Flexible, agile, scalable and sustainable medicines manufacturing

Key Features

UK registered organisations can apply for a share of up to £5 million to support the development and implementation of flexible, agile, scalable and sustainable technologies for medicines development and manufacture.

Programme:     Innovate UK

Award:     Share of up to £5 million

Opens: 26th Sep 2023

Closes: 22nd Nov 2023

! This scheme is now closed


Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £5 million in innovation projects.


The aim of this competition is to encourage the development and adoption of flexible, agile, scalable and sustainable technologies (FASST) for the development and manufacture of medicines.

These technologies are expected to support enhanced manufacturing processes, with significant and measurable improvements to resource efficiency or productivity of pharmaceutical processes. Benefits should include reduced time-to-market for new products and increased patient access to medicines.

Your project must either:

  • demonstrate an improvement in resource efficiency, for example, reduction in waste production, energy consumption, carbon emissions


  • show productivity utilising a recognised metric, for example, process mass intensity, overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) as a result of the innovation

Technologies in scope for this competition include but are not limited to:

  • laboratory automation and development lab of the future
  • digital twins
  • predictive and autonomous supply chain management including predictive yield optimisation and real time tracking and tracing
  • process analytical technology (PAT) and real-time release testing (RTRT)
  • continuous manufacturing and biomanufacturing
  • modular manufacturing and biomanufacturing
  • continuous processing and bioprocessing
  • automated process and bioprocess development
  • large scale manufacturing robots
  • digital processes
  • AI-informed decision support
  • distributed manufacturing and biomanufacturing models
  • sustainable platform processes, for example biocatalysis, bio-derived feedstocks
  • data-driven manufacturing and biomanufacturing

Innovate UK want to fund a variety of projects across different technologies, markets, technological maturities and research categories. We call this a portfolio approach.

Specific themes

Your project must focus on one or more of the following:

  • lowering manufacturing costs
  • reducing environmental impact of medicines manufacturing
  • increasing patient access to products
  • increasing yield
  • increasing productivity
  • increasing speed of data processing
  • improving efficiency and remove bottlenecks
  • reducing time to market
  • reducing development time
  • supporting process monitoring controls
  • gathering and effectively utilising information from across the supply chain
  • commitment to skills and talent development


Your project must:

  • have total grant funding request between £200,000 and £2 million
  • last between 12 and 24 months
  • start by 1 April 2024
  • end by 31 March 2026
  • carry out all of its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

Projects must always start on the first of the month and this must be stated within your application. Your project start date will be reflected in your grant offer letter if you are successful.

You must only include eligible project costs in your application.

Under current restrictions, this competition will not fund any procurement, commercial, business development or supply chain activity with any Russian or Belarusian entity as lead, partner or subcontractor. This includes any goods or services originating from a Russian or Belarusian source.

If you have not requested approval or your application has not been approved by us, you will be made ineligible. Your application will then not be sent for assessment.


To lead a project your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business of any size, a research and technology organisation (RTO), charity, not for profit or public sector organisation
  • collaborate with other UK registered organisations
  • be or involve at least one grant claiming micro, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME)

More information on the different types of organisation can be found in our Funding rules.

If the lead organisation is an RTO it must collaborate with 2 businesses, which includes one SME, and one business of any size.

Academic institutions cannot lead an application.

To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must be one of the following UK registered:

  • business of any size
  • academic institution
  • charity
  • not for profit
  • public sector organisation
  • research and technology organisation (RTO)

Each partner organisation must be invited into the Innovation Funding Service (IFS) by the lead to collaborate on a project. Once partners have accepted the invitation, they will be asked to login or to create an account in IFS. They are responsible for entering their own project costs and completing their Project Impact questions in the application.

To be an eligible collaboration, the lead and at least one other organisation must apply for funding when entering their costs into the application.

Your project can include partners that do not receive any of this competition’s funding, for example non-UK businesses. Their costs will count towards the total project costs.

Subcontractors are allowed in this competition.

Subcontractors can be from anywhere in the UK and you must select them through your usual procurement process.

You can use subcontractors from overseas but must make the case in your application as to why you could not use suppliers from the UK.

You must provide a detailed rationale, evidence of the potential UK contractors you approached and the reasons why they were unable to work with you. We will not accept a cheaper cost as a sufficient reason to use an overseas subcontractor.

All subcontractor costs must be justified and appropriate to the total project costs.

A business, research and technology organisation (RTO), charity, not for profit or public sector organisation can only lead on one application but can be included as a collaborator in two further applications.

If a business, RTO, charity, not for profit or public sector organisation is not leading a project it can only collaborate on up to three applications.

An academic can collaborate on any number of applications.

You can use a previously submitted application to apply for this competition.


Innovate UK are not funding projects that are solely focused on medicines discovery.

Innovate UK cannot fund projects that are:

  • dependent on export performance, for example giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that it exports a certain quantity of bread to another country
  • dependent on domestic inputs usage, for example giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that it uses 50% UK flour in their product

Funding Costs

Up to £5 million has been allocated to fund innovation projects in this competition. Funding will be in the form of a grant.

If your organisation’s work on the project is commercial or economic, your funding request must not exceed the limits below. These limits apply even if your organisation normally acts non-economically but for the purpose of this project will be undertaking commercial or economic activity.

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

  • 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, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

  • 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

Research participation

The research organisations undertaking non-economic activity as part of the project can share up to 50% of the total eligible project costs. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation undertaking non-economic activity, this maximum is shared between them. Of that 50% you could get funding for your eligible project costs of up to:

  • 80% of full economic costs (FEC) if you are a Je-S registered institution such as an academic
  • 100% of your project costs if you are an RTO, charity, not for profit organisation, public sector organisation or research organisation

Interested in applying for this competition?

Book an appointment to speak to one of our advisors to discuss your eligibility to apply for this Grant Funding opportunity.