Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Public health intervention development (PHIND): Jan 2021

Apply for funding to develop early-stage interventions for a UK or global public health issue.

You must be a UK-based researcher at an eligible research organisation. This includes:

  • higher education institutions
  • approved independent research organisations
  • approved NHS bodies
  • research council institutes.

Your project can last up to 18 months. Funding is available for 80% of its full economic cost.

Your proposal must focus on developing the intervention.

You can collaborate with:

  • industry partners
  • international co-investigators who offer expertise not available in the UK.

This opportunity opens twice a year.

Who can apply

Any UK-based researcher with an employment contract at an eligible research organisation can apply for this funding opportunity.

International co-investigators can be included if they provide expertise not available in the UK.

You can include one or more industry partners as project partners in your application.

You can find more details on eligibility in section one of our guidance for applicants.

What we're looking for

Proposals can include qualitative and quantitative primary research and the development of theory and logic models; however, emphasis should be placed on developing the intervention.

Co-production with relevant stakeholders, including users, is strongly encouraged and applicants should consider the incorporation of systems thinking to address public health challenges. It is justifiable to focus on just one aspect of a system as long as the wider system’s context is recognised, for example in the framework for evaluation.

Population level interventions, with a focus on non-health care settings (such as transport, education, employment, leisure and the built environment), are encouraged.

“Population” is defined as a group of individuals an intervention may take place within, for example, schools, prisons, or larger communities and regions.

Examples of the focus of health related, population-level interventions include:

  • transport, education, employment, leisure and the built environment
  • healthcare settings are not excluded, but projects should demonstrate potential for improvement
  • health of general, high risk or vulnerable populations.

Within the application, the following should be addressed:

  • definition of the intervention
  • a clear theory behind the proposed intervention
  • specification of the form(s) and function(s) of the intervention
  • identification of the individual components of the intervention and their inter-relationships
  • how proposals should address continued refinements of interventions and sustainability
  • scalability of interventions.

The creation of new interventions where active components of existing interventions are combined to create a new intervention is allowed within the scope for this call.

Proposals should demonstrate a pathway to further development and evaluation of the intervention and criteria for progression to the next stage of development should be detailed within the Case for Support.

Please refer to the 10 tips for writing a PHIND application.

The following activities are not within the scope of this call:

  • NHS interventions
  • interventions treating clinical conditions or improving health services delivery
  • systematic reviews and meta-analyses
  • standalone feasibility studies and pilot studies
  • the wholesale transfer of a proven intervention to a new context, setting or target population.

You should contact the PHIND Secretariat if you are unsure whether your proposal is within the remit of the call:

Applicants can apply for up to £150,000, for a maximum of 18 months.

Funds requested by UK research organisations (ROs) will be funded at 80% of the full economic cost. Overseas costs will be funded at 100% full economic cost.

Funds may be requested to support costs attributable to the study including investigator and research staff time, consumables, equipment and travel.

A limited amount (approximately 15%) of the overall cost could be allocated to some acceptability and feasibility research, to further develop the intervention, help cement a collaboration or to underpin further work to help the case for a future grant application.

The usual MRC funding and eligibility rules apply. Please see Guidance for applicants for information regarding eligibility.

How to apply

Your application should consist of the following items:

  1. The online Je-S form

Your proposal should be submitted through the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system.

Select the following:

  • council: MRC
  • document type: Standard Proposal
  • scheme: Research Grant
  • call: PHIND January 2021.

Please note that all co-applicants should be registered on Je-S.

  1. Case for Support

Your Case for Support should be structured using the headings listed in the guidance document and uploaded to your Je-S application as a PDF. It should be a maximum of four A4 pages (11-point text), plus one additional page for references.

In your Case for Support, the main study refers to the subsequent intervention development phases that would be informed by or could lead on from the proposed intervention development study. It is important to demonstrate the pathway to the main study and latter evaluation stages in your proposal.

  1. Justification of resources requested

Please describe what funding is being requested and explain how these funds will be used.

Please include any other funding sources which are supporting aspects of the proposed research. It should be a maximum of 500 words.

  1. CVs and publication lists

A separate CV and publication list should be uploaded for each of the principal investigators, co-investigators and named individual research staff. Each CV and publication list should be uploaded as separate documents and should be a maximum of one page each.

  1. Letters of support

Where relevant, please include letters of support from relevant stakeholders, such as policy makers and user organisations.

  1. GANTT Chart

Applicants can include a GANTT chart as a separate file with their submissions. However, this is not a mandatory document. The chart is available on the list of attachments that can be uploaded onto Je-S.

For further information on applying to the MRC, please see the Guidance for Applicants.

Please note the following exceptions to the guidance for the PHIND call:

  • Case for Support, maximum of four pages, plus one page for references
  • a Data Management Plan is not required.

How we will assess your application

Applicants should consider carefully the following criteria which will be taken into account by the expert review panel when assessing proposals:

  • the importance of the public health question and the need for an intervention to address the issue(s), taking account of the current landscape
  • the proposed approach including methodology, innovation and likelihood of the outcomes of the proposed study to fill a current gap in knowledge
  • the research team, research environment, stakeholder partners and user participation and engagement
  • how novel the intervention is and whether it brings together disciplines and actors that may not normally be involved in public health research
  • impact:

o appropriate engagement plans with users and key stakeholders, such as policy makers, to accelerate impact

o appropriateness of communication and knowledge exchange plans.

Applications will be assessed by an expert review panel comprised of independent academics and public health research representatives. The panel will have close links with NIHR and MRC Global Health to ensure the public health relevance of the proposals and to increase the potential success of future applications for piloting and evaluative studies.

The expert review panel meeting will take place approximately eight weeks after the submission deadline. Panel feedback will be provided to all applicants, approximately four to six weeks after the meeting.

Proposals which are outside the scope of the call will not be assessed by the panel.

Contact details

To discuss your eligibility or any queries please contact the PHIND Secretariat at

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