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New six-figure fund to support talented individuals work across industry, academia and the NHS

The Academy of Medical Sciences has launched a new funding initiative, the Cross-Sector Experience Awards, to ensure talented people can develop careers that span public, private and charitable sectors, to drive forward health innovation and break down barriers to movement. 

The awards provide up to £100,000 for individuals to work in a different sector for three to twelve months to gain new skills, foster collaborations and accelerate work on human health and wellbeing. 

For decades, the United Kingdom has been widely recognised as one of the best places for health research, bringing improved health, social and economic benefits for the people of the UK and the wider world. The Academy’s recent ‘Future-proofing UK Health Research’ report analysed the strengths of the system and identified factors which threaten the UK’s ability to deliver benefits in the long term.  

One such issue is that the system discourages the movement of people between sectors, and this in turn is a key barrier to innovation in healthcare. A 2019 Academy-commissioned report into cross-sector working revealed that researchers and innovators tend to stay siloed, limiting the spread of knowledge and stifling new ideas. There is also little incentive or support for mobility. 

The new Cross-Sector Experience Awards, which are delivered in partnership with Wellcome and the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, aim to break down these barriers by providing funding and facilitating placements across all sectors, including industry, academia and the NHS. 

Professor James Naismith FRS FRSE FMedSci, Vice President (Non-Clinical) of the Academy of Medical Sciences, said: “We must place people at the heart of the UK health research system. Research culture and career structures have to change to make sure we are enabling our most brilliant minds to come together towards a common purpose. As a medical charity, we know that patients must be central if we are to make a difference to lives. 

“We need to boost connectivity across sectors and properly support talented individuals so that knowledge and ideas can flow more freely. Our new awards will enable people working on improving human health, whatever their field or sector, to immerse themselves in a new environment to gain insights, skills and collaborations that can accelerate the translation of research and the benefits that brings to patients and the public.” 

The awards, which are currently in a pilot phase, provide up to £100,000 to cover salary, project costs and expenses for placements of up to 12 months. The applicant’s work must have a direct link to the improvement of human health but their partner organisation does not need to be in a health-related area – they can be in another sector or industry.  

This allows individuals to fully experience another sector without committing to a permanent move. The aim is that they return to their original role with new expertise to apply and connections to facilitate further cross-sector work that drives health innovation.  

The application deadline for the first round of Cross-Sector Experience Awards is 29 February 2024, and the Academy anticipates a further round of the scheme will be launched in autumn 2024. Full eligibility criteria and application details can be found on the Academy of Medical Sciences website. 

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