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Innovation Fund to Reduce Demand for Illicit Substances

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The first phase of the fund is now open for bids and will focus on the development of new population-level interventions to reduce demand for drugs. Later phases will focus on the trialling and evaluation of interventions and their wider rollout in the community if found to be effective, and are expected to launch in 2023 and 2024 respectively. There is no requirement to bid in phase one in order to be eligible for funding at a later stage: new bids will be considered for all three phases.

The fund is open to bids from organisations in any of the UK nations as long as those bids are consistent with the aims of the UK drugs strategy and/or the Government’s overall approach to tackling drugs. When assessing applications our panel will be looking to see that projects would be replicable in those nations where policy responsibility for the relevant sector is reserved to the UK Government (so health-related bids replicable in England, policing and criminal justice bids replicable in England and/or Wales etc).

The Joint Combating Drugs Unit and Office for Health Improvement and Disparities are managing the fund in partnership with the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), which has particular expertise in delivering research competitions and programmes. However, successful bids can come from any sector and will not have to be health-focused or involve activity that is specifically targeted towards drug misuse. We are keen to see proposals from organisations such as but not limited to police forces, local authorities, schools, universities, youth clubs and health-focused organisations. Where organisations do not have an established research and development function, NIHR can assist in brokering potential collaborations with academic or specialist researchers.

Now that the fund has opened for phase one bids, applicants will have until 28 September to submit a very brief expression of interest and then until 12 October to submit their proposals. The funding opportunities page on the NIHR website links through to the call specification and other relevant documents such as applicant guidance and the application form. We will shortly be adding further content to this page, including answers to frequently asked questions and a recording of a pre-launch event hosted by the NIHR, JCDU and OHID on 6 September, at which the team outlined the scope of the call and the assessment process.

The NIHR, JCDU and OHID teams are happy to answer any questions about the fund – these can be directed to [email protected].

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