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Funding

UK Prevention Research Partnership (UKPRP) Consortium Award

 

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  1. What are UKPRP Consortia? 
  2. Consortium call process
  3. Outline application and guidance for Consortium Awards
  4. Funding available
  5. Assessment process
  6. Assessment criteria for outline consortium applications
  7. Key dates
  8. Contacts

1. What are UKPRP Consortia? 

UKPRP Consortia are large research collaborations undertaking non-communicable disease (NCD) prevention research, targeted at complex adaptive systems, and aligned to the objectives of the UKPRP. Consortia should foster interdisciplinarity (ensuring the mix of disciplines engaged are appropriate to the research questions being addressed) and translation, building on strong links to research users (e.g. policy makers, practitioners, the third sector, the public etc.) and providers. Industry partner(s) could also be involved in the consortium depending on the nature of the research being undertaken. Each consortium will need strong leadership, have a governance structure for decision making, be well managed, and have mechanisms in place to foster linkages between components of the consortium, including users, and facilitate the transfer of research-generated evidence into policy and practice.

Structure

The diagram below shows the possible components of a consortium. Essentially, it comprises a core of multidisciplinary researchers, led by a Research Director, but with linkages that provide the resource, data and advice needed to undertake the proposed research, and ensure that research questions and approaches have relevance to users. A consortium does not necessarily need to include every component in the diagram – for example, each consortium need not include an industry partner or all the disciplines listed; the configuration should be relevant to the research questions being asked. Each consortium will need to cement relationships with users and recognise that user engagement might evolve as new opportunities emerge. Knowledge transfer will be an integral aspect of each UKPRP consortium to enable the transfer of research evidence into policy and practice, and to foster the development of long-lasting relationships between researchers and users. Each Research Director will need to identify and implement mechanisms appropriate to their consortium for undertaking knowledge transfer. Examples of this include recruiting a full-time Knowledge Broker or through part-time secondments from user organisations embedded in a consortium. 

Figure 1: The diagram shows the possible components of a consortium. It includes a core of multidisciplinary researchers (e.g. public health, social, engineering, physical sciences, etc.) that is linked to other components: data providers of cohort and administrative data, for example; users in local and national government, such as Local Authorities, or those working in policy units; the public; third sector, including NGOs; and industry where appropriate.

Research

The research will be co-produced with users such as local and national government, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), health professionals and industry (where appropriate). It might well be organised in work streams that align under an overarching challenge; the work streams may comprise five year programmes of research, although some could be shorter-term and support developmental work, e.g. small scale, pilot/proof of principle, or multidisciplinary high risk projects: projects which will strengthen a consortium’s portfolio of research.

Leadership and Management

Each consortium will: 

  • have strong scientific leadership provided by a Research Director who will identify and reach out to new potential partners and users. They should be able to bring together senior researchers from different disciplines under a shared vision.
  • be well managed via an operations officer or project manager. This person should be able to coordinate scientific advisory groups, produce scientific reports, manage the funds and interface with other academic institutions and users, including public sector, third sector, or industry where appropriate.
  • undertake knowledge brokering to develop linkages between the components of a consortium, including users, and facilitate knowledge exchange with policy and practice to deliver impact of the research evidence. Knowledge brokering will also support between-consortia activity.

2. Consortium Call Process 

There will be a two-stage process for applications for UKPRP Consortium Awards:

Outline Application and Consortium Development Period

  1. A detailed outline application for a Consortium Award.

Ensure you fully review the consortium guidance (PDF, 447KB) and the outline application form (DOCX, 29KB).

  1. Consortium development period

The UKPRP will support the development of research consortia and the preparation of full applications by providing a Consortium Development Grant (CDG). Each successful outline applicant will receive a CDG, which is a fixed-term (six month) award of up to £50k. This is to enable the final assembly of a multidisciplinary group of researchers and users and further enhancement of the plan of investigation in response to feedback from the Expert Review Group that will evaluate outline applications.

Full application for UKPRP Consortium Awards

  1. A form and guidance for the full application will be made available to successful outline applicants in due course. An interview of short-listed candidates is also planned and applicants will be provided with written feedback from the peer-review of full applications ahead of their interview.

Researchers are now invited to submit outline proposals for funding for the development of research consortia. Each consortium will address its own challenge in NCD primary prevention research by assembling a large interdisciplinary group that collaborates closely with and/or includes a range of relevant research users and organisations, including industry where appropriate, to co-produce innovative strategies for the primary prevention of NCDs.

Applicants should take careful note of the vision, objectives and rationale for the UKPRP (PDF, 113KB). Applications need to be guided by the vision and focus described therein. 

