Funding competition Application of whole genome sequencing approaches to cancer

UK businesses and research organisations can apply for a share of up to £5.4 million. This is for projects involving the application of whole genome sequencing to analyse cancers. This funding is from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

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Competition sections

Description

Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £5.4 million. This is for innovation projects that use whole genome sequencing to analyse cancers. This competition is funded through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

The aim is to encourage the development of new approaches to targeted therapy based on the molecular signatures of cancers. Your project can develop new analytical methods or validate new targets using new and existing genomic data from cancers.

We will fund feasibility studies, industrial research and experimental development.

This competition closes at midday 12pm UK time on the deadline stated.

Funding type

Grant

Project size

Feasibility projects must have total eligible costs between £50,000 and £100,000. Industrial research and experimental development projects must have total eligible costs of between £100,000 and £1 million.

Who can apply

State aid

Any UK business claiming funding must be eligible to receive state aid at the time we confirm you will be awarded funding. If you are unsure please take legal advice. For further information see our general guidance.

Your project

If your project is a feasibility study, it:

If your project is industrial research and/or experimental development, it:

  • must have total eligible project costs between £100,000 and £1 million
  • must include an SME
  • must be collaborative

Projects must start by 1 July 2020 and end by 31 March 2022. They can last between 6 and 18 months.

The lead and any partners must carry out their project work and intend to exploit the results from or in the UK.

If your project’s total eligible costs or duration fall outside of our eligibility criteria, you must provide justification by email to support@innovateuk.ukri.org at least 10 days before the competition closes. We will decide whether to approve your request.

Lead organisation

To lead a project or work alone you must:

  • be a UK registered SME for feasibility studies
  • be a UK registered business, of any size, or a research and technology organisation (RTO) for collaborative research and development (R&D)
  • involve at least one SME

Academic institutions cannot lead or work alone.

Project team

The lead and at least one other organisation must claim funding.

For all types of research, to collaborate with the lead organisation your organisation must be:

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 eligible project costs.

Multiple applications

Any one business or RTO can lead on one application and collaborate in a further 2 applications.

If a business is not leading an application, they can be a collaborator in up to 3 applications. If an RTO is:

  • the lead on an application they must have 2 business collaborators (one SME, and one other business of any size)
  • not the lead on any application, they can be a collaborator in any number of applications
An academic institution can be a collaborator in any number of applications.

Previous applications

Resubmissions

You cannot use a resubmission to apply for this competition. A resubmission is a proposal Innovate UK judges as not materially different from one you have submitted before.

If you submit a new proposal this time you will be able to use it in no more than one future competition that allows resubmissions.

Failure to exploit

If you applied to a previous competition as the lead or sole company and were awarded funding by Innovate UK or UK Research and Innovation, 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, and communicate it to you in writing

Previous projects

Under the terms of Innovate UK funding, you are required to submit an independent accountant’s report (IAR) with your final claim. If you or any organisation in your consortium failed to submit an IAR on a previous project, we will not award funding to you in this or any other competition until we have received the documents.

Funding

We have allocated up to £5.4 million to fund innovation projects in this competition.

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

  • up to 70% if you are a micro or small business
  • up to 60% if you are a medium-sized business
  • up to 50% if you are a large 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 micro or small business
  • up to 35% if you are a medium-sized business
  • up to 25% if you are a large business

The research organisations in your consortium can share up to 30% of the total eligible project costs. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation, this maximum will be shared between them.

This competition provides state aid funding under article 25, ‘Aid for research and development projects’, of the General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER). It is your responsibility to make sure that your organisation is eligible to receive state aid.

Your proposal

The aim of this competition is to support projects that involve the use of whole genome sequencing to analyse cancer.

Your project must work with whole genome sequence data. This can be through the manipulation of existing whole genome data, through the collection of other whole genome sequences or through both of these. Possible approaches include but are not limited to:

  • the development of new analytical or reporting tools for clinical decision support
  • the identification of molecular signatures that allow for new or improved targeting of therapies
  • the identification of new therapeutic targets
  • new genetic signatures that can be used clinically, such as markers that support repurposing of drugs or a personalised approach to patient management
  • the comparative assessment of alternative assay methods in parallel with whole genome sequencing

We expect projects that generate new whole genome sequence data to make this data available within as part of the dataset held by Genomics England at the end of the project.

We are looking to fund a portfolio of projects, across a variety of technologies, markets, technological maturities and research categories.

Specific themes

Your project can focus on one or more of the following, or on other suitable themes:

  • improving the diagnosis and prognosis of cancer and the selection of therapies
  • the analysis of complex molecular signatures, including copy number variants, structural changes and tumour heterogeneity
  • supporting the identification of tumours of unknown primary origin
  • further analysis of existing whole genome sequence data held by Genomics England

Research categories

We will fund feasibility projects, industrial research projects and experimental development projects, as defined in the general guidance.

