Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Transformative healthcare technologies: phase two

Apply for funding to deliver risky and ambitious ideas underpinned by science, engineering and emerging technologies in the healthcare space.

You must be based at a UK research organisation eligible for EPSRC funding.

You must have been successful at phase one of the transformative healthcare technologies opportunity to apply.

You will need to provide a comparison of the vision for this project to what was outlined in phase one (the feasibility stage).

We will fund up to six delivery projects, up to a total value of £20 million. EPSRC will fund 80% of the full economic cost. This budget is indicative and subject to final budgetary allocations.

Who can apply

This is a targeted funding opportunity for the 19 existing projects from the previous competitive transformative healthcare technologies: full proposal stage opportunity.

It is expected that the principal investigator of the feasibility project will be the principal investigator on the phase two proposal.

Standard EPSRC eligibility rules apply for all other investigators.

Check if you’re eligible for funding.

Support for international collaboration can include travel and subsistence, and consumables for research staff to visit or have extended work placements to a partner’s laboratory overseas.

Funding for visiting researchers is limited to 12 months per individual.

What we're looking for

Scope

EPSRC in collaboration with MRC is currently launching the second stage (phase two) of the transformative healthcare technologies opportunity. Through this competitive process, we aim to support up to six of the existing feasibility (phase one) projects in delivering risky, ‘out-of-the-box’ ideas underpinned by science, engineering and emerging technologies in the healthcare space.

You should seek to design your research to minimise the barriers to the future implementation of its outputs in a healthcare context. You will need to provide a comparison of the vision for the project in phase two to what was outlined in phase one (the feasibility stage).

You should also outline how outputs and findings from phase one have informed the development plans for phase two.

This opportunity will only support preclinical and pre-competitive research projects that are predominantly within EPSRC’s remit. This funding opportunity is focused on stimulating healthcare research that delivers the aims and priority objectives of the healthcare technologies theme. We expect proposals to be agile, being able to exploit emerging opportunities where relevant to the proposed research project.

These projects should be developed in the context of EPSRC priorities, including the healthcare technology grand challenges and ambitions identified in the EPSRC delivery plan due to be published in the autumn.

The healthcare technology grand challenges are currently defined as:

  • developing new therapies: focusing on the need to produce safer, more targeted treatments fit for the demands of the decades up to 2050 and beyond
  • expanding the frontiers of physical intervention: the potential to enhance established techniques and develop pioneering new approaches to such intervention that deliver high precision, minimal invasiveness and maximum impact
  • transforming health and care beyond the hospital: meeting the need for novel technologies that enable timely interventions beyond hospital settings and help people manage their own physical and mental health
  • optimising disease prediction, diagnosis and intervention: addressing both physical and mental health with techniques that optimise patient-specific illness prediction, accurate diagnosis and effective intervention.

Co-creation and impact strategy

EPSRC wishes to ensure that the research it supports through its healthcare technologies theme has the greatest chance of achieving a positive impact in human health. Researchers must incorporate how they will undertake their work in a manner that maximises the opportunity to generate real-world impact.

You will be required to develop and execute a strategy for engaging with potential users of the research funded in the project.

We are committed to investing in a diverse and connected portfolio of projects and welcome applications that support regional and national research and innovation agendas.

We expect any EPSRC funding to leverage appropriate expertise and co-investment from industrial partners as well as other project partners.

You should include plans for ongoing engagement with stakeholders throughout the project as they will be essential to achieving an impact in healthcare within 30 years’ time. You should consider both the immediate and long-term impact needs of your research and be dynamic in the range of stakeholders considered.

You should consider the skills, knowledge and expertise required for achieving impact and how these will be brought to the project through collaboration, training, consultation or other means. For tips on successful innovation, explore our impact and translation toolkit. It provides an overview of some of the barriers you may face when applying your research to solve challenges in human health and wellbeing.

Funding available

The full economic cost available is up to £20 million, with the possibility of additional funding from EPSRC for projects to transition the feasibility studies to phase two of the opportunity.

