Research for Patient Benefit – Competition 45

This National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) call invites proposals for dementia research to address important health and social care questions.Applications are invited for research proposals that are concerned with the day-to-day practice of health service staff, and which have the potential to have an impact on the health or wellbeing of patients and users of the NHS. As a response mode researcher-led programme, Research for Patient Benefit (RfPB) does not specify topics for research, but encourages proposals for projects which address a wide range of health service issues and challenges.

The programme aims to fund high quality quantitative and qualitative research with a clear trajectory to patient benefit. It particularly encourages applications that have a strong element of interaction with patients and the public, and which have been conceived in association with a relevant group of service users.

Updated feasibility guidance:

The RfPB programme has published an updated guidance for applicants seeking funding for studies in preparation for full trials.

The applicants will need to demonstrate that there is convincing evidence of the promise of the particular intervention and to identify the specific uncertainties that need to be addressed before applying for the main study. Depending on the extent of uncertainties we would expect these preparatory studies to be priced accordingly and so we provide examples of previously funded feasibility studies awarded Tier 3 (up to £150,000) and Tier 2 (up to £250,000) funding.

How to apply

Applicants must submit an online application via the NIHR Central Commissioning Facility’s Research Management System (RMS). To assist the Programme Secretariat in preparing for peer review research teams should submit an Expression of Interest (EoI) by 14 June 2021. Please follow the link.

A Word version of the online form is available and can be used to assist research teams developing an application. Please note the Word form cannot be submitted as an application. Only applications submitted online via the RMS will be accepted, however information can be copied from the Word template into the online application form.

Evaluation process

Proposals will be reviewed firstly by the Programme Secretariat for fit to scope and eligibility. Eligible applications within scope of the RfPB programme and the COPD highlight notice will then be reviewed by a Regional Advisory Committee (RAC) and external peer reviewers.

RAC will make recommendations on outcomes to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). Applicants will have an opportunity to respond to feedback provided by the Committee at Stage 1 and where clarifications and/or changes are required as part of the award process.

Key assessment criteria for the submissions will include:

  • The potential for the proposal to provide a unique value-added research against the Programme and the highlight notice scope to better understand and manage the health and social care consequences of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary disease (COPD) with a clear trajectory to patient benefit.
  • Justification for the selection of patient recruitment sites (if relevant)
  • Quality of the research proposed
  • Significance and potential benefit to the NHS and its patients
  • Value for money provided by the application.

The decisions of the Committee will not be open to appeal and the funders reserve the right to amend the application process.

Key call dates


Stage Date
Competition launch 24 March 2021
Expression of Interest (EoI) submissions 14 June 2021
Call close 14 July 2021
Funding decisions March 2022


Contact information

For general and scientific queries relating to the call, including queries relating to the administrative process of applying, please contact

Furthermore, RfPB is participating in the following NIHR’s themed call and highlight notices:

Recent changes to NIHR Stage 1 application form and guidance notes (as at August 2020):

As part of NIHR response to the Government’s call for further reduction in bureaucracy  the Stage1 application has been reduced in scope. The changes include:

  • Section 2: the lead applicant’s research background and details of the history of the application are no longer required at this stage.
  • Section 3: less information is requested at this stage about the joint lead applicant.
  • Section 5: the ‘Research plan’ has been limited to 3000 words, that is 3-4 pages
  • Section 10 and specifically the pre-submission checklist for applicants has been removed.

Previous Changes to the NIHR Stage 1 application guidance notes (as at May 2020):

The application guidance notes had recently been ‘refreshed’ to include important NIHR changes and updates which applicants still need to take note of and reflect in their stage 1 applications. The changes/updates include the following:

  • More explicit guidance for applicants on NIHR’s expectations with regard to patient and public involvement
  • New guidance for applicants on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion for study participants (research following patient need and clusters of morbidity)
  • Found in the ‘Supporting information for Stage 1 and Stage 2 applicants’, new guidance information about the provision of applicants equality and diversity monitoring information
  • A broadening of the guidance wording to ensure appropriateness for social care research

This document provides guidance on completing an application for stage 1 of funding competition 45 for the NIHR Research for Patient Benefit (RfPB) Programme. Please see also the supporting information for Stage 1 and Stage 2 applicants.

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