Biomedical Catalyst 2023 Round 1: Industry-led R&D
UK registered SMEs can apply for a share of up to £25 million to develop innovative solutions to health and healthcare challenges. This funding is from Innovate UK.
- Competition opens: Wednesday 4 January 2023
- Competition closes: Wednesday 1 March 2023 11:00am
This competition is now closed.
Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £25 million in innovation projects. These will be to support UK registered businesses develop innovative solutions to address significant health or healthcare challenges.
The aim of this industry-led R&D competition is to support the development of innovative solutions to health and healthcare challenges.
Your project can focus on:
- disease prevention and proactive management of health and chronic conditions
- earlier and better detection and diagnosis of disease, leading to better patient outcomes
- tailored treatments that either change the underlying disease or offer potential cures
- transforming the delivery of healthcare
- the development of digital health technologies
This list is not intended to be exhaustive.
The Industry-led research and development (R&D) stream of the Biomedical Catalyst programme supports pre-market R&D projects. Applicants must be able to demonstrate existing evidence of commercial and technical feasibility.
Applications must show how they will improve the competitiveness and productivity of at least one UK SME involved in the project.
In applying to this competition, you are entering into a competitive process. This competition closes at 11am UK time on the deadline stated.
Your project’s total costs must be between £150,000 and £4 million. The total grant cannot exceed £2 million.
Who can apply
Your project must:
- have total project costs between £150,000 and £4 million
- not exceed a grant request of £2 million
- have at least 50% of the total project costs shared by the SMEs, if collaborative
- start by 1 October 2023
- end by 30 September 2026
- last between 6 months and 36 months
- carry out all of its project work in the UK
- intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
You must only include eligible project costs in your application. If you have requested an overall grant of over £500,000, and your online application is successful at written assessment, you may be invited to attend an interview.
Under current restrictions, this competition will not fund any procurement, commercial, business development or supply chain activity with any Russian and Belarusian entity as lead, partner or subcontractor. This includes any goods or services originating from a Russian and Belarusian source.
If your project’s total costs or duration falls outside of our eligibility criteria, you must provide justification by email to email@example.com at least 10 working days before the competition closes. We will decide whether to approve your request.
If you have not requested approval or your application has not been approved by us, you will be made ineligible. Your application will then not be sent for assessment.
To lead a project or work alone your organisation must be a UK registered micro, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME).
More information on the different types of organisation can be found in our Funding rules.
Academic institutions cannot lead or work alone.
To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must be one of the following UK registered:
- business of any size
- academic institution
- not for profit
- public sector organisation
- research and technology organisation (RTO)
Each partner organisation must be invited into the Innovation Funding Service by the lead to collaborate on a project. Once accepted, partners will be asked to login or to create an account and enter their own project costs into the Innovation Funding Service.
Partners must accept terms and conditions (T&Cs) and complete the subsidy question in order for the application to be submitted.
To be an eligible collaboration, the lead and at least one other organisation must apply for funding when entering their costs into the application.
Your project can include partners that do not receive any of this competition’s funding, for example non-UK businesses. Their costs will count towards the total project costs.
Subcontractors are allowed in this competition.
Subcontractors can be from anywhere in the UK and you must select them through your usual procurement process.
You can use subcontractors from overseas but must make the case in your application as to why you could not use suppliers from the UK.
You must provide a detailed rationale, evidence of the potential UK contractors you approached and the reasons why they were unable to work with you. We will not accept a cheaper cost as a sufficient reason to use an overseas subcontractor.
All subcontractor costs must be justified and appropriate to the total project costs.
Extenuating circumstances where overseas work may be allowable include, for example; clinical trial in a specific patient population.
You must provide justification by email to firstname.lastname@example.org at least 10 working days before the competition closes. Innovate UK will decide whether to approve your request via email.
The application assessors will be asked to judge whether you have sufficiently made a case for the use of overseas subcontractors.
Number of applications
An SME can only lead on one application but can be included as a collaborator in a further 2 applications.
If an SME is not leading any application, it can collaborate in any number of applications.
A large business, academic institution, research and technology organisation (RTO), charity, not for profit or public sector organisation can collaborate on any number of applications.
You can use a previously submitted application to apply for this competition.
We will not award you funding if you have:
- failed to exploit a previously funded project
- an overdue independent accountant’s report
- failed to comply with grant terms and conditions
Subsidy control (and State aid where applicable)
This competition provides funding in line with the Subsidy Control Act 2022. Further information about the Subsidy requirements can be found within the Subsidy Control Act 2022 (legislation.gov.uk)
Innovate UK is unable to award organisations that are considered to be in financial difficulty. We will conduct financial viability and eligibility tests to confirm this is not the case following the application stage.
