Leading-edge healthcare challenge

Serum processing for the COVID-19 vaccine

The leading-edge healthcare challenge, with a funding investment of £181 million in total, focuses on accelerating the development and manufacture of new medicines and treatments. The challenge includes two research programmes:

  • Medicines Manufacturing
  • Digital Health Technology Catalyst.

Our funding opportunities within these challenges may fund research and development projects that are classed as feasibility studies, industrial research or experimental development.

For feasibility studies and industrial research projects, the following intervention rates may apply:

  • up to 70% if you are a micro or small organisation
  • up to 60% if you are a medium-sized organisation
  • up to 50% if you are a large organisation

For experimental development projects which are nearer to market, the following intervention rates may apply:

  • up to 45% if you are a micro or small organisation
  • up to 35% if you are a medium-sized organisation
  • up to 25% if you are a large organisation

Capital costs may be funded through some funding opportunities with intervention rates of up to 80%.

Medicines Manufacturing programme

This programme includes four major infrastructure projects:

  • the UK’s first national Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre, which will focus on small molecule and pharmaceutical manufacturing, speeding the development of next-generation medicines, and increasing technology opportunities within the medicines supply chain
  • the Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre, which will focus on manufacturing processes, training and expertise, as well as emergency response capability for the UK government
  • three Advanced Therapy Treatment Centres using new cell and gene therapies to develop advanced therapy medicinal products for patients
  • the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult manufacturing centre, which provides facilities and expertise to encourage the development and commercial production of cell and gene therapy products, working with businesses and researchers.

UK businesses can get funding through Medicines Manufacturing collaborative research and development funding competitions. These support research and innovation projects that improve manufacturing, scale up production and lower costs.

Additionally, the programme includes a £25 million fund for collaborative research and development in medicines manufacturing, which was set up in 2017 to run for four years. Aims included:

  • improving commercial viability
  • developing methods for scale-up
  • increasing the process yield
  • lowering the cost of production.

Read more about business funding opportunities and networking.

Digital Health Technology Catalyst

This £35 million fund was set up in 2017 and will run for four years.

It aims to address challenges in the development of digital health innovations and to grow the digital health sector.

Project case study: Biotech startup launches app to help people with type 1 diabetes dose insulin (Cambridge Network)

Last updated: 23 February 2023

This is the website for UKRI: our seven research councils, Research England and Innovate UK.
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