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NIHR awards £97.5m to fund its new Research Support Service

NIHR awards £97.5m to fund its new Research Support Service.

The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) has announced the launch of its new national service, Research Support Service (RSS), along with £97.5m in funding.

The national service will replace the NIHR Research Design Service (RDS) and support funding for Clinical Trial Units (CTUs) following its end on 30 September 2023.

Working in partnership with the NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) and supported by the NIHR Study Support Service (SSS), the RSS will provide free and confidential support, advice and expertise for researchers in England working across the NIHR remit.

Spanning across five years, the funding will include £30m for specialist centres, which will offer expertise and support for public health and social care research.

The NIHR RSS will be delivered in collaboration through eight RSS hubs across England, each of which will represent a partnership of research groups and organisations, including the University of Birmingham, Imperial College London and King’s College London.

Researchers will be referred to experts within the RSS hub network who are best placed to provide the support they need.

The core services offered through the NIHR RSS include:

  • Pre- and post-award advice from methodologists
  • Advice on patient and public involvement and engagement
  • Advice on developing and delivering inclusive research
  • Support for clinical trial development and delivery
  • Collaboration opportunities with centres of research excellence in the development and delivery of projects
  • Signposting to other sources of advice and support to facilitate research delivery.

The NIHR RSS will work with CRN to assist researchers when planning and delivering their projects at study sites, including within the NHS, along with direct support from the SSS.

Support from the SSS will include attributing study activities at the funding and approval stage using the Schedule of Events Cost Attribution Tool (SoECAT).

Additionally, an NIHR RSS National Collaborative Strategic Lead Function will be established in 2024 to provide strategic leadership across all hubs.