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Artificial intelligence funding

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Artificial intelligence has enormous potential for improving healthcare across all areas of the NHS and social care. NIHR currently has two routes for researchers and industry partners seeking funding for health research involving artificial intelligence.

The NIHR has two new funding streams to support applications for health and care research involving artificial intelligence (AI).

The £23m Artificial Intelligence for Multiple Long-Term Conditions (Multimorbidity) call (AIM) is due to launch in late spring/early summer 2020. This call will support research to spearhead the use of advanced data science and AI methods, combined with existing methodology and expertise in clinical practice, applied health and care research and social science, to systematically identify or explore clusters of disease and trajectories to develop insights for the prevention, identification, management and treatment of multiple long-term conditions (multimorbidity) or MLTC-M.

The Artificial Intelligence Health and Care Award (AI award) supports solutions addressing the strategic aims of the NHS Long Term Plan across the whole development pathway, from initial feasibility to clinical implementation. It is funded by NHS England and NHS Improvement and is run in partnership with the Accelerated Access Collaborative and NHSX.

Apply for AI award

Introduction

The new £23m call will generate a pipeline of data science and artificial intelligence translational research projects to understand and map clusters of MLTC-M. The call will support research collaborations and partnerships between leading academic institutions, health and care researchers, AI experts, and practitioners. This call aims to grow capacity and capability for multi-disciplinary working in MLTC-M for the benefit of patients, practitioners and the public.

NIHR has produced a Strategic Framework for MLTC-M research. This outlines what NIHR means when we talk about MLTC-M, our research priorities in this area and the actions we are putting in place to support them.

Read the NIHR Strategic Framework for MLCT-M research

What do we fund?

The AIM call will fund programmes of research which will address the key challenges in our understanding of MLTC-M and generate insights to support the health and social care system in the management, treatment and care for people with multiple long-term conditions. We have three primary strategic aims that include:

  • The development of solutions which will improve the quality of life and health outcomes for people with MLTC-M.
  • The exploration of new approaches and future industry collaborations to diagnose disease early, progress drug development and address the burden of polypharmacy.
  • The implementation of measures to reduce progression to a greater number of conditions.

In particular, we seek applications from cross-disciplinary and cross-institutional teams to develop research in this important field. A total of £20m will be allocated between two streams - larger Research Collaborations and smaller, preparatory Development Grants.

Research Collaborations of up to £2.5m will be funded for up to 30 months.  Applicants who are interested in applying but need more time and resources to develop a competitive proposal, may apply for a preparatory Development Grant of up to £150k for 9 months. Development grants should clearly describe how the preparatory work will inform the development of a future Research Collaboration application. 

To support the projects funded through this call, a Research Support Function will be commissioned (£3m) and will focus on the delivery of centralised AI and advanced data science support; and capacity and capability among the research workforce. The Research Support Function will be a consortium of organisations that can provide core technical, methodological and practical support to successful applicants; and help facilitate a network of researchers working on MLTC-M. This is your opportunity to tell us what you think is needed to move the research agenda forward.

Read the draft specification here. We have published the draft specification as we are interested in feedback on the remit and scope of the call. Please use the ‘submit comments’ button below to provide feedback. Please also feel free to contact the NIHR CCF Secretariat if you have additional specific questions. 

Submit comments

We are keen to engage with AI, data science, and health and care researchers considering applying to this call, as well as public and patient experts. We are currently planning a set of activities and events to support networking of those interested in applying for the call, to learn from the research communities, practitioners working in the health and social care system, and from industry, to seek your feedback on the scope of the call and answer any questions you might have. These events will be advertised shortly. You can register your interest in AIM events here:

Register interest in AIM events

When is funding available?

The call will open between May and June 2020; the deadline for applications will be in September 2020. The first wave of projects is expected to start from January 2021. Sign up to our funding newsletter to receive a notification when the call opens.

Sign up now

How do I apply?

AIM Research Programmes are run as a two stage application process. At stage 1, an outline form needs to be completed. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to submit a full proposal at stage 2. The application process for AIM Development Grants is run in one stage.

Applications will be submitted online through the Research Management System. Applicant guidance and an example application form to prepare your proposal ahead of submission will be made available on this website in the near future.

Introduction

The AI Health and Care award is run in partnership with the Accelerated Access Collaborative and NHSX. It is part of the NHS Artificial Intelligence Lab announced by the Health Secretary in 2019 and will deploy £140m over three years to accelerate the testing and evaluation of the most promising AI technologies that meet the strategic aims set out in the NHS Long Term Plan.

