NHS England - Transformation Directorate

Artificial Intelligence (AI) funding streams

A list of the funding available for AI projects in health and care

This page provides information on the funding streams available for AI-related projects in the health and social care sector in the UK.

British Heart Foundation – National Cardiovascular Data Science Centre - £10 million

The BHF Data Science Centre was launched in 2019 alongside Health Data Research UK (HDRUK). The centre will work in partnership with patients, the public, NHS, researchers and clinicians to promote the safe and ethical use of data for research into the causes, prevention and treatment of all diseases of the heart and circulation.

Cancer Grand Challenges (CRUK & NCI) - £20 million

The Cancer Grand Challenges is founded by Cancer Research UK and the National Cancer Institute. They previously ran an AI-focused challenge with 9 challenge areas in 2017.

Cancer Research UK – Early Detection and Diagnosis Programme Award - £2.5 million

The Early Detection and Diagnosis Programme Award funds long-term, integrated and renewable programmes of exceptional science to transform how and when early cancers and pre-cancerous states are diagnosed.

Diagnostic Centres of Excellence (BEIS/UKRI) - £50 million

The Diagnostic Centres for Excellence are funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) which invested £50 million through UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to establish 5 digital pathology and imaging AI Centres of Excellence. The aim is to develop AI to diagnose disease. The 3 centres set to receive a share of the funding, based in Coventry, Leeds and London, will deliver digital upgrades to pathology and imaging services across an additional 38 NHS trusts, benefiting 26.5 million patients across England.

EME and HTA - The development and evaluation of predictive algorithms using Artificial Intelligence (NIHR/AAC)

The Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation (EME) and Health Technology Assessment (HTA) programmes are holding a joint call for applications either led by or involving collaboration with industry. This call is for applications seeking to develop, refine, and evaluate predictive algorithms using artificial intelligence (AI) for health and social care.

  • Stage 1 application deadline: 10 May 2022, 1pm

All health areas and types of technology are eligible under this call. The intervention should have credibility with UK health and social care professionals and ultimately have the potential to improve health-related outcomes. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Enhancing accuracy for the detection or prediction of disease (e.g. applying machine learning to image analysis)
  • Predicting individual risk using patient information, where this may directly inform clinical or self-management decisions.

Teams should comprise a collaboration between industry and academic and/or clinical partners with the necessary research expertise. There is no upper funding limit, however applicants must fully justify all costs and proposals should represent good value for money.

*EME programme: For studies with novel methodological designs that deliver results more efficiently, reduce the study timeline, and maximise the knowledge gained

**HTA programme: Undertaken where some evidence already exists to show that a technology can be effective, and this needs to be compared to the current standard intervention to see which works best.

For further guidance click on the links below:

HTA programme

EME programme

European Research Council – ERC grants

The EU aims to increase investment in AI - public and private combined. ERC grants, as well as the creation of AI-focused research centres in EU countries, support Europe's research institutes, which are global leaders in AI research.

Healthcare technologies investigator-led grant - UKRI

This grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is provided through UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

Healthcare technologies investigator-led research grants are for researchers at UK higher education institutions, research council institutes, UKRI-approved independent research organisations and NHS bodies.

Open to researchers in engineering, physical sciences, information and communications technologies (ICT) and mathematical sciences who want to apply their expertise to healthcare challenges.

Projects can range in size from small short-term grants to multi-million-pound research programmes lasting several years. There is no limit on the size of the grant or length of the project.

80% of the full economic costs of the project will be covered. Your organisation must agree to find the balance.

Health Technology Assessment (HTA) programme

The Health Technology Assessment (HTA) programme funds research about the clinical and cost-related impact of healthcare treatments and tests, for those who plan, provide or receive care from NHS, and social care services.

HTA research is undertaken where some evidence already exists to show that a technology can be effective, and this needs to be compared to the current standard intervention to see which works best.

Research can evaluate any intervention used in the treatment, prevention or diagnosis of disease, provided the study outcomes lead to findings that have the potential to be of direct benefit to NHS patients.

The researcher-led workstream offers researchers the opportunity to submit proposals on topics or research questions within the programme’s remit. The commissioned workstream invites applications in response to calls for research on specific questions, which have been identified and prioritised for their importance to the NHS and patients. Proposals may include primary research, evidence synthesis, or feasibility and pilot studies, when requested within the commissioning brief.

Horizon Europe - European Commission

Horizon Europe is the EU’s key funding programme for research and innovation with a budget of €95.5 billion. Running from 2021-2027, there are 3 programme pillars and within pillar 2 there are 6 clusters, including health.

Key to any bids is a significant opportunity to form collaborations, build multinational partners and collaborate. Usually open to scientists, researchers and businesses, opportunities include:

  • Computational models for new patient stratification strategies
  • Trustworthy artificial intelligence (AI) tools to predict the risk of chronic non-communicable diseases and/or their progression
  • New methods for the effective use of real-world data and/or synthetic data in regulatory decision-making and/or in health technology assessment.
The Industrial Centre for AI Research in digital Diagnostics (iCAIRD) in Scotland - £15 million

iCAIRD was awarded £10 million from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund by Innovate UK, while partner companies Canon Medical Research Europe Ltd (radiology) and Royal Philips (digital pathology) are collectively providing £5 million of additional supportive funding. This brings together a pan-Scotland collaboration of 15 partners from across industry, the NHS, and academia. One of the eligible funding options for iCAIRD-partnered projects is the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI).

