Funding your healthcare, social sciences and life sciences projects: How to secure grants and investors

Securing funding for projects in healthcare, life sciences and social sciences presents an array of challenges. The process is complex, time-consuming and requires a wide-ranging overview of funding options. 

However, there are opportunities for leaders who understand the investment landscape fully. These range from lesser-known NHS grants to non-traditional investment options. 

In this article, you’ll learn how to secure funding and healthcare investment through a mixture of grants, strategic planning and well-chosen partnerships and collaborations. 

Contents

Strategic funding overview

Funding can come from a variety of sources. And it is vital for leaders to build an up-to-date, comprehensive overview of these options. 

Here are the main types of funding for healthcare, life sciences and social sciences organisations in the UK:

  • NHS funding: Funding from the NHS is allocated based on specific criteria. It supports both the delivery of healthcare services and innovation within the sector.
  • Local authorities: Funding provided by local government bodies typically targets community-based health and social initiatives that align with local needs and council priorities.
  • Government and charitable grants: Charitable and government grants tend to focus on research, development and the implementation of innovative and scalable health and social solutions. 
  • Innovation funds: Dedicated funds support the development and adoption of innovative technologies in healthcare and life sciences. The bodies that make up UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) are well-known examples. 
  • Collaborations and partnerships: Partnerships with academic institutions, private companies and fellow health, life and social organisations allow for the pooling of expertise and funding. 
  • Private investment: Private investors and venture capitalists contribute capital to fund healthcare and life sciences initiatives with the potential for high returns. There may also be scope for organisations like yours to offer tax or social incentives in line with programmes like the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) and the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS).
  • Non-traditional options: Investment vehicles like crowdfunding and social impact bonds offer alternative funding mechanisms.

Unlocking government grant money and loans

What makes an application for a government grant or loan successful? 

An effective approach begins with accounting for the nuances of the application process. This understanding then provides a basis for demonstrating alignment with the aims of the funding body and presenting evidence-based outcomes.

Pay attention to four key areas when crafting your strategy:

  1. Understand the nuances of the application process: Government organisations tend to follow well-structured official processes. Understand deadlines, required documentation and specific eligibility criteria. Logistics often trip applicants up.
  2. Align objectives and goals: Make sure your project's objectives and goals closely match those of the grants or loans you’re applying for. Applications fail much of the time because of a mismatch between strategic priorities.
  3. Demonstrate integration with healthcare providers: Show the ways in which your project or initiative will support existing healthcare providers. Demonstrating how collaboration can fill gaps in current services positions your organisation positively in regard to long-term impact and sustainability. 
  4. Focus on evidence-based outcomes: This involves using achieved outcomes to build credibility and demonstrating the viability of potential outcomes with data and research. Incorporating evidence to back up your promised outcomes will often give you a competitive edge.

application-funding-grant

 

Attracting investors in the private sphere

Private investment is a significant source of funding for organisations in the health and social sciences and life sciences spaces.

However, it is important to remember that investors are typically more profit-driven than government bodies.

Craft your investment strategy with the following points in mind:

  • Articulate a clear and attractive value proposition: Define your organisation's mission in straightforward terms and how it translates into both financial and societal value for potential investors. Highlight all benefits, not just your USPs (unique selling points).
  • Emphasise your unique selling points: Once you’ve covered your complete value proposition, highlight what sets your organisation apart. Focus on technological and scientific innovations that give you a competitive advantage. 
  • Initiate personal conversations: Engage directly with private investors. Less formal approaches are much more common in the private sphere. 
  • Show adoption of new technologies: Demonstrate how existing digital transformation initiatives are already leading to improved outcomes and operational efficiencies. This is one of the easiest ways of showing to investors that your organisation is future-proof. 
  • Use both qualitative and quantitative data: Support your pitch with a mix of data-driven evidence and human narratives. Both are important.
  • Demonstrate potential to scale: Show how you intend to tap into new markets and expand your services. Scalability is usually a priority for investors.
  • Recognise that investors care who they work with: Convey your team's personability, expertise and competency. Don’t be afraid to talk about your ethical positions. 

The case for digital transformation

Many organisations in the healthcare, social sciences and life sciences spaces lag when it comes to digital transformation.

They rely on outdated legacy systems and often take a risk-averse approach to adopting new technology. But this is bad for both the sustainability of the organisation and outcomes across a range of areas, including for consumers, patients, investors and research initiatives.

And while it may save money in the short term, it is far more cost-ineffective from a longer-term perspective.

Let's look at some of the arguments for expedited digital transformation.

 

Significantly improved patient care

Digital transformation integrates technologies like electronic health records (EHRs), system interoperability and telemedicine. These significantly improve diagnostic accuracy, treatment efficacy and patient monitoring. 

The ability of healthcare providers to give personalised and timely patient care directly impacts patient satisfaction and health outcomes.

 

Greater operational efficiency and cost savings

Automation streamlines administrative tasks, reduces manual errors and allows for data-based resource allocation. 

This leads to operational cost savings and frees up healthcare professionals to dedicate more time to patient care.

