Kent Surrey Sussex Academic Health Science Network, (KSS AHSN) chatted with professional bid writer Gary Ward in advance of his exciting seminar on ‘Preparing a Winning Funding Bid‘. The aim was to find out a bit about what he will be sharing, and gather some top tips, for those who couldn’t make the seminar.
Gary’s background is journalism, moving into PR work and marketing, moving to specialise in the health and healthcare areas, as well as business development. Helping companies win competitive tenders and writing bids, proposals and grant applications has become his particular area of expertise, and that’s what he plans to share with us in the webinar.
As an AHSN, we are aware of the diversity of funding opportunities out there for health innovators at all stages of their development, but the key is choosing the right funding opportunity for your company.
Part of Gary’s expertise is helping innovators to pinpoint where to apply and invest their time. He recommends signing up for our AHSN monthly funding newsletter and getting onto the mailing lists for opportunities from three major funding sources:
- the Small Business Research Initiative Healthcare, specific to the NHS,
- Innovate UK, part of the Department for Business, encouraging tech development in all sectors, and
- the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR).
When investigating funding sources, Gary emphasises checking the eligibility criteria. Many major funders will hold a webinar discussing how to apply, which he recommends attending, as well as contacting the funder with questions, before you spend a lot of time applying for something that you may not qualify for.
The next step, once you’ve found a grant, is to make sure you have everything that’s needed to make a good proposal. For example, some bodies will award up to a certain percentage of your project costs, requiring you to decide how to fund the rest. You may want to consider bringing in a good partner organisation to provide specialist skills to implement your work. Line these up first, Gary says, and talk to KSS AHSN if you need help with creative ways to solve funding or skills difficulties.
You will need to demonstrate that your project provides value for money, and is going to provide a good return on investment for the NHS. Your costs need to be realistic, otherwise your project will be dismissed.
Finally, you need to write a good proposal. Gary’s top tips are to answer all the bullet points within each section of the application form, and keep a careful eye on the word limit. Succinct language is your friend, and framing what you do simply, so that a non-expert can understand it will help you get your message across. If necessary, get support from someone else to write or review the application, who is a step removed from the technical details, and more able to frame it in terms that the judging panel will be able to understand.
Gary’s key acronym, for writing applications, is PAM:
P – Purpose. ‘What’s the purpose of what we’re doing?’
A – Audience. Know your audience, who do you need to convince.
M – Message. Frame your message in a way that’s not technically dense, without being simplistic, keep it engaging, and provide evidence for your claims.
Evidence is very important – but keep it real. Panel judges will see a lot of applications – which are they going to take more seriously, “We’re going to change the world,” or “This product brought increased efficiency in clinical settings, across 75% of our pilot”? Make sure you can evidence your claims or show how the funding will help you fill this evidence gap.
KSS AHSN advice is to test your value proposition, with people who know how the system works. Our team has a wealth of experience across health and social care, working with a wide range of innovations and companies. If you’re thinking of applying for a grant in a month, or a year, start working towards a good NHS value proposition now, to have everything you need in place when the time comes.
Gary’s top tips:
- Be clear about your eligibility and any requirements on your business if you are successful.
- Be clear about your message, and answer the questions.
- Be clear in your writing, and keep it simple, and within the word limits.
For more advice and support around making funding applications, book on the seminar that Gary will be leading on 16 November, 10.30am-12 noon. You can book via Eventbrite, attendance is free, and the event will take place online.
The Technology and Industry team at KSS AHSN is always happy to hear from innovators with ideas, or health tech companies who need support to bring innovations to market. You can get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org