Internet Explorer is no longer supported by Microsoft. To browse the NIHR site please use a modern, secure browser like Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Microsoft Edge.

Work and Health Development Awards - Research Specification


Published: 24 February 2023

Version: 1.0 - February 2023

Print this document

Timetable and Budget

Development Award (leading to a Research Collaborations) (up to 10 months) To launch in February 2023
Online Application Available 14 March 2023
Deadline for submission 26 April 2023
Committee Meeting Late May 2023
Notification of outcomes July 2023
Stage 2 submission Early August 2023
Expected start of projects From 01 September 2023

Budget: Up to £120k per project (Up to 10 Development Awards)

Research Collaborations to launch 12 December 2023
Deadline for Stage 1 submission (Non-Development Awards only) 23 January 2024
Deadline for Stage 2 submission 15 May 2024
Notification of outcomes Autumn 2024
Expected start of Research Collaborations Winter 2024/25

Budget: £750k to £2m per Research Collaboration (4-6 Research Collaborations)

All successful Development Award holders will be expected to apply for a full Research Collaboration award. Dates for the Research Collaboration time table are provisional and are subject to change.


The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) invites applications for work and health development awards. The purpose of these awards is to enable research teams to come together to undertake preparatory work leading to the development of programmes of research, and develop and submit bids for large scale and ambitious projects, for consideration at the subsequent research collaboration phase of this scheme.

The development awards can support development of collaborations, proof of concept and feasibility studies, development of access to data and data linkage, and similar work required to bring teams together and develop viable plans to carry out significant research in this vital area for the nation.

This competition aims to:

  • bring multi-disciplinary teams together to develop plans for ambitious research and to catalyse future research capacity;
  • fund development work to allow researchers to apply for Work and Health Research Collaboration awards as well as for funding from other programmes within the NIHR.

To facilitate new collaborations and build capability, this call has a two phase approach. Applicants who are interested in applying but need time and resources to develop a competitive proposal, may apply in this first phase for a preparatory Development Award of up to £120k for 10 months in 2023. Those with development awards will then apply for the second phase which will launch in 2024, for full Research Collaborations.

The expected outputs of the current development awards will be a Stage 2 application submitted to the Work and Health Research Collaboration competition, and a final report. The development award may also generate other outputs including research publications.

The Research Collaboration funding awards, launching in 2024, will be available through open competition and will not be not restricted to holders of development awards. However, to be competitive, applications for Research Collaboration awards will be expected to have a strong base of multi-disciplinary researchers, and potentially bring new disciplines to bear on major research topics in work and health. These awards will be in the range £750k to £2m over up to 36 months. These initiatives may be extended or repeated depending on research needs and priorities, and the response of the field.

Priorities in Work and Health

There are around 13.7m working-age people in the UK with a long-term health condition, including 8.3m disabled people whose condition reduces their ability to carry out day-to-day activities [1]. Only 5 in 10 disabled people of working age are in work compared to 8 in 10 non-disabled people. In 2019, 138m working days were lost to sickness absence, and every year, 1.4m people have a sickness absence lasting 4+ weeks [2]. A paper by the Society of Occupational Medicine highlights the impact of Covid-19 on the workforce could have detrimental, long-term effects on both individuals and the economy [3]. A study by Davis et al found that 45% of patients with long Covid had to decrease their work commitment compared to before having Covid [4]. Furthermore, a Belgian survey found that 60% of those who responded and had symptoms lasting more than 4 weeks and were in paid employment prior to having Covid were unable to return to work [5]. The Society of Occupational Medicine also emphasises the fact that there is still more that needs to be understood about the long term impacts on the workforce and how these affect individual health and wellbeing as well as inequalities [3].

Working conditions and the environment can also strongly impact mental health. The Mental Health and Work Report by the Royal College of Psychiatrists stated that 1 in 6.8 people experience mental health problems in the workplace [6]. Introducing interventions and resources in the workplace that support mental health can lead to increases in revenue for businesses, reduction in need for health care services, and a reduction in absenteeism. Understanding the mental health needs of the workforce helps employers, human resources personnel and policy-makers develop evidence-based recommendations to accommodate those impacted by the workplace and/or working with pre-existing mental health conditions.

