Head of NIHR Research Contracting: National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)

Department/Division: Grant Management Group, Health Science & Innovation

Location: Twickenham

Contract: Permanent

Salary; Competitive

Vacancy Reference: 9482


Reporting to the NIHR Assistant Director of IP and Commercial, the Head of NIHR Research Contracting will be responsible for overseeing the development of the various forms of the NIHR contract, working with the Department of Health and Social Care to ensure that current and future iterations are fit for purpose, providing reassurance that NIHR has appropriate rights in place when providing funding.


The Head of NIHR Research Contracting will lead work across the NIHR portfolio to ensure that research contracting is transacted in a timely and efficient manner, identifying key issues and risks with stakeholders and identifying contractual solutions that can be proposed to the Department of Health and Social Care. In addition, the Head of NIHR Research Contracting will have responsibility for the curation of the NIHR standard contract in all its various forms, including the operational responsibly for the development of the various research funding agreements required for all NIHR funding mechanisms.


The Head of NIHR Research Contracting will be required to provide leadership across NIHR on relevant policy and commercial issues such as state aid, commercialisation of research data and creation of networks, developing tools and guides to support NIHR strategic aims, such as expansion of the global health research portfolio. Furthermore, as an integral part of the NIHR IP Unit, there will be the opportunity for Head of NIHR Research Contracting to manage a portfolio of commercialisation cases, to ensure that research funded by NIHR is translated by researchers to produce impactful outcomes that improve the quality, capacity and capability of health care in the UK and overseas. In particular, the Head of NIHR Research Contracting will be responsible for ensuring that all negotiated commercialisation arrangements are formalised in robust contractual terms that protect NIHR’s interests.


A key part of the role will be supporting the Director of Innovation Programmes and the Assistant Director of IP and Commercial to manage commercialisation issues that require detailed analysis of technical, contractual, stakeholder and commercial factors. The Head of NIHR Research Contracting will work in a dynamic network of other members of the IP Unit, colleagues throughout the NIHR system, research teams, IP management specialists in research organisations and commercial partners.


The Head of NIHR Research Contracting will also work on projects that will improve the NIHR’s IP management processes and its integration in to the wider UK health research funding ecosystem.  The Head of NIHR Research Contracting be responsible for ensuring that other contractual mechanisms that are managed by the LGC Grant Management Group (e.g. SBRI Healthcare) are contracted using terms that promote an integrated and risk managed delivery model.


Key Responsibilities


  • To lead on the review and periodic updates to the standard NIHR research contracts, including research programmes and infrastructure.
  • To lead on the coordination of legal advice for the IP Unit on all issues relating to research funding on a commercial basis, including leading on the IP Unit’s response to issues such as responding to Parliamentary Questions about contractual issues, state aid and public procurement legislation and other legal and quasi legal challenges.
  • To lead on thought leadership on emerging policy issues pertinent to NIHR and the contracting environment of the NHS and HEIs, including access to and use of research data, open access policies, publication policies and other relevant matters.
  • To lead on building a network of key contacts/community of practice in the UK and wider to facilitate the management of NIHR risk in global health research. 
  • To develop a wide network of working relationships with key stakeholders across recipients of NIHR funding and the wider life science research and innovation community, e.g. research contracting offices of major centres, NIHR Biomedical Research Centres, Academic Health Science Networks
  • Working with the Director of Innovation Programmes, Assistant Director of IP and Commercial and other members of the IP Unit to deliver the NIHR IP strategy and policy.
  • Working with the Assistant Director of Governance, Performance and Improvement to build processes and mechanisms that support effective contract management processes for the various GMG contracts.
  • Supporting NIHR’s continued growth in global health research, specifically around overseas contracting models with LMICs, contractual risks and risk management in global health.
  • Working with the Assistant Director of IP and Commercial to write and overseeing the delivery of the annual IP Unit Strategic and Operational Plan (S&OP), including leading on key aspects involving the curation and development of the NIHR Standard Contract templates
  • Supporting the Assistant Director of IP and Commercial in the IP Unit’s effective management of a portfolio of commercialisation cases on behalf of DHSC to maximise return on investment on NIHR-funded IP with a focus on delivering patient benefit and mitigation of state aid, including negotiations of return models (including financial and non-financial return mechanisms) for NIHR and preparation of briefing notes for DHSC. Including leading on a number of cases.
  • Supporting the Assistant Director of IP and Commercial to identify and implement improvements to the IP Unit and CCF processes and systems.
  • Drafting regular progress reports and ad-hoc papers required by internal and external bodies.
  • To deputise for the Director of Innovation Programmes and Assistant Director of IP and Commercial as required.
  • As part of the IP Unit to:
    • To support NIHR programme managers to resolve contracting specific issues in a timely, constructive and effective way, including leading discussions with NIHR contractors to resolve contract related issues.
    • Identifying areas to enhance the capacity of NIHR to enter into commercial research partnerships with relevant life science or healthcare organisations.
    • Represent NIHR on monitoring and audit committees on an ad hoc basis
    • Provide broader support for CCF and NIHR colleagues in the area of commercial processes, IP management and advice, when required.
    • Deliver in-person and online IP Open Sessions in Twickenham, Southampton and Leeds that support NIHR staff members to resolve IP-related queries. Contributing to the response to Freedom of Information requests, Parliamentary Questions or briefing requests.
    • Attending and when relevant leading meetings such as IP Management Groups with funding recipients.
    • Provide Quality checks of the activities of the Innovations Directorate and other NIHR staff.
    • Work with other senior members of the LGC Grant Management Group to support delivery of other research funding programmes, e.g. Small Business Research Initiative – Healthcare
    • Supporting the coordination of cross-NIHR meetings and initiatives to standardise the approach to IP management across the NIHR portfolio.
    • Development and provision of IP training to NIHR programme managers and staff at NIHR-funded organisations. Ensuring that a consistent approach to IP management is used across the NIHR for all activities including advising potential applicants, reviewing project proposals, resolving contractual queries, reviewing and short-listing of proposals for funding, advising during project monitoring, closure and follow up activities


