NIHR has a number of recurrent funding streams which can be researcher-led, commissioned or themed calls, but the following tips are relevant for whichever programme you apply to:
• Please read through the remit of the programme carefully. If you are unsure whether your research fits the brief of that programme, then contact them with an abstract of your research idea. Even if they don’t think it fits their remit they will provide advice in terms of other programmes.
• Contact your Research Facilitators in both the College and UHB (the PDS service) for help with costings/proof reading/advice on funding streams and processes. Costs should be accurate at outline stage, since NIHR will not expect the costs between outline and full applications to be significantly different.
• Try and find out what has been funded by the NIHR previously. This will help to ensure that the funding programme funds the type of research you are interested in. It will also help with giving you an idea of the amount of funding awarded. Resources such as http://www.ccf.nihr.ac.uk/Pages/FundedProgrammes.aspx or the NIHR EME past project guide at http://www.eme.ac.uk/funded_projects/ are invaluable in this regard.
• Check the strategic priorities of the funding programme you are applying to and read the application guidelines thoroughly before beginning your online application. Talk to the PDS for applications involving UHB, as they can help with specific areas of the application form.
• Contact the Birmingham-based hub for the NIHR Research Design Service. The RDS is an NIHR service that helps specifically with preparation of NIHR proposals.
• Patient and Public Involvement is crucial in the development and delivery of NIHR-funded work, as lay reviewers sit on the panels.