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Programme Development Grants

NIHR Programme Development Grants (PDG) are designed to enable a research team to carry out targeted preparatory work to develop a competitive Programme Grants for Applied Research (PGfAR) funding application. They can also be used to further develop an existing or ongoing PGfAR-funded programme of research. 

Latest funding opportunities for Programme Development Grants

All PDG funding opportunities

Latest announcements

Remit Changes

From Competition 39, launching on 27 March 2024 there will be some changes to the remit of PDG awards:

  • In addition to NHS Trust, we are expanding to allow Higher Educational Institutes (HEIs) to contract for awards focused on public health and social care, where this may be more appropriate
  • Funding will cover 80% full economic costs (FEC) for both direct and indirect costs. Currently PGfAR funding only covers 100%FEC of direct costs.
  • The total budget for PDG awards will increase from £150,000 to £250,000

PDG now open to the whole UK

We're excited to announce that the NIHR PDG awards are now accepting applications from researchers and organisations based in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, in addition to applications from England. This change will be effective for our upcoming competitions in autumn 2023, starting with PDG 38 in November 2023. We are looking forward to receiving applications from across the UK.

In order to stimulate the submission of competitive applications from the Devolved Administrations that are in scope for the PGfAR and PDG awards we hosted a webinar for interested researchers on 16 February 2024 1-2:30pm. Please email if you would like access to the recording and or slides. 

PGfAR Outreach Events for Devolved Administrations

We are hosting further webinars specific to each Devolved Administration throughout June and July. As well as in person events in October and November.  Find out more and register for the relevant events on our event page.

Partnership with the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health

PDG is partnering with the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) as part of PDG Competition 38 to offer funding to address some of the most challenging issues in paediatrics. The funding opportunity includes wider aspects of child wellbeing, including social care and education. Find out more in the Competition Brief and Guidance for Applicants.


Programme Development Grants (PDGs) are available for researchers to undertake preparatory work to develop a future programme of research. Broad ranging development work is permitted, with less detail required about the future programme of research.

PDGs are also available for researchers to develop and enhance the quality and value of an ongoing or recently completed Programme Grants for Applied Research (PGfAR) award. 

Stream A - Pre-Programme Grant

For researchers to undertake preparatory work to develop a future programme of research. Broad ranging development work is permitted, with less detail required about the future programme of research.

Stream B - Post-award Programme Grant

Stream B has been expanded. Funding is available for researchers to develop and enhance the quality and value of an ongoing or recently completed Programme Grant for Applied Research (PGfAR) award. This can be either:

  • at any time whilst the research is ongoing, up to the last 12 months of the award, to conduct additional linked research of strategic importance to NIHR (e.g., methodological research, public/community engagement, issues related to EDI, linked social care perspectives etc). Successful completion of the additional development work should provide added value and significantly augment the programme of work. However, it should not interfere with or in any way jeopardise the current programme as funded, OR
  • In the latter phases in the last 12 months of the ongoing award and up to 18 months after the award has completed, conduct research to develop, analyse or disseminate the programme or its outcomes further, in order to enable significant additional benefit to be realised for the NHS, public health, social care, patients, service users, carers or the wider public, (eg enhanced dissemination, endeavours to facilitate implementation, secondary data analysis to address new questions, additional IP exploitation or commercialisation activities etc). 

To aid capacity building, we will particularly welcome this type of Stream B applications led by early or mid-career researchers. 

How long and how much?

Individual grants can be up to £250,000 for between 12 and 24 months. The amount of funding awarded, however, is determined by the scale and nature of the research or development activity to be conducted.

If applying to stream A, applicants can choose whether to enter directly into stage 1 or stage 2 of a future PGfAR funding call.

There is no formal expectation or guarantee that the recipients of stream A PDGs will be successful in obtaining a subsequent Programme Grant award in the future. All future applications for PGfAR will be judged on their own merits against the published criteria.

Up to a maximum of two PDG Stream B awards per PGfAR award are permitted. You may apply for only one PDG Stream B award at any time during the course of your programme (once your research contract for the main award has been signed) up to the end of the penultimate year, and only one further PDG Stream B award in the latter phases (in the last year and up to 18 months after the contract end date).

When is funding available?

PDGs has three funding opportunities a year that typically launch in March, July and November. Find out the dates of upcoming funding opportunities.

How to apply

PDGs have a one stage application process. We offer applicant guidance for both types of PDG: stream A guidance and stream B guidance. Applicants should also consult the supporting information for applicants.

Potential applicants may find it helpful to read the scoring criteria for each stream that results in a successful application:

Proposals are submitted online through the Research Management System. We supply a template application form to help researchers prepare their proposal ahead of submission.

For help and advice on applying for a PDG please refer to the guidance for applicants and supporting information for applicants. If you have any further queries, please contact the Programme Grants team at

What we fund

Stream A Programme Development Grants (PDGs) will support preparatory work for a future programme of research, including but not limited to:

  • team strengthening and collaboration building
  • selection of outcome measures
  • methodological work or method development (e.g. development of new scales or outcome measures)
  • observational or epidemiological work to obtain information that would place the future programme on firmer foundations
  • evidence synthesis
  • development of arrangements for patient, service user, carer and public involvement
  • stakeholder engagement.

Stream B PDGs will also support further development of an ongoing or recently completed programme of research, including but not limited to:

  • significant augmentation to add value to a current programme (e.g. methodological research, public/community engagement, issues related to EDI, linked social care perspectives)
  • enhanced dissemination (e.g. knowledge mobilisation activities, engagement etc)
  • additional IP exploitation or commercialisation activities
  • additional secondary data analyses to answer new research questions* (i.e. not questions included in the initial programme)
  • follow on work to explore other perspectives (e.g. social care) arising from the programme
  • endeavours to facilitate implementation.

*It is important that, where relevant, all primary analyses are completed and made available in PDG applications requesting funding for dissemination or implementation activities.

The programme will not support:

  • basic science work underpinning a future programme of exploratory research
  • stand alone projects of any type. All constituent projects must be solely designed to develop and inform a future full PGfAR application, or further develop an existing programme.

PDG success rates

Our people

Our Programme Director

Professor Marian Knight is Programme Director of NIHR Programme Grants for Applied Research.

Our subcommittees

Programme Development Grant (PDG) applications are assessed by a PDG sub-committee drawn from the PGfAR sub-committee members.

PDG applications are not sent for peer review; proposals are assessed by a PDG subcommittee. This PDG subcommittee recommends projects for funding to the Department of Health and Social Care, which approves which projects should be funded.

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.

NIHR registry of interests

Professor Richard Watt and Professor Rebecca Kearney are the Co-Chairs of PGfAR subcommittee A. View the full membership of Subcommittee A.

Professor Simon HellerProfessor George Peat and Professor Alan Smyth are the  Co-Chairs of PGfAR subcommittee B. View the full membership of Subcommittee B.

Meeting minutes

Contact us

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

Tel: 020 8843 8056

Our operating hours are 9.00am to 5.00pm

Grange House
15 Church Street
Twickenham TW1 3NL

Do you need help getting started? Contact the Research Support Service .

Do you need assistance running your study in the NHS? Contact the Study Support Service.

It's time for the public to lead in developing new research ideas

PGfAR PPIE public contributor Anica Alvarez Nishio and Steven Blackburn, NIHR Research Design Service West Midlands and Keele University’s Public Involvement Lead, explain in their blog why more innovation is needed by allowing public contributors to take the lead, and introduce an exciting forthcoming PDG call for Developing Innovative, Inclusive and Diverse Public Partnerships to support this change of thinking.

Developing innovative public partnerships