The NHSA works with its clinical and academic members to help structure more collaborative approaches to bidding for research funding. Examples of this work includes supporting NHSA members bid for the NIHR Med Tech and In Vitro Diagnostic Cooperatives (MICs) and the UK Institute for Health and Biomedical Informatics Research (UKIHBIR). January 2017 saw the deadline for applications to the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) for the MICs which will replace Healthcare Technology Cooperatives (HTCs) and Diagnostic Evidence Cooperatives (DECs). Another call was put out in February 2017 from the Medical Research Council (MRC) for statements of interest from higher education institutions to participate in the UKIHBIR as substantive or partnership sites.
The NHSA brought together applicants from all Northern sites to discuss how Northern MICs could incorporate a Northern collaborative ethos within their applications to NIHR. We facilitated the sharing of clinical themes strengthening existing relationships and identifying new opportunities to work together. We provided standard text for use in the applications presenting a coherent narrative on intentions for collaboration across the Northern MICs. The NHSA team will provide continued support to the group once successful MICs are announced. This includes Business Development and Industry Liaison. For the UKIHBIR, the NHSA brought together applicants from invited higher education institutions to discuss areas of complementarity and negate effects of competition. Broad themes for all applications were collated and circulated and together with an ongoing dialogue with all sites, this presented the opportunity to link organisations wishing to submit ‘partner site’ applications to potential substantive sites. Standard text was provided for use in proposals to articulate the major strengths and assets of NHSA member organisations, which would add great value to the Institute.
The outcomes of both calls are pending, with decisions expected around May for the MICs and August for UKIHBIR participation. The activity undertaken in coordinating and supporting these proposals has provided the opportunity to develop a standard framework of NHSA support.