20 Aug 2018

Innovation in Precision Medicine

Oliver Thomas
Senior Consultant

What is the Investment accelerator: innovation in precision medicine competition?

This is an opportunity for your company to receive 100% grant funding for proposals that offer a disruptive change to the way that disease is accurately diagnosed, monitored and treated. You project can cost anywhere between £500,000 and £1.5 million, and last up to 24 months.

This competition is looking to fund projects that include at least one of the following:

  • Next generation diagnostics that enable early and accurate diagnosis to inform patient management and/or selection of therapy. This includes new molecular and cellular diagnostics, advanced medtech devices, imaging or clinical pathology technologies.
  • Breakthrough point-of-care, wearable or implantable devices. For example, biosensor tattoos or contact lenses that enable accurate and/or early diagnosis. This will immediately inform treatment options for the patient outside of the hospital.
  • Tailor-made therapies or medicines designed according to each patient’s molecular diagnosis. For example, gene therapy, regenerative cell therapy, next generation immunotherapy, synthetic biology or combination therapies.
  • Bioinformatic or artificial intelligence (AI) applications to extract digital data from medtech devices, imaging systems and/or clinical pathology platforms to rapidly inform clinical decisions.

What is meant by the term ‘Precision Medicine’?

Innovate UK define precision medicine as ‘technology that enables early and accurate diagnosis to inform patient treatment, as well as the availability of targeted therapies’. This includes combining clinical biomarker knowledge with advances in diagnostic technologies, data analysis and tailor-made therapeutics.

Here’s some real-world examples of projects that have been successful in previous Precision Medicine grant funding competitions:

  • A date lake harmonising information from multiple sources (genetic tests, medical records, prescription records, imaging data, academic researchers and drug companies) to better diagnose and treat Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)
  • Development and implementation of polygenic risk scoring algorithms for stratifying individuals for future cognitive decline due to Alzheimer’s Disease in non-symptomatic and early cognitive impaired subjects
  • Biosensors (based on microneedle arrays) for Personalised Antimicrobial Dosing
  • Feasibility studies surrounding the adoption of a diagnostic device for chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) based on CO2 exhaled during normal tidal breathing
  • A proof-of-concept study for a new medical imaging system for hands and feet, leveraging an array of X-ray emitters illuminating the patient from a variety of angles to use parallax information to derive 3D information (tomosynthesis)
  • Development of a tumour cell capture platform to accelerate identification of drug combinations from a small molecule library to produce the most effective brain tumour treatment for paediatric oncology.
  • Development of an algorithm to analyse telemetry data from high-risk patients to predict risk of ventricular tachyarrhythmia, which causes Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA). The software also provides healthcare providers with steps to improve patient outcomes if SCA strikes.
  • A model for Precision Dosing within prostate cancer oncology, which integrates drug, tumour and patient data, and leverages existing tools (clinical PK/PD efficacy and toxicity models) to build a novel predictive platform.

How can you improve your chances of  being awarded grant funding?

Having a robust scientific evidence base is an absolute must for this competition – your application must pass a rigorous technical assessment before it gets passed to the investment panel. Be sure to include high-quality, peer reviewed background research where you can. Don’t be afraid of sharing your proprietary technical data with the assessors – everything you disclose is classed as ‘commercial in confidence’ – as such, this means it is not classed as public disclosure, and will not affect any future intellectual property filings.

Explain carefully what your innovation is using plain English where you can – do not assume the assessor has in-depth knowledge and use acronyms or jargon that wold not be understandable to others outside your field. The more easily you can explain your innovation, the better chance you have of the assessors fully understanding your solution and seeing why it is ground-breaking as you think it is!

How can TBAT help you?

TBAT has a team of grant writing experts with over 40 years’ combined experience of writing proposals for scientific R&D projects in a variety of fields, including medtech (you can see more about our team here).

We offer a grant-review service for clients who prepare their own proposals, and will offer structured advice on how to turn a document into a high-quality proposal. We will give honest feedback to ensure the proposal stands the best chance of success.

However, our most common mode of working is to take on full writing of the application; this is often where clients simply haven’t the internal time/resource needed to dedicate to producing a competitive application.

What if I’ve already done research in this area?

If you have already invested time and money into developing a solution for Precision Medicine, then you could well be able to claim money back from HMRC in the form of an R&D Tax Credit. Our specialist team can assess your spending for up to two full previous business years to calculate the refund due – this can be taken as a tax credit off your next tax bill, or as a direct cash injection into the business now.

What should I do next?

Please call us on 01332 819740 to discuss applying for grant funding or claiming R&D Tax Credits with our specialists, or drop us a line using our contact form, and we’ll get straight back to you.

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