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We’re committed to partnering with health and social care charities to support high quality research.

By working together, we drive alignment in the health and care research ecosystem to ensure research provides the maximum benefit for patients and the public and that as funders we make best use of our resources and expertise.

A key ingredient in NIHR’s success has been working with partners from across the charity sector. We actively engage with health, public health and social care charities to accelerate health and care research and bring benefits to patients faster. 

We collaborate through jointly funding research and training programmes, and work together to streamline the research process and reduce bureaucracy. Our research infrastructure – facilities, networks, expert researchers and technology platforms – helps to underpin the research funded by charities that is crucial to improving health care.

There are three main ways that charities can work with the NIHR:

  • You can access free NIHR-funded services and resources
  • We can mutually exchange expertise
  • We can collaborate in areas of shared interest

You can work with us across the research pathway: to understand the research landscape, identify research needs, fund research, plan and deliver research, and disseminate research. We can also work together to attract, develop and retain researchers and to share expertise and develop best practice.

We primarily work with charities that have a research funding function. Nevertheless we are keen to work with charities that have other main functions, such as research delivery and provision of services.

Understand the research landscape

We can each share our knowledge of the national NHS, public health and social care research landscape to inform our respective priorities and research questions.

  • We can share an overview of the NIHR research portfolio and the topic areas we’re prioritising for funding, and you can share information about your portfolio with us too, so we can each understand what research is being funded and where the gaps lie.
  • We can provide access to advanced horizon scanning services to help shape your funding calls and projects.


Find out more


Identify research needs

We can work together to identify research needs and help set research priorities.

  • Your clinical, patient and service user experts can put forward research questions for the NIHR to consider.
  • We can help you identify evidence uncertainties and research questions to inform research funding by your charity and other funders.
  • We can collaborate on refining priorities and topics for NIHR funding calls in areas of mutual benefit.


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Fund research

We can collaborate to fund high quality research in areas of shared interest.

  • We can collaborate to co-fund individual research projects with NIHR research programmes, or co-fund NIHR funding calls or funding programmes.


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Plan and deliver research

Researchers you fund can access our services and support to plan and deliver research in the NHS or in public health or social care settings.

  • We can help your researchers plan research you have funded.
  • Researchers you have funded can access our services and facilities to deliver your research, and help us deliver our research.
  • We can share data and provide feedback on the delivery of your research.

Did you know? Charities can become non-commercial partners of the NIHR, so their researchers can get quicker access to our research delivery support. Find out more.


Find out more


Disseminate research

We can work together to share research findings to extend their reach and support changes to practice.

  • Together we can reach a wider audience with research findings.


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Attract, develop and retain researchers

Together we can provide invaluable training and development opportunities to attract, develop and retain a research workforce ready for the complex health challenges of the future.

  • Together we can jointly fund training or career development opportunities for researchers to help grow research capability and capacity in areas of shared interest.
  • Together we can create and provide a system of career development support and resources to build research capacity and capability.


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Share expertise and develop best practice

We can reciprocally share the knowledge and expertise of our clinical, patient and professional experts, and advice on funding and supporting high quality research, to improve the quality of health and care research across the board.

  • Together we can harness the knowledge of our clinical and academic experts to maximise our investments in funded research.
  • We can each share the expertise of our patient and public experts, and PPIE professionals, to support the design and delivery of research that is relevant and needed.
  • We can share our training products and resources, and vice versa, to support high quality research commissioning and management.
  • We can work together to develop best practice in research funding and management to fund relevant, robust research.


Find out more


Our successful collaborations with charities

Collaborating with Autistica to maximise the impact of autism research

A mother and her autistic son
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Collaborating to boost musculoskeletal research with Versus Arthritis

arthritis research VA
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Delivering heart attack research funded by the British Heart Foundation

Stethoscope and heart rate
Read more