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Funding opportunities

The investment ecosystem has matured in recent years, with a wider range of different types of investor funding opportunities available to the biotech sector. It’s crucial to your business’, and a key priority for us to continue campaigning for.

Click on the buttons below and find out more about funds that are currently open.


The Science and Technologies Facilities Council (STFC) has launched the Bridging for Innovators (B4I) programme to assist industry in improving productivity. This Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) programme is designed to help companies overcome difficult manufacturing or process performance issues by utilising STFC’s cutting-edge large-scale science facilities.

Through STFC’s Bridging for Innovators programme, you will be able to access unique laboratories and engage with world class researchers. Working closely with these scientists you will develop projects that will address your specific challenge and help you make a step-change to your business.

See more here

British Heart Foundation launched a new £30m global cardiovascular challenge, called ‘The Big Beat Challenge'

The BHF are challenging teams to solve some of the biggest challenges in cardiovascular and circulatory disease by leveraging expertise from across the STEM community. Participating teams applying to take part must be international and multidisciplinary in nature - full criteria can be viewed here.

Organisations can apply for a share of £2 million to tackle 3 challenges that help to replace, refine or reduce use of animals in research.

An inquisitive white rat in a cage via Kirill Kurashov at Shutterstock
There are 3 challenges each seeking alternatives to using animals in experiments.

The National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs) and its sponsors have £2 million to invest in a series of challenges to reduce the use of animals in experiments.

NC3Rs is an independent scientific organisation that supports UK scientists in finding ways to replace, reduce or refine the use of animals in research.

Its CRACK IT programme invites small and medium-sized businesses and researchers to find solutions to specific challenges.

These 3 challenges are co-funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, with contributions in kind by Galvani BioelectronicsGSKMRC Harwell Institute and Sanofi Pasteur EU.

This funding competition is being delivered by Innovate UK through SBRI (the Small Business Research Initiative).

Find out more about SBRI and how it works.

2018 CRACK IT challenges

Single or 2 phases

The challenges are run in either a single phase or 2 phases.

Single-phase challenges involve less research and mainly focus on the validation of new technologies.

Two-phase challenges require significant funding and can include research, development and validation of new technologies.


The aim of this 2-phase challenge is to develop an in vitro model of the human liver for assessment of yellow fever vaccine.

Current yellow fever vaccines are assessed in macaques. Projects should overcome the lack of ‘immune competency’ in existing in vitro models.

There is up to £100,000 to fund projects lasting up to 6 months in phase 1. Up to £1 million is available in phase 2 to support projects lasting up to 3 years.


One of the biggest challenges facing scientists is the imaging of affected joints in rheumatoid arthritis. Joint pain and inflammation in animal models can only be monitored indirectly by detecting the response to external stimuli.

The aim of this 2-phase challenge is to develop a handheld imaging device to monitor the progression of rheumatoid arthritis in conscious rodents.

There is up to £100,000 to fund projects lasting up to 6 months in phase 1. Up to £750,000 is available in phase 2 to support projects lasting up to 3 years.


This single-phase challenge aims to develop an approach or device that will accurately measure individual food intake in mice housed in groups of 3 to 5.

A measurement of food intake is an indicator of general welfare and of recovery from surgery. It is also an important measurement when carrying out studies.

Accurate measurement of feeding patterns is technically challenging, particularly when mice are housed in social groups.

Up to £100,000 is available for projects lasting up to 1 year.

Competition information

  • the 3 challenges open for applications on 10 September 2018
  • the deadline for ImmuLiver and RaTS is at midday on 7 November 2018
  • the deadline for Moshers is at midday on 14 November 2018
  • any organisation that can demonstrate a route to market for its idea can apply
  • successful projects will attract 100% funded development contracts

Find out more about the ImmuLiver challenge and apply.

Find out more about the RaTS challenge and apply.

Find out more about the Moshers challenge and apply.

The UK Government will underwrite all EU funding received through Horizon 2020. Following HM Treasury’s statement on 13th August 2016, the UK Government has made the following commitment:

“UK businesses and universities should continue to bid for competitive EU funds while we remain a member of the EU and we will work with the Commission to ensure payment when funds are awarded. The Government will underwrite the payment of such awards, even when specific projects continue beyond the UK’s departure from the EU.”

