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CRN North East and North Cumbria: Investigator Initiated Commercially Funded Research Studies (IIT) PA allocation award guidance 2021/22


The Award

NIHR Clinical Research Network North East and North Cumbria (CRN NENC) Strategy includes a workstream aimed at increasing the volume of non-commercial and Investigator Initiated Commercially Funded Research Studies (IITs) taking place across the region.

An IIT is a non-commercial study initiated by any Investigators (e.g. NHS, University, Public Health or Social Care staff) with research funding ( provided by a commercial organisation (e.g. a pharmaceutical, biotechnology or devices company) specifically to support that study. For IITs, an NHS Trust or other non-commercial organisation is the Sponsor of the study.

Over the past three years, in line with our strategy to develop Chief Investigator (CI) led research, the CRN NENC Executive Board and MedConnect North have funded a total of 14 PA awards (0.5 PA each). The awards aimed to ensure that individuals had recognition of work done to develop IIT research and supported the development of portfolio adopted IITs. In the short term this brought benefit in the form of recruitment and investment and has helped develop research skills, involvement and engagement with portfolio research - for individuals or teams who received awards. In the longer term we want to further support the development of applicants; specifically to facilitate future CI trials that lead to larger grant-funded or commercially funded projects.

Consequently, the NENC Executive Board and MedConnect North have agreed to run the scheme again. Six awards of £5,000 will be available to support the development of new IITs, or to support the progression from current or recent IIT to research council funded or commercially sponsored study. Applications are open to anyone involved in health or social care research including previous applicants. Where an award was received in any of the previous years, applicants are expected to outline the next steps and detail how further funding will be used towards a larger study.

The award will be for a period of 12 months with funding provided to support the scheme up front, we will treat the award as being fully spent in-year however it is up to partner organisations how it is used to support the 12 month programme.


This is a competitive funding award assessed against the following criteria:


  • The lead applicant is a professional in the CRN NENC region working in a Health, Public Health, Social Care or Academic setting
  • Formed research idea
  • Partner/funding agreed (commercial company) and written documentation of their funding contribution
  • Proposed study to run in an NENC Partner Organisation, Public Health or Social Care setting


  • Unfunded to do research/without adequate Chief Investigator (CI) time included in any commercial grant/remuneration
  • Development of previously supported feasibility study (if applicable)
  • Multi-site within NENC

Support available

As part of the scheme, support will be available to help with completion of the award application. Please email if you want to access support with your application.

In addition, we are hosting a ‘Teams’ drop-in session on 21 July between 11.00 and 13.00 where you can join Clinical Lead, Stuart Watson and members of the MedConnect North and CRN teams - to ask any questions and to seek further help and guidance if required.

Once the awards have been made, support will be provided from the MedConnect North Service including Research Operations Manager and Project Manager to assist with study design, grant writing and liaising with R & D. See also our Six Step Guide to IITs. The MedConnect North Team can also make introductions to a Methodologist and Statistician if required (although there may be a cost for this time if anything other than a high level review is required).

Expected outcomes

Increased research capacity via development of new, or progression from existing, IITs that have the potential to be adopted onto the NIHR Portfolio at the end of 12 months.


Applications will be via an online form and will require details of the proposal, how it meets the above criteria. The members of the strategic theme, including Ashraf Azzabi, Clinical Lead, Angela Birt, Managerial Lead or Stuart Watson, Associate Lead (IITs) are happy to discuss potential applications. Please email if you would like to arrange to speak to a member of the team.

Alternatively, join our ‘Teams’ drop-in session (see link provided above) on 21 July between 11.00 and 13.00 where you can join Clinical Lead, Stuart Watson and members of the MedConnect North and CRN teams - to ask any questions and to seek further help and guidance if required.

The team will review and assess applications against the criteria outlined above and will also discuss with R & D Managers/Directors before confirming the outcome of the application process.

Timelines for Applications

5th July 2021: Competition advertised and open to applications

15 August 2021: Closing date for applications

16 - 20 August 2021: Decision by panel on successful applications

1 September 2021: Funding sent out

Quarterly for 12 months: Review of progress

By September 2022: Protocol Approval/Study Set-up

December 2022: Final Review

The online application forms will go live on 5th July 2021.

The application form can be found here.