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UK Prevention Research Partnership (UKPRP) – Consortium and Network Awards

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UK Prevention Research Partnership (UKPRP)

First call for proposals: Consortium and Network Awards

Background

An alliance of research funders have agreed to commit £50m to support research into the primary prevention of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). The vision is to generate new insights into actionable, sustainable and cost-effective ways of preventing NCDs that will improve population health and reduce health inequalities in the UK. The research should address the ‘upstream’ determinants of NCDs and be co-produced with users (e.g. policy makers, practitioners, health providers, the third sector, the public etc.). The ‘upstream’ determinants include, but are not limited to, the built and natural environment; employment, education, welfare, transport, health and social care, and communication systems; and the policies of local and central government and of commercial enterprises.

The UKPRP is a new model of public health funding in the UK that seeks to:

  • build and support interdisciplinary research teams to develop, implement and evaluate generalisable and scalable preventive policies, practices, designs and interventions which will enable change within complex adaptive systems to prevent NCDs.
  • deliver solutions for large-scale and cost-effective improvements in health and the prevention of NCDs that meet the needs of providers and policy makers and are responsive to the challenging timescales of policy making. This will involve co-production of research with the public, policy makers, professionals and those likely to implement the intervention.

The UKPRP will cover physical health as well as mental health and wellbeing in the UK. The vision, objectives and rationale for the UKPRP are set out in a separate document. Applications for UKPRP funding need to be guided by the vision and focus described therein.

As part of this call, we held a one-day information and networking workshop on 18th May 2017 in London. A report of the workshop, along with presentations and audio recordings of the talks, is available. 

Consortium and Network Awards: A comparison

The UKPRP initiative will initially support two types of award, Consortium and Network. An overview and comparison of the two awards is presented below to illustrate their different features. Subsequent sections provide additional detail about each award. This call invites researchers to submit outline proposals for either Consortium or Network awards. The MRC will administer all calls for proposals on behalf of the UKPRP.

Consortium Awards provide substantial, long-term investment (five years) to support novel combinations of partners, including, where appropriate, industry (i.e. commercial/business partners), representing a range of academic disciplines and undertaking interdisciplinary research addressing a specific challenge in the primary prevention of NCDs. These groups should develop research strategies with users, for example policy makers, practitioners, health providers, the public etc. who may be part of the consortium, for the generation and implementation of new knowledge. The thinking behind consortia is that drawing together teams of experts from different disciplines and sectors, and including users, should enable researchers to capitalise on a range of expertise to develop novel research into high quality interventions that can deliver change at a population level.

Network Awards will build a community of researchers and users around a broad NCD primary prevention research challenge and support interdisciplinary networking activity. Networks will address research challenges in NCD prevention by developing new relationships across diverse disciplines and organisations where time is needed to do this successfully. Each network award will fund the operating costs of the network, for up to four years, and provide limited funding to pump prime new research collaborations. The UKPRP networks will develop future capacity in the UK to address NCD prevention challenges.

The different purposes of Consortia and Networks are set out in the table below:

 

Consortia

Networks

Structure

  • Group of researchers, either working within a single institution or across institutions, covering a range of disciplines relevant to a specific NCD research challenge.
  • Strong links to research users, including policy makers, providers, health professionals, the public and industry (where appropriate to the planned research), and engagement of users in the co-production of research proposals and evidence.
  • Includes mechanisms for transferring the consortium’s outputs into policy and practice, and for building long-term relationships between academics and users (e.g. through Knowledge Brokers).
  • Strong leadership with a governance structure for decision making, and appropriate membership which should include an operational management role.
  • New (i.e. no pre-existing network in the area proposed), open network across diverse disciplines, focussed around a broad NCD primary prevention research challenge.
  • Strong leadership and an inclusive approach to building a diverse community must be demonstrated. The community can include academics from a range of disciplines, users such as policy makers, professionals, and the public, as well as those from other non-academic sectors such as social enterprise.

Mode of Operation

 

  • Funded primarily to conduct interdisciplinary research addressing a specific challenge in the primary prevention of NCDs.
  • The configuration of consortia may well evolve during the course of the research (e.g. in terms of disciplinary or user engagement) but the overarching challenge and key research questions should be clear at the outset. 

 

  • Funded primarily to conduct networking activities to bring together diverse and disparate disciplines, some of whom are new to the disease prevention research space.
  • Will need time to build a community of researchers, users and other non-academics to develop a common language and mutual understanding.
  • Will define research questions around a broad NCD prevention research challenge which will form the basis of new research grant applications.
  • Will operate within a thematic area and explore cutting edge science in different disciplines.

Funding and Scale

 

  • £4-7m for five years for each consortium.
  • Provides funding for research, e.g. research staff, consumables, costs of running the consortium including project management.
  • Provides funding to support the transfer of research findings to policy and practice (e.g. through the appointment of a Knowledge Broker) and secure appropriate user participation.
  • Research Directors (i.e. the leader of a consortium) will have the flexibility to manage resources to pursue new avenues of research or address emerging challenges.
  • UKPRP consortia will not fund training (e.g. PhD students) but early career researchers are encouraged to engage with consortia, which we anticipate will offer excellent career development opportunities.
  • £100k per annum for up to four years, primarily for funding meetings/workshops, the Principal Investigator’s time and a Network Administrator’s salary. Administrative costs associated with the activity of each network should be included.
  • Provides some limited support for pump priming activities to cement collaborations and provide proof of concept. 
  • Additional funding to be sought from other grants, including the UKPRP’s consortium award.
  • PhD students and research assistants are encouraged to participate in network activities but are not funded by the grant.

Primary Outcomes

 

  • New and innovative approaches and insights into the primary prevention of NCDs in the UK.
  • High quality interdisciplinary research based on research collaborations around upstream determinants of NCDs in defined systems.
  • Actionable evidence that addresses important research challenges in a coordinated and sustained way.
  • Methodological advances in the application of systems approaches to public health.
  • Clear pathways to policy and practice through embedded engagement of users.
  • New interdisciplinary community of researchers and users, some/many of whom will have no track-record or previous association with disease prevention research. 
  • Outputs could include publishing a research agenda/manifesto/road map on a broad NCD primary prevention research challenge. This could set-out research questions, reflect the common language developed, and outline how interdisciplinary teams could work productively together.
  • Bringing in new approaches and new insights to the disease prevention research arena.
  • Groups of researchers within a network, with the critical mass of expertise, positioned to apply for sources of funding to undertake research to address NCD prevention challenges.  

For further details about the UKPRP’s Consortium and Network Awards as well as the application process for each, please see the following links:

Consortium Award

Network Award

UKPRP Principles for Working with Industry

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)