Making a case for change and funding sources

Making a successful case:- applying for project funding

This page shares the content of a WebEx presentation delivered by Duncan Goodes in January 2014. The presentation focused on building a robust and compelling case for a change project so that a strong application for funding could then be made.  Click on the links below to see a copy of the slides and to hear a recording of the WebEx.

Below those links are some thoughts on potential sources of funding – offered in response to requests from the WebEx audience.

Please be aware that there is a significant pause at the beginning before it starts:- 

The Webex was supported by Pfizer Ltd under a medical education goods and services contract.


Exploring sources of funding for an improvement project.

This short piece looks at sources of funding for improvement projects. If you have prepared a case for change (an improvement proposal) the information below is intended to sign-post some potential sources of funding that might support the delivery of your proposal.

This piece is a response to requests for an exploration of this topic that arose as a consequence of the ‘Making a Case for Change’ WebEx.  It may be worth reviewing that content (as above) before submitting your proposal.

This piece will not reiterate the content of the WebEx and it is assumed that a robust case, perhaps following the principles shared in the presentation, has already been prepared.

Bear in mind two things: ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’ and that if you approach a body for funding the worst that can happen is they say ‘no’!

NB: Before making any external approaches for funding it is important to secure senior  support at least ‘in principle’ from within your organisation first.

Funding sources within an organisation.

Many or most care organisations will have financial reserves even if this is not widely publicised within the organisation.  Given your case is robust, addresses organisational priorities and is financially viable there are a number of individuals who you could approach. The titles of posts may not be identical in all organisations but hopefully your organisation will have posts that are analogous to those below. Organisational charts for your organisation can be helpful in identifying the right pathway for your proposal. It is still the case that funding tends to be less tight in the second half of the financial year than it is in the first half….

NHS Providers:

  • Divisional or Directorate Managers  – especially if the change is at departmental level in the organisation  and is mainly a management change
  • Divisional or Directorate Clinical Lead – especially if the change is at departmental level in the organisation and is mainly a clinical change
  • Trust Quality Lead (if your organisation has one) – especially if the change crosses divisional boundaries and / or responds to a already expressed need for improvement
  • Head/ Director of Operations – especially  if the change  crosses divisional boundaries and / or responds to a already expressed need for increased organisational efficiency
  • Director of Nursing – nursing practice changes
  • Medical Director – medical practice changes
  • Chief executive – go to the top and especially if the change has an outward facing aspect and will change  how the organisation does business.
  • IT Directors – projects with a strong IT element
  • Non-Executive Directors (NEDs).  Generally you can talk to a NED in confidence and seek their advice on how best to prosper your proposal. They can also be really useful ‘critical friends’ – giving a critical appraisal of the proposal and thoughts on whether it is ‘a runner’. They can become powerful champions.  NEDS tend to come from specific backgrounds – pick the right one!


  • Engage the relevant senior commissioning manager.
  • Have a look at the provider list above for other individuals with similar roles on the either the  Governing Body or the Quality and Governance Committee (or similar  structures).

Social care:

Similar to the NHS in many ways but some Directors will carry an organisation wide portfolio rather than manage a section of a Trust – i.e. Director of Public Health or Director of Community Protection etc.  The Director of Commissioning is likely to be important for many proposals.  Your first port of call may be the relevant Service Head rather than the Director depending on the nature and scale of the change.  If in doubt ask for an organisational chart as a clue to the right pathway for your proposal.

Making an approach.

It is probably best to start with approaching a single senior person if your case is already fully worked up – approaching a lot of people simultaneously can muddy the waters and cause irritation if people feel they are being ambushed or bypassed. If the case is in development or outline only then secure approval for further work (i.e. get a mandate to pursue it) and then engage the necessary range of managers / clinicians in fully developing the case. This later approach is often ideal as it secures ‘buy-in’ as the case is developed.

Some organisations have a specific committee or board that you can make your pitch to. Some will comment on proposals at the very early stage and give a mandate to fully develop them whilst others will only make a decision on a fully prepared case.  Find out if your organisation has such a body and how best to approach.


It pretty much goes without saying that any proposal to create a new service or significantly changed provision needs to be tested with your commissioners – they will need to fund it in the long run. They may even support (fund) making a change to a new service.

External Funding sources

This is a non-exhaustive list of potential funding sources.

Department of Health  (Health Innovation Challenge)

The DH (in collaboration with the Welcome Trust at the time of writing) periodically runs ‘Challenges’ focused on innovation and improvement in defined areas. It is worth checking to see what challenges are running, if any, and if your proposal fits any of them.  –


The Welcome Trust

Supplies grants in various areas – again worth checking if your proposal fits any of their priorities. Grants tend to be at the research / very early adoption / testing in practice  end of the innovation pipeline rather than for the adoption of well proven practice or technology.


Technology Strategy Board.

Generally looks to support innovations in defined areas (puts out ‘Calls’ periodically)  where those innovations are also going to stimulate the economy – (tend to be technology based innovations).  You will note that the TSB works across the private and public sector.  They also have a range of ‘standing calls’ – things they are always interested in. Visit their website for info on current calls –



Medilink call themselves a National Health Technology Business Support Service.  Broadly Medilink is a representative body for industry with predominately Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs) as their membership numbers. If your proposal is to develop a product that may be commercialisable they may be able to help find you the right industry partner (who may stump up some cash) to help you realise your vision.  They may also be able to help you access European funding.


Horizon 2020

This is the European Commission’s EU Framework for Research and Innovation.

Big money to be had (funding is 80 billion Euros over 7 years from 2014-2020) but you need stamina for the application process and (generally) partners in 2 or more European Countries (albeit Horizon 2020 can help you to find those partners).  Worth a look if only to see what is exercising bright minds across Europe in a very wide range of fields – some fascinating projects!


Association of British Healthcare Industries (ABHI)

The Association of British Healthcare Industries (ABHI). ABHI is the industry association for the medical technology sector in the UK. ABHI’s purpose is to promote the rapid adoption of medical technologies to ensure optimum patient outcomes throughout the UK and in key global markets. With over 250 company members ABHI is the voice of the medical technology sector, championing industry to the NHS, Government, regulators and stakeholders.

Not really a provider of funding but may know of funding sources or the right partner – so worth a contact if your proposal is product based.


Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry ABPI

The ABPI represents innovative research-based biopharmaceutical companies, large, medium and small.  Like the ABHI it is not a funding provider but may help you to establish a partnership with one of their industry members. Note that some pharma companies have sizable budgets to support innovation and improvement. Not all Trusts like to partner with a pharmaceutical company but in a sense this is a way of getting cash back on your pharmacy spend…


Pharmaceutical Companies

Direct approaches to pharmaceutical companies may be worth a try (if your organisation supports this). Explore those that already have a commercial interest in the same field as your proposal. Have a look at their respective websites to see what sort of projects they are already supporting – you may be surprised!



Many of the big charities have research and / or innovation budgets. If there is a major charity that operates in the same field as your proposal and if that proposal is strongly patient / user experience centred then they may be worth approaching.


Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs)

All of England is covered by one of the 14 AHSNs. These have a budget for innovation and can access the NHS England Regional Innovation Fund.  Info about the AHSNs and the areas they cover can be found here:

Your Local AHSN will have a website that identifies their priorities – you can explore this to see if your proposal fits with any of those.





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