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Collaborating in applied health research


The NIHR funds local collaborations to support applied health and care research and research on implementation of health and care evidence into day-to-day practice. These are called NIHR Applied Research Collaborations (ARCs).

About Applied Research Collaborations

NIHR Applied Research Collaborations (ARCs) support applied health and care research that responds to, and meets, the needs of local populations and local health and care systems. The ARCs, announced in July 2019, aim to improve outcomes for patients and the public; improve the quality, delivery and efficiency of health and care services; and increase the sustainability of the health and care system both locally and nationally.

These 15 local partnerships between NHS providers, universities, charities, local authorities, Health Innovation Networks (HINs) and other organisations undertake implementation research to increase the rate at which research findings are implemented into practice.

The ARCs undertake research on a number of areas of need highlighted by the NIHR Futures of Health report, including: the challenges of an ageing society; multimorbidity; and the increasing demands placed on our health and care system.

The £135 million funding also aims to deliver national-level impact through significant collaboration between the ARCs, with individual ARCs providing national leadership within their fields of expertise. The five-year investment has been extended by 18 months until 31 March 2026.

The 15 ARCs are

National leadership areas

Each NIHR ARC undertakes research on a range of themes. The ARCs also work together on a number of national leadership areas. Research projects and collaborations between the ARCs drive progress in applied health research and implementation science in areas of national priority.

National priority areas

The NIHR ARCs national priority areas are seven areas of applied health and care research that benefit from £13.125 million NIHR funding over three years to deliver ‘real world’ impact.

They are:

Working together the NIHR ARCs will look to develop evidence to inform decision making, enable effective implementation and change practice in these areas. The programme brings together the 15 regional ARCs from across England to work with partners, patients and the public to deliver collective projects that investigate and tackle these most pressing health and care problems.

Supporting the national pandemic response

COVID-19 transformed the way health and care services work together across boundaries and brought into sharp focus the health inequalities across our diverse communities. ARCs’ expertise in data modelling, multiple long-term conditions, mental health and social care, alongside their ability to build and sustain collaborations, placed them in a unique position to support the COVID-19 effort. ARCs were able to pivot their research in response to the pandemic and were involved in over 400 COVID-19 projects during the pandemic.

Collaborating with HINs to support post-pandemic priorities

The NHS Insights Prioritisation Programme (NIPP) was launched in 2021 to contribute to recovery from the pandemic, build resilience and deliver benefits to patients across four priority areas: remote consultations, remote monitoring, service delivery and workforce.

ARCs across the country paired up with their local Health Innovation Networks (HINs) on 14 projects, which each received a share of £4.2m funding from NHS England. The partnerships tested and evaluated innovative approaches within their local Integrated Care Systems.

Stay up to date with all the Applied Research Collaborations

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