Invention for Innovation

As a translational funding scheme, i4i advances healthcare technologies, devices and interventions for increased patient benefit in areas of existing or emerging clinical need.

We fund collaborative R&D projects in medtech SMEs, universities and the NHS that have demonstrated proof-of-principle and have a clear pathway towards adoption and commercialisation. The aim is to de-risk projects, making them attractive to follow-on funders and investors.

The expected i4i output is an advanced or clinically validated prototype medical device, technology or intervention (see study example below). 

Funding streams

All our awards are based on a two stage application process.

Product Development Awards and Connect: What we fund

  • Research and development of medical devices, active implantable devices and in vitro diagnostic devices as defined by the relevant EU directives, across all areas of existing or emerging healthcare needs
  • Product or technology development required to enable a technology for clinical use, which may include manufacturing, intellectual property protection, freedom to operate and market analysis or business case development
  • Research and development of techniques or technologies from a different industry sector, which could have a potential impact if applied in a healthcare setting
  • Feasibility studies if a technology from a sector other than health is being developed
  • Studies to provide data relating to safety and effectiveness of a device including first-in-man and pivotal studies
  • Health economic analyses and clinical utility studies looking at a device’s real-life implementation and use
  • CE marking and other regulatory requirements including any associated safety trials
  • Activities associated with the adoption of new technology
  • Training associated with the implementation of new technology 

Projects must have already demonstrated ‘proof of principle’. Applicants are expected to have generated experimental data to support the case for further development and illustrate technical feasibility. Early stage research or discovery science is not fundable.

Work packages must not include animal studies or work on animal tissues. If animal studies are required as part of the project, we expect applicants to seek parallel funding to cover such studies, details of which can be provided in the application form.

Product Development Awards (PDA)

These awards support any stage of the translational research and development pathway, including the clinical development of laboratory-validated technologies or interventions. Funded activities are described here.

Award specifications:

  • A minimum of two organisations must be involved from either NHS Trust, HEI or SME.
  • Lead applicants must be based in England.
  • Projects may be up to three years in duration.
  • There is no upper funding limit, but costs must be fully justified.

As well as applications that fit our remit, PDA Call 16 also invites applications to the following Highlight Notices and Themed Calls:

Highlight Notices: 

'Brain Tumours'. This highlight notice indicates the continuing interest of NIHR in receiving research proposals in this area, and it encourages collaborative applications that demonstrate how they build on recent initiatives and investment in the area made by the NIHR, the MRC and other research funders

For further details of Highlight Notices/Themed Calls please visit Please note that the PDA researcher led call is open to all relevant research areas, and does not just include these Highlight Notices/Themed Calls. If your application falls under these Highlight Notices/Themed Calls, please indicate this in the application form in Section 6, Question 1 (What is the problem being addressed?).


Product Development Awards Call 18 Dates

  Stage 1 Stage 2 (if invited)
Competition launch 24 April 2019 (9am) 31 July 2019 (9am)
Submission deadline 05 June 2019 (1pm) 25 September 2019 (1pm)
Submission outcome July 2019 December 2019 (earliest)

Product Development Awards Call 17 Dates

  Stage 1 Stage 2 (if invited)
Competition launch 31 October 2018 (9am) 13 February 2019 (9am)
Submission deadline 12 December 2018 (1pm) 10 April 2019 (1pm)
Submission outcome February 2019 June 2019 (earliest)

i4i Connect

i4i Connect is aimed at small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in need of a funding boost to reach the next stage in the development pathway. Offering between £50,000-£150,000 over a 6-12 month period, its primary aim is to help SMEs get to a point where they can apply for further funding, in particular for a full i4i Product Development Award (PDA), or to support projects at any stage of the translational research and development pathway to further de-risk them for follow on investment. This will enable accelerated development of promising medical technologies, in line with recommendations from the Government’s Accelerated Access Review. i4i Connect 2 closed for submissions on 11 September 2018.

Award specifications:

  • Lead applicants must be from an SME.
  • Lead applicants must be based in England.
  • Projects must be £50,000-150,000 in value.
  • Projects must be 6-12 months in duration.
  • Upon acceptance of i4i Connect funding, applicants agree to be bound by the terms of the NIHR standard research contract and are expected to sign the contract within 4 weeks of the award notice or the award may be withdrawn.


Connect 3 Call Dates

  Stage 1 Stage 2 (if invited)
Competition launch 14 August 2019 (9am) 1 October 2019 (9am)
Submission deadline 11 September 2019 (1pm) 22 October 2019 (1pm)
Submission outcome September/October 2019 November 2019

The funding decision of the i4i Connect calls can be found here. Future calls will be advertised on our website and via NIHR newsletters. 


Challenge Awards

Challenge Awards are commissioned on an ad hoc basis in areas of existing or emerging healthcare need. The expected output is a disruptive technology with the potential to offer improved outcomes for NHS patients. 

Challenge Awards 2019 - Real World Implementation

The NIHR i4i Challenge Awards Call 9 is inviting applications for the assessment of medtech innovations in healthcare settings. The aim is to shorten the evidence gap between the safety/preliminary efficacy typical of a newly CE marked technology and what is required for decisions by commissioners and regulators. At the same time, this will de-risk the product for follow-on investment.

Applications should focus on CE marked products. Digital technologies that are not regulated as medical devices but are going to be integrated into the NHS can also be included, as long as reasonable proof of safety and efficacy is provided.

Products should address one of the priorities defined by NHS England, focusing on a clinical need specific to the context where the technology will be tested.

Award specifications:

  • Applications are invited from SMEs, NHS Trusts, NHS service providers or Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). A minimum of two organisations must be involved, and the proposal must include at least one collaborator from an NHS Trust or NHS Service Provider.
  • Lead applicants must be based in England.
  • Projects will not have a duration limit. Timelines will need to be commensurate with the requirements of the project and the delivery of outputs, in terms of potential healthcare uptake and patient benefit.
  • There is no upper funding limit, but costs must be fully justified.

Please download the full scope for more information about the 2019 Challenge Awards.

 Challenge Awards Call 9 Dates 

  Stage 1 Stage 2 (if invited)
Competition launch 17 April 2019 (9am) 07 August 2019 (9am)
Submission deadline 13 June 2019 (1pm) 02 October 2019 (1pm)
Submission outcome August 2019 December 2019

Technologies not eligible for this funding could be eligible for other Innovation funding in this space. To find out more about current open calls please visit the Innovation Funding Service website.


NIHR Webinar: Challege Awards Call 9 - Real World Implementation

The webinar provided information on the aims, scope and eligibility of the call. Participants of the webinar had the opportunity to ask questions about the call in writing and the i4i team answered during the webinar. The webinar was presented by members of the NIHR CCF i4i team.  
Watch a recording of the webinar 
View questions and answers (this document will be updated on a regular basis until the call closes)

Study example

Professor Robert MacLaren at the University of Oxford is collaborating with the company Retina Implant AG in an i4i funded trial taking place at the Oxford Eye Hospital to implant next-generation electronic retinas in patients with retinitis pigmentosa (RP), such as Rhian Lewis, enabling them to detect light and recognise objects for the first time in years. Early findings from the trial were reported in January 2016 including on BBC Radio 4's In Touch and BBC 2's Trust me, I'm a Doctor (see clips below, with the In Touch piece starting at 10:20). 



Contact us

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