organisation. 
  • NHS support costs, including costs for Social Care research are funded via Clinical Research Networks. Researchers should contact their local NHS R&D department initially and, if they are unable to help directly or if there is no local NHS R&D department, contact the NIHR Local Clinical Research Network (LCRN) senior manager for advice on NHS support costs. Further details about LCRN contacts are available on the NIHR LCRN website.
  • All applications are expected to have appropriate NHS, HEI, commercial and other partner organisation input into the finance section of the application form.
  • Non-commercial led Awards (e.g., NHS, HEI etc.) will be paid via BAC transfer payment schedules. The NIHR will release funds net of VAT as Research and Development is considered VAT exempt. There are some cost items within an application which may incur VAT, such as equipment or subcontractors. If the applying organisation is unable to claim back the VAT on these items (e.g., maybe they are not VAT registered) then applicants can charge the gross value to the application.
  • Commercial led awards will be paid via invoicing. It is up to the company to decide if it is appropriate to apply VAT on the invoice. If the company decides to apply VAT, then DHSC will pay the invoice and claim back the VAT. We recommend that applicants seek advice from VAT experts within their organisation before applying. 

Please note that whilst the applicable percentages will be used to calculate the maximum grant payable, the programme reserves the right to award a grant for less than this maximum where it is considered appropriate.

Information on different types of organisations

Higher Education Institutions (HEIs)

Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) should determine the Full Economic Cost (FEC) of their research using the Transparent Approach to Costing (TRAC) methodology. For HEIs, up to 80% of FEC will be paid, provided that TRAC methodology has been used.

NHS bodies and other providers of NHS services in England

For applications where the contractor is an NHS body or provider of NHS services in England, up to 100% of direct costs will be paid.

Commercial/other partner organisations

If you are a commercial organisation/consultancy, please fill in direct costs and commercial indirect costs. Indirect costs should be charged in proportion to the amount of research staff effort requested on the funding application form. Up to 100% of costs will be paid. If you are another partner organisation (e.g. charity or NGO), please fill in direct costs and other partner organisations indirect costs. Indirect costs should be charged in proportion to the amount of research staff effort requested on the funding application form. Up to 100% of costs will be paid.

Direct costs

These are costs that are specific to the research, which will be charged as the amount actually spent and can be supported by an audit record. They should comprise:

Staff costs

This section presents an overview of salary and associated on-costs for the applicant(s) contributing to the research, including normal salary increments broken down individually.

Salary costs (apply to years)

This section specifies the annual costs of each applicant contributing to the research. You should now allocate the individual staff member costs to each year of the research, allowing for increments. Use current rates of pay, and build in any known annual increments (again at current rates). You will not be able to claim for pay awards retrospectively, once your research is underway.

Travel, subsistence and conference dissemination costs

This section includes journey costs, subsistence and conference fees. Where applicable, you will need to include the travel and subsistence costs of your project advisory group, steering committee and/or data monitoring & ethics committee. Travel and subsistence costs relating to dissemination should also be included here, as should costs relating to overseas travel.

Journey costs

Enter the total cost of transport for all journeys for destination/purpose. If travel is by car, apply your institution’s mileage rates (however this should not exceed HMRC approved mileage allowance payments, which is 45p per mile for the first 10,000 miles and 25p thereafter).

Travel by the most economic means possible is encouraged. NIHR programmes do not usually fund first class travel.

Subsistence

Subsistence covers accommodation (if necessary) and meals associated with the travel, excluding any alcoholic beverages.

Conferences

Where national or international conference costs are included, a statement naming the conference or purpose of travel and the benefit to the research must also be made; failure to adequately justify your attendance at a conference will mean the programme will not fund this cost.

For research of up to five years, the programme will usually fund up to a maximum of two international conference attendances. For research beyond five years, the programme will usually fund up to a maximum of two international conference attendances per five year or part of five year research period.

Equipment

Essential items of equipment plus maintenance and related costs not included as part of estates should be input in this section. These can be lease or purchase costs.

  • The purchase cost of pieces of equipment, valued up to £5,000 excluding VAT, will be considered. 
  • Pieces of equipment costing more than £5,000 to purchase will usually need to be leased. Where applicants are leasing equipment with a purchase price of more than £5,000, a comparison of leasing versus purchasing costs must be provided in the ‘Justification of Costs’ section. 
  • Items of equipment valued at £250 or more must be itemised separately; however grouping same type equipment is permitted. 
  • Costs of computers are limited to a maximum of £1000 per item. This includes the costs of any associated software and VAT. A statement of justification must be included, in the relevant ‘Justification of Costs’ section, for any purchase above this limit.

