Today, the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) has announced the awarding of the ‘Race Equity and Diversity in Careers Incubator’, one of 10 prestigious Incubator Awards announced today.
The NIHR incubators are a series of virtual programmes that provide researchers with the skills, knowledge, and support they need to conduct high-quality research in NIHR identified priority areas, areas where there is a need to build the ability of a research community to conduct high-quality research (“research capacity” or “capacity building”).
This ground-breaking project, co-led by the University of Oxford and University of Birmingham and supported by the NIHR ARC OxTV, aims to diversify the field of health and care research by addressing systemic barriers that researchers from ethnic minority backgrounds face. This funding marks a significant step towards a more inclusive and equitable research environment in the years to come.
The project will target a broad audience of health and care research professionals, postgraduate researchers, and undergraduates from ethnic minority backgrounds that are underrepresented in research. The Incubator's approach is organised into four main workstreams: Communication and Engagement, Training and Career Development, Talent Pipeline, and Advocacy and Policy.
Additionally, the Incubator plans to counteract the unde-representation of ethnic minorities in funding committees and improve the success rate of applicants from these backgrounds. This will be achieved through the creation of a safe and inclusive community where individuals can explore the barriers and enablers experienced at different career stages.
Professor Mahendra Patel, co-lead of the incubator for the University of Oxford, said:
This is certainly exciting news with the first incubator of its kind focusing on inclusion and diversity. It’s so encouraging to see the NIHR recognising the importance of building research capacity through breaking down barriers and perceptions and inspiring people from diverse and ethnic minority backgrounds to become more involved within the research community.
This is a truly multi-collaborative alliance with a range of partners and stakeholders from a variety of disciplines and geographies coming together to ensure that the incubator is a huge success for everyone to emulate and support in the future.
During its first year, the Incubator will focus on establishing a robust community, growing its membership through various channels, and creating a resource bank of role models. This will be followed by the development of training and mentoring programs, with targeted initiatives identified through surveys and focus groups. The final years will see the evaluation of the mentoring program, hosting of pitch-to-peer sessions, interview preparation training, and a symposium to showcase the Incubator's progress.
Professor Yemisi Takwoingi from the Institute of Applied Health Research, and co-lead from the University of Birmingham said:
This is an exciting opportunity with the support of a wide range of stakeholders and partners to build capacity and drive momentum for a diverse and inclusive talent pipeline that ensures research careers are accessible to a broader range of people for excellent, innovative and impactful research.
The Incubator’s mission aligns with the recently launched Centre for Research Equity, which is committed to promoting equity in health research. Also based within Oxford’s Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences. The Centre's mission is to advance the understanding of and improve inclusive research practice and community engagement in health and care research. The synergy between these two organisations can help shape a future where equitable access to research funding is a catalyst for innovative and life-saving research that works for all.