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Enabling integrated diagnostics for early detection


Up to £20million is available for multidisciplinary consortia to develop and evaluate integrated diagnostic solutions for early detection and diagnosis. This includes funding from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF).

The Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) has a programme in data to early diagnosis and precision medicine. The programme is led by Innovate UK and the Medical Research Council (MRC), part of UK Research and Innovation.

Innovate UK will invest up to £17million in the research, development and evaluation of integrated diagnostic solutions. An additional investment of up to £3million is available for oncology-focused projects from Cancer Research UK.

Integrated diagnostics are disruptive innovations that link technologies, data, care pathways and systems to create new diagnostic and precision medicine solutions. The aim is to detect and diagnose earlier in the disease course, more sensitively and specifically, and with more nuanced information on prognosis and/or therapy selection.

This competition aims to accelerate development of innovative diagnostic tools and technologies by multi-disciplinary and cross-sector consortia.

Your project can focus on early development of new modality combinations (such as the combination of imaging and genomic information with new algorithms) and their detection technologies, to later stage refinement of more established tools. However, even in earlier stage development you must consider how your proposed solution could be used in clinical practice and be integrated into NHS care pathways.

Your project must involve collaboration between industry and the UK’s supporting healthcare and research infrastructure. This will be critical in ensuring new products, processes and services are fit for purpose and solutions can be translated into clinical settings. Your project can include health economic studies, modelling of care pathways and the generation of evidence to support adoption.

Open Date:


Close Date:


Your application must aim to integrate across technologies, data, care pathways and systems to deliver new diagnostic systems for the early detection and diagnosis of diseases. Your consortium must work with the UK’s health and care infrastructure to advance the development of integrated diagnostic solutions.

Innovate UK encourage you to be ambitious in your integration of multiple detection or diagnostic technologies and approaches, potentially arising from multiple commercial or academic settings.

Innovate UK want to build on investments that have been made to date. This can include those made:

  • Within this challenge (such as the digital pathology, radiology and AI centres of excellence)
  • By UK Research and Innovation more broadly
  • By other funders such as the National Institute for Health Research, Cancer Research UK and other charities

You can choose to create new products, processes and services that integrate across technologies, data, care pathways and systems to deliver new diagnostic solutions for early detection and diagnosis of diseases. You must consider how your solution will fit into existing or feasible care pathways and generate evidence that will support the adoption of your proposed new products, processes and/or services.

You can use the following approaches:

  1. Integrating technological approaches to improve early detection and diagnostic accuracy, including:
  • applications ranging from early stage ‘first-in-type’ integration of data streams with potentially broad applicability to refinements of more established tools or technological innovations for a specific application
  • technologies in development and/or solutions already on the market that have not previously been used together in the same way
  • innovative technology development to enable new insights from biological samples or patient data
  • the development of algorithms to maximise diagnostic accuracy from multiple sources of information
  • the development of clinical decision support tools
  • treatment selection

2. Integrating new diagnostic solutions into care pathways

3. Evaluating new integrated diagnostic solutions (such as performance characteristics, clinical impact, health economic evaluations and the collection of real-world evidence) as part of the wider programme of work, to provide information that will aid adoption

Disease areas in scope include but are not limited to:

  • cancer
  • cardiovascular disease, including stroke
  • inflammatory disorders, including autoimmune disease
  • metabolic diseases
  • neurodegenerative diseases, including dementia
  • paediatric and maternal-foetal
  • co-morbidities

Innovate UK will fund the development of wearables and new diagnostic tests for use in the community, but only if they have been designed with professional health specialists.

The diagnosis and management of infectious diseases or mental health are not in scope. However, they can be included within a co-morbidity setting provided they are not the focus of your application.

Your project can build on the capabilities of existing infrastructure but Innovate UK are not looking to fund the development of new infrastructure.

Early detection and diagnosis must be the focus of your proposal. You can also include work packages on monitoring, treatment selection and patient management.

Innovate UK are looking to fund a portfolio of projects, across a variety of technologies, markets, disease areas, technological maturities and research categories.

Innovate UK are especially looking for projects that focus on one or more of the following:

  • Build on strengths in digital imaging or pathology, genomics and other technologies
  • Improve data integration, analysis, interpretation and visualisation for early diagnosis and precision medicine
  • Accelerate industry R&D in integrated diagnostics
  • Include work packages that will design and evaluate solutions in context
  • Build and grow lasting collaborations across business, NHS and academic researchers for UK benefit
  • Address the specific challenges of co-morbidities
  • Support industry and the NHS in developing and planning for future, comprehensive, diagnosis systems and pathways
  • Are disruptive and go beyond incremental change to deliver significant healthcare impact and/or economic impact
  • Consider the opinions of the patient and public, including the acceptability of the diagnostic solution to the user

Your project’s total eligible costs, including industry contributions and any other co-funding, must not exceed £10million.

