Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Transforming care and health at home and enabling independence

Apply for funding for a multidisciplinary project enabling people to:

  • transform their care and health
  • be more independent.

You must be a researcher living in the UK and eligible for EPSRC funding.

You must focus on at least one of:

  • staying independent at home
  • staying healthy at home
  • making care easier through building design and technologies
  • using and developing new tools and collecting data to help with decisions on housing and care.

The full economic cost of your project depends on the type of work you apply to do:

  • creating multidisciplinary networks: less than £1.5 million
  • research: at least £500,000
  • early-stage research or disseminating outputs: up to £499,999.

EPSRC and NIHR will fund 80% of the full economic cost.

Update, 1 October
We have added guidance on:

  • principal investigators submitting one application
  • the number of co-investigators on NetworkPlus applications
  • early career researchers
  • public and patient involvement and engagement (PPIE)
  • our definitions of ‘home’ and ‘independence’
  • technology readiness levels
  • duration expectations for small grants
  • community groups and end users as reviewers
  • the recording and answers given at the online event for applicants.

Who can apply

Those based in non-UK countries and businesses can be involved in the application as project partners, members of the management or advisory boards and so on. However, they are not eligible to be investigators.

Standard EPSRC eligibility rules apply.

Research grants are open to:

  • UK higher education institutions
  • research council institutes
  • UKRI-approved independent research organisations
  • eligible public sector research establishments
  • NHS bodies with research capacity.

Read the UKRI guidance on institutional eligibility.

You can apply if you are resident in the UK and meet at least one of the bullets below:

  • are employed at the submitting research organisation at a level equivalent to lecturer or above
  • hold a fixed-term contract that extends beyond the duration of the proposed project, and the host research organisation is prepared to give you all the support normal for a permanent employee
  • hold an EPSRC, Royal Society or Royal Academy of Engineering fellowship aimed at later career stages
  • hold fellowships under other schemes (please contact EPSRC to check eligibility, which is considered on a case-by-case basis).

Holders of postdoctoral level fellowships are not eligible to apply for an EPSRC grant.

Submissions to this funding opportunity will count towards the repeatedly unsuccessful applicants policy.

There are no constraints on the number of applications that may be submitted from a single institution through this funding opportunity. However, EPSRC expects that organisations will only put forward the most promising and competitive projects for this funding opportunity.

We expect a principal investigator to submit only one proposal for each type of grant. However, they can be co-investigators on other proposals as part of this funding opportunity.

There is no set limit to the number of co-investigators that can be included in a NetworkPlus application. However, we expect all co-investigators to be able to make a meaningful contribution to the project and be able to realistically meet their estimated time commitment.

For applicants previously not registered on Je-S, please allow additional time to complete registration.

Collaboration is strongly encouraged between:

  • engineers
  • social care researchers
  • health researchers
  • health and social care professionals
  • data, computer, social and design scientists
  • statisticians
  • social care providers and commissioners
  • local authorities
  • patient and public representatives.

This shouldn’t be interpreted as a requirement for maximum coverage, but for projects to seriously consider who the most necessary and relevant stakeholders are.

Early career researchers can be the principal investigator or a co-investigator. These applications may need to demonstrate greater evidence that they have the expertise and commitment to be able to carry out the research project for its full duration. We would also expect to see plans for appropriate support and mentorship for early career researchers leading applications.

Public and patient involvement and engagement (PPIE) investigators can be partners on your application.

What we're looking for

We are seeking high-quality proposals that aim to address key issues at the intersection of housing, social care and health, which specifically focus on one or both of these:

  • transforming care and health at home
  • enabling independence.

Definitions of the terms in this funding opportunity

Home

We are taking a fairly broad interpretation of the meaning of home to include any home residential setting, including:

  • private residence
  • care and nursing home
  • sheltered accommodation
  • provided housing.

Independence

The focus of this funding opportunity is geared towards:

  • preventative health and social care, rather than the provision of clinical interventions
  • how the home environment can best support care and maintain health for individuals.

Thus, there is a strong focus on health maintenance and self-management in such a way as to enhance independence. Independence in this sense is about quality of life for individuals and families and supporting people to be able to live the life they want to and take part in activities that are meaningful for them.

Themes

We expect proposals to focus on one or more of the following themes.

Maintaining independence at home

You can focus on:

  • adaptations of existing homes
  • development, acceptability and user-friendly design of these technologies:
    • communication
    • self-care apps
    • entertainment
    • smart devices
  • innovations in:
    • assistive technology
    • artificial intelligence
    • wearables
  • evaluation of innovative models of housing and domiciliary or community care.

