Funding competition Investment accelerator: innovation in precision medicine

UK businesses can apply for a share of up to £6 million of grant funding to match private equity investment and fund innovations in precision medicine.

This competition is now closed.

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Competition sections


This is an investment accelerator competition providing simultaneous grant funding and private investment for early stage projects led by UK companies.

Up to £6 million of grant funding and a comparable amount of private equity investment is available to support business-led innovation in precision medicine technologies. Proposals must offer a disruptive change to the way that we accurately diagnose, monitor and treat disease.

The competition is open to single SMEs who are looking for grant funding and who want to establish an equity relationship with a UK venture capital firm. Find out if your business fits the EU definition of an SME.

We are particularly encouraging new deal flow from the investor partners. SMEs who already have investment from one or more of the investors are also eligible. Preference may be given to first time investments in the event of a large number of high quality applications.

Funding type


Project size

Projects’ total costs can be between £500,000 and £1.5 million with up to 50% funded by Innovate UK. 100% of project costs will be provided, split between Innovate UK and the investor partner. Projects must start by 1 May 2019 and last up to 24 months.

Who can apply

To be eligible for funding you must:

  • be a UK based SME or have registered as a UK business before the grant is awarded
  • carry out your project in the UK
  • work alone; that is, the grant funding and investment cannot be split with partners

Research and technology organisations and universities cannot apply, but spin-out UK companies can apply.

If you applied to a previous competition as the lead or sole company and were awarded funding by Innovate UK, but did not make a substantial effort to exploit that award, we will award no more funding to you, in this or any other competition. You will not be able to contest our decision. We will:

  • assess your efforts in the previous competition against your exploitation plan for that project
  • review the monitoring officers’ reports and any other relevant sources for evidence
  • document our decision, which will be made by 3 team members
  • communicate our decision to you in writing

A UK business must be eligible to receive state aid. If you are unsure please take legal advice. For further information please see our general guidance.


If Innovate UK judge that your proposal is not materially different from your previous proposal, it will be classed as a resubmission.

If your application is unsuccessful, you may reapply with the same proposal once more, taking into account the feedback received from the assessors. This can be into another round of this competition or another competition. In other words, you can make a maximum of 2 applications in total with any proposal.


We have allocated up to £6 million in grant funding to match equity investment from investor partners in this competition.

For industrial research projects, Innovate UK will fund 50% of project costs and the investor partner will provide the remaining 50%. This funding will support the development and de-risking of new product ideas, as well as business model development, laboratory prototypes and human clinical trials.

For experimental development projects Innovate UK will fund 45% of project costs for small companies and 35% of costs for medium companies. The investor partner provides the remaining funding. The funding will support commercially usable prototypes, validation trials, experimental production processes and supply chain development.

This competition provides state aid funding under the General Block Exemption Regulation. It is your responsibility to make sure that your organisation is eligible to receive state aid.

Your proposal

This competition will support the commercial development of significant innovation in precision medicine. The aim is to:

  • bring private investors into Innovate UK grant-funded companies earlier, giving companies greater confidence that investment will continue after the project funding
  • give management teams more time to run the business rather than continually chasing investment
  • remove the need to find match funding
  • give companies direct access to commercial skills and knowledge and market opportunities

We define precision medicine as ‘technology that enables early and accurate diagnosis to inform patient treatment, as well as the availability of targeted therapies’. This includes combining clinical biomarker knowledge with advances in diagnostic technologies, data analysis and tailor-made therapeutics. Precision medicine is also commonly referred to as stratified medicine or personalised medicine.

We will only fund projects that include at least one of the following:

  1. Next generation diagnostics that enable early and accurate diagnosis to inform patient management and/or selection of therapy. This includes new molecular and cellular diagnostics, advanced medtech devices, imaging or clinical pathology technologies.
  2. Breakthrough point-of-care, wearable or implantable devices. For example biosensor tattoos or contact lenses that enable accurate and/or early diagnosis. This will immediately inform treatment options for the patient outside of the hospital.
  3. Tailor-made therapies or medicines designed according to each patient’s molecular diagnosis. For example, gene therapy, regenerative cell therapy, next generation immunotherapy, synthetic biology or combination therapies.
  4. Bioinformatic or artificial intelligence (AI) applications to extract digital data from medtech devices, imaging systems and/or clinical pathology platforms to rapidly inform clinical decisions.

Projects could include first-in-human clinical trials, including ‘n of 1’ proof of concept and observational studies with clearly defined de-risking objectives.

In all these cases, the aim of the investment accelerator is to fund innovative high-risk projects and invest in companies that have real potential for growth. We will achieve this by working closely with our investor partners. We will assess applications using the standard Innovate UK assessment process, while the investors will use their own assessment techniques.

Both Innovate UK and the investor partner must identify a project as fundable before a grant is offered. For the investor, this means taking the project forward to the ‘heads of terms’ stage with the applicant within the competition timeline.

