Dementia Network Plus

Economic and Social Research Council LogoApply for funding to develop a network Plus on dementia.

Networks will be collaborative, embed lived experience and include capacity building. We will fund activities that explore inequalities, prevention and early diagnosis, and experiences at work.

You must be based at a UK research organisation eligible for ESRC funding.

The full economic cost (FEC) of your network can be up to £1.75 million. ESRC will fund 80% of the FEC

Your network should start on 1 April 2024 and be between 48 and 60 months.

Who can apply?

Before applying for funding, check the following:

UKRI is introducing new role types for opportunities being run on the new Funding Service from 22 May 2023. For full details, visit Eligibility as an individual.

Who is eligible to apply

The project lead must be based at a UK research organisation eligible for ESRC funding. That organisation will be responsible for submitting the grant application to UKRI.

The project co-lead(s) can be based at a UK research organisation eligible for ESRC funding, or at UK businesses, public sector, third sector or eligible public sector research establishments (PSREs). Read our guidance on including project co-leads from business, third sector or government bodies.

International applicants

Project leads from non-UK organisations are not eligible to apply for funding for this opportunity.

Project co-leads based in non-UK organisations are eligible to be included in applications for this opportunity. Read roles in funding applications: eligibility, responsibilities and costings guidance for details.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

We are committed to achieving equality of opportunity for all funding applicants. We encourage applications from a diverse range of researchers.

We support people to work in a way that suits their personal circumstances. This includes:

  • career breaks
  • support for people with caring responsibilities
  • flexible working
  • alternative working patterns

Find out more about equality, diversity and inclusion at UKRI.

What we’re looking for?


A Network Plus is a strategic investment that brings together new or disparate communities from across the research and development system to identify, prioritise and develop emerging research and knowledge exchange challenges. It provides leadership across disciplines and sectors, continues to expand its connections and relationships throughout the duration of its funding, and tailors its activities to the needs in its area.

A Network Plus is expected to establish and maintain appropriate links with relevant activities and research users to achieve its aims of increasing collaborative working across disciplines and sectors, providing visibility and accessibility, and connecting the research and innovation landscape.

ESRC, National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) and Alzheimer’s Society will invest up to £5.25 million in up to three Network Plus grants in dementia.

We want to fund a portfolio of activity which will improve the lives of those affected by dementia through tackling inequalities, preventing illness, and enhancing experiences at work. The funded grants will extend the existing UK dementia research community, through capacity building activity and bringing in researchers new to the dementia field. Grants will have a strongly collaborative ethos, embedding working with people living with dementia and carers across all activities. They will work across stakeholders in national and local government as well as charities. Each network should focus on one of the areas listed, although proposals which cut across the different areas are also eligible. Networks should have a broad focus on the topic rather than picking out specific sub theme questions to focus on in depth. We aim to fund one network in each area, but this depends on the quality and topic coverage of proposals received:


Pervasive inequalities affect people living with dementia and carers. As the UK population becomes increasingly diverse there is an urgent need for research exploring disparities in experiences of dementia, the factors that shape this, and how experiences can be improved. Research under this sub theme should account for inequalities cutting across various dimensions including ethnic background, age, sexuality, gender, place and income. Applications on this theme might include:

  • raising awareness and deepening understanding of dementia as experienced across different groups, ages, places and populations
  • tackling the impact of inequalities in dementia diagnosis and dementia care
  • widening participation in dementia research across under-researched groups

Dementia prevention and early diagnosis

There is a growing body of evidence suggesting that modifiable risk factors, which could theoretically prevent or delay dementia, account for around 40% of worldwide dementias. Research to understand risk or protective factors and how best to effect changes in behaviour at a population level to lessen the risk of developing dementia, delay onset and slow progression is vital. There is also evidence demonstrating that an early diagnosis and access to tailored resources, care and support can empower people living with dementia and their networks, allowing them to live well and independently on their own for longer. Applications on this theme might include:

  • prevention strategies identifying influences and inequalities throughout the life course that shape cognitive function in older age
  • research to support risk reduction through behaviour change and interventions, understanding the impact of awareness and modification of lifelong lifestyle behaviours
  • exploring opportunities and barriers around prevention, early presentation and diagnosis of a condition that can carry stigma and fear
  • improved understanding of the impact of different types of care and support available after an early diagnosis

Dementia, economy, and the workforce

Dementia has a clear impact on the economy, with societies struggling to understand and plan for the rising costs of care. This macro level picture is made up of financial impacts of dementia at a personal level. As numbers in employment over the age of 50 rise, dementia effects workforce participation, with people increasingly likely to be in work when diagnosed, and carers juggling work and care provision. Areas of focus under this theme include:

  • improving awareness, support and identifying wellbeing interventions for both people living with dementia and carers in the workplace
  • exploring employer and employee dynamics for people living with dementia, developing future models of more inclusive labour markets and management practices and support for future workplace relevant interventions
  • macro level understanding of future costs of dementia care, modelling affordability of treatment as it impacts across four nations
  • sharing learning globally about dealing with economic impacts of dementia, particularly focusing on work related impacts

Cross cutting requirements

In addition, all proposals must:

  • involve People living with Dementia (PLWD) and/or carers as an embedded part of the programme of activity. This should include activity focused on the best strategies for further engagement across lived experience groups, particularly under-researched populations
  • have a strong capacity building element, including activity to assess and determine what the UK needs in terms of research, research infrastructure and skills to develop capability in the chosen sub theme area
  • actively engage a wide range of research organisations. We particularly welcome proposals that involve groups from across the UK, and researchers new to dementia research, where relevant to the aims of the proposal
  • have considered the impact of inequalities and threaded this theme throughout their project
  • engage and network with other UKRI activities, stakeholders in academia, industry and government in the UK and internationally, connecting across a diverse range of disciplines and backgrounds
  • provide thought leadership and a clear vision in the chosen sub theme
  • develop and run open opportunities for small projects or activities in the chosen sub theme area. We particularly encourage using these funds to build capacity, for example through encouraging early career researchers to lead projects
  • go beyond mapping of issues, generating tangible actions through practical interventions or meaningful policy and practice innovations
  • nurture and develop talent of researchers at all career stages, and support and enable learning
  • manage and coordinate the flexible funding so it is distributed fairly and efficiently

By the end of the funding period, the Network Plus should have enabled a step-change in the connectivity and coordination of researchers and stakeholders in this field. It should have:

  • generated new insights into dementia
  • built new capability in this area, linking existing (and establishing new) interdisciplinary partnerships, bringing together new approaches and developing conceptual, methodological, theoretical and leadership skills
  • enabled a coherent and connected landscape across disciplines, stakeholders and sectors, by bridging existing structures, and by identifying needs through relationship building, co-creation and involvement of people with lived experience of dementia
  • informed policy, practice and understanding
  • enabled insights to feed into development processes for policy, practice and new research

The Network Plus will play an important strategic role in ESRC, NIHR and Alzheimer’s Society growing portfolio of investments in dementia alongside wider UKRI strategic priorities on health and social care research.

The Network Plus will be expected to establish and maintain appropriate links with relevant ESRC and UKRI investments, to achieve its aims of increasing collaborative working across disciplines and connecting the research landscape. This will include working with existing activities across ESRC, NIHR and Alzheimer’s Society portfolios in dementia to create shared opportunities.

Your team

The Network’s core team will build sustained engagement and collaboration on emerging research and knowledge exchange areas, engage research users and run training and capacity building activities for core staff and those in the wider network and beyond. The Network’s core team should have suitable capability and capacity to undertake activities such as:

  • workshops
  • events
  • communications
  • undertake projects (which could be research, scoping, knowledge exchange, evidence synthesis, capacity building, methods development, or other relevant activity)
  • produce key outputs
  • secondments
  • horizon scanning

The core team should include people at different career stages, who collectively offer:

  • core social science leadership, with an in-depth understanding of relevant disciplines, policy challenges and evidence needs. Your network must be social science-led and at least 50% within ESRC’s remit
  • thematic expertise beyond the social sciences and beyond academia, reflecting the communities that will be engaged in the network
  • an ability to engage and collaborate with diverse stakeholders through a range of activities and outputs
  • an ability to articulate a clear vision for engagement with communities working in this area and new partners from within the appropriate disciplines or elsewhere
  • an ability to deliver complex projects to time, considering the variety of activities and outputs
  • specialist expertise (academic and non-academic) to support the desired outcomes, which may include sector representatives, people with lived experience, programme management, project management and finance expertise, a communications function, administrative support and knowledge mobilisation expertise.
  • an ability to bring together diverse expertise within projects, conceptually, methodologically and theoretically

The Network Plus will be responsible for the formation of suitable advisory structures. Proposals should include detail of the advisory group, including academic and non-academic members, that will support the research and oversee the development of the key activities. ESRC reserves the right to attend and observe advisory group meetings. Grant holders will also be asked to provide regular and ad hoc project progress reports to the ESRC/other governance groups as needed.


The duration of this award must be between 48 and 60 months.

Projects must start on 1 April 2024.

Funding available

The full economic cost of your project can be up to £1.75 million.

UKRI will fund 80% of the full economic cost.

Opportunity status: Upcoming
Co-funders: National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), Alzheimer’s Society
Funding type: Grant
Total fund: £5,250,000
Award range: £1,250,000 – £1,750,000
Publication date: 18 May 2023
Opening date: 13 June 2023 12:30pm UK time
Closing date: 12 October 2023 4:00pm UK time

Visit funding web page

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