Maintaining health within the home

You can focus on:

  • providing thermal comfort
  • enabling:
    • adequate ventilation
    • noise protection
    • sufficient space.

Enabling care readiness

You can focus on:

  • innovative design of new buildings
  • integration of technologies (beyond interventions in individual homes)
  • facilitation of community building through design
  • architecture for healthier living
  • models of housing and care
  • promotion of community wellbeing.

Enabling informed decisions on housing and care choices

You could, for example, focus on the design of new tools and analysis or collection of data that helps:

  • support better decision making for end users
  • provide in-depth analysis, monitoring and visualisation of data
  • support the delivery of health and social care services in the community.

Cross-cutting challenges

We have highlighted five cross-cutting challenges that should be addressed through this opportunity. All applicants should consider these as part of their application. We do not expect all applications to cover all five cross-cutting themes, although some may well do. These include:

  • creating network opportunities to help foster multidisciplinary working, including supporting co-production where relevant, and strong patient and public involvement (PPI)
  • creating research opportunities that seek to understand and address the needs of a diverse range of different groups and communities, particularly those traditionally under-served by research
  • ensuring the needs of users are embedded in the heart of any research activity from the outset
  • exploring a wide range of technological developments in terms of:
    • retrofitting solutions
    • prompting behavioural change
    • prolonging independence
    • facilitating health and wellbeing
  • considering the ethical implications of any technological developments in the field, especially with respect to:
    • the collection and use of data
    • regulatory approval
    • evidence of acceptability.

Technology readiness levels

Proposals generally need to relate to technology readiness levels levels one to three.

Proposals that use existing engineering and physical sciences for a novel application that requires validation in a home setting, for example, may be in scope. However the proposal must clearly demonstrate how the research meets one of the core themes, and addresses the cross-cutting challenges identified.

Approaches we encourage

Proposals that strongly support co-creation with multiple stakeholders, including proactively seeking patient and public representatives, are particularly encouraged.

We also encourage proposals that:

  • specifically focus on technological developments that support a diverse range of needs for end users and their communities
  • consider the ethical implications of any technological changes that are suggested in terms of:
    • the collection and use of data
    • regulatory approval
    • evidence of acceptability.

Public and patient involvement and engagement

You must consider PPIE perspectives at all stages of a research project – whether this is at the initial or end stage. We encourage consultation with PPIE representatives even in the early stages of development.

Outputs

All proposals should demonstrate consideration of the intended audiences and end users of the outputs being produced.

We expect that a range of different types of output will be required to ensure that evidence is available and useful to policy makers, commissioners and service users, as well as academic communities.

We expect a number of projects that are funded through this funding opportunity to generate evidence to support decision making for local authorities to improve health within their local populations, or across multiple local authorities, and reduce health inequalities.

Funding available

This funding opportunity will fund three different types of grants.

NetworkPlus grants

These grants aim to bring those from research, local authorities, the social care sector, and industry, alongside end users to undertake a variety of activities. This can include:

  • workshops
  • events
  • feasibility studies
  • secondments
  • horizon scanning.

The activities are intended to build and develop collaborations and undertake small point of care or feasibility studies to prepare for future research applications.

Networks funded by the NetworkPlus scheme should aim to use a multidisciplinary approach and form an agenda for future research in the area. It is essential that patient, public and user engagement is considered in the wider network membership. Network activities should be UK-wide and should involve a broad range of disciplines and include non-academic stakeholders from relevant sectors, such as:

  • the housing and social care sector
  • the NHS
  • industry
  • local authorities.

We expect NetworkPlus grants to fund different scales of feasibility studies that are appropriate for different research topics or disciplines.

We will award both directly incurred and directly allocated expenditure under the heading of ‘flexible funds’. We will also nominate a project officer to be your primary point of contact for the NetworkPlus grant. Please contact us for more information on these additional grant conditions for NetworkPlus grants.

Research grants

We welcome proposals that focus on the social care, economic or health impacts of housing, and can include:

  • research on existing housing stock
  • models of care and housing
  • new and existing technologies
  • housing inequity in relation to social care or health
  • integration of health, social care and community services
  • long-term housing support, including affordability and design considerations.

We particularly encourage research that:

  • enables independent living, especially for individuals with a diverse range of needs and of differing demographics
  • addresses housing and social care inequities, especially as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • focuses on intergenerational housing studies.

