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NIHR Infrastructure Short Placement Award for Research Collaboration (SPARC) call for applications is now open.

The NIHR Infrastructure Short Placement Award for Research Collaboration (SPARC) scheme allows trainees supported by NIHR Infrastructure to spend time in other parts of the NIHR to network, train in a specific technique or collaborate with other researchers/specialists. The scheme is designed to optimise and enhance the trainees’ experience as well as their CVs. Expected outcomes include collaborations, publications, presentations, posters, as well as the development of new skills.

application process

Applications must be directed to Georgina Fletcher and NOT to the NIHR.

Deadline for applications for 2018 has now passed.


The NIHR Infrastructure SPARC is open to all NIHR trainees whose research training is partly or fully funded by a School award.

Applicants must:

  • be undertaking a formal research training programme (Masters, PhD or Postdoctoral award)
  • be partly or fully funded by an NIHR Infrastructure award by payment of salary, stipend and/or fees
  • be based in an NIHR Infrastructure organisation with a remit to build research capacity 
  • be able to submit the financial report at the end of the award before 1st March 2019
  • submit a written report within 2 months after the completion of the placement
  • have continued support from their home institution for the duration of their studies (this will be the home institution that administers their current award).

For the first time, applicants are able to go to any part of the NIHR to undertake their placement as long as there is justified impact. The host institution does not necessarily have to be within the NIHR Infrastructure that has a remit to build research capacity.


The NIHR Infrastructure SPARC allows NIHR funded or supported trainees within one part of the NIHR Infrastructure to spend a short period of time training in another institution elsewhere in the NIHR.

The period of experience in another part of the NIHR is flexible if the applicant can demonstrate the impact and benefit to their training. The training placement period can be broken up to allow flexibility but must be completed and the financial report must be submitted by March 1st 2019.

Trainees will remain registered at their ‘home’ institution and the ‘host’ institution will provide supervision and training in collaboration with the ‘home’ supervision team. The following types of activities could be supported:

  • trainees moving to other parts of the NIHR with similar specialisms to their home institution
  • trainees seeking placements in a specific NIHR institution that offers training or technique experience not available at their home institution (including cross-discipline training, such as regulatory aspects, clinical trials etc.)

The placements, however, are not limited to these types of activities. Applications from trainees to spend time in a NIHR with a different remit than their home institution (e.g. BRC trainees visiting a CLAHRC) are also encouraged. Applicants must demonstrate clearly how this opportunity would enhance their studies and their CV.


The placement will be funded by small awards (up to £5,000 per individual) through a centrally run competition. The awardee’s salary/stipend will continue to be supported by their home institution. The aim of the award is to cover the incidental expenses (accommodation, travel, food and other reasonable expenses) of working from another institution for a short period of time. Research costs and supervisory fees will not be covered by this award.

View the case studies from previous awardees. 

Suggestions of where trainees can go to undertake a placement can be found in a Google document.

To find out more about the scheme, please read the SPARC guidelines and contact Karen Fernando at the NIHR Academy.