New opportunities for Northern Ireland-based researchers

Thursday, 5 July 2012 – HSC Research and Development
New opportunities for Northern Ireland-based researchers

The Public Health Agency (PHA) has welcomed today’s announcement by Health Minister Edwin Poots that Northern Ireland-based researchers will benefit from new opportunities created through contributing annually to England’s National Institute of Health Research (NIHR).

The funding commitment will enable researchers based in Northern Ireland to compete in selected research programmes alongside colleagues from across the UK.

Mr Poots made the announcement as he launched a new report – the Evaluation of the Impact of Health and Social Care Research and Development (HSC R&D) Funding in Northern Ireland – which showed that for key areas of research, every £1 invested in research and development has generated £4.14 of income in the form of further grants or clinical trials.

The report, commissioned by the Department of Health Social Services and Public Safety Northern Ireland, evaluated the benefits to the Health and Social Care system (HSC) and the wider economy of research and development. The report recommended that Northern Ireland should contribute to the joint funding managed through NIHR.

The HSC R&D Division of the PHA is committed to supporting researchers to benefit from this new opportunity.The PHA recognises that the challenge of competing directly with colleagues from throughout the UK should not be underestimated.  However, Northern Ireland has a significant number of researchers and research groups with the necessary expertise and track records necessary for the development of competitive applications. In coming months the PHA will provide guidance and organise information workshops.

The new programmes now available are:

  • Health Technology Assessment
  • Service Delivery and Health Research; and
  • Public Health Research.

Professor Bernie Hannigan, Director of Health and Social Care Research and Development (HSC R&D), a division of the PHA, said: “This report affirms the important contribution that HSC R&D makes to Northern Ireland.  Our health and social care services must be underpinned by good research. The announcement by Minister Poots will transform the beneficial impact of the excellent work done by our current and future researchers and bring real scientific, health and economic gains.”

Minister Poots said: “This investment is very good news for Northern Ireland’s HSC, but it will also provide a timely boost for our economy as well.  This new report has concluded that, based on past performance, our contribution of £2.6million has the potential to generate over £10million.

“However, there are many more benefits to be derived from taking this path.  Our researchers now have access to an annual funding pot of over £75million, and will be able to compete on an equal footing with researchers from other UK countries.  They will also gain the opportunity to join research partnerships which could draw down larger amounts of money from other sources.

“Northern Ireland has a proud history of cutting edge research in health and this investment will help ensure that we build on this tradition. Research is a cornerstone of reform and innovation is the catalyst for improvement.  As we move forward with Transforming Your Care, investment such as this are crucial to the reform of our health and social care system.”

Applications for these new research programmes should be made directly to the NIHR Evaluation, Trials and Studies Coordinating Centre (NETSCC) through their website: www.netscc.ac.uk

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Further information

For further information contact the Public Health Agency on 028 9055 3663.