3. Outline Application and Guidance for Consortium Awards 

Applicants must first submit an outline application via email using the outline case for support form (DOCX, 29KB) and accompanying guidance (PDF, 447KB). The purpose of the outline application is to ascertain the potential of the planned consortium to fulfil the UKPRP objectives.

Applicants should complete the outline case for support and then submit this as a MS Word document to UKPRP@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk. The detailed guidance (PDF, 447KB) advises applicants how to complete the outline case for support form. Outline applications must be received by 16:00 on 18 January 2018.

4.  Funding Available 

Two calls for consortia are planned and we envisage supporting two or three consortia in the first round. The second call for applications for UKPRP Consortium Awards is planned for 2019, with the application process following the stages described earlier. The scope of a second UKPRP call may well depend on the successful applications funded in the first round.

Consortium Development Grant (CDG)

Applicants whose outline proposal is selected for progressing towards the full application stage will receive a Consortium Development Grant (CDG). The CDG is a fixed-term (six month) award of up to £50k to enable the final assembly of an interdisciplinary group of researchers or non-academic stakeholders (users or industry, where appropriate) and further enhancement of the plan of investigation in response to feedback from the Expert Review Group that will evaluate outline applications. Applicants will need to specify and justify how the CGD will be used. Funds can be used for:

  • travel and subsistence enabling existing or potential members of the consortium to meet to exchange ideas and expertise. This may include visits by or to experts overseas.
  • costs involved in running activities such as networking events, expert working groups and workshops.
  • costs to enable the engagement of users.
  • bringing together members of the consortium to prepare the full application.

The outcome of the CDG period should be a cohesive research grouping with the disciplines appropriate to the research questions and with almost all of the links needed to initiate a major research programme. At the end of the CDG period, research plans and work-packages should be well defined with clear methodology, although some flexibility should be retained by the consortium to adapt to new challenges/needs. It is important to note that the CDG will not provide enough resource or time for significant networking across diverse disciplines or non-academic partners from scratch. If your aim is to better connect and develop linkages across a range of disciplines, the UKPRP Network Award scheme should be considered. 

Full Consortium Award

Funding for each consortium is intended to support research programmes or work-packages that are aligned to the main challenge for the consortium. There would be scope for limited feasibility work. Details of what the UKPRP Consortium Award will support are set out below. Applicants are encouraged to secure co-funding from other sources and the outline application form requests information on the applicant’s plans for this.

Staff 

  • The Research Director can request funds to cover their salary costs in proportion to the time spent on directing the consortium. Co-Investigators (Co-Is) can request funds for their salary costs in proportion to their time spent on the new research generated by the consortium.   
  • Support for consortium management (e.g. an operations officer or project manager) and knowledge transfer.
  • Buying out the time of users where it can be justified, for example, an NGO, a Local Authority partner or a Director of Public Health, or a member of their team.
  • Research staff (e.g. Post-doctoral Research Assistants and collaborator’s time) on a case by case basis.
  • Researchers from overseas institutions may be included in a proposal as a Co-Investigator where this adds value to the research. Applicants will need to justify why they are not working with a UK collaborator who could provide the same expertise/materials.
  • The consortium award will not provide funds for training or studentships although we hope that students and Early Career Researchers become involved in UKPRP consortia and benefit from interacting with them.

Research and administrative running costs

  • The majority of the research will be in programmes or work-packages and in addition to research staff, grants can provide consumables, travel and subsistence and any other costs usually under ‘Directly Incurred’ headings over the five-year period of the award.
  • Reasonable costs for monitoring and pathways to impact of consortium outputs can also be included.

Intervention costs

Costs for interventions are:

  1. research costs relating to developing or adapting (e.g. scaling up) an intervention to answer research questions. These costs end when the research project is completed; and
  2. delivery costs which remain after completing the research project and relate to implementing an intervention in normal practice.

The UKPRP funders will consider contributing to costs for developing and evaluating interventions provided there is evidence of a partnership between academics and users and that applications specify plans for the long-term sustainability of an intervention, that is the continuity of the action beyond the research project - which the UKPRP will not fund. Applications should therefore specify what users will do to support the continued delivery of an intervention.

For the outline application, the intervention costs may be estimated but the full application will need to itemise and quantify each element of the components of known intervention costs.

Applicants who are unclear about whether or not the UKPRP would accommodate the costs associated with their proposed interventions should contact the UKPRP Secretariat (UKPRP@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk) to discuss their plans.  

