How to apply for NIHR CRN support

Apply for support for your research study

The NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) Study Support Service is a free of charge service designed to help researchers and the life sciences industry plan, set up and deliver high quality research to time and target, in both the NHS and in the wider health and social care environment, across England.

What we mean by the wider health and social care environment
The NIHR CRN has expanded its remit to support health and care research beyond its traditional NHS settings. This change has been implemented to better reflect the environment and services that people access and live in today. This means we can support with the delivery of funded health and care research taking place in settings such as care homes, hospices, schools, prisons, or other social care and public health environments. This could include helping researchers to identify and recruit people from healthy populations or those with social care needs.

Non-commercial studies

If your study is taking place in the NHS then it is likely it will require Health Research Authority (HRA) approval. If you are unsure if you require HRA approval, more information can be found on the HRA website.

If your study requires HRA Approval

Our local CRNs are alerted to your study application on submission of your Portfolio Application Form (PAF) via the Integrated Research Application System (IRAS). Your PAF serves as a “heads-up” to our local delivery management and Specialty teams so they can begin working with you.

A full application can then be made to the Health Research Authority (HRA) via IRAS which includes submission of the IRAS form (the main research study application form), along with other associated documents, including the study protocol and grant award letters.

Ticking ‘yes’ to question 5b in the IRAS form will ensure the NIHR CRN Portfolio Eligibility Team automatically receive your research study application from the HRA via IRAS.

Please see our ‘Top Tips for the Portfolio Eligibility Process’ to minimise delays to your application.

If your study does not require HRA Approval:

Please contact your local CRN who will submit an CRN application form, along with the study protocol, grant award letter and evidence of the appropriate research approval(s), to the NIHR CRN Portfolio Eligibility Team on your behalf.

You will be notified if your study has met the eligibility criteria to gain CRN support via email.

Take a more detailed look at the eligibility process.  

Commercial studies

Commercial contract research studies apply for CRN support via the Central Portfolio Management System (CPMS) which can be accessed at

The NIHR CRN will contact the commercial sponsor to initiate the commercial feasibility process for the NIHR Clinical Research Network Portfolio. Please note, the IRAS application process is required in addition to the submission of your commercial contract research application to the NIHR CRN Central Portfolio Management System.

Please contact the Study Support Service helpdesk on 0113 343 4555 or with any enquiries relating to the eligibility of commercial contract research.