This Q&A from the UK Research Office in Brussels explains what is covered by this guarantee.

KREATiS is seeking partners to develop the wider applicability of their iSafeRabbit High Accuracy QSAR (HA-QSAR) models to predict the skin and eye irritation potential of chemical substances and mixtures.

What could the Solution be used for?
Applying iSafeRabbit early in product development provides a better evaluation of the irritation potential of substances than existing in vitro approaches, enabling companies to make more informed go/no-go decisions; saving money, time and animal use, and helping industries to adapt their products and formulations accordingly. iSafeRabbit can also support inverse QSAR methodology and identify safer formulations based on the toxicological implications and their physiochemical profile.

Need for collaboration
KREATiS is seeking existing in vitro and in vivo irritation data from various industrial domains, in particular cosmetics and household products and reactive substances, but also data on active ingredients from pharmaceuticals, pesticides and biocides. Support from potential collaborators (academia and industry) will extend the applicability of their models to other sectors.

3Rs impact
iSafeRabbit has the potential to replace the OECD 404 and 405 in vivo rabbit studies for skin and eye irritation and corrosivity predictions, reducing the number of animals required. iSafeRabbit could also be applied in cases where in vitro studies are inapplicable/insufficient, providing evidence to support waiving of in vivo studies. The technology will also help to identify those compounds early in development which are destined to fail, removing them from development before in vivo studies.

For more information or to contact the Solution provider:

Early detection research seeks to enable the detection of cancer, or pre-cancerous states, at the earliest possible time point at which an intervention might be made.

The Early Detection Research Committee is responsible for the oversight, development, review, funding and management of a portfolio of research Programmes and Projects which include discovery and validation of signatures of early cancer, and development of the technologies to enable this. These signatures may detect and also underpin prognosis/stratification/prediction of response to therapy and/or prevention.

Research can involve discovery, pre-clinical and/or clinical/translational science which is mindful of the clinical and population context. The Committee will meet twice per year.

For more information click here

Researchers at the University of Birmingham have developed a low cost, ex vivo porcine corneal model to rapidly assess ocular drug delivery. The assay uses tissue that is surplus to the food industry and readily available, replacing the in vivo models and better predicting the outcome in the human eye, in comparison to rabbit and rodent models. Industrial collaborators able to provide different classes of ocular drugs and drug penetration data are sought to further validate the assay.

What could the Solution be used for?

The ex vivo porcine corneal assay could be used for multiple applications including but not limited to:

  • Rapid and cost effective assesement of drug delivery through the cornea.
  • Characterisation of delivery pathways of different classes of drugs through the cornea.
  • Development of a novel carrier molecules to enhance the delivery of drugs across the cornea.

Need for Colloboration

Industrial collaborators able to provide different classes of ocular drugs and drug penetration data are sought to further assess how pore sizes and lipophilicity affect drug penetration through the cornea.  The researchers would greatly benefit from expertise and access to any drugs/molecules capable of enhancing drug delivery through the cornea, providing an insight into the drug transport mechanisms within the cornea.

3Rs Impact Assessment

In vivo rabbit models are commonly used to assess corneal drug permeability, causing high levels of irritation and suffering and requiring ~100 animals per study.  For example, one of their collaborators in the UK typically use ~100 rats per year to assess a single ocular drug delivery compound, but by using this ex vivo corneal assat these rats would be replaced entirely by tissue that is surplus to the food industry and readily available.

For more information or to contact the Solution provider:



Final submission: 

Committee review: 

To stimulate and develop the early detection field, we're encouraging early-career researchers, scientists new to early detection and/or cancer research, as well as established early detection researchers to apply for Primer Awards.

