This site is optimised for modern browsers. For the best experience, please use Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Microsoft Edge.

Artificial intelligence funding

Quick Links

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 Artificial Intelligence in 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. Projects funded in the first round were announced in September 2020 and Competition 2 will open 3 November 2020.

The £23m Artificial Intelligence for Multiple Long-Term Conditions (Multimorbidity) call (AIM) opened on 30th June 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 new clusters of disease and the development of conditions over the life course to develop insights into the identification and subsequent prevention of multiple long-term conditions (multimorbidity) or MLTC-M.

Introduction

The AI in 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 in 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 for Phases 3 and 4 include triage, imaging, screening and intelligent operational automation. Applications may be submitted by an SME, an NHS or social care organisation or service provider,  a Higher Education Institution, Charity or Local Authority or additionally for Phases 3 and 4, Large Enterprises.

 

What do we fund?

Phases 1 and 2 of the award support feasibility, development and clinical evaluation of AI technologies. Phases 3 and 4 of the award support real world testing, 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 1-2 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. 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 Phases 3 and 4, the AAC Delivery Team will facilitate initial real world testing and systems adoption of the AI technologies into the NHS and/or social care setting.

 

When is funding available?

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

 

How do I apply?

The AI Award is run as a two stage application process. Shortlisted applicants from stage 1 are invited to submit a full proposal at stage 2. AI Award applicant guidance will be published here shortly.

Applications should be submitted online through the Research Management System. You can download an example stage 1 application form to prepare your proposal ahead of submission. Having consulted the website and the applicant guidance, if you are still unsure if your proposal is within remit, you may complete an enquiry form with details of your enquiry and your proposed project. 

The Competition 2 launch webinar can be viewed here.  Please note that you will need to register with the AI Lab Virtual Hub in order to view the webinar. NHSX have launched the AI Lab Virtual Hub as a platform setup to allow stakeholders to directly connect rather than just coming through the award. We recommend that you join and you encourage  collaborative partners to join for more resources and for engaging with colleagues across the NHS.

Live Phase 1 & 2 and 3 & 4 webinars will be held 27 and 29 October respectively.

 

Eligibility

 

 

Phase 1

Feasibility

Phase 2

Development and clinical evaluation

Phase 3

Real World Testing

Phase 4

Initial Health System Adoption

Location of lead applicant Within the UK

Worldwide (provided you have a UK registered office or a UK health or social care organisation as a co-lead)

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



Organisations

Higher Education Institutions (HEIs)

Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs)

NHS and social care organisations

Charities

Local Authorities 

Higher Education Institutions (HEIs)

Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs)

NHS and social care organisations

Charities

Local Authorities 

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)
Technology entry criteria
  • Proof of concept
  • Prototype / MVP
  • Pre-clinical efficacy data (internally / lab validated)
  • Externally / clinically validated
  • Safety demonstrated
  • CE / UKCA marked or close
  • RW efficacy demonstrated, with prospective evidence generated from at least two implementation sites
  • CE / UKCA marked
  • Regulatory approvals in place
  • Market authorised
  • Robust health economics
Technology exit criteria
  • Prototype
  • Minimum viable product
  • Trained algorithm
  • Pre-clinical efficacy data 
  • Clinical efficacy data
  • Safety data
  • Regulatory data CE / UKCA marking
  • Health economics
  • RW implementation feasibility 
  • Prospective clinical efficacy data from more than one site
  • Regulatory approvals
  • Market authorisation
  • Full health economics assessment 
  • Feasibility for large scale deployment
  • RW efficacy demonstrated in multiple sites
  • RW health economic evidence
Funding limit Up to £150,000 Uncapped but must be sufficiently justified and proposals must provide value for money


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

 

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 use AI and data science methods, combined with expertise in clinical practice, applied health and care research and social science, to systematically identify or explore clusters of disease. In addition to the identification and mapping of new clusters of disease, the call seeks research to better understand the trajectories of patients with MLTC-M over time and throughout the life course, including the influence of wider determinants such as environmental, behavioural and psychosocial factors.

The funding available through this call will lead to scientific understanding which will allow researchers to start addressing key challenges in the treatment and management of MLTC-M in the health and social care system in the future. We have three primary longer-term 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 Awards.

Research Collaborations of £2.5-5m will be funded for up to 36 months (in wave 1). Applicants who are interested in applying, but need more time and resources to develop a competitive proposal, may apply for preparatory Development Awards of up to £120k for 8 months. Development Awards should clearly describe how the preparatory work will inform the development of a future Research Collaboration application.
 
In addition, NIHR invites proposals for a Research Support Facility (RSF) to work with Research Collaborations funded through the NIHR Artificial Intelligence for Multiple Long-term Conditions (AIM) call. Up to £3m funding is available for up to 40 months to support the Research Collaborations funded through this call. The RSF will focus on the delivery of centralised AI and advanced data science support; capacity and capability in AI and MLTC-M research; foster a collaborative approach and a culture of shared learning; and provide a leadership role to facilitate impact from the AIM call.

A webinar event was held in 2020 seeking input from the research community ahead of launching this call. We have developed a practical and relevant funding opportunity that will deliver the high quality and ambitious research needed to further our understanding of disease clusters. The slides can be found here:

View AIM Engagement Workshop Slides

A networking event was also held to bring together interested parties from the AI and health and care research communities to discuss areas of interest such as PPI and data access and use. This event also provided an opportunity for the community to engage with each other and to create contacts that would not have otherwise been made over mutual areas of interest. The slides can be found here:

View AIM Networking Event Slides

 

How do I apply?

AIM Research Collaboration and Research Support Facility (RSF) are run as a two stage application process. At stage 1, an outline form needs to be completed. Shortlisted applicants are invited to submit a full proposal at stage 2.

The application process for AIM Development Awards is run in one stage.

Applications are submitted online through the Research Management System

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 for multimorbidity (AIM) enquiries

Email: AIM@nihr.ac.uk

Our operating hours are 9am to 5pm.

AI award enquiries

Email: enquiries@ai-award.info

Our operating hours are 9am to 5pm.