Call 2 – Consortium

1. What are UKPRP Consortia?

UKPRP Consortia are large interdisciplinary groups that collaborate closely with and/or include a range of relevant research users (e.g. policy makers, practitioners, civil society groups, industry, the public etc.) to co-produce research evidence on innovative strategies for the primary prevention of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). The research should be targeted at the upstream influences on NCDs, take a complex systems approach and be aligned to the objectives of the UKPRP. Consortia should foster interdisciplinarity, ensuring that the mix of disciplines engaged are appropriate to the research questions being addressed. The disciplines may well include those not traditionally engaged in population health research: for example, engineers, geographers, architects, designers, systems scientists, transport planners, lawyers and linguists. Proposals could be led by researchers from these disciplines and/or be in partnership with disciplines typically involved in population health research but should be co-produced with users. Interdisciplinary research on NCD prevention challenges is one of several factors that will help bring about transformational change in the health of the public.

Consortia should also include mechanisms for knowledge transfer and exchange and for influencing policy and practice, building on strong links to research users. Industry partner(s) could also be involved in a consortium depending on the nature of the research being undertaken. Each consortium will need strong leadership, have a governance structure for decision making, be well managed, and have mechanisms in place to foster linkages between components of the consortium, including users.

Structure

The diagram below shows the possible components of a consortium. Essentially, it comprises a core of interdisciplinary researchers, led by a Research Director, but with linkages that provide the resource, data and advice needed to undertake the proposed research, and ensure that research questions and approaches have relevance to users. A consortium does not necessarily need to include every component in the diagram – for example, each consortium need not include an industry partner or all the disciplines listed; the configuration should be relevant to the research questions being asked. Each consortium will need to cement relationships with users and recognise that user engagement might evolve as new opportunities emerge.

Knowledge transfer and exchange will be an integral aspect of each UKPRP consortium for exchanging expertise, to enable the research evidence to influence policy and practice, and to foster the development of long-lasting relationships between researchers and users. Each Research Director will need to identify and implement mechanisms appropriate to their consortium for undertaking knowledge transfer and exchange. Examples of this include recruiting a full-time Knowledge Broker or through part-time secondments from user organisations embedded in a consortium. Recruiting a knowledge broker is one approach to knowledge transfer and exchange, and applicants are encouraged to consider knowledge brokering as a function of the consortium when identifying appropriate mechanisms.

The diagram shows the possible components of a consortium. It includes a core of multidisciplinary researchers (e.g. public health, social sciences, engineering, physical sciences, etc.) that is linked to other components: data providers of cohort and administrative data, for example; users in local and national government, such as Local Authorities, or those working in policy units; the public; third sector/civil society groups, including NGOs; and industry where appropriate.

Research

The research will be co-produced with users such as local and national government, civil society groups, health professionals, industry (where appropriate), the public etc. An ambitious five-year research programme is expected, which may be organised in work packages, that align under an overarching challenge. Some work packages could be shorter-term and support developmental work, e.g. small scale, pilot/proof of principle, or multidisciplinary high-risk projects: projects which will strengthen a consortium’s portfolio of research.

Leadership and Management

Each consortium will:

  • have strong scientific leadership provided by a Research Director who will identify and reach out to new potential partners and users. They should be able to bring together senior researchers from different disciplines under a shared vision.
  • be well managed via an operations officer or project manager. This person should be able to coordinate scientific advisory groups, produce scientific reports, manage the funds and interface with other academic institutions and users, including public sector, civil society, or industry where appropriate.
  • undertake knowledge brokering to develop linkages between the components of a consortium, including users, and facilitate knowledge transfer and exchange with policy and practice to deliver impact of the research evidence. Knowledge brokering will also support between-consortia activity.

2. Consortium Award Application Process

There will be a two-stage process for applications for UKPRP Consortium Awards under the second funding round. Figure 1 provides an overview of the application process and the sections which follow provide further details.

Figure 1: Overview of UKPRP consortium award application process, Call 2

Outline Application and Consortium Development Period

(i) A detailed outline application for a Consortium Award.

