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Invention for Innovation - Connect Business Plan Guidance for Applicants


Published: 18 May 2022

Version: 9.0 - March 2024

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This guidance is relevant to applicants preparing to submit an i4i Connect Business Plan (stage 2) application.

You must complete an online application via the Research Management System (RMS). The deadline for submission is on 1 May at 1 pm.

Section 1. Application Process

1.1 Application deliverables 

As part of the i4i Connect Stage 2 Application, applicants are required to submit a business plan of 15 pages maximum (the minimum font size should not be less than 10pt), a 3 minute video pitch and a SoECAT form. Note: if you believe a SoECAT is not needed for your project (e.g. there is no recruitment of participants), a document must be submitted in place of a SoECAT to justify why this is not needed.

1.1.1 Business Plan 

The content of the business plan must address the assessment criteria provided in the Expression of Interest (EOI) guidance document. The business plan can be in your own format but it should provide the following information which can be arranged using the following suggested headings:

Technology Overview 

Include a description of the proposed technology, its intended use, the unmet patient need, the value proposition, 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 (or value proposition) and business aims.

Market and Competition

Details of the intended market and competitor analysis for your technology.

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.

Research Plan

Details of your research plan for this Connect award, outlining work packages and deliverables, and relevant milestones, building on your brief plan provided in the Expression of Interest form.

Management Team

Details of the team members and their roles and responsibilities in the project should be explained. Founders, key executives, shareholders etc should be included in the body of the business plan also. A maximum of 7 co-applicants is permitted.

1.1.2 Finance Analysis

Full details of the spending plan for the i4i Connect project (to be included within the “Detailed Budget” section) and details of the company's cash flow forecast and funding strategy.

1.1.3 Video Pitch

The 3 minute video should complement the business plan and be in MP4 format. We do not expect professionally produced videos (you can use your smartphone), however, please ensure the visual and audio are of good quality. Please ensure that your video submission is not longer than 3 minutes, as it will otherwise be truncated at exactly 3 minutes and only the first 3 minutes will be played at the funding decision (Committee) meeting. Please upload the video to the Dropbox folder provided in the application form, ensuring the company name is in the file name.

1.2 Creating and Submitting an Application

Business plans are to be uploaded to the Research Management System (RMS) as part of your Connect Stage 2 application.

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. All co-applicants must accept their invitation to participate in the application by the submission deadline for the application to be successfully submitted.

The 3 minute video must be uploaded to Dropbox via the link provided in the application form.

Both the business plan and 3 minute video pitch are to be submitted by no later than 1 May 2024, 1 pm.

Section 2. 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 make 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 those groups at an appropriate stage. To make the contents of your application and the implications of your project clear to members of the public reviewers and the funding decision Committee, a plain English summary is required.

There are a number of organisations that may be able to provide useful resources, advice and support on patient and public involvement in research:

The Research Support Service (RSS) 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.

The NIHR Centre for Engagement and Dissemination (CED) provides advice and a range of resources on patient and public involvement in research.

Learning For Involvement provides a wealth of training programmes and resources for public involvement in research. 

For best practice in PPI please see UK Standards for Public Involvement.

Section 3. Detailed Budget

Prior to completing the project spending plan, it is important that applicants have familiarised themselves with 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:

  • Research Costs
  • NHS Support Costs
  • NHS Treatment Costs

It is important to note that the NIHR will only fund activities attributed to Research Costs. Therefore, NHS Support and Treatment costs cannot be claimed in your application for funding.  Further information on NHS Support and Treatment Costs can be found in the Invention for Innovation - Finance Guidance.

The NIHR covers 100% of the costs for SMEs and NHS bodies including other providers of NHS services in the UK. 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 will be required to distribute the funds to co-applicants/contractors, where applicable, as will have to be set out in the collaboration agreement.

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

Please be aware that if your planned project includes the recruitment of participants, your application should be accompanied with the Funder Export from the online SoECAT, obtainable via the NIHR Central Portfolio Management System (CPMS). This online version replaces the previous Excel version of the SoECAT, which will no longer be available for applications.

In order to create a SoECAT, you will need to create an account in CPMS. After creating the account, you will need to login to CPMS to activate this account. If any assistance is required in creating the account, please refer to our user guide. Once your account has been created and is active, you can proceed.

Guidance for the completion of the SoECAT by the applicant is present in the online tool to assist at each page and stage of the application process and further details can be found on the Online SoECAT Guidance page.

There is also an Online SoECAT Guidance Module which includes video tutorials and linked resources (an NIHR Learn account is required to access and enrol onto the module) and a helpful Study Representative - Online SoECAT Top Tips infographic.

Please note that completion of the SoECAT may not be necessary when applying for funding to support:

  • overarching programmes with no specific research study protocol;
  • infrastructure;
  • fellowships;
  • anything where the grant is to be used for direct employment of a member of staff or purchase of an asset; and
  • data or diagnostic reviews where recruitment data is not collected.

Such applications should be submitted with an explanation for why the SoECAT is not required, and this should be added to the Justification of Costs section. More information on the SoECAT form is available on the NIHR website:

Online SoECAT Guidance

Section 4. Key Dates

The key dates for i4i Connect are shown on the Invention for Innovation - Competition and webinar dates website.

Appendix: Video Pitch Privacy Statement

The video submissions that you are providing are used to help evaluate your application for an NIHR award. The data is collected in the public interest and may be subject to Freedom of Information requests. You are responsible for informing the members of your research team and anyone included in the video that their information will be submitted to the NIHR for the purposes of evaluating your application.

The videos will be submitted to Dropbox and then downloaded for use at the Committee meeting. Copies of the videos will be held on our secure server. For unsuccessful candidates, the video will be deleted after 1 year, videos for successful candidates will be retained in line with NIHR retention policies for the handling of award data. 

The video submissions should not include any special category of personal data or political opinions or statements.

The NIHR privacy notice includes further information including ways we may use your data, NIHR contact details and details on your individual rights regarding how your data is used. Your data may be shared across the NIHR, including with other NIHR coordinating centres, to allow the establishment of a collaboration or funding opportunities and for statistical analysis.