The NIHR Incubators were created to support capacity building and multidisciplinary career development in priority areas where critical mass is low.

It is a virtual service managed across multiple sites and organised by discipline. It provides targeted high level career development support, led by experts in the field and supported by the NIHR Academy.

It was created as a response to the Strategic Review of Training report, which highlighted a number of challenges and set out a series of recommendations which included the creation of the Incubators, plans for new training programmes that could address NIHR priorities and new initiatives that would develop research capacity in strategically important areas.

This service aims to encourage early career interest in targeted disciplines to build identifiable communities through networking and provision of bespoke training support.

The first tranche of NIHR Incubators are being piloted and take advantage of existing opportunities - either by building on structures that already exist (the NIHR Schools), working in partnership to support new and emerging disciplines or are community led in areas where capacity is particularly low.

Incubators in development include:

  • Primary Care
  • Social Care
  • Public Health
  • Health Data Science (in partnership with HDR UK)
  • Emergency Care
  • Nursing & Midwifery 

Nursing & Midwifery Incubator information

The NIHR Nursing and Midwifery Incubator has been established to accelerate capacity building and support the development of a skilled clinical academic research workforce across the nursing and midwifery professions.

With the support of Health Education England (HEE), the Royal College of Midwives and the Royal College of Nursing, this objective will be met by:

  • fostering a ‘community of practice’ amongst those with a clear interest in developing themselves and/or others as nurse or midwife researchers by enabling effective networking and relevant knowledge sharing;
  • coordinating information and support to help nurses and midwives better access existing research and research training opportunities available through the HEE/NIHR Integrated Clinical Academic Programme, NIHR Fellowships programme and other research funding initiatives;
  • developing and testing new forms of support, information and professional development.

As such, the Incubator and its community of practice welcomes all those who wish to develop themselves further as clinical researchers as well as those who support and supervise aspirant nurse and midwife researchers.

Being a virtual rather than physical entity, the Nursing and Midwifery Incubator will utilise a single online platform as a repository for information and resources, a noticeboard for developments and opportunities, and a forum for discussion and collaboration.

The NIHR Nursing and Midwifery Incubator platform is hosted on NIHR Learn.

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Various content will be created and added to the platform over the coming months as the Incubator develops and matures.

How do I set up an Incubator?

If you are interested in setting up an incubator, please send us a brief proposal (500 words maximum) setting out why an incubator is necessary and the key elements that would help build research capacity. Please forward to using the subject heading ‘NIHR RCDG’.

The NIHR Academy is happy to contribute small amounts of funding to support a limited number of events, but a key feature for each NIHR Incubator is to build on and add value to infrastructure, organisations and networking structures that already exist.

What happens after I submit a proposal?

Your proposal will be referred on to the NIHR Research Capacity Development Group (RCDG). If it is within our remit then you will be asked to complete a short scoping form to provide further details which will be considered by the RCDG for review and further development. This group is chaired by the Dean for the NIHR Academy and includes representation from NIHR Academy members and wider NIHR.

The process for development will be light touch and iterative. Successful incubator proposals will go on to establish a working group of identified stakeholders (including NIHR Academy representation) to further develop the ideas and plans for capacity development.

How will you manage differing development needs?

Development needs are likely to be different in different areas. For example, some areas are new and emerging with small numbers of early career researchers who would benefit from networking, peer support and mentorship, whilst other areas struggle to attract people into academic pathways and mechanisms that raise awareness and promote the benefits of research would work well here. The intention is for the incubators to be “bespoke” to meet the needs for each area, which should be reflected in the development approach. What will be common to all incubators is the desire to attract and support the brightest people in the field, which  is likely to include the development of national networks.

Will you be precluded from creating an Incubator if you're already working with a Royal College on capacity development?

We anticipate that most, if not all, Incubators will be developed in collaboration with relevant area partners. The NIHR Academy does not aspire to run Incubators, we are there to facilitate and nurture them. This approach will really benefit from partnership working. How we work with partners will vary and we therefore will remain flexible in our approach to incubator development.

If we have an incubator will we get more PhD fellowships?

NIHR and other funders already have plenty of fellowship and other opportunities. The challenge we face is where there are low numbers of competitive applications in priority areas. Incubators are principally designed to encourage people into areas to access existing funding opportunities, and to support the development of project applications. There will be potential to increase award numbers in incubator areas if incubators are highly successful.

Will this service  help us overcome problems associated with lack of awareness in certain fields at an undergraduate level?

Incubators will be encouraged to work proactively with university bodies to increase awareness of, and exposure to research in the relevant areas. 

Further Information