CFAs: Global Health Policy and Systems Research (HPSR) Projects

 Deadline Date: June 19, 2024

 Donor Name: National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR)

 Grant Size: $500,000 to $1 million

The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) is pleased to launch Global Health Policy and Systems Research (HPSR) Projects to support high quality applied health research to strengthen health policy and health systems in ODA-eligible countries on the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) list.

This is achieved through research that is developed by engaging with policymakers and other stakeholders to ensure policy-relevant research, equitable research partnerships, and capacity strengthening tailored to needs.


  • The NIHR Global HPSR Programme funds research to improve access to appropriate and affordable health services, aligned with the aims of Universal Health Coverage and Sustainable Development Goal 3.
  • It is underpinned by 3 principles which guide development and delivery. Research should:
    • meet eligibility criteria as ODA, i.e. funded research directly and primarily benefits people in ODA-eligible countries on the OECD DAC-list
    • deliver high-quality applied health research, building on the Principles of the NIHR: Impact, Excellence, Effectiveness, Inclusion, Collaboration
    • strengthen research capability and training, as appropriate, through equitable partnerships


  • The programme aims to support applied research to strengthen health policy and health systems through:
    • high quality research on health policy, health services and health systems which improves outcomes for the most vulnerable people in LMICs and addresses issues of health equity
    • addressing applied health policy and systems research questions which target challenges or evidence gaps prioritised by local stakeholders and policymakers
    • supporting equitable partnerships and networks between researchers to generate new research knowledge and evidence
    • involvement and engagement with policymakers, communities, patients and the public, and civil society organisations throughout the research lifecycle
    • delivering evidence to inform policy and/or practice, for example through engaging with policymakers and informing local, regional or national strategies
    • capacity strengthening plans for individuals and institutions in LMICs which are proportionate and relevant to the delivery of the proposed activities
    • including appropriate project management and financial/administrative support
    • supporting career development for research leaders of the future, i.e. by giving less experienced researchers in LMICs the opportunity to lead or jointly lead on the research proposal with effective mentoring and appropriate support


  • NIHR welcomes applications under the following cross-cutting themes:
    • scalability, cost-effectiveness, affordability and stakeholder engagement in relation to integrating health services
    • quality of care or perceptions of quality of care, identification of barriers to quality in health systems (at any/all levels of community, primary care, secondary or tertiary care)
    • health workforce management and planning, using innovative technologies within health system settings, innovations in team configurations and skills mix, education and training needs
    • improving data quality and use in health system planning, research on digital solutions, using data to improve efficiency in health system operations

Funding Information

  • Through this call, awards of between £250,000 up to £800,000 over a period of up to 3 years are available for NIHR Global HPSR Projects.
  • The amount requested and the length of the funding period should be fully justified according to the nature of the proposed research and capacity strengthening. Smaller applications which meet call aims are welcomed, and applicants are encouraged to match their ambitions to their level of research experience. The budget should reflect the significance of the research questions and the magnitude and degree of complexity of the required research. All research and training activities must align with the funding call aims and be completed in the contracted award timeframe.
  • The NIHR expects funds to be distributed equitably between partners, with the flow of funds reflecting where the majority of work is taking place (i.e. in LMICs). Where this is not possible, applications should justify how the funds will primarily benefit LMIC organisations and populations. The Funding Committee will carefully scrutinise the appropriate distribution of funds between all UK and LMIC partners.

Who can apply?

  • NIHR Global HPSR Project applications can have either:
    • one sole lead employed by an eligible LMIC institution – sole leads from UK institutions are not eligible to apply
    • two joint leads, one of whom must be employed by an eligible LMIC institution – the other joint lead can be employed by a different eligible LMIC institution, or an eligible UK institution
  • For sole leads, the funding contract will be signed with the LMIC sole lead’s institution. For joint leads, the funding contract can be signed with either of the LMIC joint leads’ institutions, or with the UK joint lead’s institution. The joint or sole lead institution which signs the funding contract will become the contracting institution and funding will be disbursed from NIHR to that institution only. The contracting institution will be responsible for onwards disbursement to all collaborating institutions including to any named LMIC or UK joint lead institution, if relevant. Both the UK and LMIC institutions must be eligible Higher Education Institutions (HEI) or Research Institutes.
  • Joint and sole lead applicants will normally be principal investigators employed by an LMIC or UK HEI or Research Institute. Depending on the nature of the partnership, there may be other affiliated co-applicants (in addition to the sole lead or two joint lead applicants) and collaborators, including service level providers, necessary to deliver the HPSR Project award. There are no restrictions on the number of co-applicants or collaborators but please justify their role and why they are necessary to effectively deliver the aims of the NIHR Global HPSR Project award. If High Income Country co-applicants or collaborators outside the UK are included, please justify their role and why it cannot be performed by an LMIC co-applicant or collaborator. 
  • An individual cannot be named as joint lead or sole lead on more than one application to this call.
  • HEI or Research Institutes may submit more than one application to this call as joint or sole lead, provided each application is distinct in its aims and objectives.

Eligibility Criteria

  • ODA eligibility
    • To be eligible to receive NIHR Global HPSR funding, applications must demonstrate how they meet ODA compliance criteria and outline:
      • which country or countries on the OECD DAC list of ODA-eligible countries will directly benefit
      • how the application is directly and primarily relevant to the development challenges of those countries
      • how the outcomes will promote the health and welfare of people in a country or countries on the OECD DAC list
    • Where some elements of the research are not undertaken in an ODA-eligible country during the course of the award (including where a country may graduate from the DAC list during the lifetime of the award or there is a need for specialist expertise) the application must clearly state the reasons for this with due consideration to the benefit of the research to ODA-eligible countries.

For more information, visit NIHR.

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