The UKPRP funders have agreed to commit over £50 million to support research into the primary prevention of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). This will initially be achieved by supporting two types of award: Consortia and Networks. Further details on each award type and a comparison of their features are provided below.

Consortia awards provide substantial, long-term investment (£4-7 million for five years for each consortium) to support novel combinations of partners, including, where appropriate, industry (such as 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 will develop research strategies with users, for example policy makers, practitioners, civil society groups, health providers, the public, 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 new interdisciplinary communities of researchers and users around a broad NCD primary prevention research challenge and support networking activity. This award aims to support interactions between diverse disciplines and users to exchange expertise, scientific insights and capability as the network generates a shared vision around its chosen NCD prevention challenge. Each network award will fund the operating costs of the network (£100k per year for up to four years). While a small proportion of the grant can be used to pump prime new research collaborations, applicants should note that the funding provided is not for primary research. Network awards are intended to develop future capacity in the UK to address NCD prevention challenges. We expect networks will lead to new collaborative interdisciplinary research proposals on preventing NCDs.

Comparison of award types

A comparison of the two awards is presented below to illustrate their different features.

Structure

Consortia

  • 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 influencing policy and practice, and for building long-term relationships between academics and users .
  • Strong leadership with a governance structure for decision making, and appropriate membership which should include an operational management role.

Networks

  • New (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

Consortia

  • 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 (for example in terms of disciplinary or user engagement) but the overarching challenge and key research questions should be clear at the outset.

Networks

  • Funded primarily to conduct networking activities to bring together diverse 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

Consortia

  • £4-7 million for five years for each consortium.
  • Provides funding for research, such as staff, consumables, costs of running the consortium including project management.
  • Provides funding for mechanisms to influence policy and practice and secure appropriate user participation.
  • Research Directors (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 (such as PhD students) but early career researchers are encouraged to engage with consortia, which we anticipate will offer excellent career development opportunities.

Networks

  • £100,000 per annum for up to four years, primarily for funding meetings/workshops and other approaches for building the network, 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. This is approximately 10% of the grant.
  • Additional support to be sought from other funding schemes.
  • PhD students and research assistants may participate in network activities but are not funded by the grant.

Primary outcomes

Consortia

  • 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.

Networks

  • 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/ 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.

Call for proposals

There is a two-stage process for applications for UKPRP awards: (i) a detailed outline application stage and (ii) a full proposal from successful outline applicants. Guidance for applying for the Consortium and Network Awards are provided under each call for proposals.

Please refer to our accompanying resources which are designed help applicants prepare their funding applications.