Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Accelerating the medicines revolution outline: large grants

Apply for funding to revolutionise the development and manufacture of future medicines. We will fund a diverse portfolio of projects that bring transformative ideas to solve bottlenecks across the pipeline, from discovery to deployment. Proposals must address the grand challenge of delivering an accelerated, sustainable pathway to future medicines.

We encourage interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary projects. You must consider manufacturability from the outset.

You must be based at a UK research organisation eligible for EPSRC funding.

The full economic cost of your project can be up to £2,500,000. EPSRC will fund 80% of the full economic cost (£2,000,000).

Projects can last up to three years in duration.

The full proposal stage of this funding opportunity is likely to run on the UKRI Funding Service, our new funding platform, rather than via Je-S. The exact full application requirements and assessment criteria may alter from what is currently published.

This is one of two linked opportunities. There is a separate funding opportunity for smaller feasibility studies and translational projects.

Who can apply

Standard EPSRC eligibility rules apply. Research grants are open to:

  • UK higher education institutions
  • research council institutes
  • UK Research and Innovation-approved independent research organisations
  • eligible public sector research establishments
  • eligible research and technology organisations
  • NHS bodies with research capacity

Check if your institution is eligible for funding.

You can apply if you are a resident in the UK and meet at least one of the conditions:

  • are employed at the submitting research organisation at a level equivalent to lecturer or above
  • hold a fixed-term contract that extends beyond the duration of the proposed project, and the host research organisation is prepared to give you all the support normal for a permanent employee
  • hold an EPSRC, Royal Society or Royal Academy of Engineering fellowship aimed at later career stages
  • hold fellowships under other schemes (please contact EPSRC to check eligibility, which is considered on a case-by-case basis)

Holders of postdoctoral level fellowships are not eligible to apply for an EPSRC grant.

Submissions to this funding opportunity will not count towards the EPSRC repeatedly unsuccessful applicants policy.

If you are currently restricted under the repeatedly unsuccessful applicants policy, you may submit unlimited outlines. However, you will only be able to submit one full proposal as principal investigator or co-investigator during the 12-month restricted period.

What we're looking for

Scope

We are seeking high-quality proposals that will draw on novel multidisciplinary engineering and physical sciences to address key bottlenecks in the medicines manufacturing pipeline. From discovery to deployment, proposals will facilitate a revolution by delivering a step change in how future medicines are developed and manufactured.

EPSRC’s strategic delivery plan highlights an ambition for more sustainable, resilient and productive manufacturing solutions across sectors.

The new EPSRC strategy for health has identified specific priorities including: resilient manufacturing through improving UK capability in developing and manufacturing new medicines and interventions, and delivering these more rapidly and sustainably. This encompasses:

  • research to accelerate the time taken from discovery to deployment of new interventions
  • scale-up technologies that allow future medicines to be manufactured in an affordable way that meets safety and environmental requirements
  • research to understand and address the manufacturing challenges for novel therapies from small molecules to cell or regenerative medicine therapies
  • processes that will be capable of cost-effective scale-up to enable mass production of medicines, for example, to tackle epidemics. It could also include processes that will be capable of scale-down to produce personalised medicines, such as regenerative therapies using patients’ own cells

This is one of two linked opportunities. There is a separate funding opportunity for smaller feasibility studies and translational projects. Together, the two funding opportunities will help us to support a diverse range of ideas and new collaborations.

Vaccines manufacturing is outside the scope of this funding opportunity.

Objectives of the funding opportunity

Proposals should address one or more of the following objectives:

  • create a more efficient translational pathway for medicines manufacturing
  • deliver new medicines more sustainably
  • accelerate the time from discovery to deployment
  • ensure manufacturability, including scale-up and the needs of users, is considered from the outset of the process of new medicines discovery
  • create the engineering and physical science knowledge, skills and workforce to take forward future breakthroughs in the medicines pipelines
  • be multidisciplinary programmes utilising expertise across disciplines that could cover multiple research areas in any parts of the pipeline from innovative chemistry to novel manufacturing techniques

Themes

We are looking for proposals to incorporate one or more of the below themes into the wider application:

  • new modalities:
    • sustainable solutions to scale up production of new modalities
    • technologies to consider scale up of new modalities at the outset of drug design
  • discovery:
    • techniques to improve understanding of drug screening to ensure higher success rates for scale up
  • analytical capability:
    • analytical techniques for new modalities to predict performance in the clinic, scale up or both

We expect environmental sustainability to be a consideration in all projects.

Proposals are expected to have engaged with, or considered an engagement plan with non-academic partners, for example, industry and regulatory authorities to facilitate upstream or downstream adoption where appropriate.

EPSRC will reject proposals that do not fall within the funding opportunity scope. Ideas must be within the majority remit of EPSRC.

