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Funding competition Precision medicine: impacting through innovative technology

UK businesses and research and technology organisations can apply for a share of £6 million to develop precision medicine technologies.

This competition is now closed.

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Summary

Description

Innovate UK will invest up to £6 million in innovation projects to support the development of precision medicine technologies.

Applications can be for feasibility studies, or industrial research and experimental development projects.

Feasibility projects can last up to 12 months and have total project costs of up to £100,000. We will fund:

  • single-company SME projects
  • collaborative projects led by an SME

Research and experimental development projects can last up to 24 months and have total project costs of between £1 million to £2 million. We will fund:

  • projects that are led by a business or research and technology organisation
  • collaborative projects

Collaborations must include at least one other grant-claiming partner (such as an NHS organisation, another healthcare provider, a business, a Catapult or other research technology organisation, or a research base or third-sector organisation).

Projects must show an improvement in the competitiveness and productivity of at least one UK SME involved in the project, but the project does not need to be led by an SME.

You must explain clearly how your proposed technology will advance precision medicine. We encourage applications that can provide evidence of engagement with regional precision medicine centres of expertise across the UK.

Funding type

Grant

Project size

Feasibility projects can be up to £100,000. Research and development projects can range from £1 million to £2 million.

Eligibility

Find out if you are eligible to apply

All projects must involve at least one SME. A business must lead be the lead in feasibility study projects. A business or research and technology organisation can lead a research and development project.

Feasibility projects:

  • must have total project costs up to £100,000
  • can be from a single SME or an SME working with other businesses or research organisations
  • must be led by a UK-based SME
  • must be completed within one year

Research and development projects must:

  • have total project costs that range in size from £1 million to £2 million
  • be collaborative and include at least 2 grant-claiming organisations
  • be led by a UK based company or RTO of any size
  • be completed within 2 years

For either type of project you must start by 1 March 2018.

We may consider projects outside the indicated funding range, but you must contact us at least 10 days before the application deadline to discuss further.

A business or RTO can only take part in up to 2 applications in this competition round and can only be the lead partner in one application. RTOs can lead a project providing they clearly state why the RTO, and not one of the business participants, should lead the project. The project must show a compelling route to market, most likely through the non-lead partners

If the RTO is not the lead on any application, they can be a partner in any number of applications.

If the innovation leads judge that your project is not materially different from one of your previous projects, it will be classed as a resubmission.

If your application is unsuccessful, you can use the feedback received to reapply for the same project once more (in other words, a maximum of 2 applications for any project). This can be into another round of this competition or a different competition.

Projects that we won't fund

In this competition we are not funding projects that:

  • do not meet our definition of precision medicine, as described in the scope tab
  • do not inform treatment decisions
Nor will we fund projects that focus on:
  • drug discovery
  • biomarker discovery
  • diagnostic tests for treatments that are still in development, unless justified as a parallel development, such as a companion diagnostic

Funding and project details

We have allocated up to £6 million to fund innovation projects in this competition.

Your project can dedicate a maximum of 50% of total eligible project costs to participation by research organisations. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation, this maximum will be shared between them.

Project types

Your project can focus on technical feasibility, industrial research or experimental development. This will depend on the challenge.

For technical feasibility studies and industrial research, you could get:

  • up to 70% of your eligible project costs if you are a 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:

  • up to 45% of your eligible project costs if you are a small business
  • up to 35% if you are a medium-sized business
  • up to 25% if you are a large business

Find out if your business fits the EU definition of an SME.

Scope

Competition scope

The focus of this competition is to support the development of precision medicine technologies.

We define precision medicine as better targeting of treatments for patients by combining clinical knowledge with advances in diagnostic techniques and data analysis. Precision medicine is also referred to as stratified medicine or personalised medicine.

You may focus either on:

  • feasibility to help companies assess the research, development and adoption issues their concept will need to address and the likelihood of success
  • research and development to help companies develop and trial precision medicine technology

Feasibility studies

You must be able to analyse and evaluate your concept’s potential, identify the requirements and resources needed to develop the technology, and establish the prospects of success. A project can focus on feasibility studies or industrial research. The work undertaken during a feasibility study can vary, but it could cover:

1. Clarifying the value proposition of the concept to help healthcare providers and other customers to understand its attractiveness. This could include determining:

  • patient and end user needs
  • the required changes to patient pathways
  • commissioning and procurement options
  • health economics
  • adoption drivers

2. Initial technical activities including areas such as:

  • developing prototypes and proofs of concept
  • collecting further data on the use of biomarkers to distinguish between different patient groups
  • refining algorithms to improve patient stratification

3. Assessing the required levels of technical performance to be a success, covering areas such as:

  • analytical performance
  • diagnostic sensitivity and specificity

4. Determining what information will need to be collated from a regulatory or health technology assessment perspective.

These projects will allow companies to map out and understand the technical, operational, clinical, regulatory and adoption challenges they will need to meet.

Research and development

For research and development applications, you can develop and trial precision medicine technologies. Your project may focus on industrial research or experimental development, depending on the challenge identified. It can have work packages in different research categories if necessary. You should evidence your understanding of the potential mitigation strategies for the technical, operational, clinical, regulatory and adoption challenges related to the project.