Quality Occupational Health (OH) and expert work and health provision can drive workforce participation by supporting individuals to remain in, return to and thrive in work. It can reduce sickness absence, increase productivity and enable individuals to live in better health for longer. In the Health is Everyone’s Business (HiEB) consultation response (7), the Government committed to exploring ways to increase access to occupational health particularly for SMEs and the self-employed through reform of the OH market. Good evidence to translate into policy and practice is a key component of this reform agenda. Government is committed to working with the OH market and key stakeholder organisations to explore how it may be able to support faster innovation in the market to meet new demands for OH, as well as new models to improve the prioritisation, coordination and dissemination of working age health research. NIHR is committed to developing and supporting work and health research to improve the health and wellbeing of the UK’s workforce.

The Long Term Plan for NHS England emphasises the need for more integrated and collaborative care systems, greater focus on prevention and tackling health inequalities, improved care outcomes and expanded workforce’s capacity and capability.

Improving work, physical health and mental health outcomes has the potential to deliver substantial economic and social benefits for individuals, employers and wider society. Furthermore, individuals and their families benefit through improved employment, income, and health outcomes.

Objectives for work and health development awards

The funding available through this call will allow researchers to start addressing key challenges in work and health and occupational health. These awards should also bring together the necessary range of skills and expertise to address these challenges. This will enable the formation of multidisciplinary research teams able to compete successfully to win funding from established NIHR research programmes.

We ask applicants to consider a clear pathway to implementation and impact, whilst appreciating that this may not necessarily be achieved within the timeframe of this investment. It is the NIHR ambition that any funded work through this initiative will be used to build a strengthened, more cohesive community and create evidence, including interim findings, with a longer term horizon to public impact and ideally within the context of the implementation of Integrated Care Systems (ICSs). The ICSs represent a fundamental acceleration towards partnership working between health and social care providers, local authorities, local communities and voluntary associations. They have 4 key objectives: (i) improving population health and healthcare, (ii) tackling unequal outcomes and access, (iii) enhancing productivity and value for money and (iv) supporting broader social and economic development.

Each application should outline how the proposed knowledge and interventions generated are intended to ultimately lead to public benefit. Applicants should also demonstrate a strong intention to work with other successful groups funded by this call to create synergies between research projects; and share learning and expertise through collaborative working. Applicants should outline how their skills, resources or expertise might be used to support the wider network of awards and possible future Research Collaborations.

It is expected that the awards will help establish new collaborations, and also consolidate existing collaborations between academic experts and professionals from a wide range of fields, including (but not limited to) occupational health, social science, health and care services, public health, human resources, ergonomics, business studies, universities, charities, employers, local authorities, the commercial sector, wellbeing providers and relevant professional bodies. Funded projects should be delivered by cross-disciplinary teams capable of linking up and working with relevant groups, stakeholders and initiatives at regional and national levels and where appropriate internationally. The type and number of disciplines represented within future Research Collaborations will depend on the research questions being answered. We encourage cross-institution, cross-sector working but it is not mandated in this call.

Researchers should also consider how their work contributes to reducing inequalities across the nation. All research funded by the NIHR should contribute to reducing inequalities, defined as avoidable and unfair differences in health and/or social status between groups of people or communities. Our health is determined by our genetics, lifestyle, the health care we receive, and the impact of wider determinants, such as our physical, social and economic environments, education and employment [9]. Inequalities are a major government and research priority, but although we are seeing advances in health and care, these inequalities persist [10]. Applicants are asked to be clear in their proposal if there is a health and care inequalities component within the project.

As part of their proposal, applicants should explain what they believe will be the key risks to delivering their research, and what contingencies they will put in place to deal with them. The NIHR acknowledges that significant challenges remain in terms of access and quality of the data required to pursue robust research. Applicants are expected to explain which data sources they will use in order to complete their projects, to outline the benefits and suitability of using any combination of data sources and to outline the expected challenges in accessing and handling these sources.

Applicants are required to have clearly articulated Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement (PPIE) plans for continuous interactions with public and community groups throughout the project (please see section below for more details).

There are also other ongoing investments in workforce health which are being run through the NIHR Public Health Research Programme. We encourage the community to explore this and other opportunities to understand if this suits their research interests and funding requirements. The NIHR hosted the Work and Health Research Symposium on 8th February 2023 which allowed the community to better understand the wider opportunities available from the NIHR and other funders. Slides from this event are available on request via the enquiries form.