 

More competitive funding proposition

Organisations that actively pursue digital transformation tend to be viewed as forward-thinking and adaptable, making them more attractive to investors and grant bodies. 

Moreover, digital evolution tends to be self-reinforcing. A proactive approach to innovation facilitates easier access to funding, which in turn fuels more technological innovation.

 

 

Investment readiness: Presenting your project effectively

You are “investment ready” when you have a clear plan and established infrastructure for investing funds. You should also have a well-developed pitch to communicate your vision to investors.

Follow these steps to present your project effectively:

  • Communicate an engaging narrative:  Stories create emotional engagement and make your pitch memorable to investors. Ensure your narrative identifies quantifiable market needs and how your project addresses them.
  • Include evidence-based outcomes: Balance your narrative with quantifiable achievements and projections. Presenting hard data is one of the most effective ways of solidifying your credibility.
  • Demonstrate technological competency: Digital transformation is typically a key consideration for investors. It points to operational efficiency and a readiness to embrace the challenges of the future. Show how you have implemented and developed innovative technologies. 
  • Present a well-structured business plan: Your business plan should outline your high-level strategy, specific timeframes, financial projections and market analysis. It should cover in very clear terms how any investment will achieve growth and return on investment.
  • Show strong existing partnerships: Evidence of collaborations with reputable organisations and industry leaders adds to your credibility. It also points to a sensitivity to the needs of the healthcare, social sciences and life sciences ecosystem.
  • Highlight the personal qualities of your team: Private investors look to people as much as ideas. Emphasise the experience, expertise and passion of your team. Again, data can be useful here when describing achievements. 
  • Consider training your team in pitch delivery: Polished presentation skills can significantly impact the effectiveness of your pitch. Consider investing in pitch training to build your team's confidence and communication abilities. At Waymark, we completed an investor readiness course hosted by a local university and delivered by investment specialists Edale. The experience was wholly positive. We recommend exploring the whole gamut of in-person options available to you, from businesses, local authorities, universities, and so on.

 

Leveraging relationships and networking

The value of developing personal connections with other leaders through official networking events and other more informal channels can’t be overstated.

Ideally, you should account for all three main sectors: government, charity and private.

Let’s take a look at some practical strategies.

 

Follow format routes where appropriate

Formal networking events and industry conferences provide useful opportunities to connect with leaders.

Often, bodies will hold events to raise awareness around investment drives and connect decision-makers. These can be particularly useful for finding funding opportunities.

 

Make personal connections with investors

Building relationships with investors goes beyond official channels, especially in the private sector. 

Investors are open to informal meetings or discussions to explore common goals and visions. This personal approach can make your project stand out and can lay the foundation for a more formal pitch.

 

Keep up to date with industry events and initiatives

Initiatives and events organised by bodies such as the Independent Healthcare Providers Network (IHPN), Healthcare UK and established professional associations offer extensive networking opportunities. 

It’s worth exploring membership with these organisations. Regularly engaging with these forums gives you direct access to industry trends, regulatory updates and collaborative opportunities.

 

Don't underestimate the value of your soft (or elevator) pitch

Your soft pitch, also known as your elevator pitch, is an informal way of presenting your project in a conversational setting. Soft pitches can be as impactful as formal pitches.

The private investment sphere is generally much less structured than government settings. Investors will often want to know about your initiatives and achievements outside of the strictures of an organised pitch, especially in the early stages. 

 

Innovative funding strategies

If you’re willing to look beyond traditional funding routes, a range of opportunities open up to you. 

Innovative funding strategies include the following:

  • Crowdfunding: This approach involves raising small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the internet. It allows health and social organisations to gather funds for projects with broad appeal by engaging with a wide audience.
  • Social impact bonds: These are contracts with public sector entities where private investors finance social services and are repaid based on the achievement of agreed-upon outcomes.
  • Community shares: This funding mechanism involves selling shares of a community benefit society or cooperative to members of the community. It allows organisations to raise capital directly from the people who care most about their services. Investors often accept lower financial returns in exchange for social impact.
  • Peer-to-peer lending: Also known as P2P lending, this method allows individuals and businesses to obtain loans directly from other individuals, cutting out financial institutions as middlemen. Healthcare, social sciences and life sciences organisations can use P2P platforms.
  • Private partnerships: Establishing partnerships not driven by motivations for traditional returns can provide healthcare, social sciences and life sciences organisations with funding, resources and expertise. These partnerships often come from corporate social responsibility initiatives.

 

Conclusion

Securing funding demands a strategic approach. Leaders in the healthcare, social sciences and life sciences spaces have a tough job. They have to navigate an increasingly complex funding landscape with limited time and resources. 

That’s why a comprehensive understanding of all funding options, public and private, is a must. This understanding provides a foundation for selectively picking those opportunities with the best potential. 

If you can couple a comprehensive approach with investor alignment, a clear value proposition and evidence-based outcomes, you’ll be fully prepared to win funding over the immediate and long term. 

 

Ready to identify the best funding opportunities?

Waymark, can help you implement a cost-effective digital transformation strategy, identify the best funding opportunities and refine your pitch to engage investors. 

  • Want to learn how you can take advantage of funding opportunities fast? Book an Xploration.