Funding competition Establishing a UK vaccines development and manufacturing centre

UK-based organisations can apply for up to £66 million to build and establish a national vaccines development and manufacturing centre.

This competition is now closed.

Register and apply online

Competition sections


Innovate UK is to invest up to £66 million capital funding to build and establish a good manufacturing practice (GMP) capable UK national vaccines development and manufacturing centre. We aim to address the UK’s structural gap in late-stage vaccine manufacturing process development. This will allow the development and manufacture of vaccines for clinical trials and, at moderate scale, for an emergency plan in case of epidemic threats to our population.

We are seeking proposals from UK organisations to lead the delivery of a new technology and innovation centre. This will focus on the development and manufacturing of new vaccines.

The centre will be based in the UK. It will have a primary focus on new vaccines and a secondary focus on the manufacture of viral vectors (gene transfers). These will be used in the development of advanced therapy medicinal products (ATMPs). It will support their development and commercialisation, as well as the underpinning technologies for their manufacture, quality control, safety and efficacy. The centre must aim to increase UK wealth by effectively commercialising such medicines and helping address companies’ and researchers’ training needs.

This competition will award funding under the government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

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

Funding type


Project size

Capital funding of up to £66 million is available to establish the vaccines centre.

Find out if you are eligible to apply

To lead a project you must:

  • be a UK based business, RTO, or not for profit company
  • have experience in vaccine development and manufacture
  • carry out your project in the UK
  • be able to clearly demonstrate the current state aid proposition that your proposal follows, and how it satisfies this regulation
All projects must include consortium partners drawn from industry and academia, but only the lead partner can claim grant.

Projects that we won't fund

In this competition we are not funding projects covering:

  • manufacture and development of recombinant protein or peptide vaccines produced using bacteria or yeast as protein production systems
  • manufacture of established vaccines with existing marketing authorisation

Funding and project details

We have allocated up to £66 million to fund the capital costs of building and establishing a vaccine development and manufacturing centre based in a single location.

We will assess whether proposals are value for money. You should request the minimum amount of grant funding you need.

You will need to find minimum baseline running costs (estimated to be around £5 million a year) and variable operating costs according to defined programmes of work. Your application must provide evidence of this matched funding.

Your project should focus on investment aid for research infrastructures. Support given for construction or upgrade of research infrastructures that perform economic activities is considered to be state aid and is limited to 50% of the investment costs. Read the worked example on page 18 of the State Aid General Block Exemption Guidance, especially if you are a research organisation.

You can apply for funding for your eligible project costs of:

  1. Up to 50% if you are a business of any size.
  2. Up to 100% if you are a non-profit distributing research organisation. You must demonstrate how the facility will be co-funded, where the co-funding will come from and what funding you have in place for when this Innovate UK grant funding stops

Grant spend must be completed before April 2021.

Project types

We will give priority to proposals that:

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

You must show that your project will be compliant with all relevant general State Aid regulations.

Competition scope

The aim of this competition is to build and establish a new UK vaccines centre.

The centre will:

  • develop manufacturing processes
  • manufacture advanced, highly efficient vaccine and vaccine-like medicines using mammalian cell culture
  • be a physical centre in one location that is networked into relevant centres of academic and clinical excellence in the UK and internationally
  • operate around technology readiness levels 5 to 9 and manufacture readiness levels 1 to 3. For vaccines, these are: pilot studies and market research to determine investment potential, product/technology development and validation work, and GMP manufacture of vaccines for clinical studies
  • provide manufacturing capacity at pilot scale volume (10 litres) and medium scale volume (50 litres)
  • provide the best expertise and advice on technologies in engineering and biomanufacture, regulation, clinical trial design, commissioning and implementation
  • provide a platform to encourage the development of vaccines and virus based vectors and associated technologies by companies and researchers
  • provide a highly visible centre that can accommodate various sized projects at the same time
  • be capable of attracting inward investment to the UK
  • have strong links to other hubs with expertise in discovery science, manufacture and clinical delivery
  • deliver training in GMP-level vaccine medicines manufacturing
  • exploit the strengths of the Research Councils, the Department of Health and devolved health directorates, and NHS investment in the research base and clinical infrastructure
  • use and help develop technologies that address the challenges of product development
  • be autonomous and able to act independently of higher education institutions and other host organisations
  • be led by an inspirational, entrepreneurial director of international standing in translation and complex programme management
  • form part of a co-ordinated investment in innovation, and will be integrated into the UK innovation system
  • complement and draw on other programmes of national investment delivered by Innovate UK and the research councils

The winning application must demonstrate that it has wide ranging cross-sector support for its proposal from:

  • original equipment manufacturers
  • supply chain partners covering all Tiers (1, 2, 3 and so on)
  • small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)
  • research and technology organisations
  • academia

As part of the funding award, the government would expect to have ‘step in rights’, which means it could take control of the facility. This would allow for the emergency manufacture of a vaccine when a disease outbreak is declared by the World Health Organisation through a Public Health Emergency of International Concern declaration. In such a situation, the government would appropriately reimburse organisations that suffered disruption as a result.

Specific competition themes

We are particularly seeking applications that:

  • show how the centre will significantly improve the capability, capacity, and opportunities available to companies and UK based researchers to develop and then trial their most promising vaccines and vaccine technologies
  • enable the UK to capture the benefits of its science and knowledge base, and support the development and the GMP production of vaccines
  • support SMEs in gaining a share of a growing high value market

12 October 2017
Competition opens
26 October 2017
Applicant briefing. Watch the recording
15 November 2017 12:00pm
Registration closes
22 November 2017 12:00pm
Competition closes
4 January 2018
Panel interview.
12 January 2018
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 consortiums to present their proposals to a panel interview and then select the consortiums to fund.

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

Vaccines prevent millions of deaths worldwide every year. Research and development in the UK is strong, but there are gaps in our ability to develop, manufacture and commercialise new vaccines and viral vectors for use in the development of ATMPs. The UK also needs to be better prepared for infectious disease outbreaks that threaten our population.

The medicines manufacturing sector produced £26 billion in exports in 2015, but there are opportunities for significant growth.

This competition is part of a £146 million investment over 4 years under the government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. This investment will support the 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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