Funding competition Establishing a UK medicines manufacturing innovation centre

UK-based organisations can apply for up to £13 million to establish a national medicines manufacturing and innovation centre.

This competition is now closed.

Register and apply online

Competition sections


Innovate UK is to invest up to £13 million towards the capital costs of establishing a UK medicines manufacturing and innovation centre (MMIC). The entire cost of the centre is estimated to be £56 million. Proposals need to get the additional funding from other sources.

The centre will focus on small-molecule manufacturing to deliver a significant change in UK productivity. It will allow companies to undertake work from applied research through to initial commercialisation (technology readiness levels 5 to 9+). Small and medium enterprises (SMEs), who would otherwise have no access to such facilities, will have access to the technology to develop viable manufacturing processes to produce their products at scale.

UK organisations should propose to lead the delivery of a new technology and innovation centre for small-molecule-pharmaceutical and fine-chemical manufacturing processes. The investment will be funded under the government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

The project should last up to 3 years and must start by 1 February 2018.

Funding type


Project size

Total project costs can be up to £56 million

Find out if you are eligible to apply

To lead a project you must:

  • be a UK-based not for profit company limited by guarantee, or research and technology organisation
  • have experience in small-molecule-pharmaceutical or fine-chemical manufacture

Projects that we won’t fund

In this competition we are not funding a project covering:

  • manufacturing processes for medicines that are not small-molecule pharmaceuticals
  • well established, routine and standard manufacturing processes

Funding and project details

We have allocated up to £13 million towards the cost of establishing a medicines manufacturing innovation centre through this competition. We expect total project costs to be up to £56 million so additional sources are required to provide extra funding.

Proposals should provide evidence of matched funding from alternative sources. Innovate UK funding will require the successful consortium to acquire at least three-fold matched funding from industry and other sources.

Your project should focus on investment aid for research infrastructures. If you are a not-for-profit company or RTO and you are leading the project you can apply for funding support up to 100% of your eligible project costs. You must demonstrate how the co-funded investment in the facility will be contributed after the project.

Business and academic parters should be included in your consortium but they will not be able to claim grant.

The successful application must show that the project will be compliant with all relevant general State Aid regulations.

Project types

We will give priority to proposals that:

  • have the capability to deliver in the timescale
  • can demonstrate a well-established consortium
  • can demonstrate they are able to co-fund
  • have existing capabilities in the relevant product and process technology areas

Competition scope

The centre will provide industry and academics with access to technical equipment and knowledge. This will support them to collaborate and incorporate new technologies and processes to increase productivity in medicines manufacturing.

Ultimately the centre should increase the adoption of emerging and novel manufacturing technologies. It should also transform fine-chemical or pharmaceutical manufacturing by:

  • creating a physical infrastructure
  • creating capability for radical and disruptive innovation and translation in the areas of fine-chemical or pharmaceutical manufacturing
  • creating a focal point to co-ordinate and drive the UK’s fine-chemical or pharmaceutical manufacturing innovation by working with relevant specialists
  • providing a collaborative support structure for SMEs and start-ups to innovate and grow
  • providing thought leadership to the UK fine chemical or pharmaceutical innovation community
  • integrating activities from research to commercialisation
  • providing a facility that meets current good manufacturing practice standards and can prove the viability of production methods to the required standard
  • working with all partners across UK and international research and manufacturing, including related Catapults, centres of innovative manufacturing, research centres, centres for doctoral training, and businesses, particularly SMEs and start-ups
  • providing a focus for inward investment to the UK
  • acting as a hub around which companies, both small and large, can base themselves, supporting a pharmaceutical supply chain and innovation cluster
  • helping SMEs to demonstrate their technologies and benefits to the marketplace
  • contributing to the training and development of the future workforce for academia and industry, including scientists, engineers, technicians and regulatory auditors
  • offering cross-sector learning and knowledge transfer between partners across the innovation supply chain
12 October 2017
Competition opens
24 October 2017
Online applicant briefing.
1 November 2017 12:00pm
Registration closes
8 November 2017 12:00pm
Competition closes
24 November 2017
Applicants invited to interview.
12 December 2017
21 December 2017
Applicants notified

Before you start

To apply:

We will not accept late submissions. Your application is confidential.

External, independent experts will assess the quality your application. We will invite selected consortiums to present their proposals to a panel interview and then select the consortiums to fund.

Please use Microsoft Word where possible. If you complete your application using Google Docs or any other open source software, this can be incompatible with the application form. This means that the usual restrictions on page length and font size are removed. If this happens, your application will not be eligible. If you have difficulties with your application form, please contact us

Read the general guidance for applicants carefully before you apply. It will help your chances of submitting a quality application.

Background and further information

Manufacturing is a key element of the UK economy.The manufacture of pharmaceutical products accounted for 9% of the manufacturing economy in 2013. The sector has a turnover of £32 billion and invests £4.1 billion in research and development (R&D).

We have more than 1300 companies involved in medicines manufacturing. The direct gross value added per UK employee is greater than £150,000, and the sector produced £26 billion in exports in 2015.However, the sector impact has declined, with real gross value added declining by about 19% between 2008 and 2013, to £11.6 billion, in the midst of the global corporate restructuring of the industry, the ‘patent cliff’ and declining returns to R&D spending.

The MMIC aims to reverse this decline, by delivering radical improvements in productivity, through the introduction of new disruptive technologies across the pharma supply chain. This will increase UK competitiveness and productivity, and position the UK to manufacture the next generation of new small molecule drug products. This will lead to further growth in manufacturing jobs and exports in this sector.

Many potential medicines are being developed by SMEs. Establishing the MMIC will provide significant opportunities for SMEs with limited manufacturing capacity or experience to develop efficient processes and to compete globally.

The centre will form part of a co-ordinated investment in innovation, and will be integrated into the UK innovation system. It will complement and draw on other programmes of national investment delivered by Innovate UK and the research councils.

This competition is part of a £146 million investment over 4 years under the government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund to support development of technologies and facilities for the manufacture of innovative medicines.

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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