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Health Innovation Challenge Fund

HICF image
This is a parallel funding partnership between the Wellcome Trust and the Department of Health to stimulate the creation of innovative healthcare products, technologies and interventions and to facilitate their development for the benefit of patients in the NHS and beyond.
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Current call

The current call for applications is closed.We hope to announce details and timings for the next round of applications in early Spring 2014.

The Health Innovation Challenge Fund invites applicants to apply for funding in any of the areas of special interest listed below.

0512-1a: Clinical applications of genetics

The Health Innovation Challenge Fund (HIC Fund) is seeking proposals that will accelerate the translation of genetics and genomic information into the clinical setting for prognosis, diagnosis and guiding therapy.

Applications are invited that:

  • deliver innovative solutions that use genetic variability, including - but not limited to - screening or diagnostic tools, single-gene tests, multi-gene panels (either sequencing or array based), patient stratification tests, clinical exome or whole-genome sequencing, and informatics platforms
  • improve the uptake of genetic discoveries or new technological advances into patient management pathways
  • integrate with current healthcare infrastructures.

0512-2a: Early detection and diagnosis of chronic illness or long-term conditions

A chronic illness or long-term condition (LTC) can only be managed and not, at present, cured. An approach to proactively combat the rise in LTCs is to develop innovative products, technologies and interventions that enable healthcare professionals to identify chronic illness or LTC earlier and treat patients more effectively.

Applications are invited that:

  • provide health professionals with the tools to better understand the health status and risk of patients, particularly where multiple conditions currently exist or are likely to develop; various technologies could be applicable (e.g. diagnostics, biomarkers)
  • offer solutions that can be utilised within integrated care systems, which may involve multidisciplinary groups working across health and social care.

For the purposes of this call, example LTCs may include coronary heart disease, stroke and transient ischaemic attack, hypertension, diabetes, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, epilepsy, heart failure, arthritis, mental health issues, and a range of neurological conditions - particularly Alzheimer's disease, epilepsy, Parkinson's disease, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, and brain and spinal injuries.

0512-3a: Minimising the impact of trauma and serious injury

The HIC Fund is seeking solutions that will make a tangible difference to the care of trauma patients and improve long-term outcomes.
  • Pre-hospital care: Accurate triage is a major problem in trauma patients and often leads to inappropriate hospital admissions and inefficient use of resources. Major injuries, including burn injuries, suffer from delays in transportation to specialist facilities. Solutions are needed that will improve the immediate treatment, care, transport and recovery of patients to optimise the use of resources and reduce morbidity caused by inappropriate or inadequate response.
  • Acute care: Trauma and burn patients require care from a range of specialties in A&E and intensive care. In these settings, solutions that will improve acute treatment and care of trauma and burn patients and which better target and prioritise the available resources are needed.

0512-4a: Informing clinical management through software-based analysis of complex datasets

The amount of data and information being generated from patients during even routine screening and diagnostics processes is increasing rapidly as new technologies become available and greater computing power enables more data to be captured and stored quickly and inexpensively.

The HIC Fund is seeking proposals that will harness the potential of this data and make it clinically accessible and useful. For example, solutions offered could:

  • aid or guide clinical decision making
  • analyse patterns in accumulated historical data and in newly acquired data to identify changes in a patient's condition in real time or provide early warning of any deterioration
  • use data fusion techniques to produce 'smart' alerts for patients in high-dependency areas who are monitored using static, wired or wireless physiological monitoring
  • create algorithms to extract and interpret clinically relevant information from complex datasets
  • seamlessly integrate with current hardware and software infrastructures deployed within the NHS and by other healthcare providers.

0512-5a: Repurposing of medicines and medical devices

It is not always commercially attractive to repurpose devices or drugs even though important medical benefits could be gained. This HIC Fund theme is intended to support and facilitate projects aiming to repurpose products in the wider pursuit of enhanced, affordable healthcare and which can result in early adoption by the NHS and other healthcare systems.

Applications are invited that:

  • will repurpose approved medicinal products or medical devices for use in new therapeutic indications or disease states, including (but not limited to) provision of paediatric versions of existing drugs, surgical instruments or devices
  • recombine or reuse pre-existing drugs and data for various diseases, including rare or orphan ones
  • are anticipated to encounter a low regulatory hurdle and rapid progression to clinical use and adoption.
  • undertake validation studies and early or small pilot scale efficacy trials.

This list of topics is valid for each of the two calls in 2012 and in 2013, allowing you to apply when your project is at an appropriate stage in its development.

Note: Each biannual £10m funding round will review and assess proposals across all themes. All applications are judged purely on merit, and there are no funding quotas set for the individual themes.

For more theme information, click here.


The Health Innovation Challenge Fund is positioned as a translational funding scheme to accelerate the clinical application of projects that are well advanced along the development pathway.

Its objectives are to:

  • stimulate the development and uptake of innovative products, technologies and interventions for the benefit of patients in the NHS and other healthcare systems
  • support UK-led projects that target unmet, or poorly met, healthcare needs
  • provide translational funding for projects that have demonstrated proof of principle and have the potential for clinical use or adoption within five years
  • take the product, technology or intervention to a stage at which it is sufficiently developed to be attractive to follow-on funders or investors
  • encourage the collaboration of companies, academia and clinicians to better confront today's healthcare challenges.