Applicants are required to submit a detailed outline proposal through the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system by 16:00 (GMT) on 14 November 2019. The accompanying application guidance (PDF, 182KB)  provides details on the expected content for each section in Je-S and the Case for Support form which must be uploaded as an attachment in Je-S. Applicants should take careful note of the vision, objectives and rationale for the UKPRP. Applications need to be guided by the vision and focus described therein. The purpose of the outline application is to ascertain the potential of the planned consortium to fulfil the UKPRP objectives.

(ii) Consortium development period.

The UKPRP will support the development of research consortia and the preparation of full applications by providing a Consortium Development Grant (CDG). Each successful outline applicant will receive a CDG, which is a fixed-term (six month) award of up to £50k. This is to enable the final assembly of a multidisciplinary group of researchers and users and further enhancement of the plan of investigation in response to feedback from the UKPRP’s Expert Review Group that will evaluate outline applications. Applicants will need justify how they intend to use the CDG.

Full application for UKPRP Consortium Awards

(iii) Guidance for the full application will be made available to successful outline applicants.

All full proposals must be completed and submitted through the Je-S system. All applications need to be submitted through the lead Research Organisation (RO) which in turn must be Je-S registered. The Research Director along with members of the consortium will be interviewed as part of the assessment of the full proposal. Applicants will be provided with written feedback from the peer review of full applications ahead of their interview.

Researchers are now invited to submit outline proposals for funding for the development of research consortia according to the scope of this second funding round.

Applicants must submit a detailed outline proposal in Je-S by 16:00 (GMT) on 14 November 2019. You must notify the UKPRP Secretariat of your intention to submit an outline proposal and the topic area of interest by 18 October 2019. We have supplied an outline Case for Support form which you must complete and upload to Je-S as part of the proposal. The Consortium Award application guidance (PDF, 182KB) advises applicants on how to complete the sections in Je-S and the outline Case for Support form. You should refer to the Frequently Asked Questions document (PDF, 185KB) which provides answers to common queries.

3. Funding Available

Two calls for consortia were planned at the outset of this initiative, where the UKPRP funders envisaged supporting two or three consortia per funding round. Details of the consortia and networks funded are available under What we fund. The scope of this second call is intended to complement the initial portfolio of UKPRP consortia and networks.

Consortium Development Grant (CDG)

Applicants whose outline proposal is selected for progressing towards the full application stage will receive a CDG. The CDG is a fixed-term (six month) award of up to £50k to enable the final assembly of an interdisciplinary group of researchers or non-academic stakeholders (users, including industry, where appropriate) and further enhancement of the plan of investigation in response to feedback from the Expert Review Group that will evaluate outline applications. Applicants will need to specify and justify how the CGD will be used. Funds can be used for:

  • travel and subsistence enabling existing or potential members of the consortium to meet to exchange ideas and expertise. This may include visits by or to experts overseas.
  • costs involved in running activities such as networking events, expert working groups and workshops.
  • costs to enable the engagement of users.
  • bringing together members of the consortium to prepare the full application.

The CDG cannot be used for salaries for staff (including administrative) or for buying out the time of researchers to prepare the full application.

During the consortium development period, applicants will be required to attend a Joint Applicant Meeting (JAM) which aims to bring together all successful outline applicants to discuss key areas they will need to develop in their application.

The outcome of the CDG period should be a cohesive research grouping with the disciplines appropriate to the research questions and with almost all of the links needed to initiate a major research programme. At the end of the CDG period, research plans and work-packages should be well defined with clear methodology, including a theory of change, although some flexibility should be retained by the consortium to adapt to new challenges/needs. It is important to note that the CDG will not provide enough resource or time for significant networking across diverse disciplines or non-academic partners from scratch. If your aim is to better connect and develop linkages across a range of disciplines, the UKPRP Network Award should be considered.

Full Consortium Award

The scale and duration of funding is £4-7 million over 5 years. Applications outside of this range will be considered although, as with all applications, they should represent good value for money. Applications at the lower end of this funding range are encouraged but they must reflect ambitious research programmes that meet the UKPRP’s objectives.

Funding for each consortium is intended to support research programmes or work-packages that are aligned to the main challenge for the consortium. There would be scope for limited feasibility work. Details of what the UKPRP Consortium Award will support are set out below. Applicants are encouraged to secure co-funding from other sources and the outline Case for Support form requests information on the applicant’s plans for this.

