Action Research Fund

Strategic research themes

Research proposals must have the potential to make a clear contribution towards improving data security and/or cyber resilience in Adult Social Care to be eligible for this funding. 

We are interested in a broad range of topics and we welcome innovative ideas. The research topic should demonstrate alignment with the Better Security, Better Care programme vision and/or at least one of the ‘five pillars’ described in the Department of Health & Social Care’s Cyber Security Strategy 2023-2030. Research proposals may in addition reflect broader strategies for the care sector, such as People at the Heart of Care 

BSBC Programme vision:  

  • To help Adult Social Care services manage data and cyber security risks better, enabling the benefits of digital technology to be enjoyed without putting people’s confidential information or the operation of services at risk.  
  • To provide the assurance needed to allow health and social care providers to share information securely and effectively, leading to joined up care and consequently to better quality of care for the people our services support.  
  • To develop and promote the Data Security and Protection Toolkit (DSPT) as the best way for social care providers to achieve these aims.  

Summary of Cyber Security Strategy pillars: 

1: Focus on the greatest risks and harms: Seeking to understand the most critical parts of the Adult Social Care system whose disruption would cause the greatest harm; exploring innovative approaches to ensure those aspects of service that face the highest risks are proportionately protected.

2: Defend as one: Furthering partnerships with Adult Social Care and Health to leverage capability, technologies and scale to improve the cyber-resilience environment for the wider sector; enabling greater collaboration on cyber security, sharing data, learning and resources to improve sector-wide resilience. 

3: People and culture: Ensuring Adult Social Care staff are equipped with the skills and resources to address the cyber threat at all levels; developing a ‘just culture’ of learning and collaboration meaning staff are supported to be open about mistakes so that lessons can be learnt.

4: Build secure for the future: Engaging early with emerging technology, setting standards for how it is built and implemented across the Adult Social Care system and the wider supply chain; understanding of the current state of the sector and how to build a more secure Adult Social Care system, with cyber security at the fore. 

5: Exemplary response and recovery: Ensuring that every organisation across the Adult Social Care system is equipped to minimise both the impact of a cyber incident and the time it takes to recover from it; piloting partnerships and innovative approaches with the cyber sector with a focus on business continuity. 

Application process

Bids will be submitted on the Action Research Grant Fund application form, and the panel will use a scoring framework to make decisions on which projects to award funding to, including but not limited to the following questions: 

  • Is the research question relevant to current challenges in Adult Social Care? 
  • Is there a clear conceptual framework? 
  • Is the question researchable and the methodology appropriate? 
  • Does the team possess appropriate experience, expertise and potential? 
  • Is the budget requested appropriate and does it offer good value for money? 
  • Is there a clear route to use the output to positively influence future outcomes in Adult Social Care? 
  • Does this have wider potential to become a larger project if successfully piloted? 
  • Does the proposal closely align with one or more of the research themes identified? 

Bids will go through an initial sift, and the highest scoring bids will go through to the final panel for funding award decisions. Successful bids will be asked to complete a Due Diligence form and to formally accept the Grant Conditions as part of the Grant Agreement.

Eligibility criteria

Bids need to meet the following eligibility criteria to be considered: 

  1. Proposal submitted on the Action Research Fund Application Form by the deadline of midnight on Friday 3rd November 2023.
  2. Submitted by a registered company (eg. private company, registered charity, community interest company).
  3. The bidding organisation will use existing resources and has the capacity to deliver the work within the set timescales, and does not require recruitment of research staff before the project starts.
  4. If the proposed research will involve direct engagement with members of the public or care service users, this would require ethical approval from an accredited committee, such as an NHS or University Research Ethics Committee (IRAS) or an existing service user representative body, which would need to be arranged by the research team to meet the project timescales. The bid would also need to demonstrate existing safeguarding policies and procedures are in place.
  5. The application is for funding a new piece of research, grants cannot be used towards existing or ongoing research.
  6. Research proposal demonstrates clear alignment to one or more of the strategic research themes. 


Once completed, each research project will go through an evaluation process to determine whether the project has delivered what was expected and if further work is recommended.  

The primary purpose of the evaluation process is to determine whether a research topic warrants further investigation or investment with a larger scale project to be established within the next planning cycle. The evaluation will be based on the following themes: 

  1. Quality score 
  • Did the final output meet expected standards eg. presentation, timescales, scope?
  • Did the research team successfully engage appropriate stakeholders?
  • Competency/skill demonstrated across components eg. literature review / data gathering / analysis / synthesis. 

       2. Insight score 

  • How well did the research deliver new knowledge/insight? 
  • How will the insights gained benefit providers / partners / care users? 
  • Does the data support the recommendations made? 
  • Does the research make a tangible contribution towards one (or more) of the strategic themes?

3. Viability score

  • Value for money assessment 
  • Would further research on this topic offer more benefit/insight – is it worthy of more investment? 
  • How important/urgent is further work on this topic? 
  • Any areas for improvement – what would we do differently next time? 

How to apply 

Please complete the Action Research Fund Grant Application Form and send this to our mailbox: [email protected] by midnight on Friday 3rd November 2023. 

Please note the maximum word count indicated in each section that it applies to; if no word count is given there is no limit for that section. There is no lower word limit. 

The programme team will confirm receipt of your application form and will contact everyone by email to let them know the result of their application following the panel decision. Feedback will be offered where possible to those that were unsuccessful to assist with future bids. 



If you have any questions about the application form or process, please contact the team at: [email protected]