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Programme Development Grants - Developing Innovative, Inclusive and Diverse Public Partnerships call brief


Published: 13 January 2022

Version: 2.0 - June 2022

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Effective collaborative partnership working is where different organisations, communities and people agree to work together for mutual benefit. It is vital for prioritising, developing, delivering and using research that meets the health or social care needs of all citizens and diverse communities. The NIHR Programme Development Grants (PDG) scheme is launching an annual funding call to support the development of inclusive and/or new ways of partnership working between researchers, people and communities and other key stakeholders. It is expected that these awards will provide a springboard for long lasting research collaborations and relationships that benefit all parties alike within and beyond the NIHR Programme Grants for Applied Research (PGfAR) programme.

You can read more about the aims of the call on the NIHR blog. There is more information for researchers, community groups and stakeholders about how to link up and find collaborators on the People In Research website.

Please note that there are two versions of this briefing document - one for researchers which follows, and one aimed at community groups. The briefing document for community groups contains more information and background on how health and social care research is conducted.

If you have any questions about the call, please contact

Watch our short video to find out more about the call, or read the accessible video transcript. When the call opens on 27 July 2022, you can apply through the relevant funding opportunity post. A webinar for potential applicants was held on 21 June. This half-day event covered the expectations and requirements for this funding opportunity. If you missed the event you can watch a video of the webinar. We have also produced a Frequently Asked Questions document following the webinar.


The PDG and PGfAR schemes fund research that identifies and tackles the health and social care issues that matter most to populations, patients, users of social care, carers and commissioners. Both schemes require public involvement and engagement and a commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion to shape the choice, design, development and delivery of research. However novel approaches are now sought that build more collaborative, equitable and sustainable partnerships between researchers and diverse groups of people and communities, especially those currently under-represented in research.

Scope of this call

This Programme Development Grant call is in response to researcher, public and community feedback that more time and space is needed to plan and develop relationships and ways of working together for more relevant and impactful research. The PDG scheme invites applications to carry out and evaluate novel partnership-based development activities that break new ground in research involvement and engagement, including with groups who have been under-served by research.

Applications funded through this call should also:

  • Help inform a future PGfAR application that will deliver and benefit from novel and inclusive public and community partnerships across its work packages (Stream A); or
  • Further develop and/or evaluate public involvement and community partnerships in ongoing PGfAR funded research (Stream B); or
  • Generate knowledge about new and different approaches to public partnership working that will inform either:
    • future health and social care research funded by PGfAR, or
    • how research is commissioned in the PGfAR scheme and across applied health research more broadly

Applications should be developed collaboratively as a partnership between public contributors and researchers. Co-production of projects is strongly encouraged and there is more information about how to link up and find collaborators on the People In Research website. Partnerships should include community organisations or groups, users of social care, patients, carers, people with lived experiences, people with unheard or unmet health and social care needs, or people who are not usually, or not consistently, involved in health or care research. In particular we would like to see researchers seek to address barriers to engaging in research and co-production such as disability and social exclusion. The involvement of third sector and other non-for-profit organisations that have a focus on improving lives of citizens is also encouraged. The choice of partnership members, and their roles, should be explained.

Additionally, applications should demonstrate the following:

  • Early and sustained relationship building with relevant people, public groups, and communities.
  • Reciprocity in research, so that people and communities, as well as the researchers, clearly benefit from engagement.
  • Fair, appropriate and justifiable distribution of funding between research and community partner organisations.
  • Built-in evaluation of the impact of the innovative approaches to involvement, engagement and/or co-production with the public partnerships.
  • Plans that clearly demonstrate how the applicants will ensure continued engagement between partners after the PDG funding ends.

Example activities

Projects might include, for example:

  • Methods for developing research interest or understanding in groups and communities.
  • Effective and inclusive engagement approaches using creative arts, new technologies or participatory approaches.
  • Ways of engaging and involving groups who are under-represented in research
  • Ways of implementing patient and public involvement and engagement at scale across communities.
  • Approaches for identifying and developing community health and social care priorities as research proposals


  • Up to £500,000 will be available for this call.
  • Applicants may apply for funding of between £50,000 and £150,000 to covering all partner contributions to support the costs for all the partners involved in partnership development activities delivered over a period of between 6 and 18 months.

Applications will be assessed on criteria such as: novelty of the approach; likelihood to positively influence future research; plans to ensure mutual benefit between researchers and communities; reach into under-served communities; plans for appropriate and proportionate evaluation; strength of the partnership; and plans for the partnership to be sustained

How to apply

There is a one stage application process, which includes completion of an online application form. Applications will be reviewed by a broad panel of experts, including people with expertise in public involvement. When the call opens on 27 July 2022, you can apply through the relevant funding opportunity post

NOTE: Although this document should be read in conjunction with guidance on the PDG webpage and PDG Supporting Information for Applicants, the scope of this call described above supersedes the 'Scope' and 'What we Fund' sections of the linked guidance.

Proposals are submitted online through the Research Management System (RMS). We supply a word document version of the online application form to help applicants prepare their proposal ahead of submission. Only applications submitted online via the RMS will be accepted, however information can be copied from the Word template into the online application form. Please take care to comply with the maximum word counts.

The deadline for submission of the PDG application is 13:00 on 21 September 2022.

For enquiries about the application process or problems with the online form, please contact

Key call dates

Applicant webinar 21 June 2022
Call launch 27 July 2022
Call close 21 September 2022
Notification of outcome Mid-December 2022

Contact and further information

General questions about the call should be addressed to Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the NIHR Research Design Service or the NIHR Programme Grants team ( for advice about their ideas for partnership working and assistance in developing their applications.

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