Innovate UK Smart grants - £25 million

Innovate UK’s Smart grant is an ‘open grant funding’ programme. Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, is investing up to £25 million. All proposals must be business focused. Applications can come from any area of technology and be applied to any part of the economy, such as, but not exclusively: the arts, design and media creative industries, science or engineering.

NIHR AI for Multiple Long-Term Conditions (multimorbidity) call (AIM) - £23 million

This National Institute for Health Research call aims to grow capacity and capability for multi-disciplinary working in multiple long-term conditions (multimorbidity) for the benefit of patients, practitioners and the public. Visit our AI for Multiple long-term conditions (AIM) programme webpage for more information.

NIHR i4i Award - £flexible

The NIHR i4i Award has 3 funding streams: product development, connect and challenge. Translational research scheme aimed at de-risking early-to-late stage medical devices, in vitro diagnostics and high-impact patient-focused digital health technologies for ultimate NHS use.

NIHR i4i Dementia Award

The NIHR Invention for Innovation (i4i) Programme invites applications for a dementia-specific funding call aimed at the research and development of digital approaches for the early detection, diagnosis and stratification of individuals with dementia.

The i4i Programme supports the research and development of innovative medical technologies that have demonstrated proof-of-concept and have a clear developmental pathway towards new products for ultimate NHS use.

The Invention for Innovation (i4i) programme is a translational research funding scheme aimed at de-risking early-to-late stage medical devices, in vitro diagnostics and high-impact patient-focused digital health technologies for ultimate NHS use.

We fund projects that have demonstrated proof-of-concept and have a clear pathway towards adoption and commercialisation.

Prostate Cancer UK - Research Innovation Awards

The Research Innovation Awards fund both fundamental and clinical research (and all stages in between).

The award will also consider applications that bring innovative ideas from other cancer types and other diseases to be tested or translated for prostate cancer and we encourage applicants to build teams that include experts from other disciplines and other countries where that will improve the project.

Research for Patient and Public Benefit - Wales

The Research for Patient and Public Benefit (RfPPB) scheme supports capacity and capability building in NHS Wales (including Public Health Wales) by funding research related to the day-to-day practice of the health service, including integrated health and social care practice, and associated patient and public benefit.

Funded research projects are likely to fall into the areas of the evaluation of healthcare technologies and treatment, health service delivery and organisation research and public health research, although projects in other areas that are consistent with the aims of RfPPB Wales are not excluded from the scheme.

Small Business Research Initiatives (SBRI) Healthcare Cancer programme

The SBRI Cancer programme is looking to implement solutions in late-stage development (ready for real world implementation and evaluation). The programme is currently running competition 1 and is seeking to run competition 2 and competition 3 in the financial year 2022/23 and 2023/24, respectively. See a list of SBRI open competitions.

The competitions are currently focused on:

  • early detection and diagnosis of cancer
  • diagnostic efficiency of cancer services.

Companies, NHS trusts, and Cancer Alliances are invited to bid for funding. Where possible, Cancer Alliances should be co-applicants or partners of the bids. Bids are assessed by a panel of technical, business and clinical experts and the most promising ideas are selected for funding.

SBRI Healthcare is an NHS England funded programme.

Small Business Research Initiatives (SBRI) Healthcare competition

SBRI Healthcare is an NHS England funded programme supported by the Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) and managed by LGC Group. The aim of the programme is to:

  • improve patient care
  • increase efficiency in the NHS
  • enable the NHS to access new innovations through research and development that solve identified healthcare challenges and unmet need
  • bring economic value and wealth creation opportunity to the UK economy

SBRI Healthcare competitions are open to single companies or organisations from the private, public and third sectors, including charities, which are invited to bid for funding to develop solutions for specific health needs. The programme is based on a phased approach (subject to budget availability):

  • Phase 1 is intended to show the technical feasibility of the proposed concept.
  • Phase 2 is intended to develop and evaluate prototypes or demonstration units from the more promising technologies in phase 1.

Bids are assessed by a panel of technical, business and clinical experts and the most promising ideas are selected for funding.

See a list of SBRI open competitions.

Turing AI Acceleration Fellowships (UKRI, BEIS, Office of AI and the Alan Turing Institute) - £20 million

The Turing AI Fellowships are delivered through UKRI’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), in partnership with the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy, Office for AI and The Alan Turing Institute. National cohort management will be led by UKRI, in partnership with the Office for AI and the Turing.

Wellcome Trust – Innovator Awards - up to £750,000

The Wellcome Trust Innovator Awards are open to researchers who are developing healthcare innovations that could have a major and measurable impact on human health. Individuals and teams from not-for-profit and commercial organisations can apply.