We expect proposals to ensure any evidence that is produced is disseminated in such a way that is useful and accessible for end users. These grants are intended to:

  • stimulate research already in the pipeline or build on existing feasibility or pilot work
  • encourage the development of a strong evidence base in these areas.

Small grants

These can be:

  • for pilot or feasibility research studies
  • to support the synthesis, dissemination or mobilisation of existing evidence, or more than one of these
  • evaluation of innovative initiatives in the area.

We also encourage proposals that focus on the collection of existing data sets with the purpose of forming a single, possibly national, data repository.

Funding available

This funding opportunity is in partnership with the NIHR, who will be co-funding proposals.

Successful proposals will be funded at 80% of full economic cost. Applications should not exceed £1.5 million 100% full economic cost. We will not be awarding above this limit for any of the three grant types.

The following figures are indicative only:

  • NetworkPlus grants (less than £1.5 million, 100% full economic cost)
  • research grants (more than £500,000, 100% full economic cost)
  • small grants (less than £499,999, 100% full economic cost).

Each proposal will have its own research needs depending on the type of research carried out and the research questions being addressed. You only need to ensure that any values proposed are reflective of those needs. Value for money is one of the success criteria the panel will be scoring applications against.

The applicant can request funding for anything that is eligible as detailed in the EPSRC funding guide.

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

EPSRC will pay the research costs associated with the NHS component of a proposal, however NHS support and NHS treatment costs will not be covered. Read the guidance on NHS costs.

PPIE costs be included under ‘directly incurred costs’. For more information on resources that are eligible, see the patients and the public stakeholder engagement webpage.

Your project can last up to three years. We expect small grants to last 18 to 24 months.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

The long-term strength of the UK research base depends on harnessing all the available talent. EPSRC expects that equality and diversity is embedded at all levels and in all aspects of research practice and funding policy.

We are committed to supporting the research community, offering a range of flexible options which allow applicants to design a package that fits their research goals, career and personal circumstances. This includes:

  • career breaks
  • support for people with caring responsibilities
  • flexible working
  • alternative working patterns.

With this in mind, we welcome applications from academics who job share, have a part-time contract, or need flexible working arrangements. Peer review is central to EPSRC funding decisions. We require expert advice and robust decision-making processes for all EPSRC funding initiatives. We are committed to ensuring that fairness is fully reflected in all our funding processes by advancing policy which supports equality, diversity and inclusion.

For more information see EPSRC’s equality and diversity web pages.

Responsible innovation

EPSRC is fully committed to developing and promoting responsible innovation.

Research has the ability to produce not only understanding, knowledge and value, but also unintended consequences, questions, ethical dilemmas and, at times, unexpected 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.

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

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

Guidance on journal-based metrics

As part of our commitment to support the recommendations and principles set out by the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), UKRI reviewers and panel members are advised not to use journal-based metrics, such as journal impact factors, as a surrogate measure of the quality of individual research articles, to assess an investigator’s contributions, or to make funding decisions.

The content of a paper is more important than publication metrics, or the identity of the journal, in which it was published, especially for early-stage researchers. Reviewers and panel members are encouraged to consider the value and impact of all research outputs (including datasets, software, inventions, patents, preprints, other commercial activities, and so on) in addition to research publications.

We advise our peer reviewers and panel members to consider a broad range of impact measures including qualitative indicators of research impact, such as influence on policy and practice.

How to apply

Notify EPSRC via an expression of interest

All applicants wishing to submit a proposal to this funding opportunity will need to submit an expression of interest form by 7 October 2021 16:00.

EPSRC will acknowledge receipt of your expression of interest. The information provided through the expression of interest process is not intended to unduly constrain the content of the proposal, nor will it inform how proposals are decided.

Expression of interest responses will be used to give us an indication of the level of interest and enable us to identify reviewers and panel members more efficiently.

We ask for:

  • name, institution and department
  • email address (use the email address registered in your Je-S profile)
  • rough list of partners involved with your proposal
  • brief summary of your proposal (up to 1,000 characters)
  • five keywords relating to the research in your proposal
  • approximate value of the funds (in £) to be requested from EPSRC and NIHR (at 80% full economic cost)
  • names of three nominated reviewers for your proposal.

Your expression of interest will not be assessed. You will not be turned down at the expression of interest stage. You can submit the full application once you have submitted the expression of interest.

Only one person for each application will need to submit an expression of interest.

Submit an application

Make sure you are aware of and comply with any internal institutional deadlines that may be in place.

Prepare and submit your proposal using the research councils’ Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system.