Projects must start by 1 January 2020 and can last for up to 36 months.

To lead a project your organisation must be:

  • A UK registered business of any size
  • A UK registered research and technology organisation (RTO)
  • A UK registered academic institution
  • A UK registered hospital
  • An NHS or National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) organisation, for example an Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) or Medtech and In vitro diagnostics Co-operative (MIC), or equivalent in the devolved administrations

Each organisation can lead on up to two applications. You must collaborate with other organisations as outlined in the Project team section. We encourage you to include more than one business.

To collaborate with the lead organisation your organisation must:

  • Be a UK registered business of any size, or a UK registered RTO, academic institution, hospital, charity, public sector organisation, or medical research entity supported by UK Research and Innovation
  • Carry out its project work in the UK
  • Intend to exploit the project result for the benefit of the UK
  • be invited to take part by the lead applicant

Your consortium must have at least three partners (including the lead) and involve:

  • A micro, small or medium sized enterprise (SME)
  • An NHS organisation or academic partner

The lead and at least one other organisation must claim funding and enter their costs as part of the application.

For businesses, your organisation does not have to be UK registered with Companies House when you apply, but it must be registered by the time you receive funding. 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.

There is no limit to the number of applications that an eligible organisation can collaborate on.

Innovate UK have allocated up to £17million to fund innovation projects in this competition. Up to £3million is also being invested by Cancer Research UK for oncology-focused projects only.

Your consortium can apply for a maximum grant of £3.5million.

The majority of the work funded in this competition will be planned research or critical investigation to gain new knowledge and skills. Both defined as industrial research. Innovate UK will also fund some experimental development projects and work packages (a group of related tasks in a project) within industrial research projects.

For industrial research projects, you could receive 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
  • Up to 80% of full economic costs (classed as 100% in calculations) if you are an academic institution
  • Up to 100% if you are an NHS organisation that is only NHS funded, other public sector organisation or charity

For experimental development projects and work packages within these, 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 business
  • Up to 35% if you are a medium-sized business
  • Up to 25% if you are a large business
  • Up to 80% of full economic costs (classed as 100% in calculations) if you are an academic institution
  • Up to 100% if you are an NHS organisation that is only NHS funded, other public sector organisation or charity

Oncology-focused projects and intellectual property

All academic partners in successful oncology-focused projects will be jointly funded by UK Research and Innovation and Cancer Research UK. The proportion of funding provided by Cancer Research UK will be the same across all academic partners in all oncology-focused projects. It will be confirmed in November 2019, once the final funding decisions have been made.

In accordance with the guidelines set out by the Association of Medical Research Charities, Cancer Research UK will receive a share of any net revenue academic institutions generate from intellectual property (IP) as a result of this funding. Cancer Research UK will discuss this with the academic institutions in your project team.

Cancer Research UK’s revenue share will:

  • Not be greater than 30%
  • Only relate to academic institutions and to the academic institutions’ net revenue share after considering any agreements it has with other partners in the consortium
  • Be on a pro-rata basis, relative to the percentage Cancer Research UK ultimately funds (which will be confirmed in November 2019) of each academic institution’s total grant request

Cancer Research UK will not be entitled to any revenue arising from IP generated by industry partners.

Innovate UK, MRC and UK Research and Innovation will not get involved in the IP rights of funded consortia. They will be independent of discussions between academic partners and Cancer Research UK about this.

Innovate UK are not funding:

  • Projects that focus predominantly on behavioural monitoring
  • Projects that include data from wearables that have not been prescribed by a health professional
  • The diagnosis and management of infectious diseases or mental health on their own
  • Basic research, such as biomarker discovery or new detection technologies for which there is no proof of concept
  • The development of new infrastructure
  • The development of therapies

Cresco Innovation works with companies to develop and implement innovation strategies. We help client companies identify opportunities to develop new products and services, and then create a package of support to ensure that the idea is turned into a commercial reality.

Our services include securing grants (as a team we have raised around £40million over three years), business planning, IP advice, access to finance and funders, project management and IP commercialisation support.

We regularly act as the interface with the funding bodies and help clients ensure that their projects are properly managed to ensure the best outcome for all.

Call to find out more

If you’d like to know more about this competition, please give us a call on 01509 261182 and one of our team will be delighted to help you access this funding opportunity for your business.