Funding competition UK-China collaboration to tackle antimicrobial resistance

UK researchers can apply for a share of up to £10 million for joint projects with Chinese partners to tackle antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

This competition is now closed.

Register and apply online

Competition sections


The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) is working with Innovate UK to invest up to £10 million of Official Development Assistance (ODA) funding. This will be in bilateral research and development (R&D) projects between the UK and China. The funding will address the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

This competition is for innovative projects that support the development and, where appropriate, clinical evaluation of new products or services. These products or services must be of value in addressing the threat from AMR. The Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST) will invest up to 60 million RMB to fund the Chinese partners.

UK applicants must demonstrate that projects are primarily and directly relevant to the needs of people in low and middle income countries (LMICs), including China, as defined by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). There must be a clear economic and societal benefit to LMICs from their proposed project.

Funding type


Project size

We expect total UK project costs of between £850,000 and £1.2 million, giving rise to a total UK grant of no more than £750,000. Projects can last up to 36 months.

Who can apply

To lead a project in the UK you must be a UK based business, and can be any size.

UK partnerships must:

  • make sure that at least 20% of the overall UK project costs are incurred by one business or more
  • comply with ODA guidelines

Your consortium must conduct the project in the UK and China, and contain at least:

  • one UK based business
  • one UK academic or research organisation
  • one business based in mainland China
  • one academic or research organisation based in mainland China

Chinese organisations or businesses must be established with corporate capacity within the mainland of the People’s Republic of China.

The research organisations in your consortium may share up to 80% of the total eligible project costs.


DHSC has allocated up to £10 million to fund the UK side of innovation projects, as part of the Global AMR Innovation Fund.

DHSC will provide up to £750,000 to be shared between the UK members of each consortium.

MoST will provide up to 5 million RMB to be shared between the Chinese members of each consortium.

Projects are expected to be equal partnerships between the UK and Chinese members of a consortium.

Your proposal

The aim of this competition is to create innovative projects that would not be possible in the same timeframe without the expertise of one another.

We will only fund projects that address one of the following:

1. Explore opportunities from traditional chinese medicine (TCM) for the treatment and/or prevention of infectious diseases in humans and/or animals. The infection being addressed must constitute a significant threat to human health. Improved food security alone will not be sufficient to satisfy the scope requirement.

  • combine the use of antibiotics with TCM, herbal medicines and botanicals. A small-scale clinical trial must be included in the project proposal. It should explore the synergy between the use of existing antibiotics. It can include drug repurposing, and TCM agents and practice
  • screen and evaluate the active components of TCM herbal remedies and botanicals against bacteria. Sensitising drug resistant bacteria to standard antibiotic regimes will be in scope

2. Advance the discovery of new agents, including small molecule drugs, vaccines, antibodies and other biological products. These agents must be to prevent and/or treat drug resistant bacterial infections in humans and livestock. This includes poultry, and all animals reared for human consumption, provided the second bullet point is fulfilled

  • for small molecules, new drug candidates must have a novel mechanism of action and structure
  • the infection being addressed must constitute a significant threat to human health as a link to improved food security alone will not meet the competition scope

3. Identify new agents that will increase the feed energy conversion in livestock without using antibiotics or hormones.

4. Using modelling and prospective and retrospective clinical studies, maximise the clinical utility of current antibiotics. Focus especially on those against drug resistant Gram-negative bacteria. Projects must aim to improve the prognosis of patients with extensively drug resistant infections.

5. Improve diagnostic capabilities for the diagnosis, treatment selection and surveillance of bacterial infections and antibacterial resistance.

It is important that you include, or at least work closely with, those who will be commissioning, delivering and using the tests to ensure that target product profiles are fit for purpose. This is important in this competition and particularly for the first and second bullet points.

  • the development of rapid diagnostic capabilities (including point-of-care systems, pen-side testing in animals and self testing in humans). Can be for use in primary care, secondary care, the community or home, and on the animal side in the field or abattoir. Laboratory based tests will be in scope with justification that the time to result has clinical utility
  • the development of improved diagnostic tools suitable for global surveillance. These can be high throughput laboratory based tests or other
  • the identification of new diagnostic biomarkers for distinguishing between bacterial and viral infection and/or determining antibiotic sensitivity. Applicants should note that identifying and validating the candidate biomarkers is the main challenge in this competition. The term biomarker is used in the broadest sense, and includes any physical or biological measurement and their combination in complex algorithms

Specific themes

Examples of in scope projects include but are not limited to:

