Transforming medicines manufacturing – Grand Challenge

Key Features

UK registered organisations can apply for a share of up to £4 million to support the development and implementation of flexible, agile, scalable and sustainable technologies for medicines development, delivery and manufacture across the supply chain.

Programme:     Innovate UK

Award:     Share of up to £4 million

Opens: 16th Oct 2023

Closes: 15th Nov 2023

! This scheme is now closed


Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £4 million in innovation projects.


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

This Grand Challenge will establish a consortium to develop technologies and are expected to support enhanced manufacturing processes, with significant and measurable improvements to the speed and efficiency of pharmaceutical processes across the supply chain. This should lead to shorter development timelines, reduced time-to-market for new products and increase patient access to medicines.

Your project must demonstrate collaborative R&D across supply chains.

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

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 a grant funding request between £2 million and £4 million
  • be led by a research and technology organisation (RTO), public sector organisation
  • demonstrate co-investment of at least 100% of the total grant request
  • last between 24 months and 60 months
  • carry out all of its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
  • start by 1 April 2024
  • end by 31 March 2026

Duration of the project can be up to 60 months, but grant must be claimed against eligible costs incurred and defrayed by 31 March 2026

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.

Co-investment is critical to the project. Innovate UK will have the ability to reclaim grant costs if co-investment is not committed within the lifetime of the project.

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 and Belarusian entity as lead, partner or subcontractor. This includes any goods or services originating from a Russian and Belarusian source.

To lead a project your organisation must:

  • be a research and technology organisation (RTO) or public sector organisation
  • collaborate with at least two UK registered businesses of any size
  • 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.

Academic institutions cannot lead or work alone.

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 research and technology organisation (RTO), public sector organisation can only lead on one application but can be included as a collaborator in a further 2 applications.

An academic can collaborate on any number of applications.

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


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 £4 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 feasibility studies and 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.