EU State aid rules now only apply in limited circumstances. Please see our general guidance to check if these rules apply to your organisation.
If you are unsure about your obligations under the Subsidy Control Act 2022 or the State aid rules, you should take independent legal advice. We are unable to advise on individual eligibility or legal obligations.
You must always make sure that the funding awarded to you is compliant with all current Subsidy Control legislation applicable in the United Kingdom.
This aims to regulate any advantage granted by a public sector body which threatens to, or actually distorts competition in the United Kingdom or any other country or countries.
Up to £25 million has been allocated to fund innovation projects in this competition. Funding will be in the form of a grant. You must not claim more than £2 million in grant against your total project costs. A minimum of 50% of your total eligible project costs must be incurred by SMEs, if collaborative.
If your organisation’s work on the project is commercial or economic, your funding request must not exceed the limits below. These limits apply even if your organisation normally acts non-economically but for the purpose of this project will be undertaking commercial or economic activity.
For industrial research projects, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:
- up to 70% if you are a micro or small organisation
- up to 60% if you are a medium sized organisation
- up to 50% if you are a large organisation
For experimental development projects which are nearer to market, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:
- up to 45% if you are a micro or small organisation
- up to 35% if you are a medium sized organisation
- up to 25% if you are a large organisation
For more information on company sizes, please refer to the company accounts guidance. This is a change from the EU definition unless you are applying under State aid.
If you are applying for an award funded under State aid Regulations, the definitions are set out in the European Commission Recommendation of 6 May 2003.
The research organisations undertaking non-economic activity as part of the project can share up to 50% of the total eligible project costs. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation undertaking non-economic activity, this maximum is shared between them. Of that 50% you could get funding for your eligible project costs of up to:
- 80% of full economic costs (FEC) if you are a Je-S registered institution such as an academic
- 100% of your project costs if you are an RTO, charity, not for profit organisation, public sector organisation or research organisation
The aim of this industry-led R&D competition is to support the development of innovative solutions to health and healthcare challenges.
We will only support innovation projects conducted to the highest standards of animal welfare.
Further information is available at the UKRI Good Research Hub and NC3R’s animal welfare guidance.
Your project can include:
- experimental evaluation (at laboratory scale)
- use of in vitro and in vivo models to evaluate proof of concept or safety
- exploring potential production mechanisms
- product development planning
- intellectual property protection
- a demonstration of clinical utility and effectiveness
- a demonstration of safety and efficacy (including phase 1 and 2 clinical trials)
- regulatory planning
We want to fund a variety of projects across different markets, technologies, strands and themes. We call this a portfolio approach.
Your project can focus on health or a healthcare sector or discipline:
- advanced therapies (gene and cell therapies)
- diagnostic, medical technology and devices
- digital health
- independent living and wellbeing
- precision medicine
- preclinical technologies and drug target discovery
- therapeutic and medicine development
Projects we will not fund
We are not funding projects that:
- are feasibility projects or fundamental research
- are not related to human life sciences
- focus on a product that is already on the market
- focus on laboratory accreditation
- are conducted to anything less than the highest standards of animal welfare
We cannot fund projects that are:
- dependent on export performance, for example giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that it exports a certain quantity of bread to another country
- dependent on domestic inputs usage, for example giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that it uses 50% UK flour in their product
- 4 January 2023
- Competition opens
- 12 January 2023
- Online briefing event: watch the recording
- 1 March 2023 11:00am
- Competition closes
- 21 April 2023
- Invite to interview
- 16 May 2023
- Interview start
- 22 May 2023
- Interview end
- 2 June 2023
- Applicants notified
Before you start
You must read the guidance on applying for a competition on the Innovation Funding Service before you start.
Before submitting, it is the lead applicant’s responsibility to make sure:
- that all the information provided in the application is correct
- your proposal meets the eligibility and scope criteria
- all sections of the application are marked as complete
- if collaborative, that all partners have completed all assigned sections and accepted the terms and conditions (T&Cs)
You can reopen your application once submitted, up until the competition deadline. You must resubmit the application before the competition deadline.
What we ask you
The application is split into 3 sections:
- Project details.
- Application questions.
Accessibility and inclusion
We welcome and encourage applications from people of all backgrounds and are committed to making our application process accessible to everyone. This includes providing support, in the form of reasonable adjustments, for people who have a disability or a long-term condition and face barriers applying to us. Read more on how we are making our application process more accessible and inclusive for everyone.