Research required

 Based on soundings from researchers and experts, NIHR has identified the need for a coordinated approach in order to bring together resources and experience to address key evidence gaps and enable the research community to drive forward research in work and health, and occupational health. It is felt that work and health research would benefit from greater cohesiveness across professional, disciplinary and sector boundaries, to help meet the needs of people living with multiple long-term conditions and other physical or mental health conditions. Increased emphasis on the relationship between work and health is expected to lead to a broader awareness of work as a key determinant of health by the health research community, a more equal distribution of OH services, and engaged employers who would benefit from actionable evidence. The NIHR Work and Health Research Development Awards are a step toward accomplishing these goals.

This call is open to research ideas and proposals in work and health, including occupational health, harnessing necessary cross disciplinary expertise from relevant areas of employment and healthcare. Topics may range across mental/physical health and wellbeing, occupational disease, musculoskeletal disorders, new and young workers, ageing workforces, systemic work and health issues and ergonomics. We acknowledge that the use and interpretation of the term wellbeing varies across different stakeholders within the context of work and health, so please apply and use terminology that represents your views within the work and health space.

Priorities that have been identified during the NIHR Work and Health Research virtual event in December 2022 and various consultations with the work and health community include but are not limited to:

  1. The effect of work on health - work as a determinant of health, improving health through work and workplaces
  2. The use of co-production to develop relevant research, such as designing workplace interventions that improve health and wellbeing of various workforces and sectors
  3. How can people with physical and/or mental health conditions be supported to remain in the workforce? How can we reduce the number of individuals leaving work due to disability, physical and/or mental illness, long term conditions and menopause, either through prevention or through improved treatments, support and access? How can we create new approaches to ensure the working age population who are out of work have a higher chance of reemployment?
  4. How can people be enabled to remain physically and mentally healthy in work and retain work up to their state pension age?
  5. How do researchers successfully engage with employers and occupational health providers?
  6. How can employees obtain better access to occupational health resources and other mental and physical health resources?
  7. The impact of exposures (biological/chemical, environmental, physical and social) at work
  8. The intersectionality of health inequalities and the UK economy - how tackling health inequalities can help people of working age and boost the UK economy
  9. What factors affect the sustainability of employment and health outcomes, and how can outcome sustainability be improved?
  10. What are the most effective ways to engage employers, health professionals, employees and other relevant stakeholders to support disabled people and people with health conditions with employment? How are employers balancing business objectives with the health needs of their employees? How can further evidence-based practice be encouraged?
  11. What would be the most effective, cost effective and efficient health and care support to address the needs of the working age population of the future, over the next 20 years? What are the successful interventions that need to be scaled?

Previous priority themes from the NIHR Policy Research Programme Working Age call were:

  1. Understanding population needs in relation to employment and health among working age people: rich descriptions of population needs that can inform policy assumptions.
  2. Supporting participation in good work for people experiencing sickness or who have long term health conditions or disabilities: research that could lead to the improvement or development of activities aimed at supporting disabled people and those experiencing ill health that affects their ability to work, to remain in work, or re-enter work where that is beneficial for their health [8].
  3. Trends, new developments and delivery models where there are implications for health and work intervention or service design, and/or health and work outcomes; new ways of approaching health and work intervention or service design and delivery


The core funding for this initiative will be allocated between two streams that will run consecutively. More information on the Research Collaboration competition will be available nearer to the call launch.

  1. Development Awards (Launch in 2023): up to £120k for up to 10 months is available to undertake preparatory work to develop a future programme of research (e.g. develop collaborations, data access, proof of concept/feasibility work, methodologies) but broader ranging development work is permitted, including establishing links with relevant international initiatives. Applicants should be able to demonstrate the ability to start by September 2023. Proposals should clearly describe how the preparatory work will inform the development of a future Research Collaboration. Development Award holders will apply directly for Stage 2 of the Research Collaborations competition launching in 2024.
  2. Research Collaborations (Launch in 2024): £750k - £2m is available for Research Collaborations delivered over a period of up to 36 months. Collaborations are expected to:
    1. comprise a number of high-quality interrelated projects that form a coherent theme, where added value is gained from the combination of the various strands of research;
    2. create a portfolio of research which includes innovation but balances possible risk allowing for learning through failure;
    3. use a range of multidisciplinary and methodological approaches, providing a critical mass of multi-disciplinary experts with the capacity to provide a long-term research resource and develop expertise and research capacity within and relevant to the health and social care systems;
    4. demonstrate clear trajectory towards public or work system benefits;
    5. include clear plans for implementation, knowledge mobilisation and dissemination, contributing towards a step change to further research, practice and/or outcomes. Collaborations should demonstrate the ability to operate across a wide range of stakeholders to influence agendas and system changes, working with the Research Support Facility.