Your project must look to advance precision medicine by guiding decision-making using one of the following approaches:

  1. Developing tools to better integrate informatics and data.
  2. Establishing precision medicine clinical trials.
  3. Developing rapid diagnostics to inform better treatment decisions.

We would encourage you to work with the appropriate UK organisation in your area of precision medicine, such as:

  • Academic Health Science Networks
  • Catapults and other research and technology organisations

  • the molecular pathology nodes supported by the MRC and EPSRC
  • Diagnostic Evidence Co-operatives (soon to be MedTech and In Vitro Diagnostic Co-operatives)
  • market access companies

Many organisations are listed on the Knowledge Transfer Network Landscapes website. We would also encourage companies to engage with the relevant charities and patient groups when assessing the intended patient and end user need.

You must make it clear how your proposed technology will advance precision medicine.

Specific competition themes

Feasibility proposals must offer innovative precision medicine technologies that improve the decision-making process for patient treatment selection. These should include project plans that demonstrate you intend to look at areas such as:

  • performing initial technical activities
  • clarifying the value proposition of the concept
  • working with the relevant organisation and groups to develop a clear understanding of the technical, operational, clinical and regulatory requirements, and the adoption challenges for your technology
  • determining the requirements of the regulatory and health technology assessment process that would be most relevant to their product or service
  • analysing the progress that has already made to produce a clear development plan

Research and development proposals must attempt to develop and trial innovative precision medicine technologies that improve the decision-making process for patient treatment selection. They must meet the scope by either:

  • developing tools to better integrate informatics and data
  • establishing precision medicine clinical trials
  • developing rapid diagnostics to inform better treatment decisions

All research and development proposals must demonstrate a clear understanding of market potential, routes to market, intellectual property issues and commercialisation strategies.

Dates

11 September 2017
Competition opens
20 September 2017
Briefing event, London.
20 September 2017
Briefing event webcast.
25 October 2017 12:00pm
Competition closes
15 December 2017 9:58am
Applicants notified

How to apply

Before you start

To start an application you must create an account as the lead applicant, or sign in as a representative of your organisation. Once you have an account you can track the progress of your application.

As a lead applicant:

  • you are responsible for collecting the information for your funding application
  • you can invite other organisations who will participate in the project as collaborators if your application is successful
  • you can invite colleagues to contribute to the application
  • your organisation will lead the project if your application is successful

Partner organisations can be other businesses, research organisations, public sector organisations or charities.

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

Research organisations

Research organisations may participate in applications as collaborators. In this competition research and technology organisations may also lead a collaborative project subject to the eligibility criteria and rules.

There are specific rules for research partners which limit the amount of involvement a research organisation may have in your project. The participation rule will be set out in the eligibility criteria for the competition.

You will not be able to submit your application if your research participation is over the stated percentage for the competition.

If your application meets this competition’s eligibility requirements, we will ask up to 5 external experts to assess it. These assessors are experts in the innovation area identified in your application. They will use scoring matrices and provide written feedback for each marked question

We will then select projects 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. They will all meet or exceed the agreed quality line throughout our independent external assessment process.

What we ask you

The application is split into 3 sections:

1. Project details.

2. Application questions.

3. Finances.

1. Project details

In this section you will provide the details of your project. This section is not scored, but our assessors will use it to decide whether the project fits with the scope of the competition. If it doesn’t fit the scope then it will be immediately rejected. Within project details you will need to complete:

Application details

The title of your project, the start date and project length. This section will also list you as the lead organisation and any partner organisations you have named as collaborators. The lead applicant must complete this section.

Project summary

Describe your project and what is innovative about it. We use this section to assign experts to assess your application so we need a summary of the innovation in your project.

Public description

Describe your project in a way that you are happy to see published. Please do not include any commercially sensitive information. If your project is successful and awarded funding, Innovate UK will publish this description.

Project scope

Describe how your project fits the scope of the competition. Please make clear whether you are applying for feasibility or research and development. If your project is not in scope it will not be eligible for funding and will not be sent for assessment. Innovate UK will provide feedback if we decide that your project is not in scope.

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.

Question 1: Need or challenge

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

  • what is the healthcare challenge for this project and the current methods of treatment, if any
  • what is the proposed precision medicine technology, how would it be used to improve the decision making process and treatment selection for the healthcare challenge, and how would this improve health outcomes or other outcomes important to the patient such as quality of life
  • what are the competing technologies to the proposed concept, what are their limitations and how the proposed concept will be an improvement
  • how have you assessed the healthcare need, covering areas such as engagement with potential end users such as patients, clinicians and charities

Question 2: Approach and innovation

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

  • review the concept in detail to put it in to context and explain the potential benefits
  • review the work already undertaken, in particular the work you have already done in terms of assessing the value proposition of this project and any technical research and development activities
  • review the intended work and the nature of the outputs you expect for this competition, how it relates to the healthcare challenge identified and how it relates to work already undertaken
  • review which organisations you intend to work with during this project and what work they will be undertaking
  • explain how this project fits with your current product/service lines/offerings
  • explain how this will make you and the other organisations involved in this project more competitive
  • how will this advance precision medicine

You may submit a single appendix as a PDF no more than 1MB in size to support your answer.

