Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund Digital Innovation Hub

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Our vision is to make the UK home to data-driven research, scientific advances and innovation in healthcare to improve patient outcomes. To help realise this vision, the Government has committed £37.5 million from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) to the Digital Innovation Hub (DIH) Programme that will be delivered by Health Data Research UK (HDR UK).  Engagement with researchers and industry has shown that ease of access to high-quality data, more efficient clinical trials, and better access to and use of real-world data are key to realising this vision. This must all be underpinned by public engagement and the highest standards of ethics and information governance.

The aim of the DIH Programme is to take a first step in addressing these needs as part of our quest to create a robust UK-wide infrastructure for health data research and innovation. 

Through the Programme, we are supporting partnerships between patients, clinicians, industry, researchers and innovators to stimulate a new wave of innovation that will benefit the NHS, patients, the public, clinicians, and researchers and drive economic development across the UK.

The DIH Programme will establish up to five Digital Innovation Hubs with a focus on curated, disease-focused datasets, clinical trials and real-world evidence. Each Hub will improve secure access to data through the UK Health Data Research Alliance and a common UK Health Data Research Innovation Gateway.

A key outcome of the DIH Programme is to deliver benefits to patients and members of the public. We are dedicated to increasing public involvement in the Programme with a commitment to transparency about our work and how data is used; protecting confidentiality; and applying a robust governance framework to ensure that health data is used ethically, responsibly and where there is a demonstrable benefit to society.

Call details

This call is a request for proposals to develop a Digital Innovation Hub. Each Hub will be a centre of excellence that will curate health data at scale and provide UK-wide expert research data services. Our vision is that successful Hubs will enable industry, NHS and academia to create real-world insights, innovations and improvements from structured and unstructured health data.

Full details of the call, including criteria for successful Hubs are outlined in the Digital Innovation Hub Programme prospectus guidance notes for applicants. A key element will be the requirement to involve and engage with patients and the public to ensure that research outcomes are focused on patient benefits. Note that this call is for organisations interested in becoming a Digital Innovation Hub. The Gateway does not form part of this Digital Innovation Hub Call, and more information will be given on this at a future stage.

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Eligible organisations for funding through this programme are:

  • any NHS organisation (local or national), for example an NHS trust, or equivalent in the Devolved Administrations
  • a higher education institution or other research organisation
  • a UK based business of any size
  • an Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) or Academic Health Science Centre (AHSC)
  • UK public sector organisations (not covered by the above)
  • UK based charities.

A minimum of two collaborating organisations from at least two of the different categories listed above must apply for the grant. Industry partnerships are highly desirable.

To lead a Digital Innovation Hub submission, you must be one of the following: 

  • an NHS organisation, for example an NHS trust, or equivalent in the Devolved Administrations
  • an Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) or Academic Health Science Centre (AHSC)
  • a UK public sector organisation
  • a University or other research organisation.

The lead organisation must be able to demonstrate clinical leadership, a track record of the use of health data for public benefit and the ability to process health data for industrial research and innovation and deliver a national service that can be commercially sustainable for the long-term.


£22 million is available from the ISCF to support up to five Digital Innovation Hubs, with up to £5 million available per Hub for the initial investment period (1 October 2019-30 August 2022). A portfolio of Hubs will be selected to cover a range of diseases, clinical trials and real-world evidence services.

The funding available will be to provide data and expert services to support research that improves access to and quality of data and increases the UK’s future research and innovation capability, delivering economic benefit to the UK. While Hubs will support research and innovation activities through the data and services they provide, the funding from this call will not support specific research projects.

Published on: 13 May 2019
Last Updated On: 14 May 2019