For applicants previously not registered on Je-S, please allow additional time to complete registration.

Apply for a NetworkPlus grant

When adding a new proposal to apply for a NetworkPlus grant, you should go to documents, select ‘new document’ and ‘create new document’, then:

  • council: EPSRC
  • document type: standard proposal
  • scheme: standard
  • call, type or mode: Transforming care and health at home and enabling independence (NetworkPlus).

Apply for a research or small grant

When adding a new proposal to apply for a research or small grant, you should go to documents, select ‘new document’ and ‘create new document’, then:

  • council: EPSRC
  • document type: standard proposal
  • scheme: standard
  • call, type or mode: Transforming care and health at home and enabling independence (Research).

Requirements for all submissions

After completing the application:

  • you must ‘submit document’, which will send your application to your host organisation’s administration
  • your host organisation’s administration is required to complete the submission process.

Applicants should allow sufficient time for your organisation’s submission process between submitting your proposal to them and the funding opportunity closing date

EPSRC must receive your application by 21 October 2021 16:00.

As well as the Je-S application form, the following documents must be submitted:

  • case for support: eight pages, two on your track record and six on the scientific case
  • workplan: one page
  • justification of resources: two pages
  • CVs: up to two A4 sides each only for:
    • named post-doctoral 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 from all project partners included in the Je-S form: no page limit
  • quotes for equipment above £25,000: no page limit
  • cover letter: optional attachment, no page limit, not seen by peer review.

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.

Read advice on writing proposals.

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.

For further guidance on completing the Je-S form read the Je-S handbook. EPSRC guidance can be found under ‘additional information’.

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

This funding opportunity is an invitation for proposals. Proposals will undergo postal peer review, followed by panel, resulting in a rank-ordered list. The reviewers’ role will be to comment on how well the proposal meets both EPSRC’s standard and funding opportunity-specific assessment criteria. If a sufficient number of reviews are supportive, applicants will be invited to respond to these comments. Proposals will be ranked by a prioritisation panel using the reviewers’ comments and the principal investigator response. A decision is expected to be made within two weeks of the panel meeting.

All three grant types will be considered at the same prioritisation panel on separate lists, which will be tensioned when making final funding decisions.

Proposals will be shared with NIHR to provide reviewer suggestions. Successful proposals will have ongoing contact with both EPSRC and NIHR throughout the lifetime of the grant with all post award management and contracting undertaken by EPSRC. One or more representatives from NIHR will be present during the panel meeting.

In the event of this funding opportunity being substantially oversubscribed as to be unmanageable, EPSRC reserves the right to modify the assessment process.

Assessment criteria

Funding opportunity-specific criteria

Fit to funding opportunity (primary):

  • how the project addresses one or more of the core themes
  • how the applicants will bring disciplines together to ensure the project achieves a result greater than the sum of its parts
  • whether co-design with citizens or social care, local authority, health care stakeholders will be incorporated into the methodology and deliver impact; and if so, the appropriateness of resources for this
  • how the project includes plans for widening participation and collaboration with other relevant disciplines in a way that encourages capacity building
  • for NetworkPlus grants, the extent to which planned activities allow for the generation of new ideas
  • for NetworkPlus grants, a description of how the network will have impact in terms of engagement and dissemination with a range of evidence users
  • for NetworkPlus grants, plans for sustainability of the collaboration or activity beyond the lifetime of the grant.

Standard criteria

Please note the following standard assessment criteria are different to the standard assessment criteria on EPSRC webpages. Please read the full funding opportunity guidance for more information.

Quality (primary), the research excellence, making reference to the:

  • novelty, relationship to the context, timeliness, and relevance to identified stakeholders
  • ambition, adventure, transformative aspects or potential outcomes
  • suitability of the proposed methodology and the appropriateness of the approach to achieving impact.

National importance (secondary major), how the research:

  • contributes to, or helps maintain, the health of other disciplines to addressing key UK societal challenges, or contributes to future UK economic success and development of emerging industry or industries, or both of these
  • articulates a clear pathway to patient or public benefit in the area of housing and social care or health
  • meets national needs by establishing or maintaining a unique world-leading activity
  • complements other UK research funded in the area, including any relationship to the EPSRC or NIHR portfolio.

Applicant and partnerships (secondary), the ability to deliver the proposed project, making reference to:

  • appropriateness of the track record of the applicant or applicants, and appropriateness of the research team to provide the breadth and depth of expertise necessary to the delivery of the proposed work
  • balance of skills of the project team, including collaborators, clearly stipulating the roles and responsibilities of each team member.

