£30 million initiative for early-stage antimicrobial innovation

Innovate UK joins forces with LifeArc and Medicines Discovery Catapult to accelerate early-stage innovation in antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

Innovate UK and medical research organisation LifeArc, have each invested £15 million in PACE (Pathways to Antimicrobial Clinical Efficacy), which will be delivered by Medicines Discovery Catapult.

PACE will focus on removing barriers and connecting the AMR ecosystem to accelerate and strengthen the pre-clinical AMR pipeline.

The initiative aims to establish a platform for UK-based early-stage research and development (R&D) projects in medicine discovery and diagnostics, making them more attractive for investment and readily available for medical treatments.

The global impact

AMR is one of the biggest health challenges we face as a global society, and it is currently developing faster than the speed of our scientific discoveries.

Without action, the success of modern medicine in treating infections is at risk and by 2050 as many as 10 million people could die each year as a result of AMR (PDF, 2.3MB).

AMR is predicted to result in a cumulative economic loss of approximately $100 trillion from the global GDP by 2050, if no solution is found.

Innovate UK’s expertise

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the significance of innovation ecosystems uniting to overcome societal challenges.

As the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK will actively bring these ecosystems together and provide support for PACE.

Innovate UK is fully aligned with the UK government’s priorities, particularly in addressing AMR, with a specific focus on containing and controlling AMR by 2040. Through PACE, we can actively contribute to tackling this critical global issue and promote economic growth for UK businesses.

Reshape the trajectory of AMR

Indro Mukerjee, CEO, Innovate UK, said:

Through PACE, we’re working to address the serious health challenge of AMR. The collaboration between Innovate UK, LifeArc and Medicines Discovery Catapult represents our united response – a call to bring together researchers, SMEs, and experts all within our world-class facilities at the Medicines Discovery Catapult.

By bringing together the innovation ecosystem, offering funding opportunities, and promoting collaboration, PACE aims to reshape the trajectory of AMR. Our goal is to help protect public health and strengthen the UK life sciences sector.

Next steps

PACE will make it easier to progress new tests and treatments, giving the very best AMR innovations the greatest chance of succeeding.

Innovators will be given access to new funding opportunities, together with advice, expertise and support.

PACE has launched its first funding opportunity today, 19 October. Up to £10 million in grant funding is available to support up to 12 projects focused on developing new treatments for the most threatening microbes and resistance mechanisms.

Projects are expected to last up to two years, with total funding of up to £1 million per project. Expressions of interest are invited by 24 November, and an informational webinar will be held on 31 October for interested parties.

Find out more about the funding opportunity.

The bigger picture

This announcement comes the day after a £10 million UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) funding opportunity for transdisciplinary networks tackling AMR, as part of its Tackling infections strategic theme.

This builds upon the millions in funding that UKRI has already invested in these areas, through initiatives such as the COVID-19 vaccine.

It’s designed to address those challenges or existential threats through genuine, cross disciplinary working and thinking, both in terms of sectors and delivery partners.

Further information

Tackling infections is one of UKRI’s strategic themes. It will bolster our national defence and response capabilities by tackling infectious diseases that pose threats to people, livestock, crops and natural resources in more integrated and innovative ways.
In particular, we aim to better prepare for future disease epidemics and more effectively tackle the slow-moving pandemic of antimicrobial resistance.

Tackling drug-resistant infections globally: final report and recommendations the review on antimicrobial resistance (PDF, 2.3MB) chaired by Jum O’Neill (May 2016)

UK 20-year vision for antimicrobial resistance: how the UK will contribute to containing and controlling AMR by 2040

Top image:  Credit: 10174593_258, iStock, Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

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