Additional funding available

  • A Research Director’s discretionary fund may be built into a Consortium Award. This will support reactive work to respond to new opportunities / challenges that arise during the period of the award and which are aligned to the consortium’s mission. The fund will be capped at £50k per annum and will enable the Research Director to move funds between programmes. Applicants will need to bid for this funding in their full application.
  • The UKPRP will also hold a central fund to support innovation within/between the different consortia and for dealing with specific opportunities requiring financial support that require a rapid response during the lifetime of the award.

Details of the Research Director’s discretionary fund will be provided with instructions to outline applicants who are selected for progressing towards the full application stage. In the full application, the Director will need to explain how the fund will be used and the governance arrangements for it's dispersal. 

5. Assessment Process 

Applications will be assessed by an Expert Review Group comprised of senior independent academics and user representatives, from the UK and overseas. The Group’s expertise will reflect the breadth of disciplines involved in consortia. The Expert Review Group will feedback to the applicants and the funders, and might advise on how to better mould and/or rationalise the bids especially where approaches to making linkages could be stronger.

Details of successful outline proposals will be published on websites, including the Research Council's Gateway to Research, to provide an opportunity for additional groups with complementary skills, expertise or resources to contact Research Directors. Each UKPRP consortium should be open to changing their membership during the consortium development phase.

6.   Assessment criteria for outline consortium applications 

Consortium lead, partnership and structure

Reviewers will be asked to assess:

  • whether the leadership and management strategy is convincing and coherent.
  • whether the consortium has the right critical mass, complementary skills, and mix of disciplines and users.
  • whether the expertise assembled is appropriate and sufficient to answer the research questions posed.
  • the research standing of the lead researchers in their own fields.
  • whether the embedding of users in the consortium will deliver co-production of applications and evidence directly relevant to the user.
  • the plans for knowledge transfer.

Full-time coverage for the Research Director’s post is not expected and the UKPRP will critically assess the levels of expertise and time allocated to this function. Where the leader of a proposed consortium and network is the same, applicants will need to provide clear justification of how both would be managed if successful.

Clarity and importance of consortium vision and goals

Reviewers will be asked to assess:

  • whether there is a clear justification for the consortium approach.
  • how the vision meets the call’s remit and the nature of the challenges to be addressed, particularly in relation to the extent to which the proposals address upstream and population level approaches to the prevention of NCDs.
  • whether the research explores the opportunities identified by the UKPRP.
  • how well the proposals address the challenge of building evidence on the impact of interventions in complex adaptive systems.
  • whether the programmes proposed are coherent with the overall vision and whether they are all needed.
  • how the research is different from what has been done previously and whether the investment will develop new research activity that will occupy a unique niche in the prevention research landscape and in which the consortium will be a key player.
  • whether the outcomes have high potential to produce actionable evidence that will bring about demonstrable change.

Scientific potential  

Reviewers will be asked to assess:

  • the importance of the research question(s) or overall challenge.
  • whether the proposed approach and methods are appropriate to the research question.
  • the prospects for good scientific progress.
  • the likelihood of answering the proposed research question.
  • within the timescale of the consortium, whether it will likely provide new scientific knowledge and or technical capability.
  • how addressing the aims might change the concepts, methods, technologies, treatments, services, or preventive interventions that drive this field.
  • the level of innovation including methods development and intervention design.
  • the suitability of the environment for the proposed research.

Wider Applicability

Reviewers will be asked to assess:

  • the extent of co-production of the proposed research, e.g. locally, regionally and/or nationally.
  • the policy relevance and importance of the research and whether there is a clear statement of the policy/practice implications in the application.
  • how engagement with users will influence or is likely to impact on policy and practice.
  • whether the plans for knowledge brokering will enable the consortium’s research evidence to influence policy and practice.
  • how the research will generate evidence and insights that will support the wider adoption of findings, particularly with reference to understanding how context may impact on outcomes.
  • an understanding of the system or policy changes required to take ideas to scale and the mechanisms to secure these changes.
  • the envisaged timescale for delivering solutions for large scale and cost-effective improvements in health and the prevention of NCDs that meet the needs of providers and policymakers.
  • if appropriate, how the consortium will deliver these plans to users in the relevant setting and in a readily and appropriately actionable way.

Value for money and cost effectiveness of the work

Reviewers will be asked to assess the value for money of the proposed research.

7. Key Dates 

Launch of call

30 October 2017

Closing date for outline applications

18 January 2018

Outline applications assessed by panel

26 April 2018

Outline proposal feedback

May 2018

Closing date for full applications        

20 November 2018

Full applications assessed, includes an interview

February 2019

8. Contact 

If you have a query about the scientific aspects of your proposal, please contact Dr Inga Mills, Programme Manager for the UKPRP, by Email: inga.mills@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk. To discuss your eligibility or any other non-scientific queries please contact the UKPRP Secretariat at UKPRP@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk

See also: