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Our Partnerships

HSC R&D Division is committed to working in partnership with a large number of local, national and international organisations. These partnerships are essential for the effective delivery of research in the HSC. 

HSC R&D form partnerships to

  • joint fund research infrastructure
  • joint fund research awards
  • co-ordinate effective research management
  • promote good research practice

Many of the partnerships in which HSC R&D Division is involved are listed below or contained within the relevent sections on Funding Opportunities; Centres, Units and Facilities, and Information for Researchers. We have also highlighted a small number of examples with key organisations.

HSC R&D R&D Division continues to work closely with its partner organisations including: All Ireland Institute for Hospice and Palliative Care  •  All Ireland Institute of Public Health  •  Atlantic Philanthropies (AP)  •  Biobusiness Northern Ireland  •  Cancer Research UK  •  Department for the Economy  •  Department of Health (NI)  •  Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC)  •  Health Research Authority (HRA)  •  Health Research Board (Dublin)  •  Health & Social Care Trusts  •  Invest Northern Ireland  •  Medical Research Council (MRC)  •  National Cancer Institute (USA)  •  National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI)  •  Northern Ireland Medical and Dental Training Agency (NIMDTA)  •  Northern Ireland Practice & Education Council for Nursing & Midwifery  •  National Institutes for Health (USA)  •  National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)  •  Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency (NISRA)  •  Office for Research Ethics Committees Northern Ireland (ORECNI)  •   Office for Strategic Coordination of Health Research (OSCHR)  •  Queen’s University Belfast (QUB)  •  Royal College of Nursing (RCN)  •  Science Foundation Ireland •  UK Departments of Health  •  UK Clinical Research Collaboration (UKCRC)  •  UK Cochrane Collaboration  •  Ulster University (UU)  •  US Ireland Partnership  •  Wellcome Trust  •  Wolfson Trust



The UK Clinical Research Collaboration (UKCRC) was established in 2004 with the aim of re-engineering the clinical research environment in the UK, to benefit the public and patients by improving national health and increasing national wealth.

The UKCRC Partnership brings together the major stakeholders that influence clinical research in the UK. It includes the main UK research funding bodies; academia; the NHS; regulatory bodies; the bioscience, healthcare and pharmaceutical industries; and patients.

The UKCRC represents a new way of working in which complex long-standing issues are tackled by key stakeholders working together. Strategic direction and oversight is provided by the UKCRC Board with broad stakeholder input into key issues. The Partnership is supported by a jointly funded, independent Secretariat and has a mixed model of working, where activities are:

  • Led and administered by individual Partners on behalf of the Partnership
  • Led by individual Partners and administered by the UKCRC Secretariat
  • Led and administered by UKCRC Secretariat.

The UKCRC was established to address the challenge that conducting research in the UK was much harder than it needed to be, despite the NHS providing the perfect environment in which to carry out high quality research for the benefit of patients.



The 2006 Review of funding in UK health research led by Sir David Cooksey resulted in the creation of the independent Office for Strategic Coordination of Health Research (OSCHR).

Cooksey had identified considerable strength in the UK science base, but revealed cultural, institutional and financial barriers to the effective translation of health research into clinical practice. The review envisioned a cultural change among the public funders of health research to address the barriers to research collaboration and to support the application and translation of basic research into patient care and economic benefit.

Since 2007, the OSCHR Board has demonstrated a powerful capacity to work across government through collaboration, addressing many of the issues required to ensure a comprehensive health research environment and leading to improved health outcomes and economic growth. The OSCHR process has helped to focus on the development of better NHS electronic data capabilities for research; create a research programme for public health and greatly enhance translation science. OSCHR is one of a number of fora where the public funders of health research work together with other stakeholders.


OSCHR's mission is to facilitate more efficient translation of health research into health and economic benefits in the UK through better coordination of health research and more coherent funding arrangements to support translation.

OSCHR has responsibility for:

  • Translational Medicine Research
  • Public Health Research
  • E-Health Records Research
  • Methodology Research
  • Human Capital

Three Boards – a Translational Medicine Board (TMB), an E-Health Records Research Board (EHRRB) and a Public Health Research Board (PHRB) – have been established to provide strategic oversight in these areas. These Boards do not have a direct funding role.

In 2011, Ministers in the Department of Health (DH) and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) considered that OSCHR had delivered the majority of the changes to the UK health research landscape advocated in the Cooksey report. They agreed that OSCHR should continue to monitor the translational research activity funded by government and additionally explore the role the Board could play in enhancing the funders’ existing contributions to economic growth through the life science sector.





HSC R&D Division, as part of the UK-wide community of health research stakeholders, works closely with the Health Research Authority.