This budget is indicative and subject to final budgetary allocations.

We expect to support up to six delivery projects. EPSRC will fund 80% of the full economic cost.

Where possible, researchers are asked to make use of existing facilities and equipment, including those hosted at other universities. If equipment is needed as part of the research proposal, you must follow EPSRC’s rules for requesting equipment over £10,000 in value.

Individual items of equipment between £10,000 and £400,000 can be included on proposals if the equipment is essential to the proposed research and if no appropriate alternative provision can be accessed. Research organisations will be expected to make a 20% contribution to the cost.

Any items of equipment with a value in excess of £138,000 that are funded on research grants will need to be reported on annually as part of the university’s equipment account annual reports. This will be communicated through an additional grant condition on the research grant.

Smaller items of equipment (individually under £10,000) should be in the ‘directly incurred – other costs’ heading.

For more information, see EPSRC’s approach to equipment funding.

Responsible innovation

You are expected to work within the EPSRC framework for responsible innovation.

International collaboration

Applicants planning to include international collaborators on their proposal should visit Trusted Research for guidance on getting the most out of international collaboration whilst protecting intellectual property, sensitive research and personal information.

How to apply

You must apply using the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system.

You can find advice on completing your application in the Je-S handbook.

We recommend you start your application early.

Your host organisation will also be able to provide advice and guidance.

Submitting your application

Before starting an application, you will need to log in or create an account in Je-S.

When applying:

  1. Select ‘documents’, then ‘new document’.
  2. Select ‘call search’.
  3. To find the opportunity, search for: Transformative Healthcare Technologies: Second Phase Funding.

This will populate:

  • council: EPSRC
  • document type: standard proposal
  • scheme: standard
  • call/type/mode: Transformative Healthcare Technologies: Second Phase Funding.

Once you have completed your application, make sure you ‘submit document’.

You can save completed details in Je-S at any time and return to continue your application later.

Deadline

EPSRC must receive your application by 13 September 2022 at 16:00.

You will not be able to apply after this time. Please leave enough time for your proposal to pass through your organisation’s Je-S submission route before this date.

You should ensure you are aware of and follow any internal institutional deadlines that may be in place.

Attachments

The following documents must also be submitted.

You should attach your documents as PDFs to avoid errors. They should be completed in single-spaced Arial 11 font or similar-sized sans serif typeface. EPSRC will not accept any other attachment types under this opportunity.

Read our advice on writing proposals for EPSRC funding.

Case for support

The case for support must be nine sides of A4, two on your track record and seven on the scientific case. This must include details on:

  • the vision for phase two and what has been done in phase one, commenting on changes, if any, to the original vision
  • the co-creation and impact strategy, identifying the plans for engagement with stakeholders that will be essential to achieving an impact in healthcare in up to 30 years’ time.

Management strategy

The management strategy must be a maximum of two sides of A4 and be uploaded to Je-S using the ‘additional document’ attachment option. This should include:

  • details of the strategy for seeking external advice, including plans for any independent advisory board
  • monitoring strategy, which should include the major decision points and how this will be used to reassess the direction of the research
  • project management strategy to ensure resources (both staff and finance) are deployed in the most efficient way
  • details on risk management and how new partners will be brought on board, if relevant.

It is expected that the deliverables and milestones will be routinely reviewed to ensure that the most exciting, promising lines of research are pursued.

Work plan

The work plan must be one side of A4. It must be illustrated with a simple diagrammatic work plan, such as a Programme Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT) or Gantt chart.

Justification of resources

The justification of resources must be two sides of A4.

Curriculum Vitaes (CVs)

CVs can be up to two A4 sides each. CVs are required for named:

  • postdoctoral staff, researcher co-investigators (research assistants who have made a substantial contribution to the proposal and will be employed on the project for a significant amount of time)
  • visiting researchers.

Letters of support

Letters of support from all project partners included in the Je-S form have no page limit. The letters of support must be on headed paper, signed and dated within six months of the proposal submission date.

Read our guidance on project partners letters of support.

