Launch of £6m competition to develop new clinical tools for dementia

Home caregiver helping a senior woman standing in the bedroom

Innovate UK is opening a £6m Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) dementia biomarker tools competition on 24 July.

The competition was announced today (18 July) by the Co-Chairs of the government’s dementia mission, Nadeem Sarwar and Hilary Evans, at an event hosted by the Office for Life Sciences at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) in Amsterdam.

The competition is seeking organisations, including small and medium-sized enterprises, to develop and commercialise technologies that can be used as clinical tools to enable the development of transformative clinical trials and precision dementia therapies.

Dementia is a complex disease with substantial variability in how patients respond to treatments. There is an urgent need for better clinical tools that can be used to identify the right patients for the right clinical trial and the right treatment.

The application of innovations will feed in to and support the aims of the government’s Dame Barbara Windsor Dementia Mission, which is looking to realise a new generation of dementia precision therapies for the UK.

Building effective dementia treatments

Minister of State for Science, Research & Innovation, George Freeman MP, said:

Dementia is a devastating disease – both for those with the condition and their loved ones. In the UK today there are 950,000 people suffering from the disease. Developing better diagnostics, treatments, therapies and cures requires collaborative work across multiple disciplines.

Through the work of the Dementia Research Institute, and UK biomedical research, UK companies are now at the forefront of developing the tools we need to build effective dementia treatments. That is why we are launching this £6m competition in support of Dame Barbara’s legacy, drawing on the UK’s world-class life sciences sector to accelerate the discovery of treatments that are tailored to patients and offer hope of a future where dementia can be effectively managed.

Delivering transformative medicines

Dr Karen Spink, Head of Medicines, Innovate UK, said:

This competition is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to apply some of the precision approaches that are changing the way we treat diseases such as cancer, to deliver transformative medicines for dementia patients.

Transforming early detection of neurodegeneration

Dementia mission Co-Chair and CEO of Alzheimer’s Research UK, Hilary Evans, said:

As we enter a new era of treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, we’re delighted that Innovate UK are launching this competition to develop new technologies and tools to transform early detection of neurodegeneration.

We hope this will enable more nuanced recruitment to clinical trials, and more targeted access to precision medicines to those most likely to benefit.

Delivering transformational scientific breakthroughs

Dementia mission Co-Chair and Corporate Vice President at Novo Nordisk, Nadeem Sarwar, said:

Stimulating entrepreneurial innovation to deliver transformational scientific breakthroughs for people with and at risk of dementia is a critical enabler of the UK Dementia Mission strategy.

We are excited to partner with Innovate UK on the SBRI Dementia Biomarkers competition to help realise this vision.

The SBRI funding opportunity

Innovate UK is especially interested in technologies that enable detection during the early stage of the disease.

It is looking for projects that improve the detection of neurodegeneration, inflammation or vascular biomarkers associated with dementia. It should also be clear that applicants must have a credible route to market and must consider dementia patients and their carers.

Top image:  Credit: FG Trade, E+ via Getty Images

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