The Health Research Authority (HRA) was established in December 2011 to promote and protect the interests of patients in health research and to streamline the regulation of research. The HRA works, with partners such as NIHR, to make the UK a great place to do health research, to build confidence and participation in health research, and so improve the nation’s health. Patients, participants and the public share an interest with researchers and sponsors in ensuring good, ethical research is carried out, subject to proportionate regulation.



The National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) is a partnership of UK cancer research funders who work together to ensure that their funding is used to the best effect. Since 2002, this funding has amounted to more than £4.5bn of cancer research. 

HSC R&D is one of the partners within NCRI.

The NCRI was set up in 2001 with a mission to bring together all the key players in research in the UK to identify where research is most needed and where it is most likely to contribute to progress. 15 organisations formed the original NCRI Partnership, providing a forum to build connections between Partners, and to establish a database of cancer research funding to understand areas of strength and weakness in the UK. More than ten years on, NCRI now have 22 Partner organisations who collectively spend more than £500m on cancer research each year. The need for coordination remains as strong as ever, and activities now include a thriving annual conference, clinical studies groups for researchers to collaborate on trial development, and a range of initiatives to boost activity within particular strands of research. View a Summary of NCRI strategic plan 2012-17 (PDF).

Through the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI), HSC R&D Division joined with a consortium of funders to develop 3 calls for funding for research proposals in awareness and early diagnosis of cancer.

Click for more information on the The National Awareness and Early Diagnosis Initiative - NAEDI.

From 2016 HSC R&D Division will not be part of new NAEDI consortium.



The All Ireland Institute of Hospice and Palliative Care (AIIHPC) was formally established in October 2010, following a successful bid by the Consortium members to secure funding for the organisation.
AIIHPC reflects a broad range of expertise in the service delivery, academic preparation for and management of hospice and palliative care across the island of Ireland.
Consortium members and their organisations are experts in palliative care service planning and delivery, education and training, research and policy analysis.
Through its collaborative approach AIIHPC promotes strategic, evidence-based contributions to the policy/practice environment, North and South and through a collaborative and comprehensive approach deliver a better experience for patients and their families.

The 17 Consortium members are:  


Main Funders

The significant bulk of funding is derived from The Atlantic Philanthropies, with additional funding from:

Consortium members also contribute funding. The total investment over the lifetime of the institute will be approximately €11m.



The NCI-Ireland Cancer Consortium is a unique international partnership in cancer care, which was launched in 1999.

In 1999, government representatives of Ireland, Northern Ireland, and the United States formed the All-Ireland Cancer Consortium (AICC) to reduce cancer incidence and mortality on the island of Ireland (which has among the highest rates of cancer in Europe) through cross-border and transatlantic collaborations in cancer research and education. The Consortium’s formation became official with the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in October 1999.

Since then, the MOU has been resigned to reaffirm the commitment between the three jurisdictions. This trilateral partnership enables the further development of improved scientific programs in:

  • Prevention and early detection
  • Diagnosis and treatment
  • Palliative care and survivorship
  • Interactions aimed at enhanced public health and patient care
  • Research (including biobanking)
  • Education and training for physicians, nurses, and scientists
  • Epidemiology (including registration and surveillance)
  • Quality assurance
  • Cancer policy analysis and health economics



A Trilateral Partnership for Supporting Research and Relationships

The US-Ireland Research and Development (R&D) Partnership, launched in July 2006, is a unique initiative involving funding agencies across three jurisdictions: United States of America (USA), Republic of Ireland (RoI) & Northern Ireland (NI).

The purpose of the partnership is “to increase the level of collaborative R&D amongst researchers and industry professionals across the three jurisdictions” with the governments in USA, RoI & NI recognizing the strong link between high quality research environments and economic development.

The R&D partnership is guided by a steering group, which consists of high-level representatives from the three jurisdictions, with a co-chair from each[1].  It focuses on facilitating the funding of high quality collaborative research projects across the three jurisdictions. The steering committee agreed the research priorities areas as sensor technology, nanotechnology, telecommunications, energy and sustainability, and health research, all areas where there is already established research strength in each jurisdiction.

To date (December 2015) 27 projects have been successful with a combined investment value of £32m. Download factsheet

Today this is a vibrant partnership among the United States, Northern Ireland, and Ireland and an excellent example of science and diplomacy working together in a unique trilateral partnership.

[1] In Northern Ireland, the co-chair and steering group members are appointed by the Northern Ireland government on an agreed nomination by the then minister for employment and learning, minister for enterprise, trade and investment, and minister for health. The Ireland co-chair and steering group members are appointed by the Irish government through the then minister for enterprise, trade and employment. In the United States, the engagement of the Department of State underscores the significance of this partnership to foreign policy as well as the potential important scientific advances that the collaboration produces.