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A short introduction to the ‘i4i Champions’

A short introduction to the ‘i4i Champions’

01 January 2020

Thomas Allen, Frontline Adviser in Health Economics, RDS North West

The challenge 

Of all the NIHR funding programmes, Invention for Innovation (i4i)* is arguably the one hardest to give advice on. In my experience this tends to be due to two reasons:

  1. Fewer opportunities to develop expertise due to a relatively low number of i4i advice cases
  2. A general unfamiliarity with the world of SMEs (Small and medium-sized enterprises)

These two points are clearly related in both directions. We get few cases because we are unfamiliar and we are unfamiliar because we get few cases. Most RDS advisers are based in academic departments, so we don’t routinely engage with SMEs and innovators. But over the last year we have been trying to address this challenge.

The solution 

Each local office of the RDS now has an i4i Champion; an experienced advisor with extra i4i training. The champion will support i4i applications in their area and engage with the SME community via local and national events. In doing so, they should help to remedy points 1 and 2 above.

I’m the i4i Champion for Greater Manchester and I was at the NIHR Medtech Roadshow earlier this year. It was a great event with a focus on supporting SMEs to apply for NIHR funding. Look out for similar events in your area and find out who your local i4i Champion is if you need more support.

My take so far

I’m still learning but some key messages for any potential i4i applicant should consider:

  1. Where do you see your innovation being used; in the home, hospitals, GP practices?
  2. What makes you think your innovation will work/might be effective? What is the evidence so far?
  3. If your innovation (particularly for apps) will be updated/refined in the future, how might this change the effectiveness?

As always, engage with the RDS as early as possible – no such thing as too early!

*note: i4i is actually three programmes under one name. The NIHR website contains a really good overview of the particularities of each scheme – I won’t try to reproduce that. Your local RDS team can also help you target the correct scheme if you are unsure.

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