You must contact us as early as possible in the application process. We recommend contacting us at least 15 working days before the competition closing date to ensure we can provide you with the most suitable support possible.
You can contact us by emailing email@example.com or calling 0300 321 4357. Our phone lines are open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays).
If your application passes the written assessment, and your overall grant request is above £500,000, you may be invited to attend an interview, where you must give a presentation. Your interview will take place online. The date and time of your interview will be included in your invitation.
The major investment panel (MIP) will score each project in line with scoring matrices. They will recommend a ranked list of applications for Innovate UK and its affinity partners to fund. Funding decisions are solely made based on the recommendations of the MIP and not on the scores from the original written assessment.
We aim to build a portfolio that is consistent with the spend profile of available funding. Innovate UK reserves the right to maximise the funding available across high-quality projects. This means that the portfolio of projects funded may not follow a strict ranked sequence of the assessors’ scores, but they will all meet or exceed the agreed quality line throughout our independent external assessment process.
Before the interview and by the deadline stated in the invitation email, you:
- must send a list of who will attend the interview
- must send your interview presentation slides
- can send a written response to the assessors’ feedback
List of attendees
Agree the list with your consortium. Up to 3 people from your project can attend, ideally one person from each organisation. They must all be available on all published interview dates. We are unable to reschedule slots once allocated.
Your interview presentation must:
- use Microsoft PowerPoint
- be no longer than 10 minutes
- have no more than 10 slides
- not include any video or embedded web links
You cannot change the presentation after you submit it or bring any additional materials to the interview.
Written response to assessor feedback
This is optional and is an opportunity to answer the assessors’ concerns. It can:
- be up to 10 A4 pages in a single PDF or Word document
- include charts or diagrams
After your presentation the panel will spend 20 minutes asking questions. You will be expected to answer based on the information you provided in your application form, presentation, and the response to feedback.
After your interview
The panellists will individually score your application and these will be averaged for your overall interview score. This score will supersede the one you received from initial assessment unless stated otherwise in the competition brief. We will notify you whether you have been successful or not by email and you will receive feedback on your interview within a week of notification.
1. Project details
This section provides background for your application and is not scored.
Decide which organisations will work with you on your project and invite people from those organisations to help complete the application.
Give your project’s title, start date and duration.
Select the type of research you will undertake.
Describe your project briefly and be clear about what makes it innovative. We use this section to assign the right experts to assess your application.
Your answer can be up to 400 words long.
Describe your project in detail and in a way that you are happy to see published. Do not include any commercially sensitive information. If we award your project funding, we will publish this description. This could happen before you start your project.
Your answer can be up to 400 words long.
Describe how your project fits the scope of the competition. If your project is not in scope it will not be sent for assessment. We will tell you the reason why.
Your answer can be up to 400 words long.
2. Application questions
The assessors will score all your answers apart from question 1. You will receive feedback for each scored question. Find out more about how our assessors assess.
You must answer all questions. Your answer to each question can be up to 400 words long. Do not include any website addresses (URLs) in your answers.
Question 1. Applicant location (not scored)
You must state the name and full registered address of your organisation and any partners or subcontractors working on your project.
We are collecting this information to understand the geographical location of all applicants.
Question 2. Health or Healthcare Need or challenge
What is the health or healthcare need, technological challenge, or market opportunity behind your innovation?
- the health or healthcare challenge this project addresses and the impacts your solution will have
- how your solution compares to the current gold standard, when addressing a specific health or healthcare need
- whether you have identified any similar innovation and its current limitations, including those close to market or in development
- any work you have already done to respond to this need, for example if your project focuses on developing an existing capability or building a new one
- the wider economic, social, environmental, cultural or political challenges which are influential in creating the opportunity, such as incoming regulations
- evidence that the health or healthcare challenge is real and define the market, both nationally and internationally, that will generate demand for your proposed solution
- any input you have received from healthcare professionals, patients, potential partners or representatives of the onward supply chain
Question 3. Scientific or Technical Evidence
What is the underpinning scientific or technical evidence to support your solution?
Detail all relevant prior experimental or technical evidence and explain how this links to the proposed study. Include any preclinical or clinical work conducted to date and the outcomes.
You must submit one appendix to support your answer. It can include diagrams and charts. It must be a PDF and can be up to 4 A4 pages long and no larger than 10mb in size. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.
Question 4. Innovation
What is innovative about your idea from a commercial, scientific and technical perspective?