You should:

  • Have at least 2 years postdoctoral experience or equivalent
  • Be scientists, clinicians or healthcare workers in UK universities, medical schools, hospitals, CRUK Institutes or other research institutions

The award will provide up to 1 year of flexible seed funding up to £100k. Funding could cover:

  • Salaries for postdocs or technical staff
  • Experimental expenses
  • Associated running expenses
  • Equipment
  • Collaborative travel and networking costs
  • Training courses
  • People exchange

Funding can contribute towards generating pilot data for a new and exciting idea, establishing and developing new collaborations, testing a new technology or using an existing technology in an innovative way. We envisage that data generated or collaborations established through a Primer Award will form the basis for a more extensive future project within early detection.

Find out more here:  

CombiDART is a low-cost combinatorial approach that uses two non-vertebrate model systems to rapidly assess compounds for developmental and reproductive toxicity (DART). A library of fluorescent biomarkers has been developed in both organisms to facilitate phenotypic characterisation and molecular analysis of DART effects, thus pinpointing adverse outcome pathways (AOPs) and molecular initiating events (MIEs).

The combinatorial approach increases predictive power and is intended to replace rat and rabbit use for compounds with high potential for DART, enabling their elimination early in product development. Industrial partners able to provide chemicals and expert guidance are sought to help validate CombiDART to meet their end-user needs.


What could the Solution be used for?

CombiDART is a low-cost combinatorial approach that uses two non-vertebrate model systems (C. elegans and Dictyostelium) to increase predictive power when assessing compounds for DART.  There are a number of ways in which CombiDART could be developed, including, but not limited to:

  • Rapid and cost-effective screening of large chemical libraries
  • Mode of action studies for compounds of interest using genetic approaches
  • Developing a novel set of markers in the two organisms for a particular pathway or compound set of interest


Need for Colloboration

Industrial partners are sought to provide advice on the most commercially useful way(s) to develop the platform, including detail on how end users would prefer to adopt the screen.   Other inputs would depend on the use of the Solution but could include provision of a collection of compounds, expertise in automation of screening or highlighting pathways of interest that could be used to inform the generation of specific biomarkers or genetic modifications in C.elegans and Dictyostelium to facilitate pathway analysis.


3Rs impact assessment

OECD 414 and 443 test guidelines require up to 800 and 1,400 rats respectively for DART studies per chemical.  CombiDART provides a primary screen to identify chemicals with potential for mammalian DART, enabling removal of these compounds before vertebrate testing.  Each compound removed with reduce the number of animals used in regulatory DART testing by approximately 2000.

For more information or to contact the Solution provider:

Quantitatively assessing behaviour to measure animal health is challenging because there is a lack of unobtrusive behavioural models. The novel LocoWhisk arena and software solution simultaneously measures locomotion behaviours and whisker movements, providing robust and quantitative measures of rodent behaviour for basic research or drug discovery. 

The LocoWhisk system is a new, portable behavioural set-up that incorporates both gait analysis (using a pedobarograph) and whisker movements (using high-speed video camera and infrared light source). The system has so far been successfully piloted on many rodent models, and would benefit from further validation and commercialisation opportunities.

What could the Solution be used for?

By measuring whisker movements and locomotion simultaneously, the LocoWhisk arena can quantify health and welfare in animal models of disease and assess the therapeutic benefit of new drugs.  It has been demonstrated that whisker movements change consistently and reproducibly in a variety of cognitive and motor disorders in rodent models.  Measuring these whisker movements and locomotion increases the sensitivity of the behavioural assessment and reduces the number of animals required, in comparison to traditional open field and gait analysis studies.


Need for collaboration

Partnerships are being sought with collaborators:

  • That have rodent modes of motor or cognitive decline (eg stroke, Parkinson’s disease or aging) and want to quantify the effects of a new treatment strategy/drug.
  • To combine the LocoWhisk arena with other assessment measures, eg electromyography or electrophysiology recordings.
  • From consumer product, biotechnology or laboratory facilities companies interested in commercialising the LocoWhisk arean and software.

3Rs impact assessment

The improved quality and quantity of data that can be generated in each animal using the LocoWhisk arena means significant results can be seen between groups containing only five animals, rather than 12 animals (of single sex) that are usually recommended for behavioural testing.  The speed at which LocoWhisk can generate this data will improve animal welfare by alleviating the stress that arises from long experiments away from the home cage under bright lights.


For more information or to contact the Solution provider: