Funding for innovation

We’re committed to supporting innovation in our hospitals – with a focus on patient care. Through our Innovate at Imperial programme you can apply for funding to explore new ways of working to accelerate progress, strengthen hospital processes, support staff wellbeing, or improve patient care/safety.

Find out more about the programme below. Please note: applications open annually. The deadline for stage 1 of the 2021/22 Innovate round has now passed. The timelines for the 2022/23 Innovate round will be announced later this year.

What do you mean by innovation?

Innovation is about doing things differently - or doing new things to make a positive change. This includes testing or transferring ideas from one setting to another to improve health and social care delivery. It could be a novel drug, device, app, model of care, set of behaviours or way of working that is directed towards improving health outcomes, efficiency or experience. These innovations can range from incremental to radical.

Your project proposal must demonstrate the potential impact on service that will improve the safety and quality of patient care and evidence the need for funding to explore the feasibility of these proposed changes. 

What are you looking for?

We’re looking for projects that:

  • relate to one or more of Imperial Health Charity’s strategic objectives:
    • To improve patient experience and help to deliver true patient-centred care
    • To develop the careers and enhance the wellbeing of Trust staff
    • To enable innovation in healthcare within the Trust and the wider health system.
  • develop and test innovative approaches to improve health and social care (this includes hospital processes, staff wellbeing, patient safety or patient care)
  • address a problem that is concise, defined and measurable
  • describe fully the evidence underpinning the problem
  • identify and describe the most appropriate methodology for delivery and include a robust evaluation plan (for an example of methodology, see the Trust’s QI resources)
  • accelerate progress (rather than supplement funding for established work)
  • be delivered within a realistic budget and timescale, including set-up and evaluation phases
  • can be delivered within an 18-month period
  • provide a rationale for disseminating results or plans to scale the innovation
  • be team-led.

To help you with your application, here are some other key considerations that we’ll use when reviewing project proposals:

  • projects that are outward-looking, community-centric and inter-sectoral will be highly valued (i.e. working across Trust departments and/or with local health and care partners). For example, your partner(s) can be CCGs, other primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare providers, and community providers
  • projects that replicate/repurpose existing work/systems will be considered, provided they benefit a different group of patients, speciality or industry
  • projects that focus on a new app, device or platform technology must have the approval of the Trust's ICT team before applicants are invited to submit a full application (Stage 2)
  • projects that include a new role must include evidenced justification (a full job description is required for Stage 2).

We will not consider applications:

  • that are scientific and/or medical bench-based research
  • that supplement a fellowship or active research
  • if you and your team have previously been awarded an Innovate at Imperial grant.

This is not exhaustive, which is why Stage 1 is to submit an Expression of Interest on our online grants portal Flexigrant. If your project idea meets our criteria, we’ll then formally invite you to apply.


What have you funded previously?

To find out more about the projects we have previously supported, click here.


Who can apply?

Applications are welcome from any permanent member of staff at ICHT. You can be from any staff group.

Please note: you’re not eligible if you hold an honorary Trust contract only.

If you're submitting an application in partnership with other colleagues, all co-applicants must also be permanent members of ICHT staff.

You can only be involved in one application – whether you’re the lead applicant or a co-applicant. If you’ve already been awarded an Innovate at Imperial grant, you can’t apply again until you’ve completed your current project.

What support do I need?

Your project needs the support of your line manager, and your relevant Director - this may be your Divisional Director, Divisional Director of Operations, Divisional Director for Nursing, Clinical Director, or Divisonal Director of Research. This ensures that your project and its potential impact are well understood within the clinical service in which it is based.

You must also have consulted the Trust’s Intellectual property team before you apply:

Dr Brunel Eilizadeh,
ICHT Senior Business Planning Manager,

How much can I apply for?

You can apply for between £1,000 and £85,000.

The funding can cover:

  • a new role, including salary and superannuation, London weighting and employer's NIC
  • focus group costs, including room hire and refreshments (provided these are not excessive)
  • reasonable travel within Greater London for the project team members to attend meetings with north west London partners
  • reasonable volunteer expenses and/or consumable costs for PPI studies
  • reasonable open access publication costs.

Please see the Guidance Notes in the Resources section below for a detailed table of costs that can and cannot be supported.

In your application you’ll need to give us a justified breakdown of all your costs, with quotations for any items over £250. You must ensure you understand and comply with the Trust's Procurement Strategy or the College's Purchasing Regulations for any purchases, especially those over £5,000. More information can be found on the relevant intranet, and your Trust/College Purchasing Department will be able to support you.


When can I apply?

For the 21/22 round of Innovate at Imperial grants:

  • The call for Expression of Interest forms opened on Wednesday 21 April 2021
  • The deadline to submit Expression of Interest forms was noon on Friday 11 June 2021
  • Shortlisted applicants will be notified on Wednesday 14 July 2021
  • Stage 2 applications will open on Flexigrant from 14 July 2021
  • Stage 2 applications will close at noon on Sunday 26 September 2021.
  • We’ll let you know the outcome after the decision meeting in November 2021.

The timeline for the 22/23 round will be announced later this year.

How do I apply?

There's one call for applications each year, and two stages to the application process.

Firstly, you need to complete our Expression of Interest Form via our online portal Flexigrant. This helps us to determine whether your proposal is suitable for Innovate at Imperial or if we can direct you to alternative sources of funding. 

If you’re shortlisted, we’ll then invite you to make a full online application.

Are resources available to help me with my application?
  • We’ve created the following resources to help you with your application:
    • Click here to see the detailed Innovate at Imperial Guidance
    • Click here to see the Innovate at Imperial Sample application form
  • For further support, please see the following key contacts at the Trust:

Intellectual property team

Dr Brunel Eilizadeh,
ICHT Senior Business Planning Manager,

Strategy, Research and Innovation team

Dr Fran Cleugh,
Deputy Director of Improvement

Hannah Fontana, Strategy,
Research and Innovation Programme Manager

  • For any other enquiries or additional support, please contact our Grants Manager:

Hani Ahmad
T: 020 3857 9844

How does the funding work?

If you’re successful, you have six months to activate your grant and start your project. You must submit a Grant Start Certificate confirming your Grant Start Date and Grant End Date.

You can only spend your grant within these dates.

Your grant will be paid as a reimbursement to ICHT or Imperial College London. You’ll need to pay for approved costs upfront, through the Trust or the College. Then you’ll need to ask them to invoice us and we’ll repay them. For more details, see our FAQs.

After your project is complete, you’ll have six months to submit an End of Grant Report, and to make sure we’ve been invoiced for all of your spending. We may also require a Progress Report and an annual update report for at least three years after your grant has ended.

We’ve created this handy workflow, to show how these grants work from application to completion. For more in-depth detail, check out our standard Terms and Conditions.

Quick links

Complete the Expression of Interest form on our online portal Flexigrant

Click here to download our Guidance Notes

Click here to download our Sample Application Form

Click here to see our workflow showing how these grants work, from application to payment

Top tip

Your application needs to be signed by your line manager and your relevant Director. It can take time to arrange this - make sure you factor this in when you’re planning your application so you’re not caught out.

Still have questions?

Check our Innovate at Imperial FAQs