  • opportunities from combining TCM with antibiotics which reduce side effects (including the impact on the microbiome), improve efficacy at lower antibiotic doses, and prevent drug resistant infection in high-risk immunocompromised patient cohorts
  • screening and evaluating TCM fractions for activity against bacteria
  • developing methods, including in-silico modelling techniques, for the evaluation and assessment of new targets
  • developing an integrated automated system capable of detecting 20 pathogens with their drug resistant profiles and identifying the major subtypes within 2 hours
  • optimising and evaluating clinical drug regimens for the treatment of carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriacae and extensively drug resistant Acinetobacter baumannii infections by appropriate pharmacodynamics, pharmacokinetics, and prospective and retrospective clinical studies
  • developing a point-of-use system for animals at the penside and/or abattoir

Project types

Your project must predominantly focus on industrial research. We will consider projects that have work packages with elements of experimental development.

For industrial research, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

  • up to 70% 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
  • up to 100% (80% of full economic costs) if you are a university or other higher education institution (HEI)
  • up to 100% if you are another type of research organisation undertaking non-economic activity

For experimental development work packages, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

  • up to 45% 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
  • up to 100% (80% of full economic costs) if you are a university or other HEI
  • up to 100% if you are another type of research organisation undertaking non-economic activity

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

Project leads

A Chinese registered organisation project lead (CPL), leading the Chinese part of the project and communicating with the UK project lead. The CPL can be a business, research organisation (RO) or academic organisation (AO). The collaboration must be led by organisations in China whose primary focus is on the translation and commercialisation of research and/or knowledge. This competition is not about funding basic research.

A UK project lead (UKPL), who is a UK registered business. They must lead the UK side of the project and communicate with the China project lead. This competition is not about funding basic research. We expect the UKPL organisation to build strong relations between UK stakeholders and Chinese stakeholders. This will deliver market-based solutions. We are looking for longer-term collaborations with partner countries.

Projects we won't fund

We will not fund projects that do not meet the ODA eligibility criteria. Details are given in the guidance for applicants. In addition, the following will be out of scope:

  • antimicrobial resistance (AMR) that does not address antibacterial resistance (ABR)
  • tuberculosis
  • ABR in companion animals and wildlife animal populations
  • aquaculture
  • ABR in animals where there is no clear link to human health, and the link to food security alone will not be sufficient
  • ABR in the environment, including water and soil
  • TCM outside the use of herbal medicines and botanicals, such as acupuncture and cupping techniques
  • digital health, including m-health and the development of apps, although connectivity as part of a diagnostic system is in scope, including for surveillance
  • surveillance, although the development of improved tools for surveillance is in scope

3 April 2018
Competition opens
18 April 2018
Applicant webinar. Watch the recording.
2 May 2018
KTN partnering webinar.
30 May 2018 12:00pm
Registration closes
6 June 2018 12:00pm
Competition closes
1 November 2018
Applicants notified
1 January 2019
Project start.

Before you start

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

To apply:

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

External, independent experts will assess the quality your application. We will then select the projects to fund, building a portfolio of projects that:

  • are high quality
  • address the range of themes as described in the scope
  • represent the potential for return on investment for the company and the UK

Subject to meeting the quality threshold, we reserve the right to manage the portfolio to achieve the correct balance of projects and funding.

A joint selection meeting will be held between China (Ministry of Science and Technology) and UK government (represented by Innovate UK and DHSC) to discuss and priotitise the funding of projects that have met the quality threshold.

Please use Microsoft Word. If you use Google Docs or any other open source software your application will be ineligible.

Research organisations

Research organisations may participate in applications as collaborators.

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

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

Applications to MoST

The Chinese partners in your consortium will apply separately according to MoST’s website guidance when it is launched. For further information on the MoST application process, please encourage your Chinese consortium partners to contact MoST directly when the Chinese guidance is launched.

Background and further information

The UK government published its Final Report and Recommendations of the review of antimicrobial resistance in 2016. This acknowledged that a substantial and extended research effort is needed to address the emergence and spread of AMR, and to speed up the development of new antimicrobials and technologies. It has been estimated that failure to tackle drug resistant infections will lead to at least 10 million extra deaths a year worldwide, and cost the global economy up to USD $100 trillion by 2050.

In 2016, the Chinese central government announced that it would mobilise the efforts of 14 ministries and departments, including health, food and drugs, and agriculture, as part of a national action plan to tackle AMR.

Drug resistant forms of a diverse range of common pathogens now exist. More concerning is the level of multidrug resistance that is emerging. Multidrug resistant gram-negative bacteria such as Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Klebsiella pneumoniae and Escherichia coli, pose a significant threat and could render certain respiratory tract, urinary tract and sexually transmitted infections untreatable in the future.

If you need more information, contact the competition helpline on 0300 321 4357 or email us at

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