The lead organisation must be either: (a) an NHS organisation (including NHS Trusts and NHS Foundation Trusts) or equivalent UK authorities, or (b) a university, research institutes or not-for-profit organisation. In addition to these lead organisations, SMEs (including start-up or ‘spin-out’ companies) are also eligible to receive funding. In particular, this call encourages participation of private sector applicants working with, or planning to work with, NHS organisations, local governments, the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise community, in the context of implementing Integrated Care Systems.

Applications will be considered from other UK countries (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) provided they address the priority areas and impact UK systems and meet all other selection criteria. If an appropriate case is made, then overseas university partners are permissible. We would expect the application to make a strong case that the chosen overseas academic partner was the organisation best placed to provide input to the planned research.

Specialist services or expertise may be brought into the team through consultancy or sub-contract arrangements; however, appropriate justification must be provided. Sub-contractors may be based outside of England. The day-to-day running of the project should be handled through a project manager. We would expect the lead organisation to provide dedicated project management support to handle complex novel relationships. The NIHR will verify on a regular basis that successful applicants have access to adequate, dedicated management support.

Large companies may be involved but are ineligible for funding. For all collaborations where a partner is providing in-kind contributions, the exact nature of the commitment of each partner must be clearly detailed.

If the application is successful, a contract will be placed with the lead organisation for delivery of the research.

Patients and Public Involvement and Engagement (PPIE)

The NIHR expects researchers to actively involve patients and the public in their research at every stage. From identifying research topics through to involving them as members of a research advisory group to monitor and evaluate research results and disseminate those to different audiences. Applicants are required to detail what active involvement is planned, how it will benefit the research and the rationale for their approach. NIHR suggests that applicants utilise the UK Standards for Public Involvement when developing their strategy. PPIE also needs to be undertaken in a manner that acknowledges that some people may need additional support, or to acquire new knowledge or skills to enable them to become involved effectively (see NIHR Patient and Public Involvement resources for applicants to NIHR research programmes). Applicants should therefore provide information on arrangements for training and support.

The nature and extent of PPIE is likely to vary depending on the nature of the study. Where no PPIE is proposed, a rationale for this decision must be given. For research in work and health, PPIE can include but is not limited to employers, human resource departments, professional bodies, trade unions, unemployed, community groups, regulators as well as employees and the public.

For further information and guidance about PPIE, please visit the NIHR Learning for Involvement website.

Assessment criteria

Applicants are expected to include in their application relevant information in line with the assessment criteria outlined below. This criteria can be applied to both development awards and research collaborations and should be taken in context of what each award is focused on achieving:

Relevance of the proposed research to the research specification

  1. How relevant is the proposal in relation to the research brief? Does it address the call’s strategic objectives (e.g. capacity and capability development; consideration of inequalities and PPIE; methodological development; alignment with the implementation of ICSs, etc.)?
  2. Does the application demonstrate an awareness and understanding of previous relevant research or developments in this area?
  3. To what extent does the proposal add distinct value or advance existing knowledge?

Quality of the research design (Research Collaborations only)

  1. How appropriate is the research design in relation to the stated objectives?
  2. To what extent is the proposed design and methodology for all elements of the research well defined, appropriate, valid and feasible within the timeframe and resources requested?
  3. To what extent does the research show originality and innovation?
  4. To what extent does the proposed work add to or complement initiatives at a regional/national/international level?

Quality of the preparatory work (Development Awards only)

  1. To what extent will the proposed work address key uncertainties in developing a research collaboration
  2. To what extent will the proposed work support development of a strong and inclusive team in preparation for a research collaboration
  3. How likely is it that the proposed work will lead to a competitive application for a research collaboration

Quality of the work plan and proposed management arrangements

  1. Are work packages coherent, fully justified, and aligned with the overall vision of the proposal?
  2. How appropriate are the work plan and management arrangements? Have clear milestones been proposed? How likely is it that these will be met within the specified timeframe?
  3. Have the applicants identified key risks to delivery (e.g. ethical, technical, and organisational)? Have these been adequately addressed?

