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Third call for feasibility studies and pilot projects

September 16, 2019

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 Monday 16th September 2019 by email to Healtex using this form. The projects will have to be completed by end of January 2020.



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 funds 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. So far, the following studies have been funded:

  • AuTomated prioRitisation and categorIsation of sAfety and PharmacoviGilance Events in CTIMPs (Cardiff University)
  • Towards Shareable Data in Clinical Natural Language Processing: Generating Synthetic Electronic Health Records (King’s College London, University of Oxford, Swansea University, University of Cambridge)
  • Automated coding of Free Text to Clinical Ontologies (Swansea University, SAIL Databank, King’s College London)
  • TexGov: Developing data governance for using free-text data in research (Swansea University, Brighton and Sussex Medical School, UCL)
  • A citizens’ jury study to understand whether, and under what conditions, the public would accept medical free text being used for research (Brighton and Sussex Medical School, University of Manchester, Citizens Juries)
  • Conceptualising and Quantifying Social Media Signal Strength Relating to Non-Adherence in the Treatment of Depression (University of Brighton, Brighton and Sussex Medical School, University of Sussex)
  • Real-time side effect reporting to drug regulators within an online health social network (University of Manchester, HealthUnlocked)


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.

We plan to fund up to two projects, depending on the quality of the proposed work. The deadline for applications is 16 September 2019.


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 relevant and challenging; is the proposal novel and innovative; does it align with the network objectives);
  • Clinical impact and context (is the clinical need and potential benefit for clinical practice/research clear);
  • Plans and deliverables (are plans realistic; are deliverables clear and appropriate; are ethical considerations suitable; is data management appropriate);
  • Resources requested and track record (are resources justified; does the project build on existing areas of strength of applicants; does it bring new collaborations);
  • Future (does the project provide a scope for further development; can deliverables be applied in different settings and different tasks).


Proposal outlines

Proposals should be submitted by email to contact@healtex.org by the deadline specified above, using this form 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 up to £30,000, 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 must finish by end of January 2020. 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

16 September 2019 Deadline for the 3rd round of applications
~1 October 2019 Decisions on the 3rd call for applications
February 2020 Presentation of the results


September 16, 2019