October 28, 2022

Funding opportunity now live: Driver Projects to inform design of cross-council trusted research environments

Apply for funding from UK Research and Innovation to contribute as a Driver Project to lay the foundations for a coordinated and trustworthy national data research infrastructure. Applications close 14 December 2022.
Please note: this opportunity has now closed.

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has now opened applications for Driver Projects to inform the design of cross-council trusted research environments (TREs) as part of the DARE UK (Data and Analytics Research Environments UK) programme. The aim of these short duration driver projects will be to take a leading role in informing the design of specific components of what will be a UK-wide, interoperable network of TREs for sensitive data research at scale for public good.

The driver projects will be integrated with working groups that will be established under DARE UK and our partners to address some of the fundamental challenges identified so far during Phase 1 of the programme. These working groups will act as expert bodies responsible for collaboratively defining the strategy, delivery planning, and execution in each working group’s area of expertise. A project team can be led by or include members of a working group. Successful applicants to this funding call will be required to actively collaborate with relevant working groups.

DARE UK is committed to meaningful public involvement and engagement, and all applications must include plans for embedding public involvement and engagement in the lifecycle of the project. Find out more about methods for involving the public in research.

Key dates

  • Opening date: 09:00 on Friday 28 October 2022
  • Mid-call webinar: 13:00-14:00 on Thursday 17 November 2022. If you missed the event, you can view the recording and the slides.
  • Applications close: 09:00 on Wednesday 14 December 2022
  • Panel meeting: Week beginning 9 January 2023
  • Projects start: No later than Monday 23 January 2023
  • Projects end: No later than Tuesday 31 October 2023

Areas of focus

Each driver project will be focused on 1 of the following areas:

1. Trusted research environment (TRE) reference architecture

Applications for a short, targeted project focused on consolidating the existing work on TRE reference architectures, including example implementations, and co-developing with feedback from established stakeholders within the TRE community a composite reference architectures for TREs. The expected output would be a formal open source project to support collaborative longer term development.

2. Core federation services

Applications to establish an open-source project with the purpose of conceptualising, designing, structuring, and driving early development of a library of API services and micro-services as the beginning of a ‘federation layer’ of a network of trusted research environments in the UK. It is important to note that the focus in Phase 1b for this area is on establishing the development process and framework for the API library to allow for future delivery of the detailed services.

3. Federated identity management across TREs

Investigate and pilot an identity management service across 2 or more established trusted research environments, this should include:

  • identifying and selecting the most suitable platform for such a service
  • establishing an identity brokerage service as the integration partner across the different identity providers within each of the trusted research environments
  • ensuring that testing and usage of such a service is possible in parallel with existing individual services provided by each involved trusted research environment
4. Partial automated risk assessment at data access request

Building on existing work in this area, investigate and advance a framework for the partial automation of risk assessment for sensitive data research projects at the data access request stage to pilot and test a consistent, efficient, and trustworthy approach (including tools) to risk assessment that can support existing data governance committee processes.

5. Partial automation of output control

Building on existing work in this area, investigate and advance a framework for automating components of the disclosure control process within trusted research environments to support a consistent, efficient, and trustworthy approach to the partial automation of output checking and disclosure control. This includes developing the tools necessary to underpin this to support manual review.

Funding available

The full economic cost of your project can be up to £750,000.

Up to £2.75 million is available to fund the delivery of the projects. The minimum funding level for a project is £100,000. However, all projects will be assessed as described in this specification and will be expected to demonstrate the potential to make a significant contribution to informing the design of future phases of the programme. Requests for extensions, including zero cost extensions, will not be agreed.

Contact details

For help and advice on costings and writing your proposal please contact your research office in the first instance, allowing sufficient time for your organisation’s submission process.

If you have any questions about this funding opportunity:

Download the Frequently Asked Questions document (updated weekly on Thursdays).

For other questions that are not covered in the FAQ, please contact: Dr Yan Yip, Programme Manager for Data Science, Medical Research Council: informatics@mrc.ukri.org. Please include ‘DARE UK’ in the subject line and cc in enquiries@dareuk.org.uk. We aim to respond within three working days.

Full details of this funding opportunity, including application instructions, can be found on the UKRI Funding Finder.