Consumables

This section includes non-reusable items specific to the research. Please itemise and describe the requirements fully (e.g. postage, stationery, photocopying). These items should be research specific, not just general office costs which should be covered by indirect costs.

Patient and public involvement

Please itemise and describe fully the costs associated with patient and public involvement. These are likely to include individual travel, out of pocket expenses, payment for time and any relevant training and support costs.

Costs related to study participants should not be itemised here.

If voluntary, charity or community groups are supporting the research via activities such as facilitating contact with potential participants, hosting research activities or providing advice, an adequate budget must be included to compensate for their time and resources.

For further information on budgeting for involvement, please read the NIHR Payments Guidance for researchers and professionals.

Other direct costs

These are costs, not identified elsewhere, that are specifically attributed to the research. For example, costs associated with the use of research facilities, external consultancy costs, costs associated with inclusivity (which may include, but are not limited to justified translation of research participant material into other relevant languages), computer licensing, recruitment and advertising costs.

Please note that for organisations claiming indirect/overhead costs, costs such as recruitment of staff, and general training (e.g. in common IT packages) are costs that should be covered by the indirect costs element of the award being sought and should not appear in this section.

If external consultancy costs are included in this section they must be fully justified in the ‘Justification of Costs’ section. Please specify the hourly rate and the number of hours and note that consultants must not be people who are already employed by the applicant’s institution. If they are, any costs should be entered as direct costs in the ‘Staff Costs’ and ‘Salary Costs’ sections.

Dissemination Costs

Open access costs

Applicants should no longer include open access costs as part of their detailed budget Research Costs.

From 01 June 2022 all eligible awards contracts issued across NIHR Programmes, NIHR Personal Awards and NIHR Global Health Research Portfolio will have an Open Access Envelope allocated to them on top of the award value, which is ring-fenced for open access costs of peer reviewed research articles that arise directly from the research funded by the award in question.

Further information can be found by reading the Open Access Funding Guidance.

Other dissemination costs

Any large costs should be further detailed. Meetings to share best practice, training events and events to disseminate research findings must be run at the lowest possible cost with minimal catering. ‘Conferences’ which are described as such are not eligible for funding.

Indirect costs/overheads

Indirect costs will be charged in proportion to the amount of research staff effort requested on the award.

They comprise:

  • General office and basic laboratory consumables 
  • Premises costs
  • Library services/learning resources
  • Typing/secretarial 
  • Finance, personnel, public relations and departmental services 
  • Usage costs of major research facilities 
  • Central and distributed computing 
  • Charge out rates for shared equipment 
  • Cost of capital employed

NHS bodies or other providers of NHS services indirect costs

NHS indirect costs cannot be claimed through NIHR/DHSC programme funding. NHS bodies or other providers of NHS services have been allocated NIHR Research Capability Funding (RCF) to contribute to the cost of hosting NIHR/DHSC-supported research. More information can be found on the RCF webpage.

HEI indirect costs

Total HEI indirect costs must be fully justified. HEIs are permitted to claim estate and other indirect costs. These costs are calculated on the basis of TRAC methodology. Proposals from other types of institutions/organisations should leave this section blank. 

  • HEI indirect costs are based on the number of full-time equivalent research staff working on the research and the indirect/estates charges set by an institution.
  • Where staff from more than one HEI are working on the research there may be different indirect/estates charges for each one. Please list each institution on a separate line. 
  • Please note HEI indirect costs cannot be claimed on shared staff costs.

The applicant(s) should consult their HEI finance departments for the appropriate figures to include in the estate charges and other indirect cost sections

Commercial/other partner organisation indirect costs

Commercial/other partner organisations can claim indirect costs which are the costs of resources used by the research that are shared by other activities. Please seek advice from your finance department about the appropriate cost for this section.

Total Commercial/other partner organisation indirect costs must be fully justified.

NHS bodies or other providers of NHS services indirect costs

NHS indirect costs cannot be claimed through NIHR/DHSC programme funding. NHS bodies or other providers of NHS services have been allocated NIHR Research Capability Funding (RCF) to contribute to the cost of hosting NIHR/DHSC-supported research. 

HEI indirect costs

Total HEI indirect costs must be fully justified. HEIs are permitted to claim estate and other indirect costs. These costs are calculated on the basis of TRAC methodology. Proposals from other types of institutions/organisations should leave this section blank.

  • HEI indirect costs are based on the number of full-time equivalent research staff working on the research and the indirect/estates charges set by an institution. 
  • Where staff from more than one HEI are working on the research there may be different indirect/estates charges for each one. Please list each institution on a separate line.
  • Please note HEI indirect costs cannot be claimed on shared staff costs. 

The applicant(s) should consult their HEI finance departments for the appropriate figures to include in the estate charges and other indirect cost section.

