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

NIHR Study Support Service for the Life Sciences Industry

From feasibility, to site selection, to monitoring recruitment. We provide the life sciences industry with a flexible package of free support to help plan, place and successfully deliver clinical research in the UK to time and target. We do this by working in partnership with the NHS and social care providers to deliver high quality commercial clinical research. Our dedicated, research-ready workforce of 10,000+ personnel is embedded throughout our health and care services across England.

Our support is available to all life science industries (including pharmaceutical, biotechnology, diagnostics and medical technology industries and Contract Research Organisations) regardless of location, study type, study size, or therapy area. The sooner you get in touch the more you will benefit from our expertise and resources.

 (If your study is non-commercial or collaboratively funded visit our Study Support Service for non-commercial research web page.)

Help to plan, place and performance monitor your study

We support our customers throughout their entire research journey, but there are three key areas where our Study Support Service can really make an impact on the success of your study. These are:

  • Plan: We provide a range of support to help you plan your research project. From patient input into trial design, to clinical review, to resource requirements, we can help set you on the right path.
  • Place: We can access a range of data and intelligence to help you to place your study more strategically, and more successfully. This includes using our national Clinical Research Network to identify which sites across the entire NHS and social care system are interested in delivering your study.
  • Perform: All our NHS sites are connected through our national Clinical Research Network which enables national oversight of study performance and targeting of ‘on the ground’ support through our regional teams.

More about how we can help you to Plan, Place and Perform


We provide a range of support to help you plan your clinical study or trial. All you need to get started is a study outline or draft protocol. We can help you to:


We work at a national level and a site level which means that we have unparalleled access to a wide range of data and intelligence which can help you to place your study more strategically. We can help you to:

  • Identify sites for your study
    Our Site Identification service utilises our national Clinical Research Network to to gather expressions of interest to deliver your study from investigators throughout the NHS, including general practice (primary care).
  • Access our site intelligence services
    Ask our national team to advise where the best recruitment potential lies, or use our local site and study intelligence data to sense check your recruitment targets for pre-selected sites and optimise delivery of your study.
  • Experience faster costing and contracting
    Quicker, consistent and more cost effective. The UK’s unified approach to commercial research costing and contracting can support your site selection strategy and minimise negotiation time during study set-up. 


Once your study is approved we’ll work with you at a local and national level to get your sites up and running and to monitor its performance. We can help you:

  • Streamline your study set-up
    We know how important it is to get from approval to recruitment. Our national network will work with you to identify obstacles and share solutions to get all of your sites open quickly and efficiently.
  • Keep your research on track
    We will work with you to ensure your research project is making progress by monitoring study-wide performance and targeting support through our regional teams as required.

Use the information and links below to find out more about some of these services.

The Study Support Service: Industry Route Map

Help to navigate our services

A Study Support Service Route Map has been developed with life science companies, for life science companies. It's a helpful interactive tool for navigating all our services.

The Route Map visually illustrates the support that we provide at each stage of your research  journey.  It has handy stops along the way which link to videos and other resources that will help you understand how that support works, and how to access it.

Key features include:

  • An easy to understand Study Support Service: Industry Route Map user guide which has also been written by life science companies, for life science companies, and highlights the value of working with us.
  • A  section containing all the information you need to  get started which is especially useful if this is your first time working with us.
  • Links to our regional research teams across the England and to other organisations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Related information

Faster costing and contracting

A new national approach

As of 1 October 2018 all NHS sites,  life science companies and/or Contract Research Organisations (CROs) conducting commercial contract clinical research in the NHS are mandated by an NHS England directive to use:

  • An unmodified model site agreement (also referred to as model contract or standard research agreement). These are nationally accepted contract terms which, when used without modification, will reduce delays caused by contract negotiations and legal reviews for each NHS site delivering your study.
  • The NIHR standard costing methodology which provides a framework for transparent cost display and calculation to support swift local site budget negotiations. This means less variation when defining resource requirements across the country,  better transparency in how that resource requirement is costed locally, and better predictability of overall study delivery costs.

  • Find out more on our faster costing and contracting web page.

Quick links

If your already familiar with our services you may want to use these quick links:

Design and deliver patient centric research

Patient Engagement in Clinical Development Service

The primary aim of this service is to bring patients and life science companies together earlier in the clinical development process, before a study protocol is finalised, so that patients can help companies to make the trial design as patient-friendly as it can be. The service has been specifically designed to help life science companies to overcome many of the regulatory challenges that companies face when working directly with patients. It is available to all the life sciences organisations, including Clinical Research Organisations (CROs).

Please note that this service is a paid for extension of the NIHR Study Support Service and is based on a transparent and fair full cost recovery model.

All you need to do is complete a simple online form and we will use the information that you provide to seek appropriate patients to support your requirements.

“I think the best thing was to have first-hand real experience of a relevant number of people, very diverse, living with the condition and happy to collaborate with us to try to design new drugs to help them.”

“The NIHR patient engagement service means you have a direct connection with those individuals who are actually writing the clinical trial and those patients living with the condition who know the condition best.”

Find out more about this service on our Patient Engagement in Clinical Development web page.


One network, all NHS sites

One national network

All our NHS sites are connected through our national network - the NIHR Clinical Research Network - which is made up of 15 Local Clinical Research Networks across England. Our dedicated, research-ready workforce of 10,000+ personnel is embedded in the NHS in these 15 regions and works in partnership with all health and social care providers to deliver high quality research to target, within set timescales.

This research infrastructure is globally unique and enables national oversight of all the studies we support. It also enables us to target local support where, and when, it is needed.

The research we support is also facilitated  by 30 specialty therapy areas. Each of our 15 Local Clinical Research Networks has a research active NHS clinician (known as a specialty lead) for each of the 30 specialties. This provides us with rapid access to a vast breadth of clinical expertise to advise on and support the clinical research we help deliver.

These two elements underpin our NIHR Study Support Service and help make the UK one of the top destinations globally for delivering clinical research.

  1. North East and North Cumbria
  2. North West Coast
  3. Yorkshire and Humber
  4. Greater Manchester
  5. East Midlands
  6. West Midlands
  7. West of England
  8. Thames Valley and South Midlands
  9. Eastern
  10. Kent, Surrey and Sussex
  11. Wessex
  12. South West Peninsula
  13. North Thames
  14. South London
  15. North West London

Find out more

Contact details and useful information

Contact details

Get started by  contacting the Study Support Service Helpdesk

If your study is already part of the NIHR Clinical Research Network Portfolio and you need support or help with investigators, site activation, site set-up, or recruitment issues, contact your local Industry Operations Manager for support.

Useful links