28th May 2021

NIHR Invention for Innovation

The Invention for Innovation (i4i) programme is a translational research funding scheme aimed at de-risking early-to-late stage medical devices, in vitro diagnostics and high-impact patient-focused digital health technologies for ultimate NHS use.

We fund projects that have demonstrated proof-of-concept and have a clear pathway towards adoption and commercialisation.

i4i has three funding streams: Product Development Awards (PDA), Challenge Awards and Connect. PDA and Challenge run two funding competitions a year, launching in autumn and spring, whereas Connect runs one funding competition each summer. See the full dates for i4i funding competitions. All i4i funding streams have a two stage application process.

Funding stream Autumn/Winter competition launch Spring/Summer competition launch
Product Development Awards October April
Connect n/a August
Challenge Awards November April

If you have a specific query regarding the eligibility of your planned study, please submit a pre-submission engagement form. Please note, the turnaround time for a response is 72 hours.


Product Development Awards

i4i Product Development Awards (PDA) support translational research and development of medical devices, in vitro diagnostics and high-impact patient-focused digital health technologies for ultimate NHS use. The research proposals may address any disease or health area, provided there is a clear unmet clinical need. There is no upper funding limit for Product Development Awards, but costs must be fully justified.

Key eligibility criteria

  • Projects can be led by small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SME), NHS providers or higher education institutions (HEIs).
  • Projects must be collaborative between any two of the eligible types of organisation.
  • Projects can last a minimum of 24 months and a maximum of 36 months.
  • The lead organisation must be registered in England.

 What next?

  • Read more about the PDA scope and requirements in our supporting information.
  • Review the guidance for Stage 1 and Stage 2 applications and the frequently asked questions.
  • Preview the application form for Stage 1 and Stage 2. (Please note that these are standard NIHR application forms. Small variations exist for the i4i programme in the live online application form; therefore, it is strongly advised that you read the relevant Guidance for Applicants to check for programme-specific requirements.)
  • Create an account on the Research Management System (RMS).
  • Complete and submit your application on the RMS. Please note that the RMS is the only mode of submission.


The NIHR i4i team hosted a webinar on Monday 12 April to answer questions from prospective applicants. If you would like to get in touch with one of the team, please email

PDA dates

The PDA competition dates are as follows:

Competition 22 Stage 1 Stage 2
Webinar 12 April 2021 (2-3pm) TBC
Competition launch 14 April 2021 10 August 2021
Submission deadline 9 June 2021 (1pm) 28 September 2021 (1pm)
Submission outcome 10 August 2021 December 2021

Additionally, the i4i funding programme is participating in the 2021 NIHR Highlight Notice on Dementia research to address important health and social care questions. For more information please see the 2021 NIHR Highlight Notice on Dementia specification document.

In PDA Competition 21, we partnered with the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation to highlight our support for the development and adoption of asthma health technologies.  All disease areas will continue to be eligible for PDA 21 in the normal way. However, successful asthma-related projects will be co-funded through the Asthma Health Technology Fund partnershipRead the brief for the Asthma Health Technology fund.

Competition 21 Stage 1 Stage 2
Webinars 8 and 14 October 2020 1 March 2021 (by invitation only)
Competition launch 20 October 2020 18 February 2021
Submission deadline 9 December 2020 (1pm) 14 April 2021 (1pm)
Submission outcome 18 February 2021 July 2021

For an overview of the PDA competition 21, please watch the recording of our applicant webinar. If you would like a copy of the PowerPoint slides presented at the webinar, please email