The AI Health and Care Award supports AI technologies across the spectrum of development, from initial feasibility to evaluation within clinical pathways in the NHS and social care settings, to the point that they could be nationally commissioned. Key areas of focus include screening, diagnosis, decision support and system efficiency. Applications may be submitted by an SME, an NHS Trust or service provider, or a Higher Education Institution.

What do we fund?

Phases 1-3 of the award support feasibility, development and clinical evaluation, and real world testing of AI technologies. The Phase 4 award supports initial systems adoption of AI technologies with market authorisation into the NHS, evaluating the AI technology within clinical or operational pathways to determine efficacy or accuracy and clinical and economic impact.

  • Phase 1 is intended to show the technical and clinical feasibility of the proposed concept, product or service. Awards are for a maximum of £150,000 over a 6-12 month period.
  • Phase 2 is intended to develop and evaluate prototypes of demonstration units and generate early clinical safety and efficacy data. Award amounts are uncapped (any amount can be requested but must be reasonably justified), funding awards are per product, typically for 12-36 months.
  • Phase 3 is intended to support first real-world testing in health and social care settings to develop further evidence of efficacy and preliminary proof of effectiveness, including evidence for routes to implementation to enable more rapid adoption. Awards are uncapped (any amount can be requested but must be reasonably justified), funding awards are per product, typically for 12-24 months.
  • Phase 4 is intended to identify medium stage AI technologies that have market authorisation but insufficient evidence to merit large-scale commissioning or deployment. We will support testing and evaluation of these technologies within routine clinical or operational pathways to determine efficacy or accuracy, and clinical and economic impact. Grants are uncapped, funding awards are per technology.

Phases 1-3 aim to create a pipeline of products, interventions and services which are ready for wider testing and will be delivered through the well-established and robust mechanisms underpinning the i4i and SBRI Healthcare programmes, with an indicative budget of £2-7m in the first year. This early stage pipeline will be managed by the NIHR Invention for Innovation and SBRI Healthcare Programme Management Office in close collaboration with the AAC Delivery Team.

Through Phase 4 the AAC Delivery Team will facilitate initial systems adoption of the AI technologies into the NHS and/or social care setting, with an indicative budget of £10m in the first year.

When is funding available?

Funding competitions are run at least twice a year through an open process. See the dates for our funding competitions.

How do I apply?

 

Phases 1-3 are run as a two stage application process. Stage 1 consists of an Expression of Interest application form.  Shortlisted applicants from stage 1 are then invited to submit a full proposal at stage 2. Please see the applicant guidance for phase 1-3 to find out more.

The application process for phase 4 is run in one stage. Please see the applicant guidance for phase 4 to find out more.

Applications should be submitted online through the Research Management System. You can download example stage 2 application forms for Phase 1 and Phase 2-3 to prepare your proposal ahead of submission. Further information is available in our frequently asked questions.

A webinar was held for stage 2 applicants to address queries about the AI Award and application process. You can watch a recording of the webinar here. The slides and a log of the Q&A session are also available for further information.

 

 

 

Eligibility

  Phase 1 Phase 2 Phase 3 Phase 4
Location of lead applicant Within the UK

 Worldwide
Location of partners Can be outside the UK provided there is reasonable justification and a clear trajectory of NHS benefit


Organisations

Higher education institutions

Small and medium sized enterprises

NHS organisations

Charities



Higher education institutions

Small and medium sized enterprises

NHS organisations

Charities

Large enterprises

Collaboration Not required but encouraged Minimum of two different organisations types must collaborate Minimum of two different organisation types must collaborate, one must be NHS organisation 3-5 NHS or social care adoption sites (support will be provided by the AAC delivery team)
Funding limit Up to £150,000 Uncapped but costs must be sufficiently justified and proposals must provide value for money

Duration 6-12 months 12-36 months 12-24 months 12-36 months

The AI for Health and Care award and the AIM call are national competitions with applications reviewed by a national multi-disciplinary funding panel and assessor pool comprising specialist technical, clinical and commercial experts and patient and public representatives.

Expert assessors and panel members review all applications and make funding recommendations based on the quality of applications, with support from public and expert peer reviewers.

Members of NIHR Committees are required to declare any interests which conflict, or may be considered to conflict, with NIHR business, or may be perceived as influencing decisions made in the course of their work within NIHR programmes. All members are asked to complete the Register of Interest form (annually), which is intended to capture long term predictable interests that could be perceived to lead to conflicts of interest. These and other interests are judged on a case by case basis at individual meetings.

See the NIHR registry of interests.

Our selection panels

View the full membership of the Artificial Intelligence Health and Care Award panels.

We offer a wide variety of assistance during all stages of the application process. If in doubt, please get in touch.

AI award enquiries

Email: enquiries@ai-award.info

Our operating hours are 9am to 5pm.