Reducing the use of animals in research

Key Features

Up to £2.3 million is available to UK SMEs across 3 challenges to replace, refine and reduce the use of animals.

Programme:     SBRI

Award:     Up to £100k

Opens: 11th Sep 2017

Closes: 8th Nov 2017

! This scheme is now closed

**More details to follow once the competition is open**

Up to £2.3 million is available to UK SMEs across 3 challenges to replace, refine and reduce the use of animals.

The National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs) plus sponsors will invest in collaborative projects that address some of the challenges posed by animal experiments.

This is designed to:

  • minimise the use of animals in research
  • support the development of marketable products
  • improve business processes
    Collaborations are encouraged between industry, research organisations and small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

What you need to know

The centre is launching 3 challenges as part of its Crack It initiative.


This challenge aims to develop an effective data strategy and data management structure to map the developmental and reproductive toxicity (DART) genes of different species. You should compare the effects of toxic compounds across species.

DARTpaths is in 2 phases:

  • There is up to £100,000 for phase 1
  • Phase 2 has funding of up to £1 million
  • Shell and Syngenta are the sponsors

For more information on DARTpaths, click here


This challenge aims to improve dosing methods and strategies for in vitro dose-responses and to encourage their uptake, application and use in risk-based decision making. This could offer the potential to eventually replace the need for in vivo animal studies.

Key deliverables

  • A framework to describe when and how to select appropriate dosing technologies to enable improved characterisation of bioavailable exposures in vitro for a broad range of chemicals with diverse physico-chemical properties (e.g. including hydrophobic, volatile, and unstable chemicals) and chemical mixtures (e.g. UVCBs).
  • Development of the necessary technology (both dosing and measurement of chemicals in vitro), with emphasis on increased throughput methods, to enable their uptake and use in risk-based decision making. Representative in vitro test systems / formats will need to be identified to address specific dosing requirements (e.g. taking account of duration of exposure, assay format and media composition).
  • The technology described above will be used to provide measured Cfree and cellular concentration data for a range of case study chemicals/chemical mixtures with diverse physico-chemical properties. Consideration will be given to how this data informs the development of in silico approaches to aid the prediction of concentration-response relationships.


DoCEIt is in 2 phases:

  • There is up to £100k  for phase 1.
  • Phase 2 has funding of up to £1 million.
  • Unilever and Shell are the sponsors

For more information on DoCE, click here.


In this challenge the aim is to develop a model that reliably predicts human respiratory irritation to chemicals. It should use in silico-based tools.

Key deliverables

  • Develop a QSAR model that predicts human respiratory irritation for both single chemicals and mixtures
  • The QSAR model output should include an estimate of confidence in the prediction
  • Methodology to solve the Challenge in the absence of any test guideline for respiratory irritation (e.g. selection of a surrogate for the respiratory irritation endpoint, an extrapolation strategy to read-across from other toxicological endpoints by inhalation).
  • Demonstrate that the QSAR model can reliably predict human respiratory irritation using a validation set of chemicals with known results.
  • The model should fulfill all five OECD principles for QSAR models.
  • The model should be delivered as a user-friendly tool and a methodology for determining the user experience should be described in the application
  • The QSAR tool should be made widely available across all relevant industries, and the methodology used to make predictions must be clear and transparent to the user.

This is a single-phase competition.

  • Up to £100k is available
  • The competition is sponsored by Shell

For more information on RespiraTox, click here.