Quotes for equipment

Quotes for equipment above £25,000 have no page limit.

Equipment business case

The equipment business case for any items of equipment or combined assets with a value above £138,000 can be up to two sides of A4.

Technical assessments

Technical assessments for facilities listed as requiring one in the Je-S guidance have no page limit.

Host organisation letter of support

The host organisation letter of support must be two sides of A4.

Cover letter

The cover letter is an optional attachment. There is no page limit for this attachment and it is not seen by peer review.

Ethical information

EPSRC will not fund a project if it believes that there are ethical concerns that have been overlooked or not appropriately accounted for. All relevant parts of the ‘ethical information’ section must be completed.

Guidance on completing ethical information on the Je-S form.

Nominating reviewers

As part of the application process, you will be invited to nominate up to three potential reviewers who you feel have the expertise to assess your proposal. Please ensure that any nominations meet the EPSRC conflicts of interest policy.

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

This opportunity will consist of a two-stage assessment process.

Stage one: postal peer review and prioritisation panel

You are invited to submit full proposals, which will be sent to external peer reviewers for assessment. Proposals that receive unsupportive reviews will be rejected at this stage.

If sufficiently positive reviews are received, principal investigators will be invited to provide a written response to reviewers’ comments.

Proposals, reviews and principal investigators’ responses to the reviews are considered by a different set of expert peer reviewers appointed to a prioritisation panel. The top ranked proposals will then be invited to the interview stage.

Stage two: interview panel

An interview stage will be held following the prioritisation panel to select the final successful proposals. Full details of the interview process will be sent to candidates prior to the interviews.

Assessment criteria, stage one: postal peer review and prioritisation panel

Opportunity specific criteria

Fit to opportunity (primary)

This should build on the outputs from the feasibility study, identifying:

  • the impact of the study in assessing the practicality of the delivery phase and making a case for supporting its delivery. This should identify any uncertainties addressed and demonstrate that there is convincing evidence to execute the delivery phase
  • the fundamental innovation, particularly how the idea will lead to a revolution in thinking and stimulate many other innovations or changes in healthcare technologies.

Standard criteria

Quality (primary)

The research excellence of the proposal, making reference to:

  • the novelty, relationship to the context, timeliness and relevance to identified stakeholders
  • the ambition, adventure, transformative aspects or potential outcomes
  • the suitability of the proposed methodology and the appropriateness of the approach to achieving impact. For multidisciplinary proposals, please state which aspects of the proposal you feel qualified to assess.
National importance (secondary major)

How the research:

  • contributes to or helps maintain the health of other disciplines
  • contributes to addressing key local, regional or UK societal challenges informed by diverse organisations such as NHS health trusts, public health bodies and equivalent public, private and voluntary organisations across the UK
  • contributes to future local, regional or UK economic success and development of emerging industry or industries
  • meets regional or national needs by establishing, maintaining or strengthening a significant unique world-leading activity
  • complements other research funded in the area, including any relationship to the EPSRC portfolio or local and regional portfolios
  • plans for dissemination and knowledge exchange with potential beneficiaries of the research.
Applicant and partnerships (secondary)

The ability to deliver the proposed project, making reference to:

  • appropriateness of the track record of the applicant or applicants
  • balance of skills of the project team, including collaborators.
Resources and management (secondary)

The effectiveness of the proposed planning and management and whether the requested resources are appropriate and have been fully justified, making reference to:

  • any equipment requested, or the viability of the arrangements described to access equipment needed for this project, and particularly on any university or third-party contribution
  • any resources requested for activities to either increase impact, for public engagement or to support responsible innovation.

Assessment criteria, stage two: interview panel

Opportunity specific criteria

Fit to opportunity (primary)

The adventure (element of risk-taking) to explore new areas of research or to translate expertise into new application areas with anticipated high gain. This should include a comparison between the vision set out in phase two and what was outlined in phase one (the feasibility study). This should include transformative aspects of the project or potential outcomes.