- existing products, current gold standards and practices that are currently in use, and how your innovation compares
- how this innovation will fit into the current standard of care
- the technical and commercial benefits and shortcomings of your approach
- the safety and performance characteristics by outlining the target product profile (TPP) if applicable
This could include the results of competitor analyses and literature surveys. This list is not exhaustive.
Question 5. Technical approach
What technical approach will be adopted and how will your project be managed?
Please provide an overview of the technical approach including the main objectives of the work with enough detail for the assessors to understand tasks involved and resources required.
- the current status of your innovation and where you expect to be at the end of your project
- the stages of your project (the work packages) and link the main areas of work together with their resource and management requirements
- key milestones and any stage gates
- how the method and technical approach is appropriate to the needs of the project and the timescale
- how any study design is robust and that key milestone timings are realistic
- your resources and capability to undertake the project
- clear management reporting lines
If relevant, compare and contrast alternative R&D strategies and describe why your proposed approach will offer the best outcome.
You must provide justification for the use of animal or human subjects and the numbers of animals and samples to be tested.
You must submit a project plan or Gantt chart as an appendix to support your answer. You can also include a study design, protocol or approach. It must be a PDF, up to 4 A4 pages long and no larger than 10MB in size. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.
Question 6. Freedom to operate (FTO)
Do you have freedom to operate?
- any existing intellectual property (IP) which may affect, or which is relevant to, project delivery and exploitation
- the current state of IP ownership and, where necessary, how rights have been assigned
- who conducted any FTO analysis if applicable
- your strategy for protecting the knowledge resulting from your project. If it is a collaborative project, how will you assign IP rights to project partners
- any IP that you expect to be generated as a result of your project, and who will own it
You must provide evidence that you have freedom to operate and that you can work without infringing other patents, for example by summarising the results of patent searches.
Question 7. Outcomes and route to market
Describe the size of the market you have identified and how you intend to exploit it.
- the dynamics of this market including its current size, actual and predicted growth rates and provide references to sources
- the projected or target market share gains over time for the project outcome taking account of possible restrictions on market access and penetration, including any potential competitors
- the long-term potential economic benefits to the UK in terms of increasing revenue, profitability, job creation
- the regulatory requirements for the innovation you are developing and the strategies to demonstrate conformity
- how the outputs of your project take you nearer to your organisations objectives, and what will the steps be to achieve this
Describe where applicable:
- your route to market, channel, geographies
- who will benefit and how
- any changes to business models and business processes for the payor, provider or patient
Provide evidence that the proposed solution would be commercially viable for the target market. Consider cost of manufacturing at launch and at scale.
You must submit an exploitation plan to support your answer. It must be a single PDF and can be up to 4 A4 pages long and no larger than 10 MB in size. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.
Question 8. Technical, commercial and environmental risks
Innovate UK recognises that projects of this type are risky, we expect that your project has adequate arrangements for managing these risks.
What are the technical, commercial and environmental risks to project success?
- your project’s risk management strategy
- the main risks and uncertainties of your project and provide a detailed risk analysis for your project’s content and approach
- the technical (including regulatory), commercial, managerial and environmental risks as well as other uncertainties, such as ethical issues associated with your project
- the potential impact of these risks and how your project would mitigate them
- the project management tools and mechanisms that will be used to minimise operational risk
You must submit a risk register as an appendix using an international standard such as ISO 14971 where possible to support your answer. It must be a PDF and can be up to 2 A4 pages long and up to 10 MB in size. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.
Question 9. Skills and experience
Does the team have the right skills, experience and access to facilities, to deliver your project and exploit it?
Detail the expertise and track record of your project’s participants, including collaborators and subcontractors, to demonstrate your capability to deliver your project and exploit the output. Explain whether you have worked with them before and on what basis.
- how your project supports or builds on the existing UK supply chain and addresses end user needs
- how the work is being conducted internally where possible and, if subcontractors are being used, there is adequate justification for the choice made
- how your project has access to the appropriate facilities, resources, tools, equipment and human capability
All subcontractor costs must be justified and appropriate to the total project costs.
Extenuating circumstances where overseas work may be allowable include, but are not limited to; clinical trials in a specific patient population. You must provide justification for any overseas work by email to firstname.lastname@example.org at least 10 working days before the competition closes. Innovate UK will decide whether to approve your request via email.
The application assessors will also be asked to judge whether you have sufficiently made a case for the use of overseas subcontractors.
