NIHR Innovation Fund to Reduce Demand for Illicit Substances

Closing Date: 12/10/2022

Funding call to reduce demand and use of recreational drugs such as powder cocaine, cannabis, ecstasy and nitrous oxide, with the aim of developing new population level interventions for future roll-out in the community.

Established in 2006 and primarily funded by the Department of Health and Social Care, the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) funds health and care research in the UK.

NIHR’s Innovation Fund to Reduce Demand for Illicit Substances funds research on developing, evaluating and implementing interventions to reduce and prevent demand for recreational drugs. The drugs covered include, but are not limited to, powder cocaine, cannabis, nitrous oxide and ecstasy.

This call is phase 1 of a three phase funding call, worth £5 million overall. Phase 1 is for preparatory development work, phase 2 is for evaluation and phase 3 is for implementation. Successful proposals at phase 1 can apply for phase 2 and (if successful) phase 3 funding. However, new proposals can also directly apply for phase 2 funding and phase 3 funding.

The Government published a new 10-year drug strategy, From Harm to Hope, in December 2021, responding to Dame Carol Black’s Independent Review of Drugs. The review highlighted that there is an increasing amount of so-called recreational drug use but limited evidence in what may deter people from using these drugs. The latest statistics on drug misuse suggest that approximately 3.2 million people used drug(s) in the year 2019/20, with 1.1 million people reporting that they had used class A drugs.

Drug use presents significant challenges for society (eg increases in drug-related crime and violence, exploitation of vulnerable groups, social and economic costs, and significant harm to individuals such as death, poor physical and/or mental health, and problematic drug use and dependency).

NIHR has launched this call as part of the Government’s 10-year drug strategy, funded by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) in partnership with the Joint Combating Drugs Unit (working across the Home Office, the Department for Work and Pensions, the Department for Levelling Up Housing and Communities, Ministry of Justice, DHSC and the Department for Education). The call aims to fund projects that address demand for recreational drugs and thereby reduce drug use and dependency.

Phase 1 proposals will undertake the necessary preparatory work to prepare for an evaluation in phase 2. Such proposals could include:

  • Development and refinement, preliminary studies and feasibility studies of new interventions, products, processes or services.
  • Undertaking the necessary stakeholder engagement and public involvement to assist development of new interventions, products, processes or services.
  • Developing collaborations and partnerships, particularly with organisations which may implement successful interventions (eg youth services, education services, police services etc).

The subsequent phase 2 will focus on further development and refinement, and testing and evaluation of successful phase 1 projects; any new applications will evaluate existing interventions. The final stage, phase 3, will consist of implementation and rollout.

Funding body National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR)
Maximum value £200,000
Reference ID S24217
Category Medical Research
Fund or call Fund