Question 3: Team and resources

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

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

You may submit a single appendix as a PDF no more than 1MB in size to support your answer.

Question 4: Market awareness

What does the market you are targeting look like?

Specify the markets (domestic and/or international) you will be targeting in the project and any other potential markets.

For the target markets, describe:

  • the size of the target markets for the project outcomes, backed up by appropriate references where available
  • the structure and dynamics of the market such as customer segmentation, together with predicted growth rates within clear timeframes
  • the main supply/value chains and business models in operation and any barriers to entry
  • the current UK position in targeting this market

For highly innovative projects, where the market may be unexplored, explain:

  • what the route to market could or might be
  • what its size might be
  • how the project will seek to explore the market potential

For other markets, briefly describe the size and main features.

Question 5: Outcomes and route to market

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

  • describe your current position in the markets and supply/value chains outlined for example, if you will be extending or establishing your market position
  • describe your target customers and/or end-users, and the value proposition to them (why would they use/buy it?)
  • describe your route to market
  • tell us how you are going to profit from the innovation (increased revenues or cost reduction)
  • explain how the innovation will impact your productivity and growth in the short and long-term
  • describe how you will protect and exploit the outputs of the project for example, through know-how, patenting, designs, changes to business model
  • clarify how any new Intellectual Property (IP) will be managed between the collaborators and what rights any sub-contractors would have over any IP
  • outline your strategy for targeting the other markets identified during or after the project
  • for any research organisation activity in the project, outline your plans to disseminate project research outputs over a reasonable timescale
  • if you expect to use the results generated from the project in further research activities, describe how you will do this

Question 6: Wider impacts

What impact might this project have outside the project team?

Identify, and where possible measure, the economic benefits from the project to those outside the project (customers, others in the supply chain, broader industry and the UK economy) such as productivity increases and import substitution.

Identify, and where possible measure, any expected social impacts, either positive or negative, for example:

  • quality of life
  • social inclusion/exclusion
  • jobs (safeguarded, created, changed, displaced)
  • education
  • public empowerment
  • health and safety
  • regulations
  • diversity
  • any expected impact on government priorities

Identify, and where possible measure, any expected environmental impacts, either positive or negative.

Identify any expected regional impacts of the project.

Question 7: Project management

How will you manage the project effectively?

  • outline the main work packages of the project, indicating the relevant research category and lead partner assigned to each, and the total cost of each one
  • describe your approach to project management, identifying any major tools and mechanisms that will be used to ensure a successful project outcome. Highlight your approach to managing the most innovative aspects of the project
  • outline the management reporting lines
  • outline your project plan in sufficient 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 more than 1MB in size.

Question 8: Risks

What are the main risks for this project?

  • identify the main risks and uncertainties of the project, including the technical, commercial, clinical trials, managerial and environmental risks. Highlight the most significant ones, providing a risk register if appropriate
  • explain how these risks will be mitigated
  • list any project inputs on the critical route to completion such as resources, expertise or data sets
  • is the output likely to be subject to regulatory requirements, certification, ethical or other similar issues? If so how will you manage this?

You may upload a risk register as an appendix in PDF format no more than 1MB in size.

Question 9: Additionality

Describe the impact that an injection of public funding would have on this project.

  • tell us 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, reduced risk
  • describe the likely impact of the project on the business of the partners involved
  • tell us why you are not able to wholly fund the project from your own resources or other forms of private-sector funding (what would happen if the application is unsuccessful)
  • explain how this project would change the nature of research and development activity the partners would undertake, and 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?

  • justify the total project cost and the grant being requested in terms of the project goals
  • explain how the partners will finance their contributions to the project
  • explain how this project represents value for money for you and the taxpayer. How does it compare to what you would spend your money on otherwise?
  • justify the balance of costs and grant across the project partners
  • justify any sub-contractor costs and why they are critical to the project

3. Finances

The finances section asks each organisation to complete project costs, organisational details and funding details for each organisation in your project. Academics 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.

Supporting information

Background and further information

Even the best medicines are not equally effective in all patients. Disease processes and treatment choices can vary from person to person, regardless of whether they have similar symptoms. It is estimated that only 30% to 70% of patients respond positively to any one particular drug.

Precision medicine is one of the priority themes for Innovate UK’s health and life science sector.

It is important that companies producing precision medicine technologies avoid focusing too much on technology and not enough on end user needs. This issue can be exacerbated by companies not having the time or resources to explore these issues at an early stage.

The feasibility section of this competition allows companies to:

  • analyse and evaluate their concept’s potential
  • identify the requirements and resources needed to develop the technology
  • establish the prospects of success

The research and development section allows companies to develop and trial precision medicine technologies for projects to look at :

  • developing tools to better integrate informatics and data
  • establishing precision medicine clinical trials
  • developing rapid diagnostics to inform better treatment decisions

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 support@innovateuk.gov.uk.

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