Essential requirements

All proposals submitted to the Health Innovation Challenge Fund must satisfy the following criteria.

Projects must have already demonstrated proof of principle, supported by experimental and - where feasible - in vivo data. Early-stage research or basic science projects will not be supported.

Projects must complete first testing in man within the duration of the project (typically three years) and deliver an innovative healthcare solution within five years where the potential benefit has been demonstrated in patients.

Projects must plan to take the product, technology or intervention to a stage at which it is sufficiently developed to be attractive to:

  • commercial organisations (e.g. venture capital funds and corporate bodies) for follow-on development and taking the product to market
  • not-for-profit organisations (e.g. the National Institute of Health Research) that can offer expertise and resources to assist with the evaluation and development of products
  • healthcare providers (e.g. the NHS), if the product is ready for procurement and adoption.

Proposals must include a commercial strategy that takes into account the regulatory pathway, IP management, commercial barriers, health economics and routes to market.

Applicants must have a plan, which addresses the requirements of patients and health professionals, for the adoption of the technology into the NHS and other healthcare providers.

Projects must offer technology and solutions that can be:

  • seamlessly integrated with the established infrastructure, systems and resources currently in use
  • scaled up from local to national level (and not, for example, reliant on specialised centres or expertise, which can hinder widespread adoption).


Project eligibility

All proposals must meet the essential requirements of the scheme and address at least one of the specific Health Innovation Challenge Fund themes. Applications outside of the current call topics will be declined.

A project may either address a single theme within the current call or span several themes.

The target of achieving patient readiness within five years is likely to preclude projects that focus on de novo drug development, vaccines and certain regenerative medicine technologies.

The HIC Fund will not fund:

  • early-stage or basic research
  • large-scale clinical efficacy trials
  • health delivery research by the NHS where the focus is on the broad adoption, dissemination and uptake of products, technologies and interventions within the NHS
  • the delivery or provision of health services by or within the NHS
  • projects that are already at a stage of development where funding from industry or venture capital could reasonably be secured (because the purpose of the HIC Fund is to provide funding to support projects and de-risk technologies to the point at which they become attractive to commercial sources to complete the path to market).

Applicant eligibility

The lead organisation must be UK based. Collaborating entities may be non-UK organisations.

The following types of organisation are eligible for funding:

  • stock market listed or privately owned companies
  • SMEs and start-up companies
  • NHS organisations (including NHS Trusts and NHS Foundation Trusts) and equivalent UK authorities
  • universities, research institutes and not-for-profit organisations.

Collaboration between two or more of the above is eligible and is actively encouraged where it strengthens the overall proposal.

Project teams should feature strong clinical representation.

Application process

How to apply

Download a Preliminary Application Form from the Forms and Guidance tab on this page or from the mirrored HIC Fund website.

Completed application forms should be emailed to hicfundapplications@hicfund.org.uk before 13.00 on the relevant closing date.

Preliminary applications are subject to shortlisting by the Joint Funding Panel (JFP) for progression to the full application stage. Full applications will be invited after the shortlisting meeting.

Applicants may submit their applications at any time, but for operational reasons we will collate all applications and process them in batches, beginning the day after each preliminary application closing date. A list of closing dates up to September 2013 can be found on the Deadlines tab on this page.

Proposals received after a preliminary application closing date will be processed with the subsequent batch.

All full applications undergo independent peer review. Applicants will receive the peer reviewers' comments and are invited to respond in writing.

All shortlisted applicants must present their project proposal in person to the JFP at a funding committee meeting held at the London office of the Wellcome Trust. The interview takes the form of a short presentation followed by a question-and-answer session. Applicants will be notified of the JFP's funding decision within seven days of the committee meeting.

Application advice

See the Forms and Guidance tab on this page for application guidelines, application forms, HIC Fund grant conditions and specimen funding agreements.


Enquiries may be made by email to hicfundenquiries@hicfund.org.uk. Alternatively, the joint secretariat for the HIC Fund can be contacted as follows:

Dr Tim Knott
Business Development Manager
Technology Transfer
Wellcome Trust
Gibb Building
215 Euston Road
London NW1 2BE
+44 (0)20 7611 7356
+44 (0)20 7611 8857

Simon Bradshaw
Assistant Director
Health Innovation Challenge Fund
Central Commissioning Facility
Grange House
15 Church Street
Twickenham TW1 3NL
+44 (0)20 8843 8090
+44 (0)20 8843 8001


Applications under any of the theme headings specified in the current call may be submitted to the funding round of your choice.

Applications will be processed in batches, beginning the day after each preliminary application closing date. Proposals received after a preliminary application closing date will be processed with the subsequent batch.

Preliminary application closing dates
Round 6: 14 May 2012
Round 7: 3 September 2012
Round 8: 7 May 2013
Round 9 : 2 September 2013

Shortlisting of preliminary applications
Round 6: Mid-June 2012
Round 7: Mid-October 2012
Round 8: Mid-June 2013
Round 9: Mid-October 2013

Full application closing dates
Round 6: 10 September 2012
Round 7: 11 January 2013
Round 8: 9 September 2013
Round 9: 9 January 2014

Funding decisions
Round 6: November 2012
Round 7: April 2013
Round 8: November 2013
Round 9: April 2014

Wellcome Trust, Gibbs Building, 215 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE, UK T:+44 (0)20 7611 8888