How we fit into the wider health research landscape

Working across the NIHR infrastructure on the South West Peninsula to bring benefits to patients and the NHS

About BRCs

NIHR Biomedical Research Centres (BRCs) are collaborations between world-leading universities and NHS organisations that bring together academics and clinicians to translate lab-based scientific breakthroughs into potential new treatments, diagnostics and medical technologies.

The NIHR has awarded nearly £800 million to 20 Biomedical Research Centres (2022-27) across England, to translate scientific discoveries into new treatments, diagnostic tests and medical technologies to improve patient lives.

NIHR funding supports BRC researchers of the highest calibre to drive innovative research ideas that can attract investment from other funders, furthering the nation’s economic growth. BRC researchers support academic capacity development and training across the full career spectrum, from pre-doctoral to post-doctoral, that supports greater equity of opportunities for all.

About NIHR Experimental Medicine

The mission of the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) is to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research. NIHR funds, enables and delivers world-leading health and social care research that improves people’s health and wellbeing, and promotes economic growth. The NIHR experimental medicine infrastructure enables researchers to develop clinical applications from scientific breakthroughs, to translate these discoveries into new treatments for patients.

The system-wide investment in experimental medicine builds links between researchers in universities and the NHS, creating a national community of expertise in early-phase research. The NIHR infrastructure funding supports the country’s leading experts to develop and deliver programmes of work that are funded by the NIHR’s research programmes, other public funders of research, charities and the life sciences industry.

Watch this animation for an explanation of NIHR infrastructure

How do we fit into the NIHR Infrastructure on the South West Peninsula?

The NIHR invests significantly in people, centres of excellence, collaborations, services and facilities to support health and care research in England collectively these form the NIHR infrastructure. This infrastructure funding creates an environment where early-phase, clinical and applied research can thrive and facilitates the translation of discoveries into improved treatments and services for the  benefit of patients and the NHS.

We work across the NIHR infrastructure on the South West Peninsula:

Exeter Clinical Research Facility (CRF)

The NIHR Exeter CRF is based at the Research Innovation Learning & Development (RILD) Building at the Royal Devon University Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and is a partnership between the Royal Devon and the University of Exeter.

Focusing on supporting and conducting clinical research studies, the Centre has bespoke wards and consulting rooms, sample-handling laboratories and specialist equipment for investigating exercise, physiology and metabolism. Research-dedicated nurses, scientists,doctors and support staff carry out clinical studies with the aim of improving patient care by increasing understanding of the causes, and improving diagnosis and treatment of, disease. Involving patients and the public is key to the Centre’s outstanding research.

We’re working with the CRF to increase the number of experimental clinical trials across the partnership and translate scientific discoveries quickly to patient care.

“Working together across the NIHR infrastructure means that we can bring scientific breakthroughs from the lab to where they are most needed – to the bedsides and clinics of the region, helping patients to benefit quickly from world-leading translational research.”

Professor Angela Shore is the Director of the CRF and helps to provide strategic oversight of the BRC through her role on the BRC Management Board.

South West HealthTech Research Centre (HRC)

A new South West HRC opening in Exeter in  2024 will be one of 14 centres across the UK and has been made possible by £3million of funding from the NIHR.

From 1 April 2024, the new NIHR HRCs will work with businesses to support the development of medical devices, diagnostics and digital technologies. These technologies will enable people to better monitor their health, diagnose ill health sooner and improve management of conditions including cancer, dementia, cardiovascular and respiratory disease. The Exeter Centre will be a partnership between the Royal Devon University Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Exeter.

The work of the South West HRC will focus on five core themes, all centred around the unique needs of the population of the South West Peninsula. These include projects focused on sustainability and environment, diagnostics and biomarkers, frailty and rehabilitation, big data and artificial intelligence (AI), and capability and capacity building.

“This HRC will dovetail perfectly within the established, pre-existing NIHR-funded infrastructure that is already in place in the South West. It will enable us to speed up the development, approval and clinical availability of the best technologies, making sure they are easily accessible where needed to deliver maximum benefits to patients. It will also further establish the Royal Devon as an innovative employer and help attract top talent from around the country to work with us.”

Dr Mike Spiro, Co-Director of the South West Healthtech Research Centre

We also work closely with other parts of the local NIHR, including:

BRCs in the South West

We are developing closer working relationships with the BRC infrastructure in the wider South West region, and are part of a hub with our colleagues in Bristol and Southampton BRCs.


Explore the BRC network in England

Explore the NIHR BRCs