Projects we will not fund

We are not funding projects that:

  • do not involve whole genome sequencing
  • involve other forms of genetic analysis, unless as part of a comparison with whole genome sequencing
  • use other forms of genetic analysis, such as panel tests or arrays in isolation

7 October 2019
Competition opens
30 October 2019
Birmingham briefing event
22 January 2020 12:00pm
Competition closes
3 April 2020
Applicants notified

Before you start

You must read the general guidance for applicants before you start.

What we will ask you

The application is split into 3 sections:

  1. Project details.
  2. Application questions.
  3. Finances.

1. Project details

This section gives the assessors background and is not scored.

Application team

Invite colleagues to contribute to your application and other organisations to collaborate on your project.

Application details

The lead applicant must complete this section. Give your project’s title, start date and duration. Is the application a resubmission?

Research category

Select the type of research you will undertake.

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.

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

Public description

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.

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.

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

2. Application questions

The assessors will score your answers to these questions. You will receive feedback from them for each one.

Your answer to each question can be up to 400 words long. Do not include any website links in your answers.

Question 1. Need or challenge

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

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 or political challenges which are influential in creating the opportunity, such as incoming regulations, using our Horizons tool if appropriate

Question 2. Approach and innovation

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

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 can submit one appendix to support your answer. It can include diagrams and charts. It must be a PDF and can be up to 2 pages long. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 3. Team and resources

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

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, if your project is collaborative
  • any gaps in the team you will need to fill

You can submit one appendix to support your answer. It can contain a short summary of the main people working on the project. It must be a PDF and can be up to 4 pages long. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 4. Market awareness

What does the market you are targeting look like?

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?

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 or end users, and the value to them, for example, why they would use or buy your product
  • your route to market
  • how you are going to profit from the innovation, including 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

If there is any research organisation activity in the project, describe:

  • your plans to spread the project’s research outputs over a reasonable timescale
  • how you expect to use the results generated from the project in further research activities

Question 6. Wider impacts

What impact might this project have outside the project team?

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

How will you manage the project effectively?

Describe or explain:

  • the main work packages of the project, indicating the lead partner assigned to each and the total cost of each one
  • your approach to project management, identifying any major tools and mechanisms you will use to get 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 can submit a project plan or Gantt chart as an appendix to support your answer. It must be a PDF and can be up to 2 pages long. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 8. Risks

What are the main risks for this project?

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 you will mitigate these risks
  • 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 will you manage this?

You must submit a risk register as an appendix to support your answer. It must be a PDF and can be up to 2 pages long. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 9. Added value

What impact would an injection of public funding have on the businesses involved?

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 a faster route to market, more partners or reduced risk
  • the likely impact of the project on the businesses 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?

Describe or explain:

  • the total eligible project costs and the grant you are requesting in terms of the project goals
  • how the partners will finance their contributions to the project
  • how this project represents value for money for you and the taxpayer
  • how it compares to what you would spend your money on otherwise
  • the balance of costs and grant across the project partners
  • any sub-contractor costs and why they are critical to the project

3. Finances

Each organisation in your project must complete their own project costs, organisation details and funding details. Academic institutions will need to complete and upload a Je-S form.

For full details on what costs you can claim please see our project costs guidance.

Background and further information

This competition is funded as part of the £210 million ISCF data to early diagnosis and precision medicine (DEDPM) challenge.

The challenge aims to combine research data and evidence from the NHS to create new and improved ways of identifying disease and treatment pathways. The challenge has already invested significantly in genomics.

This includes £30 million for the Vanguard programme which will enable whole genome sequencing for 50,000 participants of the UK Biobank programme. In September 2019 it was announced that a £200 million public-private collaboration would enable the entire cohort of 500,000 UK Biobank participants to be sequenced.

The DEDPM is also investing in other programmes. These will enable genomic data to be combined with clinical data so that the full value of the combined data can be realised. This includes support to establish a network of data hubs as part of a programme led by Health Data Research UK (HDR UK) that was announced in September 2019.

The DEDPM challenge aims to make sure the UK remains a global leader in the application of genomics to healthcare. The UK has already developed, through the 100,000 Genomes Project, the largest, highest-quality whole genome database in the world.

The project has enabled the establishment of infrastructure that allows the NHS to become the first healthcare system to introduce whole genome sequencing as part of routine care. There is the real potential for genomics to revolutionise healthcare and create significant commercial opportunities. Commercial applications of genomics to cancer are expected to represent a significant proportion of the predicted $22 billion global market for genomics.

Extra help

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

If you need more information, email us at support@innovateuk.ukri.org or call the competition helpline on 0300 321 4357 between 9am and 5:30pm, Monday to Friday.

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