Knowledge, Experience and Technical Skills


  • Detailed knowledge of health research processes and ecosystem
  • Expert knowledge of the contractual mechanisms used to provide research funding
  • Expert knowledge of best practice in intellectual property management in the public and private sectors
  • Significant experience of technology transfer and other commercial activities in the public or private sector
  • Significant experience of negotiating contractual terms to find mutually acceptable outcomes for all stakeholders
  • Ability to negotiate commercial deals including discussion of revenue sharing terms and analysis of return on investment models for presentation to senior decision makers
  • Understanding of the different organisational goals of universities, NHS Trusts, charities and companies and how these need to be balanced in negotiations.
  • Expert knowledge of the regulatory framework for intellectual property management and provision of research funding (e.g. State Aid)
  • Practical understanding of contracts for research and commercial agreements and pragmatic resolution of contractual issues balancing the need for legal accuracy with a risk based approach to research funding
  • A proven track record in obtaining appropriate legal advice on contractual and intellectual property management issues
  • A proven track record of financial management and reporting
  • Experience of managing complex projects, demonstrating excellent organisational skills and meticulous record keeping
  • Effective planning, organisational and prioritisation skills with the ability to manage own time to meet demanding deadlines
  • Excellent interpersonal skills and customer focus, including experience of external liaison and meeting management
  • Ability to explain complex IP, contractual and commercial issues to non-experts with clarity and brevity
  • Experience of writing complex business proposals including technical and business information in a coherent and engaging way


The job holder will be able to demonstrate the following behaviours in line with LGC’s values:


Passion, Curiosity, Integrity, Brilliance, Respect


Person Specification


The following qualifications/experience and competencies are required for the role:

  • Degree in a life or health science related subject with a relevant postgraduate qualification (e.g. business).
  • A proven track record in contracts and intellectual property management in the context of research and development within the health sector
  • Inquisitive, analytical, self-starter, highly organised, ability to prioritise activities, attention to detail
  • Understanding of commercial principles and processes
  • Ability to synthesis complex information and communicate it to diverse audiences,
  • Ability to manage differing priorities of multiple stakeholders by identifying mutually beneficial solutions
  • A diplomatic and pragmatic approach to issue resolution
  • Previous experience in funding and grant management especially in health and social care research
  • Experience of managing a team of experts to deliver high quality outcomes


If you wish to make an informal enquiry about this post, please contact: Ben.Patient@nihr.ac.uk.  Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis, so early application is strongly encouraged to avoid disappointment.

Closing date: 
Tuesday, June 30, 2020