Staff

  • The Research Director can request funds to cover their salary costs in proportion to the time spent on directing the consortium. Co-Investigators can request funds for their salary costs in proportion to their time spent on the new research generated by the consortium.
  • Support for consortium management (e.g. an operations officer or project manager) and mechanisms for knowledge brokering.
  • Buying out the time of users where it can be justified, for example, a Local Authority partner, a Director of Public Health, or a member of their team, or from a civil society group. Guidance for costing users’ time is available in the Consortium Award application guidance (PDF, 182KB).
  • Research staff (e.g. Post-doctoral Research Assistants and collaborator’s time) on a case by case basis.
  • Researchers from overseas institutions may be included in a proposal as a Co-Investigator where this adds value to the research. Applicants will need to justify why they are not working with a UK collaborator who could provide the same expertise/materials.
  • The consortium award will not provide funds for training or studentships although we hope that students and Early Career Researchers become involved in UKPRP consortia and benefit from interacting with them.

Research and administrative running costs

  • The majority of the research will be in programmes or work-packages and in addition to research staff, grants can provide consumables, travel and subsistence and any other costs usually under ‘Directly Incurred’ headings over the five-year period of the award.
  • Reasonable costs for monitoring and pathways to impact of consortium outputs can also be included.

Intervention costs

Costs for interventions are:

  • research costs relating to developing or adapting (e.g. scaling up) an intervention to answer research questions. These costs end when the research project is completed; and
  • delivery costs which remain after completing the research project and relate to implementing an intervention in normal practice.

The UKPRP funders will consider contributing to costs for developing and evaluating interventions provided there is evidence of a partnership between academics and users and that applications specify plans for the long-term sustainability of the NCD prevention approach beyond the research project, which the UKPRP will not fund. Applications should therefore specify what users will do to support continued delivery of the intervention(s).

For the outline application, the intervention costs may be estimated but the full application will need to itemise and quantify each element of the components of known intervention costs.

Applicants who are unclear about whether or not the UKPRP would accommodate the costs associated with their proposed interventions should contact the UKPRP Secretariat to discuss their plans.

Additional funding and support available

  • The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is one of the UKPRP funders. The NIHR has a Clinical Research Network (CRN) made up of 15 Local Clinical Research Networks (LCRNs) that cover the length and breadth of England. These local networks coordinate and support the delivery of research in the NHS and across the wider health and social care environment, in England. This means that the CRN is now able to support a wide range of population health and prevention research, including studies that use many different methods and take place across a range of settings. Details of the range of support available and contacts for each of the LCRNs are set out on the NIHR website. During the CDG period we encourage applicants to contact a LCRN early on so the LCRN can advise what services they may be able to provide to support the success of your proposed research if it receives UKPRP funding.

Similar support is available in Scotland through the NHS Research Scotland Clinical Research Networks and Specialty Groups; in Wales through Health and Care Research Wales (HCRW); and in Northern Ireland through the Northern Ireland Clinical Research Network (NICRN). In addition, support for recruitment to health research studies in Scotland is available through SHARE – a Scottish register of over 250,000 people who are interested in participating in health research studies and have agreed to searches of data in their medical records to see if they match study inclusion and exclusion criteria and to be contacted about such studies.

  • A Research Director’s discretionary fund may be built into a Consortium Award. This will support reactive work to respond to new opportunities / challenges that arise during the period of the award and which are aligned to the consortium’s mission. The fund will be capped at £50k per annum and will enable a Research Director to move funds between programmes. Applicants will need to bid for this funding in their full application. Details of the Research Director’s discretionary fund will be provided with instructions to successful outline applicants who are invited to submit full proposals. In the full application, the Research Director will need to explain how the fund will be used and the governance arrangements for its dispersal.
  • The UKPRP will also hold a central fund to support innovation within/between the different consortia and networks and for dealing with specific opportunities requiring financial support that require a rapid response during the lifetime of the award.

4. Assessment Process and Criteria

Applications will be assessed by an Expert Review Group (ERG) comprised of senior independent academics and user representatives, from the UK and overseas. The ERG’s expertise will reflect the breadth of disciplines involved in consortia. The ERG will feedback to the applicants and the funders, and might advise on how to better mould and/or rationalise the bids especially where approaches to making linkages could be stronger.

