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Seeding Drug Discovery

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Funding to facilitate early-stage small-molecule drug discovery. The awards help applicants with a potential drug target or new chemistry embark on a programme of compound discovery and/or take later stage projects towards clinical trials.
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The aim of Seeding Drug Discovery is to develop drug-like, small molecules that will be the springboard for further research and development by the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry in areas of unmet medical need.A two-point entry system has been introduced to enable projects at an earlier stage in development to be competitive for funding as well as to progress later-stage projects further towards clinical trials.

What's included

Project duration will be determined by how advanced the project is.

Early-stage drug discovery projects (Screen to Lead) are able to apply for funding for up to two years to facilitate screening of chemical compounds to identify one or more lead series of molecules.

Late-stage (Lead to Clinical) projects, where a lead compound has already been identified, are able to apply for funding for up to four years, to support lead optimisation and preclinical development through to clinical trials.

See the Forms and Guidance tab on this page for details on what is and is not included in an award.


All Seeding Drug Discovery projects, whether Early- or Late-stage, must include medicinal chemistry activities in the project plan. Projects must address an unmet need in healthcare or in applied medical research, offer a potential new solution, and have a realistic expectation that the innovation will be developed further by the market.Proposals are welcome from academic and commercial organisations, of any size, based anywhere in the world (no connection to the UK is necessary).


Eligible institutions are not-for-profit research institutions worldwide that are able to sign up to our Grant Conditions.


We are able to use our charitable monies to fund commercial companies, of any size, to meet our charitable objectives through programme-related investment (PRI). For further details please refer to our policy on PRI [PDF 38KB]. Companies will normally be expected to sign up to specific terms relating the scheme (see the Forms and Guidance tab on this page).

Principal applicants and coapplicants

Applicants should normally hold a position of responsibility within the eligible organisation and be able to sign up to or comply with the conditions or terms of an award.

In addition, postdoctoral research assistants - whether seeking their own salary as part of the grant proposal, funded by the Wellcome Trust on another grant, or funded by another agency - are eligible for coapplicant status if they make a significant contribution to a research proposal and have agreement from their funding agency.

Application process

A preliminary application form should be completed and returned to Innovations by the published deadline.

The preliminary application form for Seeding Drug Discovery is now available on WT Grant Tracker. If you plan to submit a preliminary application to the 4 November 2015 application deadline, please contact us by email innovations@wellcome.ac.uk.

Preliminary applications will be reviewed and shortlisted by the Seeding Drug Discovery Triage Committee.

Following triage shortlisted applicants will be invited to submit a full application and will be subject to international peer review and due diligence by members of our Innovations Advisory Group. Applicants will be expected to make a presentation on their proposal to the Seeding Drug Discovery Committee. Unless otherwise advised, this will be at the next scheduled meeting.

Under the new two-entry point scheme a successful early-stage project will be eligible to apply for further Seeding Drug Discovery funding as a late-stage project, without the need to repeat the preliminary application and triage process

Application advice

Innovations staff will be pleased to assist with any enquiries concerning the Seeding Drug Discovery initiative.


The next deadline for preliminary applications is 4 November 2015. The corresponding deadlines for the round are:

Preliminary application deadline: 4 November 2015
Full application deadline
: 19 February 2016
Funding Committee
: 26-27 May 2016

All applications received by 17.00 GMT on the deadline date will be considered.

At the present time there are no further application deadline dates scheduled after 4 November 2015.An announcement will be made when additional information is available.


Wellcome Trust
Gibbs Building
215 Euston Road
London NW1 2BE, UK

T +44 (0)20 7611 5757
+44 (0)20 7611 8857

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