Strength of the collaboration leadership and research team

  1. Does the Principal Investigator appear suitably qualified and experienced to lead the proposed work? Are the leadership and management arrangements convincing and coherent? If the Principal Investigator is an Early Career Researcher, do they have the appropriate level of support to fulfil the proposed research?
  2. Are the roles of the team members clearly described?
  3. Does the research team provide the necessary breadth and depth of expertise to deliver the proposed work?
  4. Have the applicants proposed what they can offer to support the wider network of Development Awards and Research Collaborations as well as how they plan to engage to create a community of knowledge and practice?

Impact of the proposed work

  1. Does the proposal offer a clear vision for benefits to the working age population, employees, employers and other relevant stakeholders?
  2. Are the necessary clinical, academic, organisational links needed to support the research in place or are there sufficient plans in place to create these links, for example, to access evidence or relevant data sources?
  3. Are dissemination and stakeholder engagement plans clearly described and credible? Are the identified audiences appropriate and their needs considered? Are there specific resources and competencies dedicated to these activities?
  4. Does the proposal outline credible plans to make data available and share learning with the wider health and work research community?
  5. Are there credible plans and budget for the implementation of patient and public involvement and engagement? Are these resourced?

Value for money

  1. Does the proposal sufficiently justify the resources required to deliver the proposed work?
  2. Do the proposed costs demonstrate value for money?
  3. Is the time committed by the applicants realistic to ensure delivery?

Patients and Public Involvement and Engagement

  1. Have the applicants carefully considered ways to embed input from patients and the public in the definition of research priorities and the delivery of the research?
  2. Are adequate, well justified training and support measures for PPIE representatives described in the proposal?
  3. Does the budget reflect the proposed research ambitions for PPIE?
  4. Assessment criteria for PPIE is the UK Standards for Public Involvement : Working together; Governance; support and learning; communications; inclusive opportunities ; and impact

Budget and duration

Initially, the NIHR is expecting to fund up to 10 Development Awards. These awards will run for 10 months and cost up to £120k. These awards are then expected to apply for the Research Collaboration awards which are also open to non-Development Award applications. The NIHR is expecting to fund between 4-6 Research Collaborations. The range for this award is £750k - £2m for up to 36 months. We encourage applications of varying scale, duration and objectives as suits the research aims of the specific alliance and their research programme. We are looking to fund a balanced portfolio of Research Collaborations. The funding requested needs to be proportionate to the research aims and questions of the work programme.

Costing can include up to 80% full economic costing (FEC) but should exclude VAT. Applicants are advised that value for money is one of the key criteria used by peer reviewers and funding committee members to assess applications.

Capability to start promptly will be an advantage and for this commissioning round, applicants should be able demonstrate that Development Awards can start from 01 September 2023.

Management arrangements

Successful applicants will be expected to:

  • Provide regular feedback on progress
  • Produce timely reports to the NIHR
  • Produce a final report for sign off
  • Apply for Research Collaboration award
  • The applicants may consider appointing an advisory group to assist with the management and direction of the development award and the creation of the future research collaboration award application.


  1. Department for Work and Pensions (2021) The employment of disabled people 2021.
  2. Office for National Statistics (2022). Labour Market Overview, UK: April 2022, Table A08. A08: Labour market status of disabled people - Office for National Statistics.
  3. Society of Occupational Medicine (2022) Long COVID and Return to Work – What Works?.
  4. Davis, H.E., Assaf, G.S., McCorkell, L., Wei, H., Low, R.J., Re'em, Y., Redfield, S., Austin, J.P. and Akrami, A. (2021). Characterizing Long COVID in an International Cohort: 7 Months of Symptoms and Their Impact. SSRN Electronic Journal.
  5. Castanares-Zapatero D, Kohn L, Dauvrin M, Detollenaere J, Maertens de Noordhout C, Primus-de Jong C, et al (2021). Long COVID: pathophysiology - epidemiology and patient needs. Federal Knowledge Centre for Healthcare; 2021. (KCE Reports). Report No.: 344. Available from: D/2021/10.273/28
  6. Lelliott, P., Tulloch, S., Boardman, J., Harvey, S., & Henderson, H. (2008). Mental health and work.
  7. DWP/DHSC (2019) Health is everyone's business: proposals to reduce ill health-related job loss.
  8. Command of Her Majesty(2018). Good Work Plan - Policy Paper
  9. Public Health England (2017). Reducing Health Inequalities: System, Scale and Sustainability
  10. Public Health England (2018). Health Profile for England 2018 - inequalities in health

