SBRI: Overdose detection, response and intervention – feasibility

Key Features

Organisations can apply for a share of £5 million inclusive of VAT. This is to deliver innovations addressing key drug related overdose priorities across two competitions.

Programme:     SBRI

Award:     Share of up to £5 million

Opens: 31st Jan 2023

Closes: 21st Apr 2023

! This scheme is now closed


These are Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competitions funded by the Office for Life Sciences (OLS) and the Scottish Health Industry Partnership (SHIP).

These competitions form part of the UK Addiction Healthcare Mission and UK Life Sciences Vision and support the Scottish Government National Mission to reduce drug related deaths and harms.

OLS and SHIP are investing up to £5 million inclusive of VAT across the two competitions. Their purpose is to develop disruptive, innovative solutions that focus on detecting, responding to, and intervening in, early acute risk of non-fatal and fatal overdose.

Competition 1 – SBRI: Overdose detection, response and intervention feasibility (this competition)

This competition is for feasibility study projects which have not yet reached prototype development.

This is phase 1 of a potential 2 phase competition. The decision to proceed to phase 2 will depend on success in phase 1 and the assessment of a separate application.

Competition 2 – SBRI: Overdose detection, response and intervention demonstration

This competition is for projects with technology already at an advanced stage of development, and near ready to be deployed in a real-world environment.

This is a single-phase competition.

It is your responsibility to ensure you are submitting your application to the correct competition for your project. You will not be able to transfer your application and it will not be sent for assessment if it is out of scope.

In applying to this competition, you are entering into a competitive process.

Any adoption and implementation of a solution from this competition would be subject to a separate, possibly competitive, procurement exercise. This competition does not cover the purchase of any solution.

SHIP and OLS reserves the right not to award any contracts. SHIP and OLS give no guarantee or warranty as to the nature, or number of projects funded.


The aim of this competition is to speed up and improve the detection of, response to and intervention in potentially fatal overdoses using innovative digital technologies and therapeutic solutions.

Projects can focus on one or more of the following priorities:

  • discrete digital technology solutions with intuitive and simple design focussed on service users and responders
  • simple alert or responder pathways that create effective responses to potentially fatal overdose events
  • enhance the ability to self-monitor by people who use drugs
  • improved equity of access, detection and response in this vulnerable population through connected and safe digitalised platforms
  • enhanced simple live intelligent data gathering processes, surveillance and remote monitoring
  • enhance innovative intervention therapeutics as antidotes to overdose episodes

This list is not intended to be exhaustive.

The potential innovative mechanisms and technologies you can use, include but are not limited to:

  • wearable devices or patches
  • remote monitoring
  • GPS receivers
  • smartphone apps
  • decentralised application environments
  • AI and machine learning
  • virtual reality and augmented reality
  • gamification
  • data analytics
  • therapeutics

You must:

  • provide details of certification and compliance with relevant standards, accreditation and regulatory approval for well-developed prototypes
  • detail how you will work with a test bed research partner to develop your solution and work towards product approval across UK health systems
  • set out a plan to work towards necessary approval in all the UK health systems
  • demonstrate a credible and practical route to market, so your application must include a plan to commercialise your results including plans to achieve regulatory compliance where required

At this stage contracts will be given for phase 1 only.

You must define your goals in your application and outline your plan for phase 2.

In phase 2 we will ask successful applicants from phase 1 to deliver a prototype of their solution and demonstrate it in a real-world environment.

SBRI encourage proposals that bring together sector specialists, and include a co-design and co-production element with the expertise of people:

  • with lived experience
  • who use drugs and their families

Your project can focus on one or more of the following themes:

  • detection of potential overdose episodes
  • alert or response to potential overdose episodes
  • intervention therapeutics as antidotes to overdose episodes

Phase 1: technical feasibility studies

This means planned research or critical investigation to gain new knowledge and skills for developing new products, processes or services.

In phase 1 of your project, you will work closely with the stakeholders to demonstrate the technical feasibility of your proposed innovation and formalise any required ethical approvals, data sharing agreements and contracts.

Phase 2: prototype development and evaluation

This can include prototyping, demonstrating, piloting, testing and validation of the solution in environments representative of real-life operating conditions.

The outcome of a potential phase 2 will be a demonstration of the prototype in a representative environment.