External, independent experts will assess the quality your application. We will then select the projects to fund, building a portfolio of projects that:

  • are high quality
  • address the range of themes as described in the scope
  • represent the potential for return on investment for the company and the UK

Subject to meeting the quality threshold and reaching ‘heads of terms’ with an investor partner we reserve the right to manage the portfolio to achieve the correct balance of projects and funding.

Investor partners

These are the contact details for our investor partners.

Our investor partners and their details can be downloaded for review.

24 Haymarket Limited

Albion Capital Group LLP

BioCity Group Ltd

Cambridge Innovation Capital plc

Catapult Venture Managers Ltd

Epidarex Capital

IP Group plc

Specific themes

We are particularly encouraging applications that are:

  • disruptive approaches such as liquid biopsies, extracellular vesicles or proteins, or single-cell analysis towards adoption as a clinical diagnostic
  • multi-omic diagnostics to enable personalised treatment intervention, for example genomics, transcriptomics, epigenomics, metabolomics or microbiomics
  • smart (closed loop) medical devices that intelligently dose the patient with specific doses of therapeutic in response to personalised biomarker monitoring
  • bioinformatic platforms (and/or AI-powered applications) that enable processing of longitudinal data to inform early and accurate diagnosis

Project types

For industrial research projects, you could get grant funding for your eligible project costs of:

  • up to 50% if you are a small business
  • up to 50% if you are a medium-sized business

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 small business
  • up to 35% if you are a medium-sized business

Our investor partners have agreed to match fund the remaining project costs through equity investment or convertible loans. In each case, you must agree the remaining match funding with one of the listed investor partners. It must be new investment: the match funding cannot come from an existing investment. Nor can it come from the existing balance sheet of the applicant. If you already have investment from a listed investor you can still apply, but again, the match funding for the grant must be new money.

For example: you are a micro or small company and request £500,000 for a project defined as falling under ‘industrial research’. You are successful in the Innovate UK assessment process and secure match funding through one of our investor partners. Innovate UK will cover £250,000 (50%) of the project costs and the investor will cover £250,000 (50%).

Projects we will not fund

We will not fund projects that cover:

  • precision medicine that is outside our definition
  • technologies and ideas that are not disruptive, significant or innovative and do not lead to new solutions
  • biomarker discovery (clinical biomarker validation however is within scope)
  • diagnostic tests for treatments that are not available or still in development, unless as a companion diagnostic
  • digital health and wellness apps
  • drug discovery that is not a tailor-made or personalised therapy
  • clinical trials for tailor-made therapies beyond proof of concept studies

23 July 2018
Competition opens
31 July 2018
Briefing event.
26 September 2018 12:00pm
Competition closes
2 November 2018
Applicants told if they passed technical assessment
11 January 2019
Investor heads of terms deadline
18 January 2019 4:48pm
Applicants notified

Before you start

Please read the general guidance for applicants. It will help your chances of submitting a quality application.

When you start an application you will be prompted to create an account as the lead applicant or sign in as a representative of your organisation. You will need an account to track the progress of your application.

As the lead applicant you will be responsible for:

  • collecting the information for your application
  • representing your organisation in leading the project if your application is successful

What we will ask you

The application is split into 3 sections:

  1. Project details
  2. Application questions
  3. Finances

1. Project details

Explain your project. This section is not scored, but we will use it to decide whether the project fits with the scope of the competition. If it doesn’t, it will be immediately rejected.

Application details

The lead applicant must complete this section. Give your project’s title, start date and length.

Project summary

Describe your project briefly, and be clear about what makes it innovative. We use this section to assign experts to assess your application.

Public description

Describe your project in detail, and in a way that you are happy to see published. Please do not include any commercially sensitive information. If we award your project funding, we will publish this description. This could be before you start your project.

Project scope

Describe how your project fits the scope of the competition. If your project is not in scope it will be immediately rejected and will not be sent for assessment. We will give you feedback on why.

2. Application questions

In this section, answers to these questions are scored by the assessors. Following assessment, you will receive feedback from the assessors for each question.

Your answer to each question can be up to 400 words long, except for question 11.

Question 1: Need or challenge

What is the business need, citizen challenge, technological challenge or market opportunity behind your innovation?

You should describe or explain:

  • the main motivation for the project
  • the business need, technological challenge or market opportunity
  • the nearest current state-of-the-art, including those near market or in development, and its limitations
  • any work you have already done to respond to this need, for example if the project is focused on developing an existing capability or building a new one
  • the wider economic, social, environmental, cultural and/or political challenges which are influential in creating the opportunity, such as incoming regulations. Our Horizons tool can help with this.

Question 2: Approach and innovation

What approach will you take and where will the focus of the innovation be?

You should describe or explain:

  • how you will respond to the need, challenge or opportunity identified
  • how you will improve on the nearest current state-of-the-art identified
  • whether the innovation will focus on the application of existing technologies in new areas, the development of new technologies for existing areas or a totally disruptive approach
  • the freedom you have to operate
  • how this project fits with your current product, service lines or offerings
  • how it will make you more competitive
  • the nature of the outputs you expect from the project (for example, report, demonstrator, know-how, new process, product or service design) and how these will help you to target the need, challenge or opportunity identified

You may submit a single appendix as a PDF no larger than 1MB and up to 2 pages in size to support your answer.