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
  • a description of dissemination and stakeholder engagement plans in a way that is clear and credible, including a description on whether identified audiences are appropriate and needs properly considered
  • fully resourced patient and public engagement and involvement in the development of the application and throughout the lifetime of the project
  • appropriateness of the workplan and management arrangements
  • sufficient description on the resources required to deliver the proposed work in a way that demonstrates value for money
  • explanation as to whether time committed by applicants is realistic to ensure delivery.

Feedback

The postal peer review commentary will comprise the feedback to the applicants. No feedback will be provided from the prioritisation panel process unless this is specifically requested by the panel.

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 policy on conflicts of interest.

You can nominate community groups and end users as reviewers provided they have the expertise and confidence to review in an independent and research-focused manner, and there are no conflicts of interest.

For more information about the reviewer selection process, please see the related content links.

Guidance for reviewers

Read information about the EPSRC peer review process and guidance for reviewers.

Read guidance for reviewing standard grants.

Contact details

Ask about this funding opportunity

Please contact Alexandra Sklan from the Healthcare Technologies team. If you do not get a response, please contact the Healthcare team inbox.

Alexandra Sklan

Email: alexandra.sklan@epsrc.ukri.org

Healthcare team

Email: healthcare@epsrc.ukri.org

Ask about 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 Je-S

Any queries regarding the submission of proposals through Je-S should be directed to the Je-S help desk.

Email

jeshelp@je-s.ukri.org

Telephone

01793 444164

Opening hours

The Je-S helpdesk is:

  • open Monday to Thursday 8:30 to 17:00
  • open Fridays 8:30 to 16:30
  • closed on weekends, bank holidays and other holidays.

Additional info

Online event for applicants

We held an event for applicants on 16 September 2021.

You can:

Background

As part of the EPSRC priority, ‘Engineering healthier environments where people live and work’, we will build on UK strengths in new technologies, economic and social sciences, as well as the arts and humanities with the aim of transforming support for built environment and infrastructure research. This will include research and enhanced use of health data analytics on:

  • smart cities
  • assistive technologies
  • robotics
  • artificial intelligence.

We will transform the built environment into a tool that will:

  • enable a step change in our ability to predict and anticipate factors to prevent ill health
  • prevent infection spread
  • shape the future living and working environment
  • enable the re-design and adaptation of existing spaces to promote increased wellbeing.

New technology will:

  • provide tailored support for individuals in the home and workplace to enable independent living, maintain dignity and improve quality of life
  • empower individuals to manage their own health and wellbeing.

This will be particularly pertinent to the management of long-term health issues and for those who receive care in their own home and in their community.

Support services and the vital role they play in ensuring a thriving community will have access to the decision-making tools and the technology needed to support individuals and communities.

NIHR funds health and social care research to improve the health and wealth of the nation. Funding adult social care research is a priority for NIHR. Housing is a critical component in better meeting the needs of individuals across the life course.

Good housing can support and facilitate models of social care, in the broadest sense, that maximise independence and prevent ill health. The needs and preferences of people, their families, and communities when it comes to housing and social care needs to be at the heart of research to facilitate better solutions that can adapt to people’s needs over time.

A better understanding of effective relationships between housing, social care, and health and wellbeing has the potential to:

  • reduce demand on hospital admissions and reduce associated costs
  • improve quality of life for people, patients, and carers alike
  • power the economy, society, and individual health and wellbeing.

NIHR expects the active involvement of patients and the public (for example, service users and carers) in the research that it supports, where appropriate. However, the nature and extent of PPI is likely to vary depending on the context of the study.

Applicants should describe how the issue of PPI will be addressed throughout the research process. For example, this could include patient and public involvement in:

  • refining research questions
  • designing research instruments
  • advising on approaches to recruitment
  • assisting in the collection and analysis of data
  • participation or chairing advisory and steering groups
  • the dissemination of research findings.

Applicants are required to detail what active involvement is planned, how it will benefit the research and the rationale for their approach. PPI needs to be undertaken in a manner that acknowledges that some people may need additional support, or to acquire new knowledge or skills to enable them to become involved effectively (see INVOLVE publications for guides for researchers).

Applicants should therefore provide information on arrangements for training and support. Where no PPI is proposed, a rationale for this decision must be given. For further information and guidance about PPI, please visit the researchers section on the NIHR website.

Supporting documents

Equality impact assessment (PDF, 221KB)

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