At this stage contracts will only be given to successful applicants from phase 1. Progression to a potential phase 2 is dependent on the outcomes from phase 1.


Projects must:

  • aim to start by 1 August 2023
  • end 4 months after the agreed start date
  • work in conjunction with a test bed research partner by delivering R&D services to develop a solution
  • acquire evidence which will support future product approval and use of the innovations across the UK health systems (Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland and England)

As part of your application, you must engage with a suitable research and innovation partner to serve as a ‘test bed’. The test bed research partner is required to develop your proposed solution, gain relevant clinical and non-clinical advice and to determine the extent of required work within the test bed.

Suitable test bed research partners could include the NHS Scotland Regional Test Beds, or equivalents located in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, for example:

  • National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR infrastructure)
  • Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs)
  • Life Sciences Hub Wales
  • Drug and Alcohol Research Network (DARN)

You can also propose any other suitable UK based alternative.


To lead a project, you can:

  • be an organisation of any size, registered in the UK, European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA)
  • work alone or with others from business, research organisations, research and technology organisations or the third sector as subcontractors

Contracts will be awarded to a single legal entity only. However, if you can justify subcontracting components of the work, you can engage specialists or advisers. This work will still be the responsibility of the main contractor.

Organisations are advised to only lead on one application per technology identifying a suitable research partner.

Organisations are asked to confirm if they would be willing to work with other research partners.

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


SBRI will not fund projects that:

  • do not demonstrate significant support and engagement from potential future customers throughout the project
  • do not provide a clear route to market
  • do not address how any potentially negative outcomes, such as on the environment or society, would be managed
  • do not evidence the potential for their proposed innovation to generate positive economic or societal impact
  • would directly duplicate other UK Government, Scottish Government, NHS or EU funded initiatives you have already been funded to deliver
  • are covered by existing commercial agreements to deliver the proposed solutions
  • do not feature plans for a demonstration in phase 2, offering users a chance to use the innovation and give feedback
  • do not include an evaluation phase and a plan to collect information to inform a cost or benefit analysis
  • do not have plans to obtain relevant certification, compliance and regulatory approvals
  • do not have a test bed research partner involved as part of the project
  • do not demonstrate a credible plan for acquiring data which would support product approval in all 4 UK healthcare systems

Funding Costs

A total of up to £5 million inclusive of VAT, is allocated across the two competitions.

The total funding available for this competition can change. The funders have the right to:

  • adjust the provisional funding allocations between the phases and competitions
  • apply a ‘portfolio’ approach, in order to fund a variety of projects across different technologies, themes, markets, regions, nations and technological maturities
  • contracts will be given to successful applicants based upon total consensus score and capacity within the test beds to carry out the projects

For this Overdose detection, response and intervention – feasibility competition, R&D contracts will be up to £100,000 inclusive of VAT, for phase 1 projects lasting up to 4 months.

The contract is completed at the end of phase 1.

Phase 2 involves potential contracts being awarded from the successful phase 1 applicants. Up £500,000 inclusive of VAT, will be allocated for each phase 2 project, to develop a prototype product and undertake field testing for up to 12 months.

Value Added Tax (VAT)

You must select whether you are VAT registered before entering your project costs.

VAT is the responsibility of the invoicing business. We will not provide any further advice and suggest you seek independent advice from HMRC.

VAT registered

If you select you are VAT registered, you must enter your project costs exclusive of VAT. As part of the application process VAT will be automatically calculated and added to your project cost total. Your total project costs must not exceed £100,000.

Not VAT registered

If you select you are not VAT registered, you must enter your project costs exclusive of VAT and no VAT will be added. You will not be able to increase total project costs to cover VAT later should you become VAT registered. Your total project costs must not exceed £100,000.

Research and development

Your application must have at least 50% of the contract value attributed directly and exclusively to R&D services, including solution exploration and design. R&D can also include prototyping and field-testing the product or service. This lets you incorporate the results of your exploration and design and demonstrate that you can produce in quantity to acceptable quality standards.

R&D does not include:

  • commercial development activities such as quantity production
  • supply to establish commercial viability or to recover R&D costs
  • integration, customisation or incremental adaptations and improvements to existing products or processes

SBRI competitions involve procurement of R&D services at a fair market value and are not subject to subsidy control criteria that typically apply to grant funding.


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.