Details of successful outline proposals will be published on websites, including the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Gateway to Research, to provide an opportunity for additional groups with complementary skills, expertise or resources to contact Research Directors. Each UKPRP consortium should be open to changing their membership during the consortium development phase.

Assessment criteria for outline consortium applications

Consortium lead, partnership and structure

Reviewers will be asked to assess:

  • whether the leadership and management strategy is convincing and coherent.
  • whether the consortium has sufficient critical mass, complementary skills, and mix of disciplines and users.
  • whether the expertise assembled is appropriate and sufficient to answer the research questions posed.
  • the research standing of the lead researchers in their own fields.
  • whether the embedding of users in the consortium is likely to deliver co-production of applications and evidence directly relevant to the user.
  • the plans for knowledge exchange and pathways to impact.

Full-time coverage for the Research Director’s post is not expected and the UKPRP will critically assess the levels of expertise and time allocated to this function. Where the leader of a proposed consortium and network is the same, applicants will need to provide clear justification of how both would be managed if successful.

Clarity and importance of consortium vision and goals

Reviewers will be asked to assess:

  • whether there is a clear justification for the consortium approach.
  • how the vision meets the call’s remit and the nature of the challenges to be addressed, particularly in relation to addressing upstream and population level approaches to preventing NCDs.
  • whether the research explores the opportunities identified by the UKPRP.
  • how well the proposal addresses the challenge of building evidence on the impact of interventions in complex adaptive systems.
  • whether the programmes/work packages proposed are coherent with the vision and coherent as an overall package of work.
  • how the research is different from what has been done previously and whether the consortium will occupy a unique and valuable niche in the prevention research landscape.
  • whether the outcomes and proposed consortium approach have high potential to produce actionable evidence and to bring about demonstrable change.

Scientific potential

Reviewers will be asked to assess:

  • the importance of the research question(s) or overall challenge.
  • whether the proposed approach and methods are appropriate to the research question(s).
  • how well the applicants have explained how they believe the work they propose will reduce NCDs in the short, medium and long term, e.g. by presenting a logic model or describing a theory of change.
  • the likelihood of answering the proposed question(s).
  • whether there is adequate consideration of the potential impact of the work on reducing or widening health inequalities.
  • how well the applicants will assess the costs and benefits of proposed outcomes.
  • whether any beneficial outcomes are likely to be demonstrable during the consortium’s life span or would need to be evidenced by intermediate outcomes.
  • within the funding period of the consortium, whether it will likely provide new scientific knowledge and/or technical capability.
  • will the proposal lead to the development of population-level interventions that drive beneficial changes in complex adaptive systems.
  • the level of innovation including methods development and intervention design.

Impact and wider applicability

Reviewers will be asked to assess:

  • the extent of co-production of the proposed research.
  • the policy/practice relevance and importance of the research and whether there is a clear statement of the policy/practice implications in the application.
  • how engagement with users will influence or is likely to lead to greater impact on policy and practice.
  • whether the plans for knowledge brokering will enable the consortium’s research evidence to influence policy and practice.
  • how the research will generate evidence and insights that will support the wider adoption of findings, particularly with reference to understanding how context may impact on outcomes.
  • an understanding of the system or policy changes required to take ideas to scale and the mechanisms to secure these changes.
  • the envisaged timescale for delivering solutions for large scale and cost-effective improvements in health and the prevention of NCDs that meet the needs of providers and policy makers.
  • if appropriate, how the consortium will deliver these plans to research users in the relevant setting and in a readily and appropriately actionable way.

 Value for money of the proposed work

Reviewers will be asked to assess:

  • whether the proposed work of the consortium represents good value for money.
  • whether the proposed Consortium Development activity represents value for money and will facilitate the development of a competitive application.

5. Key Dates

Launch of second funding round
3 September 2019
Deadline for notification of intention submit an outline proposal
18 October 2019
Closing date for outline applications
14 November 2019
Outline applications assessed by Panel
February 2020
Outline applicant notified of decision
February 2020
Joint Applicant Meeting (for those invited to submit full applications)
May 2020
Closing date for full applications
September 2020
Full applications assessed, includes an interview
December 2020

6. Contact

If you have a query about your proposal, please contact the UKPRP Secretariat