Question 3: Team and resources

Who is in the project team and what are their roles?

You should describe or explain:

  • the roles, skills and experience of all members of the project team that are relevant to the approach you will be taking
  • the resources, equipment and facilities needed for the project and how you will access them
  • the details of any vital external parties, including sub-contractors, who you will need to work with to successfully carry out the project
  • the current relationships between project partners and how these will change as a result of the project
  • any gaps in the team that will need to be filled

You may submit a single appendix as a PDF no larger than 1MB and up to 4 pages long to support your answer.

Question 4: Market awareness

What does the market you are targeting look like?

You should describe or explain:

  • the markets (domestic, international or both) you will be targeting in the project and any other potential markets
  • the size of the target markets for the project outcomes, backed up by references where available
  • the structure and dynamics of the target markets, including customer segmentation, together with predicted growth rates within clear timeframes
  • the target markets’ main supply or value chains and business models, and any barriers to entry that exist
  • the current UK position in targeting these markets
  • the size and main features of any other markets not already listed

If your project is highly innovative, where the market may be unexplored, describe or explain:

  • what the market’s size might to be
  • how your project will try to explore the market’s potential

Question 5: Outcomes and route to market

How are you going to grow your business and increase your productivity into the long term as a result of the project?

You should describe or explain:

  • your current position in the markets and supply or value chains outlined, and whether you will be extending or establishing your market position
  • your target customers and/or end users, and the value to them, for example, why would they use or buy it?
  • your route to market
  • how you are going to profit from the innovation (increased revenues or cost reduction)
  • how the innovation will affect your productivity and growth, in both the short and the long term
  • how you will protect and exploit the outputs of the project, for example through know-how, patenting, designs or changes to your business model
  • your strategy for targeting the other markets you have identified during or after the project

Question 6: Wider impacts

What impact might this project have outside the project team?

You should describe, and where possible measure:

  • the economic benefits from the project to external parties, including customers, others in the supply chain, broader industry and the UK economy, such as productivity increases and import substitution
  • any expected impact on government priorities
  • any expected environmental impacts, either positive or negative
  • any expected regional impacts of the project

Describe any expected social impacts, either positive or negative on, for example:

  • quality of life
  • social inclusion or exclusion
  • jobs, such as safeguarding, creating, changing or displacing them
  • education
  • public empowerment
  • health and safety
  • regulations
  • diversity

Question 7: Project management

You should describe or explain:

  • the main work packages of the project, indicating the relevant research category, the lead partner assigned to each and the total cost of each one
  • your approach to project management, identifying any major tools and mechanisms that will be used for a successful and innovative project outcome.
  • the management reporting lines
  • your project plan in enough detail to identify any links or dependencies between work packages or milestones

You may upload a project plan or Gantt chart as an appendix in PDF format no larger than 1MB and up to 2 pages long.

Question 8: Risks

What are the main risks for this project?

You should describe or explain:

  • the main risks and uncertainties of the project, including the technical, commercial, managerial and environmental risks, providing a risk register if appropriate
  • how these risks will be mitigated
  • any project inputs that are critical to completion, such as resources, expertise, data sets
  • any output likely to be subject to regulatory requirements, certification, ethical issues and so on, and how you will manage this

You may upload a risk register as an appendix in PDF format no larger than 1MB and up to 2 pages long.

Question 9: Additionality

Describe the impact that an injection of public funding and private sector investment would have on this project.

You should describe or explain:

  • if this project could go ahead in any form without public funding and if so, the difference the public funding would make, such as faster to market, more partners and reduced risk
  • the likely impact of the project on the business of the partners involved
  • why you are not able to wholly fund the project from your own resources or other forms of private-sector funding, and what would happen if the application is unsuccessful
  • how this project would change the nature of R&D activity the partners would undertake, and the related spend

Question 10: Costs and value for money

How much will the project cost and how does it represent value for money for the team and the taxpayer?

You should describe or explain:

  • the total project cost and the grant being requested in terms of the project goals
  • how you will finance your contributions to the project
  • how this project represents value for money for you and the taxpayer and how it compares to what you would spend your money on otherwise?
  • any sub-contractor costs and why they are critical to the project

Question 11: Investor selection

Please select your investor partner. Your answer can be up to 10 words long.

Your application can be viewed by one preferred investor partner, or by all investors.

Please type ‘all investors’ or insert the name of one preferred investor.

3. Finances

The finances section asks you to complete your project costs, organisational details and funding details. For full details on what costs you can claim please see our project costs guidance.

Background and further information

If you want help to find a project partner, contact the Knowledge Transfer Network.

If you need more information, contact the competition helpline on 0300 321 4357 or email us at Please put the words ‘Investment accelerator, precision medicine’ into the subject line along with the name of your company or project.

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