Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Pre-announcement: population health improvement network of clusters

Apply for funding to lead a population health improvement research cluster.

For the purposes of this funding opportunity a research cluster is a group of interdisciplinary researchers working together to address an important population health challenge.

Up to 7 research clusters will be funded, each addressing a separate yet complementary challenge. Together they will form an interdisciplinary network, which will generate research to improve the health of communities across the UK, reduce health inequalities, and develop and evaluate effective, long-lasting and environmentally sustainable interventions.

We will appoint a director through a separate process, who will work closely with research cluster leads to integrate activity across the network.

You must be based at a UK research organisation eligible for UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) funding.

We will fund 80% of your cluster’s full economic cost, with an expected investment of £5 million to £7 million per 4-year cluster.

This is a pre-announcement and the information may change.

More information will be available on this page when the funding opportunity opens.

Who can apply

UK-based academics from any discipline at an institution eligible for UKRI funding.

Applications are expected from groupings of researchers from multiple disciplines, institutions and research interests.

What we're looking for

Full information about what we’re looking for will be published in January 2023. This information is subject to change.

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. This network will build on research by multiple 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.

Each cluster must:

  • bring together multiple research organisations
  • include expertise from multiple disciplines and stakeholders to co-develop solutions for complex challenges
  • identify creative ways to broaden inclusion and strengthen engagement and partnerships with communities, people with lived experience and policy makers to identify and co-design the cluster challenge
  • synergise and enhance existing UK strengths
  • clearly set out deliverables for practical outcomes and impact and how they will be measured
  • develop and host an innovative and multidimensional training provision to encourage a new generation of future leaders
  • remain open to new members, partnerships and collaborations

The success of the network will depend on coordination and synergy between clusters and each cluster will work proactively with the director to drive the network ambition of improving population health and health equity. We will run a series of engagement events in spring 2023 to help bring people together, develop ideas and shape research clusters.

A coordination hub consisting of the network director, leads of each of the clusters, and a small team of core-support staff will manage the network. The director will be commissioned via a separate announcement and process.

The UKRI 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.

Challenges can be around methods development or take topic-driven approaches. Examples of potential topics include:

  • close links between health impact of poverty and poor-quality living environments
  • addressing health consequences of the local environment
  • access to safe, nutritious, affordable food
  • behavioural and cultural insights into physical activity relating to urban environments and transport solutions
  • exploring how creative interventions can contribute to the prevention of ill-health, promotion of healthy behaviours, management of long-term conditions, and treatment and recovery across the life course
  • health benefits from public sector spending allocations
  • new methods for evaluation of interventions in complex systems

This list is not exclusive and we encourage applicants to think creatively around the challenges that could be addressed and the impact that could be achieved.

How to apply

Guidance on how to apply will be published on the funding finder in January 2023.

How we will assess your application

More information on how we will assess your application will be published in January 2023.

Contact details

Population Health Improvement team


Additional info


We will run a population health improvement webinar on Friday 27 January at 2pm for orientation followed by further engagement events.

Register for the webinar.

This is the integrated website of the 7 research councils, Research England and Innovate UK.
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