Aims of the population health improvement network of clusters
UKRI seeks to establish a new high profile, national interdisciplinary research network which will explore novel ways to transform health through change at the population level across the UK and reduce health inequalities. This network will be formed by multiple research clusters that address a specific challenge to progress systems interventions in communities using funding from this initiative.
This initiative aims to explicitly include people who typically have not applied their expertise to improving population health before and to work together with researchers already in the area to catalyse creative and innovative approaches that build on and synergise existing strengths and build new capabilities.
The goal is a holistic, 360 degree perspective of the biological, social, economic, behavioural, cultural and environmental influences on the physical, cognitive and mental health and wellbeing of populations. Together with development and evaluation of radically, innovative interventions at the population level that are based on systems approaches.
The network will form part of a portfolio of investments supported through the UKRI securing better health, ageing and wellbeing strategic theme, as set out in the UKRI strategy 2022 to 2027.
The success of the network will depend on coordination and synergy between clusters. Each cluster will work proactively with the network director to drive the network ambition of improving population health and health equity.
Current status of the population health improvement network
The related population health improvement (PHI) network of clusters funding opportunity opened on 27 April and will close on 28 July. The funding Panel meeting will take place in October 2023. Awards for the research clusters will start on 1 April 2024.
To be supported through this funding opportunity, the director will assemble a team consisting of:
- senior network manager
- communications manager
- administrative assistant
This team will work closely with the leads of each of the population health improvement research clusters to form the coordination hub.
This award will provide funding for the team (director, senior network manager, communications manager, administrative assistant) of up to £1 million (100% FEC) (UKRI will fund 80% FEC, meaning up to £800,000) over 4.5 years.
The director will be responsible for the management and disbursement of a collaboration and innovation fund of £1 million (100% FEC).
The overarching role of the director will be to:
- facilitate and incentivise collaboration across the research clusters and wider community engaged in research that is, or could be relevant to population health improvement, to share learning and information
- foster community building, interdisciplinarity and inclusivity
- ensure effective coordination and collaboration between the PHI network and other parts of the population health research landscape
- coordinate PHI network level communication and public engagement activities
- manage the governance processes of the PHI network and lead on reporting and assurance, including reporting to the funders
- provide scientific and financial management of the collaboration and innovation fund
Hub team roles
Specific details on the requirements for the team are outlined below.
The director will be an outstanding collaborator and have a strong strategic vision and proven track records of delivery of population level research or related resources. This individual will be responsible for shaping the delivery of the population health improvement network of clusters. The director should have interdisciplinary expertise and an understanding of how to meet diverse research needs. The director will have the ability and experience to develop and lead an internationally renowned resource, which will coordinate and deliver research that has potential to improve the health of communities across the UK and reduce health inequalities.
- leadership of the PHI network of research clusters
- report to the Oversight Board and funders as described below.
- guiding the development and delivery of the PHI network, working with the clusters and their collaborators to ensure that the PHI network meets its strategic objectives
- ensuring balance and inclusion of communities from multiple disciplines and drawing on each community’s abilities to support each other
- building and maintaining trust with all PHI stakeholders, particularly the research cluster leads, cultivating cohesion and interdisciplinary collaboration
- advocating widely for PHI research both within and beyond the UK
- effective management of budgets, risks and issues, reporting and raising as required to the Board responsible for oversight of the PHI project
- line management of the Hub team
- presenting proposals for distribution of the PHI network collaboration and innovation fund to the oversight board for approval, and ensuring effective delivery
The role will be part-time, with an expected minimum of 0.4 FTE.
Senior network manager
The senior network manager will be responsible for driving and monitoring the delivery of the PHI network, working with the director to ensure that the objectives are clearly defined and achieved within the agreed time, cost and quality constraints. The senior network manager will have sufficient seniority to play a key role in project governance and working with stakeholders to ensure the agreed project outputs are delivered.
- day to day management and coordination of the network
- working with the director and leads of the clusters to support budget management, forecasting and reporting
- scheduling and managing resources to deliver the project
- identifying and monitoring project risks and issues, developing mitigating actions and escalate as appropriate
- providing key reports and supporting effective governance and decision making
- providing highlight reports to UKRI that update on progress against achieving milestones and agreed deliverables
The senior network manager is expected to be 0.5 FTE or above.
The communications manager will have overarching strategic responsibility for the full range of the PHI network’s communications activities, including digital (web, social media and audiovisual), publications, events and media relations, as well as a key role in delivering public engagement on behalf of the resource.
This role will also focus on engaging and communicating with PHI’s key stakeholders. The communications manager will work closely with the director and colleagues across the PHI research clusters, facilitating internal communication and ensuring external outputs are coordinated.
- developing and maintaining specific internal and external communications and stakeholder engagement strategies for the PHI network
- mapping and management, working with the director, of PHI’s stakeholders, identifying key influencers and engaging productively to further strategic objectives, including securing meetings, drafting briefings, letters and presentations and responding to government consultations
- manage communication with the public around the benefit of PHI network including responding to questions from the public and other interested parties
- developing and delivering a programme of public engagement work with stakeholders to help understand people’s views about their health and build support for PHI
- working closely with the research clusters to support and coordinate development (where applicable) and delivery of their communications plans, raising awareness of opportunities such as funding and training opportunities, managing knowledge exchange events and seminars
- organising and running PHI events, such as stakeholder roundtables and conference sessions, and representing PHI via networking at external events
- working with colleagues to develop and deliver a standalone PHI website and its subsequent day-to-day management, keeping it up to date, drafting and uploading news stories and blogs
- drafting press releases and comment pieces, identifying media opportunities and building productive relationships with key journalists
The communications manager is expected to be 0.4 FTE or above.
The administrative assistant will provide administrative support to the director, senior network manager and communications manager.
The administrative assistant is expected to be 0.4 FTE or above.
The Hub will be responsible for:
- managing community-building workshops and other measures to build PHI cohesion
- ensuring delivery of activities that have impact within clusters and across the network
- financial and governance oversight of the network including reporting
Collaboration and Innovation fund
The director will manage a ‘collaboration and innovation fund’ of £1 million (100% FEC) which will be allocated through a defined mechanism to promote and incentivise collaboration across the PHI research clusters and to support the development of emerging areas of need. This could be used to fund activities led by the coordination hub, the research clusters, or commissioned externally, and the director’s proposed uses for the fund will be put to the PHI oversight group for approval.
Monitoring and reporting
At the start of the award, the director will be required to produce an updated timeline, deliverables list and risk register for PHI.
The coordination hub roles will report to the director. The director will report to the oversight board overseeing PHI.
This is a 4.5 year award expected to start on or after 1 October 2023, to allow the director to start 6 months ahead of the research clusters, which will begin on 1 April 2023.
A total of £2 million (100% FEC) is available of which UKRI will fund 80% (£1.6 million) for the 4.5 year award.
This award will provide funding for the team (director, senior network manager, communications manager and administrative assistant) and its activities of up to £1 million (100% FEC) over 4.5 years.
The award will cover salaries of the team (director, senior network manager, communications manager and administrative assistant), funding for the responsibilities described above (such as running workshops, networking and website costs), travel and subsistence, overheads and estates.
The director will also be responsible for the management and disbursement of a collaboration and innovation fund of £1 million (100% FEC) which will be available to facilitate cross-cluster working, pilot work (through an internal competitive process) and enhanced training opportunities.
While the funding for the collaboration and innovation fund is provided as part of the same award, it is ringfenced. The funding will be provided to the director for onward distribution and management, they must be used for the purposes described above, and as set out in the award terms and conditions.