Standard information for applicants

The sections below provide standard information on different aspects of NIHR funding and commissioning process and will contain details relevant to your application.

More general advice on how to prepare a strong application is also available on the NIHR website.

For specific application advice, the Research Design Service (RDS) supports health and social care researchers across England on all aspects of developing and writing a funding application. Find out how the RDS can help with your application.

General comments about applications

Applications will be considered from other UK countries (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) provided they address the priority areas in a way that is relevant to the needs of the Department of Health and Social Care (England) and meet all other selection criteria.

Applicants are encouraged to submit multidisciplinary applications.

Applicants should consider the full range of potential audiences and describe how the research findings could be disseminated most effectively to ensure that the lessons from this research impact on policy and practice.

NIHR is committed to promoting equality, diversity and inclusion in research and asks applicants to provide Equality and Diversity Monitoring Information (age, sex, ethnicity and race, and disability). By answering these Equality and Diversity Monitoring Information questions, you will help us to better understand the different groups of people that apply to us for funding and their experiences of the funding process – particularly the groups protected by UK equality legislation. Although it is mandatory to answer these questions, it is possible to select “prefer not to say” as a response. However, the more information you provide, the more effective our monitoring will be. This information will not be used to make decisions about funding.

Research governance

Day-to-day management of this research will be provided by the principal investigator. They and their employers should ensure that they identify, and are able to discharge effectively, their respective responsibilities under the Health Research Authority (HRA) UK Policy Framework for Health and Social Care Research (Health Research Authority, 2018), which sets out the broad principles of good research governance.

All successful research involving National Health Service (NHS) and social care users, carers, staff, data and/or premises must be approved by the appropriate research ethics committee (REC) or social care research ethics committee (SCREC). For further information on RECs, please visit the Health Research Authority website:

The successful research team must adhere to the General Data Protection Regulation and the new Data Protection Act (2018) and the Freedom of Information Act (2000). Effective security management, and ensuring personal information and assessment data are kept secure, will be essential. In particular:

  • The research team shall, at all times, be responsible for ensuring that data (including data in any electronic format) are stored securely. The research team shall take appropriate measures to ensure the security of such data, and guard against unauthorised access thereto, disclosure thereof, or loss or destruction while in its custody.
  • Personal data shall not be made available to anyone other than those employed directly on the project by the research team, to the extent that they need access to such information for the performance of their duties.

For any research involving clinical trials, the successful team will be expected to be familiar with the Medical Research Council (MRC) Framework for Evaluating Complex Interventions, and to follow the principles of the MRC Guidelines for Good Clinical Practice in Clinical Trials in proposing structures for oversight of such trials and comply with the Medicines for Human Use (Clinical Trials) Regulations 2004.

The Institution leading the proposal should confirm that it has the capacity and is prepared to take on sponsorship responsibilities for clinical trials undertaken as part of the programme. Where the proposal includes a proposal for multi-site clinical trial activities the research unit should demonstrate that they have the experience of governance and management of clinical trials across multiple clinical trial sites.

Risk management

Applicants should submit, as part of their proposal, a summary explaining what they believe will be the key risks to delivering their research, and what contingencies they will put in place to deal with them. A risk is defined as any factor which may delay, disrupt or prevent the full achievement of a project objective. All risks should be identified. The application should include an assessment of each risk, together with a rating of the risk likelihood and its impact on a project objective (using a high, medium or low classification for both). The risk assessment should also identify appropriate actions that would reduce or eliminate each risk, or its impact.

Typical areas of risk for a study might include ethical approval, site variation in data gathering, staffing, resource constraints, technical constraints, data access and quality, timing, management and operational issues; however, please note this is not an exhaustive list.

