Funding competition Biomedical catalyst 2017 round 3: feasibility studies

Micro, small or medium-size UK companies can apply for a share of £2 million to work alone or with others on solving healthcare challenges.

This competition is now closed.

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Competition sections


The aim of this competition is to support the development of innovative healthcare technologies and processes. These may include:

  • 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

The biomedical catalyst has 4 types of funding award designed to support small to medium enterprises (SMEs) that are developing a product or process. It helps them progress from initial concept through to late-stage development.

Each type of award has a different scope. You should apply only if your project fits a specific competition scope.

You may only submit the same application to Innovate UK twice, so it is important that you do not submit an application with an incorrect scope.

This is a feasibility competition. We are looking to fund projects that explore and evaluate the commercial potential of innovative scientific ideas by:

  • reviewing research evidence and identifying possible applications
  • assessing business opportunities
  • investigating the intellectual property position
  • validating initial concepts or existing pre-clinical work through experimental studies
  • identifying areas for further development

We expect projects to range in size up to £200,000. Projects should last no longer than 12 months.

Funding type


Project size

Total project costs of up to £200,000.

Find out if you are eligible to apply

You must:

  • be a UK-based SME to lead a project
  • work on your own or with other UK SMEs or research organisations. If your project is academic-led, you should apply to the Medical Research Council instead
  • carry out your project work in the UK
  • be ready to start your project by 1 February 2018 and finish by 1 February 2019

For all research organisations, the maximum level of project participation is 50% of total eligible project costs. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation, they must share this allocation.

Making more than one application and resubmissions

If you are a business you can:

  • take part in no more than 3 applications in this competition round. You may only be the lead partner in one application
  • apply only twice with the same project to any Innovate UK competition. If you are not successful in the competition this means you can resubmit your application once more in another competition

A business can only lead one active project in any one biomedical catalyst category at any time. These categories are feasibility, primer, early-stage and late-stage.

The exception is when a new project is a direct progression from one award to the next category of award. For example, you may hold both a primer and an early-stage award. When the primer project finishes, you may apply in for an early-stage award to continue that specific programme of work, while still holding your original early-stage award.

We will ask you to provide evidence that you have enough resources to run 2 projects at the same time.

Projects that we won't fund

In this competition we won’t fund:

1. Human trials (such as clinical trials of safety or efficacy).

2. Projects that are too early-stage, for example:

  • basic research
  • generation of pure scientific and technological knowledge
  • development of research ideas, hypotheses and experimental designs without application

3. Projects that are too close to market or are already at market, such as:

  • evaluations to inform labelling
  • laboratory accreditation
  • distribution or marketing activity
  • post-marketing studies
  • post-marketing surveillance

4. Projects that include large organisations as partners

Project types

Your project must focus on technical feasibility studies. You could get:

  • up to 70% of your eligible project costs if you are a micro or small business
  • up to 60% if you are a medium-sized business

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

Competition scope

Each type of award has a different scope and you should apply only if your project fits a specific competition scope.

The aim of this feasibility award is to explore and evaluate the commercial potential of innovative scientific ideas by:

  • reviewing research evidence and identifying possible applications
  • assessing business opportunities
  • investigating the intellectual property position
  • validating initial concepts or existing pre-clinical work through experimental studies
  • identifying areas for further development

We will support projects from any sector or discipline including (but not limited to):

  • stratified healthcare (both therapy and diagnostic components)
  • regenerative medicine
  • diagnostics
  • enabling medical technologies and devices

Related competition

Not right for your project? We’re also running a digital health technology catalyst 2017.
31 July 2017
Competition opens
1 August 2017
Briefing event - watch the recording.
8 September 2017
Competition briefing Alderley Edge.
11 October 2017 12:00pm
Competition closes
21 December 2017 9:33am
Applicants notified

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 take part 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 SMEs, research organisations, public sector organisations or charities.

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

Research organisations

Research organisations may take part in applications as collaborators. The level of total research participation is set at a maximum of 50% of total eligible project costs.

If there is more than one research organisation taking part in the project, they must share the maximum 50% of eligible costs between them. By research organisation we mean a:

  • university
  • non-profit distributing research and technology organisation
  • Catapult centre
  • public sector research establishment
  • Research Council institute
  • charity
  • public sector organisation undertaking research

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

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. 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.

It should cover, in brief:

  • the technological challenge, business need and market opportunity that you are addressing
  • the technical subject matter of work packages planned and the deliverables for this project (to allow us to select assessors with expertise in the type of work you have planned)
  • assuming successful completion of this project, what are the next steps?

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. If your project is not in scope it will not be eligible for funding. Each type of award has different scope and you should apply only if your project fits this specific competition 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 business need, technological challenge or market opportunity behind your innovation?

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

Question 2: Approach and innovation

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

  • explain how you propose to respond to the need, challenge or opportunity identified
  • explain how it will improve on the nearest current state-of-the-art identified
  • indicate where the focus of the innovation will be in the project (application of existing technologies in new areas, development of new technologies for existing areas or a disruptive approach) and evidence of freedom to operate
  • explain how this project fits with your current product/service lines/offerings
  • explain how it will make you more competitive
  • describe the nature of the outputs you expect from the project for example, report, demonstrator, patent application, know-how, new process, product or service design. How will these will take you closer to targeting the need, challenge or opportunity identified?

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 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 you will need to fill

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 outline supply/value chains, 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 (licensing fees, increased revenues, cost reduction, M&A)
  • 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 the business model
  • 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 such as productivity increases and import substitution. These could be customers, others in the supply chain, the broader industry and the UK economy.

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 technical, commercial, managerial and environmental risks. Highlight the most significant ones, providing a risk register if appropriate
  • explain how you will mitigate these risks
  • 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 that 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 your application is unsuccessful)
  • explain how this project would change the nature of R&D activity that you (and any partners) would undertake. How would it impact on your R&D spending?

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 amount of grant you are requesting 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.

Background and further information

The biomedical catalyst is a partnership between Innovate UK and the Medical Research Council (MRC). It provides responsive and effective support to the most innovative life sciences opportunities regardless of scientific approach.

The catalyst evolved from the 2011 Life Sciences Industrial Strategy. It aims to de-risk innovative scientific ideas arising out of academia and industry. In this way it helps UK SMEs to develop into competitive and sustainable organisations to:

  • speed up the progress of novel products to market
  • support onward investment
  • bridge the 'valley of death' - the stage of development of an innovation where it is difficult to get private sector funding

An independent evaluation in 2015 confirmed that the biomedical catalyst is already achieving its goals by:

  • providing support to both academic and commercially-led research and development in a seamless, effective and efficient way (with at least 40% of supported companies originating in UK academia and many others with in-licensed academic intellectual property)
  • encouraging UK economic growth and leveraged investment into the healthcare and life sciences sectors (supported projects leveraged over £120 million of private funding against grant funding over the first 8 competition rounds)
  • delivering innovative life sciences products and services more quickly and effectively into healthcare, for example, through first-in-human studies

In autumn 2016, the government allocated £100 million to continue funding the catalyst for a further 4 years.

Innovate UK, the MRC and Scottish Enterprise fund biomedical catalyst awards.

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

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