Funding available

We will fund research projects up to £2 million in this funding opportunity. Another opportunity linked to this funding opportunity which will fund smaller projects up to £150,000, including feasibility studies to test new ideas or translational projects to maximise the impact of prior research will follow the publication of this funding opportunity. There is a combined total of £12.5 million for both streams.

EPSRC reserve the right to manage allocated funding between this and the subsequent feasibility grants opportunity.

We will fund 80% of the full economic cost of your project. Our contribution may be up to £2 million.

We do not expect to see large changes in requested resources from outline to full proposal. Significant changes to the bid, and therefore the proposal that was invited in by the outline meeting, will be considered a new proposal and thus ineligible for the second stage. The full application should not differ from the outline by more than plus or minus 10%.

Start date

Grants may start from 1 April 2024.

Equipment

Equipment up to £400,000 is available through this funding opportunity. All equipment should be fully justified and essential to the mission of the investment. Smaller items of equipment (individually under £10,000) should be in the ‘Directly Incurred – Other Costs’ heading. It is expected the majority of the funding will go towards research activities.

EPSRC approach to equipment funding.

Responsible innovation

You are expected to work within the EPSRC framework for responsible innovation.

International collaboration

Applicants planning to include international collaborators on their proposal should visit Trusted Research for guidance on getting the most out of international collaboration while protecting intellectual property, sensitive research and personal information.

How to apply

Expression of interest

To help EPSRC plan for this funding opportunity, you are requested to submit an expression of interest by 12 May 2023 at 4:00pm UK time. This is not mandatory and will not be assessed.

Complete your expression of interest.

Information provided in the expression of interest stage may change prior to submission of the outline proposal.

Outline application

To submit your outline application, you must apply using the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system.

You can find advice on completing your application in:

We recommend you start your application early.

Your host organisation will also be able to provide advice and guidance.

Submitting your application

Before starting an application, you will need to log in or create an account in Je-S.

When applying:

  1. Select ‘documents’, then ‘new document’.
  2. Select ‘call search’.
  3. To find the opportunity, search for: EPSRC Accelerating the Medicines Revolution Outline – Large Grants.

This will populate:

  • council: EPSRC
  • document type: Outline proposal
  • scheme: Outline
  • call/type/mode: EPSRC Accelerating the Medicines Revolution Outline – Large Grants

Once you have completed your application, make sure you ‘submit document’.

You can save completed details in Je-S at any time and return to continue your application later.

If successful at the outline stage, you will be invited to submit a full application. We will send you guidance on completing a full application at this next stage.

The invited full proposal stage of this opportunity is likely to run on the Funding Service, our new funding platform, rather than through Je-S.

The Funding Service has a digital form-based format. This means that the exact application requirements and assessment criteria may alter from what is currently published. Further information will be published in the full proposal funding opportunity.

Deadline

EPSRC must receive your application by 7 June 2023 at 4:00pm UK time.

You will not be able to apply after this time. Please leave enough time for your proposal to pass through your organisation’s Je-S submission route before this date.

You should ensure you are aware of and follow any internal institutional deadlines that may be in place.

Attachments

You should attach your documents as PDFs to avoid errors. They should be completed in single-spaced Arial 11 font or similar-sized sans serif typeface. EPSRC will not accept any other attachment types under this opportunity.

Read our advice on writing proposals for EPSRC funding.

Research

Your application must also include the following attachments:

  • case for support (four pages) to include the following:
    • the project vision and scientific case
    • the feasibility of study and translation or manufacturability
    • the expertise and balance of skills in the team, including project partners
  • cover letter (optional attachment, no page limit, not seen by peer review)

Your application must make clear how your project fits the scope of the funding opportunity.

Ethical information

EPSRC will not fund a project if it believes that there are ethical concerns that have been overlooked or not appropriately accounted for. All relevant parts of the ‘ethical information’ section must be completed.

Guidance on completing ethical information on the Je-S form.

EPSRC guidance can be found under ‘additional information’.

How we will assess your application

Stage one

Assessment Process

This will be a two-stage assessment process and this outline funding opportunity is stage one.

At stage one, we are looking for applications that are a good fit for the funding opportunity. You should seek to address the objectives as set out in the scope detailed in ‘what we’re looking for’ section in a novel and transformative way. Any outline proposals EPSRC consider to be outside the scope of the funding opportunity, or not primarily within the remit of EPSRC, will be rejected prior to assessment, without recourse to an expert panel. Outline proposals that meet the scope will be assessed by an outline panel in accordance with the assessment criteria. The expertise of the panel members will be relevant to this funding opportunity.

Applicants who are successful at stage one will be invited to submit full proposals to stage two. At stage two, full proposals will be assessed by postal peer review, followed by a prioritisation panel.

Following the panels, EPSRC will draw on expert advice on the desirable balance of applications across the portfolio taking into consideration the themes set out in the scope.

