BACKGROUND: Biomedical Research Centres (BRCs) are partnerships between healthcare organisations and universities in England. Their mission is to generate novel treatments, technologies, diagnostics and other interventions that increase the country's international competitiveness, to rapidly translate these innovations into benefits for patients, and to improve efficiency and reduce waste in healthcare. As NIHR Oxford BRC (Oxford BRC) enters its third 5-year funding period, we seek to (1) apply the evidence base on how best to support the various partnerships in this large, multi-stakeholder research system and (2) research how these partnerships play out in a new, ambitious programme of translational research.METHODS: Organisational case study, informed by the principles of action research. A cross-cutting theme, 'Partnerships for Health, Wealth and Innovation' has been established with multiple sub-themes (drug development, device development, business support and commercialisation, research methodology and statistics, health economics, bioethics, patient and public involvement and engagement, knowledge translation, and education and training) to support individual BRC research themes and generate cross-theme learning. The 'Partnerships' theme will support the BRC's goals by facilitating six types of partnership (with patients and citizens, clinical services, industry, across the NIHR infrastructure, across academic disciplines, and with policymakers and payers) through a range of engagement platforms and activities. We will develop a longitudinal progress narrative centred around exemplar case studies, and apply theoretical models from innovation studies (Triple Helix), sociology of science (Mode 2 knowledge production) and business studies (Value Co-creation). Data sources will be the empirical research studies within individual BRC research themes (who will apply separately for NHS ethics approval), plus documentary analysis and interviews and ethnography with research stakeholders. This study has received ethics clearance through the University of Oxford Central University Research Ethics Committee.DISCUSSION: We anticipate that this work will add significant value to Oxford BRC. We predict accelerated knowledge translation; closer alignment of the innovation process with patient priorities and the principles of responsible, ethical research; reduction in research waste; new knowledge about the governance and activities of multi-stakeholder research partnerships and the contexts in which they operate; and capacity-building that reflects the future needs of a rapidly-evolving health research system.
Health research policy and systems