Finance

28th May 2021

NIHR: Artificial Intelligence Health and Care Award

The NIHR has three funding streams to support health and care research that involves artificial intelligence (AI).

The Artificial Intelligence in Health and Care Award (AI Award) supports AI solutions across the whole development pathway, from initial feasibility to clinical implementation. It is funded by NHS England and NHS Improvement and the NIHR  in partnership with the Accelerated Access Collaborative and NHSX. Projects funded in the first round were announced in September 2020.

The Artificial Intelligence for Multiple Long-Term Conditions (Multimorbidity) call (AIM) supports research to spearhead the use of AI and data science to address the challenges of multiple long-term conditions (multimorbidity) or MLTC-M.  The call is part of the NHSX’s NHS AI Lab and is enabled by the NIHR.

The Artificial Intelligence and Racial and Ethnic Inequalities in Health and Care call supports research to advance AI and data-driven technologies in health in ways that better meet the needs of minority ethnic populations. The call is jointly funded by NHSX’s NHS AI Lab and The Health Foundation and enabled by the NIHR.

Introduction

The AI in Health and Care Award will deploy £140m over three years to accelerate the testing and evaluation of the most promising AI technologies that meet the strategic aims set out in the NHS Long Term Plan.

The AI in Health and Care Award is run in partnership with the Accelerated Access Collaborative (AAC) and NHSX. It is part of the NHS AI Lab announced by the Health Secretary in 2019.

The AI in Health and Care Award supports AI technologies across the spectrum of development, from initial feasibility to evaluation within clinical pathways in the NHS and social care settings, to the point that they could be nationally commissioned. Phase 2 aims to create a pipeline of products, interventions and services that are ready for wider testing.

Applications may be submitted by a small-to-medium-sized enterprise (SME), an NHS or social care organisation or service provider,  a higher education institution, charity or local authority. Additionally for Phases 3 and 4, the call is open to large enterprises.

What do we fund?

Phase 2 of the award supports feasibility, development and clinical evaluation of AI technologies. Phases 3 and 4 of the award support real world testing, initial systems adoption of AI technologies with market authorisation into the NHS, evaluating the AI technology within clinical or operational pathways to determine efficacy or accuracy and clinical and economic impact.

  • Phase 2 is intended to develop and evaluate prototypes of demonstration units and generate early clinical safety and efficacy data. Award amounts are uncapped (any amount can be requested but must be reasonably justified), funding awards are per product, typically for 12-36 months.
  • Phase 3 is intended to support first real-world testing in health and social care settings to develop further evidence of efficacy and preliminary proof of effectiveness, including evidence for routes to implementation to enable more rapid adoption. Awards are uncapped (any amount can be requested but must be reasonably justified), funding awards are per product, typically for 12-36 months.
  • Phase 4 is intended to identify medium stage AI technologies that have market authorisation but insufficient evidence to merit large-scale commissioning or deployment. We will support testing and evaluation of these technologies within routine clinical or operational pathways to determine efficacy or accuracy, and clinical and economic impact. Grants are uncapped, funding awards are per technology, typically for 12-36 months.

Phase2 is delivered through the well-established and robust mechanisms underpinning the NIHR Invention for Innovation (i4i) programme and the NHS England and NHS Improvement SBRI Healthcare programme, with an indicative budget of £2-7m. This early stage pipeline will be managed by the NIHR i4i and SBRI Healthcare Programme Management Office, in close collaboration with the AAC Delivery Team.

Through Phases 3 and 4, the AAC Delivery Team will facilitate initial real world testing and systems adoption of the AI technologies into the NHS and/or social care setting.

How do I apply?

The AI Award supports innovators and technologies across the spectrum of development, from concept through to initial NHS adoption and testing of the AI technology within clinical pathways. You may only apply to one phase per product.

Read more about the specifications for different phases, and the entry points and fundable activities, in our guidance for applicants.

See the dates for our funding competitions to find out when funding is available. The AI Award is run as a two stage application process. Shortlisted applicants from stage 1 are invited to submit a full proposal at stage 2. Please see competition guidancefinance guidance and FAQs for further information.

If you have consulted the website and the applicant guidance and are still unsure if your proposal is within remit, please complete an enquiry form with details of your enquiry and your proposed project.

Stage 1

Applications should be submitted online through the Research Management System (RMS). Please ensure you have read the guidance for completing a Stage 1 application form.

Stage 2

Stage 2 applications are by invite only and should be submitted online through the RMS.  Please ensure you have read the guidance for completing a Stage 2 application form.

Advice for applicants

The Competition 2 launch webinar and specific Phase 1-2 and 3-4 webinars can be viewed on theNHSX  AI Lab Virtual Hub.  Please note that you will need to request access by emailing aivirtualhub-manager@future.nhs.uk in order to access the hub and view the webinars.

NHSX have launched the AI Lab Virtual Hub as a platform setup to allow stakeholders to directly connect rather than just coming through the award. We recommend that you join and you encourage collaborative partners to join for more resources and for engaging with colleagues across the NHS.

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