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NIHR Challenge: Funding Call to tackle Maternity Inequalities (United Kingdom)

NIHR Challenge: Funding Call to tackle Maternity Inequalities (United Kingdom)

Deadline: 22-May-2024
The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) is inviting applications for a challenge to generate high quality evidence to drive actions to reduce maternity inequalities and improve outcomes for women and children across the UK.

Through the first ‘NIHR Challenge’, the NIHR is looking to commission a research consortium bringing together leading institutions, in collaboration with other partners, from across the UK with expertise in research, capacity building and engagement with diverse populations. The consortium will develop and implement a research and capacity building programme to deliver a step change in the health of both women and their babies and support those who plan, commission, manage, deliver and use services across the health, public health and social care sector.


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This call is part of a coordinated response by the NIHR to the UK Government’s top priorities to be tackled under the Women’s Health strategy in 2024.

Selection to NIHR Challenge: Maternity Inequalities consortium will be via a two-stage process:

  • Stage 1: The first stage will select the institutional members/collaborations to form the consortium. This call invites those institutions/collaborations in the UK able to demonstrate excellence in maternity inequalities research and research capacity development to submit an application;
  • Stage 2: Involves all successful members/collaborations of the consortium from Stage 1 in the development of a shared work plan, detailing the future research and capacity building programme of the consortium over the five year period.
  • The aim of the NIHR Challenge is to increase the evidence base to drive actions to reduce maternity inequalities and lead to better outcomes for women and their babies.
  • The purpose of the NIHR Challenge: Maternity Inequalities is to:
    • Bring together a diverse consortium membership, funding research and capacity building, to increase the evidence base to address today’s maternity inequalities and develop the next generation of researchers. Capacity building in this area in the consortium will be as important as the research.
    • Determine the priority theme topics within maternity inequalities, drawing upon ongoing and recent activity in this area, and develop and conduct high-quality innovative research to understand and address them
    • Undertake large scale integrated transformative projects spanning the entire research innovation pathway, with associated KPIs, to drive measurable improvements against each research theme
    • Provide a focus for maternity inequalities within the NIHR, as well as provide strategic leadership for the development of maternity inequalities research more generally
    • Develop methodological rigor and broaden the methodological repertoire, including bringing into maternity inequalities research a number of disciplinary perspectives currently under represented
    • Ensure research is undertaken where the need is and will have the greatest impact where the need is greatest
    • Provide a programme of capacity building awards and opportunities for multidisciplinary training and career development that contribute to ongoing efforts to build research capacity and improve research awareness. Capacity building and training opportunities should be built into the consortium such that the training needs of all staff in the consortium are considered and supported
    • Disseminate findings and support other knowledge transfer activities
Funding Information
  • Over five years, funding of up to £50m will be available to support the consortium.
  • This will be split across research and capacity building, however the specific split will be agreed as part of the stage 2 process.
  • In addition, the consortium will be expected to use its funding to involve organisations external to the consortium, where appropriate.
  • Funding for research projects will be up to 80% fEC and will be negotiated via the stage 2 process.
  • A portion of the overall funding will be allocated to the successful consortium for the administration of the NIHR Challenge.
  • The indicative budget over five years (to be confirmed as part of stage 2):
    • 24/25: £5m
    • 25/26: £10
    • 26/27: £10m
    • 27/28: £10m
    • 28/29: £10m
    • 29/30: £5m
  • Continuation of funding over the five-year contract period will depend upon satisfactory performance, as determined by the DHSC.
Eligibility Criteria
  • To achieve Membership of the consortium, organisations will need to have a track-record of world-leading research within an area relevant to tackling maternity inequalities as well as a strong track record of developing research capacity.
  • Organisations based in the UK and conducting relevant research with an expected benefit for the population of the UK will be accepted for consideration. Applications must be led by a university.
  • While organisations are eligible to apply as a single organisation they are strongly encouraged to apply as a small collaboration with other organisations (approximately 2-4 members in total) which could include a mixture of: less established organisations, industry, practice, community, local authority, charity, and third sector, especially involving organisations where the need is greatest and where populations have been historically under-served.
  • They expect collaborative applications led by an organisation to fairly and proportionally involve their partners in the application and, if selected for the consortium, in the activity undertaken by the consortium.
  • Only one bid is allowed from each organisation whether as lead or collaborator.

For more information, visit NIHR.

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