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Call for feasibility studies and pilot projects

September 15, 2017

Applications are invited for 3-4 months short pilot/feasibility studies in the areas of interest to Healtex. The purpose is to provide short term support to allow initial investigation of new ideas. Proposals should aim to provide better understanding of research challenges and issues involved in healthcare text analytics, and/or to kick-start work that will lead to further collaborations and wider impact. We particularly encourage proposals that address the grand challenges identified by the EPSRC Healthcare technologies theme.

Submissions are invited by no later than Friday 15th September 2017 by email to Healtex using a pro-forma.



EPSRC has recently identified Natural language processing and text analytics as a research area that is expected to grow, in particular in the context of healthcare technologies. To support the growth and road-map the future developments, EPSRC has funded the UK healthcare text analytics network (Healtex), which was formally launched in November 2016 with the main aim to bring the community together, identify key challenges and facilitate research needed to integrate narrative into the healthcare data ecosystem to support actionable healthcare analytics. The network operates through workshops, working groups, datathons and hackathons, aiming to identify key opportunities and challenges in the transition of NLP technologies to healthcare applications. As part of these activities, the network will fund feasibility projects and pilot studies to support new collaborations, pump-priming activities and to provide the necessary feasibility results to strengthen proposals coming in through standard proposal modes.


Scope and eligibility

Proposals should address an important unsolved challenge in healthcare text analytics, including, for example, methodological developments, applications to a particular health area, issues related to data governance or sharing of data/tools, literature surveys, pilot data collection and annotation, etc. Proposals that aim to make existing technologies available to the community are not eligible for this call (such projects can be funded through different means within Healtex).

All network members are eligible to apply, and – given the nature of the funding – the proposals need to focus on the UK settings. Proposals are naturally expected to be multi-disciplinary, and we encourage applicants to bring in new collaborators from across the UK, including colleagues with related expertise so that we can share best practices and views on key challenges. International collaboration is also encouraged where appropriate, but funding will be available only for travel and consumables for international partners.

At this stage we plan to fund up to two projects, depending on the quality of the proposed work. The deadline for applications is 15 September 2017. The second call will be in September 2018.


Quality and selection of projects

Proposals will be assessed by a panel that will comprise representatives from the Healtex stream leads, the network partners, industrial and international collaborators, who will independently score the proposals in the following categories:

  • Research challenge and quality (is the problem addressed important and challenging; would it contribute to the research road-map; is it a critical barrier to progress in the field; will it contribute to the research road-map);
  • Impact and innovation (what is the clinical need and potential benefit for clinical practice, does the proposal close the loop between observational data and interventional health informatics);
  • Data management and replicability (can the deliverables of the project be applied in different settings and for different tasks; are ethical consideration appropriate);
  • Future (does the project provide scope for further development; has the vision for future development (e.g. a full research proposal) been outlined);
  • Track record (does it bring new collaborations in; does the project build on existing areas of strength of applicants).


Proposal outlines

Proposals should be submitted by email to contact@healtex.org by the deadline specified above, using a pro-forma that clearly specifies:

  1. Clinical need(s) that will be addressed in the project;
  2. Required text analytics solution(s) and challenge(s);
  3. Links to and potential impact on the network objectives;
  4. Dataset(s) that will be used for development and/or evaluation (if applicable);
  5. Deliverables of the project, including their wider impact and potential (e.g. re-use);
  6. Resources requested and management plans;
  7. Plans to further develop the proposal (post-funding).
  8. Draft ethical application (if appropriate).


Budget and resources

Budget for each proposal is expecting to be between £25,000 and £40,000, with smaller feasibility studies also encouraged. Costing will be allowed as per standard EPSRC resource guidelines (e.g. 80% FEC – see EPSRC guidelines). Proposals should fully justify the resources required, which can include staff time (e.g. for data preparation, analysis and evaluation; modelling; methodology and software development or deployment), travel and short-term visits, and any events (e.g. workshops to gather cross-sectional views). Please note that the funding is intended to support pump-priming activities and new collaborations around the challenge(s), and/or to provide the necessary feasibility results to strengthen future proposals; therefore, we do not expect to see a large proportion of the funds to be spent on overheads/estates costs. Please contact contact@healtex.org for any clarifications.


Post-award support and review

All awarded projects should aim to complete by April 2018. At the end of the project, the successful applicants will provide deliverables accompanied with a brief report. The network will organise an event to present and review the outcomes of feasibility studies, and the successful project will be strongly encouraged to participate in other Network outreach activities, to further promote the objectives of the network and facilitate wider engagement. Successful feasibility studies will be also offered additional support via grant preparation workshops. The progress will be regularly reviewed by the network management team.

While the participants are expected to manage the ethical application, the network will aim to offer support and advice to the successful applications. The successful applicants will be also asked to provide feedback on that experience.


Key dates

29 May 2017 1st call for feasibility studies and pilot projects
15 September 2017 Deadline for the 1st round of applications
~1 October 2017 Decisions on the 1st call applications
May 2018 Presentation of the results (1st round)
May 2018 2nd call for feasibility studies and pilot projects
September 2018 Deadline for the 2nd round applications
October 2018 Decisions on the 2nd call applications
May 2018 Presentation of the results (2nd round)


September 15, 2017