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Invention for Innovation - Connect Business Plan Guidance for Applicants



This guidance outlines the application process for applying to call 4 of the NIHR Invention for Innovation (i4i) Connect funding stream, including how to prepare and submit a business plan and video presentation.
You must complete an online application via the NIHR Central Commissioning Facility (CCF) Research Management System (RMS). Further information is available in the Connect Business Plan FAQs.

Application Process

Business Plan and Video Presentation

Applicants are required to submit a maximum of 15 page business plan (the minimum font size should not be less than 10px), an i4i Connect finance form and a 3 minute video presentation at Stage 2 of the i4i Connect application process.

The content of the business plan must address the assessment criteria provided in the Expression of Interest (EOI) guidance document. The video presentation should complement the business plan.
The business plan can be in your own format but it should provide the following information (although you do not have to use these headings):

Technology Overview

This should include a description of the proposed technology, its intended use, the unmet patient need, value proposition and details of the associated Intellectual Property (IP) ownership and management arrangements.

Business Opportunity and Objectives

A description of your business, outlining the different products and/or services you offer (value proposition) and business aims.

Market and Competition

Details of the intended market and competitor analysis.

Sales and Marketing Plan

Details of your sales strategy/channels, pricing strategy, route to market, commercialisation strategy, business model, risk analysis, market validation and marketing plans.

Operating Plan

Details of any suppliers or business relationships that are critical to delivering your products/services or otherwise running your business (e.g. strategic partnerships, manufacturing etc.) and any project risks.

Management Team

Details of the team, including founders, key executives, shareholders etc. A maximum of 7 co-applicants is permitted.

Finance Analysis

Full details of the spending plan for the i4i Connect project (to be included within the i4i Connect finance template) and details of the company's cash flow forecast and funding strategy to be included in the business plan.

Video presentation

The 3 minute video presentation should complement the business plan. We do not expect professionally produced videos (you can use your smart phone), however, please ensure the visual and audio is of good quality.

Creating and Submitting an Application

Business plans are to be uploaded to the NIHR Central Commissioning Facility’s Research Management System (RMS).

The lead applicant must create the application. Co-applicants can be added to the application at any time and will receive an automatic email from the RMS which will prompt them to accept their inclusion and later to consent to the application being submitted with their participation. All co-applicants must accept their invitation to participate in the application by the submission deadline for the application to be eligible for submission.

The 3 minute video presentations are to be uploaded to YouTube and a link to your video provided in the section ‘Business Plan and Video Pitch Upload’ provided in your online application form. Please refer to Appendix 1 for further details about uploading your video to YouTube. 

Patient and Public Involvement (PPI)

The NIHR expects active involvement of patients and the public in the projects it supports. It is anticipated that i4i Connect projects have reference to PPI.  Plans for PPI must be clearly and fully described throughout your business plan. Applicants should identify the relevant patient/user group(s) for their application and engage with those groups at an early stage. To make the contents of your application and the implications of your project clear to members of the public, including funding panel and reviewers, a plain English summary is required. There are a number of organisations who may be able to provide useful resources, advice and support on patient and public involvement in research:

The Research Design Service (RDS) provides advice and support to researchers developing research proposals for submission to the NIHR and other national funding organisations for health and social care research.

Detailed Budget

Prior to completing the project spending plan, it is important that applicants have a good understanding of the Attributing costs of health and social care Research and Development (AcoRD) guidance. The AcoRD guidance clarifies the distinction between the three categories of costs associated with non-commercial research studies/programmes:
  • Research Costs
  • NHS Support Costs
  • NHS Treatment Costs
It is important to note that NIHR will only fund activities attributed to Research Costs. Therefore, NHS Support and Treatment costs should not be claimed in your application for funding.
The NIHR covers 100% of the costs for SME and NHS bodies including other providers of NHS services in England. Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) should determine the Full Economic Cost (FEC) of their research using the Transparent Approach to Costing (TRAC) methodology - up to 80% of FEC will be paid. There are no set rules on the split between collaborators, however, the contracted organisation will receive funding payments and would be required to distribute to co-applicants/contractors where applicable.
Please note - We recognise that the lead applicant of a Connect application may also be the Director of Finance. Within your RMS account you are able to switch between these accounts. Appendix 2 outlines how you can switch between roles to fill out the relevant sections of the RMS application form. Please do not create two RMS accounts. 

Contact Details and Further Information

We wish to ensure that potential applicants fully understand what is needed in their applications before they submit them. We encourage discussion of proposals prior to the deadline, although we cannot advise on the specific content of an application. Enquiries may be made by email to Alternatively, the i4i Secretariat can be contacted on +44 (0)20 8843 8080.

More information about preparing a business plan for i4i Connect is available in our FAQs document.


Appendix 1 - Privately uploading a video to YouTube

1. Click the Upload video button in the top right hand corner of YouTube, you will then be asked to login through a Google account or sign up to create an account
2. Change the privacy setting for the upload to ‘Unlisted’ via the dropdown menu.
3. Select your video file to upload your video
4. Double check the video privacy setting is set to ‘Unlisted’

5.  Click ‘Save changes’

6.  Copy the video URL from the box labelled 'Video URL' and paste it into the CCF RMS application form in the Business Plan and Video Pitch Upload section.

Appendix 2 - Switching roles between Lead Applicant and Director of Finance

1.Click on the ‘Other supporting roles – signatories (electronic)’ tab in the left sidebar in the CCF RMS
2.Click ‘Add contact’ under Director of Finance

3.Enter the Lead Applicant's details IF they are also the Director of Finance and click ‘Search’. Select the contact and then click ‘Save and Close’.

4. On the right-hand-side you will now be able to switch roles between Lead Applicant and Director of Finance by selecting the roles from the dropdown

5. If you have changed role to Director of Finance you will now be able to tick the box in ‘Other supporting roles tab – signatories (electronic)’.