Commercial/other partner organisation indirect costs

Commercial/other partner organisations can claim indirect costs which are the costs of resources used by the research that are shared by other activities. Please seek advice from your finance department about the appropriate cost for this section.

Total Commercial/other partner organisation indirect costs must be fully justified.

NHS support and treatment costs (incl. excess treatment costs/savings) 

Please be aware that the research award does NOT include NHS support and/or treatment Costs. These costs, including costs for Social Care research, are funded via Clinical Research Networks and should be detailed in the Schedule of Events Cost Attribution Tool (SoECAT) (see below for further details).

However, the committee will take NHS support and/or treatment costs into account when considering the value for money of the research. It is important that you consider these costs and discuss them with the NHS bodies or providers of NHS services involved in order to avoid any delay in commencing the research.

Applicants should contact their local NHS R&D Department initially and if they are unable to help directly, or if there is no local NHS R&D Department, contact their Local Clinical Research Network (LCRN) for advice on NHS Support Costs. Further details about LCRN contacts are available online at ‘Clinical Research Network’.

When considered necessary by the LCRN AcoRD specialist, a Schedule of Events Cost Attribution Tool (SoECAT), detailing NHS support and/or Treatment Costs, needs to be completed and uploaded as part of the application. If a SoECAT is not considered necessary by an AcoRD specialist, only the front page (study information tab) of the SoECAT needs to be submitted as part of the application. The SoECAT must be authorised and signed off by an AcoRD Specialist even where there are no excess treatment costs. 

If you have any queries around registering or logging into your account, please contact supportmystudy@nihr.ac.uk

More information on the SoECAT form is available on the NIHR website, including:

Upload a Schedule of Events Cost Attribution Template (SoECAT) form

NHS support costs

These are the additional patient care costs associated with the research, which would end once the R&D activity in question has stopped, even if the patient care service involved continues to be provided. These might cover items such as extra patient tests, extra in- patient days and extra nursing attention. Researchers should contact their local NHS R&D department initially and, if they are unable to help directly or if there is no local NHS R&D department, contact the NIHR Local Comprehensive Research Network (LCRN) senior manager for advice on NHS support costs. Further details about LCRN contacts are available on the NIHR Local website

NHS treatment costs

Please read the guidance on excess treatment costs webpage prior to completing your application.

These are the patient care costs that would continue to be incurred if the patient care service in question continued to be provided after the R&D activity has stopped. In determining NHS treatment costs you must assume that the patient care service being assessed will continue even though there may be no plans for it to do so. Where patient care is being provided which differs from the normal, standard, treatment for that condition (either an experimental treatment or a service in a different location from where it would normally be given), the difference between the total treatment costs and the costs of the “usual standard care" (if any) constitutes excess treatment cost/saving, but is nonetheless part of the treatment cost, not an NHS support or research cost. These costs should be determined in conjunction with your NHS body or provider of NHS services and their commissioners. 

Please note: Social care studies are eligible for Clinical Research Network (CRN) support, it does not just apply to NHS based research, and researchers should speak to the CRN and include support costs where relevant. For the purposes of social care studies ‘treatment costs’ should be interpreted as ‘intervention costs’ and should be included in the proposal when needed. Further guidance on support and ‘treatment’ costs can be found on the excess treatment costs webpage

For further information, please see:

Section 8: Uploads 

One single-side A4 page of references

One single-side A4 page, listing references used throughout your proposal. 

One single-side A4 Gantt chart 

One single-side A4 page, indicating a schedule for the completion of work, including the timing of key milestones and deliverables. 

Other uploads

A total of 5 pages of additional supporting documentation can be uploaded, however these should be limited to key information to assist the panel in its assessment and could include items such as: 

  • a flow diagram illustrating the study design and the flow of participants 
  • letters of support from key collaborators 
  • confirmation of access to necessary datasets 
  • A theory of change, logic model or schematic outlining the logic underpinning how your project will contribute to achieving the intended outcomes

NOTE: Uploads MUST be provided as a Word or PDF document or you may not be able to submit your application or it may be difficult for the panel to view the required information in order to assess your application. 

Please ensure that the document uploaded containing the list of references does not contain its own page numbering. 

Section 8: Validation Summary 

Please follow the next steps in order to complete your application submission process; 

  • Validate all mandatory/required fields listed below (that are required to be completed/amended before submitting) 
  • Check all co-applicants have completed their CV details as appropriate and review the PDF final version for any formatting issues 
  • Click 'Save and Close' 
  • Click the 'Submit' option (this must be completed by 1pm, 12 October 2022) 

You will receive an automated email containing the acknowledgment that we have received your application.