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November 25, 2021 @ 8:00 am 5:00 pm

NIHR SPARC R8   The NIHR SPARC offers awards of up to £5,000 per individual and allows NIHR Academy Members (formal pre-doctoral/Masters, PhD or early career post-doctoral researchers) supported by NIHR Infrastructure, a HPRU and NIHR Schools an opportunity to spend time in other parts of the NIHR; to network, train in a specific skill or collaborate with other researchers/specialists. The scheme is designed to optimise and enhance the individuals’ experience as well as their CVs and careers.   Further information on the NIHR SPARC scheme; including the guidance notes and how to apply can be found here. In particular, we would encourage you to refer to the NIHR SPARC – Where can I go? guide. This guide details some of the different centres and sites across the NIHR (note this is not an exhaustive list) and provides more information on the research they are involved in, their facilities and expertise and details of some of the types of activities taking place within the NIHR. Please also refer to SPARC advice from past awardees and SPARC case studies highlighting some of the types of placements previous award holders have undertaken and the impact the placement has had on their personal and professional development.   What’s new for SPARC R8!  

  • The SPARC eligibility criteria has been expanded to include formal pre-doctoral training award holders/Masters students funded in NIHR Infrastructure, HPRUs and NIHR Schools. At this level the selection committee will be looking to ensure whatever is proposed adds to their current Masters and future career prospects, and will want to see that it doesn’t detract from their current studies.


  • The NIHR SPARC scheme continues to encourage applicants to consider planning and undertaking bespoke placements of their own choosing to meet their individual research training and career development needs. However, for SPARC Round 8, we are particularly welcoming applications that:-

  Ø  Equip NIHR Academy Members with the skills and experiences to work across disciplines and specialisms – vitally important if we are to bring new thinking to complex issues such as multiple long-term conditions/multi-morbidities and develop researchers with the skills to improve the lives of people with multiple long-term conditions through research.   Ø  Equip NIHR Academy Members with the skills and experiences to navigate and work across multiple sectors, seizing opportunities to work with parts of the NIHR with links to industry/commercial sector in order to help tackle some of the most complex health and care challenges of the future.   NEW NIHR LA SPARC Round 1 Pilot Scheme!   We are excited to pilot a new NIHR Local Authority SPARC (LA SPARC) scheme that will run alongside the existing NIHR SPARC scheme. This pilot scheme will provide opportunities for both NIHR Academy Members and individuals working in Local Authority settings to undertake placements and move between NIHR and Local Authority settings in either direction.   Please take a look at the NIHR News Story What does the LA SPARC award include?   Funding (up to £15,000) will be made available for eligible NIHR Academy members to design and undertake bespoke placements to move between NIHR and local authority settings to enhance their careers by developing their skills, knowledge and expertise to work at the interface between local authorities and NIHR.  

  • Opportunities for NIHR Academy members to undertake a placement in a local authority setting – This will offer an opportunity for NIHR Academy Members (Masters, PhD or Post-Doctoral) based within NIHR Infrastructure, HPRUs and NIHR Schools (meeting the standard SPARC eligibility criteria) to apply to undertake placements in a local authority setting.

  NIHR Academy members may wish to use this opportunity to gain first-hand experience of being actively embedded and connected within practice/policy, helping NIHR Academy members to start to shape mutually beneficial collaborations/networks with the ability and skills to co-produce research that is more meaningful and relevant in order to better inform practice and policy.   Please find attached an e-mail template highlighting the new LA SPARC Pilot that you are welcome to share with your NIHR Academy Members as you feel appropriate.  

  • Opportunities for NIHR Infrastructure/NIHR Schools to ‘host’ LA SPARC placements – This is an exciting opportunity for individuals based in local authority settings to spend time in a part of NIHR. Individuals may wish to use this opportunity to experience research from a different perspective and gain an insight how they might develop a practice academic career. These short placements will provide opportunities to discuss mutual areas of interest, what skills and expertise the LA setting and NIHR centre can collectively offer and start to develop potential research collaborations/networks and ideas for co-produced research.

  NIHR Research Design Service (RDS) – Sign-posting and Advice/Support NIHR Research Design Service (RDS) advisors can talk with NIHR Academy Members via a confidential and free pre-arranged face-to-face meeting, over the phone or via e-mail about their LA SPARC application/placement. Potential applicants may have already thought about potential placement ideas, but need some advice and sign-posting support regarding potential Local Authority settings that they may wish to consider undertaking their placement in, or they might be quite overwhelmed and aren’t sure where to start! That’s fine as well! Further information regarding the NIHR Research Design Service, their advisors and the advice and support they are able to provide individuals interested in applying for a LA SPARC award/placement can be found in the LA SPARC Round 1 Pilot Guidance Notes How do potential applicants apply?   The NIHR SPARC and NIHR LA SPARC scheme competitions will run alongside each and will follow the same competition timetable. However, please be aware there are separate Guidanace Notes and application forms for both schemes.   All applications must be submitted via the NIHR Academy online Award Management System, (; we are no longer accepting word application forms). Further information and support can be found in the Guidanace Notes; which outlines step by step how applicants should register, complete and submit an NIHR SPARC and LA SPARC application via ARAMIS.   Many thanks in advance and please do not hesitate to contact myself and the ICBS team ( if you have any queries; we are more than happy to help.


November 25, 2021
8:00 am – 5:00 pm
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