If you are planning to use subcontractors outside the UK then you must provide evidence that no UK alternative exists and strong justification to support your choice of non-UK contractor.
Question 10. Resources required
What are the resources required to deliver your project and how much will they cost?
- provide justification of the breakdown of your costs, for example any quotations you have received
- include all internal and external costs for your project. Costs must be consistent with the category of R&D being undertaken
- describe how funding will be available to cover cash flow pending quarterly reimbursement of costs from Innovate UK
- explain your eligible project costs, from each of the project partners and the level of funding required
- explain the resources required to carry out your project including materials, capital equipment and people
This information should complement the financial summary table in the application form.
Question 11. Financial support and added value
How does financial support from Innovate UK and its funding collaborators add value to your project?
- what advantages public funding would offer your project, for example; appeal to investors, more partners, reduced risk or a faster route to market (this list is not exhaustive)
- the likely impact of the project outcomes on the organisations involved
- what your project would look like without public funding
- why you are not able to wholly fund the project from your own resources or other forms of private-sector funding
- the avenues of alternate funding you have explored and the responses
- how failure to secure public funding for your project would affect the R&D activity undertaken by the project partners (and related spend profile)
- your plan should public funding not meet any or all of your request
Each organisation in your project must complete their own project costs, organisation details and funding details in the application. Academic institutions must complete and upload a Je-S form.For full details on what costs you can claim see our project costs guidance.
Background and further information
The Biomedical Catalyst (BMC) was established in 2012 and identified a market failure in terms of access to funding for early-stage UK life sciences companies.
Life Sciences industry is a core pillar of the UK economy and is specifically referenced in the Build Back Better document published by HM Treasury in March 2021. The market failure identified in 2012 is still present.
Further information can be found in the Biomedical Catalyst guidance.
The Biomedical Catalyst (BMC) has 3 key objectives:
- deliver growth to the UK life sciences sector
- deliver innovative life sciences products and services into healthcare more quickly and effectively
- provide support to academically and commercially led R&D
This competition is operated by Innovate UK.
Innovate UK complies with the requirements of GDPR, and is committed to upholding the data protection principles, and protecting your information. The Information Commissioner’s Office also has a useful guide for organisations, which outlines the data protection principles.
Find a project partner
If you want help to find a project partner, contact Innovate UK KTN.
Support for SMEs from Innovate UK EDGE
If you receive an award, you will be contacted about working with an innovation and growth specialist at Innovate UK EDGE. This service forms part of our funded offer to you.
These specialists focus on growing innovative businesses and ensuring that projects contribute to their growth. Working one-to-one, they can help you to identify your best strategy and harness world-class resources to grow and achieve scale.We encourage you to engage with Innovate UK EDGE, delivered by a knowledgeable and objective specialist near you.
If you are successful with this application, you will be asked to set up your project.
You must follow the unique link embedded in your email notification. This takes you to your IFS Set Up portal, the tool that Innovate UK uses to gather necessary information before we can allow your project to begin.
You will need to provide:
- the name and contact details of your project manager and project finance lead
- a redacted copy of your bank details
- a collaboration agreement, if required
- an exploitation plan
In order to process your claims, we need to make sure that the bank details you give to us relate to a UK high street bank that is regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA). The account must have a BACS clearing facility and be in the same company name as your application.
If you have any doubts that your bank account will not meet Innovate UK's funding criteria, you can use the sort code checker. If you input the sort code and find a tick next to the ‘BACS Direct Credit payments can be sent to this sort code’, this will give you an indication that the bank account you hold is acceptable.
We will carry out checks to make sure you are an established company with access to the funds necessary to complete the project.
You must check your IFS portal regularly and respond to any requests we have sent for additional information to avoid any delays.
Failure to complete project setup may result in your grant offer being withdrawn.
Your Grant offer letter (GOL)
Once you have successfully completed project setup, we will issue your GOL.
The GOL will be made available on your IFS portal. You will need to sign and upload this before you start your project.
Your GOL will show the start date for your project, do not start your project before this date. Any costs incurred before your start date cannot be claimed as part of your grant.
If your application is unsuccessful
If you are unsuccessful with your application this time, you can view feedback from the assessors. This will be available to you on your IFS portal following notification.
Sometimes your application will have scored well, and you will receive positive comments from the assessors. You may be unsuccessful as your average score was not above the funding threshold or your project has not been selected under the portfolio approach if this is applied for this competition.
If you need more information about how to apply or you want to submit your application in Welsh, email email@example.com or call 0300 321 4357.
Our phone lines are open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays).
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