ISCF healthy ageing trailblazers: stage 1

Key Features

This is stage 1 of a 2-stage competition. A total fund of up to £2 million is on offer for stage 1 to conduct research and develop a business plan for a healthy ageing ‘trailblazer’. This funding is from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

Programme:     Innovate UK

Award:     Share of up to £2 million

Opens: 23rd Sep 2019

Closes: 27th Nov 2019

! This scheme is now closed


The Trailblazers aim to support businesses, including social enterprises, to develop and demonstrate how innovative services, business models and products which support people as they age, will be adopted at scale.


In stage 1, the aim is to develop a business plan and demonstrate readiness in order to obtain funding for your stage 2 Trailblazer project.

Innovate UK will fund a portfolio of projects across the 7 themes drawn from the Healthy Ageing Challenge Framework. This means they expect to fund a spread of projects across multiple areas. There is a particular interest in projects whose principal focus covers one or more of the first 3 of these 7 themes:

  1. Sustaining physical activity
  2. Maintaining health at work
  3. Designing for age-friendly homes
  4. Managing common complaints of ageing
  5. Living well with cognitive impairment
  6. Supporting social connections
  7. Creating healthy and active places

You should propose which themes from the framework will be the focus for your intervention. Successful applicants will be expected to look to exploit synergies across the multiple framework themes.

Although the focus is on the 7 themes, projects that address healthy ageing challenges outside of these themes will be considered.

Your proposed approach as an applicant must:

  1. Incorporate principles of user-centred design. Solution development is expected to involve co-creation through an iterative process that links to a robust plan to achieve the target scale.
  2. Address the tension between innovation and implementation, and the barriers to adoption
  3. Establish an evaluation method specific to the proposed scope which will need to be approved by UK Research and Innovation as part of your stage 2 application
  4. Demonstrate commitment to contribute to a challenge-wide set of knowledge sharing and evaluation activities determined by UK Research and Innovation

Your projects must outline:

  • the intended benefits of the project
  • the populations that will be used to demonstrate those benefits
  • how that population will be accessed.
  • how significant inequalities in health-span will be targeted
  • how to reach both urban and rural populations, if appropriate depending on the target population
  • a clear commitment to achieve the overall 50% match-funding in stage 2
  • a strategy to further exploit healthy ageing related markets on completion of the Trailblazer proposed project


To lead a project or work alone at stage 1 your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business of any size (including social enterprises), or a public sector organisation (including local authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships)
  • carry out its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
  • intend to apply for the stage 2 of the competition, if invited
  • intend to lead a collaboration for stage 2 of the competition

Academic institutions cannot lead or work alone.

To collaborate and receive the competition funding together with the lead organisation you must:

  • be a UK registered business, academic institution, charity, public sector organisation or research and technology organisation (RTO)
  • carry out your project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
  • be invited to take part by the lead applicant

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 eligible project costs but they will not count as collaborators.

Funding Costs

There is up to £2 million to fund innovative projects for stage 1.

Your stage 1 project’s total eligible costs may be up to £100,000. They must start by 1 June 2020 and end by 30 October 2020. They can last up to 5 months.

Each UK registered partner can claim a percentage of grant funding. The amount you can claim depends on the size of your organisation.

For stage 1 feasibility studies, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

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

Any research organisations in your consortium can share up to 30% of the total eligible project costs. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation, this maximum is shared between them.

Stage 2 of this competition is expected to open in Autumn 2020. Stage 2 projects must collaborative and be able to provide at least 50% match funding.


Innovate UK are not funding:

  • innovations that involve the introduction of novel health and care system-wide collaborative funding mechanisms, such as accountable care
  • clinical or fundamental research
  • the development of early stage technologies
  • projects that cannot obtain at least 50% match funding for their stage 2 project
  • overseas businesses or organisations