Fit to opportunity (secondary)

This includes:

  • the co-creation and impact strategy: plans for engagement with stakeholders that will be essential to achieving an impact in healthcare in 30 years’ time, and a description on how the stakeholders will be involved throughout the project. You should consider both the immediate and long-term impact needs of your research and be dynamic in the range of stakeholders considered
  • the management strategy: the applicant’s strategy to seek relevant independent advice. This should demonstrate a monitoring and management plan that ensures the deployment of resources in the most effective way to deliver high quality research outputs
  • the strategic fit to one or more of the healthcare technologies grand challenges.

Feedback

Feedback on the full proposal is provided by the reviewer’s comments. Unless sifted prior to the meeting, the rank order list information is published on the EPSRC’s Grants on the Web. Information will be published on Grants on the Web shortly after the meeting.

Guidance for reviewers

Read EPSRC’s peer review process and guidance for reviewers.

Contact details

Get help with developing your proposal

For help and advice on costings and writing your proposal, please contact your research office in the first instance, allowing sufficient time for your organisation’s submission process.

Ask about this funding opportunity

Healthcare Technologies team

Email: healthcare@epsrc.ukri.org

Laura Cadman, Healthcare Technologies team

Email: laura.cadman@epsrc.ukri.org

Get help with applying through Je-S

Email

jeshelp@je-s.ukri.org

Telephone

01793 444164

Opening times

Je-S helpdesk opening times

Additional info

Background

The healthcare technologies theme aims to invest in high risk and high gain research to support the next generation of underpinning science and emerging technologies. The focus of this opportunity is adventurous projects that will transform healthcare for 2050. This includes technologies expected to have an impact within the next 30 years for the NHS, community or home care and an ageing workforce.

We are looking to support ambitious projects that are cross-disciplinary and could change the context of healthcare delivery. These are projects that can either revolutionise existing fields, or support discovery that might lead to radically new (disruptive) technologies.

The Transformative Healthcare Technologies initiative is aligned with emerging priorities in EPSRC’s draft delivery plan, especially transforming health and healthcare. In particular, recognising the importance of responsible innovation and co-creation within this space and, where relevant to the aims of specific projects, the role of digital technologies and artificial intelligence.

Grant additional conditions

Grants are awarded under the standard UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) grant terms and conditions.

Publicity and branding

In addition to RGC 12.4 Publication and Acknowledgement of Support, you must make reference to EPSRC, MRC and UKRI funding and include the UKRI logo and relevant branding on all online or printed materials (including press releases, posters, exhibition materials and other publications) related to activities funded by this grant.

Management structure

You should have established an appropriate management structure with clear lines of responsibility and authority to oversee the day-to-day running of the project. This should be in place within six months of the start date of the grant. The terms of reference and management structure, including the director, co-director and senior investigators, must be approved by us (and other bodies) in advance, as must any changes to this structure.

The project officer will be our main contact with the project, and must receive all meeting minutes of the management committees. We reserve the right to attend any meetings.

Project review

In addition to the requirements set out in standard UKRI grant conditions RGC 7.4 Research Monitoring and Evaluation and 7.5 Disclosure and Inspection, we reserve the right to instigate a review of all or part of the grant at any stage during the lifetime of the award as well as after the grant has finished. A mid-term review of this grant will take place to assess the performance of the grant in line with the peer reviewed body of work, published scheme assessment criteria and key performance indicators, milestones and deliverables.

We will give you due notice of the date of any review and will provide details of the terms of reference and documentation required. Any review will be conducted by an expert panel, which will make recommendations to us for the grant’s future.

Responsible innovation

EPSRC is fully committed to develop and promote responsible innovation. Research has the ability to not only produce understanding, knowledge and value, but also unintended:

  • consequences
  • questions
  • ethical dilemmas
  • social transformations.

We recognise that we have a duty of care to promote approaches to responsible innovation that will initiate ongoing reflection about the potential ethical and societal implications of the research that we sponsor and to encourage our research community to do likewise.

Supporting documents

Equality impact assessment form (PDF, 196KB)

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