In the event of this opportunity being substantially oversubscribed as to be unmanageable, EPSRC reserves the right to modify the assessment process.

Assessment criteria

Fit to opportunity (primary)

This includes:

  • how the project addresses one or more of the core themes and fits the scope of the opportunity
  • the novelty and transformative nature of the project

Applicant and partnerships (secondary)

This includes:

  • how the applicants will work across and bring disciplines together to ensure the project achieves a result greater than the sum of its parts
  • how the applicants will engage and co-create with relevant project partners to ensure research addresses user-defined challenges

Stage two assessment criteria

The full assessment criteria may be subject to change and will be published in full in the stage two funding opportunity document.

For the second stage the assessment criteria headings will be as follows.

Vision

What are you hoping to achieve with your proposed work?

Approach

How are you going to deliver your proposed work?

Applicant and team capability to deliver

Using the principles of Résumé for Research and Innovation (R4RI) write a narrative demonstrating you and your team’s ability to successfully deliver the proposal.

Resources and cost justification

What will you need to deliver your proposed work and how much will it cost?

Ethics and responsible research and innovation

What are the ethical and responsible research and innovation considerations of the proposed work?

Feedback

No feedback will be provided at the outline stage unless specifically requested by the panel.

Contact details

Get help with developing your proposal

For help and advice on costings and writing your proposal please contact your research office in the first instance, allowing sufficient time for your organisation’s submission process.

Ask about this funding opportunity

Healthcare mailbox: healthcare@epsrc.ukri.org

We aim to reply within five working days. Please include ‘Medicines revolution’ in the subject line.

Get help with applying through Je-S

Email

jeshelp@je-s.ukri.org

Telephone

01793 444164

Opening times

Je-S helpdesk opening times

Additional info

Links to wider programme or area

Find information about our future manufacturing research hubs, which are critical mass investments supporting the commercialisation of early stage research opportunities in emerging areas for the benefit of UK manufacturing industries. Hubs in areas potentially relevant to this funding opportunity include:

  • Future Targeted Healthcare Manufacturing Hub
  • Future Continuous Manufacturing and Advanced Crystallisation Research Hub (CMAC)
  • Future Biomanufacturing Research Hub

Background

As shown by COVID-19, the UK’s ability to respond to new diseases and health risks is largely dependent on the excellence of our science and the agility of our academic and industrial base.

Currently, the timeline for discovery of new medicines through to approval is too long, uncertain, costly and unsustainable to meet our future needs. Our ambition is to revolutionise the UK’s resilience to emerging health threats by transforming the manufacturing pipeline to deliver a step change in the supply of new medicines.

Through ensuring a focus on manufacturability from the outset, and bringing together expertise from all stages along the pipeline, we hope to facilitate a much more efficient and sustainable pathway for medicines manufacturing.

Research funded through the funding opportunity will contribute to delivering EPSRC’s transforming health and healthcare priority, as described in our strategic delivery plan, which commits to enabling a more sustainable and resilient healthcare system, integrating manufacturing across scales.

The opportunity also contributes to the UKRI strategic themes in:

  • health, ageing and wellbeing: by advancing people’s health and promoting wellbeing
  • tackling infections: by accelerating new therapeutics
  • building a secure and resilient world: by enhancing national preparedness for risks and threats across the supply chain
  • building a green future: by delivering a more sustainable pathway to deployment for new medicines

Successful UK manufacturing sectors are fundamental to economic growth, prosperity and competitiveness. They also improve the resilience and security of UK supplies and are key to achieving environmental and sustainability targets. However, the sector needs to be innovative to compete on a global scale, including meeting UK net zero targets and addressing UN Sustainable Development Goals.

UK Research and Innovation’s environmental sustainability strategy further lays out our ambition to actively lead environmental sustainability across our sector. This includes a vision to ensure that all major investment and funding decisions we make are directly informed by environmental sustainability, recognising environmental benefits as well as potential for environmental harm. As such, you should consider your approach and the potential impacts upon sustainability throughout the development of your programme of work.

Grant additional conditions

Additional grant conditions will be specified at the second stage of the funding opportunity.

Responsible innovation

EPSRC is fully committed to develop and promote responsible innovation. Research has the ability to not only produce understanding, knowledge and value, but also unintended consequences, questions, ethical dilemmas and, at times, unexpected social transformations.

We recognise that we have a duty of care to promote approaches to responsible innovation that will initiate ongoing reflection about the potential ethical and societal implications of the research that we sponsor and to encourage our research community to do likewise.

Supporting documents

Equality impact assessment guidance and template (DOCX, 51KB)

Updates

  • 6 June 2023
    Updated the full economic cost from £2,000,000 to £2,500,000. EPSRC will fund 80% of the full economic cost (£2,000,000).

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