Outputs and reporting arrangements

The research team will be expected to provide regular progress reports over the lifetime of the research and will be provided with a progress report template to complete at regular intervals. In addition to describing progress, these reports will allow researchers to indicate any significant changes to the agreed protocol, as well as setting down milestones for the next reporting period, giving an update on PPIE and any publications or other outputs. Information on emergent findings that can feed more immediately into policy development and practice will be encouraged and should be made available as appropriate.

All development awards are expected to apply for a Research Collaboration Award and are required to submit a final report. We may use lessons learned to share best practice. In consultation with you, we may also alert key stakeholders about any emerging findings or upcoming outputs, to ensure there is a receptive audience and outputs are used as soon as possible to inform policy and practice.


Applicants should describe how the research findings could be disseminated most effectively, ensuring that results of this research impact on policy and practice in the NHS, DHSC, DWP, social care and wider sectors, including employers, local authorities, and OH providers, OH companies/stakeholders, employer representative organisations.

Publication of scientifically robust research results is encouraged. This could include plans to submit papers to peer reviewed journals, national and regional conferences aimed at service providers, professional bodies and professional leaders. It might also include distribution of executive summaries and newsletters. Less traditional dissemination routes are also welcomed for consideration.


In line with the government’s transparency agenda, any contract resulting from this tender may be published in its entirety to the general public. Further information on the transparency agenda is at: Procurement and contracting transparency requirements: guidance - GOV.UK.

If you wish to view the standard terms and conditions of the NIHR contract, please go to our page on signing a contract.

Application process

To access the guidance for applicants and application form for the Development Awards, please visit the NIHR website.

The NIHR runs an online application process and all applications must be submitted electronically. No applications will be accepted that are submitted by any means other than the online process. Deadlines for the submission of outline applications occur at 1.00 pm on the day indicated and no applications can be accepted after this deadline.

We strongly recommend that you submit your application the day before. Once the 1.00 pm deadline passes, the system shuts down automatically and NIHR Programme Managers are unable to re-open it. If you are experiencing any technical difficulties submitting your application, please contact the Work and Health Team via in good time, before 1.00 pm on a closing date. Please ensure that you provide a contactable phone number, email address and a member of the team will get back to you.

Applicants are expected, before submitting applications, to have discussed their applications with their own and any other body whose cooperation will be required in conducting the research.

If your outline application is successful, you will be invited to submit a full application. The ‘Acknowledgement, review and submit’ page must be approved by the Lead Applicant to confirm that the content of the application is complete and correct.

Until this is completed the lead applicant is unable to validate and submit the application.

Commissioning process

  1. In 2023, outline applications for the development awards will be submitted and shortlisted by a Funding Committee. This is a fast track process. The applicants will complete a Stage 1 application, which the Committee will use to make recommendations of funding that will be ratified by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). Applicants successful at Stage 1 will then complete a Stage 2 application in order to respond to Committee feedback and submit a full budget. Incomplete applications, applications too remote from the issues set out in the research specification, or applications that have clearly inadequate presentation or methods may be rejected at this stage. If an application is thought to be more appropriate for a different funding stream, the team will approach the applicants and discuss the best course of action. At the discretion of DHSC and based on the advice of the funding Committee, proposals that fail to secure funding at this stage, but are considered to be fundable, may be considered for funding at a later stage should the research question remain relevant.
  2. In 2024, outline applications for the Research Collaborations will be submitted and shortlisted by the Funding Committee. Those with existing development awards and Stage 1 applications that are successfully shortlisted will proceed to Stage 2 of the application process and will be invited to submit a Stage 2 full application for consideration.
  3. All Research Collaboration submissions will be peer-reviewed by both stakeholder and independent academic referees. Wherever time permits, applicants will be given one week to respond to the peer reviewers’ comments.
  4. Research Collaborations: Full applications, peer reviewers’ comments and any responses to those comments will then be considered by the Funding Committee, which is composed of independent experts (possibly with observers from government departments), who will advise the NIHR on which applications are most suited to receive funding. The Committee will be informed by the reviewers’ comments and any responses made to these comments by the researchers. However, it is ultimately the responsibility of the Committee to make any funding recommendations to the NIHR and the DHSC.


Please submit all queries relating to this call via the enquiries form.

For urgent queries and trouble with submissions please contact the NIHR Work and Health Research Team -