Innovate at Imperial

The 2020/21 Innovate at Imperial is now closed. The 3rd round (2021/22) will be launched in April/May 2021.

Innovate at Imperial aims to provide opportunities for staff at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust to explore novel and innovative ways of improving health and social care, including projects that address hospital processes, support staff wellbeing, enhance patient safety or improve patient care.

The programme reflects the Trust's ambitions to deliver innovative healthcare as well as our own 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 health and care within the Trust and the wider health system.

A third call for applications will open in April/May 2021, with funding of up to £85,000 available for each successful application. The programme is open to permanent members of staff at all levels - and from clinical and non-clinical backgrounds.

We are able to provide a reasonable level of support to help you with the development of your project proposal. However, in the first instance, please approach the Trust's Strategy, Research and Innovation team:

Hannah Fontana
Strategy, Research and Innovation Programme Manager

Fran Cleugh
Deputy Director of Improvement

Please note, Innovate at Imperial is a separate funding programme to our Research Fellowships programme.

What do we 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 at improving 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 examples of innovation are there at the Trust?

Following a successful first round in 2019, we are pleased to have supported 12 projects through the Innovate at Imperial programme. To find out more about these projects, click here.


Your proposal must: 

  • relate to one or more of Imperial Health Charity’s strategic objectives
  • 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
  • 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 will 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 providing these benefit, for example, 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
  • 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.


  • Applications are open to permanent members of staff at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust only
  • Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust honorary contract holders are not eligible for funding
  • You must obtain approval from your line manager and divisional director - this is to ensure that the work and its potential impact are well understood within the clinical service in which it is based
  • You may submit one application only - if you are a co-applicant on another Innovate at Imperial application, the same rule applies.
How much can I apply for?

You can for apply for between £1,000 and £85,000. Innovate at Imperial projects do not necessarily have to be expensive. We will examine your project budget carefully to assess value for money. Full justification for each cost (e.g. salary and on-costs, equipment, PPI costs) must be included in the full application. 

How can I spend my grant?

We can support:

  • a new role, including salary and superannuation, London weighting and employer's NIC) but this must include evidenced justification. A full job description is required for Stage 2. If the salary cost is intended to support backfill of an existing post, full justification must be included. Posts must be essential to the successful delivery of your project and must not include the salary of research fellows
  • 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.

We cannot support:

  • any item or project that should receive core funding from Trust departmental budgets, including medical equipment
  • any item that has already been purchased/delivered (no retrospective funding)
  • replacement of equipment that is 'new for old' on a like-for-like basis
  • general staff hospitality (e.g. socials, staff rewards, meeting or travel expenses)
  • payments to individuals, including non-Trust staff PPI participants
  • conference attendance and training course fees
  • salaries that are not directly associated with the delivery of your project
  • scientific and/or medical bench-based research
  • supplementing a fellowship or active research.

This list is not exhaustive. If you have any queries, please contact our grants team:

How much time do I have to deliver my project?

If your application is successful, you must deliver your project within 18 months, including the set-up and evaluation phases.

How can I apply?

There are two stages to submitting your application. First, we will ask you to submit an Expression of Interest form, which will help us to determine whether your proposal is suitable for Innovate at Imperial of if we can direct you to alternative sources of funding. Shortlisted applicants will then be invited to submit a full application via our online grants portal, Flexigrant.

Please allow for ample time to secure approval signatures from your line manager and divisonal director. If these approvals are not included, your application will be automatically withdrawn. To download our signatures of approval form, click here.

Application timetable
  • There is one call for applications each year. This year applications opened on Friday 19 June 2020
  • Stage 1 - the Expression of Interest form deadline was 12pm (noon) on Friday 17 July 2020. Send your form to:
  • Shortlisted applicants were notified on Monday 10 August 2020
  • Stage 2 - those shortlisted were invited to submit a formal application via our online grants portal, Flexigrant, by 12pm (noon) on Friday 18 September 2020. Applicants will be notified of the outcome in early December 2020.

Please be aware that we will be unable to accept applications submitted after the deadlines indicated above.

Guidance Notes and Sample Application Form
  • Click here to download the Guidance Notes
  • Click here to download the Sample Application Form
Financial information

If you are awarded a grant, you must not incur any costs on your project until you have received your grant award letter and completed the grant start certificate. Unfortunately we cannot reimburse you for any costs incurred retrospectively.

We will not reimburse individuals or suppliers directly. Payments will only be made to Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust in quarterly arrears.

Reporting requirements

To help us monitor the impact of our funding, we will require you to submit an end-of-grant report following completion of your project. For some projects, we may also require a progress report and an annual update report for at least three years after your grant has ended. All reporting requirements will be clearly indicated in your grant award letter, and our grants terms and conditions.

Further information and contact details

For any other enquiries or additional support, please contact our grants team:

T: 020 3857 9844