Medicines manufacturing round 1: challenge fund


Innovate UK is to invest up to £15 million in innovation projects in medicines manufacturing to be funded through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. Projects should focus on identified technical or commercial challenges. There are 2 parts to this competition:

  1. Feasibility projects (total project costs of £50,000 to £100,000)
  2. Industrial research and experimental development projects (total project costs of up to £2 million)

Projects must start by 1 February 2018.

You must show how your project will improve the productivity, competitiveness and growth for at least one UK small or medium-sized enterprise (SME) involved in the project

(Please check full details at the Innovate UK website, via the link below, to confirm eligibility.)


This competition aims to stimulate the development and implementation of innovative methods/technologies to improve the manufacture of novel medicines for human use. Proposals must offer innovative approaches to medicines manufacturing challenges. These can include, but are not limited to, approaches that deliver:

  • improved commercially viable manufacturing processes
  • methods for the reliable and robust scale-up of production of novel medicines
  • increased yield of active ingredient
  • lower cost of production and goods

In this competition medicines that are in scope and must be used as examples are limited to:

  • advanced therapy medicinal products
  • natural product medicines
  • nucleic acid-based drugs
  • prophylactic vaccines
  • protein or peptide biopharmaceuticals
  • small molecular weight pharmaceuticals
  • virus and phage therapeutics

For feasibility projects, the grant enables the exploration and evaluation of the commercial potential of an early-stage concept. The project must deliver:

  • assessment of the business opportunity
  • validation of the initial concept
  • potential conceptualisation
  • scoping for further development

For industrial research and experimental development, the grant enables the development of new and innovative solutions to medicines manufacturing challenges. Proposals must demonstrate:

  • the current challenge and value proposition
  • a clear understanding of the market potential, routes to market and commercialisation strategies

Innovate UK will fund a portfolio of projects. These can include technical feasibility, industrial research or experimental development. Projects must show significant innovation in one of our priority areas (described in the specific competition themes section). Proposals must also improve business growth, productivity and/or create export opportunities for at least one UK SME involved in the project.

Specific competition themes:

Projects should deliver solutions in the following themes:

  • in-process monitoring, control and release testing
  • maintenance of product-critical quality parameters such as purity, potency and viability
  • formulation processes
  • packaging and storage processes
  • product characterisation
  • process challenges for increasing the scale of production
  • process development and transfer for novel medicines
  • transfer of technology from small-scale manufacturing to a Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) manufacturing facility
  • lowering of the cost of goods
  • increase in yield of active ingredient
  • increase in speed of production cycle
  • methods to increase the flexibility of established manufacturing facilities
  • adaptation of processes from batch to continuous production

 Key Dates:

Competition opens – 4 September 2017

Briefing event in Manchester – 13 September 2017 (Click here to for more details)

Competition closes – 1 November 2017 12:00pm

Applicants notified – 8 December 2017

If you are interested in this competition?

Please email the Innovation SuperNetwork team at or complete the form below so we can help you and guide you through the application process.

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Our work is only possible with the support of our local and national partners, including Innovate UK, the Knowledge Transfer Network, the North East LEP, Northumbrian WaterNorth East BICReece Innovation and ENGIE with part funding from the European Regional Development Fund.
Huge thanks go to all our partners.